"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The TTUF STUDY on The REVELATION of JESUS CHRIST – Chapter TWENTY

 
~ by James Fire

Introduction: We have done a very comprehensive (certainly not exhaustive) study on what’s been called the Millennium on TTUF. The Old Testament survey is completed, the New Testament survey is underway as of DEC of 2020.

In REVELATION 20 a 1,000 year period of time is mentioned six times, and it deals with specific people and details that necessarily dismisses this as a mere allegory. Two things happen immediately that commences this new era on the Earth;

The LORD Jesus Christ returns from heaven to Earth just as was promised in the Scriptures (MATT 24:30-31; ACTS 1:11; 2 THESS 1:7-10; TITUS 2:13; ISAIAH 34:6; 63:1; ZECH 14:5 to name but a few) and the binding of the dragon aka the Devil, or Satan.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Satan is going to have a lot of company there in “the bottomless pit” – all the principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, the spiritual wickedness (EPH 6:12), all of these fallen angels (2 PET 2:4) and the demons as well (MATT 8:28-29).
Some have suggested that the rest of his kingdom will be immediately consigned to the flames of Gehenna prior to the Millennium, but that doesn’t seem likely because Paul the apostle said that we (the church) will one day judge angels (1 COR 6:3); so there would have to be some (fallen) angels to judge, and it doesn’t seem likely, not to mention that Scripture is silent about these spiritual beings of the dark kind are temporarily released from Gehenna only to be returned there after the Judgment!

This 1,000 year reign will be an era completely pure of any wicked and unclean spirits; thus mankind will not experience tempters who now seek to lure people into sin, trespasses, transgressions, wickedness, abominations, and blasphemies.

In contrast, the holiness, the righteousness, the justice as well as the grace, truth, peace, and joy of the LORD Jesus Christ will be realized among the nations, and preeminently, the nation of Israel and the church also, she who is the bride of Christ!

Yet this will not be an entirely sinless era because death is still present (just rare; ISAIAH 65:20), brief pockets of rebellion will be occurring, but instantly dealt with (See ZECH 14; esp. vs.16-19), by Christ’s “rod of iron” (REV 12:5; PSALM 2:9); we the church will bear this authority as well (REV 2:27).

Let’s explore then, this remarkable era that will bless us saints when we, after the rapture, and the blessed time in heaven with our LORD, shall return to Earth under His righteous and blessed management!

REVELATION 20:1-2
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

This is not Michael the arch angel or Gabriel. Michael however has had altercations with this adversary before over the body of Moses (JUDE 1:9) and again when the devil and his legions were assaulted and defeated by Michael and the heavenly hosts, being cast down and forbidden any further access to the heavenlies (REV 12:7-10), but this is an unnamed angel, presumably a non-descript spirit that was an ‘average’ specimen of his kind (hard to think of any angel as “average” though!). 

Yet he was able to lay hold and bind this dragon and cast him into the bottomless pit. This one named Lucifer who was the greatest and most powerful of GOD’s created beings (probably even more powerful than Michael; see EZEK 28:11-14). 

How is it then that a ‘common’ angel could overpower this formidable foe?
Without a doubt, it was by the authority of GOD that commanded Satan to be bound with this “chain” that was issued to him, with which he indeed bound this infernal fiend!

Along with this chain, he was issued this key, and so, the bottomless pit was opened up once again and this prisoner of GOD is incarcerated for 10 centuries, certainly spending his time there vainly brooding and plotting his revenge! Having his pride terribly wounded by this defeat, he will emerge from his imprisonment with renewed and seething hatred and animosity towards GOD, vowing to destroy His people dwelling in Jerusalem!

I remember the late pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa responding to the assertion that we are currently living in the Millennium; he said: “If that’s true, then his [Satan’s] chain is too long!

I must admit, I’ll thoroughly enjoy seeing him humiliated in this way, and hear his raucous roar of protest abruptly silenced when this angel “shuts him up”!

REVELATION 20:3
3 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.

This seal is obviously powerful enough to keep Satan from escaping, and when he finally gets out of the abyss, it’s not by his own power, rather he is “loosed for a little season”. 
This is a seal that bears the authority of the One who granted it, meaning that no one other than this One Who is worthy can break the seal (REV 6:1-17; 8:1) which He does when His enemy is permitted to leave his prison.

In the case of the seven sealed scroll that was in the hand of the Father, this scroll is the title deed of the Earth, which Christ purchased with His own blood (REV 5:9), hence of absolute authority to break those seals.

For more about this scroll which is the title deed of the Earth, check out Joseph R. Chambers article by RAPTURE READY ministries.

