The 1000 year reign doctrine- more information about this prevalent idea. The church of Christ is His kingdom. We are not waiting for His kingdom to be established. But what about Revelation chapter 20?

ROBERT >> Today we continue to discuss the thousand-year reign of Christ. Will Jesus come at some moment in the end time to establish a kingdom upon this earth for one thousand years? Stay tuned. We’ll be back in just a moment.

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth, speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Already in our study of Jesus’ reign, his thousand-year reign, his kingdom, we have learned that this was prophesied by the Old Testament scriptures, that it was also announced in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John by John the baptizer, by Jesus and his apostles while which were on the earth. And the beginning of that kingdom was recorded in Acts chapter 2 when the gospel was preached by the power of the Holy Spirit; and three thousand souls, hearing that message, believing that message, repented of their sins and were baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. The beginning of the church began with three thousand saved by Jesus Christ, Christ ruling and a reigning at God’s right hand over his church, his kingdom.

Yes, the church of Christ is his kingdom. You read about those in the church at Colosse who’d been translated out of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear son, Colossians 1:13-14. They were then at that time receiving the kingdom according to Hebrews 12:28-29. We are a kingdom of priests according to Revelation 1:6. John the apostle said that he was sharing in the kingdom with his fellow Christians in Revelation 1:9. So the kingdom was already in existence. The kingdom had already come.

What about Revelation chapter 20?

Well, in order to understand Revelation, we must understand something about the nature of that book. There are two keys to understanding the book of Revelation. One is to know that it was written about things that were shortly to take place, that were at hand, that were soon to come. We noticed this from Revelation 1:-3. Not of things far removed at some moment at the end time, but things that were then coming upon the churches that then existed to whom John wrote the book of Revelation.

It’s also a highly symbolic book. It is part of apocalyptic literature where symbols, pictures, signs are used to bring great messages of hope and encouragement to a church that was being severely persecuted by the Roman empire. And so when we look in the Revelation, we recognize it’s about things that were then coming upon the church, how their enemy, Rome, would fall, and how they would be victorious if they remained faithful to the Lord.

You remember Revelation 2:10 that we mentioned at the end of our lesson last week, “Be faithful unto death, and I’ll give you the crown of life.”

So what does Revelation chapter 20 have to say to us about our subject, the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ?

Let’s take a look at it together, where it first speaks of the complete defeat of Satan’s work by or through the Roman persecutors. Revelation 20:1-3, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.”

Here we see in this vision of John in the first three verses of Revelation chapter 20 the complete defeat of Satan’s work through the Roman persecutors. You might notice here that he mentions in verse 2 about Satan being bound for a thousand years.

Now, the term thousand should not be taken literally anymore than any of the other numbers, but these numbers are symbolic. A thousand symbolizes something that is complete, the total of something. It comes from the number ten times ten times ten. And you see how the Bible often uses numbers figuratively in this same way.

In Exodus 20:6, the Bible says, “But showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” It’s symbolic of the many.

And then you’ll notice the same thing in several other passages of the Old Testament, like Deuteronomy 1:10-11. Here in the book of Deuteronomy the Bible says, “The Lord your God has multiplied you, and here you are today as the stars of heaven in multitude. May the Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you.” A thousand times speaks of the complete, the total number that would come from Israel.

Psalm 50:10 might be another example of this. In the Psalms of course you often find symbols and figures being used in this kind of literature like the poetry of the Psalms. Notice how it uses the term thousand.

Psalm 50:10, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.” All of the cattle belong to the Lord, and that’s the point. And you see the same thing in the Revelation.

In Revelation 5:11, we get a picture in the heaven, and when we read of John’s description, notice what it says, verse 11, “I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.” And so the term thousand is symbolic.

And then we notice as we look at the Revelation chapter 20 once again, notice in verse 3 where it tells us here he would deceive the nations no more. That is, by means of the Roman empire through her emperor worship, this deception would come to an end. Also here in verse 3 you’ll notice it says that he was released for a little while, Satan would be released for a little while. And this is also symbolic.

It symbolizes the fact that Satan will again seek to destroy the church. We read about that in Revelation chapter 20. Look at verse 7 through 10, and notice what happens after this little while. “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as of the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tortured day and night forever and ever.”

