Enjoying the Visionary Preview of the Thousand Years
1, 2. (a) Will our earth be burned up in the war at Har–Magedon? (b) How is this shown by what is done to Satan and his demons thereafter?
OUR earthly globe will not be reduced to ashes and smoke by being burned up in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. This is shown by what happens to Satan the Devil right after that war. How so? Because he and his demon angels are found still alive at the earth, to which they were cast down in defeat after a war broke out in heaven after the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens. Down Satan and his demons plunged to earth’s vicinity, to be retained there for a “short period of time.” (Revelation 12:7-13) Because they are restrained to the earth clear through the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” God’s angel needs to come down to the earth to take further action against them. Respecting this we read in John’s account of his vision:
2 “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.”—Revelation 20:1-3.
3. Is Satan the Devil the only one abyssed, and to what warfare on his part does this put an end?
3 At the time that Satan the Devil was cast out of heaven, his demon angels were cast out with him and confined to the neighborhood of the earth. So what is done to their ruler applies also to them. They are seized, chained and abyssed with Satan the Devil for the thousand years. Not only does this put a stop to their further misleading the worldly nations, but it puts an end to their waging warfare against the remnant yet on earth of the Christian heirs of God’s Messianic kingdom. Concerning this, Revelation 12:13, 17 tells us: “Now when the dragon saw that it was hurled down to the earth, it persecuted the woman that gave birth to the male child [symbolizing God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens]. And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.”
4, 5. (a) Does that warfare kill off all the Kingdom remnant and the “great crowd,” and what testimony on this do we have? (b) Of whose presence, then, does Satan’s abyssing relieve the earth?
4 This devilish warfare fails to kill off all the remnant of Kingdom heirs who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to His Son, Jesus Christ. It also fails to kill off the “great crowd” who accept this witness to the Messiah Jesus and who come from all nations of the earth and join the Kingdom remnant in worshiping Jehovah God at his spiritual temple. Testifying to their survival, Revelation 7:9-15 says concerning this “great crowd” out of all races, nations and tribes: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.”
5 Thus the confining of Satan and his demon angels in the abyss does not leave the earth desolate of all human inhabitants. The abyssing relieves the earth, not of the presence of the Kingdom remnant and of the “great crowd,” but, rather, of the presence of Satan the Devil and his demon angels. During their thousand years of imprisonment in the abyss they will be as if they ‘were not.’—Compare Revelation 17:8.
EARTH’S RULERS FOR A THOUSAND YEARS
6. Satan’s abyssing raises what question as to the rulership of the earth?
6 No longer will Satan the Devil be the ruler of the world of mankind or the “god” of the system of things. (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4) Who, then, will rule the inhabited earth during the thousand years that Satan the Devil is abyssed and “is not”?
7. What did John see in vision that answers this question?
7 In the vision the apostle John saw by whom the rulership of the earth was to be administered. He says: “And I saw thrones, and there were those who sat down on them, and power of judging was given them. Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand. And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Revelation 20:4-6.
8, 9. (a) Where were the thrones seen located, and how many of them actually were there? (b) So John was seeing the beginning of what “day,” and how did Paul speak of it at Athens?
8 The thrones that John saw were up in heaven, not on earth, for these are the thrones of those who are to rule as kings with the Christ for a thousand years. The number of thrones was therefore not indefinite. The number was 144,000, to correspond with the 144,000 spiritual Israelites who are sealed with the “seal of the living God” and who follow the Lamb Jesus Christ “no matter where he goes.” (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5) During the past thousands of years that Satan the Devil has been the “ruler of this world” there has been such an absence of justice or miscarriage of justice that it will be an excellent thing when the power of judging mankind is committed to these 144,000 associate judges of the Lord Jesus Christ. So when the apostle John saw those 144,000 thrones and those who sat down on them, he was seeing the beginning of the glorious judicial day that was spoken of to the Court of Areopagus, Athens, nineteen centuries ago, in these words:
9 “God . . . has fixed the day on which he will have the world judged, and justly judged, by a man of his choosing; of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”—Acts 17:22-31, New English Bible, of 1970.
10, 11. What kind of “souls” were they that John saw, and for what work were they equipped?
10 The apostle John further identifies the occupants of the judicial thrones as being the 144,000 Kingdom joint heirs of the Lord Jesus Christ by going on to say: “Yes, I saw the souls of those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God, and those who had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image and who had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.”—Revelation 20:4.
