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REVELATION 20:1-15 Part 2
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.
He is the Word of God made flesh. He is the Daystar. Like the sun arising from the East and slowly enlightening the entire world, He has arisen; and He will bring light and life to it all!
As John is shown, He is the enthroned King of Kings – from the beginning the Anointed One Who has been given all authority in the heaven and upon the earth and under the earth. The cosmos is His; all creatures belong to Him; His work is summed up in the words of His forerunner – John the baptizer – “Savior of the World”.
It is His work and His alone.
And all of His work is here prophesied to John to be sent to the Churches. And the work is full – and final – and complete. It is decreed! And we know that, because John is shown all of it right here… in advance of His appearance! All seven things are His work (in brief) proceeding from His appearance as the reigning King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
And the Churches are made strong and steadfast in the Faith, because He IS that Word, and it IS His Work; and because He WILL overcome. What the Churches received here, and what we also have before us because of His Work, is an eschatology of complete victory!
It is “at hand” as John is shown all seven of these things.
And what he is shown is brief, but full… and complete. It is the full work of the Christ at His Parousia!
Because it is decreed, it is revealed as “done”.
At the imminent Parousia/appearance of the Christ, John saw the judgment of The Father carried out by the Sword of His mouth; and all remaining in the land were slain by the sword. It was the completion of the prophetic Word regarding the Sword of judgment.
Second, John saw the final, completed end of the harlot nation in the curse of Moses. Our Lord finished the curse at His appearance; and the birds were called up to gorge themselves on the corpses of those slain by the sword.
Third, at the Parousia of the Christ, John is shown the complete and final end of the two beasts… the sea beast (in the image of the dragon) and the land beast (the false prophet of Israel). At the soon-to-come appearance of King Jesus, both would be completely dealt with; for they were the ones through whom the harlot was executed.
There is a clear and unmistakable pattern here in the seven things that John is shown. John is now to prophesy to the Church the imminent appearance of the King of Kings and all of His work to come; and He will prophesy all of it as complete!
And just as the first three of the seven are the fullness of the older prophetic Word, so too will be the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. There is the continuity, you see; there is the fullness; there is the unchangeable Word of God. And the Churches are provided the assurance for all that is to come.
We can’t allow ourselves to be confused by false prophets concerning these things. What they’ve said has become the standard for much of the Church in our time; but all of the “interpretations” have to be cleared away, and the certainty of the text has to replace them.
We’ll deal with them as we go. But we don’t need to re-interpret that which God has already interpreted for us! You see, it’s His view of what belongs to Him; and it’s His Revelation to John and to the Churches of that view! It doesn’t need “interpretation”!
It’s been a while since we took up the issue of Biblical hermeneutics, but I’ll just spend another minute or two with you to refresh your memory.
Covenantal continuity simply means that there is ONE God (Father, Son and Spirit) Who has spoken. That Word proceeded from One God Who is eternal and unchangeable in His Being, Wisdom, Power, Holiness, Justice, Goodness and Truth.
From Genesis one to Revelation twenty-two, there is a continuity of purpose and speech because it all comes from One. The perspective is the same from beginning to end; the language is the same from beginning to end; the purpose is the same from beginning to end. And He revealed the beginning to Moses, and revealed the completion to John.
That very Word was made flesh and gave Himself in order that that purpose might come to its fullness for the glory of God. That was the covenant made even before the cosmos was called into being!
The language and purpose revealed to Moses (the first prophet) is the same revealed to John (the last prophet) because it is all One Word… it all comes from the same mind, in the same language, and with the same perspective on all that He has created! And it is complete.
We who belong to Him can actually read and see and hear that continuity and rest in His unchanging Person and Word.
And since that’s the case, why would one ever assume that The Revelation of Jesus Christ to the Churches would be revealed in a different language and with a different purpose?
Did God say “uh-oh! Now that you’ve killed My Son, I’ll have to adapt and change the way I’m going to do this?” Or, did He say to the Churches, “okay… now I’m going to change My language and purpose, and reveal it all in symbols and figures that you’ve not heard before; and you’ll just have to figure it out for yourself!”
The stated purpose of the letter was to provide comfort and assurance and anticipation to the Churches in the nations. But what hope, or assurance, would the Churches have received from John’s letter if they had perceived that God had revised His covenant and changed His purpose and altered His language?
