What does Revelation 20:7-15 mean to us now?

3 12 2010

 

This passage is, besides being about death, judgment, and hell, also about the evils of determined pride. Pride is sin; it is the terror and oppressor of good people, the cause of the Fall, the fall of those who then become evil, and the main fuel of Satan himself. Pride is evil! Pride is the chief universal struggle of humanity and what holds us back and condemns us more than anything else.  

Satan is a betrayer who seeks evil and fights against God, righteousness, goodness, and all those who follow Christ. Yes, he is no match to God. Satan has been judged; his sentence is eternal damnation by his choice and deeds, where he will be tormented by his own evil that activates with all those who joined in his evil against God and His people. We can take great comfort that God protects and fights on our behalf. We can trust Him and not worry or fret over the things we can’t control or change. Our place is with Christ—now and forever more.  

Evil people think they can get away with it; they think they can frustrate those who are good—even God Himself. But, they cannot; there is no escape from God, His love, or His wrath. In the end, evil loses big! God will hold evil, injustice, and sufferings, and severely punish all those who produce them!  

Questions to ponder:

  1. Why can we never think we can hide our innermost thoughts and deeds from God? How can this be a comfort for us? How does the fact that God is omniscient—all knowing—help you make better decisions for your life? How is your faith strengthened, knowing that evil will never get away with its actions? 
  1. How would others you know estimate your conduct before God and man? How would your church be assessed by its community? 
  1. What if God judged you according to what you had done? What would He find? How can this passage help you see the character and wonders of God? 
  1.  Why does it do no one any good to fight God? Why do people do so anyway? After all this peace and prosperity, why will people oppose God, seeking evil and lining up to Satan’s side? What are the causes and motivations for people to hunt those who are good and fight against God and His people?   

© 2007 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org

 





The Three Prevailing Millennium Views, Amillennial, Premillennial, and Postmillennial

3 12 2010

 

1.    Amillennialism: They believe that Satan was bound at the cross of Christ and His work. Some take a futurist view that he is temporally held back and then will be bound in the future. Satan is let loose for a short time where he goes on the prowl, seeking to destroy the Church at the end of days, but he will be unsuccessful. Because Satan sought to persecute the Church, he is persecuted, judged, and sentenced to eternal damnation. This passage also represents Christ and His victory over death on the cross. For us, it further means we have no fear of death or judgment when we are in Christ. The fire and judgment of God represents those who are evil being consumed by God’s just wrath in one universal judgment where the wicked go to hell and Christians receive their reward. All this coincides with the Second Coming of Christ and then the rebuilding or creating of a new heaven and earth. 

 

2.    Premillennialism: This view sees a chronological sequence as Satan is bound in the future when Christ returns and before Christians receive their reward, and then the millennium commences, hence the name, “pre”. This makes two distinct judgments—one for Christians and one for non-Christians after the millennium. Then, Christ reigns on earth as the full extent of God’s kingdom lasts for 1,000 literal years. Most see this happening in Jerusalem, Israel. Jesus will judge the wicked; then, a new earth is created after Christ returns and after His 1,000 year reign (of course there are many divergent views in this camp, but this is the prominent view). 

 

3.    Postmillennialism: This view sees this passage as the successes of the spread of the gospel, which we, the Church, are responsible for and the resulting conversion of all or most of humanity to Christianity. The binding of Satan will greatly help the spread of Christianity; then will come a great future age of peace and prosperity for the Church. Then, Satan is let loose for a final period of persecution; after that, those who are in Christ are resurrected as Christ returns (of course there are many divergent views in this camp too, but this is the prominent view). 

 

Ironically, this is considered the most controversial passage in the Bible, the one over which most fights and divisions for Christians occur. Scripture is very clear in most places, but there are passages like this one that are hard to understand; if we are really willing to examine and look to the Spirit, we will have a better idea of its real, intended meaning. The sad fact is, most do not read the passage in its context and meaning; rather, many people seek an agenda and fight with all they can to prove it regardless of facts, ignoring effectual procedures to know and read God’s Word effectively. In addition, sincere Christians hold different views on non-essential theology like this, over which there is no reason to have disunity and strife! What is essential is that Christ will return, and as of this writing, He has not yet arrived in His second coming form (Col. 3:4). A final judgment will take place where all peoples will be judged; the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be held to account (Matt .25:31-46; John 5:28-29). 

