Segment 43 - 20.01 - The aftermath of Harmagedon
In chapter 20, now we approach the aftermath of Armageddon. Then, let’s see what happens with the aftermath of Armageddon, okay. Armageddon is recognized here as the final victory, but the writer has to emphasize some very important points. One of those points is that we still have to deal with Satan, okay. In chapter 20, the first few verses, you’ll see that Satan is bound with a great chain. He’s bound with a great chain, and he is cast into the bottomless pit. That’s not the lake of fire, that’s kind of the holding place for a time, the bottomless pit, and this is going to be sealed for 1000 years, and during this 1000 years the Earth is going to be free of all evil. What do we traditionally call this period of time? The what?
The millennium. This is going to be the millennium, where the Earth is free of all evil. Not everything’s been taken care of, but we’ve got this much done. Let’s read portions of chapter 20, starting with the first verse. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain, and he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent.” He gets all kinds of name. He’s labeled with about every name that you can imagine here. “The 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, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were ended,” and here’s our line. “After that he must be loosed for a little while.”
In other words, there are more things that we have to work out from within us. Can you kind of get the picture, and pick up on the metaphysical process that is involved here? We made it to states of consciousness. As I said, sometimes we get rid of some of those negative thoughts, but there’s always that one that we hang onto that’s in the bottomless pit of our own consciousness, and then it comes out for a while until finally we eliminate it altogether, and we have the power to do it. Okay, so you can get the picture there.
Then he goes on down to describe the first resurrection, in verse 4. Here’s the first first resurrection. He says, “Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also, I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus,” the martyred faithful, “and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast, or its image, and not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” So, in the first resurrection who’s gonna rise up? The faithful, so he’s telling the folks, “Hey, this is the way it is. Be one of the faithful. Be counted in that number, because when the first resurrection happens, and that’s gonna happen right after Satan has been bound up in the bottomless pit, and this is gonna be for a thousand years, the first to rise will be the martyred faithful, so be one of that number.”
Then, in verse 5 he says, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who shares in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and they shall reign with him a thousand years.” Okay, the second death that’s referred to is going to be that death that comes about when you’re thrown into the lake of fire, the final place of punishment.
The only thing is that when we finally get to the lake of fire not only is all the evil thrown into the lake of fire, Satan and the rest, but also death itself goes into the lake of fire, okay. He’s gonna paint a very beautiful picture of what the ideal can be, and we’re approaching that now. So, we see here that he talks about the first resurrection. In other words, while the Satan is held in check, all the evil powers of the world are gonna be held in check for about a thousand years. Jesus is gonna come back, all the faithful martyred are gonna rise up, and He’s gonna get things in order, take Him about a thousand years to do this, get things in order, then God is going to reveal Himself in His fullest, and we’re gonna have the Kingdom of God manifest on Earth, and peace forever, and that’s kind of the theme of all apocalyptic literature, in various forms. We’ll see that same idea brought out. Okay, that’s the first resurrection. Other Christians are not resurrected until the end of that period.
Segment 44 - 20.01 - The one thousand years - the millenium
Okay. Let me talk for just a moment about this 1,000, the 1,000 years. This of course is symbolic. It means for a little time, for a period of time. It does not necessarily mean literally 1,000 years. That would be ridiculous, okay? Where does this 1,000 years idea come from? Originally, in apocalyptic literature, the Messianic kingdom, which is this time here, the millennium ... The millennium means a thousand, but the Messianic kingdom, which becomes represented by the millennium, the thousand years, was to last forever. Originally the idea was that the Messianic kingdom was to last forever. Then the Earth became, was considered to be too evil a place for all of this, so we needed a little bit of a cleanup time, okay? The Earth was too unsuitable and too evil for God to come and reveal Himself right away, and set up this Messianic kingdom, so the time was cut down to about 1,000 years, wherein Jesus could come, and working with the faithful, could kind of clean things up, and then once again, God would reveal Himself in His full glory.
There is a book outside of the Bible called The Secrets of Enoch. The Secrets of Enoch. Do you know who Enoch is? Back in the fifth chapter of the book of Genesis, where it’s listing all of those ancient guys that lived to be 900 years old, and 800, and 700. Methuselah’s the oldest of the bunch. Tucked right in there is this fellow named Enoch, and after the names of each, after a little description is given of each of these ancient characters, it says that he died, they all died, but one of them didn’t die, and that one was Enoch. It said that Enoch walked with God. In other words, Enoch was taken up. Enoch ascended into heaven, according to traditional Jewish thought. The first ascension that we bump into in the Bible is way back there in the fifth chapter of Genesis, and it has to do with Enoch. Who was the second? I know some of you know this, because you’ve had it in class. Who was the second person that experienced an ascension in the Old Testament? Elijah. Elijah did not die, and then who’s the third person that we think of? Jesus.
