We have seen from the testimony of Scripture itself that the only company of the redeemed for whom the Millennial reign is introduced into the pages of Holy Writ, is the overcomer. Revelation 20:1-10 is the only portion of Scripture that gives positive teaching concerning the Millennium; other Scriptures contain passages that may or do belong to that period, but all other companies of either saved or lost can only be introduced into this kingdom by inference.
The companies mentioned in Revelation 20:1-10 are the following:
- The martyrs who withstood the Beast and refused his image. They not only ‘live’ but ‘reign’ with Christ a thousand years.
- The ‘rest of the dead’ is another company, only mentioned in order to make it clear that they do not live again until the thousand years are finished.
- The overcomers of martyrs are called ‘priests of God and of Christ’.
- After the thousand years, ‘nations’ are revealed to have been living during that reign, and some of these nations lived ‘in the four quarters of the earth’.
- Inasmuch as the ‘camp of the saints’ and the ‘Beloved City’ could be compassed by these rebellious nations, they too must have been on the earth during the Millennium.
We consider the meaning and bearing of the martyred saints in section 17 of this series. We now round off the study by considering the remaining four items listed above, ‘the rest of the dead’. The Greek word translated ‘rest’ is loipos. ‘Peter and the rest of the apostles’ (Acts 2:37). This implies that Peter also was an apostle.
- ‘The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded’ (Rom. 11:7).
Here the ‘election’ and ‘the rest’ both belong to Israël, as the opening of the verse shows. We could not say ‘the election’ (of Israël) and ‘the rest’ (of the Gentiles) without adding an explanatory clause. Loipos occurs in Revelation eight times, thus:
- Rev. 2:24 – ‘Unto the rest in Thyatira’ not unto the rest of the seven churches, or the rest of the world.
- 3:2 – ‘Strengthen the things which remain‘.
- 8:13 – ‘By reason of the other voices’.
- 9:20 – ‘The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues’. Plainly not the rest of mankind as a whole’.
- 11:13 – ‘The remnant were affrighted’.
- 12:17 – ‘The remnant of her seed’.
- 19:21 – ‘The remnant were slain’.
- 20:5 – ‘The rest of the dead lived not again’.
This last reference which directs us to the judgment of the Great White Throne warns us that a special company is envisaged. It is composed of believers, who together with those who were martyred, formed one company, AND NO OTHERS are in view. The wicked dead of all ages will have their judgment, but that is not contemplated here. One company and one only are before us, and that company is divided into two portions: (1) the overcomers, (2) those who were not overcomers, or briefly ‘the rest’. The overcomers live and reign during the thousand years. ‘The rest’ do not live again until the Millennium is over. They do not forfeit ‘life’ necessarily, but they have lost the ‘crown’, a doctrine not confined to any one dispensation as 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Philippians 3:11-14 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13 will show. This is the first resurrection; the ‘former’ of two, as we have seen earlier.
These overcomers are called ‘priest of God and of Christ’. There seems a need to discriminate once again between the restored nation, which will be a priestly nation on the earth, and this company of priests which exercise their priesthood in the Heavenly City. Let us see. At the foot of Mount Sinai, the whole nation were given the terms by which they could become ‘a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation’. Those terms none have ever kept; with those conditions no one has ever complied (Exod. 19:5,6). Isaiah, visualizing not the old covenant, but the ‘everlasting covenant’ (Isa. 61:8) looked down the age and beheld Israël restored, having the oil of joy instead of mourning, rebuilt and raised up and repaired (Isa. 61:3,4), and named ‘The Priest of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God … the seed which the LORD hath blessed’ (Isa. 61:6-9).
Just as the restored earthly Jerusalem will have a resemblance to the Heavenly City, with its foundations of sapphires, and its gates of agates (Isa. 54:11,12), so we find at the close of Isaiah 61 this restored priestly nation likened also to a bridegroom or to a bride. This must not lead us to confuse this company with the Bride of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7), for Isaiah 54:6-8 makes it clear that Israël as a ‘woman forsaken’ and a ‘wife of youth’ who had been refused, is in view, whereas the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, is not the nation of Israël, once divorced but now restored, but a company of overcomers whose seat of authority is not the earthly but the heavenly Jerusalem, a company that had never known divorcement. When we open the book of the Revelation the first company of the redeemed we meet with are those who say:
- ‘Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father’ (Rev. 1:5,6).
