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Revelation Chapter 20 – The First Resurrection

“Next I saw an angel coming down from heaven, who had the key to the Abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan [the Adversary], and chained him up for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, locked it and sealed it over him; so that he could not deceive the nations any more until the thousand years were over. After that, he has to be set free for a little while.”

A messenger comes down from heaven with a key and a chain in his hand. His purpose is to seize the Dragon, one of satan’s demonic forces, and lock him up. According to the prophet Isaiah, the Dragon is Leviathan, the ‘serpent in the sea’ –– the Adversary in the midst of the world (Isaiah 27:1). According to Psalm 74, Leviathan also has many ‘heads’ or ‘leaders’ that will be judged (Psalm 74:14).

In the days of Noach, the angels that left their heavenly realm of power and defiled human women were bound with everlasting chains. According to the Amplified Version, the chains kept these fallen beings in ‘the thick gloom of utter darkness’ (Jude 6). Now, the Adversary who deceived Havah in Gan Eden will be imprisoned and kept in that same darkness.

‘Abyss’ in Hebrew is tehom and is used for the ‘the depths of the seas.’ The tehom is the place described as the waters beneath the waters where Leviathan is imprisoned (Job 41:1-3). The word tehom is used in Genesis 1:2 as tohu v’bohu meaning ‘darkness’ or ‘void.’ The Adversary, along with the fallen angels and Leviathan, are in the dark void of the deep waiting for the Day of Judgment.

These enemies of Adonai will be bound for one-thousand years during the Messianic Era and the reign of King Yeshua. During this one-thousand year period, human lifespan will be restored as it was when Adam and his descendants lived nearly one-thousand years. “No more will babies die in infancy, no more will an old man die short of his days — he who dies at a hundred will be thought young, and at less than a hundred thought cursed” (Isaiah 65:20).

“Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them received authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for testifying about Yeshua and proclaiming the Word of God, also those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands. They came to life and ruled with the Messiah for a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over him the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years.”

Yochanan sees thrones on which are seated resurrected martyrs; saints beheaded for their testimony of Yeshua. Those who had not worshiped the ‘beast’ or its image and didn’t receive the ‘mark’ on their foreheads or hands also receive authority to rule and reign with King Yeshua. This is not the first time this group of holy ones who have a testimony of Yeshua and obey the Torah have been blessed.

These two groups of people made a stand for righteousness in the world. One group practiced standing for Yeshua and the Torah every day, suffering persecution that ultimately led to their death. The second group didn’t bow to serve the ‘beast’ to protect their lives. Taking for righteousness or making a stand against the ‘beast’ is not something that just suddenly happens. Standing for righteousness and against the ‘mark’ of the beast’ takes discernment, courage, and faith.

What if the ‘mark of the beast’ is the rejection of the holy Sabbath as one denomination claims (Ezekiel 20:2)? What if taking the ‘mark of the beast’ requires eating ‘unclean’ animals (Isaiah 66:15-18)? What if taking the ‘mark of the beast’ means death for keeping Adonai’s ‘appointed times’ (Daniel 7:25). How does someone suddenly start obeying Torah when faced with death? Being a holy one, a saint, is defined as one who has a testimony of Yeshua and keeps the commandments of Adonai. Obeying Torah because of faith in Yeshua strengthens the holy ones, the saints, to stand when faced with persecution and death.

Those who come back to life during the great harvest take part in the first resurrection; they are blessed and holy. This first resurrection prophesied by Daniel and Ezekiel we believed by the sect of Pharisees and many Jews.

“Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence” (Daniel 12:2).

“He asked me, “Human being, can these bones live?” I answered, “Adonai Elohim! Only you know that!” Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones! Say to them, ‘Dry bones! Hear what Adonai has to say! To these bones Adonai Elohim says, “I will make breath enter you, and you will live” (Ezekiel 37:3-5).