We can all imagine that there would have been confusion and unrest and chaos in the Church of Jesus Christ; and there certainly would have been no assurance of the imminent Parousia of the Christ and the completion of His work to the glory of The Father!
Oh… wait! Chaos and confusion is exactly what we’ve had lately in much of the Church! You see, they’ve now figured out God’s weird language! Now they’ve got the code!
The mysterious symbols indicate that there will be wars and rumors of wars; earthquakes and volcanoes and other environmental disasters… maybe even nuclear war! The rise of the pope; the rise of Islam; Jesus is going to come soon and rapture all of His people into heaven and establish His earthly Kingdom on the temple mount in Jerusalem (mormons say Missouri!). The devil will start a world-wide war; Jesus will resurrect all the rest of His people and take them to heaven and destroy this evil world in a fiery cataclysm… and on and on. Chaos. There are at least six different versions of that. Confusion and unrest in the Church! Fear and mystery… not comfort and assurance.
Where is the assurance? Where is the comfort in, and anticipation of, the Christ and His Kingdom, and the ultimate, completed work of the Savior of the World?
The curse of Almighty God upon mankind and upon the creation was overcome at the death of Jesus Christ – the Word of God made flesh; for He arose, in the flesh, out of death and hades having suffered the full wrath of God for His people and for His creation! And He has assured His Church that He will perform all the rest of His work as Savior of the World.
That’s what John is shown here (the full Gospel of Jesus Christ); and that’s what he writes to the Churches! At His (imminent) Parousia, the risen, ascended and crowned King of Kings will perform all the rest of His work to the glory of the Father… all of which is the original purpose of God; all of which is prophesied; all of which is in language that is familiar to His people in the Churches … and none of which should be mysterious or confusing!
The full and complete prophetic Word of God (beginning at verse eleven of chapter nineteen) now extends to the (shortly to come) Parousia (appearance) of the One Who has been given dominion; and it continues to the end of the letter! And nothing is more clear than that dominion.
His Parousia is revealed in the present… to a contemporary audience (the first century Churches in the nations). It is revealed to John as full and complete. And it is shown to Him as being “near” – about to be!
Right now (as John watches)… it is about to be!
At verse eleven John says, “then I saw….” What he was shown (that was about to be) was the King of Kings and Lord of Lords seated on His white horse, the diadems on His head, His eyes aflame, the sharp Sword proceeding from His mouth. And with Him (also seated on white horses) all of His “holy ones” in history whose blood had been poured out, and all of the remnant of Jacob who were called to the wedding feast of the Lamb of God.
And they are His “warrior army”. His Kingdom is from the heaven. The messengers are “sent”; and they are to deliver the message to the Gentile nations. And that message is the Sword of the mouth of God the Son that they are to deliver. The Sword – the Word of God – is He Who does the work. It is His work; He does all of the work. And all of His work – in its fullness and finality – is revealed to John (and therefore to the Churches). The messengers deliver the message from the One Who rules above all in the heaven; the message is the Sword of The Christ; and the Sword of Christ is His Word, and the Word is He Who does the work!
Here, you see, is the “appearance” of the One Who has dominion from the heaven… the “appearance” of the One Who has all authority… the One promised from the beginning! It is His Parousia at the end of the age; and His work is decreed and prophesied as “seven-fold”… complete!
The seven things shown to John indicate the fullness and completeness of the prophetic Word… its finality. From Jesus’ appearance to the completion of His work it’s decreed; therefore it is done.
Writing to the Churches in the (then) contemporary present, John writes from the perspective of God as fully completed. It’s all shown to John; and the seven things he was shown are the fullness and finality of all of Jesus’ work… proceeding from His Parousia. And the mighty shout from the entirety of God’s tabernacle fills the cosmos with the anticipation of the Savior of the World.
Now. The fourth thing that John is shown at the imminent Parousia of the Christ is the binding and loosing of the satan (the adversary), the dragon of old, in verses one through three here in chapter twenty.
We’ve had opportunity to hear some of what God has revealed about this creature; and next Lord’s Day we’ll be more thorough. However, today is for “binding” and “loosing”.
As we’ve heard in the past, it was the purpose of Jesus to speak to the people of Israel in parables in order that those who were in darkness would remain in darkness. And it is for us to ascertain, with wisdom, the fullness of His words; for they are that which was prophesied.
