Tomorrow’s Sunday school class looks at Revelation 5, which is much like using a “Google Heaven” to explore the throne room of God. If you have ever used Google Earth, then you know the program generates 3D views of just about anywhere on planet earth. In our Bibles (Rev 4-5), we are given a Google-styled tour of heaven and the end time events to follow (Rev 6-22).
Once again, I’m indebted to Dr. Michael J. Vlach for his excellent book Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus. In it he unpacks three amazing truths from the text of Rev 5:10 that deal with Jesus’ millennial kingdom. For the believer, it is both future and earthly, which is in direct contrast with other views that see it as present and spiritual in nature:
About sixty years into the church age (ca. A.D. 90), the apostle John received visions concerning events to come. According to Revelation 5, he was allowed to see a scene in heaven where twenty-four elders sang a new song:
“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Rev 5:10).
The ones Jesus purchased with His blood (5:9) are “a kingdom.” They are positionally related to the kingdom because they know King Jesus. Yet this positional status will lead to an actual kingdom reign—”and they will reign upon the earth.” Being positionally related to the kingdom results eventually in a coming kingdom reign.
Three points are significant for understanding Messiah’s kingdom from Rev 5:10. First, the saints of God are destined to reign with Christ. There is a close connection between the reign of the Messiah and the reign of the saints. When Jesus reigns, the saints will also reign. Other passages present the reign of the saints as future. In 1 Cor 4:8 Paul made a brief statement to the Corinthians who were acting as if they were already reigning. He said, “You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have already become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.” The Corinthians were acting like they had arrived, that they were reigning in God’s kingdom already. But Paul sarcastically mocks their attitude. He plays along and says that they have become “filled” and “rich.” “You have become kings without us,” he declared. Paul then switches back to reality by telling them, “I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.” Contrary to the way the Corinthians were acting, Paul says that they were not reigning. It would be nice if they were reigning because Paul would like to be reigning too. But that was not reality yet.
Second, Rev 5:10 indicates that this reign is future—”they will reign.” The present age is an era of persecution and trial from Satan and his servants. That is why Jesus offers future rewards to the seven churches of Asia Minor (see Revelation 2-3). But a day is coming when the tables will be turned and those who are persecuted by the world will reign.
Third, this coming reign of the saints is “upon the earth.” This shows that the kingdom of Christ is an earthly reign. This is not a reign that only exists in heaven or in the church or in the hearts of men. It is an earthly kingdom. The promise that the saints will reign upon the earth finds its culmination with Rev 20:4 when the saints will sit upon the thrones and judgment is given to them. A close connection exists between Rev 5:10 and Rev 20:4. The former is the promise of a coming reign, the latter describes the inauguration of that reign. (47-48)
Be sure to pick up a copy of this book and continue reading from where I left off. Vlach points to several other passages that place the reign of Jesus and the saints in the future.