FOUNDATIONAL FRAMEWORK. PART 56
Foundational Truths: The Bible is God’s self-revelation.
God is the Eternal, Sovereign Creator; all that He creates is good.
Man is a responsible agent, held to a moral standard.
Sin originates within a person, separating us from God.
God declares one righteous by faith alone, apart from works.
The glory of God is the centerpiece and goal of all existence.
God’s glory is maximally realized in the promised, coming Kingdom.
The past few editions of notes have been seeking to bring a clear and credible understanding to the parables that Jesus provides in Matthew 13. To say that these teachings are difficult to interpret and often abused, with many reading into the parables things that are not there, would be a severe understatement. The best commentary on the Scriptures is the Scriptures, and so we look to God’s Word for direction, clarity, and right-thinking about these teachings.
The immediate issue at hand is the interpretation of the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matt 13:36-43), in particular the outcome of the events in place: the “stumbling blocks” and “those who commit lawlessness” being gathered up by the angels and thrown into the fire and those who are declared to be “righteous” and who “will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matt 13:43).
The basic conclusion when considering the timing of the contents of Jesus’ teaching in these parables is that they deal with the time of the 1,000 year reign of Jesus Christ on Earth, also known as the Millennial Kingdom. During that time (age), both righteousness and evil will exist side by side, even though Satan is locked away (Rev 20:2-3). The sin nature will still exist in those who have been physically ushered into the Kingdom. Those “gathered up and burned with fire” (Matt 13:40) and those who “shine forth as the sun” (Matt 13:43) are the two groups meeting their deserved ends at the close of the Millennial Age.
The Remnant of the Jews Rescued at Christ’s Return (Rom 11:25-27).
In Romans 11:25, Paul tells his readers something that was previously not known, but was now being revealed (a mystery) and is presently taking place: namely, that the Jews were experiencing a “partial hardening” until the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” This explanation is a result of the Jewish leaders’ rejection of Jesus as their Messiah (Matt 12:24), resulting in the postponement of the kingdom until a future time. This is consistent with the present time when “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it” (Matt 21:43).
At the time of the writing of Romans, and even into this present day, we are living in the Church Age and the Gentiles (by and large) have been commissioned with being Christ’s witnesses (Acts 1:8) and making disciples (Matt 28:18-20). This calling and opportunity is by the grace of God alone. Israel was to serve as the megaphone of God to the surrounding nation, demonstrating His goodness and grace by the way that they lived in fellowship with Him (Deut 4:4-8). In rejecting Christ at His first coming, the opportunity to display the goodness and grace of God was removed from Israel as a nation and given to a brand new entity, being a body unto itself with Christ as its Head (Col 1:18), existing as “one new man” (Eph 2:15) by faith in Jesus Christ which is known as the Church. This should not cause us to conclude that the Church is the “New Israel,” or that YHWH is done with Israel as a nation. It simply means that the channel of blessing by which God is operating in the world has temporarily switched from a national people (Israel, the Jews) to a transnational gathering (the Church, made up of Jews and Gentiles who have believed in Christ). Paul makes this clear in his argument in Romans 11:1-36.
To sum it up briefly (and it is well worth taking the time to work through this passage), God is not done with Israel (11:1, 11). Israel’s rejection of the Messiah is due to their “unbelief” (Rom 9:32; 10:21; 11:20, 23). However, God, in His infinite mercy, has a remnant at all times in history so as to bring the Abrahamic promises (Gen 12:1-3) to completion (Rom 11:2-6). Most of Israel, with the exception of those who believed at Pentecost, and were, therefore, brought into the Church (Acts 2:37-38), as well as those who would also believe as a result of this initial preaching (ex. Acts 5:14, 6:7), stumbled over Christ, and did not believe in Him (Rom 9:32-33). However, the majority of Israel being in unbelief does not nullify the promises of God toward them (Rom 11:1, 11). Instead, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has come to the Gentiles (Rom 11:11), who by believing become part of the Church. With God employing the Church as the new channel by which His Name would be preached to the world, He is in effect making Israel jealous, seeing that those who are not Israel are in fellowship with God, being used for His purposes (Rom 11:11b).
Paul uses the example of naturally cultivated branches (Israel) that were broken off because of their transgression in killing the Messiah (Rom 11:12), and showing that the Gentiles are uncultivated wild olive branches that have been grafted in to the purposes of God so that they may partake of the richness of fellowship with God (Rom 11:16-18), again so as to make Israel jealous (Rom 11:14). Such jealousy was to arouse belief so that they would be grafted in once more (Rom 11:23b).
