Part One – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 1-3
Part Two – A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 4-5
Part Three: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 6-7
Part Four: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 8-9
Part Seven: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 14-15
Part Eight: A Midlevel Flight Across Revelation: Rev 16-18
A quick recap: right now we are in the age of grace or the Church Age which will end at the Rapture. Sometime after the Rapture the world will enter the seven years of the Tribulation, which God will use to bring His plan for the world and for the Jewish people to fulfillment. After Christ returns as King of kings He will establish His literal physical 1,000 year Kingdom on Earth. And last time we ended considering the Millennium Reign of Christ on earth as He sat on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem. Which demands the question: why is Jesus ruling in Jerusalem and not Washington or Cairo or somewhere else? Because the entire purpose of the Millennium is to fulfill every single one of God’s earthly, geographical, physical promises to Israel. They were promised a literal, geographic land with specified boundaries (Ezek 48): God will fulfill that promise literally. They were promised material abundance and blessing and complete peace and safety after thousands of years of shabby treatment by the world. Christ will fulfill these promises literally. They were promised an exalted place among the nations; Christ will fulfill that because the nations will have to come up to Jerusalem to see the God that the Jews told them about. And we saw the Millennium end with the war of Gog and Magog.
Gog and Magog are different and yet the same as the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel 38-39. They are different in that the war of Rev 20 is NOT the same war as the war prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. They are the same in that the final war that will occur at the end of the Millennium manifests the same TYPE of hatred and rebellion as will be displayed during the war of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel 38-39. What happens in Ezekiel is that Russia, Iran and a coalition of Islamic nations will attack Israel with the intent of annihilating her sometime between now and the end of the Tribulation. And God will step in and utterly destroy that army. And later, at the end of the Millennium, Satan – who hates Israel – will incite the SAME sort of attempt to destroy God’s people Israel. And when Christ obliterates that attack before it even gets off the ground, and shortly afterward this present world will be destroyed. Because as long as Satan is able to accomplish his desires, there always has been and always shall be a special hatred for Israel, for Jews, for the people of God and for the God of the Bible. Some things just never change.
As we saw last week, near the end of the Millennium Satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit and he will immediately get to work showing that human nature is ultimately perverted and sinful – even with God personally ruling amongst us. Satan will inspire the revolt that hearkens us back to Gog and Magog, Christ will destroy that rebellion, and the Millennium will end with the Great White Throne Judgment in which all sinful humanity will be resurrected to stand before God and give his or her account. I’m hoping you’ll take my word for it when I tell you that you WON’T want to be there.
I also want to point out that when Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places,” He was not referring to earth during the Millennium as our homes. I have no doubt that we will be part of what goes on on the earth during the Millennium, but this earth is not our home: the new heaven and the new earth of Rev 21:1 is. And while this present Jerusalem (which will be rebuilt in the Millennium per Ezek 48:30-34) is specially and uniquely promised to the Jews, the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:10,15-16) will be for all of Messiah’s redeemed believers. And as a 1,400 mile long, high and wide pyramid or cube, there will be plenty of room for each one of Christ’s people to have his own piece of Jerusalem just as Christ promised us. Because it will have 1.125 billion cubic miles of volume! Scientists say that about 70 billion people have lived on Earth until now. So even if a full third of them were Christians, that would mean that there would be about 23 billion Christians in the Heavenly City, or 20 Christians per cubic mile! With 10-foot ceilings, that could make about 500 floors with one square mile of floor space per floor, or 500 square miles of floor space for only 20 people–or 25 square miles per person! Sound spacious enough? Now consider there also won’t be any oceans (which comprise about 72% of earth’s surface) taking up space to realize how incredibly spacious this New Earth will be! When the KJV translated Jesus’ word as “mansions,” they weren’t wrong, aside that no mansion was ever so spacious or so wondrous. When Jesus said He was going to prepare a place for us, I think we should take that as meaning that this city is about ready for occupancy right now! The New Jerusalem may well “orbit” above the earth during the Millennium.
Rev 20:4 is a great verse for a funeral. That’s because it provides so much comfort. All of our guilt and grief and suffering is temporary and transitory. It’s not the way God created man to be and it will all end. Deep down we know that we were made for a better world than this. There’s something in every human soul that cries out for justice and peace that is simply impossible to attain in this world. It’s an evidence that man was created for a better world – unless you’ve see chickens looking around and saying, “Wait! This is all so UNFAIR! Our lives ought to be better than this! Where’s God? Cluck cluck.”
And something else is amazing: all claims of atheists and evolutionists to the contrary, man does have a soul. One of the things that makes abortion so evil is you are killing the physical body of a human soul. And just as the soul is part of a human fetus as our bodies are developing in the womb, it is in the same way that part of us that enables us to survive the death of our physical bodies. And in our human souls we can imagine the death of our bodies. Think about it, if atheism is true and there is no God and if evolution is true and man is just a microbe that randomly mutated and evolved, then “life after death” is impossible. It’s similar to trying to imagine a square circle; it’s a category fallacy that cannot possibly exist. Atheists say life after death is exactly like that. And yet I CAN imagine my body dying and yet I continue to exist (watch me: I’m doing it right now). Let me also point out that my dog – as high up as it is on the evolutionary ladder – can’t do that. I watch the sun set at night; my dog sees it get dark. We are truly categorically different than the animals in a way that can only be explained by the Imago Dei (Gen 1:27). And one of the most blessed ways that we can know that we were created in an eternal God’s image is the fact that “He has planted eternity in the human heart” (Ecc 3:11). We can see Rev 21 and 22 in our hearts; we can taste it. We can see ourselves there in bodies that will be everlasting.