11 The apostle John did not see headless “souls.” By using the descriptive word “souls” he was not talking like spiritistic mediums about “disembodied spirits.” He was using the word “souls” in the way that the inspired Holy Scriptures use the word, and he meant live, conscious beings in bodies, through which bodies they expressed their personalities. Only, in order to occupy judicial thrones in the invisible heavens, their bodies would have to be spirit bodies. In the discussion of the resurrection of the dead, we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:44: “It is sown [in death] a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body.” Hence the apostle John saw live, conscious heavenly bodies, persons equipped with mental abilities for judgment work, and these John identified as being those “executed with the ax” for the witness of Jesus and God’s Word.
“EXECUTED WITH THE AX”
12. (a) Have all Kingdom joint heirs of Christ been executed with the ax literally? (b) Does God figuratively do the executing with the ax, or who does so, and for what?
12 However, not all the 144,000 Kingdom joint heirs of Jesus Christ were executed with the ax or beheaded for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God. Not in a literal way! The apostle James, the natural brother of John, was killed by the sword, possibly beheaded, by King Herod Agrippa I. (Acts 12:1, 2) According to tradition, the apostle Paul was beheaded at Rome, Italy. (2 Timothy 4:6-8) But not all the 144,000 suffer a martyr’s death by having their heads chopped off. Certainly it is not God who does the executing of them with the ax, either literally or figuratively, inasmuch as it was for speaking about Him that they are all executed with the ax. It is the political state that executes them. In the case of the Roman Empire, of which the apostle John was a prisoner on the penal island of Patmos, this power of execution was symbolized by the ax wrapped within a bundle of rods with which criminals were scourged and beheaded. This symbol was called the fasces, and was carried in procession by lictors before the highest Roman magistrate. Benito Mussolini the Duce of the Fascist Party popularized this symbol during his regime in Italy.
13. According to Revelation 20:4, why does the political state world wide figuratively execute the 144,000 Kingdom heirs with the ax?
13 In effect the political state of this world executes the 144,000 Kingdom heirs by judging them as unworthy to live under its authority. It sentences them to death, as it were. The reason for this is made plain by the apostle John. In what way? In that, as John says, they “had worshiped neither the wild beast nor its image” and “had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand.” In other words, these 144,000 Kingdom heirs had not worshiped the political state in any of its varied expressions throughout the earth. Neither had the remnant of these Kingdom heirs in this twentieth century worshiped that international organization for world peace and security now known as the United Nations, but known previously as the League of Nations. The symbolic “wild beast,” the worldwide political state, is the one that is hurled into the destruction symbolized by the “fiery lake that burns with sulphur” in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon.—Revelation 13:1-17; 14:9-11; 19:19, 20; 20:4.
14. In what way do the 144,000 Kingdom heirs not worship the wild beast or receive its mark on forehead or hand?
14 The 144,000 Kingdom heirs do not worship the symbolic “wild beast,” meddling in its politics, running for political offices, sharing in its sanguinary warfare. Thus they do not receive a mark on their foreheads nor on their hands, to symbolize that they are slaves of the state and are lending it an active hand in carrying on its worldly activities, often beastly. Neither do the 144,000 worship the “image to the wild beast,” ascribing salvation to a man-made international organization for world peace and security. They worship only the God about whom they speak and give their allegiance to Him as the Universal Sovereign. They do not magnify the earthly political state, but bear witness to Jesus, the Son of God, as being the Christ, the Messiah, whom the Most High God has appointed to rule the world of mankind for a thousand years. Little wonder that the “wild beast” executes the 144,000 as with the ax!
15. What do all the 144,000 experience finally on earth, and how is it that they can sit down on judicial thrones in heaven?
15 Whether finishing their earthly course by a violent martyr’s death or not, all the 144,000 Kingdom heirs do at last die in a physical way. How is it, then, that they can enter into the kingdom of the heavens and sit down on those judicial thrones up there? It is not by any immortality of the human soul, but is by a resurrection from the dead. Says John concerning “those executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God”: “And they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years.”—Revelation 20:4.
