The Return of the
The Certainty of the Lordís Coming
Dr. David R. Reagan
Jesus Christ returning to this earth to reign over all the nations
of the world? Most professing Christians in the world today would
answer, "No!" They argue that Jesus will never put His feet on
this earth again. They scoff at the very idea that the Lord would
even be interested in returning to reign.
Where, then, does the minority view come
from? Why do some Christians believe there will be a future, literal,
and personal reign of Jesus over all the earth? Are these people
victims of wishful thinking? Are they simply harboring a fanciful
hope? Or, does their opinion have some basis in Scripture?
Could it possibly be that the majority viewpoint
is wrong? If so, then how did the view develop, and what are its
scriptural weaknesses and contradictions?
The two viewpoints are radically different.
For example, the majority view holds that history as we know it
will very soon end with the destruction of the earth. In sharp
contrast, the minority view looks forward to the continuation
of history in a glorious thousand year reign of the Lord here
on this earth.
There is no future role for Israel in the
majority viewpoint; God has washed His hands of the Jews. The
minority view sees the Jews as a nation under discipline, temporarily
set aside, but they believe a time is coming very soon when the
Church will be taken out of the world, and God will once again
focus on the Jews, bringing a great remnant of them to salvation
in Yeshua, their Messiah.
The majority view sees no purpose left for
this planet. It is polluted and despoiled. When the Lord returns,
He will take the redeemed to live with Him forever in Heaven,
and the earth will cease to exist, as will all the material universe.
Those who hold the minority view believe that God intends to redeem
the earth and all of His creation ó the plant and animal kingdoms.
Further, they believe that the earth will one day be returned
to its original perfection and will serve as the eternal abode
of the redeemed.
As you can see, the differences are like
night and day. An outsider would undoubtedly conclude that the
two groups have been reading a different book, for how could people
read the same book and come to such totally different conclusions?
of Truth Seeking
As the title of this article indicates,
I believe the minority viewpoint on this central issue of Scripture
is correct, and it is my intention to show you why I believe the
Bible teaches that Jesus will return to reign.
I have not come to this conclusion casually.
I grew up in a church that taught the majority viewpoint. It was
drilled into me at an early age. The road that led me to a different
view was a tortuous and painful one. It cost me friends. It brought
condemnation upon my head. It finally forced me to leave the church
where I had spent 30 years of my life.
But the rewards that come from following
the truth of Scripture wherever it might lead are always greater
than the disadvantages that may be incurred. Jesus said, "You
shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John
8:32). But He qualified that promise with one condition that is
usually overlooked. It is stated in the previous verse: "If you
abide in My word" (John 8:31). Thatís a big "if."
As you read this article, I want to challenge
you to put aside all preconceptions and traditions of men. Have
an open heart, and test what I have to say by the Scriptures and
not by the creed of your particular denomination.
I challenge you to be like the Bereans whom
Paul commended as "more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica,
for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the
Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).
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. ó Revelation 20:6
One of the greatest misconceptions about Scripture
that exists among Christians today is that Revelation 20 is the
only place in the Bible that mentions a future earthly reign of
Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth; for the Bible, both
Old and New Testaments, is full of references to a future reign
of the Messiah on this earth.
But let me make something clear. If this
passage in Revelation 20 were the only one in the Bible to speak
of a future earthly reign of Jesus, I would still believe in such
a reign. God doesnít have to say something more than once for
me to believe it. And God clearly says in Revelation 20 that Jesus
will reign on this earth for 1,000 years.
In chapter 19 of Revelation Jesus returns
to the earth and defeats the Antichrist and his false prophet.
His next order of business is to bind Satan (Revelation 20:1-3).
He then begins His reign with His saints.
Six times in Revelation 20:1-7 we are told
that the reign of the Lord will last 1,000 years. Consider Revelation
20:4 for example. The verse says that the saints "came to life
and reigned with Christ for a thousand years." What could be clearer?
