<< Previous | Index | Next >>"THE TIME OF THE END" The 1000 Year Reign (Millennium) INTRODUCTION 1. Ideas regarding Christ's second coming are closely related to one's view of the millennium... a. A 1000 year reign b. Mentioned in just one passage of Scripture - Re 20:4 2. Briefly described, these views are... a. Pre-millennial - Jesus to return before He reigns a literal 1000 years on the earth b. Post-millennial - Jesus to return after He reigns a literal or figurative 1000 years from heaven c. A-millennial - There is no literal 1000 reign; Jesus reigns now and can return at any time 3. The premillennial view is very popular today... a. Especially the dispensational version of premillennialism b. Expressed often in books, movies, television, etc. [But does Rev 20:4 teach a literal 1000 reign of Christ on the earth? Is the premillennial interpretation of that passage consistent with that taught elsewhere in the Scriptures? Let's first examine...] I. THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT A. THE BINDING OF DECEPTIVE SATAN... 1. Just prior, the victory over the beast and false prophet are described - Re 19:19-20 2. Then Satan is bound with a chain and cast into a bottomless pit for 1000 years - Re 20:1-3 3. He is unable to deceive the nations like he did previously - cf. Re 12:9; 13:14 4. Afterward he is released to once more deceive the nations for a short time - Re 20:7-9a 5. But then Satan also is defeated once and for all - Re 20:9b-10 -- The 1000 year binding of Satan relates to his ability to deceive the nations B. THE REIGN OF RESURRECTED SOULS... 1. John sees thrones and resurrected souls reigning with Christ - Re 20:4-6 2. The souls are those beheaded for their witness, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, nor received the mark on their foreheads - cf. Re 12:11; 13:12-17; 14:9-11 3. They are blessed to experience a "first resurrection", serving as priests and reigning with Christ for "a thousand years" 4. A scene similar to one described earlier - cf. Re 15:2-4 -- Twice it is mentioned that such souls reign with Christ a 1000 years C. OBSERVATIONS... 1. The focus of this passage is not on the reign of Christ per se, but rather: a. The binding of deceptive Satan b. The reign of resurrected souls 2. Note carefully what is not said about the reign of resurrected souls a. Nothing is said about them reigning on earth b. They could just as easily be reigning with Christ in heaven! 3. The number 1000 is often used figuratively in Scripture a. Israelites were to keep the covenant for 1000 generations - Deut 7:9 b. Is it literal when God says that the cattle on 1000 hills are His? - Ps 50:10 c. God will remember His word for 1000 generations (but no more?) - Ps 105:8 4. If the 1000 year reign is to be taken literally, then why not also: a. The great chain - can a spiritual being like Satan be bound by a literal chain? b. The dragon and serpent - are we to understand Satan to be a literal dragon? c. The beheaded souls - are only those beheaded worthy to be with Christ during a literal reign on the earth? -- No one consistently interprets this passage literally; everyone interpret some element figuratively [Before we offer an explanation of the passage, let's take into consideration...] II. THE REMOTE CONTEXT A. THE BOOK OF REVELATION... 1. As a whole, it is a revelation by means of signs or visions - Re 1:1 (cf. "signified") 2. Consider the visions of Christ: a. Does He literally have a two-edged sword out of His mouth? - Re 1:16; 19:15 b. Is He literally a slain lamb, having seven horns and seven eyes? - Re 5:6 3. Consider other elements in visions throughout the book: a. Will a great star literally fall from heaven to the earth, without destroying it? - Re 8:10 b. Will the terrible locusts be literal (Hal Lindsey said they represent helicopters)? - Re 9:3 c. Will the beast of the sea be literal (most say he will be a world ruler)? - Re 13:1-2 d. Will the 144,000 be literal men who are virgins (JWs say the number is literal, but the description of only virgin men is not)? - Re 14:1-5 4. Note also to whom the book is written, and what is said about the timing of its events a. Written to seven churches in Asia - Re 1:4 b. About "things which must shortly take place" - Re 1:1 c. About things for which "the time is near" - Re 1:3 d. About "things which must shortly take place" - Re 22:6 e. About things not to be sealed, "for the time is at hand" - Re 22:10 -- The book of Revelation is filled with symbols and figurative language, written mostly to encourage the early Christians about things they were to soon face - cf. Re 2:10 B. THE REST OF THE NEW TESTAMENT... 