Shepherd’s Fire exists to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ through mass communications for the teaching ministry of Bible expositor David Harrell, with a special emphasis in encouraging and strengthening pastors and church leaders.

The Establishment of the Messianic Kingdom – Part 3

Revelation 20:4-6
Dr. David Harrell | Bio
April, 11 2010

Description

After reviewing the chronology of the final days leading up to Christ’s second coming, especially as they relate to the Temple Mount and the glories of Jerusalem during the millennium, this exposition examines the allocation of rulers and the resurrection of the saints.

The Establishment of the Messianic Kingdom – Part 3

Each transcript is a rough approximation of the message preached and may occasionally misstate certain portions of the sermon and even misspell certain words. It should in no way be considered an edited document ready for print. Moreover, as in any transcription of the spoken word, the full intention and passion of the speaker cannot be fully captured and will in no way reflect the same style of a written document.

Turn with me to chapter 20 where the Lord unveils some stunning truths regarding his 1000 year messianic reign upon the earth, the millennial kingdom. And isn’t it amazing to be able to learn about future history, especially knowing that we will be a part of it. 

This morning we will focus on verses four through six.  Let me read the text for you and then I want to give you some background information to provide further context.

Revelation 20 beginning at verse four.

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the 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 upon their forehead and upon 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.1

May I give you some chronology regarding some of the things that will occur before the Lord returns that will lead us up to a better understanding of the context of what the Lord is revealing to us here in this text? 

After the Church has been translated into glory at the rapture, God will resume the final seven years of judgment upon Israel.  This is commonly known as Daniel’s 70th week.  In Daniel 9:24 we read, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place,”2 a reference to the millennial temple in the millennial kingdom.

Now the rest of that prophecy goes on to describe how that 69 of those weeks of judgment, those weeks of years, have been completed.  But one more remains and this is the one that is commonly known as the tribulation. 

Now at the first half of the tribulation, the first three and a half years, we know that the antichrist will rise to power and he will sign a peace covenant, a peace agreement with Israel and that really triggers the tribulation. At that time the Jewish temple will be rebuilt and they will be able to resume their worship, their sacrificial system even though many of them will do so not fully understanding who Christ their Messiah is until later on in that tribulation period.

During the first half of the tribulation the seal judgments will rain down upon the earth causing catastrophic destruction and death and during this season of divine judgment the antichrist will coexist with the false prophet who will head up a monolithic religious system that will dominate the world, and he will point to the antichrist’s alleged miracle working abilities and especially his fake death and resurrection and use that to rally the world behind the worship of the antichrist.

Now, about midpoint of the tribulation, the antichrist violates his covenant with Israel by desecrating the temple. He will then invade Jerusalem and trample the temple mount. This is the time known as the abomination of desolation.  And he will demand that the world will worship him.  Then, as the last half of the tribulation begins, we learn about the two witnesses that God has sent.  At that time they will don sackcloth in public mourning over the temple’s desecration and they will oppose the antichrist. And during the last half of the tribulation, the final seven bowl judgments will be poured out upon the beast worshippers and that, of course, will wreak havoc upon the ecosystems of the world.  Even during that time man will blaspheme God.  And during these final days of human suffering, the antichrist will expand his empire into 10 other regions, each one will have a ruler, an administrator who will serve under him.  And, of course, their ultimate goal will be to eradicate all of the Jews, many of which by this time will be worshippers of Christ, as well as all Gentile believers. And they will together wage war against the Lamb at the battle of Armageddon.  The antichrist will move against Jerusalem in a Satanic ploy to destroy the Jews.  Many of them will have already fled into a place of protection in the wilderness, but others will remain and be supernaturally empowered to fight, probably with the help of the two witnesses.  Ultimately half of the city will fall to the forces of the antichrist.  But a Jewish remnant will occupy the eastern part of the city, the area of the temple mount. And at that point the two witnesses will be killed and their bodies will be put on public display.

And then in the hour of Israel’s greatest peril the Messiah King, the Lord Jesus Christ will return and defend the remnant of his people, reconciling them to himself in saving faith. And at that point he will deliver Jerusalem and he will judge the nations.

He will ascend the Mount of Olives in unimaginable triumph and glory. At that time there will be a great earthquake that will split Jerusalem creating a massive valley leading from the temple mount out into the desert, a valley through which many of the Jews will have fled to safety. 

