The Great Sabbath
Aug 19, 2016
In the book of Revelation, the phrase “thousand years” appears six times, all within the tight framework of Revelation 20:1-7. This suggests a period of six thousand years of history up to this point in time, as if to emphasize the entrance into the Great Sabbath Day (millennium).
Sowing and Reaping
Further, John treats this time as a Sabbath Day. The law commanded Sabbaths to be a time of rest. In Sabbath years no sowing or reaping was to be done. Leviticus 25:3-5 says,
3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5 Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a Sabbatical year.
Resurrection is God’s way of reaping the fruit of the ground, and so we find that there are two resurrections in Revelation 20, one before and one after (but not during) the thousand years.
Further, God promised to provide an abundance in the sixth year in order to carry the people through the Sabbath without shortages. Leviticus 25:20, 21 says,
20 But if you say, “What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?” 21 Then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years.
The same principle was seen in the weekly Sabbath when Israel gathered twice as much manna on the sixth day to carry them through the seventh day (Exodus 16:22). John does not mention it directly, but we understand that God will pour out His Spirit at the end of the sixth Sabbath at the end of the age, so that we have provision during the Great Millennium.
The Serpent Bound
Coinciding with the end of six days of labor and the start of the Great Sabbath, the serpent is bound for a thousand years. This is necessary, because when Adam and Eve believed the word of the serpent, they subjected themselves to his deception. Being unable to pay restitution for their sin, they were “sold” into slavery according to the law in Exodus 22:3. Paul says later in Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…?” He tells the believers that prior to coming to Christ, “you were slaves of sin” (Romans 6:17).
So in order to release mankind from its slavery caused by Adam’s sin, the serpent must be bound and prevented from deceiving the nations during the Great Sabbath. But once the seventh “day” has passed, the serpent is again released, because this is only the end of the first Sabbath of history. There are yet six more such Sabbaths before Creation’s Jubilee, where all are fully reconciled to God, and where every man returns to his inheritance in God.
God also seems to observe the Sabbath law found in Exodus 35:3,
3 You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.
For this reason, we do not read of “the lake of fire” until after the Great Sabbath Day has passed (Revelation 20:14, 15). The law itself prophesies of the acts of God, for He follows His own law. Why? Because the fiery law emanates from His nature, and He will always be true to Himself.
Six Days and Fine Linen
The Sabbath laws give us the foundation stones of the laws of Time, on which prophetic time cycles are based. Therefore, Revelation 20 speaks of a “thousand years” six times to suggest the end of six thousand years and the start of a Sabbath Millennium. The Hebrew word for “six” is shesh, in Exodus 20:9, “Six days you shall labor.”#mce_temp_url#
But shesh, as used in Exodus 39:28 in describing the garment of the high priest, is also the word for “fine linen.”
This suggests that the Bride’s fine linen (in Revelation 19:7, 8) is given to her at the end of six thousand years. Although the Bride is made up of individuals living throughout many generations, John was referring to the time when the body would be complete. She is thus clothed and “ready” after six thousand years.
The first part of Revelation 20:4 says,
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them….
The ones seated upon these “thrones” are the overcomers. These are the “saints” Daniel 7:27 describes, as they are given dominion over the earth. Their “thrones” are also mentioned in Daniel 7:9, “I kept looking until thrones were set up.” Their thrones are distinct from the throne of the Ancient of Days, but yet it shows that God has delegated authority to the saints.
In other words, God rules the earth indirectly, while giving the overcomers direct rule in order to fulfill His original intent from Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule…”
After a long period of “seven times” in which the dominion had been given to the governments of “beasts,” the time has at last come for the authority to be transferred to the saints of the Most High God. Hence, Revelation 20 correlates with the 20th letter of the Hebrew alphabet, resh, which means “head,” in this case denoting headship and government.
Revelation 20:4 continues,
4 … And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
This statement primarily is designed to tell us that not all Christians will rule in the Age to come. The thrones are not given to those who have the mark of lawlessness upon their forehead and upon their hands. If they worship the beast or his image through the love of money, they are not qualified for the throne. They do not literally have to be “beheaded” to qualify as an overcomer, for then even Jesus Himself would be disqualified. They do need to put the old man to death and replace their carnal, Adamic mind and head with the headship of Jesus Christ.
The First Resurrection
Revelation 20:4-6 says,
4 … and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
It is clear from verse 5 above that this is a limited resurrection and that only believers are raised at this time. “The rest of the dead” are not raised at this time, but must await the general resurrection after the thousand years are completed (Revelation 20:11, 12). When John calls this “the first resurrection,” he implies that there is another resurrection coming later.
The Greek view of Scripture treats this first resurrection allegorically and individually as a reference to one’s justification. They say that when a man comes to Christ and is baptized, he passes from death to life. This spiritual process, they say, is the first resurrection, and he then ascends to be seated with Christ in heavenly places.
I do not doubt that this is what happens to individuals, one at a time, as they become part of the body of Christ. But John was not referring to individuals coming to Christ. He was looking prophetically at the resurrection of the many-membered body, which included the martyrs throughout history. While individual believers certainly enjoy a measure of spiritual authority during their ministries on earth, they (like Daniel himself) have been subject to the kings of the beast nations. The saints in history have been limited in their earthly authority by the divine judgment upon Jerusalem and upon the kings of Judah who were stripped of the Dominion Mandate (Jeremiah 27:6, 11). It is not until those beast systems reach the end of their divine mandate that the saints are given full jurisdiction over the earth.
This is part 161 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Revelation." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones