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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 20


Chapter 20

1. Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.

2. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

3. and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

4. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

5. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection.

6. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Leading up to the Millennium

We have a very short account by John, concerning the millennial reign of Christ upon the earth, but the prophets had much to say about it. We will not be able to give an exhaustive study on the subject, because that would easily require a book. However, we will go back to the prophets and pick up more details about this tremendously important period of human prophecy. After six millenniums of man’s rule, the return of Christ brings them to an end and then, He will reign on earth for a final one thousand years. This gives much more sense to God’s creation, after Adam sinned so early in human history and chaos has followed ever since. God will show us an ideal reign through the Prince of Peace, the last Adam. There will be paradise on this planet!

We have just studied the Battle of Armageddon and the destruction of world empires. The beast and the false prophet have been thrown for eternity into the Lake of Fire. There are other events preliminary to the Millennium. One is the Judgment of the Nations, as described in Matthew 25: 31-46. Notice when this takes place: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne” (Mt.25:31). This will involve the treatment given to Christ’s brothers, according to the flesh, the Jews, during the Great Tribulation. The participants will be divided into two groups, described as sheep and goats. They have carried out the law of their nature, apparently unconscious of the source of their actions, and either aided or neglected the Jews in their tribulation plight.

There is also a clean-up period after the Battle of Armageddon, greatly assisted by the carnivorous birds, who gathered from around the world for that purpose. From the Abomination of Desolation, the reign of Antichrist will cover a period of 3 ½ years, 42 months, or 1,260 days. At the end of Daniel, there are days added to the 1,260… 30 and 75 days, or 1,290 and 1,335. These days are needed for the interim events between the Great Tribulation and the Millennium: “And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days” (Dn.12:11-12). That would seem to indicate that the Millennium begins, when the 1,335 days are completed.

I think that would be consistent with John MacArthur’s notes in his Study Bible, which I quote: “1,290 days, including 1,260 that make up the last 3 ½ years of the final seven years, then 30 days more, possibly to allow for the judgment of the living subsequent to Christ’s return. Forty-five more days allows for transition between Israel’s time of being shattered and God’s setting up of His kingdom.”

The literal one thousand year reign of Christ on earth

The prophet Daniel gives us a very clear picture of the world empires from Babylon to Rome and their destruction at the coming of Christ. He shows, especially by Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, how these kingdoms were built one upon another, so that the final destruction of the antichrist kingdom is a destruction of them all. In Revelation, we saw that these world-dominating empires began even before Babylon, with Egypt and Assyria.

Please notice with me, Daniel 2:44 and 45: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever, just as you saw that a stone was cut from a mountain by no human hand, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold.” Now please turn with me to Daniel 7:27: “The kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”

John describes what he sees from the spiritual realm. An angel descends from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit, the abyss, where many demons are imprisoned. The demons begged Jesus not to send them into this place (Luke 8:31). The angel also carries a chain (1), with which to bind the devil, throw him into the pit, shut and seal it for the following one thousand years. He will not be able to interfere at all during the reign of Christ. How wonderful will be the time, not only with the presence of Christ, but with the absence of the enemy of God and man (2)!

John leaves no doubt as to, with whom the angel is dealing, as he gives his most common titles. Throughout Revelation he has been called the dragon. The ancient serpent refers to the Garden of Eden and his temptation, into which Adam fell. The next term is the devil, meaning false accuser, slanderer, an opponent and finally, he is Satan, an accuser. We are sorry to hear that he will be freed for a very specific purpose after the Millennium (3).

John also sees people sitting on thrones, who have received authority to judge, as well as souls, who specifically were beheaded during the Tribulation, because of their witness for Jesus, according to the Word of God (4). I will briefly point out here, that the word witness or testimony is taken from the Greek word marturia, meaning martyr or martyrdom. This is what they did… they witnessed… and then it mentions the things that they did not do. They did not worship the beast or its image, nor had they received his mark on their foreheads or hands.