And then there appears to be a transition between the end of the tribulation and the millennial kingdom, an interval of about 75 days according to Daniel 12:11-12 and Revelation 12:6 if you harmonize those passages.  During that time the Lord will exercise his regal authority. The antichrist and the false prophet will be thrown into the lake of fire. The abomination of desolation in the temple will be removed and the Gentile nations will be judged as we read in Matthew chapter 25.  Satan will be bound, at least temporarily and he will be incarcerated temporarily until the very end of the millennium.  And then the Old Testament and tribulation saints will be resurrected as we will learn more about this morning.

So this brings us to our Lord’s revelation to us through his apostle John in chapter 20.  And may I remind you as we go through the chapter, we are looking at a number of scenes: the incarceration of Satan, the allocation of rulers, the resurrection of saints, the incineration of rebels, the retribution of Satan, the disintegration of heaven and earth and the damnation of sinners.

Now we have already examined the incarceration of Satan in verses one through three, and in a moment we are going to focus on the allocation of rulers as well as the resurrection of saint in verses four through six. But before we do I want to give you a bit more background and remind you of some of the glorious things that will occur during this messianic age, especially as they relate to the temple mount and the new temple that the Lord will construct that is detailed in Ezekiel 40 through 43 and Zechariah six and so forth. 

And this might also help you to understand why the temple mount is to this very day the most disputed piece of real estate in the world. In fact, as I understand it, I believe today is the anniversary of the Jewish holocaust where about seven million Jews were killed, six to seven million were killed in Nazi Germany. And we believe that maybe over three times that amount were killed under Stalin in Russia. So this will give us a bit more context for understanding the world in which we will one day rule and we will one day reign along with the Old Testament and tribulation saints and the apostles.

Now, when the Messiah returns bear in mind that we are going to return with him in all of that glory and he is going to establish his kingdom. And at that point the curse upon the earth is going to be removed and the earth will be returned to the pristine beauty of the Garden of Eden. And this will also impact the animal kingdom. The animal kingdom will be radically changed.  I just read you a passage in Isaiah 11 verse six.  And also, the people who are still at that point in non-glorified bodies that enter the kingdom, will live long lives and they will have many children and enjoy wonderful health.

Now, with Satan bound, 1000 years of unthreatened holiness will characterize the messianic age.  Can you imagine that?  This will be a period, dear friends, when the nation of Israel will be restored back to the land that God promised to Abraham.  It will be a time when the 12 tribes will once again be restored. And, finally, Israel will enjoy a theocratic government with the Messiah King reigning along with the saints.  It is just an unimaginable scene.  It will be a time as Habakkuk tells us in chapter two verse 14 when “the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.”3

But let me focus on Jerusalem for a moment to give you even further context.  As we summarize a number of Scripture passages, we see that Jerusalem will become the throne of the Lord.  The topography of the temple mount will be raised significantly higher than its current height. In fact, there is reason to believe biblically that the temple mount will probably be the highest point in all of the earth.  The Messiah himself will construct his millennial temple and a river will flow east and west from beneath the altar of the temple. And this will literally transform the Dead Sea as it flows into the Dead Sea. And the prophets tell us that that sea will become filled with life and with fish. 

The shekinah glory will return to the millennial temple as Ezekiel 43 tells us and the glory of the Lord will emanate from that temple and the entire city will become a place of holiness, righteousness, and justice.  Offerings and sacrifices will continue in the temple without any interruption and Jerusalem will become the center for universal peace, the center for prayer, the center for worship.  And Jerusalem will be literally the center of joy and rejoicing for the world.

The nations will come to the temple mount to seek justice and to learn about God’s law. The new Jerusalem that is detailed in Revelation 21 will descend from heaven and it will be suspended over Jerusalem. We have reason to believe that perhaps it will be aligned perfectly with the holy of holies in the millennial temple.  And this will allow the glorious light of the shekinah presence of God to illuminate even the heaven and the earth there at that particular point, providing illumination for the nations of the world to come and to worship the Lord in the city.  It will be a glorious time, dear friends. 

The millennial kingdom is the consummating bridge between human history and the eternal state.  It will be a time, according to Zechariah 14 verse nine when, “the LORD will be king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one.”4 Translated:  No more politics, no more elections. 

But remarkably, at the end of the millennium, Satan will be released. He will amass an army of rebellious unbelievers who love their sin more than Christ. They will attempt to attack the temple mount where the Messiah will be and Satan and his forces will be utterly and eternally destroyed.

And I might add that this demonstrates conclusively that even after 1000 years of Utopia under the direct rule of Christ and the saints, unregenerate people will still rebel.  Unregenerate people will still prefer their sin over the Savior.  Unregenerate people will still fall prey to the father of lies who will lead them to eternal destruction and despair.

