Your Crown is Coming

December 29 Day 363

Your Crown is Coming

Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne in 1952. At her coronation in Westminster Abbey, she was handed a Bible, anointed and then crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Her Diamond Jubilee was a multinational celebration marking the sixtieth anniversary of her accession to the throne. The climax was a weekend in June 2012 filled with street parties and concerts, a special service of thanksgiving and the largest river-pageant for 300 years. The whole country came together to celebrate.  On 6 February 2017, she became the first British monarch to celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, commemorating sixty-five years on the throne.

According to the New Testament, every Christian will be crowned and will reign even longer and there will be an even bigger cause for celebration and rejoicing than that of any earthly ruler. You will reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4,6). What does this mean? Who reigns with him? When does this reign begin?

Enjoy the honour of being crowned by the Lord

Psalm 149:1-9

The people of God are called to celebrate their sovereign Creator, their King (v.2, MSG), to praise him with dancing and make music to him (vv.2–3).

The reason given is that ‘the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in this honour and sing for joy on their beds’ (vv.4–5). ‘All who love God’ are ‘in the seat of honour’ (v.9, MSG). There is a hint here, in the crowning of his people, of reigning with Christ.

God delights in sharing his blessings with you, and these verses are a reminder of how much you have already received from him. You can delight in the ‘crown’ of salvation, and rejoice in the honour of being in relationship with him.

The psalmist goes on to say that God’s people will execute judgment (‘a double-edged sword in their hands’, v.6b). In our New Testament passage for today, we see that God’s people will accompany Christ in judgment (Revelation 19:11 onwards). The weapons are not literal swords, but the double-edged sword of the word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

This awesome responsibility and honour could easily make for pride. However, he ‘crowns the humble’ (Psalm 149:4). We have not earned our salvation. It is a gift. We have not earned the right to reign with Christ. This also is an extraordinary gift, privilege and honour.

Lord, thank you that you crown me with salvation. Thank you that you call me to reign with you. Thank you that you are my King, and that you call me to be a co-heir with Christ.

Experience your reign with Christ now

Revelation 20:1-15

However we interpret the specifics of this passage, it is clearly wonderful news: Christ will return, Satan will be overthrown, and you will reign with Jesus and experience eternal life. This is something worth celebrating!

This is a notoriously difficult passage in the book of Revelation. Many books, commentaries and novels have been written about ‘millennialism’ and when ‘the rapture’ will take place. There are passionately held views on this subject and, sadly, divisions in the church over it. It is, therefore, with some trepidation that I express here my tentative views on the subject.

A millennium (plural millennia) is a period of time equal to 1,000 years. It derives from the Latin mille, thousand, and annus, year. Several times ‘a thousand year’ period is mentioned (vv.2–7). When is this thousand-year period? Broadly speaking, there have been three views:

  1. Postmillennialism
    This is the view that the return of Christ would not occur until the kingdom of God had been established by the church in human history for a thousand years.

  2. Premillennialism
    This is the view that the coming of Christ will be followed by the binding of Satan and the resurrection of the saints who will be ‘raptured’ and will join him in a temporal kingdom where he reigns over the earth for a thousand years. This millennial kingdom will end with a final rebellion and the last judgment.

  3. Amillennialism
    This is the view that the thousand years is the period between the first and second coming of Christ. This position holds that the period of a thousand years is metaphorical, not literal and that the rapture will occur when Christ returns.

No doubt there is room for difference of opinion between Christians on this matter. Personally, I think there are difficulties with all three views. However, when we read this passage in the context of the rest of the New Testament and the Bible as a whole, I take the view that in spite of all the arguments to the contrary, ‘amillennialism’ fits best with the evidence.

As we have seen, much of the language of the book of Revelation is apocalyptic language and not intended to be interpreted literally. The ‘one thousand years’ stands for a very long but unspecified period of time. What is the evidence that the one-thousand-year period has already begun?

First, Satan is bound (v.2). The devil is described as ‘the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan’ (v.2). By his coming, Jesus defeated Satan. He bound the ‘strong man’ (Mark 3:27; Matthew 12:29). On the cross, Satan was defeated – thrown ‘into the Abyss’, which was ‘locked and sealed’ over him (Revelation 20:3).

Second, the nations are not deceived any more during this period: ‘to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended’ (v.3). This is the era of the church, when the gospel is preached to all nations. Millions, and now billions, profess the name of Christ. Their eyes are being opened to the good news of Jesus.

Third, according to the apostle Paul, we are already reigning with Christ. The resurrected martyrs and people of God reign with Christ for a thousand years. ‘I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge... they reigned with Christ for a thousand years’ (v.4). As St Paul put it, ‘God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6).

Fourth, you are called to reign as ‘priests of God and of Christ’ (Revelation 20:6). This priesthood of all believers has already begun. We are called to be ‘a holy priesthood’ (1 Peter 2:5). Indeed, Peter refers to us as ‘a royal priesthood’ (v.9).

At the end of this period, Satan will be ‘released from his prison’ (Revelation 20:7), and the final conflict will take place. Once again, we see here that it will not really be a conflict at all. Rather, it will be the outworking of the victory that Jesus has already achieved. The destruction of evil will be complete (vv.8–10). Then the final judgment will take place (vv.11–15).

Lord, thank you that you have raised us up with Christ and seated us along with him in the heavenly realms. Help me to make the most of every opportunity to bring the good news to the nations.

Exercise your God-given authority responsibly

Nehemiah 9:38-11:21

As in so many Old Testament passages, here we get a foretaste of the future. God delights in his people. He puts us in positions of authority to rule and to reign. However, we are called to exercise this authority with obedience and responsibility (10:35).

The people of God made a binding agreement, putting it in writing. The leaders, Levites and priests affixed their seals to it (9:38). They promised to keep the Law and ‘bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God’ (10:29).

Their problem, like ours, was an inability to keep the laws. We would therefore be under God’s curse but for the fact that Jesus bore it for us on the cross (Galatians 3:13).

We are called to a balanced rhythm of life that includes work and rest.

The people of God had to keep to the Sabbath and, every seventh year, forgo working the land and cancel all debts (Nehemiah 10:31). They had to offer sacrifices to make atonement for their sins (v.33).

The leaders settled in Jerusalem (11:1), but it is clear from this passage that the pledge was by the community – the keeping of the law was plainly made the responsibility of everyone, not just the kings and princes.

Lord, thank you that I am called to take responsibility for my own life and for serving you and obeying your commands. Thank you that I need no longer make sacrifices in order to make atonement for my sins. Thank you that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, not only has Satan been defeated but you have raised me with Christ to reign with him in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:20–21).

Pippa Adds

Revelation 20:12b

‘The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.’

I’m quite nervous about the judgment day. I dread to think what is written in ‘the books’ about me... and I also wonder what God thinks about the amount of chocolate I eat!
 

 

Verse of the Day

‘The Lord takes delight in his people. He crowns the humble with salvation’ (Psalm 149:4).

References

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.