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Someone Cares Series
This lesson is about a prophecy that describes a time when the saved will reign with Christ. Here we will learn the answers to such questions as, Where will the redeemed live, in heaven or on earth? and Where will hell be located?
1. How long will the saved reign with Christ?
"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" (Revelation 20:4).
During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection, the judgment of the wicked takes place. The apostle Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent (1 Corinthians 4:5). At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. John in Revelation says, "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given them. They shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years" (Revelation 20:4, 6). It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, "the saints shall judge the world" (1 Corinthians 6:2). In union with Christ they judge the wicked.
2. When does the thousand years begin?
"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" (Revelation 20:6).
In Daniel 7:26, 27, the reign of the redeemed begins when the "little horn" beast power is destroyed, for that coincides with the resurrection of the righteous and "the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High." They who have been "accounted worthy" of the resurrection of life "are blessed and holy." On such the second death has no power.
3. Thus the resurrection marks the beginning of the thousand years. When does this resurrection take place?
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17).
When Christ comes to gather to Himself those who have been faithful the last trump will sound, and the whole earth, from the summit of the loftiest mountains to the lowest recesses of the deepest mines, will hear. The righteous dead will hear the sound of the last trump, and will come forth from their graves, to be clothed with immortality, and to meet the Lord in the air.
The Life-giver is coming to break the fetters of the tomb. Hi is to bring forth the captives and proclaim, "I am the resurrection and the life." There stands the risen host, and the finishing touch of immortality is put on them.
4. Where will the righteous be taken at Jesus' second coming, in order to reign with Him for a thousand years?
"In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:2, 3).
The promise of Christ's second coming was ever to be kept fresh in the minds of His disciples. The same Jesus whom they had seen ascending into heaven would come again, to take to Himself those who here below give themselves to His service. He will come in His own glory, and in the glory of His Father, and all the angelic host will escort Him on His way.
Thus will be fulfilled Christ's promise to His disciples, "I will come again, and receive you unto Myself." Those who have loved Him and waited for Him He will crown with glory and honor and immortality. The righteous dead will come forth from their graves, and those who are alive will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They will hear the voice of Jesus, sweeter than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, say to them, "Your warfare is accomplished."
Well might the disciples rejoice in the hope of their Lord's return.
5. What will happen to the wicked when Christ returns?
"Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. ... And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:" (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, 2:8).
When Christ shall come in glory with His holy angels the whole earth shall be ablaze with the terrible light of His presence. "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before Him and it shall be very tempestuous round about Him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His people" (Psalms 50:3, 4). A fiery stream shall issue and come forth from before Him which shall cause the elements to melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
6. If the righteous are taken to heaven at Jesus' second coming, and all the wicked are destroyed, who will be left to bury them?
"And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground" (Jeremiah 25:33).
In the mad strife of their own passions, and by the awful outpouring of God's unmingled wrath, fall the wicked inhabitants of the earth—priests, rulers and people, rich and poor, high and low. At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth—consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the City of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants. The whole earth appears like a desolate wilderness. "The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled, for the Lord hath spoken this word" (Isaiah 24:1, 3, 5, 6).
7. Revelation pictures a dreadful earthquake mingled with fire at Jesus' second coming. What will the earth be like during the thousand years while the righteous are reigning with Jesus in Heaven?
"I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger." (Jeremiah 4:23-26).
Looking forward to the great day of God the prophet Jeremiah declares what he saw in these verses.
Here is to be the home of Satan, with his evil angels, for a thousand years. Limited to the earth, he will not have access to other worlds to tempt and annoy those who have never fallen. It is in this sense that he is bound. There are none remaining upon whom he can exercise his power.
The pride of man shall be laid low.
The day of wrath to the enemies of God is the day of deliverance to His church.
8. Where will the Devil be during the thousand years?
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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" (Revelation 20:1-3).
The revelator foretells the banishment of Satan, and the condition of chaos and desolation to which the earth is to be reduced, and he declares that this condition will exist for a thousand years. After presenting the scenes of the Lord's second coming, and the destruction of the wicked, John describes the binding of Satan for a thousand years.
The expression bottomless pit represents the earth in a state of confusion and darkness. Other Scriptures speak of the same condition. Jeremiah 4:23-26 speaks of what Jeremiah saw.
9. What will come down from heaven to earth at the close of the thousand years?
"And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. ... And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God," (Revelation 21:2, 10).
At the close of the one thousand years Jesus, with the angels and all the saints, leaves the Holy City. While He is descending to the earth with them the wicked dead are raised, and then the very men that "pierced Him," being raised, will see Him afar off in all His glory, the angels and the saints with Him, and will wail because of Him. They will see the prints of the nails in His hands and in His feet, and where they thrust the spear into His side. The prints of the nails and the spear will then be His glory. It is at the close of the one thousand years that Jesus stands upon the Mount of Olives and the mount parts asunder and becomes a mighty plain. Those who flee at that time are the wicked who have just been raised. Then the Holy City comes down and settles on the plain.