Now, back to Revelation 20. 

In part two of this series we examined the incarceration of Satan.  Now we want to look, secondly, at the allocation of rulers.  Verse four, first part.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them.”5

Now, we must answer two questions.  First of all, what are these thrones?   And to whom have they been allocated?

Well, fortunately Scripture is not silent on these matters and we can look into other texts along with the chronology of this particular scene and we can find our answers.  Let me give you the answer right off the bat and then I will defend it.  The thrones are both tribunal seats or, shall we say, judicial appointments as well as royal thrones that will be occupied by individuals who will assist the Lord Jesus Christ, the divine judge in the judicial process of both ruling and reigning during the time of the millennial kingdom, ruling and reigning over the nations. And they will be allocated to all of the saint who compose the bride of the Lamb as well as the army of the warrior king as we will see. And also it will include the Old Testament saints and the apostles and the resurrected tribulation saints who have been martyred. 

Now, from the standpoint of chronology keep in mind—and here we have to get a bit technical, but it is very important if you are going to understand these things.  This is the fifth scene of the seventh bowl judgment.  Let me remind you of the sequence.  The scene beginning in chapter 19 and verse 11 describes the final outpouring of the seventh bowl judgment that was first introduced in chapter 16. And this ultimately includes a chronological progression of eight magnificent action scenes and events that are revealed all the way through chapter 21 and verse eight. 

First there was the arrival of Christ in chapter 19 verses 11 through 16.  And, second, there is the scene of the invitation of the vultures to devour the human carnage as a result of the slaughter of Armageddon in verses 17 and 18. And then, thirdly, you have the scene of the defeat of the beast by the Messiah and his army. And then, fourth, the binding of Satan here in the first three verses of chapter 20. And now we come to the fifth scene describing the details of the millennium and the ultimate defeat of Satan in verses... later on in verses four through 10, actually.

So in the chronology of these scenes the Messiah and his army have just defeated the beast.  And then Satan is bound. So it only makes sense that to the victor goes the spoils, right?  That is how it works. In fact, it is an irrefutable principle of war that the victors assume the role of ruling and reigning over those they have conquered. 

Well, certainly this fits not only the chronology of the scene, but also the description of those who comprised the Lamb’s bride.  Chapter 19 verse seven we read, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”6 Ready for what?  Well, ready for the bridal presentation that first happens in heaven, that feast in heaven, and then she comes forth to earth for the celebration of the final meal which is the millennial kingdom.

The text goes on to say, “And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”7
So the thrones will undoubtedly be occupied in part by the saints who make up the army of the warrior king. And, again, beloved, this includes us.  But Scripture gives us further details regarding those who will sit upon these thrones. 

In Daniel chapter seven in verse 27 God also promises that the Old Testament saints will reign with him during the millennial age.  In verse 26 of Daniel seven we read that the dominion of the antichrist “will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.”  And then verse 27 he says, “Then the sovereignty, the dominion, and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.”8

Now can you imagine the joy that will fill the hearts of the Old Testament saints who were longing for this day?  I was  thinking about Abraham and my mind went to Hebrews chapter 11.  Remember in verse eight it says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.”9

But then it says this:

By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.10

Well, beloved, during the millennial kingdom he is going to see the city.  And they are not going to feel like aliens anymore.  None of us will.  We will be home.  And he will see that glorious city for which his heart longed.

But Jesus also promised that his apostles would reign with him.  You will recall in Matthew chapter 19 and verse 28 he said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”11 So you who have followed me, guess what?  In the generation when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you are going to sit upon 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.

What is the regeneration?  In Greek it is the palingenesia (pal-ing-ghen-es-ee’-ah).  It is the idea of being renewed.  It is renewal.  It is renovation. It is a reference to the millennial kingdom.  It will be that time when, again, the earth will be restored to its original primal and perfect condition before our first parents’ sin.

And so the apostles are promised a part in that reign as well.  What a marvelous promise.  It is one that the apostle Paul later expanded upon in 2 Timothy 2:12.  He said, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him,”12 referring to all the New Testament saints who will make up that army of the warrior king. He also refers to this in 1 Corinthians 6:2.  “Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?”13 An amazing thing. 

Oh, child of God, think of this.  If this does not thrill your soul to think that the Son of Man graciously shares his dominion with those whom he has purchased with his very blood, I have to say, frankly, that if this doesn’t excite you, somehow you have been either deceived or you have been banished to an island of ignorance.  Beloved, these are the promises that are ours in Christ Jesus.  It is astounding.