Pilate’s seal on the sepulcher of Christ (MATT 27:65-66) was secure and the only one who had authority to break that seal was Pilate; and the Greater Potentate Who is Christ, of course (which He did!!)!
In the case of the saint, who is sealed by the Holy Spirit (EPH 1:13) these are secure in their salvation, because no one can break this seal either, except for the One Who granted it, and He has stated that “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (HEB 13:5). 

For this reason I don’t believe that any demon can possess the spirit of the Christian who houses the Spirit of GOD there and is sealed beyond any breaching. Satan can’t breach the seal placed on the abyss, effectively trapping him, so too none of his subordinates (lesser creatures than himself, certainly) can invade the heart of a believer. 

This does not rule out the possibility of demonic oppression or attack from outside of the Christian, if they are either meddling with ungodly things, especially of an occult nature or prove to be a threat to the kingdom of darkness and are assailed while some piece of their armor and, or spiritual weapons (EPH 6:10-19) are not in place.

Satan is not allowed his freedom until these thousand years are completed, and when he is released, he goes out to deceive the nations (something he obviously can’t do from prison) and in this last ditch effort to incite rebellion, he is finally met with absolute, incontestable defeat, and the foolish who follow him are consumed by the fire of GOD. 

We can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like, that when the trumpet sounds, and we saints are instantly, radically, entirely transformed from these frail, slowly rotting physical bodies, cursed with sin to the immensely powerful, spiritually robust glorified minds and bodies that will be teeming with the full intensity of fresh-breathed life by the Spirit of GOD, to perceive the glory of GOD and the ‘unmirrored’ Face of our LORD Jesus Christ (1 COR 13:12)!

To be so overwhelmed by the enormity of the holiness, grace and love of GOD and possess the ability to comprehend it to its fullest depth, and to issue such worship and praises as He is worthy of; to see Him receive to His satisfaction the love from His bride is a joy that brings me to tears!

Then after our time in these glories, enjoying the LAMB’s Wedding Feast, the Marriage Supper of the LAMB, and the BEMA Seat Judgment (not necessarily in this order) for rewards, and such rewards we receive for faithful service solely out of a heart of love for our LORD (1 COR 13; DEUT 30:20) will be emblems with which we shall honor the LORD with greater and higher worship: declaring that such works for which we receive reward were ONLY POSSIBLE by the Spirit of grace that our LORD imparted to us, and so He is worthy to receive the crowns – and all the other rewards – to be cast at His nail-scarred feet. . . 

. . .then we return to this Earth; we step back into this space/time continuum and find that here, seven years has passed. The beast and his armies are about to wipe Israel out of existence. The LORD Jesus intervenes and takes the beast, as well as the false prophet out, consigning them to the lake of fire; Satan is bound, and the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom begins!

REVELATION 20:4
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.

During this present time, the church which is the body of Christ, His bride receives the kingdom of GOD with much affliction and tribulation – apart from here in America (so far! See ACTS 14:22), but these tribulations are distinct from the seven year period known as Daniel’s seventieth week prophecy. 

Now tribulation is a phenomena that the church experiences as a result of being the light of the LORD through Jesus Christ, which the world hates and persecutes (JOHN 3:20). During this time of seven years, this tribulation is sanctioned and sent forth by GOD and it’s focus is not the saints (who suffer persecution just as they have ever since Cain slew Abel) but rather the Christ-rejecting world that refuses Him as LORD (PSALM 2:2-5).

The saints are likewise persecuted during this time as well, for they will be beheaded for their witness and allegiance to the LORD Jesus Christ who utterly rebelled against the Beast and his rule. The injustice and implacable mercilessness of this world will be judged by these who are seated upon these thrones. 
This is the third time that “a thousand years” is mentioned, with far more references forthcoming. To say that this is mere allegory, in my opinion is a violation of the text. 

The saints facing the guillotine will know an instant of death, only to be then ushered into the presence of the LORD, where they will see Jesus, I’m persuaded, standing (not sitting; see ACTS 7:55-56) at the right hand of GOD, even as He was so doing when Stephen was stoned to death and was received by His LORD, standing to greet His faithful martyr.

All sorrow and suffering, despondency and death will then be behind them, never to return and forever more they shall live with the LORD Christ, and for a thousand years they shall reign with Him!

It has always been the inheritance of the saints who have been humiliated, that they will be honored (PROV 15:33;18:12)!

REVELATION 20:5-6
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 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.

The first resurrection is mentioned here, and there is a second – the first is a blessed resurrection; whereas the second is cursed. The first is the resurrection of the righteous saints of GOD; the second is the resurrection of the damned.

Most people see these as two events, but I see them as two categories; certainly, the resurrection of the damned is justifiably confined to that event at the Great White Throne Judgment, but what of the resurrection of the just, most notably, the resurrection of the first fruits, Christ Himself? – and those who resurrected with Him on the third day (MATT 27:52-53)? What of the resurrection of the two witnesses? Are these not resurrected, and just saints? 

