The Glorious Reign of the Son
The twentieth chapter of Revelation is the most controversial chapter in the entire book, and one of the most controversial in the whole Bible. It contains a few verses about a one thousand year reign of Christ on earth. It has come to be called “the millennium.” The sticking point is how to interpret what this millennial reign of Christ on earth means. Many take it symbolically – that we are living in that reign right now as Christ rules in our hearts. Indeed, this has been the majority view throughout much of Church history, beginning in the fifth century.
But an earlier view from the second century held that the millennial reign of Christ was his literal reign on earth after his coming. This view has regained much popularity in various forms in the last two hundred years or so, and I confess to leaning towards it, though I will not quarrel. This view states that upon our Lord’s return, Satan will be bound and Christ will set up a kingdom on earth in which he will indeed rule the nations with a rod of iron. It will be a kingdom of peace in which righteousness and justice flourish, such as that described in Isaiah 2:1-4 and 11:1-9. The saints will be raised from the dead, in what is called the first resurrection, and will reign with Christ as is indicated in Matthew 19:28-29 and 1 Corinthians 6:2.
Questions may arise as to why. Why a reign of Christ on earth with his people? Why not just go on to heaven? Because the invisible reign of Christ in our hearts cries out for his visible reign upon the earth. His kingship and lordship demand vindication from the humiliating treatment he received. His majesty must be acclaimed by all people (Philippians 2:10-11). And finally, a kingdom of righteousness and justice is exactly what he promised, which only he can bring. Such a kingdom would humble the nations and expose them for the imposters they were when compared to his glorious rule. It will be the fulfillment of all of our hopes and dreams on earth.
But sin lies deep in the heart of man. Even after a long and peaceful reign of our resurrected Lord, a reign of righteousness and justice, Satan, who is unbound and allowed to roam, is still able to deceive men. The final battle is described in which God rescues his people. Then is the general resurrection in which the books are opened. No one is excluded. All are judged who were not included in the first resurrection. The separation is final. And finally, our archenemy, the devil himself, is consigned to the lake of fire to join the beast and false prophet. Then, it all really begins!