In this climactic vision of Revelation, John has arranged five apocalyptic elements or images in such a manner as to parallel the vision of Ezekiel about the deliverance of Israel from Babylonian Captivity, and our challenge is to ascertain why he would do that… or why God inspired John in this way. Remember, those five images are the binding of Satan, the resurrection, the millennial reign, the judgment of God and Magog and the New Jerusalem.
Ezekiel offers a vision of the deliverance of Israel (literal Israel) from captivity and oppression in literal Babylon, to their own city, literal Jerusalem. In Revelation 20-22, John shows us a vision of the liberation of God’s people, the “new Israel”, the church, from oppression of this world under Satan and his allies, to their own “new” city, the New Jerusalem, along with the judgment of their enemies and oppressors. Once again, the Old Testament shows us an illustration of what was to come with Christ.
This is fairly easy to see once you think about, for it is a consistent theme in the New Testament, but the binding of Satan and the millennial kingdom don’t quite seem to fit the narrative. Even so, it is consistent with the rest of Revelation. Consider chapter 12 with its graphic depiction of the woman giving birth and the dragon. The dragon intended to devour the child at birth, but was prevented from doing so. He continued to get at the child, but in the end, the child was gathered up to heaven. Jesus, of course was the child, and He was gathered to heaven after His resurrection, but let’s not forget that He was always under attack of one kind or another during His ministry. After the child is taken to safety, the dragon turns his wrath on the woman, who represents God’s people, but God intervenes each time to protect His people; the dragon could go so far and no farther, and in a symbolic sense, he was bound.
As for the millennial kingdom, we have already seen that it is the Kingdom of God in this present evil age. Jesus rules in heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords, but His Kingdom is not of this world. His saints who have passed, are there with Him reigning, but those of us who remain alive are “down here” on the front lines of battle, His Ambassadors to the world, strangers in a strange land. As with any other Ambassador, we have a mission here, which is to take the Good News of God’s grace to everyone who will listen; to bring His love to a world that is so desperate to have it. We may be opposed, we may be killed in the process, for we are in “hostile” territory in a certain sense, but not to worry, because God has a plan, is in charge, and things will work out in the end.
The Kingdom as it is now, post resurrection and pre-return is awesome to say the least! We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and thus relationship with our Lord that no Old Testament prophet had. Not even David, the “man after God’s own heart” had the opportunity every single day for relationship that you and I have, nor did he ever have such an important mission. I hope you will forgive me if I become a little passionate here but… for crying out loud stop trying to figure out when Jesus will return and take it all in: this is the best time ever to be alive!
The only “when” in the Book of Revelation is now, and all speculations and theories to the contrary are nothing more than distractions from why you and I are here.
When we continue with our study, we will begin our look at the last two chapters, and as we do, be thinking about how similar the New Jerusalem is to (of all places) the Garden of Eden.