What would God have to do to convince us that He means what He
says? Does He have to put the message in the sky with blinking
At the end of the thousand years, we are
told that Satan will be released "to deceive the nations" (Revelation
20:8). He will rally the majority of Mankind in rebellion against
the Lord, and they will march upon Jerusalem to overthrow the
Lordís kingdom. Notice that Revelation 20:9 says that all this
action takes place "on the broad plain of the earth." This is
no ethereal battle between spirit beings in the heavens.
As the millennial rebels approach Jerusalem,
they are destroyed by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9), and
Satan is thrown into the lake of fire (Hell) where he "will be
tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10).
vs. Plain Sense
The message of Revelation 19 and 20 is very
clear. A little child could understand it without interpretation.
It takes a fanciful flight of imagination to explain away its
But that is exactly what St. Augustine very
successfully accomplished around 400 A.D. when he developed the
Amillennial interpretation of Revelation 20. He did it by applying
his imagination to the passage and spiritualizing it beyond recognition.
When he got through interpreting the events
described in these two chapters, Revelation 19 had been transformed
into a description of Christ's battle on the Cross, and Revelation
20 had been turned into a description of the Lordís spiritual
reign over the world from Heaven through His Church. Satanís binding
was attributed to the Cross and not to the Second Coming.
In other words, Augustine argued that the
Millennial reign of the Lord began at the Cross and will continue
until He returns for His Church. That means that according to
the Amillennial viewpoint we are in the Millennium now! It also
means that the 1,000 years mentioned six times in chapter 20 really
doesnít mean 1,000 years. Rather, it is a symbolic number that
stands for an indefinite period of time.
This incredibly imaginative interpretation
that conflicts with the plain sense meaning of the passage was
immediately adopted by the Roman Catholic Church in 431 A.D. It
is still Catholic dogma to this day. It has also been adopted
by all the liberal, mainline Protestant denominations. In short,
this view of end time events is the one that is held by the vast
majority of all professing Christians today.
The basic flaw in the whole Amillennial
interpretation of Revelation 19 and 20 is rooted in its denial
of the plain sense meaning of the passages.
God knows how to communicate, and He desires
to communicate. You do not have to have a Ph.D. in hermeneutics
or an active imagination to understand His Word.
The book of Revelation begins with the words,
"The revelation of Jesus Christ . . ." (Revelation 1:1). The word,
revelation, in the Greek is "apocalypse," which means "an unveiling."
The purpose of the book of Revelation is to reveal or unveil the
ultimate triumph of Jesus over Satan. If Godís purpose is to reveal
something so significant, why would He write it in a code language
that a person cannot understand unless he has graduated from a
seminary? It makes no sense.
Advocates of the Amillennial view usually
respond by saying that Revelation is full of symbols. Yes, there
is a lot of symbolic language in the book, but symbols have a
plain sense meaning. They are not used pell-mell, and the reader
does not have the freedom to assign any meaning to them that he
Furthermore, the fulfillment of First Coming
prophecies provides the best rule of thumb for the interpretation
of Second Coming prophecies. And any cursory examination of First
Coming prophecies will quickly reveal that they were fulfilled
in their plain sense meaning.
Take for example the prophecy in the book
of Zechariah that says the Messiah will come on a donkey (Zechariah
9:9). If todayís Amillennial spiritualizers had lived in Old Testament
times, I feel certain they would have denied the plain sense meaning
of this verse. "Zechariah is apocalyptic literature," they would
have said, "and such literature never means what it says. Therefore,
this verse must simply mean that the Messiah will be a humble
person." No, the verse meant what it said, and in fulfillment
of it, Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on
The bottom line is that when you interpret
Scripture imaginatively rather than for its plain sense meaning,
you can make it mean whatever you want it to mean, and God's message
gets lost in flights of fancy.
Another flaw in the Amillennial approach
is its contention that the binding of Satan that is mentioned
in Revelation 20:1-3 occurred at the Cross.
The first thing that must be kept in mind
regarding this point is that Satan has always been bound in the
sense that he has never had the freedom to do whatever he pleases.
Many scholars consider Job to be the oldest book in the Bible.
That book begins with Satan standing before the throne of God
requesting permission to touch Job, his family, and his possessions.
