The King on the Cross is the Key to the Kingdom.

There are people who question why Jesus had to die?  Could God who is Almighty not just forgive everybody’s sins, set up His perfect eternal Kingdom and get finished with it?  Well, God illustrates throughout the Word that the Cross is the Key to the Kingdom.  Revelation 20 shows the last part of God’s brilliance in the Millennium.  It  is much more important than it seems.

Why is it necessary for Christ to reign a thousand years?  

  • By that time many of us will be in heaven with father Abraham and will look forward to the second resurrection and the new heavens and earth.  So why do we have to wait another thousand years for God’s eternal reign of peace, happiness, safety and prosperity?
  • It is God’s way to illustrate that a perfect environment and even a perfect Ruler will not guarantee a perfect society.  You also need citizens with one special characteristic – loyalty.  
  • So let’s take a bird’s eye view of three of the stages of God’s plan: 

1.  A perfect environment in the Garden of Eden – failed.

  • Genesis 2 is a picture of a perfect environment with full provision for Adam and Eve with a daily visit from God.   
  • Yet the minute the serpent arrived on the scene, they defected from God and chose to follow and obey Satan.  So the devil became the ruler of the world. 1

2.  A perfect set of instructions for the Israelites – failed.

  • God called Abram, and promised him a country and descendants.  They became the nation of Israel with extensive laws to show them how to live to please God.  
  • In spite of all God’s instructions, they defected from Him and served the gods of the people left in Canaan.  
  • Even circumcision of the body was not sufficient to help them remain loyal to God. 

3.  A perfect Ruler in Christ’s thousand year reign – failed. 

  • Who could be a better ruler than Jesus Himself who is sinless?  Would His subjects remain loyal if they could see His face?  Revelation 20:1-6 explains Christ’s thousand year reign.  
  • It will happen after the approximate 4,000 years of the Old Testament time and the approximate 2,000 years of the New Testament time (6,000 years of world history recorded in the Bible).  Then there is that seventh period of a thousand years.  
  • When it begins an angel binds the devil with a big chain and locks him in the Abyss for the full thousand years. 2     
  • Isaiah 11:6 tells us what it will be like: ‘The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat….’ 
  • After the thousand years Satan will be released and immediately he, ‘…will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth.’ 3  
  • Will the people stay loyal to their perfect King, Jesus? No! Revelation 20:8 reveals the magnitude of discontent with Jesus.  Those who join the devil: ‘In number they are like the sand on the seashore.’ 
  • What happened to those who did not like Jesus’ rulership? ‘…fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.’ 4   

Conclusion 

  • The Millennium proves that the Cross of Jesus is the necessary ‘ingredient’ for the eternal Kingdom of God.  The only way that people will be able to remain loyal to God eternally is if their hearts are changed.
  • On the Cross Jesus died for our sins and so cut away our old sinful nature (He circumcised our hearts).  The King on the Cross regenerated the hearts of those who embrace Him, to remain loyal to God.  
  • The Cross is the Key to the Kingdom.  

References

  1. Revelation 9:12  
  2. Revelation 20:1-2  
  3. Revelation 20:7  
  4. Revelation 20:9b-10

The idols issue (not American but Canaanite)

In the Old Covenant, God promised a country, Canaan, to the Israelites.1  In the New Covenant, He also promises a country to believers, ‘… they are looking for a country of their own.’ 2  There is a parallel between the two ‘nations.’  

God prepares us with vivid historical pictures to make sure we arrive at that future country.  Scripture says, ‘For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.’ 3  What does God teach us through the example of the Canaanites? 

#  Two requirements for success to the Israelites

God gave the Israelites two commands that would ensure their successful conquest of their promised land. 

  • Obedience to His commands; 
  • Idolaters and their idols must be destroyed.  One of the Ten Commandments is, ’You shall have no other gods before me.…’ 4 

#  Two requirements for success to believers in Christ

The same ‘right of admission’ applies to the ‘New Covenant’ believers. 