While all, whoever they may be, and whatever their calling, must have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, there seems some special reason why it should have been introduced here. The word ‘washed’ is the Greek lousanti, but the best texts read lusanti which means ‘loosed’. Again, redemption sets free, and employs a number of words derived from luo, ‘I loose’. Nevertheless the way in which the word luo is used in the book of the Revelation makes us suspect that something more is intended here in Revelation 1:5,6, than purely evangelical salvation. Let us assemble the occurrences of luo which are seven in number.
Luo in Revelation
- Rev. 1:5 ‘Loosed us from our sins in His own blood’.
- 5:2,5 ‘Loose the seals’. ‘Loose the seven seals’.
- 9:14,15 ‘Loose the four angels’. ‘The four angels were loosed’.
- 20:3,7 ‘He must be loosed’. ‘Satan shall be loosed’.
Haima, ‘blood’ occurs nineteen times in the Revelation. Four references are to the blood of the Lamb. Thirteen to blood shed or sent in judgment. The four that interest us at the moment are:
- Rev. 1:5 ‘Loosed us from our sins in His own blood’.
- 5:9,10 ‘Redeemed us to God … kings and priests’.
- 7:14 ‘Washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’.
- 12:11 ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb’.
The references to blood that remain fall into two groups:
(1) The call for vengeance:
- Rev. 6:10 ‘Avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth’.
- 16:6 ‘For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy’.
- ‘Drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus’.
- 18:24 ‘… and in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth’.
- 19:2 ‘Avenged the blood of His servants at her hand’.
- 19:13 ‘He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood’.
(2) The Judgment by blood:
- Rev. 6:12 ‘The moon became as blood’.
- 8:7 ‘Hail and fire mingled with blood’.
- 8:8 ‘Third part of the sea became blood’.
- 11:6 ‘Power over waters to turn them to blood’.
- 14:20 ‘Blood came out of the winepress’.
- 16:3 ‘The sea … became as the blood of a dead man’.
- 16:4 ‘Rivers and fountains … became blood’.
- 16:6 ‘Thou hast given them blood to drink’.
- 18:24 ‘And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth’.
The recording and the reading of this list is nauseating, but the facts that are recorded will be horrible beyond description. Here again we add one more of the many correspondences which these studies are making with the book of Genesis, namely the solemn words of Genesis 9:6:
- ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed’.
to which is added both the basic reason and another connection with the Revelation:
- ‘For in the image of God made He man’.
It is a solemn thing to know that it is possible to ‘blaspheme’ our fellow men who are made in the ‘image’ of God (Titus 3:2 and Rev. 13:6). Idolatry violates that glory conferred upon man as well as the glory of God Himself:
- ‘They … changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man … who changed the truth of God into a lie (or “exchanged the glory” for “THE LIE”), and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Amen’ (Rom. 1:21-25).
This abandonment leads straight on with excessive abuse of the gift of sex, even as this same evil is seen to preponderate in the book of the Revelation. The worship of the Beast and of his IMAGE dethrones not only God, but man, and turns the whole direction of life toward ‘the lie’, Satan’s counterfeit. Because of this we read of ‘the wrath of God’ (Rom. 1:18).
The word orge (translated ‘wrath’) occurs twelve times in Romans, and of these occurrences seven are found in the first great doctrinal division (Rom. 1:1 to 5:11). It is an important word, and seeing that it is placed in distinct relation to righteousness in Romans 1:17,18, it demands a prayerful study. We observe in the first place that ‘wrath’ is used in the outer portion of Romans only. The word is not used in Romans 5:12 to 8:39. The word ‘wrath’ is not used either of Adam or of man seen in Adam. Judgment, condemnation and death there are, but unaccompanied by wrath. There is no wrath either in connection with the lake of fire, or the great white throne in Revelation 20. All is calm, books are opened, everyone is dealt with in pure justice. Wrath, anger, indignation, fury, these words are of a different category.
Many times do we read that the wrath or the anger of the Lord was ‘kindled’, as in Exodus 4:14, or of wrath ‘waxing hot’, as in Exodus 22:24, or of His anger ‘smoking’ (Psa. 74:1), and of it being poured out in ‘fury’ (Isa. 42:25). The nature of the wrath of Romans 1:18, and of the day of wrath with which it is connected (Rom. 2:5), is discovered in the book of Revelation. Those upon whom this wrath is poured are the ‘nations’, and the time is the time of the dead that they should be judged and rewarded (Rev. 11:18; 19:15). This wrath falls particularly upon Babylon (Rev. 16:19), and in direct connection with its idolatry and uncleanness (Rev. 14:8-10), Babylon is in view in Romans 1:18-32. There we see that Satanic system in all its naked horror; there we see the domination of darkness and the lie. In this section we read of those who by their deeds are ‘worthy of death’, and who ‘have pleasure’ in deeds of evil (Rom. 1:32). This section therefore is connected with wrath.
