THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST

Revelation 20:1-15
The Millennial Reign of Christ

There is excitement about the beginning of a new millennium. Like everyone else we watched with excitement the fireworks in London, the beach bash in Rio and the jazz in New Orleans.

All the doomsday prophecies did not come true. And Y2K was nothing more than a lot of mass media hysteria.

The LORD God vindicated His Word once again. Jesus said, “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mark 13:32).

This millennium has been no different from any other in bringing out the loonies to play their tune. Down through history there have been those who could not resist the temptation to set dates. Even the renowned Augustine used the septa-millennial theory to calculate the end of human history about A. D. 650. Others attempted to salvage the operation by resetting the end of time clock to A. D. 1000. Then a date was set for 1044, and again for 1065.

If that wasn’t enough William Miller set the date of Christ’s return for 1843. Even a generation ago a well-respected Bible teacher couldn’t pass up the temptation by suggesting the trumpets of Revelation were the events of World War II. One teacher proclaimed, “the Great Tribulation, the revival of the Roman Empire, the reign of the Antichrist and the Battle of Armageddon, must take place before the year 1933.” The poor old Antichrist has been identified as Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Khrushchev and Bill Clinton!

In 1992 five thousand South Koreans sold their homes and left their jobs and families to await the return of Jesus. No one will forget the fiery images of the Branch Davidians and the doomsday prophecies of David Koresh in 1993.

I think the craziest one I have heard yet was in Eternity magazine, which told about a Professor Heinz von Foerster of the University of Illinois who set the date for the end of the world for Friday, November 13, 2026. He based his conclusion on the exploding world population, which he predicted would overrun the earth by that time. He said, “Our great-great-great grandchildren will not starve; they will be squeezed to death” by over population.

The tragedy of all this confusion is the testimony of God’s people is hurt and the believer and non-believer question the integrity of God’s Word.

On the other hand, is it not a beautiful fact that for two thousand years believers from every generation have lived in the constant expectation that the Lord Jesus may come at any moment, and yet His failure to come has not discouraged succeeding generations from having the same hope. Indeed, it has only intensified that hope of His return. My sincere prayer every day is, “Lord Jesus, will I see You today?” “Even so, come Lord Jesus.”

The Bible speaks about the golden age of human history when Christ shall reign for a thousand years. This glorious kingdom will be ushered in at the second advent of Christ. The idea of a millennial reign, clearly developed in Revelation 20, lies concealed in 1 Corinthians 15:23-28. It appears that the apostle Paul was thinking of the same period that is described as the millennium in Revelation.

“Many serious Bible scholars agree that there is a clear straightforward statement of an earthly millennium in Revelation 20,” writes John Newport. Another scholar states, “The presence of the millennium in Revelation is beyond dispute. John places a messianic kingdom on earth between the parousia and the end.” The person who fails to find the millennium in Revelation 20 approaches the text with preconceived ideas in mind. It will be a glorious time when Jesus Christ will establish righteousness in the world. The power of Christ is limitless. He is sovereign in the universe. The millennium is a demonstration of Christ’s power in our day before Christ turns the kingdom over to the Father’ dominion in the age to come. This is God’s purpose of the millennial reign of Christ.
THE PURPOSE OF THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST

God decreed in His eternal plan of the ages that there would be a thousand year reign of His Son on earth in absolute, sovereign control and perfect righteousness. The ancient church, with minor exceptions, held to the teaching of an earthly, historical, end-time reality reign of righteousness that was to follow the defeat of the Antichrist and the physical resurrection of the saints. They also taught that this reign would precede the final judgment and the new creation.
The millennial reign will vindicate Christ as King of the Jews.

When Jesus came the first time the people of Israel rejected him as king. When He returns He will manifest His rightful throne as King in the house of David. The Magi asked king Herod, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). When Jesus hung on the cross the accusation written above His head declared Him king of the Jews. He was born King and He died the King of the Jews (Matthew 27:11; Luke 19:38; 23:38). When Jesus returns He will be vindicated as He claims His throne and receives all the glory due His holy name.

At that point in history Jesus Christ will openly manifest His kingdom to the world. It will be a public demonstration that Jesus Christ was and is indeed the Messiah, the Anointed of God. God the Father will vindicate His Son in the eyes of the whole world. The glory of Christ will be manifested. At the present time Jesus reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords in heaven. It is a reign that is unseen and unrecognized by the world. Only those who believe in Him recognize His kingdom and glory. The millennial kingdom will be the time when God the Father manifests the glory of His Son. Jesus Christ will ultimately receive universal recognition as Lord and King in the place where He was rejected and crucified.
It will reveal the depravity of man and vindicate God’s righteousness.

