The First Resurrection
So we have entered upon the millennium. I said yesterday that I believe the millennium will be the visible expression of our Lord’s reign on earth. He will vindicate his Sonship before all, and believers will reign on earth with him in a glorious kingdom.
John tells us that he “saw thrones and seated on them were those to whom authority to judge was committed.” As I said yesterday, our Lord indicated that his disciples would sit on thrones and judge (Matthew 19:28), and the Apostle Paul Corinthians 6:3) and Revelation (2:26; 3:21) agree. I cannot say for certain that this is who we see judging here in Revelation 20, but it could possibly be. John then tells us that he saw “the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God.” These are no doubt the martyrs who down through history have sealed their testimony to Christ with their own blood. Perhaps these will have a special assignment in that kingdom. John also mentions “those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or hands.” I have argued in these devotions that the mark of the beast is simply the unregenerate soul while those with God’s seal are those who are born again, for all those born again of the Spirit must refuse the world’s ways, turn away from temptation, and endure trial before returning home. Very few are called to be martyrs, so I cannot see the millennium as being comprised only of them. All of the redeemed throughout the ages will reign with Christ during that most wonderful time of peace, righteousness, and justice, for “they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” This is what John calls the “first resurrection”: “Over such the second death [hell] has no power.” What is more is that the saints “will be priests of God and Christ.” This they already are (1 Peter 2:9-10), but then it shall be an even greater and holier priesthood without the decadence of sin and shame for our sinful natures will be completely healed. But over whom shall we reign? We need not think that all the wicked were killed at Armageddon.
But we do know that our Lord will rule the earth with a “rod of iron.” Indeed, there is no other way that there be peace on earth but that God Himself bring it. And for all we know, the millennial kingdom may long outlast the Church age we are in! (1000 years represents a long, completed time.) This is not a hedonistic paradise, mind you, but a time when God’s law will be proclaimed and obeyed. Many sinners will come to saving faith; some will not. But more about that with tomorrow’s devotion.