Text: Revelation 20:1-6
Subject: “Joyful Anticipation of the End Times,” Part VI
This is the sixth and final message in our series, “Joyful Anticipation of the End Times,” with the main focus being on the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. We have tried to communicate just how significant and stunning this event will be on a world wide scale. Not since the Mighty God spoke the time and space universe into existence has anything like this taken place. The first coming of Jesus began quietly as a baby in a manger and as a humble carpenter with twelve disciples. However, the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus will come with “a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God! There will be nothing quiet or hidden when the Lord comes the second time.
At this amazing revelation of the Creator-God, the New Creation of God in Christ Jesus will come forth in power and glory, and if you are a born again believer in Jesus, you will be there to experience this event! The point is this: we were not there at the first creation of God when the angels sang for joy, but we will be there when the New Creation comes forth at God’s command. And I believe, at that moment, we will out sing the angels!
Beloved, having joyful anticipation in the last days is being able to receive the revelation of the magnitude and wonder of the unveiling of the New Creation of God at the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. As I have said many times—on purpose—it will be the most stunning event that the world has ever witnessed!
Prayer: Let it be our continual prayer that we will grow in our understanding and insight of this incredible Biblical revelation that will really happen in real time.
A. Learning to think with an eternal mind-set.
Over the past few days God has been speaking to me about learning how to think more like He thinks. My thinking is mostly temporal whereas God’s thinking is eternal. Learning to think with an eternal mind-set is important because it will help us in better understanding the amazing truth of what God has planned for His people at the end of this age.
The best way that I can illustrate this truth is with the death of Jesus. Hebrews 9:12 says, “He (Jesus) did not enter by means of the blood of bulls and calves; but He entered the most Holy Place once and for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” Jesus, the one and only begotten Son of God, did not shed His blood to save us for a day, a week, a month, a year, or even a lifetime. Rather, He shed His blood to save us for all eternity!
Beloved, the point is this: God is eternal, and His plan for us—you and I—is eternal. When you were saved, you were saved for eternity. What began when you were saved or born again is never to end!
Two weeks ago on Monday, November 10, 2014, I preached Willie Mae Garrett’s funeral. She took her last breath on Friday, November 7, 2014, at the age of 96 years old. However, what ended for her here on terra firma was not the end for Sister Willie Mae! You see, Willie Mae was born again through faith in Jesus Christ and by the power of the eternal Spirit of God. So for her, and for all of those who have “fallen asleep” in Jesus, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” On November 7, 2014, Willie Mae simply changed her residence from earth to glory!
Jesus shed His blood on the cross to save FOREVER all those who come to Him and put their faith in Him as Savior and Lord. And the point is that we need to stop thinking temporally about life and begin thinking eternally—like God thinks.
I fully believe that this is why the Apostle Paul, at the end of his life, could say these words to the young preacher Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who have longed for His appearing.”
As you have heard me say on more than once occasion, the Greek word for “departure,” is a maritime term, a shipping term. The Greek word picture for this word is a ship that has been loaded down with heavy cargo and has just been cut loose from the dock to make its voyage and deliver its cargo. And what Paul, a man who had been taken to the unique dimension called “the third heaven,” is telling us is this: when we die, our journey doesn’t end. Rather, we simply go to the next level of eternal life in God! You see friends, Paul had an eternal mind-set. He was thinking more and more like the eternal God. And I believe that this is the call of the Spirit to the Church—begin thinking more with an eternal mind-set. With this understanding then, let’s now take a look at our text in Revelation 20:1-6.
1. First of all in verses 1-3, the Word of God makes it clear that we are talking about the time after the Great Tribulation period that has ended with the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. The Devil, Satan, the Red Dragon, the Ancient Serpent, has been bound for one thousand (1000) years.
2. In verse 4, we see another amazing revelation of what happens when the Lord returns to the earth. John draws, I believe, special attention to those who were martyred for their faith in Jesus during the tribulation period: “I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the Word of God. They had not worshipped the Beast (Antichrist) or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand (1000) years.”
Again, I believe that the martyrs are being singled out here so as to give them special honor and to declare that they have been avenged by God for their sacrifice and suffering; for remaining true to the Lord even in death! And what looked like a total defeat when they were martyred was completely turned around when they were resurrected from the dead!
Just like their Savior before them: His death on the cross looked like a win for the Devil right up until Sunday morning when Jesus arose victoriously from the dead—conquering death, hell and the grave! You see Church, martyrdom may look like a believer’s life has ended, but that is most assuredly not the case! Why? Because true believers in Jesus are eternal, and they will be resurrected when the Lord returns and raptures them from the grave. And at that time, they will reign with Christ for a thousand (1000) years!
3. In verse 5 we read, “This is the FIRST resurrection.” Then we read that the rest of the dead (those not saved) will not come to life (and be judged) until the thousand (1000) years are ended.
Beloved, this scripture makes it clear that “the first resurrection” happens at the end of the tribulation period and at the beginning of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. There is no mention here of a “pre-tribulation” resurrection. This is not the “second resurrection” with another resurrection having occurred seven years earlier before the tribulation period. Rather, the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus is the “FIRST RESURRECTION,” and according to this text, along with Matthew 24:29-31 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, it comes at the end of the tribulation period.
And I will tell you, it is important for you and those in your circle of love to know that the timing of the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus is in harmony with “the first resurrection” spoken of in this text which occurs at the end of the tribulation period and at the beginning of the Millennial Reign.
With that hopefully understood, we must not dare miss the beauty and wonder of this spectacular and stunning event at the end of the age for what it truly is!
Remember now, we are thinking eternally, although at present we are in these temporal bodies.
4. In verse 6, the Apostle John says, “Blessed and holy (set apart) are those who have part in the first resurrection.” Why are they blessed and set apart from others? Besides the many reasons that we have shown you from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and I Corinthians 15:50-58, John continues by saying, “The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and Christ (Messiah) and will reign with Him for a thousand (1000) years.”
Revelation 20:14 tells us that the “second death” is the lake of fire. It is eternal separation from God. Those who are raptured and resurrected at the Second Coming of Jesus will never, ever, be subject to death again—forever! They will not be subject to death as we know it now nor will they be subject to the second death, which is the lake of fire.
Yes Beloved, Blessed and holy (eternally set apart for God and with God) are those who experience and are a part of “the first resurrection” which happens at the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus at the end of the tribulation period.
Someone may say, what will happen to believers after the thousand (1000) years are ended? We will enter even into another spectacular dimension of the eternal life that is ours in and because of Jesus. Beloved, our salvation in Jesus is eternal. It has no end!
Can we truly have a Joyful anticipation of the end times? A million times YES!
Yes, because we will be eternally reconciled with loved ones who Jesus will bring with Him when He comes!
Yes, because we will receive our New Creation bodies that will be eternal.
Yes, because we will literally see Jesus and be with Him eternally.
Yes, because death, including the second death, will never ever have any power over us again, forever. Our destiny is eternal life with God, and all that that will eternally mean!
 I Thessalonians 4:16-17
 Job 38:4-7
 This age will end with the Rapture and Second Coming of Jesus. The next age will be the Millennial reign of Jesus.
 2 Corinthians 5:8
 2 Corinthians 12:2
 See I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:50-58; Matthew 24:15,29-31; Revelation 19:11-21