In the meantime, until the natural, cultivated branches are grafted in again, the uncultivated wild olive branches are not to be arrogant because of their current usefulness to God (Rom 11:18), nor are they to be conceited (Rom 11:20b) or God will break them off as well (Rom 11:21). It is important to observe that only “some” of the natural branches were broken off (Rom 11:17), meaning that there is still a remnant that is faithful unto God and who have believed in Jesus Christ. Paul uses himself as an example of this (Rom 11:1b), and we have already mentioned the examples stemming from Pentecost and the founding of the Church. At the present time, one would consider Messianic Jews as those who have believed in Christ and are now a part of the Church.
Israel, as a nation, is on the backburner of history until the rapture of the Church (1 Thess 4:13-5:11). Then comes the 7-year Tribulation Period when the Jews will be at the forefront of history again. Though it is a tumultuous time, Romans chapter 11 is clear that there is a remnant of Israel that will be both physically and spiritually saved and brought into the Millennial Kingdom. This is not to discount the idea that some Gentiles will enter into the Millennial Age in physical form as well, but this does not seem to be of any prime importance in this passage. This “salvation” finds the Jews believing in Christ and being ushered into the kingdom in their physical bodies. It is clear from the surrounding context of Romans 9-11 that what makes a Jew part of the remnant is that they are believing during the Tribulation (Rom 9:32; 11:20, 23). This leads us to Romans 11:26-27.
…and so all Israel will be saved (national and spiritual rescue); just as it is written (Old Testament understanding),
“The Deliverer (Jesus) will come from Zion (Heaven),
He will remove ungodliness (destroy rebellion and unbelief) from Jacob (Israel).
This is My covenant (contract) with them (the believing remnant),
When I take away their sins” (Jeremiah 31:31-33, the New Covenant)
This quoted portion is taken from Isaiah 59:20-
“A Redeemer will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord.
While it is not completely clear as to when this happens, the best explanation for how the remnant of Jews comes to believe in Jesus Christ as her promised Messiah is when He rips through the sky to rescue her from the battle that is taking place in the valley of Miggido (Rev 16:13-16). While Christ has already paid the price for all sin of all time on the cross (John 1:29), the forgiveness of sins has not been issued to Israel because she has been in unbelief (Rom 11:20-23). Upon His return, Jesus Christ will purify Israel by removing all who do not believe (Rom 11:26b). Thus, the remnant will be saved.
3. The Rebellion Against the King (Rev 20:1-21:8).
With the King of kings returning to earth, it is time to establish His kingdom. First, an angel appears with a key to the “abyss.” This also occurs in Revelation 9:1-2, 11; 11:7; 17:8; and 20:1 and it is sometimes translated as “the bottomless pit.” The angel is also carrying a great chain which he uses to bind Satan. Satan is locked away in the bottomless pit for a period of 1,000 years.
The Millennium serves as the time when Jesus Christ will rule perfectly over an imperfect earth. This should be understood as a literal 1,000 year time period, especially in light of the repeated mention of “1,000 years” given 6 times in Revelation 20:2-7. Walvoord writes,
There is no good reason for taking the thousand years in other than their literal sense. Even Augustine, living in the fourth and fifth centuries, though he denied many other aspects of the literal reign of Christ on earth in his attempt to accommodate it to the interadvent age, was favorable to the concept of a literal thousand years. It was only after the second thousand years of the interadvent age had passed that questions began to be raised concerning the literalness of this event in an attempt to harmonize it with the interadvent period. It is evident that much has to take place which will require time, including the repopulation of the world after its decimation in the great tribulation.
We must remember that the One World Ruler (the “man of lawlessness”- 2 Thess 2:3) and the False Prophet have been cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 19:20), but sin is still prevalent on the earth due to the indwelling sin nature. Those who were not destroyed at the return of Jesus Christ are the believing remnant of Jews who will be bodily ushered into the time of the Millennium. We understand this from what we have seen in Romans 11:25-27. Those who believed in Jesus at the end of the time of grace will be brought, in physical form, into the Millennium.
Satan is detained so that “he might not deceive the nations any longer” (20:3). This is exactly what his business has always been on Earth. Satan is a deceiver of the nations and is the one who keeps mankind from receiving the things of God (Matt 13:19; 2 Cor 4:4; 2 Thess 2:9-10). In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares we are told that the enemy of the man who sowed good seed came during the night while “his men were sleeping” (Matt 13:25) and sowed tares among the wheat, and “went away.” The fact that Satan “went away” (aperchomai- “to go away (from a place), to depart”) corresponds perfectly with his absence during the Millennial Reign of Christ.
