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The Coming Earthly Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 28, 2022 4:00 am

The Coming Earthly Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, Part 1

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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June 28, 2022 4:00 am

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This glorious paradise regained this kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, this one thousand-year millennial reign of the Savior over the earth is the fulfillment and the climax of all redemptive promise and the realization of the hope of all the saints of all the ages. In the last decade, we've witnessed some of the most devastating wildfires and hurricanes in recorded history. And yet, as terrifying as those events have been, they did come with some warning, or at least a little. Well, there's an event coming that, for many, will be the ultimate disaster, an event with not so much as a minute of warning.

And the question is, for you, what have you done to prepare? Are you ready for the imminent return of Jesus Christ? Well, now it's our joy to turn to the Word of God and most particularly to the book of Revelation, and we come now to chapter 20 in Revelation, the coming earthly kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is one of the most significant chapters in all the Bible. It is, in every sense of the word, a climactic chapter bringing us to the reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth in His coming glory in His kingdom. His kingdom is the climax, it is the culmination of redemptive history as it unfolds in this world.

And so we're really reaching the climax, the culmination of all of human history. This is a day that was described by the prophet Jeremiah in chapter 23 and verses 5 and 6 with these words, Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I shall raise up for David a righteous branch and he will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will dwell securely and this is His name by which He will be called the Lord our righteousness.

Behold, the days are coming. All of God's redemptive purpose since the fall of man culminates in the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ as it has been called paradise regained, paradise, paradise lost, paradise regained. This glorious paradise regained, this kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, this one thousand year millennial reign of the Savior over the earth is the fulfillment and the climax of all redemptive promise and the realization of the hope of all the saints of all the ages. Because at that particular time God will bring salvation and righteousness and peace to the very center of the universe.

It is at that time that Jesus Christ will reign fully as King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all creation. This thousand year kingdom is the end of human history, the end of the present universe as we know it. And after the thousand year kingdom is completed, is over, everything as we know it now in the created order will be completely destroyed because it has all been tainted by sin. Even though Christ is reigning, He is reigning over a renewed and regenerated and restored earth and universe, but not a recreated one.

And so it still bears the marks of sin. And after the thousand years is over, the Lord will destroy completely the universe and create a new heaven and a new earth, an eternal perfection unstained by sin, and that will become the everlasting kingdom. So redemptive history runs from the fall of man through this period of time until Jesus comes back in judgment, judges the world, sets up His kingdom. His kingdom lasts for a thousand years in a renewed and rejuvenated world.

And then the whole universe as we know it, even in its renewed state, is destroyed and makes way for the new heaven and the new earth untouched by sin of any kind, and that is the fullness of God's eternal paradise. Now it is this thousand year kingdom known as the Millennial Kingdom that is the theme of the chapter that we look at, chapter 20 in the book of Revelation. The final reign of the Lord Jesus Christ during that thousand years is in the city of Jerusalem on the throne of David over Israel as a nation and over the whole world. There are a couple of things that I need to say to you before we look at the text itself because, of course, this has been a theological battleground, this matter of the kingdom for years.

And I want to help you to get an understanding of why we believe and teach what we do. First of all, let me say that foundational to any understanding of the kingdom is to capture the chronological order of the book of Revelation. The passage fits into the chronology of the book. If you go into chapter 19 and verse 11, you have the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ comes at the end of chapter 19 that is described in great detail. He arrives in verse 16 as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is an immense battle that ensues.

He is the conqueror and the victor. The holocaust of that battle is described at the end of chapter 19 as the carnage lays all over the place and is devoured by birds. And then we read about the beast and the false prophet in verse 20 being thrown into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone and all the rest were killed with a sword which came from the mouth of the Lord who returned.

All the birds were filled with their flesh. So there you have the devastating judgment at the return of Jesus Christ. Over in chapter 21 in verse 1, I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth passed away.

Here you have the eternal state at the end of the kingdom. So you have the Lord Jesus Christ returning in chapter 19. You have the creation of a new heaven and a new earth in chapter 21, and in the middle you have chapter 20. Chapter 20 describes the thousand-year kingdom.

The chronology is very simple. You have a period of time called the Tribulation. It started in Revelation 6. It ended in Revelation 19.

It ends with the return of Christ and His total judgment of the ungodly. After that judgment, chapter 20, He sets up His kingdom. At the end of His kingdom, He creates the new heavens and the new earth. That is the simple, clear chronology of the book of Revelation and certainly is an interpretive key. Whatever you're going to do with this kingdom, you have to deal with the chronology that is here in the book of Revelation. And clearly the kingdom is placed between the great Tribulation, the return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation, and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth.