There is much to be learned by comparing 1 and 2 Thessalonians with the passage in Romans:
- ‘Wrath … revealed from heaven‘ (Rom. 1:18).
- ‘The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven‘ (2 Thess. 1:7).
- ‘When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God … They did not like to retain God in their knowledge’ (Rom. 1:21,28).
- ‘In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God‘ (2 Thess. 1:8).
- ‘They … have pleasure in them that do them’ (Rom. 1:32).
- ‘They … had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thess. 2:12).
- ‘They changed the truth of God into the lie‘ (Rom. 1:25).
- ‘They received not … the truth … they … believe the lie‘ (2 Thess. 2:10,11).
- ‘They changed the glory of … God into an image made like to … man‘ (Rom. 1:23).
- ‘Man of sin … shewing himself that he is God’ (2 Thess. 2:3,4).
- ‘Wrath … revealed … idolatry‘ (Rom. 1:18-25).
- ‘Ye turned to God from idols … delivered … from the wrath to come’ (1 Thess. 1:9,10).
- ‘God also gave them up to uncleanness‘ (Rom. 1:24).
- ‘Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God’ (1 Thess. 4:5).
If we also bring together the parallels that we find in the book of the Revelation, we shall have a full reference to that Satanic system of iniquity commenced at Babel, dominating the nations of the earth from that time onward until judged at the Coming of the Lord in the day of wrath.
The reference in Romans 1:19,20 to the evidence of creation finds an echo in the Revelation.
So in the days when Babylon and its system shall be revived and in full power, the ‘everlasting gospel’ will be preached, which gospel is nothing more nor less than a proclamation of the Lord as Creator.
- ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen’ (Rev. 14:7,8).
There is a slight alteration in the words translated ‘change’ in these verses in the Authorized Version of Romans 1. We have attempted to indicate the difference by using ‘change’ and ‘exchange’. First they changed the glory of God without actually giving up God altogether, but this soon led to the next step, for they exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and then worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. It is not possible for God to take second place. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Into the third item we cannot go. The defiling character of idolatry may be gathered from its annals, and we do not feel that any good purpose would be served by elaborating this revolting subject here. At the same time we know only too well that human nature is not a whit better today than when it openly practised the sins condemned in Romans 1. We need faithfully to warn the rising generation, speaking very tenderly and lovingly, yet nevertheless plainly, for Babylonianism in all its forms is rising like a flood, and the book of the Revelation reveals Romans 1 in a superlative degree. We need not go so far into the future as the book of Revelation, however, for 2 Timothy 3:1-8 uses many of the words of Romans 1 to describe the perilous times at the close of this present dispensation. The sequence of the apostasy and its relation to the development of the mystery of iniquity otherwise called ‘the lie’, and the mystery of godliness, otherwise called ‘the truth’, can be traced through Paul’s epistles.
Taking the statement of Romans 1 we find them worked out in the other epistles.
A comparison of the list of sins in Romans 1 with that of 2 Timothy 3:1-7 will show how completely the parallel is recorded. The reader must supply further parallels by studying the intervening epistles.
(1) ‘As God’. ‘The creature more than the Creator’. — ‘That man of sin … as God‘ (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
(2) ‘The lie’. ‘The truth’. — ‘They received not the love of the truth … they … believe the lie‘ (2 Thess. 2:10-11).
(3) ‘Given up to an undiscerning mind’. — ‘God shall send them strong delusion’ (2 Thess. 2:11).
(4) ‘Pleasure in them that do them’. — ‘Had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thess. 2:12).
(5) ‘Neither were thankful’. — ‘God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth’ (1 Tim. 4:3,4),
Another feature that contributes to the build-up of the actual purpose that runs throughout the Revelation is the use of the title ‘Lamb’, arnion.
