Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

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Revelation 20-22

November 7th, 2010 by Vic

November 7, 2010

The Rest of the Story

Revelation 20-22

Chapters 17-19 have announced the fall of Babylon and the responses from different groups of people.  Chapter 20 backs up and describes it a different way.

20:1-6 The Millennium

Each time in Revelation when “and” is followed by an angelic appearance it introduces a vision preceding the previous section.  Ezekiel 39 recapitulates the final battle described in Ezekiel 38 just like chapters 20-22 will recapitulate the battle described in 17-19.

The final events described in the previous verses was inaugurated at the resurrection of Jesus.  The curse of death was removed.  Satan’s ability to deceive was curtailed by the coming of the Holy Spirit.  God’s children had power available to be witnesses.  The symbolism here should caution us against requiring a literal meaning for the millennium.  The bottomless pit that can be secured with a key and chains that can bind demons cannot be interpreted literally.  So maybe the 1,000 years is God’s time, complete time, ideal time, God’s eternity, the church age, or a different quality of time.

While Christ is building His church the gates of hell cannot prevail over it because the keys to the kingdom have been given to the church to recognize and overcome satan’s deception.  He cannot deceive the church like he deceived Adam and Eve.

These verses are basically all we know about the millennium from the NT.  Have you ever noticed how common it is for each of us to talk the most about what we understand the least.  I suspect we are living in the Millennium.

The saints can rule because satan has been judged.  Thrones are mentioned 46 times in Revelation.  42 of those are in heaven and 4 refer to satan or the beast.  We participate in Christ’s resurrection and rule before the judgment in the kingdom of God.

Verse 6 is the 5th blessing in Revelation.  It mentions the 2nd death, but never mentions the 1st.  Traditionally, the first death is the separation of the soul from the body.  The second death is the separation of the soul from God.  But for John in Revelation there is a 1st resurrection and a 2nd death.  The Christians experience the 1st resurrection and those with the mark of the beast experience the 2nd death.  In our western culture, 1st usually implies a 2nd.  And a 2nd implies a 1st.  But that is not necessary.  1st can mean the first and only.

Resurrection is only mentioned here in Revelation.  Romans 6:4-10 identifies our resurrection with our life during the church age.

20:7‑10 describe Satan’s homecoming.

At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan is released to deceive the nations.  There is a brief gathering for war, but all those who gather to fight against God are destroyed.  The saints don’t do any fighting.  There is not even the appearance of a battle.  Ultimately Satan’s ways are self-destructive.

20:11-15 another picture of the last judgment.

In contrast to the lake of fire John saw the great white throne of God.  God has a video of your mind and motions.  Those, whose names are written in the book of life, have had their sins erased off the video.  The unbelievers are gathered for their final judgment.

The second spiritual death is the opposite of eternal life or the 1st resurrection.  Ironically, the first physical death of the saints translates them into the first spiritual resurrection in heaven, whereas the second physical resurrection translates the ungodly into the second spiritual death.

Verse 13 suggests that resurrected people are standing before God’s throne.

The record books are metaphorical for God’s unfailing memory.  When you stand before the great white throne of judgment there will be no more opportunity to repent.  The facts are all known by God.  There is no soul sleep where you are annihilated.  There is no second chance.  Judgment is on the basis of your deeds not social standing.

Death and the place of the dead (v.14) will be separated from God forever.  This second death is not physical.  It is for those whose names are not in the infallible memory of God.

21:1-22:5 the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem.

This 7th major section of the Revelation highlights the contrast between the church imperfect and the church perfected.  It also contrasts the new Jerusalem with ungodly Babylon.

The only rapture or time in Revelation where someone is ‘caught up’ to heaven is the Messiah in 12:5.  If the New Jerusalem represents all the people of God, then it’s coming down from heaven suggests that Christians have already been in heaven.  The people of God come down from heaven as a bride.  In chapter 6 we saw the souls of the martyrs right close to the throne of God.

The good news is for those who persevere and live holy lives.  This old world is passing away but a new heaven and new earth is on the way.  The curse of the Garden of Eden is reversed.

The sea (1) is gone.  That which was the source of the satanic beast, the place of the dead, traditionally the symbol of unrest, chaos and evil is gone.  Real peace has come.  All visible and invisible threats to Christians have been removed.

God himself speaks (5).  He offers an alternate view of reality.  The Roman emperor is not Lord.  Rome is not the eternal city.  Pluralism and compromise might reduce the suffering in the old world, but faithfulness and obedience is necessary for the new.  God is dismantling the old and making all things new.  The cowardly and faithless have no place in the new (8).

The thirsty are offered the water of life from God Himself (6).  If you sense your need for God and feel drawn to Him, nothing is required except to come, drink, and remain loyal to Christ.  This is salvation, an intimate, personal relationship with God.

In verse 9, one of the angels that told John about the harlot, now tells him about the bride.  The bride is contrasted to the harlot.  While the harlot was explained by the comparison to the city Babylon (the socio-economic and religious culture against God), the bride is now compared to the holy city, the new Jerusalem.  Holy and new suggest a contrast to this world.  You cannot have dual citizenship.

The holy and pure city is always coming down (10).  It is a people of God not a creation of man.  It is a people having the glory of God in the presence of God (11).

The city walls are 144 cubits thick.  The city is described as a cube.  A cube has 12 edges.  Each edge is 12,000 furlongs or stadia in length.  12 edges times 12,000 equals 144,000.  There is a lot of symbolism in this description.  If you remember, the number 12 is a group number.  1,000 is an all inclusive number.  To square a number suggests perfection.  What you have described here is a perfect place that is large enough to include everybody or a perfect community of people.  It is big enough for all.  The holy city is the 144,000, the bride, the people of God coming down from heaven.

