Morning Prayer: 23 Nov – Revelation 20:4-6 ~ the millennial reign

Morning Prayer

+ In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Opening sentences

Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise.

I arise today, through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me, God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to secure me: against snares of devils,
against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature,
against everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.

Revelation 20:4-6 (ESV) – to be read aloud

millennium

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Reflection

THE THIRD VISION (17:1-21:8)

The Final Victory (19:6-20:15)

The Millennium (20:1-10)

The millennial reign (20:4-6)

Overview: Sitting on thrones are “judges” before whom stand all those who have been faithful to the Lamb, even to death. Having proven their loyalty to the Lord by not worshiping the beast, they were brought to life to reign with Christ for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection. The faithful, over whom death has no power, will serve as priests to God during the millennium. After the thousand years are over, the rest of the dead will come to life. With the binding of Satan in vv 1-3 the stage is now set for the triumphal reign of the church victorious. Exactly what this reign involves and when it takes place is a question that as met with a great variety of answers in the history of NT eschatology. The interpretation that follows is essentially premillennial but with considerable hesitation on the fine points of chronology. As time merges into eternity, the standard measures of life as we know thewm prove inadequate to communicate the fulness of eschatological truth. (Mounce, p. 363-4)

The Peanut Gallery: This passage is way beyond my abilities to sort out and leaves many unanswered questions as to the fine points. For our purposes, I will highlight a few of the interesting (to me) observations made by Mounce.

Judges: All we know for sure about the occupants of the thrones is that they have been given the authority to judge…. The judgement appears to be connected in some way with the vindication of the martyrs and their right to assume the empire of the defeated powers of wickedness…. Since the text itself remains silent about the occupants of the thrones, it may be wise not to go beyond suggesting that they may be a heavenly court (as in Dan 7:26) that will assist in judgement. (Mounce, p. 364-5)

Souls: The souls of those who had been martyred for faithfulness in bearing the testimony of Jesus and the word of God… are the souls of those under the altar in 6:9 and all who are to meet a similar fate until the the of their vindication (6:11). They are called souls because at this point they are still awaiting the resurrection…. [They are] representative of all who gave their lives in faithfulness to their commitment to Christ. (Mounce, p. 365)

Interpretation: These martyrs are said to come to life and reign with Christ for a thousand years, How people interpret this simple statement reveals their position on the millennial question…. The strong presumption is that “they came to life again” is to be understood as a bodily resurrection. (Mounce, p. 366)

The millennium: The millennium is not, for John, the messianic age foretold by the prophets of the OT, but a special reward for those who have paid with their lives the price of faithful opposition to the claims of the Antichrist…. The essential truth of the passage is that the martyrs’ steadfastness will win for them the highest life in union with God and Christ. (Mounce, p. 370)

Blessed and holy: Those who participate in the first resurrection are… blessed threefold: they are not subject to the second death, they will be priests of God and Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years The second death is defined in 20:14 and 21:8 as being cast into the lake of fire. It is to share the eternal fate of the devil, the beast and the false prophet, which is to e tormented day and night forever and ever. While the first resurrection is “selective” and the second absolutely universal, the first death is virtually universal (some will be alive at the parousia) and the second is selective. At Sinai God promised the Israelites that if they would obey his voice and keep his commandments they would be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). The faithful, by remaining true to Christ in the final trial by Antichrist, are thus priests of God and Christ. As a royal priesthood (cf. 1 Pet 2:5, 9; Rev 1:6; 5:10) they reign with him a thousand years. (Mounce, p. 370-1)
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Canticle

Christ, as a light – illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield – overshadow me.
Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me – on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me – on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
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Peanut Gallery: In September, we will begin reading through the Book of Revelation (ESV). Our purpose will be devotional, i.e. to discover the word of blessing that God has for us in these troubled times… to find hope and help for our daily lives.

This will not be a Bible Study per se: we will not attempt to unravel the “mysteries” of Revelation… that is far beyond our abilities and is not our interest here. However, so as not to get too far afield, we will rely on three study resources: primary – A Commentary on the Revelation of John (George Elton Ladd); supplemental Revelation (Leon Morris) and  The Book of Revelation (Robert H. Mounce).

The general format for Morning Prayer is adapted from the Northumbrian Community‘s Daily Office, as found in Celtic Daily Prayer (see online resources here.) On Sundays, we’ll return to the USCCB readings (see online resources here) and various liturgical resources in order to reflect the Church’s worship and concerns throughout the world. Photo illustrations and music videos, available online, are included as they illustrate or illuminate the readings. I will try to give credit and link to sources as best I can.



Categories: Life around the World, Life in America, Life in Christ

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