My ONE FRIENDS Jim has a question. I’ll quote him from a comment he made.
Why is the 1,000 year reign of Christ a literal 1,000 years. It would be in the only place in all of Scripture that the word "thousand" meant a literal and exact 1,000. Again, no amillenialist takes issue with whether Christ will reign (or, i guess, is reigning). The issue is with the literal 1,000 years.
While Jim’s comment is slightly inaccurate since the differences between A-Mil and Pre-Mil span a far greater chasm than just the 1,000 years being literal or figurative, I think the question warrants answering. Why does that 1,000 years referred to in Revelation 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 have to be a literal 1,000 years? Why can’t it just be a symbolic number used to tell us some spiritual truth about something else? Before I deal with that issue specifically, I would like to address some other points of interest concerning the thousand years.
The placement of the thousand years.
First of all, one of the big differences between A-Mill and Pre-Mill is where to place the thousand years. Pre-Mill would say that the thousand years is yet future while A-Mill would say that it is occurring right now, but in a non-literal way. Perhaps if we reduce the debate to this issue alone, we may be able to make some headway. In this section, I would like to strip away any preconceived notions that we have and stick solely to the few texts that we have. That means we cannot use the phrase “the thousand year reign of Christ” since it doesn’t occur. We cannot say “The Millennial Kingdom”; it doesn’t exist in scripture. This is one reason that I prefer the phrase “Messianic Kingdom” more and more, for those readers who haven’t caught on yet. What do we know about this alleged “thousand years”?
Satan is bound ~ We know that Satan is bound in the bottomless pit during the thousand years. Satan will be shut up with a seal upon him with no ability to deceive the nations. Within this language is a reference that the thousand years has an end, since it states that after the thousand years are “fulfilled”, Satan will be released. So before and after the thousand years, Satan is loosed deceiving the nations.
The reign of the saints ~ Those who have a part in the first resurrection will reign with Christ for a thousand years. It is understood that Christ is reigning, but Christ’s reign is not limited to a thousand years by the text. Only the reign of those who reign with Christ is described as lasting for a thousand years. Those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and the word of God are stated to have a part in the first resurrection. Also, those who refused to worship the beast, his image, and refused to take his mark are stated to have a part in the first resurrection. Those who have a part in the first resurrection are then described as priests of God and of Christ. Thrones, judgement, and reign are the words to describe the new position of the saints.
The non-resurrection ~ An important point must not be overlooked. Arguments from silence are used so frequently in debates, yet some of them are biblical. Here we have a description of an omission. There are described in the text some who are brought to life to reign with Christ for a thousand years. Yet it states that there are others who are not brought to life. The remnant who are not brought to life are stated to be brought to life after the thousand years are finished. So while the thousand years is occurring, there are many who remain dead in a state of non-resurrection.
Its beginning point.
The thousand years has a beginning point. It begins with the binding of Satan. The effect of this binding is that Satan can no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years are over. There are different views as to the chronology of Revelation. If you have already chosen a viewpoint, you may have already determined how you will read this text before even examining other passages. My view point is one of linking common themes throughout the book and letting these themes determine the chronology.
We know that Satan will give his power to a governmental framework and a man at the head of that system, Revelation 13:2. We know that unclean spirits will come forth from Satan, the beast, and the false prophet in order to work miracles to gather the kings of the earth to Armageddon for battle, Revelation 16:12-16. It is this very gathering that is described in Revelation 19:17-21 just previous to the description of the binding of Satan. Linking this common theme together, I believe we can safely put the binding of Satan directly after the battle of Armageddon.
Although there will be a final gathering against the Christ at Armageddon, this deception of the nations is typical of this age. Psalm 2, which is a Messianic psalm, speaks of the kings of the earth gathering together against the Messiah. The early church quoted this psalm as the rulers of Israel stood against the message of repentance and forgiveness in the name of Jesus, Acts 4:23-31. So to place the binding of Satan at the beginning of the church age seems to run counter to the way the early church saw the kings of the earth still under the influence of Satan.
The binding of Satan is something that is not occurring right now according to the way the early church interpreted Psalm 2. The nations are still deceived into thinking they can stand against Messiah and Messiah’s people. Only after the battle of Armageddon will Satan be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years.
The first resurrection is also an event that occurs at the beginning of the thousand years. Identifying the people who are resurrected in the first resurrection gives us tremendous insight as to when it will occur. When we read that those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and the word are included, we may yet remain vague in our viewpoint. But as soon as the text mentions those who refused to worship the beast, worship his image, or to take the mark of the beast, we know the first resurrection must occur after the 42 months of persecution against the saints by this beast and false prophet. Then we can move back and reexamine the inclusion of all who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and the word and see this occurs after the persecution of this entire present time is over. This present persecution will culminate in the great tribulation which begins with the 42 months previously mentioned. Conclusion: The first resurrection occurs after the great tribulation.
Thus we see that the beginning of the thousand years is after the battle of Armageddon and after the 42 month period of persecution against the saints by the beast (empowered by Satan) and the false prophet, also known as the great tribulation.
Its ending point.
The thousand years are said to fulfilled, finished, or expired, but the Greek word in each situation is the same, teleo. The idea of this word is to be finished, to bring to an end, to be completed. This is what Jesus said from the cross when He cried out “It is finished!” So while it is plain that the thousand years have a beginning, they also have an ending.
The one event that practically defines the “teleo” of the thousand years is the release of Satan from His prison. After His release, he deceives nations to gather them to battle. Some would say that John is seeing a recap, or a retelling of what he has previously seen. Some would say that this is just another vision of Armageddon from another point of view. There is one good reason why this cannot be a review of Armageddon. After this deception and gathering, Satan is cast into the lake of fire to join two other figures who are already there. The beast and false prophet are already in the lake of fire when Satan is cast there after the thousand years. This shows us that we have a chronological reading of Revelation 19 with Revelation 20. The beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire at the battle of Armageddon which is before the thousand years, and Satan is cast there to join them after the thousand years.
There are other differences which are noteworthy. When the beast and false prophet gather kings to make war at Armageddon, it is against the One who sits on the horse, meaning Christ. When Satan gathers the nations after the thousand years, they surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city. This shows us that the saints are centrally located in one position at this time somehow in connection with the beloved city. Also, at Armageddon the birds devour carcasses which had been slain by The Word of God. After the thousand years, fire from heaven devours those gathered against the saints. Different OT prophecies are referred to as well. In reference to the beast, imagery from Daniel is invoked. In those OT passages, the governmental systems of this world are smashed and given to the saints. After the thousand years, the prophecies of Gog and Magog from Ezekiel are referenced. Those who know my views on Gog and Magog understand where I am coming from. I think I’ll post a refresher on that.
Whether or not this time period is an ideal, or symbolic time period, there is no way to get around the fact that it is still a time period with a beginning and an ending. This time period will begin at the end of this age. There is no way to interpret these passages to mean that the thousand years are occurring right now. My next post will focus on the use of literal versus symbolic time periods in the book of Revelation.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman