The Beginning and the End of the Golden Millennium

The Beginning and the End of the Golden Millennium

March 9th, 1986 @ 10:50 AM

Revelation 20:1-6

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
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THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF THE GOLDEN MILLENNIUM

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 20:1-6

3-9-86    10:50 a.m.

 

Now somebody said to me this last week, “Pastor, we miss standing up when we read the Book.”  Well, as you know, for years and years and years we have stood up reading the Word of God.  That comes from the Holy Scriptures: when Ezra opened the Book, all the people stood up [Nehemiah 8:5], so let’s do it.  Turn to Revelation.  Turn to Revelation.  Turn to the Book of the Revelation; now y’all are really here, come on, all right [Laughter].  I love that. The Revelation, chapter 20; chapter 20, Revelation chapter 20: we are going to read the first six verses.  This is the text of the message today: the glorious, golden millennium.  It is the climax of the nine sermons that I have prepared on the beginning and the end of the work of God.  This is the end.  Now, are you ready?  Chapter 20, the first six verses together:

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 

And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,

And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.  This is the first resurrection. 

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. 

 [Revelation 20:1-6]

 

Now we may be seated.  The Beginning and the End of the Golden Millennium, and to you who share this hour on radio and on television, it is a joy to be a part of our First Baptist Church in Dallas.  And this is pastor expounding the Word of the Lord.  To encompass so much in so brief a time is almost incredulously impossible.  But if we will lend our hearts and our minds to the Word of God, we can do it.

The millennium begins with the coming of our Lord in power from heaven.  The Lord comes with His angelic and saintly hosts during the battle of Armageddon.  In the nineteenth chapter of this Apocalypse, out of which we have just read, is presented first the beautiful, triumphant marriage supper of the Lamb.  And after the glory of that hour with the saints of all ages, the church, the bride of Christ, and the friends of our Lord, Old Testament saints, after that glorious hour [Revelation 19:7-10], the armies of heaven pour forth into this earth [Revelation 19:11-14].  It is a day of confrontation and final judgment.

The age does not end with a gradual, quiet, peaceful, merging into the kingdom of Messiah.  Rather, the age ends in a fury!  The entire earth is cast into the winepress of the fierceness and the wrath of Almighty God [Revelation 19:15].  And that tremendous confrontation between Satan who deceives the world and our living Christ is called the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 16:16].  And I say in the midst of that battle, the Lord comes down from glory [Revelation 19:11-14].  Now, the battle of Armageddon closes the great tribulation.  The beast, who represents godless government, and the false prophet, who represents godless religion, lead the world into this ultimate and final confrontation with God [Revelation 16:13-14].  Not forever will the Lord God witness the deception of Satan in this world.

One day coming, God will step into history in intervention and will bring to a conclusion and a climax the evil, and the sin, and the darkness, and the disease, and the hurt, and the pain, and the sorrow, and the death of this world [Revelation 21:4].  The entire world is brought together into that confrontation with God by—and I read from the sixteenth chapter of the Apocalypse, verse 13 and following:

I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

They are the spirits of demons, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty

. . .

And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Har Megiddon,  Armageddon.

[Revelation 16:13-16]

This is the climax of the great tribulation.

The tribulation begins with the rapture of the church, the taking, the catching away of God’s people out of the earth.  In the fourth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, John says: “I saw a door opened in heaven . . . And a voice from heaven saying, Come up hither” [Revelation 4:1]. And John was raptured into glory [Revelation 4:2], a type of the gathering of God’s church out of the earth.  That rapture can come at any day, any hour, any moment, anytime, even before I am done with this sentence.  There is nothing standing between us and that rapture when the Lord Jesus comes as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2], to steal away His jewels, His people [1 Thessalonians 5:2].

That is the beginning of the tribulation [Revelation 4:1]; seven years of the most darkened, universal, triumphant, iniquitous reign that mind could imagine [Matthew 24:21-22]; the earth without a Christian—the church is gone [1 Thessalonians 5:5]—an evil government led by the man of sin, the ultimate evil ruler in history [2 Thessalonians 2:3], and religion without God, subservient to this world and its kingdom ruler.  These lead the world into the awesome days recounted here in the Apocalypse, called the tribulation, three and a half [years], and the great tribulation, the last three and a half [years] [Daniel 9:27; Revelation 12:14].  Were it not for the intervention of heaven, this world would be bathed in blood and cast into the pits of death and of hell.

