Revelation 20:1-15 Part 6

REVELATION 20:1-15 Part 6


1)        Then I saw a messenger holding the abyss key and a great chain in its hand coming down out of the heaven,

2)        and it laid hold on the dragon, (the old serpent that is diabolos and the satan) and bound it a thousand years

3)        and cast it into the abyss and locked and sealed over it so that it couldn’t further deceive the Gentiles until the thousand years is complete; afterward it is necessary to loose it a short time.

4)        Then I saw seats; and the lives of those who had been stricken because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God and who did not adore the beast or its image and did not take its mark on their forehead or on their hand, sat on them; and judgment was granted to them; and they did live; and they prevailed with The Christ a thousand years.

5)        The remaining dead did not live until the thousand years was completed.  This is the first resurrection.

6)        Blessed and hallowed is one having part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no authority over them!  They will be priests of God and The Christ and reign with Him a thousand years!

7)        And when the thousand years is completed, the satan will be loosed from its confinement.

8)        And it will come out to deceive the Gentiles in the four extremities of the earth (the gog and magog), the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

9)        And they arose over the breadth of the earth and encircled the fortress of the holy ones and the city of the beloved, and fire descended from the heaven and consumed them.

10)    And the devil (the one deceiving them) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (where also are the beast and the false prophet), and they will be tormented day and night into the ages of the ages.

11)    Then I saw a magnificent white seat, and One sitting on it at Whose appearance the earth and the heaven did vanish, for no place was found for them;

12)    and I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the seat, and books were opened.  Then the other book was opened which is of the living.  And the dead were judged from what was written in the books according to their works.

13)    And the sea did yield the dead in her; and death and hades did yield the dead in them, and they were judged according to their works;

14)    then death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death (the lake of fire).

15)    Anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.



At verse four of our text John writes “then I saw….”  It is the fifth of seven.  And for all the years decreed, beginning with the firstfruits, our Lord Jesus Christ would raise up a great multitude of His Own from the nations.

As you remember from previous sermons, the first (of seven) was the coming Parousia of The Christ – the “Anointed One” – the King of Kings.  As John looked on, His coming was “near”… “at hand”.

The second showed John the imminent execution of the harlot Israel by the sword of His mouth.  The first thing our Lord would do at His Parousia would be to put the harlot to death.

The third showed John what would be the second “feast” – the feast of the vultures (the curse upon a disobedient nation prophesied by Moses).  Our Lord had “called” His Own from the tribes of Jacob to a wedding feast.  But then, at His coming Parousia, He would “call” the vultures to feast on the dead bodies of all remaining in the land.

Then, fourth, John was shown what The Christ would do with the creature called “the accuser/adversary” – the serpent of old, diabolos.  It was “the satan”.  It was (at our Lord’s Parousia) to be bound from deceiving the Gentiles any longer.

And now, in the fifth “then I saw…” (in verses four through ten of our text), John sees “seats”.  At the coming Parousia of The Christ there would be “seats”!  At His Parousia John saw that there would already be many “seated” with Him.  And while the satan is bound, and during all the years of our Lord’s reign and rule over the nations, there would be “seats”… many, many seats.

Most of the versions have the English word “thrones” as a translation.  The literal translation is “seats”.  And that term comes down to us in general conversation, doesn’t it?  A “sitting” king: a “sitting” president.  In the legal community a presiding judge is referred to as one “sitting” at trial.  And it simply means the seat of authority or judgment.

Our Lord, at His Parousia, would be the sitting King of Kings over all His domain; and all of His Own are shown to John as “sitting” with Him.

Later, God shows John the prominent seat – the “great white seat” of judgment.  But here, in the fifth “then I saw”, there would be many other seats at the Parousia of the Christ.

More about that… and the ones to be “sitting” with Him shortly.

But as you remember, one of the first things we noticed when we began this chapter was that the “thousand years” is written four more times in these verses – four through ten……for a total of six.  It was written twice in the first three verses having to do with the binding of the satan from deceiving the Gentiles; and here in the fifth thing John is shown, it occurs four more times.

