with Jeremy Westcott –
We saw last time how important it is that our faith is in victory, in overcoming, in seeing God’s kingdom fill the earth.
A theology of victory
Kingdom and Covenant theology is a theology of victory. More and more people are starting to realise this because of the nature of what God is saying prophetically in these days. If you are someone who believes Jesus is going to come and rescue us, you are going to struggle to reconcile what God is saying with that belief. How does it fit? It doesn’t: Jesus is not going to come and rescue us: we are going to be victorious.
In succeeding periods of church history, people tended to hold different views on the book of Revelation. I want briefly to make it clear how we see things.
Firstly, Revelation is a historical book which deals with God’s covenant judgment on Israel and Jerusalem.
Also, Revelation illustrates the triumph of the church through history, overcoming all persecution.
Soon… the time is near… quickly
The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place (Rev 1:1).
I’m sorry, 2000 years later is not ‘soon’. Now I know that for God, everything can be now. Bur this was not written for God, it was written for people to read and be encouraged and comforted in the midst of the persecution they were facing. It would have been very poor comfort to say that judgment was coming soon, if in fact it was going to take centuries. The book of Revelation was written before AD 70 to servants of God who were alive at the time. It was written about events which would soon take place. And what soon took place was the destruction of Jerusalem. John repeats it, so there can be no mistake: ‘the time is near’.
‘Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near’ (Rev 1:3).
Again, at the end of the book, Jesus says:
“And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book… Yes, I am coming quickly” (Rev 22:7, 20). And Jesus came quickly: within a few years of this being written, He came in judgment upon Jerusalem and it was destroyed.
Bound for a thousand years
While we are considering Revelation, I also just want to look at the only scriptures in the Bible which actually mention a thousand-year reign.
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time (Rev 20:1-3).
So here we see that for a thousand years Satan is bound and not able to deceive, and then is released. It continues:
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).
When we read ‘the beast and his image’ we immediately think it must be future. But if you think about the beast and his image in terms of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, you will read this in a different light. It has already happened. And this is not a bodily resurrection – the scripture specifically says it was the souls of people which came alive. So this has happened before a bodily resurrection, not after. If Jesus had already returned, there would already have been a bodily resurrection, and that is not the case.
‘Priests of God… will reign with Him for a thousand years’: we know the language about being a royal priesthood belongs to us. So this is talking about us, and it is talking about something which happens on the earth.
We have already seen that Satan was bound (Rev 20:2). When is or was that? Look at Matt 12:28-29: ‘But 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’. All deliverance that we see today is on the basis that the strong man is already bound. Otherwise we would not be able to cast demons out.
If Satan were not bound, we would not be able to do what we are doing right now. If he were deceiving the nations, no-one would be getting saved. Remember the Great Commission: Jesus sent his followers out into the whole world to disciple the nations. It is possible for us to do that because Satan is bound and not able to deceive them. His power is limited.
In John 12:31 Jesus said “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (my emphasis). And in Luke 10:17-18, ‘The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning”’. It already happened.
Jesus first bound Satan in the wilderness, when He did what Adam had failed to do in overcoming temptation. Then He went further, in releasing authority on His disciples to go out and minister because of that. The fact that the disciples were ministering in kingdom power showed that Satan had no authority any longer. But then Jesus went on to actually conquer death: the wilderness had dealt with spiritual death, the cross dealt with physical death.
‘When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him’ (Col 2:15).
And if Satan is bound now, then the thousand years, the Millennium, must also be now. That is what the scripture says: he is bound, and remains bound for a thousand years. So we are living in the time right now when God’s kingdom is active on earth, because Satan is bound. It is not an exact, literal 1000 years.
Satan will be loosed. That will be just before the end. I believe there will then be an increase in Satan’s power, because we are going to have to overcome him. Warfare will be much more open, but God’s church will be raised up in light, as the mountain of the house of the Lord.
And that church will be victorious.
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