In this category could we not also include the church, the bride of Christ that is seen resurrected in 1 THESS 4:16-18 (“the dead in Christ”) as distinct from those yet living who are raptured, yet included in these beloved of the LORD, taken up to meet the LORD in the air!
Those who believe the church won’t be resurrected until REVELATION 20:6 should prayerfully consider this perspective.

‘Reigning priests’ would involve the church; if GOD is consistent with His dealings with Israel, then this would exclude them from this specific category as their kings and priests were always mutually exclusive (kings always came from the tribe of Judah, the priests always from Levi); Melchizedek was both a king and a priest, and as the type of Christ, we recognize the offices of both King and (High) Priest as being His; but also of the church (REV 1:6; 5:10; 1 PET 2:9).

REVELATION 20:7-9
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.  9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.

Think about the pernicious, everlasting persistence of evil – after having his new world order stifled at the tower of Babel, and having to slowly rebuild it (ideologically at any rate) over these thousands of years, only to find it decimated at the Second Coming of Christ, then consigned to imprisonment for a thousand years, and upon his release . . . is he humbled, contrite, resigned? No, if anything he is all the more determined in his rebellion.

Such is the fruit of sin. It breeds rebellion and it becomes “fruitful and multiplies”.
The heart of man is no less relentless in his rebellion against His Maker!
Both fallen angel and fallen man are victims of their own pride; and because of pride (a form of leaven) they are susceptible to false doctrines (also a form of leaven) and false beliefs (Satan believing he can be like the most high; Adam believing he could be a god in his own right). Pride insists that its doctrine and ‘personal truth’ is superior to GOD’s!

Thus, when Satan goes out once again to deceive the nations, the nations – specifically the people comprising them, will be prone to deception (something the LORD Jesus warned about four times in MATTHEW 24. When He was explaining to His disciples about the reign of anti-Christ and the domain of deception that will overwhelm the world at that time). They will, after experiencing paradise under the reign of Christ, rebel against Him in willingly following the devil!

EZEKIEL 38 and EZEKIEL 39 speaks of God and Magog, and for the fact that they are mentioned here in vs. 8, many assume the prophecy declared by that prophet as the battle of Armageddon. I personally believe that this prophecy precedes the time of Daniel’s 70th week and not part of the battle of Armageddon.

Firstly, consider that at the conclusion of the battle of Magog, a mere 16% of its forces survive and retreat back to the northern region (EZEK 39:2), and during the interim of this event to occur “in the latter days” and the termination of this thousand year period could easily repopulate and ‘endure’ this reign of Christ, until finally Satan is loosed and pledge their allegiance to this supreme rebel. It makes me wonder what sort of allegiance was pledged in Magog’s attack upon Israel to this fallen angel?

In the Ezekiel prophecy, Magog is after “a spoil” (EZEK 38:12) but here in REVELATION 20, they are after Jerusalem’s utter destruction, and in this case, there are no survivors at all. The fire of GOD rains down upon them and they are utterly consumed, with the exception of Satan himself, who is then subject to the Lake of Fire:

REVELATION 20:10
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Annihilation is a false doctrine; there are many advocates of this belief that balk at the eternal judgment of GOD and its resulting everlasting destruction that unrepentant sinners will experience forever. We have dealt with this subject at length in a series of TTUF articles, entitled CHRIST’s COURT: Soon In Session

What they fail to appreciate is the absolute holiness and justice of GOD; yes, He is love and He is full of grace – and also of truth.
Those who will not receive the grace of GOD, and His love, through the Person of Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior, having rejected the Gospel, will be subject to the truth and justice of GOD. His Holy Law, that we have all broken is eternal as is His truth as well as He Himself. Therefore any violation of His Law would result in punishment equal to the crime: eternal justice – eternal punishment.

This is why it’s imperative that the Gospel message reach and rescue the lost from this terrible Day of Judgment that is marked on GOD’s calendar, and will not be postponed! Since none of us knows the hour of our death, it’s all the more urgent that people believe the Gospel and be saved from damnation.

We must remember always:

2 PETER 3:9
The LORD is not slack concerning His promise as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance

JOHN 8:12
Then spoke Jesus again unto them saying, I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

JOHN 3:18-19
He that believes on Him [Christ] is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of GOD. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

The anti-Christ and the false prophet were cast into the lake of fire (Gehenna) before the Millennium began and now a thousand years later when Satan is cast there as well, we see that these two are still there, unconsumed, still existing, and they like Satan and all of the condemned “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.