And as we’ve seen so many times while preaching through the Revelation, the number six has to do with accursed and depraved humanity… the “sea of humanity” that is the nations and tribes and tongues of Gentiles.

The satan, from the beginning, had been given free reign among them.  And none of them had ever heard anything about God the Son – the Savior of the world.  Like the world before the flood, all the nations had been left in the shadow of death… in gross darkness (Isaiah’s words).

And since that was the case, the level of depravity among the pagan hordes of peoples at the time of Christ’s Parousia would be foreign to our understanding, and even startling to us today.  We are completely unaware, in our time, of what it might have been like.

Although some among us seem to have reached into the depths of the spiral of degradation, it is now only “some”.  It isn’t “all” as it was at our Lord’s appearance!

If I were to prepare to preach the state of the nations at the time of the Lord’s Parousia (which I probably will – sooner rather than later), it wouldn’t be pretty… it would be pretty gross, really.

But, hopefully, there could be a clear comparison of what the world was like then to what it is now – some two thousand years into all of the decreed years of our Lord’s salvation of the world.…  As the song says: “The Light of the World is Jesus”.  He is the Savior of the world.  He is decreating the darkness.  The “Dayspring” is dawned; and He is bringing light to all the nations.

And then there is that “other” factor mentioned before, which is our God’s will and purpose to be glorified in all that He has made.  He created it; it belongs to Him; and it ought to reflect the glory of His Person!  And the gracious salvation of an accursed creation and  degraded humanity serves His purpose perfectly, for He will be glorified in it all.  The Son’s purpose is to see to it.

Keep it in the forefront of your minds that our Lord saved a remnant – a remnant of the pagan world’s prostitute!  He graciously saved many out of that nation that had become “worse” than the surrounding pagan nations!

And as Isaiah had prophesied, “and those who live in darkness will see a great light!”… (referring, of course, to the coming Messiah and the Gentile nations).  So it seems that the greater the darkness – the greater the depravity – He is glorified the more in His gracious salvation.

And remember; the covenant that God made with Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations.  His seed would be The Christ and all who were IN HIM among all the nations.  Apostolic doctrine concerning the salvation of the world is built around that covenant!  Our Lord has as many Gentiles who belong to Him as there are grains of sand on the seashore!  And Abraham is their father; so they are true Jews IN CHRIST – Abraham’s seed!!

So… the “thousand years” is written four more times here (total of six).  And the thousand years, as we’ve already seen, is “all of them”.

What John is shown here, then, has to do with the Gentiles who belong to the Christ during all the years decreed!  The satan is bound from deceiving them; and the Spirit of Christ would rebirth such a number of them that the entire earth itself would be blessed, and would blossom with peace and great abundance!

The Daystar from on high had dawned; and all the earth would be enlightened with His glory.  And the water of life would flow – ever deeper and ever wider – into all the nations and tribes and tongues of the world.

And as more and more of us Gentiles are added to the Christ, more and more blessings and light and abundance of life will reflect the glory of God.

For all the years decreed for king David and his blood-line successors to be the light of the world to the Gentiles, Israel was, instead, a prostitute for them… for all the nations.  But during all the years decreed, David’s Son and David’s Lord (King Jesus) would be the true Light to every tribe and tongue on the earth!

For all the years decreed, the royal priesthood of the tribes of Jacob was represented by the Aaronic priesthood (the sons of Levi).  But Israel’s temple was filled with every evil thing.  But during all the years decreed our High Priest Jesus Christ fills His temple only with that which is holy.

For all the years decreed, the prophets preached to Israel.  But she was a harlot that refused to hear; rather she persecuted and beheaded the prophets of YAVHEH, and she pursued and persecuted the “daughter of Zion” (the remnant of the tribes of Jacob).  However, for all the years decreed, through the messengers of our great Prophet Jesus Christ, salvation will come to all the world.

He is our Prophet, Priest and King.  And all who belong to Him, having been rebirthed into Him (the second Adam), sit with Him as prophets, priests and kings.  He is the sitting Prophet, Priest and King.  And we are IN HIM, and we sit with Him.