  • ‘If you love me, you will obey what I command.’ 5 
  • Revelation 21:8 tells us specifically that no idolater will ever inherit the new heavens and earth.  Idols are a strong force.  We see it in the following description of the end times, ‘The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshipping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk….’ 6 

#  The problem with idols

  • God, the All-knowing Creator, tells us what is wrong with idols, ‘…These gods [idols] who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’ 7   
  • The fact of the matter is that idols destroy one’s future with God.  It is a serious issue.  That explains God’s seemingly harsh command to destroy the Canaanites. 
  • God wants people to be with Him eternally, not with the devil in the lake of burning sulphur. 

#  Another parallel  

Another parallel between the Israelites and the followers of Jesus:

  • Israelites: ‘For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.  The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. 8
  • Followers of Jesus: ‘…you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….’ 9

Conclusion

  • God loves and cares for His people.  He knows what eternity with or without Him means.  He wants everyone to be saved and to be His children.  He knows how the devil lies to people.  
  • Unfortunately the punishment on the unrepentant Canaanites will also come on the unrepentant modern day unbelievers.  
  • But if we obey and destroy the idols, we will have ‘an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.…’ 10

References

  1. Genesis 15:18  
  2. Hebrews 11:14  
  3. Romans 15:4  
  4. Deuteronomy 5:7-8  
  5. John 14:15  
  6. Revelation 9:20  
  7. Jeremiah 10:11  
  8. Deuteronomy 7:6  
  9. 1 Peter 2:9  
  10. 1 Peter 1:4

God equips us to live in alien territory

Even before the all-knowing God created the heavens and the earth, He knew that His followers would live in a hostile world under the control of His enemy, the devil.1  Yet Colossians 1:13 says that He will help us to defect from the reign of Satan if we want to, ‘For He [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us unto the Kingdom of the Son He loves….’ 2

#  Guess who hates us?

The devil is not in the least impressed when we escape from his kingdom of darkness.  So followers of Jesus are subjected to his ‘xenophobic’ attacks.  However, God did not leave us defenceless, ‘…Take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.…’ 3

#  The sword is Scripture.

Scripture has many promises of protection and help like:

  • ‘God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea….’ 4
  • ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.’ 5  It refers to the omnipotent Creator God who made the heavens and the earth in six twenty four hour days.  That is why He can help—He is powerful.
  • The well known ‘warrior psalm,’ Psalm 91.

#  The Holy Spirit helps us.

There are many more ‘defence’ and ‘protection’ verses in Scripture.  All we need to do is ask the Holy Spirit to direct us to the ones we need in a specific situation.  That doesn’t mean that we can then relax and God will apply them in our lives while we carry on living.  No, we need to proclaim them.  Why?

#  The Israelites who entered Canaan are an example.

God gave the Israelites wonderful promises that He would drive out their enemies before them when they entered Canaan.  He would send hornets ahead of them, He would deliver their enemies into their hands, they were to drive them out little by little, et cetera. 6  It certainly did not mean that they could just saunter into Canaan, and God would kill all the enemies.  They had to fight, guided by God.   We, like the Israelites, have to take up our sword in the Word for victory. 7

#  It is prayer and proclamation that annihilates the enemy.

We have to speak God’s Word.  Prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah and many others did it.  It is not enough to have a Bible but not use it.  It is like owning a weapon that you don’t use.  It is prayer, proclamation and faith in God’s Word that gives protection and victory.

Conclusion

In Scripture (all 66 books), God provides the means of protection against xenophobic attacks.  Even though there is increasing hatred against God’s people world wide, we are not defenceless.  Jesus said, ‘I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions, and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.’ 8

References

  1. 1 John 5:19
  2. Colossians 1:12
  3. Ephesians 6:10-18
  4. Psalm 46:1-3
  5. Psalm 121:1-8
  6. Deuteronomy 7:17-24
  7. Joshua 1-12
  8. Luke 10:19