The Thousand-Year Reign

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

I.         Revelation 20:4-6

            A.        Many elaborate theories are based on this

                        1.         Some teach that Christ, at his second coming, sets up a kingdom here on earth.

                        2.         Christians from the early church are raised up to rule with him.

                        3.         After a peaceful, thousand-year reign, the Devil is released

                        4.         A seven-year battle ensues (the years of tribulation) where Satan is defeated.

            B.        The teachings vary widely by groups. For example, some place the seven-years of battle before the return, some place it after. Some have the dead raised before the tribulation, some after Christ’s reign. And so on.

            C.        The problem is that these ideas are not supported by the Scriptures

                        1.         The method used to understand this passage is all wrong.

                        2.         It assigns a literal interpretation on a book written in signs - Revelation 1:1

                        3.         It places distant meanings on a book that mostly contains things which will shortly take place - Revelation 1:1,3

            D.        How do we figure out what Revelation says, if it is symbolic?

                        1.         Revelation is done in a style similar to many of the prophetic books in the Old Testament, it also bears some relation to the Song of Solomon.

                        2.         It presents a series of pictures described in words. The images described signify (or represents) things in real life.

                        3.         If we grasp the meaning of each element in the picture, we can understand the scenes as a whole.

II.        The picture in Revelation 20:4-6

            A.        The center of the picture is a group of people

                        1.         They were beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and the Bible

                        2.         They had not worshiped the beast or his image

                        3.         They had not received the mark of the beast

            B.        You probably already suspect that this is a picture of Christians

                        1.         But what is the beast?

                                    a.         Revelation talks of two beasts.

                                                (1)       Revelation 13:1 speaks of a beast from the sea, who is worshiped (Revelation 13:8). We learned that this beast was the government of Rome.

                                                (2)       Revelation 13:11 speaks of a beast from the earth, who sets up an image of the first beast to be worshiped (Revelation 13:14-15) and marks the worshipers of the image (Revelation 13:16). We learned that this beast was the religion of Rome, in particular emperor worship.

                                    b.         Behind these two beasts is the great dragon.

                                                (1)       The dragon summoned the beast from the sea - Revelation 13:1

                                                (2)       The beast from the land spoke like the dragon - Revelation 13:11

                                                (3)       The dragon, we are told is Satan - Revelation 20:2

                                    c.         The beasts and the images are all representatives of Satan - II Corinthians 11:13-15

                        2.         The marks are used to indicate ownership, like a brand on cattle - Exodus 21:2-6

                                    a.         Before we became Christians, we were bond servants of sin - Romans 6:16-18

                                    b.         That means Satan was our master, but no longer.

            C.        But these people reign with Christ for a thousand years

                        1.         Romans 5:17 - Christians reign in life through Christ

                        2.         II Timothy 2:11-12 - Those who die in Christ will reign with Christ

                        3.         When is Christ’s reign?

                                    a.         He currently reigns - I Corinthians 15:25-26

                                    b.         His reigns ends at his second coming - I Corinthians 15:24

                                    c.         He cannot begin a reign on earth at his return because the world at that time ends - II Peter 3:10

                                    d.         Because Jesus currently reigns, this is the reason Jesus’ church is called his kingdom - Colossians 1:13. Jesus is our ruler and we are the citizens of his kingdom.

                        4.         The thousand years refer to a complete, large set of years. As with the other symbols, it is not literal, but representative.

III.       What is the first resurrection?

            A.        Those who are a part of the first resurrection will not face the second death

                        1.         The second death is the condemnation to Hell at Judgment - Revelation 20:14-15

                        2.         Those in the book of life won’t suffer this death - Revelation 20:15

                        3.         Those who overcome will not be a part of it - Revelation 2:11

                        4.         Revelation 21:7-8 lists the type of people who will suffer the second death

                        5.         If Hell is the second death, what is the first?

                                    a.         The death we all must face one day - Hebrews 9:27

                                    b.         After the first death comes judgment with the possibility of a second death.

            B.        Those who are a part of the first resurrection are priests of God

                        1.         Once again, we are talking of Christians - I Peter 2:9

                        2.         As Christians, we will also reign with Christ.

            C.        So how do people become priests (or Christians)?

                        1.         By being baptized into the likeness of Christ’s death - Romans 6:3-6

                        2.         This is what II Timothy 2:11-12 alludes to, our death with Christ in baptism.

                        3.         A similar thing is mentioned in Ephesians 2:1, 4-7.

                        4.         Therefore, becoming a Christian is the first resurrection, when we come out of the water to a new life.

            D.        If there is a first resurrection, then there must be a second

                        1.         I Thessalonians 4:13-18 - The dead will rise at Jesus’ second coming.

                        2.         John 5:28-29 - Both the good and the bad will be raised.

                        3.         This is what Revelation 20:5 refers to the rising of the rest of the dead.

IV.      Hence, Revelation 20:4-6 covers the rest of the Christian age in a few brief statements. What follows is a description of the final triumph.

            A.        Now that we have covered these things, let us look at Daniel 7:7-27

                        1.         Notice the great, fourth beast, whom God said would be a fourth kingdom, or empire (from Daniel’s time, this refers to Rome)

                        2.         The rulers (horns) of the beast are full of boasts (or blasphemies)

                        3.         Eventually this beast would be slain and burnt (just as in Revelation 19)

                        4.         Before it is slain, during an extension of time, the Son of Man comes and sets up a kingdom which will not end.

                        5.         The saints of God will receive and possess that kingdom

                        6.         A really wicked ruler will arise and during his reign, the saints would be persecuted.

                        7.         But the ruler will be destroyed and the rule will be turned over to the saints of God

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