In fact, Isaiah saw the day when the spoils of victory would be divided by the Messiah with his blood bought saints.  In Isaiah 53 verse 12 we read, “Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.”14 Utterly astounding, isn’t it?

Jesus also promised in Revelation 2:26, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS.”15
And in similar fashion in chapter three and verse 21 we read, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”16

Now, this does not refer to some spiritual reign as some would argue, but a literal physical reign on earth.  Jesus makes this abundantly clear in Revelation 5:10. We read, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”17

As we contemplate these astounding promises, our hearts have to resonate with the apostle Paul who reminded us in Romans chapter eight verse 17 that we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”18 And therefore you will recall that he went on to insist in verses 18 and 19 that “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. “ He even went on to add, “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.”19

The revealing. There is the word apokalupsis (ap-ok-al’-oop-sis) again, “the unveiling” of the sons of God, referring to us. 

I mean, think about it.  When Christ returns to establish his kingdom, we are going to share in his glory.  And, beloved, this is actually the anxious longing of creation and it should be the anxious longing of all of the redeemed. 

Dear Christian, if you are not thrilled by your undeserved inheritance which will ultimately include everything in the universe, the Scripture says including God himself, if you are not thrilled with this, there is something seriously wrong with your faith. 

How tragic to watch Christians prefer this world to the next.  Sometimes I observe youth, young people and see them cherish their cell phones and their cars more than Christ, young people who have written untold volumes of frivolous drivel in their texting and yet have no desire to nourish their souls with the Word of God. There is something wrong with that.

I think of adults who claim they love Christ, but when you observe their lives you see that they really serve another master. They are worshipping material things and entertainment and their hobbies, the fleeting pleasures of this world.

Dear Christian, be careful. The love of the world is a deadly trap.  Don’t waste your life pursuing things that are eternally insignificant.  Don’t waste your opportunities to serve Christ.  Ultimately that is all that matters. 

Scripture teaches that faithful Christians will be fruitful Christians and that phony Christians will not be fruitful. To whatever degree a true believer maximizes the sacred trust that God has given him, God will give them even more opportunities. And, sadly, many times genuine believers will squander what God has given them.  And as a result their work will be, according to 1 Corinthians 3:15 “burned up and shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved; yet so as through fire.”20

Can I digress for a moment here?

May I remind you that Jesus promises us in Matthew 25:21 that if “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things”?21  Referring to faithful service on earth is really the basis for kingdom rewards and service and opportunities, both in the millennial kingdom as well as in the eternal state. So faithful saints will be rewarded commensurate to their level of devotion here on earth.  Bear that in mind, beloved.

We see this principle even more explicitly stated in Luke 19 in a similar parable, you remember of the nobleman, the 10 servants. And the master gave one mina to each servant to invest for him and he goes away into a far country.  He returns and he rewards each servant based upon their faithfulness, their level of faithfulness. And then after the nobleman establishes his kingdom he rewards them. And there we learn, if I can remind you of this, that all of the slaves received the same amount of money, about three months’ worth of wages, just like every believer receives the same sacred trust.  We have the trust of the gospel, the indwelling spirit, varying levels of gifts.  But some, like those servants, will maximize what the master has given them and have a ten fold gain and others like the second slave of that parable will only have maybe a five fold gain.

Some are going to work harder than others.  Some are going to be more dedicated, more committed, more passionate, taking advantage of every opportunity to serve Christ because they understand not only do they love him and want to do this out of desire, not out of duty, but they understand they will be rewarded proportionately.  In fact, in that particular parable you will recall one slave had a 10 fold return and we see the Lord gives him 10 cities. That is a pretty good return, isn’t it?  Three month’s wages, you get 10 cities. You can’t out give God, can you?  The other one had a five fold return. He got five cities and so forth.

So, beloved, we need to all strive to produce a spiritual profit for the glory of God knowing that the benefit that will accrue to us is exceeding beyond our imagination. Remember, all of us will one day give an account of what we did, of the opportunities that we had and how we used those opportunities and how we used our gifts to glorify the king and build the kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5:10. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”22

So those rewards will include varying degrees of responsibility and opportunities for worship even when we rule in the millennial kingdom, time when the Scripture teaches we will even rule over angels as well as men.

So these are the magnificent promises that are ours.

