Let’s start with a quick recap of the four main steps in the Inductive Method of Bible study:
- Pray – the Spirit is our Teacher and Guide.
- Observe – only looking at what the text says – do not jump to any conclusions here.
- Interpretation – ask about the meaning to those to whom the book was originally written. Here we ask why questions; we do not ask about ourselves or our society in this step.
- Application – application is the goal of Bible study, leading to transformed lives and societies, but it is the last step in the method. Jumping to application prematurely can lead to incorrect doctrine.
Bear these steps in mind as we get into the text.
Try getting into the method a little for yourself:
- Pray. Ask God to open greater understanding of Revelation’s message to the original readers, and the application for your life today.
- Observe. Take time to meditate on Revelation 19:11-16.
- Interpretation. Consider who is the rider on the white horse, depicted in Revelation 19:11-16.
Act VI Satan judged & Saints receive salvation; 19:11-20:15
(+ 4 Millennium views)
This setting is more than worth reading in full. Take time to read through Revelation 19:11-16 again.
Who is the rider on the white horse? . . .
JESUS! This is our King! He comes in triumph; He comes to conquer. He is an active king, not passive.This is the Conquering King that the Jews wanted when they got the Suffering Servant. What a picture of hope for believers. This is who the original readers, and all believers, lay down their lives for. We are on the side of the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the One worthy to be feared.
When I speak about worship being the response to this book, I don’t just mean worship as we do on Sundays at church; I mean the deep, spirit worship that binds us to Christ as bondservants. It leads us to put an awl through our ear and declare ourselves His slave for the rest of our lives; It means laying down our desires and taking up the cross daily and following Him; It means counting our lives, and even the lives of our family, as nothing compared to knowing Him and walking in obedience to Him. Why? Because HE IS WORTHY OF OUR LIVES, AND HE IS WORTHY OF OUR DEATHS!
The setting, once again, is heaven.
Big picture of Act VI
We again see that God is unquestionably in control: of the timing of events, of what’s permitted by His enemies, and of the end result. We see a contrast to the Marriage feast as we read of the Great Supper of God’s judgement. We see the enemies of God defeated with ease by Christ, we see the martyrs reigning with Christ, and we see those whose names are in the Book of Life safe from judgement.
This Act expands on the last Act. This shows again the cyclical nature of Revelation; it is not all chronological. It’s all the same battle, but from different perspectives:
- Rev 16 Battle of Armageddon
- Rev 17 Judgement of whore
- Rev 19:20 Judgment of beast and false prophet
- Rev 20:10 Judgment on Satan
- Rev 20:12 Judgement of unbelievers
Although, we really shouldn’t event count it as a battle: it is a slaughter of God’s enemies!
Scene 1 – The Great Supper of God (19:17-18)
We eagerly await the Marriage Supper of God, but we shouldn’t want anyone to be part of the Great Supper! Everyone not invited to the Marriage Supper is going to be part of the Great Supper – great, small, slave and free. Jesus is the ONLY means of salvation. Again, there is only two sides – you are for Him, or you are against Him.
Scene 2 – Beast and False Prophet captured (19:19-21)
The Beast, False Prophet and kings gather against God, and . . . Jesus just throws them into the Lake of Fire! It’s not a battle; victory is decisive with Jesus the clear winner.
Scenes 3 to 5
Have you heard of the Millennium? Have you been asked what your view of the Millennium is? This is the place in Scripture that it arises from.
Scenes 3 to 5 again have a few different schools of thought around the 1000 year reign of Christ, and some different interpretations even within these schools. Just as there are 4 main views of interpreting Revelation, there are also 4 main views of the Millennium.
A good book for those who want to compare the 4 views is: “The Meaning of the Millennium; 4 views;” edited by Robert Clouse.
When studying the millennium, it is good to bear this quote from Robert’s introduction in mind:
“The exposition of prophecy is an area of Christian doctrine in which the warning of Paul must always be kept in mind: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood” (1 Cor. 13:12).”
Remember that what camp you fall into, IF you fall into a camp, is not a salvation issue. All of these views have godly men and women in them who believe that salvation is through Christ alone, that we are saved by grace, that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came to earth fully God and fully man and that He will come again to the judgement of unbelievers and to bring believers into eternal life in His eternal Kingdom.
“It should be added that the church has debated and reached conclusions and has embodied these conclusions in her creeds as the great doctrines of the faith. But the subject of eschatology remains in dispute. The manner of Christs’ return and the kind of kingdom that he is setting up or will set up in this world is not agreed upon. For this reason the church in practically all of her branches has refused to make any one of the millennial interpretations an article of the creed and has preferred rather to accept as Christian brethren all those who believe in the fact of Christ’s coming. Hence, while personally we may have very definite views concerning the manner and time of his coming, it would seem that our motto should be, “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”” (The Meaning of the Millennium; 4 views;” Robert Clouse; p140-141)
And, again, you don’t need to decide which group you fall into. And you certainly don’t want to go into the book with a view in mind – because to do so would be to study deductively. We want to come to the Word of God without preconceived ideas so as to allow the Word to speak for itself.
I am going to summarise the four views briefly here, and then leave them alone. There is plenty of information on them elsewhere if you desire to look into one or more of them in detail.
“Amillennium” means “no millennium”, but they actually mean no coming millennium. They interpret the 1000 years symbolically, not as a literal 1000 years. They see 10x10x10 = human completeness, and thus representing the Church Age. In this view, the Millennium is the time from Christ’s ascension to His Second Coming.
Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:30-32)
They believe that the binding of Satan is not that he has no power on earth anymore, but that it has been limited so believers no longer need to fear because they are seated with Christ (Ephesians 1) .
