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

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
June 29, 2022 4:00 am

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

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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A literal kingdom of one thousand years after Christ's return and before the new heavens and new earth is the subject of this chapter, and any other viewpoint just gets so confounded that you can't find your way through here without some magic. You may remember that when 1999 wound to a close, many people were caught up in a craze that became known as Y2K, preparing for everything from computer software glitches to, as some people seem to believe, the end of the world. Now, the year 2000 came and went without much real change, but a millennium is coming that will change everything and will lead to the end of the world.

I'm talking about the thousand-year reign of Christ. The question is, when will it begin, and will you be around for it? John MacArthur helps you sort out those issues in his study titled, When Jesus Comes, on Grace to You. And here's John now with today's lesson. 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. 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. 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. So we can say safely then that everything...everything up to chapter 20 is pre-millennial, the tribulation, the day of the Lord, the return of Christ, it's all been pre-millennial. Now chapter 20 is millennial and chapter 21 is post-millennial, 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 pre-millennial 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 pre-millennial view. Let's turn to a second view, it's called post-millennialism. This view flourishes generally, historically it flourishes in America and it flourishes in America when it's been a long time since we had a big war.

Now that may seem a little facetious, but it's pretty much true. It sort of dies out when we enter into a world war because then the post-millennials have a problem because post-millennialism says this. Pre-millennialism says things are going to get worse, the post-mills say things are going to get better. And things are going to get better and better and better and better and we're just going to go waltzing into the kingdom and Christ isn't going to come till the end of the kingdom, till the kingdom's over. He's going to come at the end.

You say, who's going to set it up? We are. That's the post-mill view. We, the church, will bring about on the world a period of righteousness. Christ will not be here literally, only spiritually working through His church and by His power in His church, He will triumph over the world of men, He will triumph over the world of demons, and He will bring about through His church really a kingdom.

And His personal return will occur at the end of that period. And they wouldn't be literal enough to say it's an actual thousand years necessarily, but it's a period of time. You say, is that based on a literal interpretation?

No. It's based on a combination of literal and non-literal interpretations and it utterly and totally ignores the chronology of the book of Revelation. You're, I know, familiar with this even though you may not know it, post-millennialism today has taken on the form of kingdom theology.

Sometimes it shows up in a spiritual warfare mode. That is to say, we're going to conquer the demons and we're going to conquer Satan and we're going to bind Satan and we're going to bind the demons. And by this exercise of the church's power, we're going to take the authority of Satan and all of his demons and we're going to push them down and we're going to stand on their necks. And we're going to bring the work of Satan to a halt and we're going to take all these demon powers captive and we're going to bring the kingdom. That's the kingdom theology concept. That's espoused by the people in the signs and wonders movement who believe that they are going to enter a spiritual warfare with Satan and all of his demons and conquer them by virtue of the power in the church.

And that's going to bring the kingdom. It's a form of post-millennialism and it has a lot of different nuances according to whoever you might be talking to. So it's hard sometimes to define this as a single thing because it can take many forms. So the pre-millennialist says things are going to get worse. The post-mill says things are going to get better. That's why it only flourishes when we're a long way from a major war because it seems to me that in my reading, as soon as a major war, a world war hit, the post-mill people sort of disappeared because obviously things weren't getting better.

And even today, though they are vocal and they are writing and speaking very rapidly and on all their fronts, it doesn't seem to be flying if you look at the trends in our contemporary world. Now the third view and the one that's probably more worthy of our attention than the post-mill view is what's called Ah-millennialism. That means those are the folks who don't believe in any millennium. They don' the way, the post-mill would be both literal and non-literal in the sense that they literally believe there will be a kingdom. They literally believe there will be a time of peace and righteousness and all that, but it is also figurative because they don't think it's Israel. They think it's the church and that it's not with Christ on the earth, but only on the earth mediating through His church. It's not a literal Jerusalem and it's not a literal throne of David, but it is an actual time of righteousness and peace.

So it's kind of a combination of the literal and the non-literal. Now you come to the Ah-millennialist and the Ah-millennialist basically says there is no kingdom, or better and more fair, all the kingdom there is is what we've got now. Things are going to stay the same. The pre-mill says they're going to get worse. The post-mill says they're going to get better.

The Ah-mill says it's going to stay the same. It's how it is and it's just the way it is and it's just going to be this way and it will keep being this way and Jesus will come. Because they say the kingdom is now. The kingdom is the church age. The kingdom is now. Christ is ruling now.

Christ is here. And at the end of this period of time, it's not a thousand years, they would completely reject a literal interpretation of Revelation with regard to prophecy. They either would try to put it into history or make it all figurative. They would either take the book of Revelation and make it describe the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. or they would just make it figurative, a non-literal interpretation of kingdom passages.