16. In their coming to life again, it is as what kind of creatures, and what now is the measure of their life?
16 They “came to life” again, not on earth as human creatures or human souls, but up in heaven as spiritual sons of God. It is as such that they are seen by the apostle John in vision. They have a span of life longer than that of mankind today. They can live longer than Methuselah did, who lived 969 years. (Genesis 5:25-27) They can live for the thousand years of their reigning with Christ and then on into endless eternity, for they are clothed upon with immortality at their resurrection from the dead. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57) At the instant of their being resurrected they are at the fullness of life, without weakness, without corruption, without any of the imperfection that had previously attached to their dying physical bodies that they had inherited from sinful Adam and Eve. They are perfectly alive, justified by Almighty God to everlasting life in the spirit.—1 Corinthians 15:42-55.
17. (a) Will the “great crowd” of survivors of the “great tribulation” be made instantaneously perfect after the abyssing of Satan? (b) When will they be able to keep God’s law flawlessly, and why?
17 In order to emphasize this difference between their instantaneous state at resurrection and the state of the rest of the world of mankind at the start of the thousand years, the apostle John proceeds to say: “These came to life again and reigned with Christ for a thousand years, though the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.” (Revelation 20:4, 5, New English Bible) This proves that even the “great crowd” of worshipers at God’s spiritual temple, who survive the “great tribulation,” will not instantaneously be made perfect in their flesh and pronounced worthy of everlasting life on earth immediately after the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil and his demons. By the uplifting aids and blessings of the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ, they will progress gradually to human perfection and to ability to live sinlessly in the flesh and to keep God’s laws flawlessly. But what about those billions of humans asleep in earthly memorial tombs and watery graves?
18. (a) Those coming forth from Haʹdes during the millennium will include what human sympathizer of Jesus? (b) When will such resurrected human dead come to human perfection, and how?
18 As regards these, John’s preview of the thousand years shows us what happens to them, saying: “And the sea gave up those dead in it, and death and Haʹdes gave up those dead in them, and they were judged individually according to their deeds.” (Revelation 20:13) Among those thus coming forth from Haʹdes or the common grave of dead mankind will be that evildoer hung on an execution stake alongside Jesus, to whom Jesus said: “Verily I say unto thee this day: With me shalt thou be in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43, Rotherham’s translation; New World Translation) This evildoer will come forth from Haʹdes into the earthly Paradise reestablished for mankind by the kingdom of Jesus Christ. In that Paradise the evildoer will share the opportunity along with all the other resurrected human dead to correct his life course and be cured of human imperfection and sinfulness. In this way, by the end of the thousand years of Christ’s reign, he will be able to reach the goal of human perfection in God’s image and likeness. All those attaining to human perfection and sinlessness on earth by the end of the thousand years must, however, undergo a final test of their loyalty to God’s universal sovereign rule, in order to keep their perfect life.
19. (a) So, then, how is it that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended”? (b) What is done to those who do not pass the test of loyalty to God’s sovereignty?
19 Those perfected humans on earth who maintain their integrity and prove faithful to God’s rightful rule will be declared righteous by the Supreme Judge, Jehovah God. These innocent ones He will declare to be worthy of eternal life, and He will assign to them the right to endless life in happiness in the earthly Paradise. Free of all condemnation, these obedient ones now really live from God’s perfect standpoint. In this manner it is, then, that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.” (Revelation 20:5) Those perfected humans who do not faithfully pass that test of godly loyalty after the thousand years are ended will be everlastingly destroyed, just as John in his preview presents the matter, saying: “And death and Hades were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire. Furthermore, whoever was not found written in the book of life was hurled into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:14, 15) So these disloyal ones do not attain to life eternal.
“THE FIRST RESURRECTION”
20-22. (a) When John returns to discussing “the first resurrection,” why does a question come up regarding Ephesians 2:1-6? (b) Similarly with regard to Colossians 2:11-13, where Paul discusses Christian circumcision?
20 After interjecting that statement about the “rest of the dead,” the apostle John refers back to the coming to life again on the part of those who were “executed with the ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God” and proceeds to say: “This is the first resurrection. Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Revelation 20:5, 6.
21 Can it be that this “first resurrection” of these 144,000 Kingdom joint heirs of the Christ is what the apostle Paul speaks of at Ephesians 2:1-6? There the apostle writes to the first-century Christians in the city of Ephesus, Asia Minor, and says: “And you were dead, through the crimes and the sins in which you used to live when you were following the way of this world, obeying the ruler who governs the air, the spirit who is at work in the rebellious. . . . But God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ—it is through grace that you have been saved—and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.”—The Jerusalem Bible, Roman Catholic, of 1966.
