REVELATION 19:11 to 20:15
Here the focus is on the defeat of the antichrist and the false prophet, the temporary binding of Satan, the introduction of the millennium, and the final judgment before the great white throne of God.
Verse 11 opens with the glorious appearance from heaven of the Lord Jesus on a white horse with the armies of heaven following Him, dressed in fine white linen and also riding on white horses. Notice the various descriptions of the Lord Jesus and His name with allusions to the Old Testament and the gospels. He is called Faithful and True; He makes war in justice and truth; His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns and His name is the Word of God. On His robe and on His thigh is written: King of kings and Lord of lords. His robe is dripped with blood; out of His mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations and He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
See the parallel descriptions in the following passages:
He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me, I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redemption has come.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
The Lord Jesus appeared as a warrior and a judge, to make war against the two beasts and the kings of the earth and to execute judgment. He came as the King of kings and the Lord of lords (with many crowns on His head), accompanied by the armies of heaven. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, described like blazing fire. Judgment will be effected by the sharp sword from His mouth that will strike down the nations, the sword depicting the Word of God. God created the world out of nothing by His Word and He will slay and judge by His Word. He speaks and it comes to pass. He will rule with an iron scepter (see Psalm 2) and He is trustworthy and true as contrasted to the devil who is deceitful and the father of lies. In all likelihood, the blood on His robe is the blood of the wicked spattered on His garments as He trod the winepress in His vengeance and judgment on those who are evil and wicked.
The two beasts and the kings of the earth gathered to make war on the Lord and His army but they were immediately defeated. The antichrist and the false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the Lord Jesus. Jesus appeared earlier as the slain lamb but now He came as a conquering king, warrior and judge to administer justice and to dispense the wrath of the Lamb. Let us not be too overfamiliar with the Lord Jesus lest we forget that He is God Almighty, the great Sovereign who reigns in majesty and holiness. The One who is our savior and our elder brother in Gods family is also our God and king!
Chapter 20 sees the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil, seized by an angel and bound for a thousand years in the Abyss. After the thousand years were ended, he was set free for a short time. During the thousand years, it was recorded that the martyrs came to life and reigned with Christ. After his release, Satan will go out and deceive the nations to gather them for battle against God’s people and His city. However, they were destroyed by the fire that came down from heaven. The devil, who deceived the nations, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the antichrist and the false prophet had been thrown and they will be tormented day and night, forever and ever. Here we are introduced to the subject of the millennium (the thousand years) and for centuries, believers cannot quite agree about what this represents and what the passage seeks to communicate.
The three major schools of thought are premillennialism, amillennialism and postmillennialism. In summary, premillennialism teaches that there will be a future, literal, earthly millennial kingdom, and that it will begin when Christ returns. Amillennialism teaches that the millennium represents the current church age, not a literal one thousand years. Postmillennialism teaches that Christ will return after the millennial kingdom concludes.
Premillennialism has two distinct groups; dispensational premillennialism and historic premillennialism. The former believe that the promises made to Israel have not been abolished or fulfilled by the Church, which is a distinct body having promises and a destiny different from Israel’s. They believe that Christ, at the end of the age, will return for His Church in the event termed the rapture and usher in a seven-year period of tribulation on the earth. After this, Christ will return to the earth in the Second coming to establish the kingdom on the earth for a thousand years, during which time the promises to Israel will be fulfilled.
The historic premillennialism group does not subscribe to a rapture of the Church before the tribulation. They believe that the Church will fail in her mission, lose influence and become corrupted as worldwide evil increases toward the end of the Church age. The Church will pass through a future, worldwide, unprecedented time of travail. This era is known as the Great Tribulation. Christ will return at the end of the Great Tribulation to rapture the Church, resurrect deceased saints, and conduct the judgment of the righteous in the twinkling of an eye. Christ will then descend to the earth with His glorified saints, fight the battle of Armageddon, bind Satan, and establish a worldwide political kingdom, which will be personally administered by Him for 1,000 years from Jerusalem. At the end of the millennial reign, Satan will be loosed and he will gather the nations in rebellion against the kingdom but will be destroyed by God in a fiery judgment.
Postmillennialism advocates believe that the kingdom of Christ will gradually expand in time and on earth. This will be accomplished with Christ’s power as King but without His physical presence on earth. They believe that the Great Commission will succeed in the age of the Church and includes the virtual Christianization of the nations. The extended period of spiritual prosperity may endure for millennia, after which history will be drawn to a close by the personal, visible bodily return of Christ.
Amillennialists interpret the millennium mentioned in Revelation 20 as describing the present reign of the souls of deceased believers with Christ in heaven. They understand the binding of Satan as being in effect during the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ. They further hold that the kingdom of God is now present in the world as the victorious Christ is ruling His people by His Word and Spirit, though they also look forward to a future, glorious, and perfect kingdom on the new earth in the life to come. They expect the bringing of the gospel to all nations and the conversion of the fullness of Israel to be completed before Christs return. They also expect an intensified form of tribulation and apostasy as well as the appearance of a personal antichrist before the Second coming of Christ.
The divisions that exist within the Christian community are understandable, given that the subject matter and the literary genre of future prophecy are very difficult. Here especially, we cannot afford to be dogmatic. We must hold to the central things Apostle John had made clear: the victory of the Lamb of God, the call to victory through faith and endurance and that the one who wins the victory is the creator God who defeats death itself, the devil and his henchmen, and opens the way to the glories of the new heaven and the new earth for His redeemed.
Chapter 20 closes with the judgment at the great white throne of God. All the dead, great and small, are judged before God sitting on the throne. They are judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. Another book is opened which is the book of life. If anyones name is not found written in the book of life, he is thrown into the lake of fire. Death and Hades were also thrown into the lake of fire. There will be no more death; Hades, sheol in Hebrew, denoting the abode of the dead or a temporary place for the wicked to await judgment, is no longer required. There are only two destinations eternally: one is the new heaven and the new earth for those recorded in the book of life and the other is the fiery lake of fire (hell or Gehenna) for those whose names were not found written in the book of life.
The Lord Jesus spoke much more than anyone else on the subject of hell and the reality of eternal judgment. We see it recorded in Matthew 13:41-42, 18:8-9. So terrifying is the prospect of hell that it is better to be maimed or blind in this life than to be thrown into hell subsequently. Hell is described as a fiery furnace burning in an eternal fire that goes on and on forever, and the fire is not quenched and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth that last for eternity (Matthew 9:48).
Decisions in this life have eternal consequences. Those in this life who reject God and Jesus Christ, despite His continual mercy extended to them, will be rejected by Him forever. Final judgment is sure; let us not reject God’s offer of forgiveness in His Son, the slain Lamb of God.