10. Will the "rest of the dead" (the wicked who were not resurrected, along with those who were slain at Jesus' second coming) ever live again?
"But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection" (Revelation 20:5).
At the close of the thousand years the second resurrection will take place. Then the wicked will be raised from the dead and appear before God for the execution of "the judgment written." Thus the revelator after describing the resurrection of the righteous says; "The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." And Isaiah declares, concerning the wicked; "They shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in prison (death) and after many days shall they be visited" (Isaiah 24:22).
At the close of the thousand years Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the host of the redeemed and attended by a retinue of angels. As He descends in terrific majesty He bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. They come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea. What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death.
11. Satan is bound to this planet during the thousand years with no one to tempt, for the righteous are in heaven and the wicked are dead. But after the thousand years, when the wicked are raised, what will Satan do?
"And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 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" (Revelation 20:7, 8).
As the New Jerusalem in its dazzling splendor comes down out of heaven, it rests upon the place purified and made ready to receive it, and Christ, with His people and the angels, enter the Holy City. Now Satan prepares for the last mighty struggle for the supremacy. While deprived of his power and cut off from his work of deception the prince of evil was miserable and dejected; but as the wicked dead are raised and he sees the vast multitudes upon his side his hopes revive and he determines not to yield the great controversy. He will marshal all the armies of the lost under his banner and through them endeavor to execute his plans.
The wicked are Satan's captives. In rejecting Christ they have accepted the rule of the rebel leader. They are ready to receive his suggestions and to do his bidding. He purposes to lead them against the camp of the saints and to take possession of the city of God.
12. What will happen to the wicked at this time?
"And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: ... 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. 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. 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" (Revelation 20:9a, 11-13).
In the vast throng of the wicked are multitudes of the long lived race that existed before the flood. There are kings and generals who conquered nations, valiant men who never lost a battle, proud ambitious warriors who approach made kingdoms tremble. In death they experienced no change. As they come up from the grave, they resume the current of their thoughts just where it ceased. They are activated by the same desire to conquer that ruled them when they fell. Satan consults with his angels, and then with these kings and conquerors and mighty men. They lay their plans to take possession of the riches and glory of the New Jerusalem.
As soon as the books of record are opened and the eye of Jesus looks upon the wicked, they are conscious of every sin which they have committed. They see just where their feet diverged from the path of purity and holiness, just how far pride and rebellion have carried them in the violation of the law of God. The seductive temptations which they encouraged by indulgence of sin, the blessings perverted, the messengers of God despised, the warnings rejected, the waves of mercy beaten back by the stubborn, unrepentant heart—all appear as if written in letters of fire.
13. The sentence is death. What is this death called?
"and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 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. ... And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:9b, 10, 14, 15).
In his last great effort to dethrone Christ, destroy His people and take possession of the City of God, the arch-deceiver has been unmasked. The time has come for the last desperate struggle against the king of heaven. His power is at an end. Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein are burned up. It is the time of the judgment of ungodly men. As God preserved the ark amid the commotions of the flood because it contained eight righteous persons, He will preserve the New Jerusalem, containing the faithful of all ages.
Satan and all the wicked host are consumed. They are never to have a resurrection; death for them will be eternal, it is the second death.
14. This earth, after the thousand years, will become the eternal home of the saved (Matthew 5:5; Psalms 37:9). What will it be like?
"For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. ... And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree are the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they are the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD" (Isaiah 65:17, 21-25).
We have a living, risen Saviour. He burst the fetters of the tomb and proclaimed, I am the resurrection and the life. Are we getting ready for Him? Are we ready so that if we shall fall asleep we can do so with hope in Jesus Christ? The nations of the saved will know no other law than the law of heaven. All will be a happy, united family.
In the new earth there will be no more sea, and there shall pass there "no galley with oars." Thank God, in the earth made new there will be no fierce torrents, no engulfing ocean, no restless murmuring waves. In the Bible the inheritance of the saved is called a country (Hebrews 11:14-16).
There the heavenly Shepherd leads His flock to fountains of living waters. There are ever flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There the wide spreading plains swell into hills of beauty and the Mountains of God rear their lofty summits.
On those peaceful plains beside those living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers shall find a home. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations. There the Eden life will be lived, the life in garden and field.
There will be nothing to "hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain saith the Lord" (Isaiah 65:25). There man will be restored to his lost kingship, and the lower order of beings will again recognize his sway. The fierce will become gentle, and the timid trustful.
Where will you spend the thousand years? If we will take up our cross and follow Jesus today (Matthew 16:24), we will reign with Him then (Revelation 3:21), as he has promised. Will you choose to follow Jesus all the way, whatever the cost?
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