The 12 tribes and 12 apostles are united in the foundation of Jesus Christ.

Verse 21 says the gates are pearls.  A pearl is formed around an irritation.  Jesus came and irritated the religious leaders.  He was despised and rejected.  By His wound our salvation is provided.  We have access to heaven through the pearl of Jesus, the pearl of great price.  The gates are pearls and the walls are precious stones.  A common necklace for a bride was made of alternating precious stones and pearls.  The city is a bride’s necklace.  We are the bride of Christ.  The symbolism portrays protection, a splendor, and priceless purity.  Babylon/the harlot was also described with precious stones.  Throughout Revelation satan offers a false reality to imitate the true.

Verse 22 says there is no need for a temple any longer.  That means there is no sin.  Paradoxically we are also the temple.  The temple was made for God to fill with His presence.  In the NT, Jesus became our sacrifice so that our hearts might be purified by faith and God could be present in our hearts.  We are to be a reflection of God’s glory.

After Satan and all sin is destroyed, there will be no need for God to be isolated and separate from us any longer.  He can again walk with us in the garden as He did with Adam in the original garden.

At the moment my heart stops beating, I will at last be fully alive!  To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  I will be experiencing more than I can even imagine.  “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love Him.’  Whether this will happen like a flower opening to full bloom or whether it happens like a fireworks display, I can’t imagine.

The exhaustion of pain and frustration of disease will be gone.  There will be rest from the onslaught of sin, wickedness, injustice, and uncertainty.  This is not a rest of inactivity, but a rest from the war against Satan.

Painful memories will be erased.  He will tenderly wipe away every tear.  He will make all things new.  We will have a new mind.  Faith will become sight.  We will have new and revised bodies.  Thomas touched Jesus’ nail prints.  Jesus ate.  Jesus walked through locked doors.  He looked like other men on the road to Emaeus, but with a spiritual body.  He ascended to heaven and came back in a short time.  Heaven and earth are not far apart.  Revelation has suggested that in our worship we can bring heaven and earth together.

As you close your eyes in death you see heaven.  Like the song says, ‘stepping on shore, and finding it heaven; taking hold of a hand, and finding it God’s hand; breathing new air, and finding it heavenly air; feeling invigorated, and finding it immortality; waking up—and finding it Home!’

In chapter 22 we move inside of the holy city.  John describes one of the 12 avenues.  There is a river that flows from the throne.  It is ever fresh and super abundant.  The curse on the Garden of Eden has been removed.  Heaven is a wonderful place filled with glory and grace — a place where we can again function according to the original design.

22:1 God makes the end like the beginning.  Water is symbolic of the Spirit and life.  We are continually cleansed by living in God’s presence.  The curse (3) was separation from God’s presence.  That threat is gone.

God promised Noah (Gen 8:22) that as long as earth endures, day and night will not cease.  The world as we have known it is now gone (5).

John’s main purpose in writing is to exhort God’s people to remain faithful so they can inherit final salvation.  The major theme is the glory that God receives by working out His plan for our salvation.

22:6-21 is a series of repeated exhortations to be faithful and live holy lives.  The 6th beatitude is 22:7 and the 7th is 22:14.

When a messenger of God powerfully preaches the Gospel we are prone to give him reverence beyond his due.  The whole purpose of John’s writing was to inspire the worship of God.  “Let your light so shine that men may see your good works, but naturally glorify God in heaven.”  Do all to the glory of God.

John was commanded to leave this book open for all to see (10), not just the 7 churches, but everyone.  Make sure the facts are known.  Don’t hide anything.  No one will receive a second chance.  When the end comes, everyone’s nature and character are fixed forever (11).  It will be too late to change.  Until then there is a danger of hardening your heart.  When tribulations come repent and draw near to God.  Persevere.

If you look at the total message of the book of Revelation, it is obvious that the citizens of Babylon are going to have a horrible time, but God cares for His children.

If a king was about to attack a city, he would usually send a messenger to give the city an option of surrender.  The messenger would say this is your first and last warning.  Jesus says He is the first and the last word from God (13).  Repent or perish.

4 final invitations are given (17).

Revelation 19:9; 21:5, and 22:6 tell us these words are true.  These are the most important statements in the world, “God is!”  And “God speaks!”

Do you really believe these words are faithful and true?  This Bible is either what it claims to be or it is the greatest deceit and fantasy of the ages.  You either believe on this absolute standard or you only exist on a rolling sea or roller coaster of subjectivity.  You either believe the Bible or Satan who says you can be your own god.  Heb. 1:1; II Pet. 1:21; and II Tim. 3:16.

As Moses warned the children of Israel in Deuteronomy so here the Christians are being warned.  If you add to the book, the plagues will be added to you.  If you take away from the book, the blessings will be taken from you.  Prov 30:6 says if you add to this book you prove yourself to be a liar.

If Jesus is Faithful and True as the Bible says, then this whole book is God’s word.

John prays that God’s grace will be with us so we can understand and obey the contents of this letter.  The main point of the whole book is that faithful endurance and obedience to the end will result in eternal blessing and reward, with the ultimate result of glorifying God and Christ.

Right now you have a decision to make.  If these words are really Faithful and True then Jesus is Lord of All.  Then there is a judgment coming.  Then God does require holy living.  Then all evil will be destroyed.  Then there is an eternity.  Then I must worship God only.  Then I must walk as Jesus walked.  So help me God!  Then I must accept His invitation to come.  Jesus says so.

If you are thirsty for the water of life, come.

If you really want to be a faithful Christian, I invite you to ask Jesus to forgive you and be the Lord of your life.

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