Now here in the first part of verse four we see the allocation of rulers who take charge of the domain of the defeated beast, and, as we have learned, this now includes the army of the saints who will return with the warrior king, the New Testament saints including us. It will also include the Old Testament saints.  It will include the apostles.  But yet there is one more group that Scripture tells us will be a part of this ruling and reigning and we see this in the third section of our outline, the resurrection of the saints at the end of verse four through verse six. And this final group that will also reign during the kingdom will include the saints that have been martyred during the tribulation. 

Notice the middle part of there in verse four in Revelation 20.  “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the 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 upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”23

Understand that now the full number of those who God had ordained to be martyred during the tribulation as we read back in Revelation six verse 11.  Now that full number has been completed and their deaths have been avenged by the warrior king. They have been beheaded.  The Greek term literally means “to cut off with an ax” and this is really a figure of speech describing someone who has been executed. And certainly during the tribulation the antichrist is going to execute many, many, many Christians. 

Why were they executed?  Notice the rest of the verse, “Because of the testimony of Jesus.”24 And this phrase in the original language literally carries the sense of the testimony which Jesus bore.  They are going to bear that same testimony. And it says “because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.”25

Jesus spoke of this backing chapter 13 verse 15 when he said, “As many as do not worship the image of the beast would be killed.”26 And certainly this has been true throughout history.  Whenever a man has an opportunity to serve Satan and to kill a believer, he will take advantage of that. And were it not for the constitution and the laws of this land and the laws of other lands, believe me, dear friends, we would be the victims of the wicked.

But I want you to notice this martyred tribulation saints at the end of verse four came to life . . . “and they came to life and reigned with Christ for 1000 years.” 

Now some who would, I believe, eviscerate the meaning of Scripture by denying its normal intended meaning, the normal meaning of language and instead impose upon it some fanciful spiritual insight, some would regard this text to refer to a spiritual resurrection; they came to life spiritually, the idea of being born again, a spiritual regeneration or a new birth.  I read some commentators who believe that.

But such an interpretation, I believe, is completely out of place given the context of this statement.  Moreover it makes no sense whatsoever to say that these tribulation martyrs who were executed because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God are just now being born again.  I mean, quite the contrary. Their very death was because they were already born again. They were already regenerated by the Spirit of God.

Moreover whenever the term ezhsan  (e-dzay’-san) it comes from the Greek verb zaw (dzah’-o) which means to live here translated “they came to life,” whenever this verb is used in the connection with physical death in the New Testament the root form of the verb will always be used to describe physical, bodily resurrection, never some kind of spiritual rebirth. That is completely out of place here.

Now I want you to notice in verse five, first there is a parenthetical statement that I will deal with in a moment, but at the end of verse five John states, “This is the first resurrection,”27 which really equates to the resurrection of all of the just, all of the redeemed. And the term anastasis (an-as’-tas-is) which is resurrection, is used 42 times in the New Testament and it always speaks of guess what?  A physical resurrection. 

The first resurrection here at the end of verse five is the same as the resurrection to everlasting life in Daniel 12:2.  Also the same as the resurrection of the just in Luke 14:14 and Acts 24:15, the resurrection from the dead in Luke 20:34-36, the resurrection of life in John 5:19, the resurrection of those who are Christ’s at his coming in 1 Corinthians 15:23 and the better resurrection of Hebrews 11:35. 

Now back to verse four. These dear saints will die for the testimony of Jesus during the tribulation and then they will be physically resurrected and we read that they will come to life.  And what will they do?  They will reign with Christ for 1000 years. 

No bear in mind, once again, the glorified saint will rule over all of the inhabitants of the millennial kingdom who will all live long lives. They will bear many children. And the people that enter the kingdom will not have a glorified body. They will be believers. They will be redeemed. But they will still posses a fallen, sinful nature. They will have children and those children will possess that same fallen sinful nature and like every generation many thousands of their offspring will prefer their sin to the Savior requiring the Messiah, therefore, to rule the nations with a rod of iron.  And he will delegate that ruling and that reigning to the glorified saints.

Then after John describes the resurrection of these martyred tribulation saints he adds this parenthetical statement in the first part of verse five. He says, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.”28

Now, dear friends, this is a tragic statement here.  This speaks of the wicked who are physically dead. This is a reference to the unbelieving of all ages who will be raised in a resurrection to stand before the Lord at the great white throne judgment that will be described later on in verses 11 through 15.  At that time when they are resurrected they will be fitted with a body suited for the eternal torments of hell. What a horrifying thought.