So in the first three verses, let’s review. Here we have a picture of Satan bound for a thousand years in this bottomless pit. The idea is that he is totally defeated in his work through the Roman empire persecuting God’s church. God’s church, the faithful, were victorious over Satan. But now I want you to notice in the picture we just read that he would, being released for a little while, would once again attack God’s people. Satan, though he was defeated in his work against the church through the Romans, is not finished. He’ll continue to seek to destroy God’s church, Christ’s kingdom. Now, it’s in the middle here that we find this word about the thousand years.

Read with me if you will in Revelation 20:4-6. “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast nor his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who is part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”

Here in these verses is a picture of the complete victory of the faithful over their Roman persecutors. Just as Satan is pictured in the first three verses as completely being defeated through his work through Rome, we see here now God’s people who went through that suffering and went through that difficult time, those trials, imprisonment, and even death, as complete victors over their Roman persecutors.

Let’s look at it a little closer. You’ll notice in verse 4 when he saw the thrones and those that sat on them,” And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”

What did John see here in verse 4?

He saw souls, the faithful Christians under Roman persecution who died in the Lord. And he says they lived and reigned with Christ. God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. They reigned with him. Jesus promised these faithful ones in the Revelation that if they would remain faithful to him through this persecution of the Romans, that they would in fact share in his victory, share in his reign. Let me just read a couple of passages.

Go back to Revelation 2:26, where he writes to the church, and he says, “He who overcomes and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels, as I also have received from My Father.”

So Christ is ruling and reigning; and being faithful to Christ, they reigned with him.

Look in Revelation 3:21. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

And so here in Revelation 20 we see those who were faithful pass through their persecution, but on the other side, we see them living and reigning with Jesus Christ for a thousand years. Now, there’s that thousand-year term again. It symbolizes completeness, total. But here we’re talking about not the defeat of Satan, as in the first three verses, but the complete victory now in heaven at the fall of Rome, not at the second coming of Jesus Christ. These are souls reigning with Christ in heaven in victory, having been faithful in persecution.

Now, verse 5 of Revelation 20 speaks of the rest of the dead. Notice here again verse 5, “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”

The rest of the dead refers to the non-Christians and the unfaithful Christians who bowed to the Roman emperors. They would not share in the victory of the faithful because they were not faithful to God. This is the first resurrection. This vision of the faithful reigning with Christ for a thousand years, this picture of complete victory is seen here as a resurrection. It symbolizes the revival, the triumph of the persecuted church at the fall of Rome. If you’ll go back with me to Revelation chapter 11, we come to the end of the first half of the book. And Revelation chapter 11 pictures the church as though it is dead. It’s like dead bodies in the street. But then in the end of that chapter, we see those dead bodies raised up, and we see them ruling and reigning with Christ. This is very similar to what we have in Revelation 20, where we see them ruling and reigning with Christ, having been faithful through the persecution. The idea of a resurrection speaking of a revival or a triumph or a victory is not unknown to the Bible.

We see it in Isaiah 26:19. We see it in Ezekiel chapter 37 when it speaks of the restoration and the salvation of Israel. It’s pictured as a resurrection of dead bodies.

And then in Luke the 15th chapter, you might remember the parable of the prodigal son. And you remember that that son left his house, found himself in dire straits, having spent all of his inheritance, and he comes to himself, and he comes back home to his father. And you remember, the father throws a big party, there’s a great rejoicing and celebration that the son has come home. And I want you to notice how Jesus describes this in the parable here in Luke chapter 15. Look at verse 24. “For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry.”

And so he pictures the return of his son as a resurrection. Notice it also in Luke 15:32. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found. In the Revelation, John uses that same picture to refer to the victory of the faithful over the Roman persecutors as Rome would fall and they would live with Christ. In Romans 11:15, I want you to notice another use of this figure.

Romans 11:15, “For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Paul was commenting on the unfaithfulness of the Jews and their rejection of Jesus Christ.”

But he also knows that some will turn to Christ. When they see the Gentiles coming into the kingdom, they will turn to Christ and recognize him as the Messiah. And it speaks of them as being dead and coming to life again.

Look at it in Romans the 6th chapter, where the apostle Paul discusses here our salvation, coming to Christ, being baptized into Christ as a death, a burial, and a resurrection.

