The Final Rebellion
The church has been raptured from Earth. Israel and the world have suffered through seven years of tribulation. Jesus Christ has descended to Earth on a white horse for His Second Coming. The long-awaited Messianic, Millennial Kingdom has come. Christ, the “The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) and “Sun of righteousness” (Mal. 4:2), reigns absolute for a thousand years (Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:15). It couldn’t get any better.
Yet, surprisingly, at the end of the Millennium a great rebellion occurs. Why? How can an ideal world suddenly revolt against God? The answer lies in three important facts: First, Satan exists. Second, sin is ever present. Third, the old sin nature seeks to live on.
Yes, Virginia, There Is a Devil
A story is told about two youngsters who argued over the existence of the Devil. One said, “Oh, there isn’t any Devil.”
The other, rather upset, said, “What do you mean, there isn’t any Devil? The Bible talks about him all the time!” (He’s mentioned seven times in the Old Testament, nineteen times in the New Testament; and Jesus mentioned him fifteen times.)
The first child then replied, “Naw, there really is no Devil, you know. It’s just like Santa Claus. The Devil turns out to be your dad.”1 Although some people are like this child and believe the Devil is merely a myth, he is real indeed. And he is the first cause for the world’s final rebellion against God.
Like the other angels, Satan was a perfect, created being (Ezek. 28:11– 16). His sin originated in pride, grew into self-deception, and ended in rebellion (Isa. 14:13–14; Ezek. 28:15, 17; Rev. 12:4). He is pure evil (Jn. 8:44; 2 Cor. 11:3; 2 Tim. 2:26); the “god of this age [world]” (2 Cor. 4:4); and the “prince of the power of the air,” whose authority extends over the unsaved (Eph. 2:2; 1 Jn. 5:19) and allows him to accuse the brethren (saved people) before God, day and night (Rev. 12:10).
In a spiritual sense, he is the father of all who accept his philosophy of independence from God (Jn. 8:44).
During the Millennium, life will be much as it was in the Garden of Eden. It was in Eden that Satan deceived Adam and Eve. However, during Christ’s reign he will not be able to deceive the inhabitants of the earth because he will be bound in the abyss, or bottomless pit, for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1–3).
Nevertheless, man’s evil inclination will make people susceptible to Satan’s deceptive ways as the Kingdom Age comes to a close. Scripture makes it clear that a massive group in that generation will be disposed to follow Satan when he is set loose (Rev. 20:7–9). What a pity, for it and Satan will be devoured by fire from heaven (Rev. 20:9).
Yet today there are those who, in outward hypocrisy, display conformity to the rule of Christ but inwardly accept the lying promises of Satan. As someone once said,
Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst; he promises honor and pays with disgrace; he promises pleasure and pays with pain; he promises profit and pays with loss; he promises life and pays with death.2
The testimony of Scripture is that Satan is a living being who will instigate the final rebellion. The good news is that his final doom is irrevocable and his final destination is the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10).
Missing the Mark
The archer carefully sights his target, pulls back the string of his bow, and takes a deep breath as he releases the arrow. Whistling through the air, the arrow appears to strike the target. But as the archer approaches, he is dismayed. In spite of all his training and skill, he has missed his mark. Humanity also has missed the mark of God’s perfect righteousness. Our defect is called sin (Gen. 3:4; Rom. 3:23; Rom. 5:12, 19).
Sin manifested itself among the angelic host (2 Pet. 2:4). It also entered the human experience as recorded in Genesis 3 with the fall of Adam and Eve.
There are many expressions for sin in the Bible. However, the main significance of all sin is that it is directed against God:
We never see sin aright until we see it as against God. . . . All sin is against God in this sense: that it is His law that is broken, His authority that is despised, His government that is set at naught. . . . Pharaoh and Balaam, Saul and Judas each said, “I have sinned”; but the returning prodigal said, “I have sinned against heaven and before thee”; and David said, “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned.”3
The former Pharisee rabbi, Paul, also expressed its offense: “The carnal mind is enmity against God” (Rom. 8:7). Even the ancient rabbis viewed sin as nothing more or less than rebellion against God. Sin is a falling away from a relationship of faithfulness toward God (Jer. 3:10; Hos. 2). Sin is disobedience to the Word and commands of God (1 Sam. 15:23; Ps. 78). The result is separation from God (Isa. 59:2).