 





Exegetical look into Revelation 20:12-15

3 12 2010

 

  • The Book of Life. This is basically the heavenly roster of the saints who have been found to be faithful by Christ, who received their election, and who persevered. All ancient cities had rosters of those who lived there, and those that were added and expelled, as taking a census. Like a city roster, the Book of Life contains the names of all the people who are currently living. When a person dies, if he or she has claimed Jesus as Lord, has received his or her election, has let it become rooted in him or her, and has been faithful and obedient, their name remains in this book. All others are blotted out. This also refers to predestination. Once our names are in His book and we are saved by His grace, we are secure in our faith and have eternal security (Ex. 32:32-33; Psalm 69:28; Dan. 12:1; Mal. 3:16; Rom. 9:19-21; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:1-6; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:19, 27).
  • Judged according to what they had done. God keeps account and we are accountable. This does not mean we earn our salvation; rather, what we have done with it gives us rewards, and damnation to those who reject it. Evil is the evidence of one’s rejection of Christ, runaway pride, and agnosticism toward God. When one repents, the sins and offences before God are cancelled. For us, Jesus pays the debt and our good works are the gratitude and evidence of what He has done in and for us. This is a good place to assess one’s conduct before God and man (Psalm 62:12; Prov. 24:12; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Ezek. 18:21-30; Matt. 25:31-46; Acts 10:43, Rom. 2:6; 3:23; Col. 2:13-15; 1 Pet. 1:17; 1 John 1:9).
  • Sea refers that all the souls ever created are accounted for.
  • Hades refers to Hell, the “abode of the dead,” the general place for those who have died, between death and resurrection of the dead for Jews and Greeks. Hell is normally used for eternal punishment. It comes from the Greek god of the underworld. To Jews, prior to the first century, it was represented as “Sheol,” or “the grave.” The term Gates of Hades refers to the realm and power of death and not necessarily the actual place of Hell. This phrase expresses that death itself shall not stop we who are in Christ. Death cannot silence His message or His church—great words of hope and comfort for the persecuted Church! It is now represented as “hell” and those who are under judgment (Job 38:17; Psalm 9:13; Luke 16:19-31 and 1 Enoch).
  • Lake of fire/Lake of burning sulfur means the final place of residence for Satan and evil; it is his judgment and the defeat of evil! Those who rebel against God have no hope; if there is no repentance, all that remains for them is eternal damnation. (See Revelation 19:20 study.)
  • Death and Hades/hell. Because of the word usage and context, this indicates Hell, the place of everlasting torment. It is the very worse thing that can ever happen to anyone, and the ultimate fear and dread. It is also a place the wicked send them selves because they do not want to be with God. It is a place of extreme suffering and anguish, and yet a place of grace, because a loving God does not force anyone to be with Him that would not want to be (2 King 16:3; 23:10; Is. 30:33; 66:15; Jer 7:31; Joel 2:3; Dan. 7:11; Matt. 5:22; 16:18; Mark 9:43; Rev. 14:9-10; 19:20; 20:10-15; 21:8; also1 Enoch 54:1).
  • Second death. The first death means when we physically die, we leave our earthly existence and then go into eternity for rewards and to wait for the resurrection of our body in some form we do not yet understand and a wondrous everlasting life in Christ. For the reason that Jesus has defeated death. This second death means that those who fail to accept Christ will also be resurrected, only to “die again” as in sentenced into the “lake of fire.” Some Jews, like the Sadducees, believed this was annihilation, but the Bible does not teach annihilation  that the sole is destroyed and we do not exist anymore, as both evil and good souls will continue to subsist (John 5:28-29; Rev. 19:20; 20:10-15).
  • Was not found. This is not good; once this happens it is too late to say “I am sorry,” and repent! To the Jews, if one followed the law and was faithful to God, he or she was saved. If they were evil and worshipped false gods, they would be held to account and be judged and condemned. God is exclusive and supreme; nothing comes before Him (Duet. 6:4-9; 1 John 2:23).

 





Exegetical look into Revelation 20:7-11

3 12 2010

 