22 Similarly, when discussing Christian circumcision with Christians in Colossae, Asia Minor, the apostle Paul wrote: “This is circumcision according to Christ. You have been buried with him, when you were baptised; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead. You were dead, because you were sinners and had not been circumcised: he has brought you to life with him, he has forgiven us all our sins.”—Colossians 2:11-13, Je.
23. (a) Because the foregoing scriptures refer to one of the “first” experiences in a Christian’s life, what does the New Catholic Encyclopedia say about the “first resurrection”? (b) Hence, about Satan’s binding for a thousand years?
23 We do have to admit that this passing from death to life in a figurative way, or in a spiritual sense, is one of the “first” experiences in a Christian’s course. So, taking this experience to be the “first resurrection” mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (copyrighted 1967) goes on to say under the title “Millenarianism”:
. . . The “first resurrection” symbolizes Baptism, . . . by which one shares in Christ’s resurrection. . . . All the faithful, both those on earth and those in heaven, share in the 1,000 year reign of Jesus, a symbol for the entire life span of the Church considered in its glorious aspect from the Resurrection of Christ until the Last Judgment, . . . The chaining of Satan during this same period signifies that the influence of Satan has been notably reduced, not completely removed. The lessening of Satan’s influence is the result of the effectiveness of Christ’s Redemption. After a final struggle near the end of time . . . Satan will be completely conquered by Christ. . . .
24, 25. How long has been the Church’s life-span since Pentecost of 33 C.E., and what does Paul say about ruling as kings in the Christian congregation during his time?
24 Does such an explanation of the “first resurrection” harmonize with what John writes in Revelation 20:1-6? Well, since the day of the Festival of Weeks in the year 33 C.E., when the Christian congregation at Jerusalem began to be baptized with God’s holy spirit, until now, the “life span of the Church” has proved to be, not just one thousand years, but nearly double that. During all these nearly two millenniums has any member of the true Christian congregation “reigned,” even in the midst of the congregation itself?
25 Who of the apostles thus “reigned”? Not the apostle Paul! For he wrote to certain ambitious members of the congregation in Corinth: “You have begun ruling as kings WITHOUT us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings. For it seems to me that God has put us the apostles last on exhibition as men appointed to death, because we have become a theatrical spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men.” (1 Corinthians 4:8, 9) To his missionary companion Timothy, he presented the matter of reigning as coming after the Christian’s physical death, saying: “Faithful is the saying: Certainly if we died together, we shall also live together; if we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings; if we deny, he also will deny us.”—2 Timothy 2:11, 12.
26. According to Jesus’ words to the Laodiceans, what is shown as regards a Christian’s reigning on earth from the day of his baptism?
26 And what about the apostle John? While on the Roman penal isle of Patmos as an exile, he quoted the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ as saying to the Christians in Laodicea: “To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21) All the reigning was future, after the physical death of the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. There was to be no reigning on this earth, from the day of the Christian’s baptism in water.
27, 28. (a) Does Revelation 20:4 picture them as coming to life from a figurative death by a willing water baptism? (b) By what means is the death pictured as coming, and for what, and so from what kind of death must the “first resurrection” be?
27 By what kind of resurrection is it that “they came to life and ruled as kings with the Christ for a thousand years”? By a figurative resurrection or by a literal resurrection from actual death and the grave? Revelation 20:4 does not speak of their coming to life from the figurative death that they willingly experience when they are baptized in water as Jesus himself was. No, but it is the death that they experience when they are “executed with an ax for the witness they bore to Jesus and for speaking about God.”
28 This ‘execution with an ax’ comes upon them not by their will, but by the will of the enemies of God and of Christ, and it occurs after their baptism in water and because they bear witness to Jesus as the Christ and speak about God as the rightful Ruler of the universe (including our earth). This ‘execution with the ax’ results eventually in a real physical death. Consequently, their ‘coming to life again’ to rule as kings is from a literal, physical death, and not from a figurative one that takes place at water baptism. Likewise, the ruling as kings does not begin on earth after a spiritual resurrection that follows their baptism in water. The resurrection meant in Revelation 20:4-6 is the real, literal resurrection from the sleep of death in Sheol or the common grave of mankind.
