Grace Changes Everything

Redeemer Presbyterian

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Jesus Shall Reign

In the last of his seven Narnia books, C. S. Lewis concluded his fantasy series with themes drawn from the final chapters of Revelation. Lewis’ The Last Battle describes the conquest of Narnia by the tyrannical Calormene army, whose leader the Tarkaan represents Revelation’s villainous beast. This despot could never have taken over Narnia, however, without the help of another figure who represents Revelation’s false prophet, whom Lewis depicts as a talking monkey named Shift. The ape had found a lion’s skin and draped it over his reluctant conspirator, a donkey named Puzzle. When the donkey was seen in poor lighting, the Narnians were persuaded that this false Christ was really their divine King, the lion Aslan. ‘You will pretend to be Aslan,’ the monkey explained to the donkey, ‘and I’ll tell you what to say.’ Soon, Shift had secured power for the sake of the Calormene invaders, and, supposedly at Aslan’s command, the evil soldiers began destroying forests and otherwise devastating Narnia. The false prophet had succeeded not only in passing power to the tyrant, but also in tarnishing the faith of many who had believed in Aslan.[1]

Lewis’ allegory captures the satanic strategy that Revelation foretells for the end of history. The apostle John writes that, supported by the false prophet, ‘the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war’ (Rev. 19:19). Lewis highlighted the role played by the false prophet’s deceptions, even as he mocked him as ‘the cleverest, ugliest, most wrinkled Ape you can imagine.’ As the book moves to its climax, brave King Tirian calls the legendary Narnian heroes from all the previous books – Polly, Digory, Edmund, Lucy, Jill, Eustace, and the High King Peter – who together represent the faithful, militant church. In the end, their struggle is crowned with victory by the appearing of Aslan, who brings Narnia to an end in final judgment and the coming of a new world.

This week we turn to Revelations 19:11-20:15, which, while highlighting the ultimate triumph of Christ in the last battle against evil, also contains one of the most controversial subjects within the whole of the book of Revelation. In Revelation 20 we are told of a ‘thousand year’ reign of Jesus, known best by its Latin name, the ‘millennium’. Historically, there have been very few, if any, issues born out of a study of the book of Revelation that have caused more strife and division between Christians. For our consideration, however, we will look at this wonderful thousand-year period in the context of the whole book of Revelation and seek to understand how John’s original audience would have been deeply encouraged from this grand vision. (If you must simply have a more specific understanding of this thousand-year period, especially concerning the three main schools of millennial thought that have been developed by thinking Christians in church history, let me know and I can provide it for you.)

You will want to be with us this week as we consider themes such as Gog and Magog, the binding of Satan, the great white throne of judgment, and, of course, the millennium. Join us this Lord’s Day as we talk about ‘Jesus Shall Reign!’ Remember to pray for our services and invite someone to come along with you. I look forward to worshiping with you this Lord’s Day.

Grace upon Grace, Wayne

[1]  As recounted in Rick Phillips, Revelation: Reformed Expository Commentary (New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2017), 553-4. If you only had one commentary on the book of Revelation, I would recommend this one for your library.