Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:1-10)
That first silent night was suddenly shattered by spectacular sights and sounds, as angels said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” The heavenly messengers announced the fulfillment of the messianic promises of the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah called Jesus, “the Prince of Peace,” and said that in His reign the nations would beat their swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, with war and violence banished from the earth. Yet, as we end this Christmas season and stand on the threshold of a new year, we see a world filled with bloodshed and fear the threat of terrorism. Still, the child of God can submit such fear to the promises of a sovereign God and supplant them with faith in His supreme purposes. There may be horror today, but there is hope for tomorrow. Jesus is coming again and He will put things right in this world. That is what the twentieth chapter of Revelation proclaims.
This chapter commences with the seven-year tribulation period concluded. All the terrible judgments described in the bulk of the book reached their climax with the Lord Jesus coming with heaven’s armies to wipe out the Antichrist and his military. The global economic system of the Beast and the worldwide ecclesiastical system of the False Prophet have been destroyed and the demonically driven duo cast into the Lake of Fire. Next in Revelation 20:1-3, we read that the third member of that terrible trinity of terror—Satan himself—will be bound with chains and imprisoned in the bottomless pit. The world will be liberated by the Lord!
This will inaugurate 1000 years of heaven on earth (v.4-6). The church will reign with Christ—in all probability from the New Jerusalem which is suspended above the earth. We will have freedom of movement throughout the universe in our glorified bodies. John writes of the first resurrection. It is the first of its class—a resurrection to life. Blessed are all those of the first resurrection order for they are all those who have died in faith. The second kind of resurrection is that of the wicked who will be raised to stand before the Great White throne and sentenced to everlasting damnation (v.11-15). We say that these are two classes of resurrection in that several resurrections of the first order have already occurred at this point—Jesus, a handful of Old Testament saints with Him, the dead in Christ at the rapture of the church, and the two witnesses in Revelation 11. As the millennial reign of Christ begins the tribulation martyrs are raised, and I believe the rest of the Old Testament saints as well. The latter group will reign, I think, from the old Jerusalem—possibly with David sitting on his former throne as Christ’s regent on earth.
We will need to reign, for as strange as it seems, even in this environment, the evil hearts of humans will need to be governed. Those who survive the tribulation and are converted will repopulate the earth and their offspring will need to be saved. Many will reject Christ and at last, when Satan in released, will follow him to their doom (v.7-10). Such is the depraved heart of man! I am glad I am part of the first resurrection class!