Apart from the one reference, John 21:15, ‘feed my lambs’, the remaining twenty-nine occurrences are all found in the Revelation. Although the first thought that comes into mind when we think of Christ as ‘The Lamb of God’ is the One Who takes away the sin of the world, no such association is made in the Revelation. We read of ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ and even of those who ‘drink of the wrath of God’ … in the presence of the Lamb’ (Rev. 6:16; 14:10). We read of ‘the throne of the Lamb’ and of ‘the marriage of the Lamb’ and ‘the book of life of the Lamb’ (Rev. 22:!; 19:7; 13:8). We read of those who overcome by ‘the blood of the Lamb’; of those who are ‘first-fruits’ unto God and to the Lamb, and of those who sing the song of Moses … and of the Lamb, with which the seven vials of wrath is associated (Rev. 12:11; 14:4; 15:3-8). The only time that redemption is associated with the Lamb is in Revelation 5:9 and 14:3,4. At the opening of the sealed book by ‘the Lamb that had been slain’ a new song was sung: ‘Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us (or them) to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us (or them) unto our God KINGS and PRIESTS: and we (they) SHALL REIGN on (over) THE EARTH’. Epi is translated ‘over’ in Revelation 2:26; 6:8; 13:7; 16:9 and 17:18. Another new song is recorded in Revelation 14:3,4 where once more redemption is found:
- ‘The hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth … these were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruit unto God and to the Lamb’.
These are exclusive and exceptional, but they are the only ones ‘redeemed’ so far as this book is concerned. Redemption in the evangelical sense, as deliverance from sin and issuing in forgiveness, does not enter into the record. We come then once again to Revelation 20:6. These ‘priests of God and of Christ’ who ‘reign with Him’ are not an earthly priesthood, they are heavenly, and minister and reign from their exalted position in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Heaven has its ‘Temple’ (Rev. 11:19; 15:5,6,8), its ‘Ark’ (Rev. 11:19), its ‘Altar’ (Rev. 8:3), its ‘Incense’ (Rev. 8:3,4) and consequently has a heavenly priesthood. The ‘overcomer’, his suffering, his endurance, his deliverance and his reign as a priest with Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem, is the theme of the Apocalypse, and limits the use of the word ‘millennium’ so much that every passage from either the Old or New Testament which is labelled ‘Millennial’ by countless commentators, must be challenged lest by a zeal without knowledge we rob the Millennium of its distinctive character and are found entertaining instead a vision of our own hearts. The ‘nations’, the ‘camp’ and the ‘beloved city’ are of necessity on the earth during the Millennial reign, but have no such distinct place in it as do these overcomers. We must consider their place in another article. Meanwhile to any who may be disturbed or even angry, we still commend the Berean spirit, ‘search and see’, for you may never ‘see’ if you avoid the ‘search’.
THE LITTLE SEASON
After the thousand years during which the overcomers reign with Christ, Satan will be let loose from the abyss, and go out to ‘deceive’ once more. We already know that much that is found in Genesis finds its sequel in the Revelation. Here, maybe, is just another of those illuminating correspondences. We may often have wondered at the sudden entry of the ‘serpent’ into Genesis 3, with his great deception. If, as we have already seen, ‘the deep’ of Genesis 1:2 which is translated ‘the abyss’ or ‘bottomless pit’ by the Septuagint, if that ‘deep’ had been his prison, could he not have been loosed at the close of some definite period (and see the minute exactness of the time in Revelation 9:15) to test and try the newly created Adam? However, this is not our theme. What are we to understand by the ‘little season’? The word that should be translated ‘season’ is the Greek word kairos, whereas in Revelation 20:3 the word is chronos, ‘time’.
Kairos in Revelation
- Rev. 1:3 ‘The time is at hand’.
- 11:18 ‘The time of the dead’.
- 12:12 ‘He hath but a short time’.
- 12:14 ‘A time, and times, and half a time’.
- 22:10 ‘The time is at hand’.
Two references stand out for consideration here:
- ‘Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a SHORT TIME’ (Rev. 12:12).
In this chapter Satan is given his full title:
- ‘The great dragon … that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth’ (Rev. 12:9).
‘The dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan’ shall be loosed out of prison when the thousand years are finished, and shall ‘go out to deceive the nations’ ‘for a little season’. He knew that he had ‘a short time’, he is let loose for ‘a little season’. The word used in Revelation 20:3 is chronos:
- Rev. 2:21 ‘I gave her SPACE to repent’.
- 6:11 ‘They should rest yet for a LITTLE SEASON’.
- 10:6 ‘There should be TIME no longer’.
- 20:3 ‘He must be loosed a LITTLE SEASON’.