But then in verse six, John, again, refers to those at the end of verse five who are part of the first resurrection. He says, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection.”29 Now think about that. “Blessed and holy...” Indeed, the true bliss of divine blessing cannot exist apart from holiness because wherever there is sin there will be death and destruction and the forfeiture of blessing.

So he says, “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.”30

What a blessing to know that we who will experience the first resurrection will be exempt from the power of the second death, that spiritual death beyond physical death. It is referred to in several other passages, one, for example in chapter 21 verse eight, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”31

Then notice the stark contrast here in the last part of verse six where he states that we will be “priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for 1000 years.”  Think about it. The function of being priests of God and of Christ—which is also referred to in chapter one verse six and chapter five verse 10—the function here and the joy of all of this, the blessing of being a priest of God and of Christ will include primarily the privilege of having unlimited access into the presence of God.  What an astounding thought. To be able to enjoy unlimited fellowship with God.

Currently, according to 1 Peter 2:9 that we read earlier today in our Scripture reading, currently we are called, “A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”32 Now, no doubt, we will continue to serve in that kind of a capacity during the millennial kingdom. But ultimately our greatest joy will be found in our capacity as priests of God and of Christ.

Oh, dear Christian, what amazing promises are ours.  I would just plead with you to lay hold of them.  Keep these things in the forefront of your minds. Make them the theme of your conversation.

And may I warn you?  Don’t get caught up in all of this Christian patriotism stuff.  I believe this can be a very dangerous trap.  Now I love my country and to that extent, you know, I am patriotic and all of those types of things.  But, beloved, I am a citizen of another kingdom. This world is not my home and not yours either.

We are not called to die for the constitution or for the right to keep and bear arms or for the American dream, all right? Just bear that in mind.  We are not called to a political revolution.  We are called to preach the gospel.

Beloved, this world is going to get far worse. You think it is bad now when you turn on Fox News?  It is going to get exceedingly worse.  And America, like the rest of the world, is being prepared for the worship of the antichrist and subservience to his one world government. That is where we are headed.  And we see this every day in our country and certainly under the guise of “hope and change” that is foisted upon us by our current president and his administration and so forth. 

But, dear friends, God has put leaders in, and he takes them down. We know that.  And our leaders will not be able to do to us one thing that God has not ordained for them to do. They are ultimately his apes.

So as you look upon the horizon and you see it growing dark with the storm clouds of oppression, just remember Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”33  Remember he went on to say in John 18:36, “If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting.”34

Obviously that is not the case here.  His servants are not fighting.  So, indeed, we are citizens of another kingdom. We are aliens in this world. We are looking for the Lord to come and to take us home. We are looking for that kingdom in which, by his mercy and grace, we will be allowed to rule and to reign with him.  Still it is something that just staggers my ability to comprehend.

So, between now and then, dear friends, be about the business of the kingdom and remember, as Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:9 we are, “A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION,”35 and the last phrase is the one I would challenge you with, “that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”36

Let’s pray together.

Father, we thank you for these eternal truths.  We would ask as always that you would cause us to grasp them, to meditate upon them and to, above all, live them.  We pray, Lord, that you would use your Word today to penetrate the hearts of anyone that might not know you as Savior.  Would you be merciful to them and save them this day?  Thank you, Lord, for the hope that we have in Christ. Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly for we ask in your name.  Amen.

1 Revelation 20:4-6.

2 Daniel 9:24.

3 Habakkuk 2:14.

4 Zechariah 14:9.

5 Revelation 20:4.

6 Revelation 19:7.

7 Revelation 19:8.

8 Daniel 7:27.

9 Hebrews 11:8.

10 Hebrews 11:9-10.

11 Matthew 19:28.

12 2 Timothy 2:12.

13 1 Corinthians 6:2.

14 Isaiah 53:12.

15 Revelation 2:26.

16 Revelation 3:21.

17 Revelation 5:10.

18 Romans 8:17.

19 Romans 8:19.

20 1 Corinthians 3:15.

21 Matthew 25:21.

22 2 Corinthians 5:10.

23 Revelation 20:4.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Revelation 13:15.

27 Revelation 20:5.

28 Ibid.

29 Revelation 20:6.

30 Ibid.

31 Revelation 21:8.

32 1 Peter 2:9.

33 John 18:36.

34 Ibid.

35 1 Peter 2:9.

36 Ibid.

Shepherd’s Fire exists to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ through mass communications for the teaching ministry of Bible expositor David Harrell, with a special emphasis in encouraging and strengthening pastors and church leaders.