But I am remembering the experience of a man who picked up the Bible, and having not seen it before, turned to the last page to read how it comes out, and said, “God wins.”  That’s the way with us in this world of darkness and death.  God wins!  We do not lose!  The forces of our Savior are everlastingly triumphant.

Now when we come to the day that we read just now, the millennium, no one enters the millennium unsaved.  All who enter that final age are in Christ.  They are converted.  They are regenerated.  They are saved—all of them.  No one enters the millennium lost, unregenerated.  There are three great judgments that occur before we enter that final thousand years.  In the twentieth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet Ezekiel is describing the judgment of Israel, the Jews who are still alive and remain after the great tribulation.  There is a judgment of Israel.  And all of those who have accepted the Lord enter into the millennium [Ezekiel 20:35-44].  Second, there is a great judgment of the nations, the Gentiles.  That is described in the twenty-fifth chapter of the First Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew.  And those who are saved enter into the millennium [Matthew 25:31-46].  The third judgment is upon Satan.  There is a great, mighty angel that comes down from heaven and binds him into a bottomless pit with a great chain, and he stays there bound for one thousand years [Rev 20:1-3], and that enters into the millennium.

The word “millennium” comes from two Latin words, annus, the word for “year”—our English word “annual” comes from that Latin word annus, “year”—and the other, mille.  Mille is the Latin word for “thousand.”  So when they put the two together, “millennium,” a thousand years, it refers to the closing age of history.  There is an age that follows this present age.  This present age closes with the tribulation [Matthew 24:3-28].  And beyond the tribulation is this ultimate and final age of the presence and power of Almighty God [Matthew 24:29-31]. 

And in that age, in that millennial age, there is no death, there is no disease, there’s no unrighteousness.  Godliness is everywhere.  Satan is bound, and Jesus is King.  There has never been a civilization that has not dreamed of a golden age.  The beginning of the thought of an age of glory is lost in the dim mist of antiquity.  There is no literature that does not speak of this marvelous time that is yet to come.  Whether you read of it in Egyptian literature, or ancient Persian literature, or all of the literature of the East, or you speak of it in the Greek literature or in Roman literature, there is no nation or civilization that has not dreamed of a golden millennium.  Especially and particularly is that true—is that characteristic of the Holy Word of God.  Book after book, prophet after prophet, apostle after apostle will speak of that marvelous age and era that is yet to come.

In the first three hundred years of the history of the church, the doctrine of a millennium was most prominent.  There was a tremendously gifted Baptist preacher in Manchester, England in this last century by the name of Alexander MacLaren.  I quote from him: “The primitive church thought more about the second coming of Jesus Christ than they did about death or about heaven.  They were not looking for a cleft in the ground called a grave, but for a cleavage in the sky called glory.  They were not waiting for the undertaker, but for the upper-taker.”  Philip Schaff, who is the founder and editor of the great Schaff-Herzog Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, the great authority—long encyclopedic series of books—a preeminent church historian; in 1884 wrote, “The most striking point in the eschatological ante-” before, “Nicene Age [AD 100-325] is the …  prominent chiliasm.”  The Greek word for thousand is chilias, the Latin word is mille.  Chiliasm or millennarianism: that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years [Revelation 20:6], before the general resurrection and judgment [Revelation 20:11-15].

These are just typical of the historians who have gone through the first three hundred years of the Christian church.  The three hundred years of the first centuries of the Christian church were always millenarian; they were always chiliasticThey were centered around the belief and the persuasion that Jesus Himself was coming and would establish His kingdom on earth for a thousand years.  You have a little introduction of that in the closing word in the Corinthians letter: maranathaMaranatha was the way the Christians spoke to one another.  Instead of saying “goodbye,” they would say, “maranatha, maranatha, maranatha, the Lord is coming.”  What a beautiful way to greet one another!  Maranatha, the Lord is coming, the Lord is at hand [1 Corinthians 16:22].

Now when we look at that golden millennium, it has infinite and indescribably heavenly celestial blessing for—first, for Israel.  In the millennium, all of the sacred covenants that God has made with Israel will be fulfilled.  First, the Abrahamic covenant:  that they, the seed of Abraham, would be as the stars of the sky for multitude, and he would be the father of a great nation [Genesis 15:1-6; 17:5].  The Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled in the millennium.