They would say all the promises of the kingdom, for example, to Israel in the Old Testament, all the promises of the kingdom to Israel will be fulfilled in the church in the church age right now. We are the Israel of God. There's no future for Israel. God will never revive Israel. They'll never be redeemed as a nation. They'll never go back into a kingdom. There never will be a real throne in Jerusalem.

That's all figurative stuff. Everything is fulfilled in the church. So as my mentor, Dr. Feinberg, said one time when we were together in Jerusalem at the Prophecy Conference right next to the Knesset, and Teddy Collet, the mayor of Jerusalem, was there, and David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister, was there. And Dr. Feinberg got up after a speech had been given by a well-known amillennialist, and he said, I regret to stand on this platform and have to acknowledge that we have come all the way from America to announce to you, Jewish people, that all of the curses were given to you, but all of the blessings will be given to us.

It seems like a long trip to make that announcement. But that is the amillennial view, that things are going to stay the same because this is the kingdom, this is all there is of it. The reign of Jesus Christ is figurative.

Christ is here ruling, and He'll just keep ruling in a spiritual sense until finally He comes and takes us to heaven, and it'll all end in one moment. Now that tends to be the view of most Reformed theologians. Some of them are what we would call historic premill, and I might comment on that in a moment. But traditionally, Reformed theology, which is great theology, great soteriology, great pneumatology, sometimes not so great ecclesiology and usually not so great eschatology, but that is the tendency to be the view of the Reformed and also the Puritan era. And part of the reason for that is that by the time, or at the time that they refined and defined their theology, the eschatological debate had not really engaged itself. There's a progress of dogma, I don't want to lose you on this, but the doctrines of the Scripture have defined themselves through history. Church councils and writers and scholars and authors have dealt with doctrinal issues and they've moved through the various doctrines until coming ultimately to a study of eschatology which has really been in the last couple hundred years. And so the Reformation and the Puritan era kind of came before the crystallizing of eschatology as the church hammered out its doctrine. Remember now, the church was in the Dark Ages till about 1500. And so from 1500 to the current time, there was the development and understanding of all the great doctrines of Scripture and the last to come along were the doctrines of last things. And in the time of the Puritans and the Reformers, they weren't nearly as fine-tuned as they are today.

So when you read Puritan literature or read Reform theology, very often you find it to be amillennial. And you want to ask this question because this is what the amillennials would say, has the kingdom already come? Is it here? This is it? Are we in it right now?

Is this as good as it gets? Is this paradise regained? Is this the rule of God?

Is this Eden? Or should we join the postmills and say it's just going to get better and better and better and better? Frankly, either one of those two views is untenable if you interpret Scripture literally. Frankly, postmillennialism has nothing in the Scripture to commend it...nothing.

I remember when Dr. Feinberg wrote his book called Premillennialism or Amillennialism and the few postmillennialists were insulted because he didn't even deal with it. It's very hard to deal with in the Bible since it doesn't really have any Scripture to commend it. And it's sort of a mishmash of a literal and a non-literal approach. Amillennialism spiritualizes the text to make its case. And spiritualizing the text opens Pandora's box because once you deny the literal, if you say a thousand years doesn't mean a thousand years, then what does it mean? Well you say it means this and you say it means that and you say it means this and somebody else says it means the other and we have absolutely no way to tell.

Once you've escaped the literal, there is no way to confine it. Covenant theologians who espouse amillennialism have one major problem that is introduced in our text. And just so we can say we did it, let's read the first three verses. Revelation 20 verses 1 to 3, I saw an angel coming down from heaven having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old who is the devil and Satan and bound him for a thousand years and threw him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him so that he should not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were completed. After these things, he must be released for a short time.

Let me ask you something very plain and very straightforward. Where is Satan during the kingdom? In one word, bound, out of the picture. Now the amillennialists say we're in the kingdom. If we're in the kingdom, Satan is what? Bound. That doesn't make sense. And the postmillennialist says we might be in the kingdom.

And things are getting better and better. But the clear word of Scripture is that during the time of the kingdom, Satan is bound. Verse 3 says he is bound until the thousand years are completed and then he's released. Satan is bound during the kingdom. Now that poses a rather significant problem because...and of course they'll use Matthew 22 to 29, actually 29 says about binding a strong man, and here's what they'll say. They'll say, well at the cross...this is an the cross, Satan was bound.