Way back there, you got Enoch first of all. He didn’t die. He went up into heaven bodily. Then Elijah was considered to have ascended bodily into heaven. Then Jesus, in the first chapter of the book of Acts, is taken bodily up into heaven, so if they got up into heaven, the thought developed that they got a good looksie at what was going on in heaven, and so they could write some of these books, and tell you exactly the way it was. This is the way it is with us every once in a while when we get a peek into heaven, when we get a peek into a certain depth of consciousness that we don’t realize, and we’re able to see something. You’ve all had that experience, and by golly, it begins to unfold in your life, okay? We have that same thing take place within us, sometimes kind of a foretelling of the future, or just a moment where you know that, hey, something right is going to work out. Because Enoch went up to heaven, then he was able to write this book called The Secrets of Enoch. Just don’t believe that he wrote it.
These books appeared during the intertestamental period, period of time from about 200 B.C. to 200 A.D., and in this secret, The Secrets of Enoch, he divides the history of the world into seven days, into seven days, and each day was 1,000 years long, okay? The seven days of creation, then, meant that the world was to last 7,000 years. You know the seven steps of creation in the first chapter of Genesis? What’s the seventh step? The Sabbath, the day of rest, okay, so what John did, or whoever wrote Revelation, he picked up on this seventh day, the Lord’s day, this seventh 1,000 year period from the secrets of Enoch, and identified it with the reign of the Messiah on Earth. In other words, according to Enoch, the world’s supposed to last 7,000 years. The last thousand years was the Sabbath, a day of rest. John picks up on that, and uses that as his period of millennium, the time of the Messianic kingdom. As I said before, originally it was to last forever, but because the Earth was considered too evil for all of this, there had to be kind of a cleanup period, and so this is what they got into.
Let me digress for just a moment, too. Back to that ascension business. Enoch went up into heaven, so books are written in his name because he was supposed to have a peek into heaven to see what the ideal is, and how it’s all going to work out. Elijah is still expected to come back today, right? During the Jewish feast, the Seder feast, there is a plate and a cup that’s placed there for Elijah, the return of Elijah. There are several references in the Old Testament regarding Elijah to come, to come back in bodily form. This is why Jesus, after He ascended, is also expected to come back in bodily form. These people are still waiting for it. This is what this whole book is about, the return of Jesus, not reincarnation, but in bodily form. Even with those references in the New Testament. Who do men say that I am? Elijah or one of the prophets. People always want to use that as an example of reincarnation, to say that Jesus or John the Baptist is a reincarnation of Elijah. It can’t be. Reincarnation means re embodiment. You die and come back in another body.
Elijah didn’t die, so how can He be reincarnated? I hear so often that example used by many teachers, that this is an example of reincarnation in the Bible. It is not, because reincarnation has to do with re embodiment. That’s what the word means, but Elijah did not die. He’s expected to come back bodily, and Jesus is expected to come back bodily. As I said again, that’s what this whole book is about, here in one sense. They’re waiting for him to come back. This is the millennium. We’ve got this thousand year period established, and if you’re like me, you could probably use about a five-minute break now, okay? Let’s take it and come back and finish it up.
Segment 45 - 20.07 - Gog and Magog - Devil thrown into the lake of fire
Okay, let’s finish our study of the book of Revelation. I think we’re moving along nicely here. We just have a couple of chapters to go. Excuse me, yeah, and then a test? No, hardly. That is a minister in training who just said, “And then a test?” Because they get tests. No, that’s not the way it works here. You never know. We just talked about this aftermath of Armageddon here with the millennium, and this interim period that’s going to be set up where Jesus comes back and the first resurrection, all the faithful, the martyrs are raised up, and with Jesus they kind of put things in order for a thousand years. During this time the Devil is bound up and thrown into this bottomless pit. Then we have this picture of something else here, and this is the infamous last judgment in verses 11 through 15 of Chapter 20, that second section of Chapter 20, okay? Let’s just read that and get a picture of this.