  • Satan will be released. It is interesting to note that Satan is unchanged, unrepentant, and uncaring; he picks up where he left off, with deception and evil. Apparently, hell is not for reform; it is for protection, as the faithful being protected from the evil, and a place for evil to be held where they want. This too is an aspect of grace.
  • Gog and Magog. This comes from Ezekiel 38-39, and refers to the enemies of Israel from the land of Magog where Gog was a prince or ruler. According to Josephus, these were perhaps the Scythians from the north. These names occur many times in apocalyptic language, and basically mean those who have hostility and are enemies of God and His people. Here, it can mean those who rise up to fight God in any way and/or the last enemies of God who rise up collectively in a grand climatic battle, which never takes place because God puts a stop to it. A lot of speculation is read into these names, but it is not really intended to be cryptic or esoteric (Ezek. 37-39; Rev. 16:14).
  • Surrounded the camp of God’s people. This was a common happening and fear of the Israelites. If they were faithful, God protected them; if they were disloyal to Him, God would allow evil people to be His instruments to bring judgment to them (Zech. 12:3; 14:2; Rev. 16:13-16).
  • Fire came down. This is a theme of judgment for those who are evil, and protection to those who are faithful (Gen. 1:24; Ex. 13:21; Lev. 10:2; 2 Kings 1:10; Ezek. 39:6; Zech. 2:5).
  • The devil… was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur …for ever and ever. Ancient Jewish literature spoke of Satan being judged and condemned. God is “immutable” meaning He is unchangeable and unchallengeable; it is a great comfort to know nothing can thwart God’s plan, purpose, and reign (Psalm 102:27; Col 1:15-18; 2:9; Hebrews 6:17-18)!
  • Will be tormented. This is a reference that those who are evil judge themselves by knowingly refusing God and His offer of grace. This also shows that the wicked will not be annihilated (Rev. 14:10-11; 19:20; 20:10). 
  • White throne. Signifies a heavenly, eminent throne that gives a contrast to man’s pride. God dethrones the earthly, pompous kings and the pride of men, and rather points to His dignity and prestige. God is showing His eminence and importance. He is solely Pre-eminent and Supreme. This is also an image of the Old Testament Tabernacle where the “copy” of God’s Throne Room, made for His presence, was made known. Now, John sees the real heavenly version in a corporal state to condescend to his and our understanding (Ex. 24:9-11; 25: 40;1 Kings 5-7; 22:19; 2 Chron. 2-4; Isa. 6; Ezek. 1; 10:1; Dan. 7:9-10; Heb. 8:5-6; 9:1-14; Rev. 3:12; 4:2; 7:15; 11:19; 14:15-17; 15:5-16:1, 16:17; 21:22).
  • Earth and sky fled shows the cosmic and universal scope of God’s judgment and His sovereign rule.  Perhaps, it refers to Isaiah 34:4 and how a reader would open a scroll with the right hand and then role it up with the left. This is an image that the End of Days is at hand, and also a sign for the coming of Christ. Some see this as Armageddon (Isa. 24:21; 34:4; Jer. 4:24; Nahum 1:5; Dan. 8:10; 10:13; Mark 13:25-26; Rev. 6:14; 16:16, 20; 20:11).
  • Books were opened, meaning all is disclosed and made known publicly. We can never mistakenly think that our innermost thoughts and deeds can be hidden from God. He is omniscient—all knowing; thus, evil will never get away with its actions (Psalms 147:5; Job 22:12-14; Is. 40:28; 37:16; Rom. 11:33-34; 1 John 3:19-20, and 4 Ezra).

 





Revelation 20:7-15: What are the Contexts?

3 12 2010

This passage is in the seventh cycle of visions that John received, culminating with the final judgment. The Jewish cultural mindset at the time was that the Messiah would bring peace, prosperity, and after a period of time, evil nations would rise up and seek to fight Israel at the Dead Sea—the battle of Armageddon. Many dispensational writers picked up on these themes for their theories; however, this is not what the text is saying. This passage does refer to a grand climatic and final judgment. Conversely, the main issue is God’s holiness, character, and sovereignty, and thus His authority and right to place judgment on all His creation, including us. Judgment is declared clearly throughout Scripture, so we know we are held accountable and are responsible for our actions. There is a God in charge; He cares, and we must be under His Lordship and authority. God passionately hates injustice and will hold those who are evil to account. It does no good to fight God; such a decision only makes you frustrated and discontented in this life, and judged and sentenced in the life to come. If we still refuse to repent, that sentence is “convicted” and “committed” and if we repent the sentence is “commuted”(Psalm 7:6-8; 47:8-9; Dan. 7:9-10; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 4-5). There is a terror aspect to this passage, perhaps designed to remind us of our accountably to God as well as to give hope to those who are treated unjustly by malevolent oppressors.  

What can you do to better realize and apply that God is in charge and He cares? How would you assess your surrender to His Lordship and authority? What can you do to show Him more commitment in your spiritual and daily life? 





Revelation 20:7-15

3 12 2010

Introduction  

The Defeat of Satan! 

After this period of a thousand years is finished, Satan is allowed to go on “furlough,” so he is out on “bail” (so to speak) for a short time. Then, he goes on the prowl to seek wickedness and to destroy. But, he is also being used to test people to see if they will bow to his deception and once again be disloyal to God and His goodness. All those who oppose God—those who seek evil, lining up on Satan’s side, hunting God’s people and fighting against God Himself, as they try with all their might to fight God. They do all that is in their power to destroy and their numbers are vast. They make war and try to lay siege to God’s people. But, Christians can take comfort and hope because God fights on our behalf and the battle is extremely lopsided as He wipes them from the earth and they are consumed with fire and His judgment. Then, Satan and those who are evil receive the penalty phase of their sentence. They are thrown into hell for eternity to be tormented. Satan loses; God and His faithful people win! Game over!  

