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June 24, 2012, 11:34 AM

Sermon Text for Sunday June 24, 2012: The Millennium

The sermon was not recorded today; so, we revert to the old fashioned way of making sermons available -- A Transcript from today.

June 24, 2012.  Text:  Revelation 20:1-15  The Millennium  (Sermon #9 of 10) by Cameron Smith.

We are talking about the millennium today.  Now, I know, when you hear that word, you think back twelve years ago to the hysteria of Y2K.  We all remember the build up to the 21st millennium.  It was a science fiction fantasy.  Computers would crash.  Government and commerce would come to a grinding halt.  The world would stop spinning.  One well-known Christian ministry was even advising the faithful to stock up on non-perishable foods and head for the bomb shelter!

But today, we are talking about another kind of millennium.  We are talking about the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.  Then I saw [John's way of introducing the next vision] an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.  And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. (Rev 20:1-3 ESV) ...and those who 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 for a thousand years. (Rev 20:4 ESV).

Lots of details packed in here; far more than I can ever hope to cover in a twenty minute sermon -- so let me give you the big idea of what's going on here.

  • Rev. 20:1-6 (that I just read from) speaks of this incredible thousand year millennial reign of Jesus Christ here on earth.  Satan is defeated, Jesus reigns, God's people receive deep and lasting life!
  • Rev. 20:7-10 then speaks of a certain, definitive, final judgment of Satan, the beast and the false prophet -- evil.
  • Rev. 20:11-15 announces a certain, definitive, final judgment on humanity -- sin.

Let me begin with Rev 20:1-6.  The Millennial Kingdom.  The big question here is when?  When will this thousand years happen?  Is the thousand years literal or figurative?  Two major answers have been generally given among Christians.  Either the Kingdom is now, presently since Jesus announced its inauguration during his earthly ministry -- or sometime in the future when Jesus comes back again.  If the Kingdom has already come, then the thousand years can't really be a literal thousand years since Jesus has been gone for nearly two thousand years.  The thousand years must then be a symbolic representation of a long and meaningful period of time.  If indeed the Millennium is yet in the future, those who see it that way usually agree that it means a literal thousand year reign here on earth, probably in Jerusalem.

Let's be honest here.  Revelation is loaded from start to finish with symbolic language.  From the description of Jesus as a seven-horned-seven-eyed lamb to the devil as the great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns to the terrible, measured judgments presented in the seal, trumpet and bowl cycles of seven.

This book is rich, metaphorical and symbolic -- a highly visual description of who God is and what he is going to do.  The indescribable being described in a literary way that incorporates and draws together Old Testament themes and imagery and that includes the use of numbers like 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12 and multiples of those numbers.

It is my firm conviction that the Millennial Kingdom is a present reality.  This is what the book of Revelation teaches.  Jesus, over and over, announces that the Kingdom had come  -- of course with the understanding that it is partial, growing with more to come later!  But, the Kingdom has indeed come.

Revelation 20:1-6 announces that Satan has been bound--now-- and that the Saints of God are reigning with Christ--now.  A present reality!

Perhaps this is hard to swallow?  Sin and evil seem to be so omnipresent and omnipotent in the world and our own lives today!  Well, let me bring to mind a few well known verses in the New Testament -- and I want you to bear in mind what John is announcing here as you hear these verses:

How can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?  Then indeed he may plunder his house. (Mt. 12:29 ESV).

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"  And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven." (Lk. 10:17-18 ESV).

Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out....[When the Comforter comes, will convict the world]...concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (Jn. 12:31, 16:11 ESV).

And you, who were dead in your trespasses...God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses...This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Col. 2:13-15 ESV).

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb. 2:14-15 ESV).

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world--he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.  And [then] I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God." (Rev. 12:9-10 ESV).

When you put all of these words together, you realize that what we have is a picture of the Kingdom of God reigning here and now.  In his life, death and resurrection, Jesus has, to use Matthew's language, "Bound the strong man."  He is now "plundering his house," which is to say that he is rescuing and pulling men and women out from the dangers of this fallen world.

As people come to Jesus Christ in faith, they are given new life -- eternal life -- they literally come to life -- the first resurrection, to use the words of John.  They reign with Christ by being his ambassadors.  heralding the Good News of the Gospel in word and deed.

It is a thousand year kingdom.  It is a period of time as long as God's patience and longsuffering.  As Peter reminds us, God is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Pet. 3:9 ESV).

Rev. 20:7-10 make it plain that the devil will be judged.  Evil will not go on and on.  It won't survive to make a sequel.  That gives us encouragement.  It gives us hope.  It is however, that last section, Rev. 20:11-15 that is a little disconcerting:

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.  Then another book was opened, which is the book of life.  And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done....and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done....And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:12, 13,15 ESV).

There's hell.  There's an eternity separated from God.  But, as I am wont to do, I want to point you back to the first six verses of this chapter.  That is where the emphasis is in this chapter -- not on the "lake of fire." The long, joyous, inviting, seemingly unending period of time in which the people of God go about living out the Kingdom of God here on earth -- the Millennial Kingdom of Christ.  The time when the love of God is made manifest and available to every living creature upon the earth.  There is absolutely no reason for any living person to go to hell, certainly not for any person who sits in this sanctuary!

My preaching, and I am sure, many of my colleagues, operates on the working assumption that I am preaching to a room full of Christians, and if I am not, then I hope that the Good News that I am delivering will find its way into the hearts of those who do not believe.

However today.  The text is in your face.  In your face with the Good News, of course.  But, it also cuts to the chase.  In light of the Good News in Jesus, why would you want anything less?

You have heard the Word of God.  Please consider it so very well.   Amen.

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