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    9: THE THOUSAND YEARS OF REVELATION 20

    “AND they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4.SAIN 58.1

    VARIOUS theories have been advanced respecting the one thousand years of Revelation 20. Our space will not permit a detailed examination of all these various theories, but we wish to present some facts which meet and refute some of the positions advocated.SAIN 58.2

    If the saints are not to inherit the earth until it is made new, and the earth is not made new until the wicked are destroyed, then the saints will not inherit it until after the thousand years, because it is at the end of that period that the wicked meet their doom. This at once suggests the inquiry, What is the condition of the saints, and their place of abode during the thousand years? and what is the condition of the earth during that period?SAIN 58.3

    It is generally agreed that this thousand years is the period when Satan is to be bound, at the end of six thousand years from creation (this time is now very nearly expired). 1According to the chronology of Bishop Usher (that used in our Bibles), the creation was about 4004 years before the birth of Christ, which would make the world about 5896 years old. Usher has given the reign of the judges as only three hundred years, but Paul says, “And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.” Acts 13:20. This difference added to Usher’s chronology would make the present age of the world about six thousand years. There are very few who do not hold to this theory. The great difference of opinion is more in regard to the work in that period than to the period itself. One class claim that this thousand years is prior to Christ’s second coming, and that during that time all of the world is to enjoy a peaceful reign, having been all converted at the commencement of that period. That cannot be, for the tares and the wheat (righteous and wicked) are to “grow together until the harvest,” 2Matthew 13:30. so there can be no world’s conversion prior to that burning day.SAIN 58.4

    Another class claim that the thousand years’ reign is on the earth, after the second advent of Christ, but before the earth is renewed. These also claim that during that reign, probation is still to continue, that the saints will reign over, and teach mortal nations, and that these mortal nations will increase vastly in numbers during that period. It is claimed that Satan is bound that he may not deceive these nations. If this is so, then he is bound that he may not deceive those who never knew his wiles. The scripture says he is bound “that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” 3Revelation 20:3. This clearly implies that he is bound that he may not deceive those whom he has been deceiving. At the end of the thousand years, it seems, he will deceive them all with the idea that they can capture the saints and take the City of God. According to the record, the very ones who escape the devil’s deceptions for one thousand years, at the expiration of that period are again deceived by him, and devoured by fire from heaven. 4Revelation 20:4-9.SAIN 59.1

    We will briefly notice some of the reasons urged in support of the above theory. Two texts, “They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years,” 5Revelation 20:4. and, “We shall reign on the earth,” 6Revelation 5:10. will be in a kingdom of which, “there shall be no end.” 7Luke 1:33. So it is not a state that is measured simply by one thousand years. The text does not say that Christ will reign on the earth a thousand years, but “they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” 8Revelation 20:4.SAIN 59.2

    This thousand-years’ reign of the saints with Christ seems to be spoken of as something different from the remainder of this reign. May it not be that this is the period of investigative judgment, when the righteous act a part in the judgment of the wicked? Christ said to the twelve, “Ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 9Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:29, 30. This is said to be when he sits “upon the throne of his glory.” Paul inquires, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? ... Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” 101 Corinthians 6:2, 3.SAIN 60.1

    Albert Barnes, in his notes on this text, says: “It refers to the future judgment, and that the Christians will in that day be employed in some manner in judging the world. That this is the true interpretation is apparent for the following reasons: 1. It is the obvious interpretation-that which will strike the great mass of men, and is likely to be the true one. 2. It accords with the account in Matthew 19:28: “In the regeneration ... ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel;” and Luke 22:29: “I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” 3. It is the only one which gives a fair interpretation to the declaration that the saints shall judge angels (verse 3).SAIN 60.2

    In 1 Corinthians 4:5 the apostle strongly intimates the same thing when addressing the Lord’s people: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” We read also in the testimony of the Lord by the psalmist: “Let the saints be joyful in glory; ... let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; ... to execute upon them the judgments written; this honor have all his saints.” 11Psalm 149:5, 6. From the above testimony we see that the saints, during the thousand years, in some way participate with Christ in the examination of, and passing sentence upon, the wicked who have previously lived upon the earth.SAIN 61.1