Romans 6:3, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

So here you see our baptism is pictured as a death, a burial, and a resurrection. You see the same figure used in Ephesians chapter 2 and in Colossians chapter 2, where the salvation of the Christian is pictured as a resurrection. So the first resurrection of Revelation chapter 20 is not the literal, bodily resurrection of God’s people at the end of the world; it is, rather, a picture of their victory, the victory of those faithful martyrs for Christ who suffered under the persecution of the Roman empire. It’s their total and complete victory with Jesus Christ pictured as a resurrection and a reigning with him for a thousand years. That resurrection at the end of the world, according to John 5:28-29, will be a resurrection of all people. Everyone will come out of their tombs, and they’ll meet God in judgment. We learned from John chapter 6, four times John tells us, in verse 39, in verse 40, in verse 44, in verse 54 that the people that belong to Christ will be raised up on the last day. It’s not some resurrection of the righteous in some kind of rapture before a great tribulation takes place at the beginning of the millennium, no. As we read in the Revelation, we see that the tribulation, the persecution, the difficult times for God’s people had already taken place; and after that, it saw the righteous as those who had been resurrected and reigning with Christ in victory. And so when you think about the resurrection at the end of the world, you’re talk about a literal, bodily resurrection at the time of judgment on the very last day.

Let’s notice something else here from Revelation chapter 20 that’s so important for us, because here in verse 6 of Revelation 20, he mentions the second death. He says, Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Those faithful, victorious, saints. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

The second death symbolizes condemnation in hell. You read about it throughout the Revelation, in Revelation 2:11, in Revelation 19:20; and in Revelation 20:10 look what it says. “The devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

There’s the condemnation of the second death in the hell fires. You see it in verse 14 where it’s spelled out, “Then death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Jesus, in Matthew 25:41, reminded us how that hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. But he also said in verse 46 that the unrighteous would go into eternal punishment with them, that the righteous would go into eternal life. Let’s picture Revelation chapter 20 for just a moment. Picture all on the battlefield. See the martyrs for Christ being put to death and then rising up to reign with Christ. A thousand years later, those who served the beast, rising up to be thrown into a lake of fire. Now, that’s the picture he saw; but remember, all of this is just symbolic of the complete victory of the saints and the utter defeat of the persecutors. The resurrection, the thousand years, it’s not literal. It’s just a picture. Notice these things that will help us I think in understanding the Revelation. Think about the first death. This is everyone who died in service of the beast or in service to Christ. The first resurrection, the triumph of the faithful who died in Roman persecution, not to experience the second death of judgment. And the second resurrection, the rest of the dead who served the beast, that Roman empire, falling down before her emperor to face judgment at the end of the world. And the second death, that judgment, the judgment of them at the end of the world in the lake of fire. And please notice very carefully that Revelation 20 does not mention the second coming of Christ. There’s no mention of his coming in that chapter.

There’s no mention of the earth or the establishment of an earthly kingdom, an earthly reign, an earthly regime, or a literal throne of David in the literal city of Jerusalem. None of that’s mentioned in Revelation chapter 20. Those who want to take Revelation 20 literally must be consistent; because you see, it’s a strange interpretation that contends for a figurative picture in the first three verses concerning the devil, a figurative serpent bound with a figurative chain, thrown into a figurative pit, locked with a figurative key, confined for a literal thousand years.

Obviously, the Revelation is figurative, it’s symbolic, and there is no literal thousand-year reign of Christ to come on this earth. As you continue to study your Bible, I hope that you’ll contact us here at The Truth In Love with any of your questions, and I hope most importantly as you consider your relationship with the Lord that you would let us know how we can help you towards heaven today.

SINGING>> Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me he died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great,
and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me,
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan;
oh, the grace that brought it down to man;
oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.

SINGING>> All hail the power of Jesus’ name,
let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem
and crown him Lord of all.
Bring forth the royal diadem
and crown him Lord of all.
Oh, that with yonder sacred throng
we at his feet may fall.
We’ll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song
and crown him Lord of all.

ROBERT >> I want to thank you so much for watching our program today. If you have any questions, comments, or requests, if you would like a personal home Bible study or special prayers, if you would like more information about the lesson today or if you’d like to order today’s lesson or any other lesson on CD, DVD, or in manuscript form, let me encourage you to write The Truth In Love at P.O. Box 865, Hurst, Texas 76053.

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Remember, all of our materials and services are absolutely free of charge. We just want to do what we can to help us all towards heaven. So let us know how we can help you, and please join us next time right here on The Truth In Love.

singing>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.
From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven,
let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven,
sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream of its golden glory,
of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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