These occurrences seem to explain one another. Thus, the word of the mighty angel, immediately preceding the voice of the seventh angel when the mystery of God should be finished, and the kingdom set up (Rev. 10:7;11:5) instead of declaring that ‘time’ should cease, which is contradicted by the references to time, days, nights, months and years that are found later in the book, to say nothing of the explicit statement, that there will be a kingdom lasting for a thousand years declares that there will be ‘space to repent’ no longer, and chapter 10 is immediately preceded by the words:
- ‘Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, not of their fornication, nor of their thefts’ (Rev. 9:21).
Under the fifth seal, where the martyrs are told to rest for a little season, we find similar words to those used in Revelation 20:4. These were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. The white robes given to them link them with those that come out of ‘The Tribulation, the great one’. He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them, and the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them (Rev. 7:12-17). This tribulation is the same as that of Matthew 24:21,29 which is followed immediately by the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory. This coming must be the same as that of Revelation 19. The reference to the throne shows that these overcomers are linked with the heavenly Jerusalem:
- ‘A throne was set in heaven … in the midst of the throne … four beasts (living creatures) … in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb … the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it’ (i.e. the New Jerusalem) (Rev. 4:2,6,8; 5:6; 22:3).
The fact that the Devil will only be loosed a ‘little season’ shows how rapid will be the deception of the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth. These nations will have kept as far from the beloved city as possible, and by their attack upon the camp of the saints and of the beloved city they reveal their innate, though covert, animosity. This time there will be no further respite ‘fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them’ (Rev. 20:9). The fact that such a trial should be necessary after the thousand years, declares plainly that the Millennium was no more sinless and perfect and secure than was the garden of Eden in the beginning. Man, tried in the most advantageous conditions, yielded, and man after a thousand years when the Devil shall be under restraint, manifest that no delegated authority, or advantageous environment is enough to bring in that perfect kingdom which the Son will deliver up to God even the Father. That kingdom follows the Millennium, but it is not the purpose of the Apocalypse to do more than lead up to it, which it does in its two closing chapters.
THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM
In the epistle to the Galatians ‘Jerusalem’ is mentioned five times. Three of these occurrences refer to Jerusalem, the literal city on earth, to which Paul went to see Peter (Gal. 1:17,18; 2:1). In the allegory of Galatians 4, Sinai in Arabia answers to Jerusalem ‘which now is’, but those who form the unity expressed in Galatians 3:28,29 belong to ‘Jerusalem which is above’ (Gal. 4:26). There can be no doubt as to the intention of that word which translates ‘above’ the Greek ano. ‘Filled up to the brim‘ (John 2:7). ‘Beneath … above’ (John 8:23). ‘In heaven above … in earth beneath’ (Acts 2:19), are some examples. When we are exhorted to set our affection on things above, we are also told that such things are (1) not on the earth, and (2) they are where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (Col. 3:1,2). Jerusalem which is above therefore is in contrast with the Jerusalem which is on the earth. It is not only heavenly in character, it is also heavenly in situation. When this city is mentioned in Revelation, it is called:
- ‘New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God’ (Rev. 3:12).
This feature is repeated in chapter 21:2 and 10:
- ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven’.
- ‘And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God’.
For the moment we leave the question as to when this city descends and consider the place that it occupies in the epistle to the Hebrews, the only other portion of the New Testament that speaks of it. This is found in Hebrews 12:22, where we read:
- ‘But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem’.
This, as in Galatians 4, is in contrast with Mount Sinai. This city is moreover inhabited by an innumerable company of angels, and angels, while they visited the earth on missions of blessing or judgment, are designated as ‘the angels of heaven’ in the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11 we see how the vision of this city influenced Abraham, for it is written:
- ‘These all died in faith … and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth … they seek a country … they desired a better country, that is, an heavenly … God … hath prepared for them a city’ (Heb. 11:13-16).
For this, Abraham was willing to be a tent dweller, ‘for he looked for a city which hath (the) foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Heb. 11:9,10). We learn from Isaiah that when God calls Israël to Himself as a woman forsaken, as a wife of youth, when refused, who for a little time had been under the cloud of wrath, and under the hiding of His face, He declares:
- ‘I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones’ (Isa. 54:11,12).
Here, this city is seen to be an earthly reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem, but must not be confused with it. One feature alone shows that the two cities are distinct. The gates of the one are of carbuncles, the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem were ‘every several gate of one pearl’ (Rev. 21:21), consequently there can be no confusing … … …