Second, the Davidic covenant will be fulfilled in the millennium.  In 2 Samuel 7, God says to David, “Thou shalt have a Son who will sit upon thy throne forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end” [2 Samuel 7:12-16].  The Son of David, Jesus the Lord, will be the visible King of the millennial reign over this whole earth—the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant.

The third covenant that will be fulfilled in the millennium is the Palestinian covenant [Deuteronomy 30:1-10].  The Palestinian covenant is that the land of Israel will belong to His people forever and ever and ever.  That is their home.  It belongs to them.  All of that land that you call Palestine and above and beyond and either side of it—all of that—God in sacred covenant has promised to Israel, and they will be there.  They will inherit it.  They will be at peace in their land [Genesis 17:8; Ezekiel 34:28].

The last, fourth covenant fulfilled in the millennium for Israel is the new covenant, the new day, the new heart, the new spirit, described in the thirty-first chapter of the Book of Jeremiah.  A new heart will He give the people, a new soul, a new love, a new devotion, a new vision, a new service.  They will be a new and regenerated people, loving the Lord in their homeland [Jeremiah 31:31-40; Ezekiel 36:26].

Now, there are no less blessings for the Gentiles.  Blessings in the millennium for the Jewish nation, God’s chosen family, blessings for the Gentiles, for the nations of the earth, wonderful blessings, incomparably precious blessings for us [Acts 3:25].  I can imagine, now this is just imagination, I can imagine in that day a ride through the western deserts of America.  You could imagine it through the Sahara, you could imagine it through the Gobi desert of China.  Let’s just imagine it through the western deserts of America.  And as we ride, say, on a train, we look out the window, and there are beautiful, crystal clear streams, beautiful streams of water.  And we say, “How could it be in the desert such marvelous streams of water?”  And the reply comes, “The Lord reigns in Zion [Isaiah 52:7], and waters burst forth in the wilderness” [Isaiah 35:6].  And as we ride through the desert, there are beautiful verdant and emerald fields, surrounded by hedges of roses.  And we say, “How could such a thing be?”  And the answer comes from glory, “The Lord reigns in Zion [Isaiah 52:7], and the desert shall blossom like the rose” [Isaiah 35:1].  And we get off the train and go through one of the cities, and there are treasures open, gold and silver and diamonds.  And we say, “How could such a thing be unguarded, out of the bank vault in open view?”  And the answer comes, “The Lord reigns in Zion,” and every man does justly by his neighbor [Jeremiah 22:3].  And as we walk down through the streets of the city, we say, “Where are the asylums for the crippled and the lame?”  And the answer is, “The Lord reigns in Zion” [Isaiah 52:7], and “the lame shall leap like the hart, like the deer” [Isaiah 35:6].  And we say, “Where are these that are in institutions, and they’re old, and they are forgotten?”  And the answer comes, “The Lord reigns in Zion” and there’s not anymore age.  We do not grow old any more.  And as we walk through the cities, we say, “Where are the great munitions factories?”  And the answer is, “The Lord reigns in Zion,” and the nations have “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  They do not lift sword against nation anymore, and we do not learn war” [Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:3]. Think of the blessings that accrue to the Gentiles, to the nations of the world!  The whole creation is made anew [Matthew 13:41; Romans 8:22-24].  It is Edenic, as it was in the purpose of God in the beginning [Genesis 1:31].

And, of course, and above all, in the millennium comes to pass all of those marvelous prophecies concerning the exaltation and reign of our living Lord.  In the second Psalm, God says, “I give unto you the nations for an inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession” [Psalm 2:8]. In the second chapter of the Philippian letter: “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father” [Philippians 2:10-11].

What a wonderful world it will be.  No darkness, and no sin, and no disease, and no age, and no death, and no sorrow, and no pain, and no war, but the whole world yielding her beautiful increase in love and measureless devotion to our great Savior Christ Jesus.  What God hath purposed for those who love Him!  [1 Corinthians 2:9].

