Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 20:4-8
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 20:4
Verse 4: John next sees people being seated on thrones and given authority to issue judgments. Though we are not initially told who it is who will sit on these thrones, the fact that John declares twice within the next two verses that resurrected believers will come to life and reign with Christ (vs 4, 6) leaves us little doubt. Those men and women who are part of the “first resurrection” (v 5) will sit on these thrones extending Christ’s government around the world. In verse four John specifically mentions the martyrs from the tribulation period as those who will be resurrected and have a role in Christ’s government. By singling them out he surely does not mean to say that this group alone will be resurrected at this time and participate with Christ in the Millennium, while all other believers must wait for a later moment. Elsewhere Paul makes it abundantly clear that all believers from every generation of human history will be resurrected simultaneously. Those who’ve died will join those still alive and both groups will be changed at the same instant (1Co 15:51-53; 1Th 4:13-17).

Revelation 20:4
Verse 4 (continued): God focuses on the tribulation of martyrs in this verse to show He will faithfully answer their prayers. Earlier John saw “the souls of those who had been slain” by the Antichrist underneath the altar of incense in the heavenly tabernacle. These souls had cried out, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood?” At that time they were told to “rest for a little while longer” until all who were yet to be killed, had been (Rev 6:9-11). As John’s revelations progress these souls reappear or are alluded to several times (Rev 7:13-17; 8:3-5; 14:12, 13; 16:5, 6; 17:6; 18:20; 19:1, 2). There is a sense throughout these chapters of a growing moral burden for God to avenge this genocide of His followers and grant them the eternal life He had promised them. So, here at the initiation of the Millennium those who faced the most wide scale persecution in history are highlighted to show that for all who’ve suffered for His sake He will literally do everything He promised. Their example is meant to be a comfort to believers in every generation.

Revelation 20:4, 5
Verse 4 (continued): We have one final observation to draw from this verse. We learn from John’s choice of words that many of the martyrs will be “beheaded” (literal: “cut with an axe”) during this time. Apparently, this will be the method preferred by the Antichrist when executing those who refuse to worship his image. Verse 5: “The rest of the dead” refers to the unbelieving dead who will also be resurrected, but unlike those who believe, their resurrection will not take place until after the Millennium when they will rise in order to stand before God’s judgment seat (Rev 20:11-13). John’s picture of two groups being resurrected corresponds to Jesus’ teaching in John 5:28, 29 (Dn 12:2; Mt 25:46; Ac 24:15). There He said some of the dead would experience a “resurrection of life” and some a “resurrection of judgment.” However, that there will be a delay of a thousand years between these resurrections is made clear only here in John’s Revelation.

Revelation 20:6
Verse 6: Resurrected believers are described as “blessed and holy” because they are joined to Christ (Eph 1:3-5). And because of their spiritual union with Him the “second death” has no power over them. The “first death” which results from sin, is spiritual separation from God and the death of the physical body. This “death” is nearly universal. Sooner or later every human dies except those who happen to be alive when the rapture occurs (1Th 4:15-17). They do not have to experience physical death, but are transformed instantly into their resurrected bodies. The “second death” to which John refers, is eternal alienation from God in what is called the “lake of fire” (2Th 1:9; Rev 20:14).

Revelation 20:6
Verse 6 (continued): We should not overlook the statement contained in this verse that believers will not only “reign” with Christ, but will also be “priests of God.” The title of “priest” means our role during the Millennium will include spiritual ministry as well as governmental leadership. A “priest” is someone who helps others come to God. In his first letter Peter tells believers they are a “royal priesthood,” combining into one, two very different concepts (1Pe 2:9). Royalty speaks of governmental authority, while priesthood speaks of spiritual care. His point is that even in this present age the covenant promises made to Israel have been fully bestowed on believing Gentiles. In John’s Revelation we see the full intent of these terms being realized during the Millennium. So the terms are to be taken literally. Resurrected believers will govern under Christ’s headship and will minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. The earth will see a remarkable blend of the new age and the oldСof resurrected and mortal humans dwelling together. And I assume it will be a time when many more souls will come to God.

Revelation 20:7
Verse 7: We saw earlier (Rev 20:2, 3) that Satan was not sent to the place of final judgment at the same time as the Antichrist and false prophet (Rev 19:20). During the Millennium he will be held in a temporary prison for spirits called the “abyss.” Now we discover why. In His wisdom God will allow Satan to test the mortal population of the earth once more. Before He begins His judgment at the “great white throne” (Rev 20:11) God will allow Satan to provoke a full armed rebellion against Him and His government in Jerusalem (Rev 20:8, 9). He will use Satan once more to sift the hearts of humans. The rebellion that lies hidden in some hearts will be allowed to express itself. Of course God knows the secret thoughts of all humans (Ps 139:1-6) and therefore could make an accurate judgment based on that knowledge alone, but the final release of Satan is one more proof that He prefers to let people’s deeds testify against them rather than relying on His omniscience. When Satan returns it will become evident that many do not love Christ and have worshipped Him only because they have been forced to do so (Zech 14:16-19).

Revelation 20:8
Verse 8: At Satan’s return a rebellion against Christ will spread to all the nations of the earth, and an army will be assembled that is so massive its numbers can’t be counted. By identifying these enemies as “Gog and Magog” John draws our attention back to Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39. There IsraelСgathered, unified and living securely during what appears to be the Messianic Age (Millennium)Сis invaded by a ruler named “Gog” from “the land of Magog” (Eze 38:2). Again, as was the case at Armageddon (Rev 16:16-21) Israel will be assaulted by a large multinational force but these will be quickly destroyed by God in a manner similar to His destruction of the Antichrist’s forces (Eze 38:21, 22; 39:4, 5, 17-20). Verse 9: The phrase “they came up on the broad plain of the earth” is better translated “they went up over the breadth of the land,” meaning Gog’s armies will swarm over the entire region and then surround Jerusalem (“the beloved city”). The entire multinational force will then be destroyed by God using fire from heaven (Eze 38:22; 39:6) along with other divine forms of warfare (Eze 38:21, 22). Verse 10: At the conclusion of the battle of Gog and Magog the brief season of rebellion at the close of the Millennium is ended. Never again will Satan be allowed to trouble humanity and never again will human hearts need to be tested. By now all have been tested and will have made their choice. And since no more humans will be born, the full number of believers is at last complete. Therefore Satan no longer has a role to play in God’s plans and is sent to join the Antichrist and false prophet in the lake of fire.

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