As always, He, Himself, is the fullness of the Word of God – and His language is the language of God in His enscripturated Word! So, with the Bible in hand, there can be no “mystery” in any of His language. It is a matter of searching and discovery of the “mind” of Christ. After all, He IS the Word of God!
But let me just say this in passing; all too often men search and discover what’s in their own minds and hearts, which always leads to a violent misuse of Scripture and a man-centered or self-centered interpretation of the truth! And the language of Jesus concerning “binding” and “loosing” is one of the better examples of that!
Men have always wanted the authority to make personal pronouncements concerning others… “binding” them to man-centered interpretations, and “loosing” them from their God-ordained responsibilities. That’s what they seem to “gain” from the binding and loosing language of God’s Word. Prophetic language and parabolic language does its work – as prophesied! It closes eyes; it shuts off hearing; it turns hearts to stone – just as He said it would in the prophecy to Isaiah!
From phariseeism – to romanism – to cultic authority figures, men have always coveted the authority of God Himself – an authority to condemn other men to hell, or to free them from their guilt or to control them in some extra-Biblical way!
And what is it except the desire to be “as God” (just like the dragon) – with the power to decide life and death over other men? What greater power is there than to consign to hell or to forgive sin, or to permit entrance into heaven? With a self-centered interpretation of “the keys to the Kingdom”, and the power of “loosing” and “binding”, the pharisees shut and locked up the Kingdom to the entire nation of Israel!
And romanism (just as one example) has kept the masses of its followers in total fear of the pope and the local priests, because they usurp the authority to bind and to loose! And cultic authority figures rule with fear and intimidation! Men crave to have the power to dispose of others in whatever way they see fit. It’s a craving for sovereignty, you see. Even elders in some reformed congregations have coveted that power.
And one of the prime portions of Scripture used in this process of “self-deification” is verse nineteen of Matthew chapter sixteen where the Lord gives the keys of the Kingdom to His apostles and endows them with the authority of binding and loosing that which has already been bound and loosed in the heaven. Instead of searching the Word of God and the “mind” of Christ for the fullness of the meaning, men prefer to feel self-empowered and “puffed up” with a misunderstood authority – as if they, personally, have been given the keys to the kingdom!
You see, this is the same craving which is easily seen from depraved man in society generally. Those in civil government want absolute authority. Women seek empowerment. Blacks seek empowering. Gays seek empowering. And “little caesars” rule their homes and their Churches with iron fists – while psychobabble promotes empowering with self-esteem! It would probably be a great surprise to learn how many would think the elders and ministers in their Churches personally possess the power of binding and loosing.
So the “self-god” looks into the Scriptures and sees these wonderful words from our Lord, and he “interprets” them in whatever way meets his own cravings for authority!
But as we see in the Scripture, the authority doesn’t rest in the man! It rests in the preaching and teaching of the Sword of The Christ Whose Kingdom is from the heaven; and that Word binds and looses that which has already been bound and loosed in the heaven! That Word to the nations is “apostolic preaching”! The authority isn’t the “man”; the authority is the Word of God Who reigns over His Kingdom from the heaven! It is HIS Word through the preaching and teaching of His apostles.
Now, the word “to loose” appears in verse twenty of Second Peter chapter one, where it says, “no prophecy should be exposited according to private opinion!” The word “luo” – to loose – is the root word used for the translation of “exposited”, which means to release – or to resolve! You could translate it like this: “No prophecy should be self-explained!” Or, “No prophecy should be interpreted according to needs of the ‘self’!” It is not one’s private opinion! Apostolic doctrine and preaching constitutes the keys of the Kingdom! Apostolic doctrine and preaching (the Sword of the Christ) binds and looses that which is already bound and loosed in the heaven! It’s HIS work, you see… it’s not the work of the man!
Verse nineteen of Matthew sixteen is a prophetic utterance of our Lord Jesus concerning His resurrection from death and His ascension to Power; and His giving of the keys of the Kingdom to His apostles. And the authority of the keys will be given to them for loosing and binding that which has already been loosed and bound in the heaven (that’s the sense of the tenses there). And it is not to be self-explained – nor is it to be “loosed” from its moorings in the fullness of the revealed, prophetic Word of God.
That’s what the pharisees did; that’s what romanist priests do; that’s what petty tyrants do; that’s what god-like cultic figures do. And it’s destructive – which leads me to a distinctive meaning of this word “to loose”.
