In the second half of chapter 19 a great battle is described. It was won by Jesus. The beast and false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire and everyone with them was killed. However, Satan, the dragon, is still loose. The action continues.
READ Revelation 20:1-6.
Who gets captured (verse 2)?
List the four names for him:
What is the code number for the length of time he is captured?
Is Satan then allowed his full power over the nations (verse 3)?
Most denominations have doctrines describing the "1000 years", often deriving from Jewish hopes for a military reign of their Messiah and Old Testament prophesies of a glorious kingdom of peace and prosperity. Some say that Christ will return before the "1000 years", some say after. Most claim that Christianity will flourish then and that all the Jews will be converted. Yet the "1000 years" is never described in terms of such a time span anywhere else in Scripture. And in Revelation, the use of 1000 is always as a code number. As a code number this refers not to a literal thousand years but to a very large number of years, perhaps uncountable but still limited.
Jesus defeated Satan at his resurrection nearly 2000 years ago. Jesus has reigned over those who follow him since that time. Satan has not been allowed to totally deceive the true Christians. He would like us to be unaware of his defeat. Might this mean that the "1000 years" is already in progress? Some denominations think so.
Time in Revelation is not linear. There are flash-backs describing some things that have gone before. Not everything will happen in John's near future, as in 22:6 "the things that must soon take place". So there is reason to be careful about declaring when the "1000 years" will occur (or is or has occurred) and about declaring its exact length of time.
We must also be careful about where the reign is to take place. Look carefully at these verses, particularly 4 and 6. It does not say where this is! The last time we saw the martyrs as a group like this was in Rev. 6:9-11, and they were at the throne of God in heaven. They are now resurrected, while the rest of the dead wait (verse 5). Who do they reign over? It does not say. In chapter 19 it seems that only the unbelievers were left on earth. In chapter 18 the faithful are warned to come out of "Babylon", but that world system has always been around and we are always commanded not to be a part of it. That "Come out" applies to all ages, particularly to John's time. The last time Christians are definitely on earth seems to be in chapter 14. They are declared blessed for dying in the faith (verse 13) and then are harvested by Jesus in verse 16. Then God is free to bring on total destruction on the rest of the world, just like he did to Sodom and Gomorrah when Lot and his family were forcibly taken out of there. So this reign in glory may not be on earth; we won't be there. Jesus specifically said that Christians will suffer tribulation, not glory, on earth. We have our crosses to bear. We serve as priests here on earth and are generally in the minority. We influence our world by being its salt and light. All human attempts to politically establish a purely Christian nation on earth have failed throughout history. So perhaps this resurrection of the martyrs is in heaven or the new earth of the next chapter. Perhaps this "1000 years" reign of Christ and the martyrs is already in progress in the place Jesus is preparing for us (John 14:1-4).
READ Revelation 20:7-15.
The end of the "1000 years" is at the end of the world, when Jesus and Satan have a final battle. Satan will be allowed to gather those who belong to him.
How many people belong to Satan (verse 8)?
What happens to them (verse 9)?
What happens to Satan (verse 10)?
Does the punishment there ever end?
According to Matthew 25:41, for whom is this eternal fire prepared?
According to that verse, even though it was not prepared for human beings, many people will share in it, most according to Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14.
In Revelation 20:11-13, everyone comes back to life, regardless of how long they have been dead or where they were buried or whether they belong to Satan or to God.
What are opened (verse 12)?
What is the name of one of them?
Apparently records are kept of what we do (and fail to do) in this life, whether it is good or bad. Everyone will then find out the truth about everyone.
Will you like everything that you ever did wrong to become common knowledge?
It will happen anyway, regardless of how you feel about it. Everyone will be judged by God by "what they had done".
According to Matthew 5:48, "You must be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect." One bad thing at any time in your life makes you imperfect forever! There is no such thing as being good enough to make up for not being perfect.
What will be the verdict when you are judged by what you have really done or failed to do? __guilty of sin, __perfect.
If you are perfect, you can go to heaven. If not, there is the other place.
There's got to be a better way, or else heaven will be quite empty of people. Look at verse 15. The lake of fire is hell, where Satan and all that are his are punished forever. Why are some people thrown into the lake of fire?
