Unlocking Revelation (Week 11)

Unlocking Revelation (Week 11)

As we are been learning, the Book of Revelation was written to the first century Christians. It is a Book about the present tribulation and persecution the first century Christians were going through at the hands of the Roman Empire and a prophecy about the destruction of the Jerusalem in 70AD, which resulted in the ultimate end of the Old Covenant and the full establishment of the New.

When we view the Book of Revelation through this lens it demystifies it and takes away the confusion that surrounds it and also removes the fear which has often shrouded it.

Today is the beginning of the end of our series. I want to look at Revelation chapter 20 (and primarily the first 10 verses) which describes Jesus’ rule and reign and how we rule and reign with Him.

What is The Millennium?

1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

Before we get into the detail of the passage we need to clear something up.

The Millennium is one of the things that has caused great intrigue and confusion amongst believers.

Many Biblical scholars understand the Millennium as a literal 1,000 year period of peace and harmony on the earth when Jesus and the saints will rule in righteousness. It is a time when all wrongs will be put right and all evils will be cleansed from the earth. 

The Millennium: Literal or Figurative?

Does 1,000 years mean 1,000 years here? Before we answer this let me ask you:

Is the Dragon, literal or figurative? Is it a real dragon?

Are the Chains, literal or figurative? Are they actual chains?

Is the Bottomless pit, literal or figurative? (We are not talking about Red Robins fries here!)

So is the Millennium, literal or figurative?

It’s obviously, therefore, figurative. But what does it symbolize?

In the Bible, 1,000 years has a symbolic meaning – it means “everything”.

  • 1,000 hills = all the hills

“For every beast of the forest is Mine,

The cattle on a thousand hills.

Psalm 50:10

“This of course does not mean that the cattle on the 1,001st hill belongs to someone else. God owns all the cattle on all the hills. But He says “a thousand” to indicate that there are many hills, and much cattle”

David Chilton 

  • 1,000 days = all the days

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand outside.

I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

Psalm 84:10

  • 1,000 years = all the years.

I want to propose to you that John’s Millennium means all the years from the first coming of Christ until his return. We will see why this is the case as we continue to work through our chapter today.

What is the Binding of Satan?

Let’s take a look another look at these verses to see if we can understand what the John is telling us about the binding of Satan:

1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

The Gospels talk about Jesus binding the strongman.

If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can anyone enter the strong man’s house and carry off his property, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house.

Matt. 12:28-29

This verse sits in a discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees who accuse Jesus of working for Beelzebub (The Lord of Demons – lit. The Lord of the flies). Jesus has just set free a demoniac and the Pharisees see what He has done and they say that it is only because Jesus is in cahoots with Beelzebub that He is able to do this. Jesus responds by telling them that actually what is going on is that a power battle has occurred with the Kingdom of Darkness being overturned by the Kingdom of light.

Jesus in His response to the Pharisees says that this overturning of Kingdoms can only work is the strong man of the Kingdom of Darkness is bound.

I talked a few weeks ago how the Gospel of Mark shows us that Jesus sees His mission in this light of binding the strongman.

James Kallas says in his book, The Real Satan:

The number one miracle of the synoptic gospels in terms of numerical frequency, the miracle which takes place more often than any other, is the miracle of exorcism, of casting out of demons. Its statistical superiority is evidence enough of its theological importance. Jesus has come to destroy the devil, and that means he must attack the person of the demons, the host of wickedness… He not only attacks their person, he attacks their works. He undoes their damage.

James Kallas. The Real Satan (p. 76). Kindle Edition.

Jesus mission of binding and plundering the strongman sends Jesus to the Cross. The Cross was no accident. It was a necessary action that resulted in the ultimate defeat of Satan. 

The one ultimate weapon of the devil was not sickness or hunger, but death.

The Gospel of John is very different from Gospel Matthew, Mark, and Luke. One of the major differences in this gospel is that John only records 7 miracles of Jesus.

John selects only 7 miracles of Jesus’. John shows Jesus as having authority over the earth through miraculous provision and healings.  John does this to show the divinity of Christ.

In the sixth miracle, John tells us the story of the resurrection of Lazarus. Lazarus is one of Jesus’ inner-circle. Jesus apparently often stayed with Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha when in Bethany.

Lazarus gets sick, and Jesus is sent for. Jesus, though, delays His journey by several days. Because of the delay Lazarus dies. Now we know from the story that Jesus knew that His delaying going to pray for Lazarus would result in his death.

But why did Jesus let this poor man die? What about all the heart ache and pain Mary and Martha had to go through? The truth is that Jesus lets his friend die because he wants to tackle the bondage of all bondages. The thing that we will all eventually have to face – death.

By the time Jesus arrives at the grave Lazarus has been dead for 4 days. Now according to Jewish belief, the soul of a person hung round the body for a short time after death. But after the body began to decay it was a sign to people that the soul had truly departed.

It says that:

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
John 11:33

“He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled” doesn’t really do what the original language was trying to convey.

The original language describes Jesus as snorting like an animal. Jesus is not showing empathy or grief in this verse. Rather he gets riled up when confronted with the ultimate effects of sin in the death of Lazarus. Jesus, in the Lazarus’ story, purposefully picks a fight with death.

Jesus looks around at Mary and Martha; he sees their friends and family who too are grieved and in pain. He can tangibly see and sense their hurt.

The ache inside rises up and Jesus gets mad. You can almost hear Jesus saying “How dare you sin and the Devil. You have reeked havoc on humanity for long enough. I’ve had enough. Your time is up. How dare you hurt my friends. How dare you touch my loved one like this!”