In Matthew five, verses seventeen and eighteen, Jesus says,
“Do not think that I came to destroy (or abrogate) the Law…. I did not come to abrogate, but to be its fullness.”
The word “to destroy”, or “to abrogate” in that quote from Jesus comes from the word luw “to loose”. So, “to loose” is to make “null” and “void” – to abrogate!
In John two verse nineteen, Jesus says,
“Destroy this temple and, in three days, I will raise it up.”
The word “destroy” is the word, “to loose”.
In John chapter five, verse eighteen, the Jews sought to kill Jesus because, in their opinion, He had “broken” the Sabbath. The word “broken” is the root word “to loose”.
In Ephesians two, fourteen, Paul says that Christ has “broken down’ the wall of partition…” That’s the word “to loose”.
In Revelation chapter five, there is no one who is able to open the seals of the scroll until the Lamb slain takes it and opens them. The word “open” is this term “to loose”.
So this word is used on many occasions to mean a “breaking up” or a “disintegration”, or an “abrogation” or “dissolution”. And it is in this sense that apostolic preaching of the Gospel of the Risen Savior brought final judgment and destruction to Israel! And it is in this same sense that the word is used over in Matthew chapter eighteen, verse eighteen when Jesus instructs the apostles to “loose”, or dissolve, the relationship between the Church and the pagan who will not repent of his sin!
This is similar to First John three at verse eight where the apostle says this:
“He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil sins from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the operations of the devil.”
The word “destroy” there is our word “to loose”! The satan is “loosed” to its destruction!
And the term has another meaning as well. Listen to Revelation chapter one, verses five and six:
“… and from Jesus Christ the Witness, the Faithful, the Firstborn from death and the Ruler of the kingdoms of the earth --- To Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins in His blood and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him the glory and the dominion into the age. Amen.”
To Him Who loves us and has “freed” us…. The word translated “freed” is the root of the word “to loose”. In this sense it means to “set free”, or “remit”. In Luke chapter thirteen, when Jesus encountered the severely crippled woman on the Sabbath day and was condemned for it by the pharisees, He replied to them:
“Hypocrite! Do not each one of you, on the Sabbath loose his ox or ass from the stall, and lead it away to watering? And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham who satan has bound lo, these eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath Day?”
So our word “to loose” means to set free from being “bound” by satanic activity!
And then listen to a small part of the preaching of Peter at Pentecost – Acts chapter two, beginning at verse twenty-two:
“You men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you yourselves also know; Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain; Who God has raised up, having loosed the pangs of death; because it was not possible that He should be held by it….”
Our word “to loose” is plainly used in that passage, and it clearly means to free from the bonds of death – or Hades!
And where is all this prophesied? In that great chapter having to do with the coming of the great Shepherd/King, Isaiah chapter forty! Listen:
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, says your God. Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her conflict is over, that her iniquity is pardoned.; for she has received of the Lord’s hand – double for all her sins.”
The word that’s translated “pardoned’ (there in King James) is the Hebrew word “to loose”! And what it says is that payment will be considered released, or satisfied, when God’s vengeance is poured out double upon Israel for her great iniquity! Then, and only then, will Israel be “loosed” from her iniquity.
So, in the translation of this word we have both the breaking up and dissolution of the old, and the immediate expectation of a new order – freed from the bondage of iniquity; freed from the satan and death, for there has been payment in full, and a release, or loosing, from iniquity. Israel’s iniquity has been “loosed” in the double judgment of God, while the iniquity of His chosen people is “loosed” in the vengeance of God upon His Own Son.
So, what we see in the texts of God’s Word is the “loosing” of the bonds of death and hades in the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of the Christ. And, at the same time, a “loosing” of Satan into its own destruction!
Now, let’s see if we can get some understanding of the word “dew” – to bind; for Jesus also said,
“whatsoever you shall bind upon the earth shall be as having been bound in the heaven….”
And, as with the word “loosing”, “binding” also has distinctive meanings as is evidenced, first, by the second verse of Romans chapter seven, where Paul says,
“for the woman who has a husband is bound by the Law to that husband so long as he lives….”
So the Law is “binding” upon mankind to obedience.
But the overwhelming use of the word in the Scriptures is that “binding” means imprisonment! And I give you one example from Paul, as he writes to Timothy from prison. He says,
“Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evildoer – unto bonds; but the Word of God is not bound.”