Now, the end of the millennium: to somebody like me, it is very strange on the surface how God allows Satan to be loosed out of his prison [Revelation 20:7].  Having bound him with a chain, having cast him into the bottomless pit, why doesn’t the Lord God leave him there?  [Revelation 20:1-3].  The millennium age is marked off with the loosing of Satan.  Here, “He must be loosed a little season” [Revelation 20:7].  And then again, “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to the deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth to gather them together to battle” [Revelation 20:7-8].  O Lord, why?  Why?  But as I study the Holy Scriptures and pray over it, “Lord, enlighten my mind, why?” the answer comes dynamically and reasonably.  God is always a God of reason, righteousness, fairness.  He is not out there somewhere doing things that are of an eccentric turn or definition.  So as I think through that and read God’s Word, it comes to me patently and plainly what God is doing.  In that thousand years, and when we enter the millennium, we enter in our natural bodies.  The Jewish nation converted enters the millennium in their natural bodies.  The Gentile nations that enter the millennium enter into the millennium with their natural bodies, and they live a thousand years [Revelation 20:4-6].  A child a hundred years old is looked upon as an infant, Isaiah says in chapter 65 [Isaiah 65:20].  We live a thousand years in that millennium [Revelation 20:4-6].  In that thousand years, there are uncounted millions of people who are born.  This generation, this generation, a thousand years, there are thousands, and thousands, and thousands and thousands who are born, born in the millennium, born in an era, in an age when everything is perfect.

The great underlying principle of God’s Word is this: no one, no one enters into that ultimate and final kingdom of God, the eternal state of God, heaven [Revelation 21:1-22:21], no one enters into it who has not been tried by fire [Hebrews 10:36; 1 Peter 1:7, 5:10].  No one.  No one.  In the garden of Eden, the Lord placed our first parents, but not without trial.  They were tempted and tried, and that’s why we belong to a fallen race [Genesis 3:1-6].  Adam and Eve were tried in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:1-3]. Look again.  When the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior came into this world, He was tried.  He was tempted by the devil [Matthew 4:1-10].  Even though He was the Son of God, He did not escape temptation.  Those words that you have translated in the King James Version: “If you are the Son of God, bow down and worship me [Matthew 4:9].  If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread [Matthew 4:3].  If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down the pinnacle” [Matthew 4:5-6].  Oh, you get the wrong idea.  What Satan said is, “Since you are the Son of God,” they knew each other before the world was created, “Since you are the Son of God, bow down…turn these stones…cast yourself” [Matthew 4:1-10].  Even the Son of God did not escape trial in this world.  May I point out just one other?  In the third chapter of the first Corinthians letter, Paul says all of our works shall come in judgment before God, for the Day shall declare it.  And every man’s work shall be tried by fire [1 Corinthians 3:13].  .  For the fire shall judge it; just avowing that no one—you, we, they—no one in the human history ever shall enter heaven without being tried, without being tempted, without going through the fire [1 Peter 1:7].  And that is why, after the thousand years, Satan is loosed [Revelation 20:7].  And he goes up and down this world as he is now, and he tries the nations of the world and he deceives them [Revelation 20:8]. 

You could easily ask, and it would be understandable, “How is it that these who have been born in the millennium, there is the Lord Christ, the King of glory, and the whole world is vernal, and verdant, and emerald, and perfect, and it yields its increase, and the nations are at peace, how is it that it can be said here that Satan loosed goes out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth, gathers them together against the Lord God?” [Revelation 20:8].  “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about the beloved city, Jerusalem.  And fire came down out of heaven and devoured them” [Revelation 20:9].  How is it that Satan could do that?  Now haven’t you said, and I’ve said it so many times I’m conscious of the repetition of it, “What we have here in this life is the same as up there, and the experiences we have are the experiences up there.  There’s not any difference.  We also are in the image of God [Genesis 1:27].  And we have a common denominator with the angels, and with the seraphim, and the cherubim, and the hosts of heaven, and saints up there with the Lord God, and with the Lord God Himself, and with Jesus.  We have a common experience.  And when it says here that after the millennium, Satan is loosed, and he goes out and deceives the nations of the world [Revelation 20:7-8], how could such a thing be?”

