The intention of God throughout the ages is that His rule should be established on earth, with the Lord Jesus in control. The present declining situation in the world will never be reversed by the efforts of men nor through the preaching of the Gospel. We have seen that the totality of political and religious apostasy can only be removed by divine intervention and judgment. The nations will be caught in their final act of rebellion, when the Lord in flaming fire will take “vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ”, 2 Thess. 1. 8. He shall “break them with a rod of iron”, Psa. 2. 9, when He goes forth to “fight against those nations”, Zech. 14. 3.
The nations, as distinct from their armies, will then be judged as the sheep and the goats, Matt. 25. 31 -46, the sheep entering into the kingdom of the Lord established on earth. This was revealed to Daniel. The image would be completely destroyed; “the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth”, Dan. 2. 35. “The God of heaven (shall) set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed”, v. 44; Luke 1. 33. After the fourth beast in Daniel 7, “one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, … and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom … an everlasting dominion”, vv. 13-14.
This introduces the millennial reign of the Lord Jesus, Rev. 20. 1-6, with Satan bound, and those who had been martyred during the great tribulation partaking in the “first resurrection”, and reigning with Christ and with the Church for a thousand years. The Old Testament prophets described this period of peace and prosperity in detail, as seen from the point of view of an onlooker on earth. Revelation 21. 9 to 22. 5 show what will take place above, when the bride (the Lamb’s wife) and the holy Jerusalem will be glorified there with the Lamb in heavenly glory and display in their rule over the earth. Yet some men deny that there will be this era of peace under the divine control, even though all the prophets looked forward to it, and though it was foreshadowed by the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus as “the Son of man coming in his kingdom”, Matt. 16. 28. Such an attitude on the part of some men effectively keeps the world under Babylon, the beast and the false prophet.
Scripture is very brief in its solemnity about events after the millennium. The Lord’s kingdom is eternal, but not in its aspect as existing on the first earth of the present creation. At the end of the thousand years, Satan is released, Rev. 20. 7, and finds that the hearts of many men are ready to join allegiance with him, although they had enjoyed prosperity under the divine rule of the Son of man. Such men will be ready to encamp against “the beloved city”, which we can only interpret as the city of Jerusalem on earth, to suffer its last conflict with besieging armies, this having been its portion over four thousand years of human history. Intervention from heaven eliminates the armies, with Satan cast into the lake of fire.
The great white throne now takes place with the end of the created heavens and earth. Well might believers be thankful that, through the grace and redeeming work of the Lord Jesus, they will never appear before this throne. Its end in the second death is the solemn completion of God’s dealing with unbelief and sin in men.
The eternal state, described briefly in Revelation 21. 1-7, is the final abode for the Lord’s people redeemed through precious blood. “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them”, v. 3, finalizes what had been His purpose in the tabernacle and temple of old. The Lord Jesus had dwelt with His disciples in the days of His flesh, and the Spirit now with believers, both as to their bodies and as to local assemblies, 1 Cor. 3. 16; 6. 19. But what a change it will be when the former things of pain, tears and death are done away with permanently. This is the blessing and prospect of all saints today.
The author trusts that this brief survey of prophecy will enable readers to see these events of the future in clearer display. With this framework of prophecy, every reader may be able to fit in nearly every prophetic reference in the Scriptures. But mere interest and curiosity should not be fed; the implications are clear. The beast, false prophet and Babylon have shown what God hates and what He will judge. They stand in opposition to His will, and to the Person of Christ. Men love these things today, no doubt often dressed in refined garments, but still having the same character as discerned by the standards of the sanctuary. It thus behoves Christians to keep themselves unspotted from the world, James 1. 27; Jude 23, to warn men “to flee from the wrath to come”, Matt. 3. 7, and to know that we “wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come”, 1 Thess. 1. 10.
Fuller details of the momentous events described in this series will be found in the author’s verse-by-verse exposition of the book of Revelation entitled From Now to Eternity—the Book of Revelation, now being produced in Canada.