            Then, John sees more hope and reassurance of faith. The great white throne judgment commences as the earth is filled with the presence of Christ. Evil has no place to hide. God opens His books to see who is with Him and who opposes Him, who has received His grace and who is disloyal and has betrayed God, aligning them selves with Satan. Christ judges the dead according to what they have done—chosen evil or received Him. The sea and all other places give up their dead who stand before Christ and receive either eternal reward or judgment. Those who lived to themselves, loved evil and sought betrayal to God, are given what they want; they are put away from God for eternity. They are put in hell, the second death—the final death—for all eternity.  

How does this passage give us comfort and hope? What about the fact that God passionately hates injustice and will hold those who are evil to account?





The Three Prevailing Millennium Views in Revelation

7 11 2010

 

Revelation chapter twenty is about the three main views of the Millennium: Post-millennium/Postmillennial, Pre-millennium/Premillennial, and Am-millennium/Amillennial (see background article) that intersect into the four views. Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus the non-literal interpretation of Scripture. Each of the four views takes various positions within each of these millennia views.  

This passage starts the millennial viewpoints. Most theologians in Church history from the early church fathers such as Augustine, and including the Reformers Calvin and Luther, saw this passage as metaphoric; “Amillennial” as in not a literal but symbolic interpretation. This is mainly because it is what the texts stated by the usage of the Jewish metaphoric words and genre. There have been some that have seen a future “premillennial” viewpoint such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyer, and most famous, Isaac Newton (there debate is whether this happens before or after Christ’s return; most see after). But, these people were not well schooled in biblical languages or well read in this subject. There is another group who are versed in biblical languages and well educated that takes a “postmillennial” view and include Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and Charles Finney (he was not well educated, not that education is that important, but gives one more tools to examine and more information to see what God has to say) that a millennial Kingdom would precede Jesus’ second coming. Hence, there was a lot of controversy in the mid-twentieth century when most people who wrote on this subject no longer looked to genres, historical background, original languages, or were just biblically illiterate, so all kinds of theories exist through to today. One example is not realizing that so much of this is dependent on the Old Testament metaphors used in places such as in Jeremiah. The main problem is that Christians divide over this, regarding their position as the solely correct and imminent one when Christ Himself told us in Matthew 24 what will happen and not to theorize or fret over it, just be prepared. That means to grow in faith in Him, not spend our energies in argumentation. Ironically, people who engage in vicious debate and fight over this only serve Satan and not Christ!  

The word millennium is a combination of two Latin words, mille, meaning a “thousand,” and annus, meaning a “year”. The debate is over if this is to be taken literally as 1,000 definite years, or interpreted metaphorically (as the language suggests), meaning a long, indeterminate period of time. There are three main popular views to this subject:   

Amillennialism: This millennium portrays the present reign of Christ, God’s kingdom, which will be followed by Christ’s second coming. The souls of the departed are with Christ in heaven. Most in this camp believe that after Christ’s final judgment, the new earth will be formed—His eternal, perfect kingdom. This is the most popular view from the Early Church Fathers, the Reformers, and most denominations today. They believe that Christ through His work, death, and resurrection defeated Satan and he is restricted, and bound in power and scope to allow the spread of the Gospel and the building of the Church. This view sees us now in the millennium. Many sensationalists today say this view is heresy, but it is not; it is within the scope of biblical theology as clearly defined by Scripture. Such sensationalists rarely read the Bible for what it says or in its context! This is also not an essential matter (Matt. 12:9; John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Rev. 17:8; 19:9)!

Premillennialism: We are living in a partial aspect of God’s kingdom which in time will become the great climax of Christ’s return when He will start His Kingdom full on, which says that the Second Coming of our Lord will take place before the millennium. Then, Jesus will literally reign on earth for a thousand years that will merge into the eternal kingdom, in an age of peace and righteousness on a new earth. 

Postmillennialism: This world will eventually all or mostly be converted to Christianity; then and only then will the millennium of a new earth filled with peace and prosperity begin. This view has Christ returning after the millennium, and we Christians in charge; it is up to us to engage this before His second coming. Then, Christ presides over the final judgment and eternity.

Just like the four views, Preterist, Futurist, Idealist and Historicist, all these views are also mostly read into the text. There is truth and error in each one, since Scripture does not teach any of them fully (see background article for more information). 

 






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