So if your name is in the book of life you escape going to hell. You can get into heaven if God finds your name written in the book of life. But not everyone's name is written there. (For your information, the following passages talk about the book of life: Exodus 32:32,33; Psalms 69:28; Daniel 12:1; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; and Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12-15; 21:27.) A byproduct of having your name in the book of life is that our sins are erased from the book of our deeds. There is no record of anything that we did wrong because our sins were all forgiven because of the death of Jesus on the cross. That is how we appear perfect to God. Only our good deeds remain in the record book if we belong to Jesus. Is your name in the Book of Life?
READ Revelation 21:1-8.
What has disappeared (verse 1)?
What is new?
Where will God be living (verse 3)?
The name of Jesus, "Immanuel", means "God with us".
What things are gone (verse 4)?
Are you going to like that?
In verse 6 are the words, "It is done." All the arrangements have been made.
Water is one of the symbols of the Spirit, who gives life and who gives the second birth. God is ready to give his life to anyone who wants it. It is free, without price. "He who overcomes" will belong to God and have this life and all its blessings as in chapters 2 and 3. If we hold on to Jesus even to our death, then we are overcomers. But if we die when we do not belong to Jesus, then we are not overcomers. It is that simple.
Now look at the list in verse 8. Have you done any of these things? Have you ever been afraid to let non-Christians discover that you would rather be friends with Jesus than reject him? Have you ever trusted someone or something more than God? Have you ever been really angry against someone? Have you ever thought lustfully after someone who is not your spouse, eagerly desiring sex with them? Have you ever played around with astrology or other occult activities? Have you ever let someone or something be more important to you than God? Have you ever lied? Unless your name is in the book of life, what happens to you if you can answer yes to any one of these questions (verse 8)?
READ Revelation 21:9-27.
Here we get a word painting of heaven. Notice that it is one of the angels who helped destroy the earth who gets to show off what heaven is like. The Bride = the wife of the Lamb = the new Jerusalem = the people of God = the heavenly kingdom = the Church = the communion of saints = the Body of Christ; and maybe a few other things. At the heavenly wedding feast, Jesus and his Church are joined together forever. The Church is described in these verses in terms of perfection and richness using lots of code words.
How many gates (verse 12)?
How are they labeled?
How many foundations (verse 14)?
How are they labeled?
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus talks to the Apostles about the foundation of his Church.
What is the code number for the length of the "city" (verse 16)?
The 12 is a spiritually perfect number and 1000 is a code for a huge number. Heaven and the Church are to be huge. The 144 of verse 17 is 12 times 12, another perfect code number squared. All the stones mentioned in verses 18-21 are gem stones.
Why is there no temple in heaven (verse 22)?
Why don't the sun and moon need to shine there (verses 23-25)?
What does Jesus say about himself in John 8:12?
Who are allowed to be in heaven (Rev. 21:27)?
Is anyone else allowed in?
READ Revelation 22:1-5.
The Holy Spirit (water of life) proceeds from the Father (God) and the Son (Lamb) in verse 1 and in the Nicene Creed.
What is located along this river (verse 2)?
Its fruit lets the eaters of it live forever, according to Genesis 3:22. Throughout the Bible no one was ever allowed to eat of it while on earth.
What special thing will be allowed according to verse 4?
READ Revelation 22:6-21.
Who heard and saw all the things written in the book of Revelation (verse 8)?
Is John to keep all this knowledge secret (verse 10)?
In verse 11, the meaning is that God will continue to work out his plan regardless of what men do.
Who is coming soon (verses 7, 12; and see 13 and 16)?
These words were written down about 1900 years ago. But remember that Jesus comes for each of us at the end of our own short lifetimes, and usually without warning. That is really soon enough.
In verse 13 are parts of word equations. In Rev. 1:8, the first refers to God Almighty. In Rev. 1:17, the second refers to Jesus. The third phrase is of the same type. By these word equations John is declaring that Jesus Christ is God Almighty. "Things equal to the same things are equal to each other."
In verse 14, "wash their robes" is the code for being without sin in the eyes of God. The blood of Jesus makes us clean. That lets us get our names written in the book of life and live forever and enter heaven.
The word "Come" in verses 17 and 20 is "Marana tha" in the original language. Some Christian groups use this phrase for a name. It is an invitation for Jesus to come and to come soon and take us to heaven.
Does John want anyone to change the words he has written (verses 18, 19)?
To do so would disrupt his careful codes and word pictures and destroy the message.
Can you eagerly say "Come, Lord Jesus!" and really mean it?
Background, Introduction, Lesson 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11