The Millennium will be a theocratic rule. Although sin’s outward expression will be forbidden, discontent and wickedness will exist in the hearts of men. Multitudes will yield superficial obedience to Christ (Ps. 18:44). So when Satan is set free at the end of the thousand years, he will lead a rebellion of people as numerous “as the sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8).
Why? Because sin dulls man’s hearing of God’s Word: “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken” (Jer. 6:10).
Sin darkens human understanding: “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God” (Rom. 3:11; cf. Eph. 4:18).
Finally, sin decays the conscience (Isa. 42:18–25; 1 Tim 4:1–2) and eventually destroys the soul (Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 6:23).
Susannah Wesley, mother of the great Methodist preacher John Wesley, defined sin for her son this way: “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, and takes off the relish of spiritual things—that to you is sin.”4
Not everyone in the coming Kingdom will accept Christ. Many will be enemies of the Lord in their hearts. Sin will still be an active influence and a real factor in the final rebellion.
The Enemy Within
Yet another grim factor will contribute to the final rebellion against God. It is like an enemy within, a type of Trojan horse.
The story goes that ancient Greece fooled the defenders of the city of Troy into believing it had retreated. In front of the city gate a large wooden horse was left as a “gift.” The trojans rejoiced that the enemy left and, in a false sense of safety, pulled the wooden horse inside the city walls. What they didn’t know was that Greek soldiers were hiding inside the structure. As the drunken Trojans slept, the Greeks emerged and conquered them.
Similarly, unregenerate humanity is unaware of the insidious enemy that constantly dwells within. Scripture calls it the “old man” (Eph. 4:22), commonly understood as the old sin nature.
The sin nature is one of the consequences of man’s Fall (Gen. 3). Adam’s sin and guilt are divinely imputed directly to every person at birth (Rom. 5:12). The result is that man, although physically alive, is actually spiritually dead and separated from God (Eph. 2:1, 5). No one is righteous in God’s eyes, and no one naturally seeks after Him (Ps. 53:1–3; Eccl. 7:20; Rom. 3:9–12). Such is the state of fallen humanity: sinful by nature and spiritually dead.
God made a provision to deal with this human moral and spiritual problem. Although the Bible says we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1) and “were by nature the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3), it also says that the problem was dealt with at the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). The gift of Christ’s righteousness is divinely imputed on all who believe and accept Him as their Lord and Savior (Rom. 5:17–19). For them the eternal penalty has been removed, and they have been sealed by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13).
In spite of the fact that the old sinful nature has been crucified (Gal. 2:20), this earthly stigma still seeks to revive and take control (1 Cor. 3:1; 1 Jn. 1:8).
The life of the consistent Christian is a ceaseless, inner conflict between the old sin nature and the Holy Spirit (Rom. 7:15–25). The Millennium environment will be ideal for godliness. Satan will be bound and his voice silenced in the hearts and minds of people for a thousand years. Thoughts of rebellion or stubbornness against God certainly will not be publicized while Christ rules from His throne as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Yet, exclusive of any external stimuli, the old sin nature will thrive. It will continue to tempt and lure many in the Millennium generation into a state of sinfulness. The ultimate consequence will be a futile assault against the saints and the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 20:8–9). Thus the third factor that contributes to man’s final rebellion is the energizing force of the old sin nature.
The earthly Millennium to come will be ideal, not perfect. Problems will exist. Satan, sin, and the old sin nature will be major contributors to the final rebellion.
A story is told that the French Academy took 297 years to write a book of 263 pages. Grammaire de L’ Academie Francaise was written from 1635 to 1932; and, when finally published, it contained fifty errors!5 Time and utopian conditions will not improve mankind. Only genuine belief in the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary can make an everlasting difference now and for those in the Kingdom to come.
- G. Lewis, Demon Possession, ed. J. Montgomery, in “Humor,” [www.christianglobe.com/Illustrations/theDetails.asp?whichOne=d&whichFile=devil].
- Thomas Brooks, in “Quotes,” [www.bible.org/illus/s/s-18.htm].
- W. S. Plummer, quoted in Jerry Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1978), 20–21.
- Resource, July/August 1990, in “Sin,” [www.christianglobe.com/Illustrations/theDetails.asp?whichOne=d&whichFile=sin].
- Paul Lee Tan, Encyclopedia of 7,700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (Rockville, Md.: Assurance