Having been rebirthed into Him (the Second Adam), He is not only our Representative and Mediator; but we are His brothers – family members.  That’s why He’s our Mediator!  He’s our Kinsman Redeemer Who came to buy us out of slavery and the prison of darkness!

The first Adam in the first paradise sinned against God; and he was cursed, and he died.  And all proceeding from him are born in that cursed and dead condition.

But all reborn into the Christ are removed from Adam’s heritage and born into a new one.  We are birthed into Christ’s heritage – made alive in Him – resurrected out of death in His resurrection.  It is (as John writes in verse five) the first resurrection.  We are made alive from our “death heritage” in Adam, and reborn into Christ Jesus.

That apostolic doctrine is thoroughly explained by the apostle Paul in his early letter to the Church in Rome.  Hopefully we’ll have enough time to look at it more closely when we’re finished with John’s Revelation.

But Paul explains to that part of the remnant of Jacob that lived in Rome that, by virtue of our rebirth out of the heritage of Adam, we are IN CHRIST in His suffering and death; we are IN HIM in His burial; we are IN HIM in His resurrection, and we are IN HIM in His ascension to the Right of the Father.

And as He “sits” as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we who are IN HIM sit with Him!  As John looks on, it’s God’s view.  And we have to receive it as He sees it!


Now let’s take that back to verses four, five and six.

John says he saw “seats”.  And the seats that he sees (at the imminent Parousia of The Christ) are the seats of those who belonged to Him at His appearance!

The only seats that he sees at the appearance of The Christ are those of the firstfruits, since at the Lord’s Parousia they are the only ones at that time to be rebirthed into Him!

He sees the seats occupied by the prophets of old who were humiliated and persecuted and killed, and their blood poured out on the land.  They are the ones who have been “stricken”. I’ve used that word “stricken” there in verse four because it more closely approaches the treatment of all of God’s holy ones and prophets at the hands of the judaist priests and elders and pharisees of Israel.

The Greek word, however, is one which refers directly to the prophet/forerunner of Jesus – John the baptizer.  He was “beheaded”.  Being the last prophet before the Christ, John represents the entirety of the prophetic Word and all of its prophets sent by God.  And at Christ’s Parousia they sit with Him because they’re IN HIM.  This is God’s perspective that’s shown to John.

And as you remember, our Lord told His disciples that the blood of the holy ones of  God poured out on the land would be brought against these sons of the devil.  It’s the prophets of old, all the way to John the baptizer, sitting in judgment with the Judge of all the earth!

Then, in addition to the seats of the prophets, John is also shown the seats of the ones who Jesus came to seek and to save from the tribes of Jacob.  It is the hundred and forty four thousand that John was shown previously.

They belong to Jesus; they are already members of His body at His coming Parousia; and they are shown to John here as IN HIM, and with Him at His appearance.  They are “seated” with Him.

Look at the text with me for a minute… verse four:


“Then I saw seats; and the lives of those who had been stricken because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God - and who did not adore the beast or its image and did not take its mark on their forehead or on their hand, sat on them….”


Sitting on seats with our Lord at His Parousia are two groups of persons who are already resurrected, and are with Him and In Him in His resurrection.  At the point of His imminent Parousia these are the total number of the rebirthed in Christ at that time.

The first group is composed of those who had been “stricken” (beheaded – as was John the baptizer) for the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  These are the holy ones and the prophets of old who delivered God’s Word to Israel and who prophesied the coming Christ to the harlot.

For that they were humiliated, persecuted, murdered, and stoned and beheaded with the sword; and their blood was poured out on the land.

And as our Lord had told the pharisees, this generation (of judaists – the sons of the devil) would suffer the blood of all the holy ones in history.  And (as John had been shown earlier) their blood cried out to Almighty God for His vengeance upon the nation.

Then the second group that John sees seated with the Christ at His coming Parousia is the remnant of the tribes of Jacob Who Jesus came to seek and to save – those who did not adore the beast or its image and did not take its mark on their forehead or on their hand.