Man was created to bring honor and glory to God. However, man disobeyed and all creation has been on a steady decline ever since the Fall. God’s eternal purpose will be fulfilled in His Son, Jesus Christ. The reign of Jesus Christ will be a demonstration of God’s sovereign majesty in history.

It has been suggested by a number of scholars that even the final short release of Satan after the thousand year binding during the reign of Christ will be used of God to reveal evil hidden in the hearts of rebellious people. The New Testament scholar Beasley-Murray reminds us the function of Satan is not to originate sin but to reveal it and develop its latent possibilities in sinful man (Revelation 20:7-10). Sin is rebellion against God. This will be a time when God will vindicate His judgment against all rebellion and disobedience. It sets the stage for the final blow to Satan and His judgment. God is just and this will be the open manifestation of His justice.
THE PROGRESSION OF THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST

What will take place in the sequence of events by which Christ establishes His kingdom?

Revelation 19:11-14 pictures Jesus Christ riding out of heaven to inaugurate His kingdom. There will be no battle when Christ appears. There will be the revelation of His glory and an act of judgment. The only weapon Christ uses is the sword of His mouth. The Word of God speaks and it is done instantly. No one will count to three. There will be instant obedience at His command.
The enemies of Jesus Christ will be judged.

The King of kings will execute judgment over His enemies (19:15-16). Jesus Christ will come from His throne in heaven to earth to rid all opposition to His earthly reign. The judgments of God will have fallen over the earth during the seven-year period known as the Great Tribulation. Those judgments upon the earth prepare for the reign of Christ on the earth.

Jesus told us in Matthew 24:27-31 that this will be a climatic event. Earth shaking, climatic events will take place with suddenness. This is the same return we read about in Revelation 19. Everyone living on the earth will suddenly see the events taking place in the heavens. I do not know what the “sign of the Son of Man” appearing in the sky will be. But the Bible tells us, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen” (Revelation 1:7, caps indicate Old Testament quote in NASB). I do know the whole world will see Jesus Christ returning in glory. It will be the lightning strike that grabs and holds worldwide attention. This is how Jesus described it:

For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.

If CNN and the media are still around for the occasion this will be the most widely covered event in history.

The Battle of Armageddon will take place in the valley of Jezreel in Israel at the end of the Tribulation. Revelation 20:8 should be distinguished from 17:14; 19:19 (Armageddon) because it follows the thousand year reign of Christ. Gog and Magog are symbolic figures that represent the nations of the world who ban together for a final assault against the Kingdom of God at the end of the millennial reign of Christ.

When Christ rides out of heaven to take His throne the enemies of Christ who have joined with the Antichrist and his false prophet will meet Christ for battle (19:17-21). At that time Christ will judge His enemies and they will be thrown into the lake of fire. It will be a time of great slaughter. The armies of the earth will all be destroyed because they have allied with the forces of the Antichrist. Christ will have defeated them all at this time.

Not only will the enemies of Christ be judged, but it will also be a time when the remnant that survives the Great Tribulation will recognize Jesus Christ as the true Messiah of God.
Jewish people will recognize the true Messiah of Israel

The words of the Hebrew prophet Zechariah will be fulfilled. “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (12:10). This will be a time of repentance for the people of Israel. They will weep and mourn over their rejection of Jesus Christ, their true Messiah. When Jesus Christ returns His own people will receive Him as their Messiah and King.
Satan will be chained for a thousand years.

The millennium will be a golden age of peace and righteousness on the earth because Satan will be chained for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3).

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

Satan will no longer have access to the world’s political leaders. He will not be around to deceive the world leaders during that period of time. Jesus Christ will truly reign as sovereign king. He will come forth with His saints, win the battle of Armageddon, judge the Antichrist and false prophet bind Satan and usher in His kingdom.
THE PATTERN OF THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST

How will the most perfect and unique kingdom in history function?
This will be the rule of God.

