with Jeremy Westcott –
We have been looking at the Millennium, or thousand years, and I just want to clear up one more point from that passage in Revelation, and then sum up what we have said.
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6).
What is this ‘first resurrection’? Well we know Jesus was resurrected, and His was a physical resurrection. As a result of the fall there was spiritual death and physical death. The consequence of Jesus’ physical resurrection was a spiritual resurrection for us. We have been resurrected spiritually, and that spiritual resurrection deals with the spiritual death.
It is signified in our baptism: …having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead (Col 2:12).
Even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph 2:5). We have been made alive with Christ: a spiritual resurrection.
That is the ‘first resurrection’. It deals with the spiritual death, so we can be born again, and come back into life; the second resurrection (when everybody gets resurrected) deals with physical death, which also came as a result of the fall.
And here is an interesting passage. It is only a couple of sentences in the Gospel narrative, but it must have caused quite a stir:
The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. (Matt 27:52)
So at that time there was an actual physical resurrection of all those Old Testament saints who came back to life.And don’t imagine that they then died again – what happened was that Jesus led them into heaven, and that is where they are now. They ‘came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years’.
The rule of Christ is now
Let’s wrap this up. We are a kingdom of priests, and the millennial rule is now. In heaven, and on earth – because we can live in both places, as we have begun to understand. We bring heaven to earth through our lives and the kingdom of God is manifested on the earth through us.
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD (1 Peter 2:9).
… And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (Rev 1:5-6).
The reign of Christ began at His ascension, and continues until all things are subdued under his feet. The return of Christ and the bodily resurrection of all men will occur after (or post-) the millennium: that is to say it will happen after the period in which we now live, the period in which Jesus rules in heaven and on earth through His people.
This is really what we need to have faith in. We need to be expecting these things to take place, and expecting ourselves to be part of the process of bringing them about. “But indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the LORD” (Num 14:21). That is what we want – and how will the earth be filled? Through us.
For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14). People will know about the glory. It will not just be a few people going around glowing a bit. God’s glory will be clearly demonstrated for all to see.
Remember how in Daniel 2:35 the Stone [Jesus] that struck the statue [the kingdoms of the world] became a great mountain [God’s kingdom] and filled the whole earth. The earth will be filled with glory, and that will happen before Jesus will return:
…That He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Act 3:20-21)
Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
These are the last days (and have been ever since Jesus first came). God’s kingdom is already established as the chief kingdom, because we know that Jesus is above all rule. His kingdom is already above every other kingdom. The nations have been streaming to it throughout church history, and we want to see that prophecy completely and finally fulfilled.
I believe we are called to be a Joshua generation. The Joshua generation will raise up and prepare the following (and final) generation to receive their full inheritance and to usher in the end time harvest, ready for Jesus’ return.
We are fast approaching the end of this series on God’s Prophetic Timetable. It is based around the series I taught in Freedom Church during the spring and summer of 2011, and lays the groundwork for some of our more recent teaching both on this blog and elsewhere. The audio of those original sessions is available on our Apostolic Resources website. As we have noted elsewhere, some of the views we held at the time have been challenged by God in the intervening period but these blog posts (particularly #64-67) have been updated to reflect those changes (the audio recordings, of course, have not).
In the closing posts of this series I want to look at 40 characteristics that mark out that Joshua generation, because many of us will be part of it.
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