We are also told in Revelation 20:3c that Satan will be released for a short time.
With verse 4, we find our attention drawn to the establishment of thrones with ones seated upon them whom authority to judge has been given. For anyone who is familiar with the Gospels, this may bring Matthew 19:28-30 to mind:
And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.”
This is the time of the literal Kingdom of Christ, and those who proved faithful at the Judgment Seat of Christ, He has granted for them to rule alongside Him during the Millennium (1 Cor 3:11-15; 2 Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10-12). Remember, Paul writes, “if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Timothy 2:12). At this time, those believers who had been killed during the Tribulation for their refusal to worship the beast and hold fast to Christ are also raised (they came to life) and they also reign with Jesus Christ for the Millennial Reign. I do not believe that these Tribulation Saints go to the Judgment Seat of Christ. Because of their refusal to capitulate in the face of a world system that will be desperately worse than anything that we could imagine, they are given positions of authority because they “loved not their lives, even unto death” (Rev 12:11).
The idea that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” has posed some problems. Who, exactly, is John referring to? Thomas writes that “the better option is to limit ‘the rest of the dead’ to the wicked who are physically dead (the rest of the righteous dead besides the martyrs, having been raised earlier to join in reigning with Christ).” The mention of the present topic being the “first resurrection” seems to be in contrast with the second resurrection, which is the resurrection of the dead and consists of their judgment (being unregenerate people), occurring at the end of the 1,000 year reign of Christ. This judgment, known as the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-15) ends in the Lake of Fire.
Since all believers have been resurrected by this point, verse 6 makes much more sense. The second death only has power over those included in the second resurrection. The second death has no power over those of the first resurrection. This gives a great deal of confidence to the believer in Christ. One day, we will be resurrected to meet Him in the air, and we will be with Him always (John 14:3; 1 Thess. 4:17).
Revelation 20:7-10- At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan is released and will “deceive the nations” all over the earth (Rev 20:3). An interesting phrase is brought to the text: “Gog and Magog.” The word “Magog” is found in Genesis 10:2 and Ezekiel 38:2. Some believe that “Magog” refers to a nation, while “Gog” refers to the king of that particular nation. Overall, there seems to be much confusion about these terms because we simply do not know enough about them.
The best understanding here seems to have a great deal of separation with the text of Ezekiel 38. It seems that “Magog” is more than likely an elaboration of the idea of the “four corners of the earth” (Thomas, Walvoord), meaning that this is speaking of the far reaches of the nation to which Satan goes about tempting.
The NKJV Study Bible records that “Gog and Magog was a common rabbinical title for the nations in rebellion against the Lord, and the names recall the prophesied invasion of Israel in Ezek. 38; 39. Some hold that the battle of vv. 8, 9 is the one spoken of in Ezekiel, but there are major differences as well as similarities in the two passages.” Tom Constable writes, “The phrase ‘Gog and Magog’ (v. 8) evidently refers to the world’s rulers and nations in rebellion against God. Gog, the ruler, and Magog, his land, probably have symbolical significance as well as literal meaning much as Babylon does, and they signify Messiah’s enemies. People will come from all over the world to rebel against Christ (Ezek. 38:3–6). It seems quite clear that the total invasion by Gog described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is not in view here, though part of it is.”
Walvoord writes, “In describing the nations, the term ‘Gog and Magog’ is used without any explanation. From the context it would seem that this is not the same event as that described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 where Gog and Magog are prominent; and the battle which follows is entirely different and separated by at least a thousand years from that of Ezekiel’s prophecy.” All of these explanations fit perfectly with what Jesus was teaching in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, specifically in regard to the differences between the “sons of the kingdom” and “the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38b) becoming clearer at the time of the harvest (Matt 13:41a). At that time, the sons of the evil one will be fully manifested and will mount a rebellion against the King of kings.
Satan is released from prison (Rev 20:7). Those who follow after him are multitudinous. We may ask the question: “Who are the ones that he is leading to rebel against the perfect rulership of Jesus Christ?”