This will not be the rule of the majority. It will not be a government of the people, nor decision making according to the latest political polls. Jesus Christ will rule “with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:27; 19:15). There won’t be any riots and rebellions at this time. He will have total absolute dominion as a theocratic sovereign. Again the words of the prophet Zechariah echo across the page of history. “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one” (14:9).
Jesus will rule in righteousness

If we had time we could gather up all those Messianic passages in the Old Testament and recite them here. Listen to Isaiah as he described this righteous rule by the righteous ruler in 11:4-5.

But with righteousness He will judge the poor,
And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth;
And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked.
Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins,
And faithfulness the belt about His waist.

The prophet Jeremiah echoed the same thoughts when He declared that God would raise up the righteous branch of David and He would be called, “The LORD our righteousness.” This is what he wrote 2,600 years ago in Jeremiah 23:5, 6.

Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
In His days Judah will be saved,

And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called,
‘The Lord our righteousness.’

The millennium will be a time of absolute righteousness when God is in control of events.
The Prince of Peace will rule

As we begin a new millennium our hearts and prayers long for universal peace. There are over fifty civil wars going on in our world today. For the first time in recorded history the world will know peace. It won’t come from politicians, but from God. Again, the words of the Hebrew prophet Isaiah (11:6-9),

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie down with the young goat,
And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will lead them.
Also the cow and the bear will graze,
Their young will lie down together,
And the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.

Even nature will be brought back into harmony with God’s eternal purpose. The millennial reign of Christ will be a time of perfect peace.
Knowledge of God will cover the earth

Isaiah wrote, “For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (v. 9c). Truth will be everywhere and people will act accordingly (cf. 45:5-7; 52:10; 66:18-19; Jeremiah 31:33-34).
This will be a time of prosperity

Prosperity will abound during the millennial reign of Christ. The whole earth will function the way the Creator intended it to function when He created it. Isaiah saw this time of prosperity (30:23; 35:7; 29:18; 35:6; 33:24; 65:21-22).

This leads to another question you have probably pondered. What will we be doing during the millennium?
THE PROGRAM OF THE MILLENNIAL REIGN OF CHRIST
We will be His servants

Resurrected and raptured saints will return with Christ and serve Him in His kingdom during the millennium. Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 19:28-30;

Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.

A frequent theme in the Scriptures is the fact that all the saints of God, who are now raised up will share in Christ’s reign (Daniel 7:9, 22; 1 Corinthians 4:8; 6:2-3; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26, 28; 3:12, 21; 5:9-10).

There will be plenty for us to do in His kingdom, but until then it is a good reminder that the Christian life is of grace from the very beginning to the very end. It is lived by the principle of grace. It begins in grace and it must continue by grace and it ends by grace. The rewards of service are by His grace.
Jesus will turn the kingdom over to His Father

The apostle Paul tells us about the arrival of the king, His Parousia in 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 28. He writes, “then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. . . When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”

Satan will be released for a short period of time and will bring out the rebellious nature in some of those who were born during the millennium. This final battle will be God and Magog. Satan will bring together everyone on earth who still has a rebellious, depraved nature. The apostle John writes, “the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (20:10). The verses that follow describe the final judgment of all unbelievers before the great white throne of judgment.

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15).

This is a dreadful picture of a violent end of a life lived without Christ. It reminds us that our only hope is in the saving work of Jesus Christ. John brings to a dramatic climax his visions in chapters 21 and 22. It is the final state of all things. In deed, it might be the most important sight in the book. It is a picture of the new heaven and new earth and New Jerusalem. The earthly city of Babylon with its love of self will pass away, and the heavenly city of Jerusalem filled with God’s love will endure though all eternity.

We are wise to seriously ponder the question, is my name written down in the book of life? Do I know it as a fact? What are my attitudes toward Jesus Christ? Have I come to the place in my life that I know that if I die today I will go to heaven? If I died and stood before the Lord God today and He said to me, why should I let you into My heaven? What would I say? How would I answer the Supreme Judge of the universe?

The Bible tells us in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” God has demonstrated His love for us by sending His Son to die for us on the cross. Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).

Will you take a few moments right now and do business with God? Confess to Him your unbelief and your need of Jesus Christ as your personal Savior. Believe that Jesus died for your sins on the cross and rose from the dead. Ask Him to be your Savior right now. “Lord God, I have sinned against You. I confess to You my need for You to save me. I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died for me on the cross and that He is alive today. I thank you for going to the cross and dying for me. I ask You to be my Lord and Savior today. I give myself to You. Amen.”

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