Saturday, October 9, 2010

Revelation 20:1-6

Verse 1-3 “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”

Now an angel comes down from heaven with a key in his hand. In particular this is the same key that was used to open up the abyss or bottomless pit once before when Abaddon or Apollyon, if you prefer, was let out to lead his hordes against humanity for five months in the fifth trumpet judgment. Not only does he hold a key, he holds a great chain. Now Satan is going to get his for a while. The angel grabs Satan (note him again being called a dragon or serpent, again an indication that he is probably reptilian in looks and definitely cold-blooded in nature) and binds him up. Then he is cast into the bottomless pit and sealed there for a thousand years - the length of the millennial reign of the Messiah. He is put there for several reasons. 1) This is going to be Yeshua’s promised reign on earth, and He does not have to put up with Satan. 2) This is a test for mankind to prove to them the extent of their sinful hearts, God‘s enduring patience, and the need for Yeshua‘s sacrifice and their repentance. Flip Wilson, a comic from the 70‘s used to say, “the devil made me do it” when playing one of his characters. Well, mankind is always blaming the devil for their sins. With him and all his hordes removed, when mankind sins and rebels, he has no one to blame but himself. This world under Yeshua’s reign should be a paradise as far as mankind is concerned. Crime, disease and illness, poverty - all of these are unknown. Death is set aside as people can live for the entire millennium, and even the animal kingdom is rendered harmless. There is no harassment from spiritual entities. The truth of God is alive for all to know, as Yeshua will live among mankind. There will be no deception, no false religions, no false science, nothing but truth. No wars, only peace. No excuses for sin at all. But the Messiah rules with an iron rod, and man is sinful by nature. He will feel repressed and resentful of all the rules by which he has to live, as man still has to accept Yeshua as his personal Savior to have his heart changed. This will be revealed at the end of the thousand years when Satan is loosed again for a little season to lead man in a rebellion against God once again, and the majority of the world follows him.

Verse 4 “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Now John sees a lot of thrones. Oddly he does not preface the pronoun “they” with an antecedent, so we have to read further and cull from other verses as to who the “they” are that sat upon them. In Daniel 7:21-22 we read, “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.” In 1 Cor. 6:2-3 it says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” From these verses and from the rest of verse 4 above, we come to the conclusion that the “they” on the thrones are the saints. As Paul was also addressing the saints of his day, we can assume that this refers to all the saints, not just the tribulation saints.

Then John brings up a specific group that he recognizes as having seen before, also sitting on the thrones and reigning with Yeshua. They are the ones he saw in the fifth seal who were beheaded. Well, here is where we now have confirmation that the fifth seal can refer to not only those who have been beheaded in times past for the sake of the Messiah (although it is not definitive that it refers to them at all), but specifically refers to the martyrs of the great tribulation. This verse seals the deal, so to speak, that the tribulation is found in the fifth seal, as it says they were beheaded not only for the witness of Jesus and the word of God (which martyrs since Stephen have been), but because they had not worshipped the beast or his image, nor had they received the mark on their hands or foreheads. This verse verifies completely that the tribulation takes place in the fifth seal and that the heavenly signs which occur in the sixth seal are the same ones which are mentioned in Matthew 24 (which also come after the tribulation in that passage). If there was any question as to where the abomination of desolation takes place in Revelation, this clarifies it. The midpoint of the seven years definitively occurs in seal number five for those who would put it elsewhere. John sees the same beheaded people he saw in the fifth seal under the altar here on the thrones and now identifies them as having been beheaded for not taking the mark of the beast and worshipping him. There would be no point in the fifth seal for mentioning that they died of beheading, if it were not to direct us to something further. And vice versa. There would be no point in mentioning it here, if it did not directly point back. John is referring back to what he has seen before, so that we will connect the dots. This is God’s way of confirming the timing.

These saints will live and reign with Yeshua during the millennium. Just as when Israel lived under a theocracy with judges to rule over them before they insisted upon having kings, so will we be the judges during the theocracy of the millennium. For those who take a spiritual approach to this passage and preach that we are in the millennium right now, I would quickly like to point out that the people on the thrones of earth at this moment are not exactly saints. I would also like to point out that Satan could hardly be said to be bound.

Verse 5 “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.”

The only people resurrected at the time of the Second Coming are believers, whether they lived before or after Yeshua’s first coming. This is the first resurrection. There are two resurrections. The second one is for unbelievers. There is no need for another, as believers will not die during the millennium. After the thousand years are finished, the unbelieving dead will be resurrected for judgment and believers will enter into eternity.

Verse 6 “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”

Those who are part of the first resurrection are blessed, as they do not have to suffer the second death. It has no power over them. The second death is the spiritual death. Everyone is born once to a physical body and dies once to a physical body. We also have a spirit that is either alive or dead. That is why Nicodemus was told that we must be born again. Our spirit must be born. When we accept Yeshua, we are born into a spirit life and if we endure to the end, we will be part of the first resurrection (or rapture) and have eternal life. We will be born twice (physically and spiritually) but die only once (physically, unless we are raptured). Unbelievers on the other hand are born once (physically) and will die twice, once physically and then at the second resurrection will have eternal damnation or spiritual death which is the second death. So, those who partake of the first resurrection are blessed as the second death (spiritual death) has no power over them. They will live eternally. Not only that, but they are “priests of God and of Christ”. We will not only be reigning as judges, we will also be priests ministering to the people as well for the thousand years.

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