Martha expressed her faith in the resurrection ‘at the last day,’ after her brother Lazarus died (John 11:21-27). Yeshua tells her, “‘I Am’ the Resurrection and the life” confirming the resurrection of the dead. Peter and Yochanan annoyed the Sadducean leadership because they used Yeshua’s resurrection as proof of the resurrection of the dead –– a belief they did not embrace (Acts 4:1-2). Sha’ul who was a Pharisee teaches about his hope in the resurrection: “And I continue to have a hope in God — which they too accept — that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous (Acts 24:15).

The Hebrew word for ‘blessed’ is barak and means ‘to kneel.’ This word suggests that those who attain to the first resurrection will kneel in reverence before the El Elyon. The Hebrew word for ‘holy is kadosh and means ‘to separate.’ Kadoshim are set-apart from infirmity, impurity, and sin – the ‘holy ones’ of Adonai. Those who take part in the first resurrection lived righteous lives of faith separating themselves from sin by obeying the commands of Elohim (1 John 4:3).

Sha’ul teaches that the resurrection has ‘parts.’ Yeshua was raised from the dead as the ‘firstfruits’ of those who have died. The word ‘firstfruits’ is plural meaning there were others who died and were raised to life with Yeshua. This may include Lazarus and the little girl, but there were ‘firstfruits’ who came out of the graves and walked around Jerusalem where many people saw them (Matthew 27:52-53).

The second part of the first resurrection, the main harvest of souls, will occur when Yeshua returns. Those who belong to him will come back to life at the beginning of the ‘last day.’ The resurrected saints, called the ‘royal priesthood,’ will reign with King Yeshua in the Millennial Kingdom as priests of Adonai (1 Peter 2:9). They will not experience the second death at the end of the one-thousand years.

“But the fact is that the Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died. For since death came through a man, also the resurrection of the dead has come through a man. For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive. But each in his own order: the Messiah is the firstfruits; then those who belong to the Messiah, at the time of his coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

The third part of the first resurrection will be the gleanings during the Messianic Era. During Yeshua’s Millennial reign, Satan is bound for one-thousand years. There will be no deception from the Adversary to deceive the world’s people; there will be no excuse of ‘the devil made me do it.’ Sin, however, will still rule the hearts of humanity. Sin that needs to be judged and atoned for.

Yeshua will sit on Mount Tziyon and rule the unredeemed nations with an ‘iron rod.’ ‘Iron’ suggests a strong rule of law,’ while ‘rod’ is an allusion to a ‘scepter’ that is used by a King. The King of Kings will not bend his ‘rod’ to the will of the kings of the nations. He will come against them and shatter them like a clay pot (Psalm 2:9). The overcomers from Thyatira rule and reign with ‘iron rods’ with him (Revelation 2:9). Ruling with an ‘iron rod’ means there is a standard of ‘law;’ the Torah that will remain the standard for justice until the the present heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:17-20).

Unredeemed mortals who make up the nations will have to follow Torah regulations for Temple services. The descendants of the priesthood from the clans of Levi, Aaron and Zadok priests will serve at the Altar of Sacrifice for the unredeemed of the nations.

“When the thousand years are over, the Adversary will be set free from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore; and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God’s people and the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

When the Messianic Era is complete, the Adversary will be set free from the Abyss to deceive the people of the world whose number is as great as the sands on the seashore. All nations will come into the land and surround Jerusalem. They will bring on the Gog and Magog war, the battle that reveals mankind’s problem is not the devil, but deep-rooted sin. Adonai looks down from heaven and laughs because the nations of the world will become the inheritance of His Son (Psalm 2).

Magog was Noach’s grandson whose descendants settled north of Isra’el. The prophet Ezekiel describes this nation as a huge, mighty army led by Gog, the chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval (Ezekiel 38:2, 15). Meshekh and Tuval were the sons of Japeth, the grandsons of Noach. The descendants of Meshekh settled north of the Black Sea in the area known today as the Republic of Georgia, a war-like land that hates peace (Psalm 120:4-6). Tuval settled in central Turkey which is where the final caiphate of Islam will be located.