1. There is no mention of a 1000 year reign of Christ on the earth! 2. Christ is reigning now from heaven a. He has all authority in heaven and on earth - Mt 28:18 b. He is Lord of all - Ac 2:36; 10:36 c. He is Lord of the living and the dead - Ro 14:9 d. He is head over all things - Ep 1:20-22 e. Angels, authorities, and powers have been made subject to Him - 1Pe 3:22 f. He is truly the ruler over the kings of the earth - Re 1:5 3. His kingdom (reign) was always intended to be spiritual, not physical a. He resisted when people tried to make Him an earthly king - Jn 6:15 b. He said that His kingdom was not of this world - Jn 18:36 c. His kingdom was not to come with observation, but to be within you - Lk 17:20-21 d. His apostles taught that kingdom was spiritual in nature - Ro 14:17 4. His coming again is not to establish His kingdom, but to deliver it to God a. When Christ comes and the dead are raised, that is the end - 1Co 15:22-24 b. He will deliver the kingdom to God, when He has put to an end all rule, authority and power - 1Co 15:24 c. He reigns now, and must do so until all enemies are put under His feet - 1Co 15:25 d. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death, which will occur when the body is raised from the dead - 1Co 15:26, 51-54 -- The NT (including Revelation) teaches that Christ is reigning now from heaven! C. OBSERVATIONS... 1. The idea that the 1000 year reign of Rev 20 is something that begins at least 2000 years after the book is written is contrary to the very words of the book itself - cf. Re 1:1,3; 22:6,10 2. The idea that Christ's kingdom has not yet been established, that it is to be a physical kingdom where Christ reigns from Jerusalem, is not taught in Rev 20, and is contrary to the clear teaching elsewhere in the NT concerning His kingdom and the events of His second coming - cf. 1Co 15:20-28 3. Like most of Revelation, chapter 20 is figurative, and must be handled carefully a. It was written to comfort Christians of the first century A.D. b. It provided hope to those who faced great tribulation when Satan deceived nations (like the Roman empire) to persecute Christians - cf. Re 2:10 c. Despite such efforts, Satan's power was limited, and He himself would be restrained for a long period of time (1000 years, figuratively speaking) - cf. Re 20:3 1) Notice, it is only his ability to deceive whole nations that is limited 2) His ability to deceive individual people remains unabated d. During that time when Satan's influence was weakened, those who suffered dearly would be privileged to join Christ in His kingly reign - cf. Re 20:4-6; note also Re 2:26-27 e. It is reasonable to assume that this reign is in heaven - cf. Re 3:21; 7:9-17; 15:2-4 f. Of course, the passage does suggest a short period of tribulation when Satan is released where he can deceive the nations again, but which will be terminated by the power of Christ's coming and the final judgment - cf. Re 20:7-15 -- Thus a literal 1000 year reign of Christ on earth is simply not taught in the NT CONCLUSION 1. The same can be said about other elements of dispensational premillennialism... a. The idea of special and secret rapture of just Christians b. The concept of several resurrections rather than just one -- Which we shall examine in the next lesson 2. What can be said about Revelation 20...? a. It is a figurative passage in a book that is highly symbolic b. No one interprets the passage entirely literally; everyone spiritualizes some portion of the book c. The passage should be interpreted in the context of the book overall and the rest of the NT d. It provided hope to those who experienced the terrible tribulation of the first three centuries e. It should encourage us never to despair when facing tribulation for the cause of Christ today We can take heart, knowing that even now Jesus is "ruler over the kings of the earth" and we are also reigning with Him...! - cf. Re 1:5-6; Ep 2:4-7<< Previous | Index | Next >>
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