1. A few weeks ago we heard heaven celebrate the victory over the false church. We saw how there would be a great wedding feast when the bride and the lamb would celebrate their wedding. And we saw Christ defeat all the forces of evil.
2. As we have seen time and time again, the book of Revelation often describes the same event from different vantage points or perspectives. The victory by Christ in chapter 19 depicts Armageddon which we have seen before, on time in chapter 16. And we have often seen that the events we read about represent the entire dispensation between Christ’s ascension and the day when He will return in glory.
3. The passage we begin with today is one that is interpreted in various ways. While I will briefly share what these interpretations are we will concentrate on the interpretation which is Reformed, which ties in to how we have been interpreting the entire book and I believe is the correct view. A few years ago, I could not have said this. But through my studies for this sermon series I have accepted this view as the most probable.
4. John sees another vision. There are two parts to this vision. Two events that occur to the dragon. One at the beginning of the thousand years and one at the end.
5. John sees an angel coming down from heaven having the key to the Abyss and holding a great chain. The Abyss is the home of the devil and his angels. The key and chain should not be taken literally as actual objects but the represent the fact that Satan is bound by an actual decree from heaven. He is bound, thrown in the Abyss which is locked and sealed over him. This all represented the fact that Satan, the devil, will be unable to deceive the nations for 1,000 years after which he will be released for a short time.
6. The big question for debate is "what is the thousand years? when will it take place?
a. One view is the postmillenial view. This view is that the world will become Christian as the church establishes the kingdom in preparation for Christ’s return. This kingdom will be a time of peace and prosperity - the millenium. At the end of the millenium, Christ will return.
b. Another view, the one which is presented on many television shows such as Van Impe and in many book, is the premillenial view/ That the world will continue to grow evil until the time when Christ returns. At this time the first resurrection will occur. There will be a literal reign of Christ on the earth. At the end of the millenium, there will be second resurrection at which time there will be a final judgement and God’s kingdom will be established forever. This view looks at our passages as occurring one after another rather that restating the same events from different perspectives.
c. The reformed view and the one we present is the amillenial view. That view is that we are in the millennium today. That the thousand years is not exactly 1,000 years. But that it is a symbolic number, a number of completeness - 10 x 10 x 10. And that it represents the present age, the time between Christ’s first and second coming.
This view ties in with much of scripture. Christ only establishes his kingdom once at the end times, returns only once. There is only one resurrection and there is only one judgement that takes place. We could spend the entire time arguing why the amillennial view is right but instaed I will gladly suggest readings to you if you wish to study this further.
7. Satan is bound from doing one thing, from deceiving the nations. That means deceiving those nations that are in the four corners of the earth, as we read in vs.7. These nations, represented by Gog and Magog are the nations that we already talked about. Those who would gather together at Armageddon to fight the anti-Christian nations or nominally Christian nations. These are what at one time were considered the pagan nations. In the Old Testament Satan incited nations to fight against God’s people, the nation of Israel. That includes the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. These also may be the first 6 of the 7 horns of the beast.
But after Christ defeated, in essence, Satan at the cross, he has been bound to not deceive any nation into attacking the new Israel, the church, the people of God. But that will change for a short period of time at the end-times. That attempt by the pagan nations will be short-lived and in fact they will end up destroying the anti-Christian nations.
8. During this same period of time, as John sees, there are thrones upon which are seated those who have been given authority to judge. This represents the church triumphant. They will reign with Christ during this dispensation. Who are they?
9. Vs. 4 says they are those who have been beheaded because of their testimony amd becasue of the word. This again should not be taken literally. As if only those saints who were beheaded will reign. Earlier in Revelation we read that the saints will reign with Christ.
Rev 2:26-27 To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations– 'He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery' -- just as I have received authority from my Father.
Rev 3:21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.
These are those believers who have died and are with Christ in heaven (although could refer to all martyrs only).
10. This does not mean that Christ hands over to them His rule. But they share in this rule because they know His mind and share in His judgements and partake in them. Vs. 5 says they came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. This is the first resurrection. This refers to the resurrection of our souls to heaven which happens at the moment at which we die.
11. The rest refers to those who are not saints. Those whose destination is hell. Their souls are not resurrected or brought to life until Christ returns. Where their souls are and in what state is not clearly revealed to us in Scripture. Vs. 5 says that the second death will have no power over the saints. This refers to the fact that the wicked will experience a second death when they are judged and cast into the fiery lake of burning fire. The believers will escape this second death
12. In verse 7 we read about what happens when Satan is released. We have already seen how this refers to Armageddon and to the defeat of Satan and all the anti-Christian powers and forces. This will last a short time and this ties in with chapter 18 in which we read that in one hour, a short period, Babylon’s doom has come.
13. In verse 10 we read of the judgement of the devil. No formal or public judgement is presented. That is not necessary. He is thrown into the lake of burning sulfur into which the beast and false prophet had been cast. Together, they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. The torment will be continuous with no relief at all. And there will be no end to the torment. Satan will have performed his last act of deception. He will deceive the nations no more. His defeat is final.
14. Then, in verse 11, John sees a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. The throne is great indicating the magnitude of the judgement. All the dead, all who ever lived will be judges. Great and small, the wicked and the saints. The throne is white. This symbolizes the glory and holiness and righteousness of the judge and the judgements that will follow.
15. Who is this judge? Some say Jesus and others say God the Father. Hoeksema believes it is the Father since he is not described and yet it so terrible, so awesome, that earth and heaven fled from Him. If it is the Father, He will judge in and through Christ.
16. The process of judgement is described to us. There are book which contain all that each person had done. These are probably not actual books. But what is true is that God keeps a record of all that is done by each of us. And this is true for the saints and for the lost, the wicked.
17. The judgement will take place at the second resurrection. All will be resurrected in body. The bodies of the saints and the bodies which were kept in Hades. How that can and will be done is unknown to us. But our bodies and souls will be reunited.
18. All will be judged. We will be reminded of every sin and evil though and act we have committed. We may even be surprised at some of the things that will come to light.
19. What this suggests is that there will be degrees of punishment and rewards for each of us. Different degrees of damnation and suffering. Different degrees of value unto glory.
20. Now we know that we have all sinned. And to hear that we will be judged according to our deeds would lead each one of us to despair. We would all be destined to damnation.
21. But there is another book. The book of life. It is there where God keeps a record of those who have been elected as saints. Who have had their sins washed away by the blood of Christ.
22. What is the result of this judgement? For the elect we will see that in chapters 21 and 22. But there are three other things.
a. First the heavens and the earth will pass away and completely disappear.
2 Pet 3:10-14 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
b. Also, death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire which is the second death. They will be no more. No death, no corruption.
1 Cor. 15:26 says that death is the last enemy that will be destroyed
c. And, thirdly, all the wicked will be consigned to and thrown into the lake of fire.
23. All is now ready for God’s kingdom to come in its fullness. Judgement is past and we will now see the wonders and the glory of what lay ahead. Praise be to God!