Their motto could be: “Christ is taking over; now, but not yet”
In summary: The Church Age will continue until Christ’s return for judgement. There is no physical earthly reign of Christ; He is already reigning in heaven with those who die in faith.
Like the Amillennialists, they interpret the 1000 years symbolically, not as a literal 1000 years. They see 10x10x10 = human completeness, and thus representing the Church Age. They differ from Amillennialists in their belief that believers will gradually take over this world for Christ through the preaching of the Gospel. They believe that the world will gradually get better until believers will call in a Millennial era of peace and then Christ will return.
Their motto could be: “We are taking over”
Historic Premillennialists believe that Christ will physically reign on the earth once more before final judgement during which time Satan will be bound. They differ as to the length of the millennial period – whether the 1000 years is literal or symbolic time frame.
They believe that this time of Christ’s reign will come after a time of great tribulation for the church (from Daniel 9); then the dead in Christ will rise to life and reign with Christ; many (but not all) unbelievers will come to Christ during this time; finally, Satan will be unbound at the end of 1000 years and then be decisively defeated along with God’s remaining enemies.
Their motto could be: “He’s taking over physically, but it’s not happening yet”.
Dispensational Premillennialists believe that Christ will return twice more before His final coming when He calls in the eternal state. They believe that Christ will come down secretly before the 7 year tribulation and catch up believers. (Remember the 7 year tribulation before Christ’s second coming is one way of interpreting Daniel 9 and his seventieth week). Unlike the Historic Premillennialists, they believe that believes will not suffer the great tribulation.
After this secret appearance, Christ will return again with those caught up and reign for 1000 years in Jerusalem. Dispensational Premillennialists believe that in this period God will fulfill all His promises to the physical nation of Jews, and that Christ will take up David’s physical kingship in Jerusalem and reign over all the nations. They believe that there is still a distinction of Jewish and Gentile believers (despite much of the New Testament arguing against this).
The popularity of any of the above four views tends to fluctuate based on the church’s status at the time in history, and in any given region of the world.
Just don’t get so caught up in a view that you do not live by the commands we receive in Scripture, or that winning people to your view becomes more important than winning people to Christ!!
Now let’s look at what we see in these scenes (remember that to choose a view before interpreting the passage is to come to the Bible deductively – what we DON’T want to do!)
Scene 3 – Satan bound (20:1-3)
Who is the Dragon, the ancient Serpent (Revelation 20:2)? . . .
We are clearly told it is the Devil, there is no room for interpretation.
What happens to him in Rev 20:3a? . . .
He is throne into the pit, which is bound and sealed.
Why is this done as given in Rev 20:3b? . . .
So he can’t deceive the nations. The original readers would take encouragement from this, but even more especially from Scenes 4 and 5.
Scene 4 –Throne (20:4a)
Scene 5 – 1000 years (20:4b-10)
Whatever your interpretation of the Millennial reign of Christ, the original readers would be encouraged to see that those martyred, and those who had not worshiped the beast’s image, COME TO LIFE AND REIGN WITH CHRIST! This would have given them encouragement, hope and strength to endure
This passage also mentions resurrections and death. What is the first death we all must suffer? . . .
Physical death. The second death we get to in Scene 7, but we see here that those in Christ will not suffer it, for they are part of the first resurrection. The first resurrection being the dead in Christ reigning (martyrs raised or salvation). The second resurrection we see on judgement day in Scene 7 is when the eternal states are determined. Again, this is a call to endurance for the original readers, and for all believers.
At the end of Scene 5 we come across another battle when Satan calls Gog and Magog to him. So who, or what, is Gog and Magog? Ezekiel 38 and 39 also mentions Gog and Magog. In Ezekiel, Gog and Magog come from the north, but those here come “from the four corners of the earth.” In Ezekiel the anti-God leader is symbolized by a man called Gog who lives in the land of Magog. This could be a literal nation but doubtable. It is the same picture over and over: spiritual battle.
Who loses in Rev 20:9-10? . . .
God’s enemies – the Devil and those marching on the saints. Here, as in the vision of Ezekiel, Satan is allowed to draw all the rebels together so that God might destroy them all at the same time in one decisive act of judgment. They think they are coming against God’s people, but God is gathering them for slaughter.
Who wins? . . . Jesus!
When does this happen (Rev 20:7)? . . . When the 1000 years are ended; this is at the very end.
Scene 6 and 7 deal with final judgement
Read Rev 20:12-15 and see the contrast. There are the books and there is the Book of Life. If you are not in the Book of Life, you are judged by your deeds, and thrown into the Lake of fire. This is the second death (which links to Rev 14:9-11 – eternal torment). If you are in the Book of Life . . . then keep reading Rev 21-22 to see what’s in store!
The original readers can be at peace! They are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They are SAFE!They do not face God’s judgement. They are redeemed. And this is true for us, too. Those of us who are in Christ have no need to fear judgement; we are in the Lamb’s Book of Life and our redemption is assured.
Romans 8 assures us of this too:
Rom 8:1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:15-18 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Rom 8:23-25 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Rom 8:33-34 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The application of this Act is sharing of the Good News (evangelism), and also forgiveness. Seeing what is coming against those who do not receive God’s judgement makes it so much easier for us to fulfill God’s call for us to forgive and love our enemies. Perhaps in loving them and showing them mercy we will open them to receiving God’s mercy. We are all sinners, but some of us have been saved by grace. Who are we not to want to share this grace with others?
Next post we will get into the Seventh and final “Act” of Revelation as the drama comes to a beautiful close.