Well, why is it?  As you look at it now, how is it that Satan is able to deceive us?  Oh dear, let me just pick out one or two or three.  Do you ever ask yourself how in the earth is it that the Romans, that little group, that little group down there on the Tiber River, how did they conquer the world and create the greatest empire the earth ever saw?  How could they do it?  Well, if you read Roman history meticulously, minutely, if you do that, look at those people; for over three hundred years, there was not one divorce in those first beginning Roman people, not one.  They had a family life.  And they had a personal life that was above reproach.  They were a dynamic people!  And when you read thereafter of their conquering the civilized world, it is explicable.  Then Satan deceived them.  And Rome fell not because of the Hun and not because of the Vandal; Rome fell because it decayed on the inside.  Satan destroyed it.  Let’s take once again.  Do you ever marvel, wonder at those incomparable cathedrals in Europe?  I’m not talking about the great St. Paul in, say, London, I’m not speaking of Notre Dame in Paris, I’m talking about some of the littlest towns you ever saw—great, tremendous cathedrals that covered the skyline!  Where did they come from?  Nobody knows.  There is nobody in this earth who can tell you where those cathedrals came from because they were built by the love and the devotion of common, ordinary people, unnamed people, faceless people.  Europe had a tremendous dedication to Christ.  The great preachers, I could stand here and name them by the hour.  Great pulpits, mighty reformatory movements, Europe, Christian; I don’t exaggerate it when I say Europe today is sick.  It is sick!  They have lost their power.  They have lost their devotion.  And there is not an infinitesimal handful of people in Europe that even bothers to go to church.  That includes England, that includes France, that includes all Eastern Europe, includes Italy, includes the whole world over there.  Satan has deceived them and destroyed them!  Lest you think, “He’s talking about them over there, talking about them over there,” let me just say a word about America.  Sunday—Sunday used to be a holy day.  Did you know “holiday,” “holiday” is old Anglo-Saxon for “holy day.”  Holy day—holy day; this is the day we worship God.  This is the day when the Puritan, even though he had a gun or musket on his shoulder because of the savage, he took his family to church.  The whole frontier may have been wild and rough, but it honored the Lord.  America was built on Christian foundations.  All right, I want you to tell me, bless you, I want you to tell me if today you were having a great Super Bowl game, what day would you say we’re going to play it on?  What day would you guess?

[someone seated on the platform answers]  “Sunday.”

That’s right.  He’s a smart boy!  That’s exactly right.  If you’re going to have a great Super Bowl day in America, you put it down, they’ll play it on Sunday.  If you’re going to have a tremendous tennis tournament or if you are going to have any other kind of an athletic contest, if you’re going to have a baseball game, if you’re going to have anything today in America, put it down, they’ll have it on Sunday.  And the deterioration and the decay in American life is the fate and damnation of our future.  I don’t think these men are incorrect when they say unless there is a great revival in America and a great turning back to God, you’re going to see our nation drown in filthy movies, in violence on television, in the disintegration of the family life and the home life and the child life of our people.  Lord God in heaven, that’s what the Book means.  When he is turned loosed, Satan deceives [Revelation 20:8].  Now I’m just illustrating to you that it is not just a peculiar, eccentric piece of history here—he does it now.  That is his triumphant method that so tragically works among us.

As we look to God and pray to the Lord, God has some beautiful thing for us.  Do you notice he says Satan is loosed “a little season” [Revelation 20:3]? And the Book says he knows that his time is short [Revelation 12:12].  Not forever will Satan deceive our people and lead us into indescribable hurt and heartache and tears and pain.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that my heart goes out to the families and people who live in this weary world.  I just weep all the time.  The heartache they have; the broken home and the wife cries and weeps and is crushed, and all of the problems that arise in children.  No matter what you have done or tried, the disappointment and the hurt that arise in children, and the heartaches in the life of people who are striving and working, and nothing comes of it—they’re still in debt, they don’t know how to make a thing go, and they wrestle with so many inward problems.  I don’t condemn.  I’m not in the job or the calling of condemning.  I just don’t.  All I do is just weep and pray for people.  God help us.  We’re unequal; the Lord has to be close to us.

I have to conclude.  What I was saying is this is but for a season [Revelation 20:3], but for a little while, just so long a time, for he knows that his time is short [Revelation 12:12].  The millennial age is enmeshed into that eternal age of [Revelation] 21 and 22 when he sees a new heaven and a new earth: “For the old first heaven and the old first earth are gone away [Revelation 21:1] . . . And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,” the capital of all God’s new creation:

I saw it come down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband.

And I heard a great voice from heaven saying . . . Behold, I make all things new, new.

[Revelation 21:2-5]   

I love the songs about glory and the longing we have in our hearts for heaven.  Lord, Lord, what a beautiful hope and what an incomparable promise!

