Sunday, May 3, 2020

The Millennial Reign of Christ

A famous preacher of the past was near death. And he spoke about how he felt when he heard the news. He said, "I remember a year ago when a doctor told me, 'You have an illness from which you won't recover.' I walked out to where I live 5 miles from Portland, Oregon, and I looked across at that mountain that I love. I looked at the river in which I rejoice, and I looked at the stately trees that are always God's own poetry to my soul. Then in the evening I looked up into the great sky where God was lighting His lamps, and I said, ' I may not see you many more times, but Mountain, I shall be alive when you are gone; and River, I shall be alive when you cease running toward the sea; and Stars, I shall be alive when you have fallen from your sockets in the great down pulling of the material universe!' "-W. B. Hinson.

The great fact of the Christian life is that death is not the end, and we have a glorious future ahead of us. Look at the mountains, the fields, the roads, the businesses, even the moon, the sun and the stars, and realize you will exist long after they are gone. There is so much fear in our world. So much fear of the future, the past, and the present. So much fear of the virus, and fear of the economic downturn. Yet for us as followers of Jesus, we have no reason to fear this life, a virus, a downturn, or even death, because we know death is not the end.

Over the past month we’ve gone through a series of messages following Jesus from the moment he entered the city of Jerusalem, to his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension, and the wedding supper of Christ with the church.

Today we consider amazing, mysterious, and astonishing events depicted in the book of Revelation. Today we consider the 1,000 year reign of Christ. Remember that the book of Revelation is a book about the apocalypse, the end of the world and the birth of a new world. We’re dealing with complex concepts in Revelation, so put on your thinking caps.

We looked at how the end times will come, and there will be a time called the great tribulation, and we looked at how the church will be taken to heaven, and will enjoy a feast called the marriage supper of Jesus Christ. In this event we are made one with Christ, as we are one with Him today. He lives in us, and we live in Him. We have this love relationship with God. And I was just praying last night, and not talking as much as listening for God, and just reaching out with my emotions to feel His love for me. And it’s so beautiful how much God loves us. He cares about us so much. And we can feel His love when we pray to Him.

After this ceremony, at the conclusion of the great tribulation on the Earth, Jesus Christ will return. And it says that Jesus is coming with all his holy ones. That’s us. We’re returning with Christ on that day.

It says in Revelation 19:11-16 “11 Then I saw heaven open, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True; it is with justice that he judges and fights his battles. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and he wore many crowns on his head. He had a name written on him, but no one except himself knows what it is. 13 The robe he wore was covered with blood. His name is “The Word of God.” 14 The armies of heaven followed him, riding on white horses and dressed in clean white linen. 15 Out of his mouth came a sharp sword, with which he will defeat the nations. He will rule over them with a rod of iron, and he will trample out the wine in the wine press of the furious anger of the Almighty God. 16 On his robe and on his thigh was written the name: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

So Jesus returns, and every eye sees Him. He returns with an army of his holy ones, in clean white linen, that’s representative of us, wearing the righteousness of Christ that has been transferred to us, in the great exchange, in which Jesus took our sin on the cross, and in exchange he gave us His righteousness. Isn’t that amazing? What an amazing trade off!

So what happens next? The anti-Christ gathers the nations to fight against Jesus and this holy army. And Christ defeats them, and they are sent to hell, forever.

This is actually referred to as a “feast” in revelation. You’ve got one dinner, us being united with Jesus, and another dinner, in which the anti-Christ and those who follow him, are receiving the result of their sinfulness, damnation.

How does Jesus defeat this evil army of the anti-christ? The Bible says it's the sword that comes from His mouth. Jesus simply speaks and they are defeated. God is so powerful that all he has to do is speak, and game over.

So then we turn to Revelation 20 and we see that the anti-christ, the false prophet, and now Satan, are removed from the Earth, and put into outer darkness.

Then it says that those who had lost their lives in the great tribulation, Christians who had died speaking up for Jesus in the end times, who refused to take something called the mark of the beast in the right hand or forehead, came back to life, and reigned with Christ for 1,000 years.