Those believing Jews (and possibly some Gentiles) who enter into the Millennium in physical form at the end of the 7-year Tribulation (think back to Romans 11:25-27) will have many offspring over a period of 1,000 years. All that these offspring have ever known is the perfect rule of Jesus Christ and the sin that only their flesh is capable of doing, which is met with the swift justice and perfect correction of the reigning Messiah (this is the idea behind the “rod of iron”- Ps 2). With the release of Satan, there will be heightened temptation like they have never known before and a decision will be made to either be faithful to the perfect government established by Jesus Christ, or to rebel and commit high treason by following Satan, thus manifesting those who are the “sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). Satan brings his new army to the city of Jerusalem, the place of the King’s throne, but God consumes all who rebel with fire from heaven. This seems to connect well with the reference made in Ezekiel 38:22.
At this point, Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire, where the One World Ruler and the False Prophet are still residing and they will all suffer eternal punishment, forever (Rev 20:10).
Revelation 20:11-15- With this section, we finally reach the end of evil!!!!! A Great White Throne appears and all who are unregenerate (who have never trusted the promises of God- Old Testament; and who have never believed in Jesus Christ- New Testament) are brought forward for judgment. It is important to observe all of the details here.
1. The Earth and the sky disappear due to the presence of a Great White Throne (20:11).
2. The unregenerate are present before the throne awaiting something (20:12).
3. There are books (plural) that are opened and the dead are judged by the contents of this book “according to their deeds” (20:12b) This is obviously many books that contain the works of the dead.
4. Another book is opened, which is referred to as the “Book of Life” (20:12c).
5. All of the dead in the sea, Death, and Hades are judged according to what they had done (20:13).
6. Death and Hades are thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death (20:14).
7. Anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was also thrown into the Lake of Fire (20:15).
Being a gracious and fair Judge, the Lord Jesus takes the deeds of the unregenerate into consideration, seeking to find some means of pardon amongst their works while on Earth. This may seem like an absurdity to us in reading the passage, but with Jesus, He is fair and just. He does not cut corners here, not even at the end. Since each one’s works are considered, it would be only fair to see this as the degree to which each one will be punished in the Lake of Fire, taking into the account of revelation that each one had been exposed to. With divine revelation comes personal responsibility.
Something important to see here is that the dead (unregenerate) are not judged to the Lake of Fire because of sin. Jesus has already paid for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2). The reason for their judgment is because they do not possess the one thing that Jesus Christ came to offer: LIFE (John 3:16; 5:24; 10:10)! People go to the Lake of Fire because they do not have Life. The books (plural) that are opened shows the righteous Judge considering their “deeds” (Rev 20:12b, 13b). This undoubtedly holds them accountable for their rejection of the free gift of eternal life, with the security of their eternal destiny thought to be something that was earned and not given freely.
This finalizes the stint of evil and sin and death on the Earth. The time for perfection has come!
What will the Millennium be like?
Walvoord- “Psalm 72 gives a similar picture of the righteous reign of Christ, describing righteousness as flourishing and abundance of peace as continuing as long as the moon endures. The dominion of Christ is stated to be from sea to sea with all kings bowing down before Him, all nations serving Him, and the earth being filled with the glory of the Lord. Then will be fulfilled the desire of the nations for peace and righteousness, for the knowledge of the Lord, for economic justice, for deliverance from satanic oppression and evil. For the whole period of one thousand years the earth will revel in the immediate presence of the Lord and His perfect divine government. Israel will be exalted and Gentiles also will be blessed. The major factors of the millennium, therefore, include a perfect and righteous government with Christ reigning in absolute power over the entire earth. Every nation will be under His sway, and God’s purpose in originally placing man in charge of the Garden of Eden will have its ultimate fulfillment in the Last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will reign over the earth.”
Here are some additional Old Testament references that speak of the conditions occurring during the Millennium. Even though the phrase “a thousand years” occurs only in Rev. 20, the understanding of the Millennium is found in numerous passages.
In Isaiah 11 we can read about the perfect conditions during the Millennium. Jesus will judge in righteousness (11:3-5), children will have no problem playing with snakes (11:8), and He will gather the remnants from all nations (11:11).
Zechariah 8:1-8 speaks of the Lord’s desire to rule over Jerusalem and to bring peace to all the people. The Lord will deliver them!
Isaiah 4:2-6- Notice that the Lord will prosper Israel in that day. The phrase “everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem” is completely in order will all that one sees in studying Revelation.
While not exhaustive, these are Old Testament passages that will help in giving us an understanding of the perfect conditions that the Lord Jesus will bring about at His return, when He sets up His Kingdom.
 John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Galaxie Software, 2008), p. 295.
 Thayer, p. 56.
 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), p. 418-419.
 The NKJV Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), Re 20:7–9.
 Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Re 20:8.
 Walvoord, Revelation, 302.
 Walvoord, Revelation, p. 301.