Having been “found” by the Christ, and having been removed from the land before the day of the Lord, these all belonged to Him.  They are the elect of God – the daughter of Zion – the promised remnant of Jacob.  Jesus had said to His disciples that these are the ones who He came to seek and to save.

One of the last things Jesus said to His disciples before His crucifixion concerned these “little ones”… the ones for whom He would pour out His Own blood.  The pursuit and persecution and killing of His newborn babes of the tribes of Jacob would bring the wrath of the sword upon all those remaining in the land.

John saw their blood, too… crying out from beneath the altar in God’s tabernacle, asking God “how long before Your vengeance upon those who poured out our blood?”

The answer that John heard was that they had to wait a little while until some of their brothers were also killed, and the sin of Israel was piled up unto the tabernacle in the heaven.

So this second group that John sees that would be seated with the Christ at His Parousia was the firstfruits of the resurrection – the hundred and forty four thousand that had been kept by God for Himself, who had received the mark of the Christ rather than the mark of the beast, saved from the wrath of God and scattered into the Gentile nations to be the Church of Jesus Christ and bring the message of the Gospel to the nations.

At the time of His coming Parousia, these are the ones already raised out of death in the resurrection of the Christ.  They belonged to Him.

This is the total number of those who were IN CHRIST at His coming Parousia; and John is shown them all, seated with Him at His appearance.

And “judgment” was granted to them, John says.  Their very persons – their lives In Christ – were judgments against Israel in that which was to come shortly.  And the pleas for vengeance were about to be answered.  They, themselves, were judges of Israel.

John was shown them “living”!  They were alive in Christ, having been resurrected in Him (the first resurrection).  And they would prevail with Him for all the years decreed!

The prophets and holy ones of old, and the firstfruits of the resurrection, would live and reign with the Christ until all of His work in the nations was complete.

For all the years decreed they would live; and they would be judges In Christ – with Christ; for all the years decreed they would be priests In Christ – with Christ; for all the years decreed they would reign over His Kingdom with Christ… for they were IN HIM.

They were resurrected in Him.  It was the first resurrection.

And as John looked on, there would be many, many more who would be seated with Him, since our Lord had many Gentiles who also belonged to Him.  John says (verse six) “blessed – and hallowed – is one having a “part” in this first resurrection!”

By the grace and mercy of God, we Gentiles are “added” to the prophets and the firstfruits!  We are provided a part in our Lord’s resurrection.

It was not just to the elect Jews of the tribes of Jacob (although it was first to them!).  But the promise was to Abraham for a great multitude from all the nations!

To the Jews first; then to the Gentiles.

“The peoples who lived in darkness will see a great light.”

We also have a part in the first resurrection!  We are “second”!  (We don’t deserve anything!)  But we are, by grace, afforded a place in the first resurrection with the prophets of old and the firstfruits of the tribes of Jacob!

And we, too, are alive in Him; we, too, are judges alongside them; we, too, are In Christ and reign with Him for all the decreed years!

He has a Gentile people who are as numerous as the stars in the heaven.  Only a remnant of Jacob; but a great multitude of us Gentiles!  We eat the crumbs that fall from the tables of Jacob’s elect descendants; but we are blessed – and hallowed (holy ones), John says in verse six.

We are “many” from all the nations!

Listen to Isaiah at chapter sixty:


1)      Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of YAHVEH will rise upon you.

2)      For, behold, darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the peoples; but YAHVEH will arise upon you, and his glory shall be seen upon you.

3)      And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4)      Lift up your eyes round about, and see: they will all gather themselves, they will come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms.

5)      Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart shall thrill and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be turned unto you, the wealth of the nations shall come unto you.


The “abundance of the sea of humanity….”

The radiant light of the glory of God will decreate the gross darkness over all the earth and its peoples.  They would be added to the daughter of Zion and bring her great glory!  It’s what Isaiah and the other prophets were shown; and it’s what John is shown here.  And the great sea of humanity will “share” – have a part – in the first resurrection.

And so there would be increasing light and wealth and abundance in all the nations of the earth, for all the years decreed!

Isaiah once again………. This is from chapter nine:


2)      The peoples that walked in darkness will see a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them shall the light shine.