29, 30. (a) Is it true of those who have had merely a figurative resurrection that “over these the second death has no authority”? (b) What does Paul say on this in Hebrews 10:26-31?
29 Another point in proof of this must not be overlooked: Revelation 20:6 says: “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority.” That second death is symbolized by the “fiery lake that burns with sulphur.” (Revelation 19:20; 20:14) Is this true of those who have merely been baptized with water and who have spiritually been made alive from death in trespasses and sins and who have been raised up together spiritually and been “seated . . . in the heavenly places in union with Christ Jesus”? (Ephesians 2:1, 5, 6) No, it is still possible for these baptized ones to prove unfaithful while on earth under test and to come under the penalty of the “second death,” total annihilation. That is why the apostle Paul warned the baptized, anointed Christians in Corinth, Greece: “Let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) Also, Hebrews 10:26-31 warns the baptized, anointed Christians:
30 “If we practice sin willfully after having received the accurate knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins left, but there is a certain fearful expectation of judgment and there is a fiery jealousy that is going to consume those in opposition. Any man that has disregarded the law of Moses dies without compassion, upon the testimony of two or three. Of how much more severe a punishment, do you think, will the man be counted worthy who has trampled upon the Son of God and who has esteemed as of ordinary value the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and who has outraged the spirit of undeserved kindness with contempt? For we know him that said: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will recompense’; and again: ‘Jehovah will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
31. What does Hebrews 6:4-8 say on this?
31 Also, in Hebrews 6:4-8 we read: “It is impossible as regards those who have once for all been enlightened, and who have tasted the heavenly free gift, and who have become partakers of holy spirit, and who have tasted the fine word of God and powers of the coming system of things, but who have fallen away, to revive them again to repentance, because they impale the Son of God afresh for themselves and expose him to public shame. For example, the ground that drinks in the rain which often comes upon it, and that then brings forth vegetation suitable to those for whom it is also cultivated, receives in return a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is rejected and is near to being cursed; and it ends up with being burned.”
32. Only those Christians who experience what kind of resurrection are not subject to the “authority” of the “second death” or harmed by it?
32 In view of this, the “first resurrection” is not that figurative resurrection that follows baptism in water and that leaves the baptized one still exposed to the possibility of the “second death,” liable to its “authority.” It is the real, literal resurrection from Sheol to life as a spirit son of God in the invisible heavens to which Jesus Christ himself ascended. To these the promise of Jesus applies: “Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations: He that conquers will by no means be harmed by the second death.” (Revelation 2:10, 11) Those having part in the “first resurrection” cannot be harmed by the “second death” and are not subject to its “authority” because in this resurrection they have been clothed upon with immortality and incorruption.—1 Corinthians 15:53, 54.
33. In what two ways can it be called “the first resurrection”?
33 We can now appreciate the reason why this is called “the first resurrection.” It is because it is the same kind of resurrection that Jesus Christ experienced on the third day of his death, a resurrection to instantaneous fullness of life, so that the resurrected Jesus Christ became “the firstborn from the dead.” (Revelation 1:5; Colossians 1:18) It precedes in time the ‘coming to life’ of the “rest of the dead.” It is not only first in time, but also “first” in being the best resurrection that the dead could experience. It is a resurrection to incorruptible, immortal life as a spirit son of God in God’s own heavens.
34. How are those having part in the “first resurrection” holy?
34 Indeed, then, it can be exclaimed: “Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection.” (Revelation 20:6) They are truly “holy” in that no unfaithfulness on their part that would deserve “the second death” is possible for them. Also, by this resurrection it is made possible for them to be heavenly “priests of God and of the Christ” and to “rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” Satan the Devil will not be the world’s ruler then.
A REAL, DEFINITE “THOUSAND YEARS”
35, 36. (a) Have Christians, since baptism, experienced a lessening of Satan’s influence due to the “effectiveness of Christ’s Redemption”? (b) What do the advices of Peter and Paul indicate would be the case?