Many scholars believe there are two Gog-Magog wars with Isra’el. The one described in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 occurs mid-way through the Great Tribulation with a few nations from the north attacking Isra’el. The result of this war brings Isra’el to repentance, the Messiah returns, and they worship Him during the Messianic Era.

The second Gog-Magog attack one-thousand years later is orchestrated by the Adversary once he is released from the Abyss. He is prepared to destroy Yeshua and the nation of Isra’el. In this war, all of the nations of the earth rebel against Yeshua. The battle between the Adversary and Yeshua will be quick as fire from heaven consumes the evil one. The ‘beast’ and the false prophet are thrown into the ‘burning lake of fire and sulfur’ along with the Adversary where they spend eternity in torment.

“Next I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire.”

Those mortal humans who remain alive at the end of the one-thousand years will immediately stand before the Great White Throne of judgment (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). Millions who died in the sea, and millions kept in Sh’ol are raised up to stand in front of the fiery throne. There will be no time for repentance; judgment as come and they will be judged by their works. This will be the final judgment for everyone through all time who rejected the offer of eternal life. Those who had a testimony of Yeshua and obeyed his commands have already been resurrected, received their immortal bodies, and reigned with Yeshua during his earthly Kingdom.

The Greek word for ‘judgment’ is bema and refers to the platform where one stands to receive the verdict for their crime. In the synagogue, the bema was a raised platform around the aron kodesh, the holy place, where the Torah scrolls were kept. A ner tamid or eternal light hangs over the area to symbolize the eternal light of the Torah. From the bema, Yeshua stood in the synagogue and read from Isaiah on a Sabbath (Luke 4:16-17). When the day of administering punishment or reward arrives, Adonai will stand each person on the bema and use Torah as His plumbline to execute justice (Daniel 2:2, John 5:28-29).

The prophet Daniel is given a vision of this final court of judgment on Yom Kippur. Thrones of the righteous redeemed were set in place. The Ancient One sat on his throne of fiery flames with wheels of burning fire –– a vision of the k’ruvim guarding the throne of Adonai. Fire flowed from His presence while thousands and thousands ministered to him. Millions and millions from all the nations stood before the throne; the court was convened, and books were opened. Yeshua separated the ‘sheep’ from the ‘goats.’ The ‘sheep’ who were kind to Isra’el go to his right hand and receive the blessing of their inheritance, the Kingdom prepared before the founding of the world; the ‘goats’ who mistreated Isra’el will go to his left and into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels! (Daniel 7:9-10, Matthew 25:31-45).

Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah begins the ten Days of Awe when each person takes time to repent for their sins. On Yom Kippur, ‘books are opened’ and the judgment verdict for each life is read and sealed. The prophetic vision for Yom Kippur is the final judgment at the Great White Throne when the Book of Life is opened (Psalm 138:16, Malachi 3:16). Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life or have been ‘blotted out’ experience the second death and receive eternal spiritual death in the ‘lake of burning fire and sulfur.’

“I also request you, loyal Syzygus, to help these women; for they have worked hard proclaiming the Good News with me, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow-workers whose names are in the Book of Life” (Philippians 4:3).

“He who wins the victory [in Sardis] will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before my Father and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5).

Yeshua will reward his ‘holy ones.’ Those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will receive rewards based on how they built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles (Ephesians 2:20). How each person builds on that foundation – with precious stones, wood or straw –– will be tested at the fire coming from Yeshua’s throne. Some will enter Eternity as just making it through the fire; others will receive crowns that last forever (2 Corinthians 9:25).

“All that awaits me now is the crown of righteousness which the Lord, “the Righteous Judge,” will award to me on that Day — and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for him to appear (2 Timothy 4:8).

“How blessed is the man who perseveres through temptation! For after he has passed the test, he will receive as his crown the Life which God has promised to those who love him(James 1:12).

“Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive glory as your unfading crown (1 Peter 5:4).

The present heaven and earth will vanish.

Chapter 21 – The Restoration and Renewal

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