Isn’t the picture of this New Jerusalem beautiful? It will be made of “pure gold, as clear as glass” (Rev 21:18). What will it be like to look through gold? Can you imagine the stunning lighting effect that would create? In our eternity, we won’t have anything that we would ever want to hide from anybody. I imagine the ultimate purpose of this translucent city that “shone with the glory of God” (Rev 21:11) is so that everybody will be able to look at Jesus any time they want from wherever they are! We’ll also be able to see if one another is home so we can pop in for a visit! Make sure to have snacks if I drop by.
I find it interesting that the foundations of the city have the names of the apostles and the twelve gates have the names of the twelve tribes. Think of this as “foundation” and “access.” Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), meaning that it was through the Jews that God provided man with access to God. But was it the Jewish Levitical system that was the foundation for this salvation? No, the foundation was ALWAYS Christ. Messiah was always the foundation of salvation even in the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22-23 and Isa 28:16 cf. Matt 21:42 and Acts 4:1), and we know that it was always the Blood of Jesus that the animal sacrifice pointed to (Heb 10:4). And we know that Abraham, the Father of the Jews and of God’s spiritual people, “was looking forward to the city with foundations, shoes architect and builder is God” (Heb 11:10). When you enter the New Jerusalem, you will access through the gates (go through the Jews) to stand on a city with the apostles representing Jesus serving as the foundation.
Rev 21 says the old earth “passed away.” Peter tells that it is destroyed by fire (2 Pet 3:7). Interesting that this is now the very way astronomers universally affirm that earth will ultimately be destroyed: by the sun going supernova and being burned up with fire. Similarly, Christ is described in Colossians 1:17 as “holding all things together.” Christ literally is the mysterious strong force discovered in the 1970s that keeps every atom from flying apart – and one day He will allow the stars to collapse and this universe to end merely by withholding His power. John MacArthur asks how long it takes God to create the New Heaven and the New Earth: do you get the sense that it takes Him 14 billion years to pull that off here? If you tend to believe in an “old earth” as opposed to young earth creationism, all I ask is that you make sure you don’t forget that if God wanted to create the world in six literal days, He could do it. If He wanted to create the world in six ages that may have taken billions of years each, He could do that, too. We shouldn’t make this such a divisive issue – and it’s too bad that people who believe that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”(Gen 1:1) can’t unite and oppose the real enemy.
A little Christology is in order. What is the nature of Christ? Rev 21-22 makes it rather clear: He is God in the Second Person of the Trinity. Note Rev 22:13 and the declaration, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Who is speaking? Verse 16 makes it crystal clear: Jesus is speaking. He says, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel.” Well, interestingly, in Rev 22:5-6 we have “He who was seated on the throne” – GOD – saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” And while Jesus says it’s His angel in Rev 22:16, Rev 22:6 says it’s “the Lord God” who sent His angel. And Rev 22:12-13 makes clear that it is Jesus who AGAIN is called the Alpha and the Omega, because He’s the One who’s coming quickly (not God the Father). What is this clearly stating about Jesus Christ? How could somebody even BE “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” as Rev 22:13 says Jesus declares Himself to be and NOT be God??? How for instance would Jesus as the self-described “the Beginning and the End” not be able to “make known the end from the beginning” as Isaiah 46:10 says God does? How is Jesus as “the First and the Last” here NOT the same “the first and the last” as described by Isaiah 44:6? The picture is complete in the fact that the angel refuses John’s worship, because worship is for God alone. Yet Jesus is worthy to receive worship (Rev 5). A lovely little poem sums up what took place at Calvary: “He came to die on a cross of wood, yet made the hill on which it stood.” In the Incarnation, Christ – the Word (John 1:1-9) added a human nature to His deity so that He could live as one of us and die in our place for us. He alone made salvation possible. We can all go to heaven if we would just go to the feet of Jesus on the cross. It was Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross that all sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed to.
When the voice from the throne of God says, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them” (Rev 21:3), He fulfills through the Word Jesus (John 1:14) the work He began in the Levitical system pictured in Tabernacle. Jesus told us He was going to prepare a place for us, so that we could with Him (John 14:1-3). We will finally be able to see God face to face (1 John 3:2) because Christ will make us like Himself in everything but His deity. Right now, we see dimly, but soon, very soon, we will be able to clearly see and understand our God “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12). And we realize that God is using this world – warts and all – to shape and prepare us for the next one that will last forever. If nothing else, this world teaches us to yearn for the glorious world that awaits us thanks to Jesus Christ.
Tags: Rapture, Millennium, Tribulation, Ezekiel 38-39, have sent my angel, war of Gog and Magog, bottomless pit, New Jerusalem, animal sacrifice, passed away, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End