3)      You will multiply the nation, You will increase their joy: they will joy before You as in the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

4)      For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, You will break as in the day of Midian.

5)      Then all the armor of the warrior in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shall be for burning, for fuel of fire.

6)      For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7)      Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of YAHVEH of Hosts will accomplish this.


As the light of Christ is extended into the nations, for all of the decreed years there will be no end to the increase of His Kingdom.  And all us Gentiles Who belong to Him will be members of His body in the first resurrection.  And Gentiles will have “seats” with the prophets of old and the remnant of Jacob!  The first resurrection is the “rebirth” from death unto life!

Therefore, the “second death” will have no authority over them, John says.  They will have already “died” to their heritage in Adam, and they will already be “alive” in Christ and sit with Him – In Him!  So when they die, death will have no authority over them (verse six)!

This is what John is shown at the coming Parousia of Christ.  A great multitude of Abraham’s “seed” in Christ; many “seats” of those alive in Christ; life and light and abundance among the Gentile nations as the Dayspring from on high decreates the darkness and enlightens the whole creation for the glory of God!  “Blessed and hallowed are those who have part in the first resurrection!”

We’ll explore these things some more as we go; but as we finish this morning I want to expand a bit on a couple of things that have just been touched on previously.

First, the Scripture makes it clear to us that we are all appointed to die once.  But John is shown here in this text that death has no authority over one who is reborn in Christ.  That’s why the apostle Paul could say that, for those of the first resurrection, death has no “sting”.

And that’s because we who belong to Him are already alive in Him.  We are with Him – In Him – even when we’re in the grave.  Our deaths are precious to Him, and He holds onto us….even in that place!  Death has no claim – no power over us; and, in fact, death itself will be cast into the lake of fire.

By the Word of God and the Spirit of Christ, we are made more and more aware of our eternal security in Him; and death becomes less and less an “unknown”.  Life in Christ then makes death less and less a fearsome thing, for it is no longer an “unknown”.  Being alive in Christ fills up all those spaces in which death causes fear.  And it will become of little consequence… maybe even (as with the apostle Paul) something to be anticipated!

You see, there is a bodily resurrection to look toward!

Next, in reading N.T. Wright, I came across an absolutely wonderful thought!  The resurrection of all of our Lord’s people affirms the goodness of the creation!

In the New Testament and in our first and second-century forebears, the resurrection is very closely aligned with two things – the doctrine of the goodness of God’s creation and the doctrine of the justice and ultimate judgment of God.  Judgment is not just negative, but it’s also positive.  Judgment is God's putting the world right.

You see, if death is the dissolution of this body, never to be raised, then death has succeeded in saying present creation is bad and is going to be abandoned and destroyed.

But resurrection says, “No, the creation is good.  God called it “good”!  It is corruptible, not least because of sin; but God, having dealt with sin in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, will deal with corruption. And the result therefore must be the reaffirmation of the goodness of creation; and that includes humanity itself.

In Romans 8:10-11 Paul says:


"Though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness; and if the Spirit of He who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies by his Spirit who dwells in you."


Paul clearly brings that idea of ultimate righteousness and the resurrection very close together.


Finally, that which the prophets spoke, and that which our Lord and His apostles taught, and that which our forebears held, is also the doctrine that we must hold as well.  (It is the testimony of Jesus!)

And it is this:  Salvation is of the Jews.  We are second.

Our Lord came to save the lost sheep of the tribes of Jacob.  They are the firstfruits of the resurrection.  And they brought the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to us - the sea of humanity who lived in the shadow of death.

We are blessed to have “part” in the first resurrection.  It’s by grace alone, because there’s no way we could be deserving of it.  We do eat the crumbs from their table; but we do eat!  And we should be grateful.

The apostles of our Lord were Jews; the remnant of Jacob were all Jews.  And we must stand in Christ with meekness and humility that we were added to them… thankful in every way that we could have part in the first resurrection.  Not a single one of us can boast that we are anything other than “second”, or that our rebirth into Christ is anything other than a gift unearned and undeserved.