They are resurrected, and join, in their bodies, with the dead who were resurrected, when the rapture occurred (1 Th.4:13-16). Christ was the first fruits of those who ‘slept’: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Co.15:20,23). These are all included in the first resurrection; they are blessed and holy, sanctified by the blood of Jesus. They will not come under the Great White Throne Judgment with those, who will be resurrected a thousand years later (5). Christ has borne their judgment and “there is therefore now no condemnation (judgment) for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro.8:1). They are judges, they are priests and they are rulers for and with Christ during the Millennium (6).

We will now gather the words of the prophets concerning the reign of the Lord. Jesus taught us to pray for this time: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt.6:10). Isaiah had much to say about this and he began in chapter 2. Zion in Jerusalem will become the most important place on earth and people, hungry for the word of God, will come from around the globe: “All the nations shall flow to it” (Is.2:2). Catch the joy, as people happily call to one another, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord… that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths” (Is.2:3). Wars cease, because Christ will judge disputes and “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not left up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Is.2:4).

Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecies given to King David: “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse… with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth” (Is.11:1,4). Tranquility will reign in the animal kingdom: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den” (Is.11:6-8).

All Israel will be saved at the end of the Great Tribulation and will enter the Millennium, leading the nations (Ro.11:26): “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Is.49:6). Antisemitism will totally disappear and the Jew will be honored: “Ten men… shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you’” (Zec.8:23). During the terrible persecution of the Jews in the reign of Antichrist, Gentiles will take care of their children, much like we hear happened during World War II: “I was bereaved and barren, exiled and put away, but who has brought up these?... They shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders… I will save your children” (Is.49:21,22,25).

As in the book of Genesis, long life will be restored: “No more shall there be in it (Jerusalem) an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old…” (Is.65:20). I do not hear much preaching about the Millennium these days and it seems that Christians have lost their sense of anticipation for Christ’s return to reign on the earth. I can remember hymns in my youth, which portrayed the joys of His reign. I hope I have given enough evidence of the glory of His reign in this short, but scriptural, depiction so that a spark will begin to glow in your heart.

7. And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison

8. and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea.

9. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,

10. and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

11. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

12. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

13. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.

14. The Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.

15. And if anyone´s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

The ultimate deception of Satan and his final destruction

To me, this story is the greatest evidence in all of Scripture of the true depth of man’s depravity. It is also the greatest justification for the creation of hell and the Lake of Fire. David saw his sin, as every sinner needs to see his own: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned… so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps.51:3-5).

I wrote the following in chapter 16, but I will put it before you again, just as I stated it there: How hard is the human heart? Can any of us fathom it? From the time that Adam and Eve fell to the temptation of the serpent, we have witnessed its evil. Jeremiah expresses it well: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer.17:9). In the second generation from creation, Cain murdered his brother. Pharaoh enslaved a nation, commanded that their male babies be thrown in the Nile, and then again and again hardened his heart against the judgments of God. It would require a book to give even small evidence to prove the hard nature of man expressed in the Old Testament.

Let’s go to the New Testament. God sent His own beloved Son into the world in love, with the express purpose of saving mankind from his sin. He was rejected and maligned by His own people and in the name of the One, whom they claimed as their God, they condemned Him to death and turned Him over to the Romans for death by crucifixion. Once again, for the sake of time and space, I cannot go into more detail.

For two thousand years, the millions and then billions of the earth’s population have turned thumbs down to the offers of the gospel, while they have approved abortion and the filthy, perverse “rights” of the homosexual and lesbian. Missionaries and preachers have been persecuted, imprisoned and have laid down their lives. Paul taught us, through the words of the prophet, in our Christian doctrine: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”  

The book of Revelation is now showing us the depths of human hardness under the extreme pressure of the Great Tribulation. We see man giving allegiance to God’s arch-enemy and taking the mark of loyalty from a Satan-possessed dictator. I comment again on the fourth bowl, in which they did not repent and give Him glory. Instead they cursed His name. Again, under the fifth bowl, they “cursed the God of heaven… They did not repent of their deeds.” After the seventh bowl, “they curse God for the plague of the hail.” In chapters 17 and 18, we will see them weeping and wailing at the fall of that murderous, blasphemous prostitute, Babylon. But the worst is yet to come: After the thousand-year, literal reign of Christ upon the earth – a reign of peace and righteousness that will even effect the animal kingdom – the devil will be loosed from his prison (7). He has been bound in a pit during these 1000 years. The world’s population will turn from Christ’s reign to follow Satan, “their number is like the sand of the sea” (8). Do you understand now why God created hell? What else is He going to do with immortal souls, who refuse His kind reign and eternal salvation?