    When the saints sing, “We shall reign on the earth,” 12Revelation 5:10. they are already kings and priests, and are prostrating themselves before the throne in heaven. They sing of Christ, Thou “hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” This language of the four beasts and the four and twenty elders is what the saints will sing after their final deliverance. This being so, the saints will, after their resurrection, go to heaven, and thus prostrate themselves in adoration before the throne.SAIN 61.2

    Those advocating that the thousand-years’ reign will be on the earth, usually claim that the saints will never go to heaven; and therefore if they reign a thousand years, it must be on the earth. Our reply to this is, First, the word says plainly, “They shall reign with Christ a thousand years.” And we will now present proof texts to show that, at the commencement of the thousand years, the saints are with Christ, in heaven.. Secondly, there is no direct evidence to show that the thousand-years’ reign is upon the earth, or that the saints will be on the earth again after their ascension, till the end of the thousand years, so we conclude that this thousand-years’ reign with Christ will be in the New Jerusalem, in heaven.SAIN 61.3

    As a proof that the saints will go to heaven when Christ appears, we will quote the words of Paul. He says: “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 131 Thessalonians 4:16, 17. But, says the objector, they immediately come down again, and possess the earth. There is no direct evidence to show that they will be on the earth again until the end of the thousand years, when the wicked compass “the camp of the saints about and the beloved city.” 14Revelation 20:9.SAIN 62.1

    Another proof that the saints will go to heaven is found in the song of their redemption: “And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire; and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.” 15Revelation 15:2, 3. Here is a company who are to stand, after they are resurrected, “on the sea of glass.” Where is the sea of glass? John tells us: “After this I looked, and behold a door was opened in heaven.... And, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.... And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal.” 16Revelation 4:1-6.SAIN 62.2

    The testimony of our Saviour to his disciples, as recorded by John, is proof that the saints will go to heaven at the second coming of Christ. We read: “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me; and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go ye cannot come, so now say I unto you.... Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” 17John 1:3, 33-36. When our Saviour told the Jews, “Whither I go ye cannot come,” he said, “I go unto him that sent me.” 18John 7:33. Our Lord’s testimony to Peter was, Thou canst not follow me to him that sent me-to heaven-now; but thou shalt follow me there after I have been there. This message filled their hearts with sadness. They were troubled; but the Master immediately said: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” 19John 14:1-3.SAIN 63.1

    The saints are to reign with Christ a thousand years, and we have now ascertained that they commence that thousand-years’ reign before the throne in heaven. It is folly to assert that the thousand-years’ reign is upon the earth, with no proof that the saints are on the earth again until after the end of the thousand years, when “the Lord my God shall come and all the saints with him.” 20Zechariah 14:5.SAIN 63.2

    The claim is set forth by some persons that there are promises that have been made to certain nations which could not be fulfilled in an immortal (new-earth) state, and that, therefore, there must be a reign of Christ on earth in a mortal state, when sinners can be converted, and when these promises will be fulfilled. Our limited space will not permit here a full explanation of all these texts, but we will call attention to some principles and facts of Scripture, which, if carefully observed, will furnish a basis of explanation for all such texts. 21Those who may wish to trace the subject to greater length are referred to a work entitled “Refutation of the Age to Come,” by Elder J.H. Waggoner. Address Review and Herald, Battle Creek, Mich.SAIN 63.3

    To claim that man can find pardon of sins after the second advent of Christ is not in agreement with the plainest statements of Holy Writ. Says Christ, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly.” 22Revelation 22:11. From this text we learn, most assuredly, that just previous to Christ’s coming this solemn decree goes forth, showing that each class must still occupy the position in which they are then found. It is then too late for the unholy, and the unrighteous to find pardon. If you say the class who are to have probation after Christ comes are neither the just nor the unjust, we reply, There is no such class recognized in the word of God. Said Christ, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” 23Matthew 12:30.SAIN 64.1

    Concerning the promises referred to above; some of them were made on conditions, and as there was a failure on the part of the people to comply with the conditions, the promises were not fulfilled. Promises of national blessings could not be otherwise than conditional. To claim that God will bless a nation irrespective of its character is contrary to all his past dealings with his people. Although there might be instances presented where promises of national blessings are given, and no direct mention made of conditions, yet such conditions should always be understood. This was well expressed in the word of the Lord by the prophet Jeremiah: “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build up and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” 24Jeremiah 18:7-10.SAIN 64.2

