Thoughts About What We’re Reading!
This Advent season we are studying the book of Revelation.
Advent (meaning coming, or arrival) celebrates that Jesus came once to save us and is coming again someday to reign and rule over the earth. We live after the time when Christ came to suffer for our sins, and we wait for His 2nd advent, when He will return in glory and power.
In our previous blogs we learned that Revelation is the final chapter in God’s great story. One day, King Jesus will institute justice on earth through judgment on this evil world system and the creation of an eternal paradise. These judgments happen in the context of a great conflict, which reminds the reader of the Serpent and the evil city of Babel from Genesis, who stand in opposition to the savior Jesus. God’s Kingdom and Satan’s earthly kingdom are at war, but there is a clear and definite victor at the end of the battle.
For those of us who live “between the times” of Christ’s first advent and his future return, we rejoice in the hope that one day every wrong will be set right.
As you finish the book this week, it is important for you to note three very important events.
1. The Return of Christ (Revelation 19)
In language that invokes the promise of the son of man from Daniel 7, and Jesus’ promise that “the son of man will come on the clouds of glory” we see that a King will ride a horse from the skies to defeat the armies which oppose God and to throw a victory banquet. Some see this as a recapitulation of the battles described in the preceding chapters, others see it as a distinct battle which begins the millennial reign of Christ, and others equate it to the final battle described in Revelation 20:7-10.
2. The Thousand Year Reign of Christ (Revelation 20:1-6)
The fulfillment of the promise of Christ’s Kingdom is described here. Some (called pre-millennialists) view this as a future, literal kingdom on earth to occur after the return of Christ. This view says that the culmination of the tribulation will be the return of Jesus to literally reign on earth for 1,000 years before the final judgment. Others (called amillennialists) interpret it to symbolically refer to the current reign of God’s Spirit over believers’ hearts in the midst of conflict with the world. This view variously interprets Revelation 6-19’s times of judgment as past events, on-going, or yet to come. Others (called post-millenialists) believe a time is coming of a glorious symbolic reign of Christ in people’s hearts that will manifest itself through a world and society that is radically transformed to Christ-likeness as people everywhere increasingly bow to Jesus as Lord, culminating in his return.
In light of these various views, it is wise to remember what one theologian said, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” Though the pre-millennial view is the view you will most often hear preached in this church, we acknowledge that there are wise and godly believers who hold to other views. These views have different perceptions of the timing of Christ’s return and the nature of this millennial reign, but all can agree with the essential Christian doctrine that an ultimate and final judgment still awaits.
3. The Great White Throne Judgment and the Eternal State (Revelation 20:11-22:5)
One day, every human who has ever lived will be raised from the dead to a new physical body and will stand before the Lord. Those who rejected Christ will live in eternal, physical torment in the lake of fire. Those who put their faith in Christ will enter into a new earth and live in a perfect world, with a perfect body, experiencing perfect relationships in the presence of God, forever. This will be the final restoration of God’s good design. This will be a return to Eden, when God said that all things in creation were “very good.” This is the eternal rest we all look forward to, and is the hope that even if we die on this earth, we will live forever.
Resources for Further Study
– Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem
– Three Views on the Millenium and Beyond by Darrell Bock
– Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R.C. Sproul