This is a particularly good example, because imprisonment is used in Scripture as analogous to bondage in spiritual darkness. Those who have been kept in darkness, as Israel was by the pharisees, are said to be imprisoned – in a state of bondage! But, at the same time, the Word of God knows no bounds – and can’t be imprisoned, for it is Light and Life to the nations.
Further, in chapter thirteen of the Gospel of Matthew, we encountered the parable of the zizanium in the field. The alien seed had been sown over the good seed; and the owner of the field let the alien seed remain until it was time to bind them in bundles to be burned! The “binding” and burning are judgmental activity, foreordained in the heavens, until the final retribution occurred in 70 AD.
But the very best example of the use of this word “to bind” occurs in the conversation between Jesus and the pharisees concerning demonic activity – in Matthew chapter twelve. During that exchange Jesus says,
“How can one enter into a strong man’s house, and rob his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will plunder his house!”
This teaching has to do, of course, with the chaining and imprisonment of satan in Hades by the Word of Christ the King – that the domain of the devil in the wilderness nations of the world would be plundered and spoiled! It is the Sword of the Christ that “binds” this creature, you see!
But remember most of all that the Word of God is unbound. The Word of God – the Gospel of God – is the Power of God into salvation for those who are believing. And by its proclamation the alien seed are bound and made ready for destruction. And, at the same time, through its preaching there comes pardon, freeing (loosing) from iniquity.
While there is binding of men to unforgiven sin, the Gospel frees (looses) men from death and hades. While there is the binding of the satan (the adversary), there is also the breaking open (loosing) of the seals of the scroll. While in the proclamation of the Gospel there is the breaking up and dissolution of the old, there is the binding of men to the Law of God. While there is a binding of the blind in the prison of darkness, there is also a loosing from satanic activity.
Our Lord Jesus Christ has “loosed” the pangs and sorrows of death. He has entered into it and exited it to be King of a New Heavens and a New Earth.
And, as He promised, He gave the “keys” to the Kingdom to His apostles. It was apostolic preaching of the Word of God! And as they preached the Gospel of the Resurrected Lord, the portals of the Kingdom were opened wide to many in the Gentile nations so that those who were loosed in the heaven were the same as those loosed through the preaching of the apostles and the messengers of the King. And those whose names were not in the book were bound by that same preaching… having already been bound in the heaven!
Apostolic doctrine and preaching is “the keys”. And it binds those who are already bound in the heavens, while loosing those already loosed in the heavens.
While the Sword of the Christ was “unbound” in the nations, the satan was “bound”; and its domain is still being plundered! And when it’s loosed, it will be loosed to its destruction.
We’ll see much more concerning the serpent of old from God’s Word next Lord’s Day; but for now – from God’s perspective – it is the Sword of Christ the King, the Word of God, by apostolic preaching and teaching of His disciple/messengers, that binds the satan until the Lord Jesus Christ finishes plundering its house… cleaning it out! The old serpent can’t do anything about it, because it’s bound in the heaven by the Sword of the Christ!
That which is bound on the earth has already been bound in the heaven, which is exactly what John sees in this fourth “then I saw….”
Later we’ll also see it’s “loosing” to destruction, which has already been loosed in the heaven.
Lastly, personal declarations of binding and loosing by men; binding and remitting of sin by pronouncement; individual assertions of imposing and/or removing of obligations; personal declarations of what is forbidden and permitted – all of these are judaistic casuistry. And they are romanist casuistry, as well. All are doctrinal assertions of personal sovereignty. All are manifestations of cultic activity; and all come from depraved hearts and minds… men who wish to be “as God” and have, themselves, the keys of the Kingdom.
Egocentricity and personal esteem are at the root of men seeking to be “as God”. And all who attempt to exercise this “assumed” sovereign power will, by the preaching of the Gospel of Christ, receive the “loosing” into destruction, and the “binding” which makes ready for final judgment.
Rather than egocentricity and personal esteem, Christ’s people must be Theocentric (not egocentric) and have “Christ-esteem” (not personal esteem). For it is through the ministry of the Sword of the Christ (apostolic doctrine) that men enter into the wide-open portals of the Kingdom of Christ………not by personal pronouncement of “mini-gods”. Minister the Word to the lost – to those bound in the prison of darkness, and our Lord will loose His Own unto life.
Next Lord’s Day we’ll continue this, and also have a thorough examination of God’s perspective regarding “diabolos”, “the satan”, the serpent of old.Return to the Sermons on Revelation Show Page
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