35 So the chaining and abyssing of Satan the Devil and his demon angels does not signify what the New Catholic Encyclopedia says, namely, the notable reducing of Satan’s influence during this present system of things, such a lessening of Satan’s influence resulting from the “effectiveness of Christ’s Redemption.” Certainly true Christians on earth have not felt such a lessening of Satan’s influence, any notable reduction of it, since their baptism in water. Rather, the apostle Peter found it necessary toward the end of his earthly life to write this warning to the Christians: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.” (1 Peter 5:8) For the same reason the apostle Paul gave them this advice:
36 “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places. On this account take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm.”—Ephesians 6:11-13.
37. What does Revelation 12:17 indicate as to whether Satan has been figuratively chained since Christ’s act of redemption?
37 Furthermore, in Revelation 12:1-17, the apostle John describes with symbols the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom and the operations of the “great dragon,” “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan,” after this one has been cast out of heaven and down to our earth. Then, as a special warning to true Christians in this twentieth century when these things occur, John adds these words: “And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:17) Does all this sound like any notable reducing of the power and influence of Satan toward Christians after their baptism in water? Is this a chaining of Satan?
38. Satan is bound and abyssed to keep from further misleading whom?
38 However, according to what the apostle John actually says, why is it that Satan the Devil is seized, chained and hurled into the abyss? It is “that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.” (Revelation 20:1-3) By the word “nations” John means, not the baptized, anointed 144,000 Kingdom heirs, but people who are not true, genuine followers and imitators of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time of the Devil’s being cast out of heaven he is spoken of as “Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” (Revelation 12:9) The faithful 144,000 Kingdom heirs are not part of those “nations” of the inhabited earth who are being misled. So, not the 144,000 partakers of the “first resurrection,” but the “nations” are the ones whose further misleading is to be stopped by the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil and his demon angels.
39. Has there been a reduction in Satan’s misleading of the nations since Pentecost of 33 C.E., and what does Revelation 12:12 foretell?
39 Well, then, has the misleading of such nations by Satan the Devil been decreased, reduced, lessened, during these more than one thousand nine hundred years since the baptism of the Christian congregation with God’s holy spirit on the day of the Festival of Weeks at Jerusalem in 33 C.E.? To this question, who is there so blind and so unacquainted with human history as to answer Yes? The opposite has been true. Today, in this age of the greatest enlightenment of mankind in a scientific way, the worldly “nations” are being misled to an extent never before known, and with more serious consequences. Why? Because this international deception by Satan and his demons means the destruction of all these misled nations in the very near future. With good reason the “loud voice in heaven” said at the ousting of Satan the Devil: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:10-12.
40, 41. (a) What argument of religionists regarding the thousand years of Satan’s binding is thus proved false? (b) What does mankind need to take place in a real way, and who now are putting their hopes in Christ’s millennial reign?
40 So this argument by religionists of Christendom that the “thousand years” of the abyssing of Satan the Devil does not mean a literal thousand years but applies to the “entire life span of the Church” on earth (already more than 1,900 years long) is proved to be false!
41 According to the Bible’s timetable, the beginning of the seventh millennium of mankind’s existence on earth is near at hand, within this generation. Now as at no time in the past the inhabitants of earth need the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil in a real way. The world events immediately ahead of this are about to take place, and mankind’s great adversary and oppressor will be sealed up in the abyss for ten centuries of time. The royal rule of Christ and his resurrected congregation for a thousand years of peace and blessing to the human family is before us with all its glorious possibilities! A “great crowd” of dedicated Bible believers who are now putting their hopes in the millennial reign of Christ have divine assurance of being preserved from death and being ushered into that brightest period of all human history. What a blessed prospect for them!
42. What questions arise as to the attitude of the “great crowd” toward their millennial rulers, and so what is it timely for us to consider?
42 Will not that “great crowd” get tired of having the same rulers over them for a thousand years? Will they not, long before the end of that time period, want a change of government and clamor for a popular election of a different set of rulers? Or will they not, rather, learn to love these heavenly priests and kings over them more and more and be thankful to have them remain in office for all of God’s appointed time? These are serious questions, for under this millennial kingdom this “great crowd” will have the opportunity to live as long as that heavenly government endures—a thousand years, and thereafter to time without end. In now considering these interesting questions, it becomes timely for us to examine more fully what kind of kings and priests there will be and how precious their services will be to all mankind, the living survivors and the dead. (2 Timothy 4:1) This calls for us to look into their background of the past and what the Most High God has required of them in order to count them worthy to serve as millennial kings and priests.
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