Is that true? In the first place, they're immediately cast into a figurative role because the cross is more than a thousand years ago. So that ignores the one-thousand-year period. And furthermore, how in the world can Satan be bound when Acts 5-3 says Satan entered the heart of Ananias and Sapphira and made him lie? And how can Satan be bound when 2 Corinthians 4-4 says that he is blinding the minds of those who do not believe? And how can Satan be bound when Peter says he goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour in 1 Peter 5-8? And how can he be bound when 1 Thessalonians 2-18 says that the devil hinders the ministers of God? And how can he be bound when he says he goes around disguised as an angel of light along with all the rest of his ministers?

And if he's bound, then the binding is useless. Revelation 20 could never describe the present age. The god of this world is alive and moving. He's everywhere.

Chapter 20 has to be future. Well, millennialists who try to tell us this is the kingdom have a difficult time explaining Satan being bound. And if he is bound, why are these folks going around binding him again? And the post-millennialists...and the post-millennialists who want to say we probably are in the kingdom, it sure feels good, you know, we won the election in some city. Or you know, we knocked off some demons the other night in our warfare session, would say we might be in the kingdom.

If that's true, then is Satan really bound or are all of his demons bound? Just another question that comes to my mind, it's basic to interpret numbers the way that we would normally interpret them. If you go into the book of Revelation, for example, here's a little exercise. Everywhere in the book of Revelation, numbers are used literally.

It talks about seven churches having seven ministers, seven literal churches. The book of Revelation refers to twelve tribes. Does it mean twelve? Yes. And twelve apostles, does it mean twelve?

Yes. And it refers to ten lamps, five months, one-third of mankind, two witnesses, forty-two months, two hundred and sixty days, twelve stars, ten horns, sixteen hundred stadia, three demons, five fallen kings. Now what are we going to do with all those numbers? Say seven isn't seven, five isn't five, a thousand isn't a thousand, twelve isn't twelve. What...what...then what are they?

And who do we turn to to tell us? All those numbers are used in a normal sense. One says, I saw this many kings in the vision and I saw that many horns and I saw that many crowns and I saw that many churches and that many letters and this many months and that many days and this many years and this many people and a fourth and a third and two-thirds. The only symbolic numbers in the whole book of Revelation are in chapter 1 verse 4 where it talks about seven spirits and it refers to the sevenfold work of the Spirit of God or the number 666 in 1318.

But apart from that, all other numbers are used in a normal sense. Now that doesn't prove that the one thousand years is literal, but it forces those who say it isn't to prove it isn't. There's certainly nothing in this text. By the way, the term one thousand appears six times. And what is there in the text that would make us make it symbolic? Whatever in the Scripture is the word year used with a number that is not literal?

The number one thousand is not used in Scripture ever as a symbol. From the earliest post-apostolic era, the church understood the millennium of Revelation 20 as a literal one thousand years. Papias, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian all gave evidence of this fact in their writings. And the church taught nothing else till the fourth century. And then Augustine popularized it even more. A literal kingdom of one thousand years after Christ's return and before the new heavens and new earth is the subject of this chapter.

And any other viewpoint just gets so confounded that you can't find your way through here without some magic. Now another note, some premills emphasize the soteriological character of the millennium. That is the political aspect of it, or the Israel part of it, the prominence of Israel are subordinated and they're called historical premillennialists. They want to emphasize this, that there is a kingdom, that Christ comes there premill, but they see that kingdom not in reference to Israel and not in reference to necessarily the rule of Christ and the political aspect of it. They see it more as a period of the expression of God's great saving power.

They would be called historic premill. But a more accurate view of premillennialism is that the kingdom is not so much a soteriological period, it is now, but that then it is a theocratic rule. It is the fulfillment of the promise of God to David and Israel. Christ will literally reign in Jerusalem.

Israel will be prominent in all the nations ruled by Christ and blessed. Now the bottom line in all this discussion is to take a literal interpretation of the Scripture and simply follow the chronology of Revelation and you're going to come up with a premillennial view. And John Walvoord is correct when he suggests the only reason for denying such a conclusion would be to avoid being a premillennialist. So as we come to this passage, the golden age arrives. I just had to get all that out of the way because I know some of you would be sitting there and wondering whether you even accepted this kingdom, so I wanted to clarify that for you. We come in the chronology and with a literal interpretation and we take Scripture at face value because I'm sure not going to tell you some secret meaning.

This is it. As the kingdom opens, the temple has been built, the nations of the earth are coming there to worship the true God and Christ. Prosperity reigns from pole to pole in a paradise regained. The Garden of Eden is worldwide, it's back. Poverty is unknown.

No is injustice. Everyone has his heart's desire. Oh, it's an incredible, incredible time. We don't know exactly what it will be like. It could be a time with no prisons, no hospitals, no mental institutions, no barracks, no saloons, no houses of ill repute, no gambling dens, no homes for the aged and the infirm. The bloom of youth is on everyone's cheeks.