Oh, press on to the prize before us

when His beauty we’ll behold,

when the pearly gates are opened

and we tread the streets of gold.

When we all get to heaven,

what a glorious day it will be.

When we all see Jesus

and we sing and shout the victory.

[“When we All Get to Heaven”; Liza Edmunds Hewitt]

 

“Even so, come, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20].  And that’s the way God closed the Book.  Not in despair or in darkness, or in failure; God closed the Book in triumph, in glory, in promise.  “Even so, come, blessed Jesus.”

And that’s the hope of the Christian faith.  Beyond death is life, beyond the grave is the coming of Christ, and beyond this fading world is the new world yet to come [Hebrews 13:14].  May we pray?

Our blessed Savior, O Lord in heaven what a day that will be when Jesus’ sweet face, we shall see [Revelation 22:3-4].  Our Lord, may it be without loss of one, we are ready for His presence, lifting up our hearts, and heads, and eyes just to welcome Him.  O Lord, if we know our hearts, we are ready, any time, any day, any moment Lord, we are ready.  Bless this appeal.  Bless these who this day give themselves to that precious promise of our wonderful Savior.

And in this moment when we stand to sing, out of the balcony round, in the press of people on this lower floor, “Pastor, today I have decided for God and here I stand.”  May angels attend you in the way as you come.  Do it now, make it now.  And thank You Lord for the sweet and precious harvest, in Thy wonderful name, amen.  While we stand and while we sing.

THE BEGINNING AND THE END OF THE GOLDEN MILLENNIUM

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Revelation 20:1-6

3-9-86

I.          The beginning of the millennium

A. Begins with the return of the Lord(Revelation 19:11-14)

1.  He comes during the Battle of Armageddon, after the marriage supper

2. The age ends in fury – the entire world cast into winepress of fierceness and wrath of God’s judgment (Revelation 19:15)

B.  Battle of Armageddon closes the great tribulation(Revelation 16:13-16)

C.  The terrible tribulation begins after the rapture(Revelation 4:1)

1. Seven years of the most darkened, iniquitous reign imaginable – the earth without a Christian

a. “God wins”

D. No one enters the millennium unsaved

1.  Three judgments at the coming of Christ

a. All Jews who survive the tribulation (Ezekiel 20:33-38)

b. All Gentile nations(Matthew 25:31-46)

c. Satan bound (Revelation 20:1-3)

II.         The golden millennium

A.  Name

1. “Millennium” from Latin annus, “year”, and mille, “thousand”

2. Refers to the closing age of history(Matthew 24:3-31)

a. No more war, disease, death

b. Godliness everywhere

c. Satan bound; Jesus is King

B.  The hope, dream of a golden age is as old as the race

1.  Literature of all nations

2.  First 300 years of the church the doctrine of millennium most prominent

a. Alexander MacLaren

b. Philip Schaff(Revelation 20:6)

c. Maranatha – greeting of first century Christians (1 Corinthians 16:22)

C.  What it means is blessing

1. For Israel – the complete fulfillment of all the covenants God made with Israel (Genesis 12:1-2, 15:4-6, 17:5, 8, 2 Samuel 17:12-16, Jeremiah 31:31-40)

2. For Gentiles(Acts 3:25, Isaiah 2:4, 19:23-25, 35:1, 6, Micah 4:3)

3.  For the whole creation

4.  For Christ – prophecies come to pass concerning the reign of our living Lord(Psalm 2:8, Philippians 2:10-11, 1 Corinthians 2:9)

III.        The end of the millennium

A.  Marked off with the loosing of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3, 7-8)

B. Why is Satan loosed?

1.  Every man is given a choice; this includes those born in the thousand year period(Isaiah 65:20)

a. No one enters final kingdom who has not been tried by fire(Revelation 21:1-22:21)

i. Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:1-4)

ii. Jesus’ temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

iii. Paul says every man’s works will be tried by fire (1 Corinthians 3:13)

2.  Satan deceives

a. Ancient Rome – first 300 years no divorce; then decayed within

b. Europe – at one time was Christian; today sick

c. America – Sunday worship now just a holiday

C.  The triumph of God(Revelation 12:12, 20:3)

1. Millennial age enmeshed into eternal age(Revelation 21, 22)

2. Hymn, “When We All Get to Heaven”