Messianic Kingdom P4: Will the Messianic Kingdom end? If so, how?

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The Messianic Kingdom Bible Study

Part 4: Will the Messianic Kingdom end? If so, how?

by I Gordon


We've been looking at a time that is as close to perfection as this earth will have ever seen since the fall of mankind - a time called 'The Messianic Kingdom'. That is, the Kingdom of the Messiah - Earth's golden age. It will be the first time since Adam and Eve dwelt in peace in the Garden that righteousness will prevail on this planet.

So far we have looked at the following:

1. How will the kingdom come in?

2. What will the kingdom age be like?

3. What is the believer's role in the kingdom?

This leaves only a couple of questions remaining. We've spent a lot of time in the Old Testament as we investigated the first three questions because most of the detail concerning this kingdom was given to the Old Testament prophets. There were however two questions that cannot be answered in the Old Testament and that's where we will complete this series.

The two questions the prophets cannot tell us the answer for are:

1. How long will the kingdom age last?

2. And if it does come to an end, how will it end?

So in this study we are going to read three main passages to answer these two questions - How long will it last? How will it end? Before we do that, let me just throw one separate question out there... Why does their need to be a Kingdom age on earth? Why is God going to do that?

Why a Kingdom age?

When God created the world, He put Adam and Eve in charge of this world. They were to have dominion and rule and reign on this planet and God himself walked with man in the Garden. It was how it was meant to be. Obviously the fall changed all of that. Yet the kingdom age shows that God's plan cannot be defeated. The first man may have been deceived and disobedient but the second man, the Lord Jesus could not. And don't think Satan didn't try his tricks once again. Jesus was tested in all things yet was without sin. So the kingdom age shows that God cannot be defeated. It restores all that was lost and puts back into place the conditions and relationships that were meant to exist right from the start. Our history begins with Paradise lost but ends with Paradise restored. [1]

So... how long will the Messianic Kingdom last?

As mentioned earlier, we can't go to the Old Testament prophets for this piece of information. They described the characteristics of the kingdom age in great detail but they didn't see how long it would last. In fact quite often they would use terms like 'many days' but that was as descriptive as the duration of this age would get. The book of Revelation alone tells us how long it will last.

Revelation 20:1-7 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (3) and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (4) Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. (7) When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison...

From verses 2-7 we have 6 verses and each verse repeats the same length of time that this period goes for... one thousand years. It is repeated 6 times in 6 verses. Do you think God is trying to tell us anything? I have a small sneaky suspicion that He is trying to tell us that it will last 1000 years! I may be a little slow, but if you tell me something 6 times I would hope I would get it!

There are some in the church who just interpret these scriptures symbolically. They don't believe that Jesus will reign for 1000 years on this earth. To them this passage is already being fulfilled in this current church age. But, as others have pointed out, ' If Satan is currently chained up; it must be a really long chain!' The fact is that Revelation 20 has not yet been fulfilled. Revelation 20 obviously follows on from Revelation 19 and the events of Revelation 20 follow on chronologically after the second coming of Jesus as described in Revelation 19. And correct me if I'm wrong but I haven't seen Jesus return yet. The events described in Revelation 20, including the repeated number of 1000 years, should be taken literally if the scriptures are to have any meaning. [2]

One question down, one to go!

So the length of the Messianic Kingdom is pretty clear. It is 1000 years. That's why it is called the 'Millennium' - a name derived from the Latin 'mille' meaning thousand. What about the second question... How will the kingdom end? This is where things get interesting and to answer this we need to look again at how it starts.

Revelation 20:1-3 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (3) and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed

Verse 1 starts with Satan being thrown in prison... And at long last! Look briefly at the names and imagery used of the enemy in these first few verses. Firstly he is compared to two creatures - a dragon and a serpent and these creatures represent the two forms of attack that Satan uses.

Dragon - fierce, powerful, known for its ability to attack, harm and destroy. This represents the form of physical attack Satan can use. We see an example of this in the book of Job in the many ways that he was assaulted.

Serpent of Old - This takes us back all the way to the garden where Satan came in the form of a serpent. He was sly, deceitful, cunning, and deceptive. The serpent came putting questions into the minds of Adam and Eve saying 'Did God really say...' Satan, in the form of the serpent, loves to mix truth and error in a poisonous cocktail. The last days before the return of Jesus Christ will see the attack of both the dragon and the serpent but it will start with the serpent. It starts with deception. [3]

As well as the imagery given in the two creatures above, two separate names are listed:

Devil - means 'accuser'. He is the accuser of the brethren as Revelation 12:10 tells us.