    There is no principle laid down in the word of God by which pardon can be obtained after the second advent of Christ. It cannot be effected by the mediation of Christ; for that mediation ceases when he lays aside his priestly garments and takes his position as a king. When our Saviour ceases his mediation, he that is unrighteous must remain so still, for mercy then no longer pleads in behalf of the impenitent. His offering will no longer avail for those who have not sought him, as they will be cut off from an interest in his blood by the solemn decree, “He that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” If they offer beasts, the blood of beasts cannot take away sin. As there is no principle recognized for salvation except the blood and intercession of Christ, so we can see no chance for salvation after that intercession ceases; and if so, there can be no probation after his second coming.SAIN 65.1

    Still it is urged by some that, as the earth is the territory of the kingdom, and the kingdom is established at Christ’s second coming, it must be that it is established here on the earth at that time, and that the thousand-years’ reign must be on the earth. We do not disagree with the position that the kingdom is finally to fill the whole earth; for “the kingdom and dominion, and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven,” is to be given to the saints of the Most High. It is the new earth, however, as we have shown, that is to be the inheritance of the saints. We understand that the kingdom is established at Christ’s second coming, and that it commences in the heavenly City above, when Christ shall have laid aside his priestly robes, and taken his vesture, on which is written,, “King of kings, and Lord of lords;” when he shall “have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” 251 Corinthians 15:24. in other words, when he shall have resigned his position as priest on the throne of his Father’s kingdom. His government is then fully organized in the City above, and the saints take part “with him” in the judgment of the ungodly. At the end of that thousand years, the saints, with the City, come down upon the earth, the wicked are destroyed around the camp of the saints and the beloved City, and the earth is made new by those fires which prove to be the perdition of ungodly men. Then, in that new earth, the “dominion and greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven will be given to the saints of the Most High.”SAIN 65.2

    If the thousand-years’ reign is in heaven, and if the kingdom is not established on earth until after that period, the question arises, In what condition will the earth be during that thousand years? Whatever condition it is placed in at the commencement of that period, that must be its condition to the close, unless evidence can be produced to the contrary. The prophet Isaiah gives a plain description of the condition to which the earth will be brought at the coming of Christ, in these words: “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.... The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.... The earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” 26Isaiah 24:1-6. The above scripture does not say there are a few men left on the earth, but the testimony is that the “Lord maketh the earth EMPTY,” “the land shall be UTTERLY EMPTIED.” Then the few men left are not left on the earth; those who are the “left,” in that time, are the saints, who, as we have already shown, will go to heaven with Christ at his second coming.SAIN 66.1

    The prophet Jeremiah also bears a plain testimony respecting the condition of the earth when it shall thus be desolated at Christ’s coming: “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The WHOLE LAND shall be DESOLATE; yet will I not make a full end.” 27Jeremiah 4:23-27. The Lord will not make a full end, for the good reason that afterwards—at the end of the thousand years—the earth will be restored, and will then be given to man as his inheritance. The above quotation shows as desolate a condition of the earth as when God spake it into existence, for the same language is employed—“without form and void.” This desolation is in the day of the Lord; and as there is no proof that there is a man on the earth again till the end of the thousand years, our position is that during that period the earth is desolate of its inhabitants.SAIN 67.1

    By the mouth of the prophet Zephaniah the Lord says: “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast: I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling-blocks with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord.” “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the Lord is at hand; for the Lord hath prepared a sacrifice, he hath bid his guests.” 28Zephaniah 1:2, 3, 7. This sacrifice of the wicked undoubtedly has reference to the same as the “supper of the great God” mentioned in Revelation in connection with Christ’s second coming, where the beasts are called to feed on the carcasses of men. 29Revelation 19:17.SAIN 67.2

    We read again, in another portion of Isaiah: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” 30Isaiah 13:9. As the ushering in of the day of the Lord is to desolate the land, there will be no mortal nations remaining alive for the saints to reign over. The wicked dead “live not again” until the thousand years are finished; and as the reign of the saints is with Christ, the earth must remain in a desolate condition during the thousand years.SAIN 68.1

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