It fits right in between those events. Having said that this must be understood in terms of its chronology, I want to go outside the chronology and mention also that the details of the kingdom are only given in a summary fashion here in chapter 20. In fact, it's a very limited presentation. It gives us just some general perspectives here and does not exhaust by any means all that could be said about the character or the nature of that thousand years. And yet there is instruction about the kingdom itself throughout the Bible. In fact, if we were to just study all of the places in the Scriptures that deal with the kingdom, we would be at it for months and months.

It is scattered throughout the Old Testament and it is scattered throughout the New Testament. I have been in the process over the last several weeks of reading just one book in particular, one of several books which I've read through the years on the kingdom. I think the first book I ever read on the kingdom was Alva McLean's book, a tremendous book. And then there are other books on the theocratic kingdom and the theme of kingdom. Currently I'm reading a book by Herman Ritterbos on the coming of the kingdom, which is probably 600 single-spaced pages of intense preoccupation with this concept of the kingdom because it is replete from the beginning of the Old Testament to the end of the news. So it's everywhere and what you have in chapter 20 is not all that is to be said about the kingdom, but merely a placing of the kingdom in its chronology and highlighting some of the very important elements of it. What we're going to do in chapter 20 is use chapter 20 as an important framework and as we go through it, we'll touch some of the passages in the Old and New Testament that will enrich and expand our understanding of the nature of the kingdom.

There are what I would call many explanatory texts that delineate the character of the kingdom more than we have right here in chapter 20, but it frames for us a marvelous chronological skeleton on which to hang the flesh of the rest of what Scripture says. So remember now, chapter 19 closes with the battle of Armageddon, which is the culmination of the day of the Lord, which is a time of judgment in which the hand of God intervenes powerfully and publicly by the coming of Jesus Christ to destroy the ungodly who remain. In that war, the Antichrist and the false prophet lead the armies of the ungodly to battle with Christ and they all perish. They are all executed, all of them without Christ. It is a horror of a slaughter, as you see at the end of the 19th chapter, and then the Antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into the burning lake of fire where they will dwell forever with Satan and the demons and the ungodly from all the ages. Then, having executed judgment on the earth, the Lord Jesus renovates the earth. And remember, it's been being renovated during the Tribulation, right?

All kinds of horrible things have happened in the judgments of the seals and the trumpets and the bulls, and we've gone through those in great detail for months and months. But those, in effect, renovate the universe. You have the sky collapsing. You have things flying out of space. You have the earth in convulsions, both in the land and the sea and the fresh water.

You have all kinds of things catapulting into the earth, and there is a terrible, chaotic disintegration of the universe as we know it, and particularly the earth. And after the day of the Lord comes, apparently the Lord then does some more renovation. We remember reading, don't we, about the fact that He will carve a valley from the Mediterranean toward the Dead Sea, and a new river flowing through that period, or that location will turn the desert into a blossoming place. So there are a number of things that are going to reconfigure the world. Eden will be restored. It will be like the Garden of Eden again. Paradise will be regained. This renovated earth then will become the place where Jesus rules. He will sit on the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, that great city from which He will rule the world. He will be truly the God of that age and the whole world in all of its economics and all of its labor and all of its education and all of its social life and all of its morality and all of its understanding and learning and opinions and thoughts and ideas and concepts will reflect the mind of Christ.

It will be the opposite of a world like ours today which has as the God of this age Satan and everything in it reflecting Him. It is this very utopia, this golden age that men have longed for. From the remotest point of antiquity, men have dreamed of a golden age. They have longed for a utopia.

They have written about it. They have desired an age of righteousness and an age of peace and an age when oppression would cease and injustice would be gone and war would end and poets have written of it and singers have sung of it and politicians have promised to bring it. Prophets have predicted it. The world has cried for it, but it doesn't come until Jesus comes Himself.

By the way, that longing so strong in the human heart is one reason why people will fall victim easily to Antichrist because they will imagine that he will bring the long-awaited utopia. The true era of blessedness, however, cannot come until Jesus comes. This thousand-year kingdom then is the subject of the twentieth chapter. It is called by many names in Scripture. Just in the New Testament alone, there are verses that call it the regeneration, Matthew 19, 28, the times of refreshing, Acts 3, 19, the times of restitution, Acts 3, 21, and the dispensation of the fullness of times, Ephesians 1, 10. There are many more Scriptures on the subject of the kingdom age. In fact, there are more Scriptures on this subject than most all other subjects that the Bible deals with. In fact, you could argue that the kingdom is the key theme in all of Scripture, that all of Scripture really moves toward the fact that God rules, that God is sovereign, that the goal of redemptive history is an eternal kingdom in which God rules.

Everything points toward that. All through the Old Testament, vast numbers of passages deal with it, far too many, as I said, to cover in this message. You can go to 2 Samuel chapter 7 and read about the kingdom.