Verse 11, “Then I saw a great white throne.” Oh, excuse me. I should go back here because I have to cover some other material here, which I did just before that. Oh, verses seven through ten. There are some other references here that are important. Let’s read verses seven through ten. “And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth,” that is Gog and Magog and don’t worry about these as specific places. There’s a reference in the Old Testament to Gog and Magog. Here it represents really to us, the people of the earth. All the faithless, those who were not faithful. It says, “He will come out to deceive the nations which are at the four corners of the earth,” That is Gog and Magog, “To gather them for battle,” almost like another battle is going to take place. “Their number is like the sand of the sea, and they marched up over the broad earth and surrounded the camp of the saints in the beloved city, but fire but fire came down from Heaven and consumed them, and the Devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
One says, “Hurray! We finally got rid of the Devil.” He’s down into the lake of fire, and there’s no return from the lake of fire, this place of eternal punishment, and I know that probably all of us in one way or another have been taught that if you’re good you’re going to go to Heaven, if you’re not you’re going to go to Hell, that place of eternal punishment. You see how this concept developed? This was the way that well intentioned people tried to get us to shape up and be good very basically. It’s the way the writer of Revelation is trying to encourage people to be good in his day by encouraging them to remain faithful to their beliefs. He says here that the Devil’s going to be taken care of, thrown down into the lake of fire. This is the second death, and there’s no recovery from this. Finally, the Devil has been taken care of, and we have the power of course, within us to take care of the Devil within us, right? To finally loose him and let him go for all time. The problem is that I suppose that most of us from time to time keep him bound up in that bottomless pit. We hold the Devil in check for a while, we keep our negative thinking in check for a while, and then we let him on earth once again as it happens here.
You see how you can relate this to a metaphysical level. But finally he’s taken care of. Looks like the Devil’s ready for another big battle, but God is not going to allow it. Fire comes down from Heaven, consumes him, he’s thrown into the lake of fire along with the beast and the false prophet. They’ve already been thrown there, of course. We saw that, and they will be tormented day and night forever.
Segment 46 - 20.11 - The final judgment
Then here comes the picture of the final judgment. “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it.” The is in verse 11. “From his presence, earth and sky fled away and no place for them.” No more earth and sky, okay? “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.” In other words, this is the last judgment, that idea that God is up there, is the great score-keeper in the sky, and when we make our transition, then what’s going to happen? He’s going to judge us and so forth.
Actually, we judge ourselves every day of our lives, don’t we, by the thoughts and feeling that we hold. Judgment day is always taking place within our consciousness. If you read the accounts and hear the stories of some people who have experienced clinical death and have come back to tell about it, this is quite a big area now through the work of people like Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Raymond Moody and others who have investigated and researched some of these experiences of clinical death.
One of the common denominators that many of these people seem to have come up with, the same thing happens pretty much to all of them, is that at that moment of death, somewhere there for many of them there is sort of a judgment that takes place. But they don’t sense any God sitting on a thrown in the sky, but what they see is their whole life flashing before their eyes in an instant. And in a sense we sit in judgment of our own life. We do the judging ourselves, and I think that’s a beautiful concept.
I have not experienced that. Maybe someone in this room has, but it’s a very common occurrence with people who are almost at the point of death or some who have experienced clinical death and then come back to tell about it. I remember a friend of mine many years ago tell me about his episode in World War II when he was fighting over in Europe, and they were at some farm house in one of the countries over there. Suddenly the Germans appeared, and they started firing upon them, the Americans, and he had to look for some place to hide. There was a low depression in the ground, and he jumped there, and he said, “I’ve had it, sure enough.” And he said, “Frank, I’ll tell you,” he says, “I’m not a religious person, but when I jumped into that hole, in just a flash my whole life, everything I had ever done, flashed before my eyes.” He said, “I saw it all, the good, the bad, and everything else.” And we both went, “Hm, that’s interesting.”
That was before truth in those days, okay? But we do make, I feel, this own judgment on ourselves every day of our life, and maybe right at that point of death there is that judgment that we make of our own life, not that God or someone else is going to do in a very critical and condemnatory sense. The critical and condemnatory type of judgment we pick up that idea from writings such as this and from human nature. We are the ones who criticize and condemn each other and ourselves. It isn’t God, it’s the way we do it, it’s the human part of us. And the human part of us is not to be condemned: It’s simply our lack of understanding. We’re like babes in the wood, like little children.
Every time we’re critical in a condemnatory sense, we’re like a little child who cannot handle his or her frustrations, and the best way we can handle it is to be critical of someone or ourselves. The beauty of it is we have the power to overcome that criticism. We created it, and we can change it. But when you read things like this, that’s what happens. It looks like he’s up there someplace. This is the writer’s attempt to get the people to shape up and remain faithful and say, “Hang in there.” It’s a word of comfort, once again. Remember how I brought that out this morning? With all of these terrible things that happen, you’d think that he’s trying to lay a big punishment trip on the people. He is trying to comfort the faithful by telling them, “Look, you’re going to have trouble, but if you hang in there, it’s all going to work out real great for you and for everybody else.”
Okay. Let’s go back here to verse 14 of chapter 20: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” No more death and no more Hades. Hades was kind of a holding place for a while, while you were on your way to the place of eternal punishment and that sort of thing, okay? It was kind of an intermediate place where the souls of the righteous were held and that sort of thing. “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Let’s get beyond that. I’m tired of that, okay?