Cemeteries are crumbling relics of the past and tears are infrequent. The wolf and the lamb, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, the child and the scorpion are all at peace. Jesus has come, the golden age has dawned, the earth is filled with the knowledge of God. Jesus is Lord. He rules the nation with a rod of iron. His reign is righteous and the nations obey. Sin is visited with swift and certain judgment.

It's everything that you could never even imagine beyond your wildest dreams, that kind of life. This is the kingdom. This is what we live for. This is what we wait for.

This is what we hope for. And beloved, this is what is really coming and this isn't it. We're not in it. And believe me, Satan is not bound. We're waiting for him to be bound, but he can't be bound until Jesus comes. Father, we say with John, even so, come Lord Jesus. Thank you for that great hope that we too will live in the regeneration, in the restitution, in the glories of the kingdom, and then on into the new heaven and the new earth.

What a blessed hope. What a privilege for which we give you all the glory and praise in Christ's name, amen. You're listening to Grace to You and the verse-by-verse Bible teaching of John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. In today's lesson, look forward to the glorious return of Jesus Christ, part of John's study titled When Jesus Comes. John, you were using some technical theological terms today, for example, post-millennialism and amillennialism. Why is it crucial for all believers, not just pastors and Bible scholars, but everyone in the church, to understand what those words mean?

Well, if the end of the story means anything, you need to understand those words. I mean the end of the biblical story. I think we all would line up and say, we believe in the Genesis account. We believe in Genesis 1 and 2 and 3 being literal declaration from the Creator Himself, a divine revelation of the reality of creation.

And we would take our stand on that, and we would fight for that. It's amazing how many people will do that with Genesis, but just throw the dirt in the air when they get to the end of the story, as if God was very confused at the end and couldn't make Himself clear. He was pretty clear when He was talking about six days and then seventh-day arrested, but He really got muddy in the book of Revelation, and that's why there's so much confusion. But I think God was clear about the end of the story.

I think you would assume that He would intend to be, because His glory is all bound up in that. And the single greatest element of the end of human history is the reign of Jesus Christ on earth. Unfortunately, if you believe in amillennialism, you're saying there is no millennium, so there is no earthly kingdom. If you believe in postmillennialism, you're saying, well, this could be the millennium, because He's coming after we bring the millennium. Well, by any measure, if this is the millennium, it doesn't work with everything the Old Testament says about the millennium and everything the New Testament says about the millennium. And anybody who is going to try to claim that Jesus Christ is reigning in the earth today is going to collide with Scripture all over the place. So that leaves you with millennialism. That is that there is coming a millennium, a reign of Christ, but He comes before that millennium and sets it up.

Millennium is a Latin word for a thousand. So there is an earthly kingdom. Christ comes to set it up.

We don't set it up and hand it to Him, and you can't just dismiss it. I think the specificity of the book of Revelation is remarkable. And I've said this before, that I think Revelation is probably the easiest book in the New Testament to interpret chronologically, because the flow is so obviously chronological, to know exactly what's going on. And I tried to put that in a book called Because the Time is Near.

That book was kind of an afterthought. You probably remember that, because we had written the commentaries on Revelation, Volume 1 and Volume 2, and I thought, we need to condense all this. I did a single message, you remember, a jet tour through Revelation, and showed people how you could interpret it that way. So the book, Because the Time is Near, will cover all 22 chapters of Revelation, verse by verse. It will show you how clearly Revelation reveals the end time, the end plan of the Lord. You can understand it, 350 pages, affordably priced, available from grace to you. That's right, and friend, this book can take the intimidation out of the Bible's final 22 chapters, and help you truly comprehend the book of Revelation.

So if you, or perhaps someone you know, assumes Revelation is too difficult to understand, I want to encourage you to pick up a copy of Because the Time is Near. Place your order today. To order by phone, dial toll-free anytime, 800-55-GRACE, or purchase Because the Time is Near at

And like many of John's books, Because the Time is Near is also available in Spanish. Again, to order a copy in English or Spanish, call 800-55-GRACE or go online to When you go to our website, remember, there are thousands of resources available there free of charge, Whether you want to listen to radio broadcasts you may have missed, or if you have questions about marriage and parenting, or how to honor Christ at your job, or how you can minister to a loved one who's suffering, you can search thousands of John MacArthur's sermons, daily devotionals, blog articles, Q&As, and you'll find a resource that can help meet your spiritual needs. Our website one more time, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson. Keep in mind, Grace To You television airs this Sunday on DIRECTV Channel 378, or you can watch it online at And then join us tomorrow when John continues his look at what life will be like when Jesus comes. Be here for another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-29 01:02:36 / 2023-03-29 01:13:50 / 11

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