The thousand-year reign

Revelation 20:1-6 (NIV): “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations any more until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands.

They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.

Well, we now come to six verses in Revelation, which have been tortured into many different interpretations and they can’t all be right! My first point is that we can’t take any six verses in the Bible and look at them in isolation – they must align with what the rest of Scripture tells us. Next, I take the view that the language in Revelation is symbolic and John’s imagery is not in chronological order.

Consequently, the term, ‘a thousand years’ means for me – a complete and perfect time; keeping in mind that time periods – day, week or years have no relevance in heaven (there are many verses, which support this position) – time periods in heaven, do not exist as we understand the earthly concept of time.

Next fact – Jesus is reigning right now – His Kingdom has come; He has already defeated Satan through His death and resurrection. Colossians 2:15, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, Jesus made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” John 18:36, “Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. … But now my kingdom is from another place.”

As the power of the devil has been broken by Jesus – he has no power over us while we remain in Christ’s love. There are boundaries placed on Satan’s activities. (Paul’s letter to the Romans discusses in great detail the fact that we have been set free from our sinful nature through Jesus.)

It’s our witness to Jesus in the midst of the chaos and destruction of this current age that we testify to Christ’s victory on the cross, and by our actions and words proclaim the arrival of His Kingdom. Mark 9:1, ‘And Jesus said to them,Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.” ‘

Meanwhile back in Revelation 11:15, we read these words: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiahand he will reign for ever and ever.” It appears, to me, that Jesus reigns for ever and ever. In addition, the verses in Revelation 20, does not say that Jesus will only reign on earth for a thousand years, but that the blessed and holy ones will reign with Him for a thousand years (where?). That is, you could have an interpretation which allows for Christ to be King of kings – at all times; and the holy people of God join Him, for a thousand years (a perfect and complete time).

Hopefully, I’ve pointed out enough issues which make a literal interpretation of these verses to be unlikely (the same sort of issues are faced in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians 4).  I don’t think it’s that important what type of ‘millennialist’ you are – as long as you are following Jesus with all your heart, mind and spirit; and, you’re seeking to do His will, at all times.

On a separate issue – I don’t see the destruction of the beast and the false prophet as a separate event; Revelation 20 is just another view of the same event (to draw out more information), the dragon (devil) meets his end in the lake of burning sulphur, at the same time. Again, I don’t think it’s that important if you hold a different view – the main thing is that all evil ends, with God’s perfect judgement.

In summary, it’s important not to get too judgemental of your fellow servants in-Christ – if they happen to have a different view of these verses. If, these verses worry you, please pray about it – as I’ve said on earlier occasions – Jesus loves you, He will provide you with a level of understanding required, for you to continue your journey.

Therefore, I [mostly 🙂 ] agree with Selwyn’s final words on today’s study: “No matter what our view of this thousand-year reign, everyone can be encouraged by the knowledge that Satan and his evil influence will one day be suspended and the eliminated from the world. A friend of mine likes to call himself a pan-millennialist. ‘Everything,’ he says ‘is going to pan out all right in the end.’