So Jesus stands facing our nemesis death. He’s revved up, pumped up up for it.

There is no question in the story who the underdog is. It is not Jesus. Jesus is supremely confident in this encounter. He does not dodge this situation in the slightest. This is why he has come. In fact as we have seen, he purposely engineers the situation so there is this head to head fight.

Listen to this conversation between Jesus and Martha:

20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21″Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

 24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:20-26

When fronting up to death, Jesus says, “Bring it on”, you are no match for me:

34″Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied…

38Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39″Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” 40Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

Back to Revelation 20. Can you see how John in these verses in Revelation 20 is describing the life, death, resurrection and ascension.

It was Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension which bound the devil. And apparently according to John he is bound for 1000 years, which we have discovered means a really long time.

Satan’s cannot deceive the nations anymore

7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations…

Verse 7 & 8 tells us that Satan’s binding has happened so that “he should not deceive the nations any longer”.

Many scholars this this refers to Satan’s inability to prevent the message of the Gospel from achieving success.

Before the coming of Christ, Satan controlled the nations; he had them in a death-grip.

The Battle for Culture

The Apostle Paul explained the nature of warfare in the world:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Ephesians 6:12

Kris Vallotton explains that:

The Greek word principality comes from the word “origin” or “teaching.” In other words, demonic principalities teach people what to think. This results in global mindsets that are antichrist in nature. This explains why brilliant people will believe things that are completely irrational. For example; a fetus is not a baby (not human). The origin of these kind of thoughts is often not logic and reason; instead they are rooted in principalities…what the Bible calls “the spirit of the power of the air”. It’s nearly impossible to reason people out of mindsets that have their origins in evil spirits.

The enemy of humanity is in a war to control culture. He know that the most powerful force operating in our world is culture.

Culture is a self-sustaining ecosystem of an associated group which is revealed by a set of common beliefs, values and behaviours that are effortlessly and unconsciously transmitted from one generation to the next.

In its rawest form culture can be reduced down to a set of beliefs. Beliefs form our values and our values determine our behaviours.

By apprehending a person’s thoughts you can automatically cause a particular behaviour.

Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.
Romans 6:16

Obedience requires a decision and agreement to a suggestion (a thought). In essence what you decide to embrace will cause you to come under the influence of whatever is behind the suggestion. Paul, in this verse, shows us that our agreements produce either a positive (life) or negative (death) effect.

The outcome is ultimately derived from the source of the thought. Our thinking is a life or death matter and is why Paul tells us to take captive every thought that passes through our heads and pass it through the Jesus filter (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Our agreements to thoughts activate a spiritual principle which causes a subjection (slavery) to the source behind the thought. Again this can be both in a positive way, towards God, or in a negative way, when we come under the influence of the enemy. The enemy understanding the spiritual dynamics at play temps us to agree with his lies. Once a person tastes his forbidden fruit they come under his influence in this area of life, to the point to which he is able to construct a stronghold in person’s life which is where a person robotically behaves in a way.

3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Strongholds are bastions of thought, which become secure places from which the enemy is able to further penetrate a person’s life (Strongholds of Godly thinking are what the Bible calls the renewed mind). Principalities and powers strategize their infiltration into humanity by creating a consensus of thinking in an area thereby allowing them to achieve the Devil’s prize which is to be able to control culture.

Culture is so powerful because its influence happens at an unconscious level. Under the influence of a culture people do not know why they act as they do. They unconsciously follow the flow. If you can engineer culture you can control the destiny of countries. The enemy knows that the battle for culture is ultimately the battle for humanity. Once he has captured societal’s mindsets and created strongholds he is able to wield terrible destruction on society.

Jesus understood the power of culture. At the spearhead of His mission of seeing the Kingdom of God come on the earth, He established apostles. In ancient times apostles were cultural architects sent into a conquered territory by the victorious emperor to establish the culture of the homeland. Jesus appointed Apostles at the spearhead of the revolutionary movement He founded to reclaim culture.

The coming of the Gospel, as the good news of the Kingdom breaks the spell people are under.

Jesus’ Kiss wakes them from their stupor

When people encounter the kiss of the Kingdom they awaken.

Jesus sent the Apostle Paul to the Gentile nations

“to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me”

Acts 26:18

Apparently we are called to plunder the Devil and raid the Kingdom of Darkness. How? The Gospel. Good News. It’s His Kindness that leads people to repentance.

We are to go back into the darkness.

According to verses 7 and 8 by going back to Bethany Jesus places his own life in danger.

7Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8″But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?”

John 11:7,8

So from that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. 

John 11:53

The disciples thought he was nuts going back to see Lazarus. It was Jesus’ love that drove him back there. In fact it’s ironic that this resurrection, according to verse 53 is the trigger that sets up Jesus’ very own death.

We are required to go back into the dark places and rescue people.

Jesus is ruling Now

Jesus defeated the Devil with His first coming.

Satan will be destroyed by Jesus second coming (Matthew 25:41, Rev 20:10)

10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Revelation 20:10

Implication: We win!

The Millennium has begun

Revelation 20 is a recapitulation (a restating) of the preceding 19 chapters. This means that Jesus has been reigning for the last 2,000 years from the time when Jesus ascended into heaven and sat down on His throne. This means we are living in the millennial reign now .

Implication: We are reigning with Jesus now.

This is why John says:

4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

The First Resurrection is He is referring to hear is our resurrection in Christ. Most Christians know that Jesus’ death was our death. But we forget His resurrection was our resurrection. This isn’t just a future hope of being resurrected on the Day of the Lord, but it is a now thing.

He calls us to live a resurrected life.


Other Sermons In This Series