The Millennium and the 144,000

Revelation is a big subject. The reason it is big is that it deals with God’s eternal plan for man and it draws in things from all over the Bible. It requires a comprehensive understanding of the scriptures to get your arms around it.

Revelation 20 with the 1000 year reign and the first resurrection has been a sticky wicket for me. The issue about the First Resurrection requires you to have an understanding of the setting of Rev 20 and what is going on. I have only recently come up with a solution that seems to work. Here are the
constraints I see on Rev 20.

Christ is reigning now in heaven (Jn 18:36, Mt 28:18, Acts 2:34-35). He
will reign there until the Second Coming when He will return and destroy the
last enemy (I Cor 15:25), death, by the resurrection from the dead. After
the resurrection of the nations He will be seated on the throne of His glory
(the throne of David) and will hold the general judgment of the nations (Mt
25:31-32). When Jesus sits on the throne of David, there will never be any
interruption of His rule (Lk 1:33). Now, somewhere in all this we have to
have a temporary rule of Christ for 1000 years. However, since Christ must
rule in heaven until the Second Coming (I Cor 15:25), His temporary rule
cannot be in heaven, because His rule there does not end soon enough to allow Satan’s little season that must happen before He returns. His temporary 1000 year rule must therefore be upon the earth–it’s the only place left. However, since He stays in heaven until the Second Coming, His rule on earth must be by proxy. That is, He must use others as mediators to carry out His will.

In Rev 20:4 there are, as I read it, three groups of people in heaven with
Christ:
1) those who sit upon the thrones
2) the souls those who were slain for their testimony of Jesus
3) the souls of those who had not worshipped the beast or his image

It is only Group 1 that is not just disembodied souls. Groups 2 and 3 are
the souls of dead saints. However, the fact that we see disembodied souls
in heaven tells us that the scene is before the general resurrection of
the dead. These events must therefore be describing things that happen
before the Second Coming.

Group 1 sits upon thrones and they reign with Christ for 1000 years.
However, their reign ends before the end of the world because Satan is
released after the end of their reign to go and deceive the nations. That
must happen before Christ comes again and establishes His eternal reign on
the throne of David.

Who then is sitting and ruling on the thrones? They are the ones who
participate in the First Resurrection. They do not appear to be dead. They
have thrones and crowns and rule, but their rule is temporary.

The ones ruling on the thrones also are the First Resurrection (Rev 20:6). These who participate in the First Resurrection are also the ones who rule with Christ (Rev 20:6). The only ones I know of in the Bible who are risen from the dead and who could be in heaven are the ones in Mt 27:52. They likely are the ones on the thrones, because they are the only ones risen from the dead. I think these ones in Rev 20:4, 6 are the same ones who are described in Rev 7:4 and Rev 14:1 (the 144,000). In Rev 7 you see them rising from the dead. In Rev 14 you see them entering heaven, and in Rev 20 you see them ruling on thrones in heaven.

The sticky part of this explanation is the requirement to for them to rule
on earth while they reside in heaven. I am not certain how that can be
carried out. My thinking is that these 144,000 who constitute the first
resurrection rule by proxy over part of the earth. If you look at history,
you can see that the church was supreme over Europe for 1000 years from
about AD 344-1344. I think it is clear that the church ruled during this
period, but how did the saints in heaven rule? My explanation is that they
ruled through the agency of angels. We have some evidence of this through
the letters to the seven churches. Those letters were to the seven angels
who were associated with the churches (Rev 1:20, 2:1, 8, etc.). They were
busy doing something for those churches, though the text does not say what.
We also know that I Cor 6:3 indicates that the saints will rule angels.
Based upon this evidence, I conclude that the resurrected 144,000 were busy
through the millennium managing the affairs of the church on the earth
through the agency of angels.

Since the resurrected saints are promised a crown, it is fitting that these
firstfruits from the dead would have been given a kingdom, since that is
what we are promised when we rise from the dead (II Tim 4:8). Their crowns
and thrones give assurance to the rest of us that we also will receive a
kingdom since these firstfruits from the First Resurrection have already
received a throne. The kingdom of Christ is actually already underway. He
received authority in heaven to take possession of His kingdom on earth (Lk
19:15), but His enemies are in rebellion here and will not have Him to rule
over them (Lk 19:14). Therefore God told Him to rule on God’s throne until
God made Christ’s enemies the footstool of His feet (Acts 2:34-35). The
firstfruits from the dead, those in the First Resurrection, are our
guarantee the it was not just Christ that rose from the dead, but that He
truly has conquered death and these 144,000 are our insurance that we will
rise and rule.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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