The devil himself is in charge of this army and leads them against Jerusalem, where Christ sits enthroned, surrounded by His saints (9). The enemy is no match or competition for the Almighty. Fire falls from heaven and the army disintegrates. The devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire, where he joins the beast and the false prophet, and they are unceasingly, consciously and physically tormented throughout eternity! Let men say what they will; let them twist and turn, connive and pervert, but this is what your Bible clearly tells you in verse 10. No one is going to change eternal truth.

The Great White Throne Judgment

 God has placed final condemnation at the end of all the earth-shattering events of His revelation. He has offered salvation throughout the Old and New Testament. He has sent out missionaries to the ends of the planet for 2,000 years. He has ordained 144,000 Jews to testify to the world during the Great Tribulation and a countless number have believed. No doubt, throughout the Millennium, multitudes have been born again. All this time, His mighty arm is stretched out to save: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 P.3:9).

But the time has come for His Great White Throne courtroom to come to order. The resurrection of the damned, of which Daniel and Christ Himself spoke, takes place: “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dn.12:2). “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment" (Jn.5:28-29).

The ground shook, the rocks broke, and the sky went dark, when the Creator bowed His head and surrendered His spirit to the Father. Now He sits in fearsome judgment and the earth and sky flee from His presence; the heavens cannot contain Him and they cease to exist (11). (See how Peter describes this moment in 2 Peter 3:10-13.). The dead in trespasses and sins, from prince to pauper, noble and common, stand in physical form before that throne. The high priest Caiaphas is there: “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power…” (Mt.26:64). The entire Sanhedrin, minus Nicodemus and Josephus, is there. Pilate is there, resurrected with bloody hands. Every emperor from Egypt to Rome stands before Him, with every evil pope, who opposed the reformation and burnt Christians at the stake. Common people, who denied creation, accepted abortion, and honored the homosexual and lesbian, are there by the billions. The conservatives, who could understand the ways of righteousness, but refused to humble themselves before the cross, are there as well, their sins unatoned for.  

Bodies, drowned and long dissolved in the sea, reformed and came to life. Dust and gases, all that was left of corpses dead for centuries, came together and once again breathed before the throne. Nothing had been lost. Cremated bodies were restored from ashes. The graves (Death) surrendered their bodies and Hell gave up its souls. They joined together for one final and awful time (13).

Final judgment takes place, because God is totally righteous. No one receives eternal punishment without the irrefutable evidence presented. Therefore the Book of Life is opened as evidence that no name is written of anyone standing there. Then, the awful, shameful accounts are publicly stated of all the misdeeds, sins and crimes committed (12). All that is temporal and has to do with worldly existence or earthly death comes to its final destiny in the Lake of Fire. Untold millions, because their name is not found written in the Book of Life are thrown into the eternal flames (14).

Only one thing is important on that day; it is the individual’s name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It all depends on the Lamb that was slain. Who is that Lamb? It is God, the Son, descended from heaven to earth, God in the flesh, 100 % God and 100% Man. It is that Lamb that was sacrificed as our substitute to fulfill the righteousness of God and to placate His anger against the sinner. His anger fell upon His Son, who was made sin, so that we might be made the righteousness of God. It was all taken care of on that cross. He became guilty, so that we could be pronounced not guilty; He was abandoned by His Father, so that we might be accepted, freely and eternally. Now grace and love flow like mighty rivers and no one is so guilty and dirty, but that the sacrifice of Christ can make him or her as white as snow. And He arose and lives forever, triumphant over sin and the grave. He sits at the right hand of the Father, an undying High Priest, whose intercession for the believer cannot fail.  If there is any doubt about your place in the New Covenant, I invite you to come now to Jesus. One sinner prayed this way, “I don’t know how to come, but if You will have me, I’m coming now!”  



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