So this is our topic today, the Millennial Reign of Christ. Which millennial means 1000. So the 1000 year reign of Christ. Young Earth creationists believe that the world today is about 6,000 years old. And as we know, with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. So some would see a symbolic indication in the 1,000 year reign of Christ. That we’ve toiled and worked and struggled for 6 days, 6000 years, over the history of humanity and Israel, and now this final 1000 years is a sort of sabbath rest period. A 7th day of rest. Very interesting.

So guys this is not the new heavens and new earth yet. We’re going to talk about that next week. This is a sort of end period, where Jesus Christ our king, our friend, our savior, is alive, reigning on Earth, from the city of Jerusalem. And Satan is locked away in hell, for 1,000 years.

I don’t know exactly what this will be like, actually. The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about what this will be like, aside from the fact that the tribulation saints, those who died proclaiming Jesus during the tribulation, will reign from Jerusalem with Jesus. I don’t know if that includes us, the church, or if it will just be the martyrs, those who gave their lives. It doesn’t say exactly.

But I’d like to make a few suppositions. These are just suppositions, so take these with a grain of salt, they aren’t strictly part of the biblical record. But I assume that during this time people will continue to marry, and have children. I suppose that lifespans would be greatly extended during this time period. There would be no temptations I assume, because Satan has been locked away, but would we still have a sin nature during this time? Probably not, I think. Then again I don’t really know.

In any case, this reign of Christ lasts for one thousand years. That’s a long time. A long time of rest, and goodness, and blessing on the Earth. And it says Christ rules over the nations with a rod of iron during this time. I don’t know exactly what that means. But it seems to me that it means Christ is completely in charge, no one else. And he apparently reigns over the nations during this time, and it sounds like his reign is total, and enforceable, and all powerful.

Imagine being one of Jesus’ lieutenants during that time, going into his throne room, bowing before him and receiving orders and instructions, go to this country, and visit this person and do this or that. Imagine simply standing there in the throne room watching Jesus talking with people, and giving orders, and organizing the world economy. It’s just really exciting, to be able to see Jesus everyday and talk with Him and serve Him. I would love to be able to participate in the millennial reign of Christ, but I don’t know that I will. We will see.

So we have this beautiful 1000 years of rest for the world, with Christ as king over the earth from Jerusalem. But it’s amazing, and shocking, and kind of scary what happens next. Remember how it says in Revelation 20 that Satan was bound for 1000 years? Well, Satan gets released again, at the end of the 1,000 years. One last time. And this I would suppose, is to see who is really loyal to Christ, and who is just pretending during this time. So it says that Satan is released, and he goes about the nations again, and he manages to turn billions of people against Christ AGAIN! And Satan builds this army, and they surround Jerusalem, the city where Christ has reigned for a thousand years. Isn’t that crazy? Even after seeing Jesus for a thousand years as king of the Earth, people still turn against him and follow Satan.

So it says that they surrounded Jerusalem, with so many people it was like the grains of sand on a beach. That’s a lot of people.

But guess what? Jesus Christ wins. God destroys this whole army, in a matter of seconds. And that is the end of history. God wins. Jesus Christ wins. And it says Satan was then taken, and sent to the lake of fire, forever, to never be released again. God wins, Satan loses. God’s people win, the evil people who reject God lose. That is the conclusion of history as we know it now. But as we’ll talk about next week, a new world is coming. And we’ll see how God then judges all people, at the great white throne judgment, and then how God remakes a new universe, and a new Earth, and a new city. How amazing, how glorious, how beautiful.

In conclusion today, you might be asking yourself why go so in depth right now into Revelation? Well, I think it’s a perfect time for us, during a time of stress, and strain and unrest, and economic turmoil, to look to the future, and to consider the great hope we have. We should never be afraid to crack open the book of Revelation and consider our future hope. It’s a glorious thing. During these tough times, we can turn our focus to God, and eternal life, and see how these temporary struggles are nothing compared to the glory to come. You may not fully understand all we’ve gone over today, and that’s OK. Trust in God. Trust that God will do what is right. Because He will. Jesus Christ is Lord. And He will reign over us all. Come Lord Jesus, be our king forever!