You can go to Psalm 2 and read about the kingdom. You can read about it in Isaiah 2 and Isaiah 11, Isaiah 35, and Isaiah 40 to 48. You can read about it in Jeremiah as we noted 23 and 33. You can read about it in Ezekiel in a number of places, chapter 34, for example. You can read about it in Daniel chapter 2, chapter 7. You can read about it in Hosea chapter 3, Joel chapter 3, Zephaniah chapter 3, or Zechariah chapter 14.

And those are but a brief smattering of samples where you can read about the kingdom. It was so much a part of Jewish thought. The Jewish writers in the post-biblical times used to talk about the malchuth shamaim. The malchuth shamaim is another...really a term for the kingdom, it's the term kingdom of heaven. Malchuth shamaim is a Hebrew phrase indicating God's coming world dominion. And even after biblical times, the Jews looked forward to the kingdom of heaven. They saw it as a time when God would exercise power over the heathen and when He would subject the world to Himself. The malchuth shamaim means the kingship of God is extended over all mankind.

It is fully realized. And the malchuth shamaim is a part of the prayers of Jewish people. It is the object of Jewish prayer since ancient days.

The Kadesh, for example, opens with these words, glorified and sanctified be His great name in the world He has created according to His own pleasure. May He establish His royal dominion and start His deliverance of His people. And may He bring His Messiah and redeem His people in the time of your life and in your days and in the time of the life of the whole house of Israel with haste and in a short time and thou shalt say, Amen. The Old Testament is so loaded with the anticipation of the coming kingdom of God on earth that the Jews continue to pray that it might come to pass. Someday God is going to reign over this earth and He's going to reign through the Messiah. And His reign rises out of His own sovereign nature.

It rises out of His own sovereign purpose. It was reflected in the garden before Adam's sin when God reigned. And it will be restored by the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God will reign again. It is really in the biblical doctrine of the kingdom that we have the Christian view of history. History is headed toward the reign of God. We find God exercising His sovereignty spiritually throughout redemptive history, but He will exercise it temporally in the coming earthly kingdom. God certainly exercised His rule in the garden before the fall and even after the fall, He exercised His rule over mankind in a spiritual sense by saving them from their sin. The kingdom of God is the sphere in which God rules by means of His sovereign power.

Now it is the sphere, of course, of salvation as well. So God rules spiritually now over the hearts of those who know Him by faith and that's been the case since His saving work began. There is a spiritual element of the kingdom that has existed since God started redeeming men. But this is not that spiritual kingdom of which we read here, but rather that earthly literal kingdom which comes at the culmination of human history.

Now let me just take you a step further by helping you to understand what is involved in this debate about the kingdom. If you just read the book of Revelation, you're going to come up with what is known as a premillennial view of the kingdom. That is to say that the Lord Jesus comes and sets up His kingdom. That is His coming is premillennial.

Millennium is simply a word for a thousand, a Latin word at that. So the thousand-year kingdom, premillennialists believe, follows the return of Christ. That is, Christ has to come and set it up. That is the chronology of the book of Revelation. And that has been the hope of the hearts of Jews, as I quoted to you from the Kaddish, the Jews have said to God through this prayer, come, come, come, bring your Messiah and set up your kingdom.

So they understood the Old Testament kingdom promises were connected to the coming of the Messiah and the kingdom could not come apart from the arrival of the Messiah, and then He would establish His reign. So we can say safely then that everything...everything up to chapter 20 is premillennial. The Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, the return of Christ, it's all been premillennial. Now chapter 20 is millennial and chapter 21 is postmillennial, the new heaven and the new earth. Now at this point, let me see if I can help you to understand the three views that exist about the millennium.

The first one, as I just mentioned, is the premillennial view. And that just means Christ will come before preceding the kingdom. Christ comes in person, visibly, publicly, at the end of God's wrath and judgment on the world to set up the kingdom. At that time, Satan is bound for a literal thousand-year kingdom.

The kingdom is set up on earth in the city of Jerusalem on the throne of David. All of that is based, and here's the key, on a literal interpretation of Scripture. All of that comes out of a literal interpretation of Scripture. If you just take what it says obviously, interpret it in the normal manner of interpreting, you'll come up with a premillennial view. As I said, the chronology of Revelation is explicit and the promises of the Old Testament about the kingdom identify the throne of David, the city of Jerusalem. They talk about a real kingdom.

They talk about a time of refreshing, of restitution, a time when Israel is in the land and prospering and the real desert blossoms like a rose, a time when the warfare and the animosity and hostility in the animal kingdom has ended, a time when people live prolonged lives and someone who dies at 100 dies as a baby, an incredible time, a time with a completely renewed and regenerated world. If you just take all of that literally, you come up with a premillennial view. And one of the compelling reasons to take it all literally is because there's no other way to interpret the Bible. Because as soon as you say you don't have to interpret the Bible literally, then what in the Bible don't you have to interpret literally? I mean, how do can you just say, well we don't interpret prophecy literally, but we interpret everything else literally on the basis of what? We maintain what we call a literal, historical, grammatical, contextual hermeneutic of interpretation because that's the only way that we can understand the Bible, to take it at its historical, contextual, linguistic, face value. And when you do that, you find you're drawn to be a premillennialist because that's the literal aspect.