Satan - means 'adversary' and reminds us that whatever form Satan takes, whether it is as a dragon or an angel of light, he is still and will always be, the adversary.

Satan is not currently in the abyss. He is not currently chained up. The Bible tells us that in this current age we are to ' Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.' (1 Peter 5:8) But if you are going to have peace, joy and righteousness on planet earth then the first thing that has to happen following the return of Jesus is the imprisonment of the great adversary. And seal that jail shut nice and tight so that he can no longer prowl, no longer devour and no longer deceive. A 1000 year sentence will give Satan lots of time to do absolutely nothing but think!

Isaiah saw this imprisonment too!

This thought concerning the imprisonment of Satan at the start of the Messianic Kingdom is also stated in the Old Testament through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 24:19-23 the earth is broken asunder, the earth is split through, the earth is shaken violently. (20) The earth reels to and fro like a drunkard and it totters like a shack, for its transgression is heavy upon it, and it will fall, never to rise again. (21) So it will happen in that day, that the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high, and the kings of the earth on earth. (22) They will be gathered together like prisoners in the dungeon, and will be confined in prison; and after many days they will be punished. (23) Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders.

Isaiah 24 is often called the 'little apocalypse'. As passages go it is certainly on the scarier side! It is a full on passage really. It starts with the conditions on this earth nearing the return of Jesus. The whole earth is described as being pulled and weighed down with something. That something is sin. So much so that the whole earth is said to reel to and fro! After it falls, it says that the host of heaven on high (fallen angels, demonic spirits) and the kings [4] of this earth will be gathered together and confined in prison. It is a parallel passage to Revelation 20. It closes with a brief description of the Messianic Kingdom saying that the Lord will reign in glory from Jerusalem. But let's concern ourselves with this imprisonment. The fact is that Satan and his demons know that this day is coming. Let's look at an example from the life of Jesus.

Luke 8:26-33 they sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. (27) When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. (28) When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don't torture me!" (29) For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains [5] and had been driven by the demon into solitary places. (30) Jesus asked him, "What is your name?" "Legion," he replied, because many demons had gone into him. (31) And they begged him repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss. (32) A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into them, and he gave them permission. (33) When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

It is always good when you are reading accounts such as this in the Gospels to see if the other gospel writers have added anything extra. Mathew records this verse but adds the following in bold: ' Matthew 8:29 and they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"

From this we see that the demons knew that they had 'a time'. They knew that there was a set time for which they were allowed to go about their business of deceiving the nations. Not only this, but they also know where they are going to go after this! We see in verse 31 above that begged Jesus not to throw them into the abyss. They knew that that fate awaited them but didn't think it was currently the time for that.

Back to Revelation - The Second coming of Satan

So how does the Messianic Kingdom age end? Well, not how you would expect. There is a twist at the end of the story! The Messianic Kingdom ends with what some have called the Second Coming of Satan. He has been gone for a long time but after 1000 years of peace and harmony, Satan is let out. When Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder and original president of Dallas Theological Seminary was asked why he thought God would let Satan out again, he said: "If you will tell me why God let him loose in the first place, I'll tell you why God let him loose in the second place."

But God had and has a purpose for both. And what do we find with this prisoner who has had 1000 years to just think... Has he seen the error of his ways? Is he now a reformed character?

Revelation 20:7-8 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.

Um... no! What do we learn from this?

1. Satan cannot change. People sometimes say 'what would happen if Satan repented and turned for forgiveness to God? Listen - there is no 'good side' to Satan. Jesus said that he is ' a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. ' (John 8:44) There is no chance of Satan repenting for there is no trace of goodness in him.

2. Never underestimate the ability of Satan to deceive. Now there is easy deception [6] and there is hard deception. Never under-estimate the ability of Satan to deceive even the most tried saints. This is hard deception. There will always be measures of truth mixed in with the error just as there was with Adam and Eve. He can even quote scripture to defend his case as he did with Jesus. Jesus said of the last days that if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived.

Hebrews 3:12-13 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. (13) But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

3. Never underestimate the depths you find in the human heart. The heart of unregenerate man doesn't change. It is crazy that God can once again give mankind the perfect environment, with the Lord Jesus dwelling among them once again (as He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden before the fall), and still they will believe the lie of the Devil and rebel against the commands of God. Truly Jeremiah spoke when he said 'the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things - who can know it?' That is one of the great reasons that God will have the Millennium. Mankind has always believed it is generally good and it is just our surroundings and experience that taints us. 'He just had a bad upbringing.' 'He just didn't have any good role models.' If this passage teaches us anything it is that mankind can have the most perfect environment, the most perfect role models and still the problem of the wickedness of the human heart will be front and centre given the opportunity. It shows the depth of the sinful nature that man can live in perfection and still rebel!