And so we come to it: the day of which prophets and apostles have warned in word and in writ; the Day of Judgment. This day is often caricaturized by the proverbial long-bearded man with the placard over his chest typically saying, “Judgment Day is Coming!

A subject of mockery and ridicule by unbelievers for millennia. They mocked and jeered in the days of Noah – until the first miraculous raindrop fell upon their heads that announced the deluge that destroyed everything.
They laughed and scoffed in the days of Lot, but in moments the cities of Sodom and Gomora were mountainous ash heaps.

So it is in these last days as well:

2 PETER 3:3-4,7
Knowing this first that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation…but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

May we seek the LORD in seeking the lost, that He will guide us by His Spirit to those who are thirsting and hungering for righteousness, who desire the truth, who understand their need for salvation.

REVELATION 20:11-13
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

I’ve pictured this scene countless times before: all of creation: heaven and earth are swept aside and all that remains is a black, fathomless void, with souls suspended without any kind of foundation under their feet, before a dazzling throne of intensely bright and holy light that pierces straight to the heart, exposing everything in complete detail. 

Before them is the Son of GOD, to Whom the Father has rendered all authority to be the Judge of the ages (JOHN 5:22); He shall judge the living and the dead (2 TIM 4:1). Not a single soul will be able to open their mouths in a vain attempt to justify themselves before the Judge of all the earth:

ROMANS 3:19
Now we know that whatever things the law says, it says to them who are under the Law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before GOD.

We saints are not under the Law but under grace (ROM 6:14-15); would that all the world were in such a state: it would have literally depopulated hell! How the heart of GOD is broken, just because of the broad way that leads to destruction and many there are that go in that way (MATT 7:13). The LORD implores not only Israel, but all souls that He has made:

EZEKIEL 18:31
Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 

We see many books in this scene, and among them, the book of Life.
This Book of Life is a roster of all the citizens of heaven that have trusted in Christ Jesus, Y’shua ha Mashiach as their LORD and Savior and obtained salvation through grace by faith in the LORD and Him alone (ROM 4:16; 5:15; EPH 2:8-9; 2 TIM 1:9). They have obeyed the Gospel and received the Savior as their LORD with a heart of love and devotion. 

This Book testifies that the very One that they have professed in their lives is the very One Who is their life! And that knowledge of the Holy One on a personal level is life eternal (JOHN 17:3).
To those listed, the LORD will never say, “I never knew you…”. Interesting that we find nowhere recorded in Scripture the words, “Once I knew you, but no longer.” Those that the LORD saves, He keeps to the very end (See JOHN 17:12; PHIL 1:6; 2 THESS 3:3; 2 TIM 1:12; JUDE 1:24; 1 PET 1:3-5).

Then we see “the books” opened and those who face GOD on this terrible and dreadful day of Judgment will be judged based on what’s recorded in these books:
“…and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” 

There is no escaping the penetrating, fiery gaze of the all-knowing LORD of Glory:

JEREMIAH 17:9-10
9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? 10 I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

JEREMIAH 23:23-24
23 Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? 24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

JOHN 2:24-25
24 But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, 25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

The terror of that Day will realize the true heart of mankind apart from salvation in Christ:

MARK 7:20-23
20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: 23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

Humanity, be it religious, moral, sincere, what have you, is utterly hopeless, with absolutely no chance in the least of GOD’s mercies on that Day; all of GOD’s grace and mercies come through His Son the LORD Jesus Christ. 

None will be afforded a second venue by which they may receive these blessings. Those who refuse the grace of GOD through the LORD Jesus the Savior will be granted the justice of GOD through the LORD Jesus the Judge!

Not only the sea, but hell (Sheol in Hebrew or Hades in the Greek) will give up the dead so that not a single soul will be excluded from this Judgment (except for all the souls covered by the blood of the LAMB). 

We often think of the place of fire and brimstone as hell, but in this context, this is the holding cell of the damned, who will reside here from the time of their death until Judgment Day. In that forlorn place of abject misery, souls consigned there will know the truth – that the Bible is indeed the very Word of GOD, that what it speaks on concerning the world, the spiritual and physical domains is absolutely accurate, and that they’ve missed the chance to receive freely the grace of GOD through Jesus. They understand that the unavoidable approach of that Day will mean that they will suffer the eternal flames of the second death:

REVELATION 20:14-15
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

As I’ve said so often, frequently with broken heart if not tears in my eyes:
“There are no exit signs in hell (speaking not of Hades, but of Gehenna, the fiery place of the damned)”.

Next time, REVELATION 21 with the commencement of the “happy ending” that the redeemed shall enjoy, but really – it will be a happiness and a joy without any ending, but eternal in the presence of our Father, the LORD Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, along with the church and all the saints and angels!

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