Now one of the compelling things is this. The kingdom in the Old Testament is promised over and over and over and over to Israel. And when you look at the texts in which God makes that promise to Israel, there is also a corresponding negative promise. It kind of runs like this, when you obey Me, when you follow Me, when you truly worship Me, I'll bring you the kingdom. When you don't, I'll punish you, right? It's that old blessing and cursing thing.

And we only simply need to ask one question. When you go to a passage where the Lord promises chastening on Israel's disobedience and promises the kingdom when they obey, all we have to ask really is one question and the question is this. Did the promises of punishment and the promises of chastening and the promises of judgment on Israel come to pass literally? What's the answer?

Yes. I mean, they were all fulfilled in the actual literal nation of Israel. Now if all of the promises of judgment and punishment and cursing were fulfilled historically on the nation Israel, and that can be verified, if all of those were literal, then why would we imagine that those promises of blessing would be figurative, would be spiritualized? Now you have no justification for splitting your interpretive principle and saying, well all the curses are literal and all the blessings are figurative.

All the curses literally will be fulfilled and have been. We know that historically on the nation Israel. But all of the promised blessing will be fulfilled in the church and Israel has no future. That's one of the problems. The problem is really a hermeneutical problem.

That is to say it's an interpretation problem. If you just take the Bible at face value, take the chronology of Revelation at face value, you're going to come up with a real kingdom for Israel in the land, in Jerusalem, on the throne of David with a Messiah who comes out of the line of David reigning not only over Israel but over the whole world. You're going to have the apostles there. You're going to have the redeemed there of all the ages. You're going to have the glorious characteristics of the kingdom as they are clearly defined.

It's going to last a thousand years. It's going to follow the return of Jesus Christ because that's explicitly what the literal text yields. That's John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, with a look at the millennial reign of Christ. Today's lesson is part of John's current study on grace to you titled When Jesus Comes. Now John, talk for a minute to that person who hasn't spent a lot of time studying end times events but wants to get started.

Where should he go? And perhaps just as important, what pitfalls will he need to avoid? You know, I really believe a great place for a person to go to start to understand prophecy is to go to the end. Go to the book of Revelation. I know there are prophetic passages in the Old Testament. The book of Daniel has a lot of prophetic passages. The book of Ezekiel has prophetic passages.

The book of Isaiah has them. But everything sort of comes together at the end. Progressive revelation culminates in the book of Revelation. So I always suggest that if you want to get started understanding eschatology, last things, the future, go to the book of Revelation. That is why it was written. And it begins in chapter 1 verse 3, Blessed is the one who reads and understands this book. It is to reveal the truth.

I would love to help you with that. There is a one-volume commentary on the book of Revelation called Because the Time is Near. Because the Time is Near. This takes the two-volume, 800-page commentary and reduces it down to a couple hundred pages. It gives you a sweep through the book of Revelation, verse by verse, paragraph by paragraph. Once you've read through Because the Time is Near, you'll know what the book of Revelation is saying.

Sure, can you go in deeper and more depth? Right, you could, and you can get the two-volume commentaries if you want. But the book, Because the Time is Near, covers all 22 chapters of Revelation, verse by verse. 350 pages, and you can cover the book of Revelation. Titled again, Because the Time is Near, affordably priced. You can order it from grace to you very reasonably.

That's right. And, friend, if you have questions about the end times, if you're wrestling with doubt about what you face in the future, this book can answer those questions and help you experience the blessings promised in the book of Revelation. To get a copy of Because the Time is Near, contact us today. The book is available for $11 and shipping is free. To order, call 800-55-GRACE or visit our website,

The title again, Because the Time is Near. Order a copy online at or when you call us at 800-55-GRACE. And if you're looking to improve your understanding of God's word, whether it's the book of Revelation or any other passage of Scripture, let me encourage you to get our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible. It offers 25,000 study notes by John MacArthur, designed not only to help you understand the meaning of every verse, but also to apply it to your daily life.

It's an ideal gift to put in the hands of someone you've been discipling. To order the MacArthur Study Bible, available in the New King James, New American Standard, and English Standard versions, call 800-55-GRACE or visit our website, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Thanks for making this broadcast part of your day. And join us tomorrow when John continues his look at the thousand-year reign of Christ. That end times lesson comes your way with another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 05:57:02 / 2023-03-29 06:07:38 / 11

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