Every age or dispensation in Bible history (be it the age of innocence, promise, law, grace or the kingdom) has ultimately ended in some kind of failure. What does this teach? The depth of the fall of mankind! It also screams out mankind's absolute need for the new birth and the life of Christ in us, so that we may be filled with a new nature and be a new creation! But praise God that He has foreseen this failure of mankind,and has planned a glorious future for those that trust in Him.

Revelation 20:9-10 and they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (10) And the devil that deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

How does the Messianic Kingdom end? It ends with the deception of Satan, and the partial rebellion of mankind. But ultimately it ends with the victory of Jesus against Satan and all who would walk in his ways. At the end of this Messianic Kingdom Satan will once and for all be judged, being thrown into the lake of fire, and never again will he deceive or harm mankind again. Let it be known that though Satan may plot and man may scheme, it has all been foreseen and foretold in advance and Jesus will win! [7]

After these days we see a new order instigated which scholars call 'the eternal state'. But that is another topic!

[1]  Mark Hitchcock, in his book 'The End' gives the following story which illustrates this. The great German composer, Johann Sebastian Bach, sometimes slept more than he should have and his kids had a unique way of waking him up. They would begin to play a composition but when they got to the last note they would stop. They wouldn't play the last note. It worked like a charm - he would always get up. He would get out of bed and go to the piano and play the last note. He couldn't stand to leave it hanging there incomplete and unfinished.

Hitchcock writes: 'In the same way today we are all waiting for the last note on the final page of God's song of victory. God will not leave His great composition without striking the final note. The final note is the messianic kingdom of Jesus Christ.'

[2]  J. Vernon McGee says concerning Revelation 20 that 'To spiritualize this passage is to disembowel all Scripture of vital meaning, making the interpretation of Scripture a 'reductio ad absurdum' (a reduction to absurdity).The thrones are literal; the martyrs are literal; Jesus is literal; the Word of God is literal; the Beast is literal; the image is literal; the mark of the Beast is literal; their foreheads and their hands are literal; and the thousand years are literal. It is all literal. A thousand years means a thousand years. If God meant that it was eternal, I think He would have said so. If He meant it was five hundred years, He would have said so. Cannot God say what He means? Of course He can, and when He says a thousand years, He means a thousand years.'

In like manner, John MacArthur points out that: ' There is nothing in the text to render the conclusion that "a thousand years" is symbolic. Never in Scripture when "year" is used with a number is its meaning not literal.'

So let the word mean what is says and things fit in perfectly.

[3]  Of course in many countries, especially evident in Islamic countries, there is already terrible physical persecution and martyrdom. I certainly don't want to downplay that in any way. But when you read Bible prophecy about the Antichrist in the last days, it is evident that he will, under Satan's power, first try to deceive the world into believing that he is the leader they need to solve the world's problems. Many will see him as the Messiah. It is later, when people have been deceived and are starting to say 'peace and safety' that the persecution and attacks begin. He comes first as the serpent, then the dragon.

[4]  It is interesting that this scripture tells us that the fallen angels and the 'kings of this earth' will be thrown into the same prison together. Who are these kings? Not completely sure.

[5]  This man, with the power of the demons possessing him, was able to break the iron chains! John MacArthur comments on this saying: 'Here is a demon-empowered man who is so powerful, so strong, so indomitable that the best chains of men can't bind him. The point being, Satan's demons can break the chains of men, but they cannot break this chain in Revelation chapter 20. Satan himself can't break the chain of God that is used to bind him.'

[6]  You may have heard about the man who, having injured his shoulder in a bus accident, was claiming a large payout from his insurance company. The assessor asked the man to lift his arm as high as he could now. The young man gingerly raised his arm to shoulder level, his face distorted with pain. 'Thank you,' the assessor said. 'And now, could you show us how high you could lift it before the accident?' The young man eagerly shot his arm up above his head. He lost the case. That's easy deception.

[7]  You've probably heard the following story but I'll add it anyway.

There was no gym on the seminary campus, so the Bible college students played basketball in a nearby public school. The janitor, an old black man, would wait patiently until the seminarians had finished playing. Invariably he sat there reading his Bible. One day one of the students went up to him and inquired, "What are you reading?"
The man answered, "The Book of Revelation."
With a bit of surprise the student asked, "The Book of Revelation? Do you understand it?"
"Oh yes," the man answered. "I understand it."
"You understand the Book of Revelation?! What does it mean?"
Very quietly that old janitor answered, "It means that Jesus is gonna win."