Satan is not omnipotent. He has always worked within parameters
laid down by the Lord.
It is true that Satan was further bound
by the Cross. As a result of our Lordís work on the Cross, believers
since that time have received the indwelling power of the Holy
Spirit (Romans 5:5), and the Scriptures assure us that "greater
is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
Thus, we now have greater power in resisting the temptations and
attacks of Satan than did believers in Old Testament times.
But the binding of Satan that Revelation
20:1-3 says will mark the beginning of the Millennium is a special
type of binding that did not occur at the Cross. Revelation says
that Satan will be bound in such a way that he will no longer
"deceive the nations" (Revelation 20:3).
As you look around the world today and observe
the behavior of the nations, can you truly believe that they are
no longer deceived? The fact of the matter is that they are terribly
deceived. As in the time of David, the nations are "in an uproar,"
and their rulers continue to "take counsel together against the
Lord and against His Anointed" (Psalm 2:1-2).
The third critical flaw in the Amillennial
view is the idea that Jesus is reigning today over the nations
of the world. This contention is really an insult to the Lord,
for if He is ruling, He is doing a very poor job! We live in a
world characterized by injustice, poverty, pestilence, and terrorism
ó to name only a few of our planetís maladies.
The Word says that when the Lord reigns,
"the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters
cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). Is this true today? Has it ever
been? Of course not!
We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that Satan still
prowls about "like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
And in 1 John 5:19, written long after the Cross, we are told
that "the whole world lies in the power of the evil one." The
Scriptures make it clear that Satan continues as "the ruler of
this world" (John 12:31).
The Cross sealed the fate of Satan. He is
a mortally wounded monarch who is desperately clinging to his
kingdom. One day soon when the Lord returns, Satan will be crushed
under the feet of the redeemed (Romans 16: 20). But the total
defeat of Satan is yet future. It is one of the benefits of the
Cross that has not yet become a reality in history.
As a result of the Cross, Jesus has won
back the dominion over this earth that was lost by Adam and Eve
when they sinned against God (Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 5:9-10).
But, He is not yet exercising that dominion. The writer of Hebrews
makes this point. He says that Jesus has been crowned with glory
and honor and that God "has put all things in subjection under
His feet" (Hebrews 2:7-8), but then he proceeds to observe: "But
now we do not yet see all things subjected to Him" (Hebrews 2:8).
Some of the benefits of the Cross are delayed
and will not be realized until Jesus returns. For example, the
Cross guarantees the salvation of believerís bodies, but that
blessing of glorification will not be realized until "the revealing
of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). This phrase is a reference
to the resurrection of the saints, something that Paul makes clear
a few verses later (Romans 8:23).
In like manner, the Cross guarantees the
total defeat of Satan and the ultimate triumph of Jesus as "King
of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 17:14). But that triumph
will not occur in history until the Lord returns. In this regard,
Jesus is like David when he was anointed the King of Israel but
then had to wait a long time before he took possession of his
Accordingly, Jesus is not portrayed in Scripture
as being a reigning king now. Rather, He is pictured as our High
Priest before the throne of God (Hebrews 8:1). He is our mediator,
our intercessor (Hebrews 9:11-16).
When He came the first time, He came as
our Savior. He is now our Mediator. He will return as our Sovereign.
Redeemer, Priest, and King ó those are the three roles of Jesus
ó past, present, and future.
Revelation 19:11 says that when Jesus returns,
His initial purpose will be to judge and make war against the
enemies of God. But verse 16 reveals that His ultimate purpose
will be to serve as "King of kings and Lord of lords." Long before
Revelation was written, the prophet Zechariah had revealed the
same thing. In portraying the Lordís return, He pictured the Lord
destroying the nations rebelling against God, and when that work
is completed, he states "the Lord will be king over all the earth"
Revelation 19 and 20 clearly establish the
fact that Jesus is going to return to reign ó but there are other
reasons I believe in such a future reign on this earth. Next month,
the Lord willing, I will present detailed scriptural evidence
from both the Old and New Testaments.