In the great drama called history there has been a great cosmic conflict. In the old age Satan ruled, in the new age Christ rules. The new age began with the coming of Christ and with the announcement that” the kingdom of God is at hand and now is.” This new age is also called the last days which will end at the second coming of Jesus. From the first coming to the second coming is the Gospel age, the church age, the time of Christ’s rule on earth through His church. This age is given the symbolic number of a thousand years. The old age of Satan ended at the beginning of new age of Christ. Proof is seen in Christ’s repeated casting out of evil spirits and demons. Satan is bound from deceiving the nations while the Gospel spreads to all nations and there is a great growth in the church. The Gentile world may persecute the church all through this time, but the gates of hell will not finally prevail and God will preserve to the end His own and gather us all into His perfect paradise. So there is an overlapping of ages at the end of which there
What is your most treasured possession? If your house was on fire and everyone was out safely, what would be the one thing you would most want to get out? Many people say their pictures, especially those old ones that can’t be replaced, but besides pictures what one thing, some family heirloom, some irreplaceable treasure that has special meaning to you. What is more treasured or valued or precious to you than anything else? How many people would say the blood of Jesus is their most treasured possession? If you remember from last Sunday we moved into the meat of Peter’s letter that started with a therefore and then three imperatives, three calls to action which summarize the Christian life, live in hope, live in holiness and live in holy fear. This morning Peter builds on that foundation and gives another argument or reason for living in holiness out of a godly and good fear. Peter’s reason is based on our knowing what our most treasured possession is and why. Conduct yourselves with holy fear, because you know God has redeemed you out of a futile and sinful life at the great cost of His Son and by His precious blood.
Chapter 20 of Revelation is one of the most controversial in all of Scripture, no doubt right up there with Genesis 1. This chapter has been a virtual paradise for fanatics, false prophets and false teachers. It has been a playground for literalists, a court room for judgmentalists and a throne room for much hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence). In just seven verses the term thousand years is used six times. But these six uses of a thousand years have created many thousands of debates over a couple of thousand years. What do these thousand years refer to? Are they literal or symbolic? When are these thousand years? Are we in them now, or are they yet to come? How can anyone know? This evening we enter where angels fear to tread and take up the great millennium debate. Over the last few chapters of Revelation we have watched the enemies of Christ be defeated. The harlot (Rev. 17:1 – 19:10), those who bear the mark of the beast, the beast himself, the false prophet (19:11-21). One by one they have gone down to complete destruction. One enemy remains, the greatest enemy of all, the dragon who is called the serpent or the devil or Satan himself. This chapter brings us to consider the final destiny of Satan. The new heavens and the new earth when they come will be completely free from all sin, evil, suffering, temptation, disobedience and rebellion (21:1-8).
I know you all know when you hear the word “therefore” in Scripture you are supposed to ask what it’s there for. Therefore means the verses before are ammunition for what’s coming; they are a foundation on which something is now going to build. Peter is going to make an appeal to us based on what he has already said. What has he said? We have been elected by the foreknowledge of God from before the foundations of the earth, sanctified by the Holy Spirit, sprinkled by the blood of Jesus, caused us to be born again to a living hope by the mercy of God, and to an inheritance and a salvation kept in heaven. Furthermore, this great salvation was prophesied by the prophets, predicted by the Holy Spirit and desired by the angels.
John is on a roller coaster ride of visions, first in heaven, then on earth, then back in heaven, then back on earth. Following the rejoicing of the great multitude in heaven now comes a vision of a great triumph on earth over the enemies of Christ by Christ and His armies. Remember in chapter 16 and the seven bowls of God’s wrath and judgment I said those visions were more general and that in the chapters to come we would get the same events but with more detail. Chapter 19 is more detail. Everything in our text is meant to lift up Jesus and highlight how great is our King. This passage is meant to give great hope and courage to every suffering Christian. We have a king like no other who is coming to triumph over all their enemies. He is the only true king. John’s vision unfolds in three parts, each sections beginning with “I saw.”
When life is hard, when your faith is being challenge, your world is being rocked, Satan is filling your head with doubts and lies, it’s important to go back to basics, back to fundamentals. Peter has been doing that here in chapter 1, making sure the Christians in Asia Minor (Turkey) knew who they were and what God had done for them and how firm the foundation of their salvation was. Our text is a summary kind of statement, concerning this salvation.
Have you talked with your family about how to handle emergency situations in your home such as a fire or an intruder? Have you talked about being careful not to share personal information with strangers on the computer? Are you alert to scammers on the computer or phone? Have you talked to your teenage driver about what to do in an accident? Fathers, have you taught your sons about gun safety? Husbands, do you talked to your wives about being aware of their surroundings in parking lots? At your school do they have drills for fire, earthquake, intruders? It’s naïve to assume everything in life will be just fine and safe all the time. Life needs warning labels. It is wise on our part when we know this and pay attention to them. One of the warning labels Jesus attaches to life is: “In the world you will have tribulation.” “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace” (John 16:33). Peter says the same thing that we might have joy. The Bible talks a lot about joy and rejoicing, but it is honest to admit not all of life is joyful. Life is a mix of grief and joy, and sometimes joy in the midst of the grief. This is normal life and normal Christian life. Peter teaches us six truths about suffering that if taken to heart will enable us to endeavor to persevere with joy.