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Millennium question

The Book of Revelation mentions a period of 1000 years when Satan is to be bound in the abyss and the saints rule and reign with Christ.  (Rev 20:1-5)  The plain-language interpretation of the text takes this at face value and works to harmonize this with the rest of prophetic Scripture.

There are those who regard the text as figurative and not to be taken at face value.  Those who adopt this view have argued that we are presently in the millennium right now.  Contextual reasons why this view is untenable:

Michael defeats Satan

Michael defeats Satan

1.  The chapter occurs after the descent of Christ from heaven with the armies of heaven following him. (Rev 19:19-14)  Whatever symbolism may be involved here, the picture just won’t fit the idea that we’re in the millennium right now.  Christians expect to follow Jesus into heaven (Phil 1:23) before returning with him later (1 Thes 4:14).  The non-millennial view has to interpret this as either all past-tense or else never happening at all.  All the Bible pieces just won’t fit into the non-millennial puzzle.

2.  The chapter occurs after the beast and false prophet (symbols of evil government and false religion?) are cast into the lake of fire. (Rev 19:20)  These conditions certainly exist on the earth today and are not banished in millennial glory.  So how could the millennium be a present reality?

3.  The chapter features the “binding” of Satan in the “bottomless pit” (Gr. abussos, or “abyss” – Rev 20:3), which, at a minimum, should reflect the absence of the devil rather than his presence.  If there’s any evidence that Satan has been banished from, for example, the south Asian sex slave trade in kidnapped women and children, it’s hard for this premillennialist to see it.

4.  Satan is not released from his prison until the completion of the 1,000 years (Rev 20:7).   Other Scriptures make it clear that Satan is upon the earth right now.  (1 Pe 5:8)  Once again, this just won’t jibe with the notion that we’re presently in the millennium right now.

5.  The final judgment occurs only after a period of peace followed by a resumption of angelic and human rebellion against the Lord.  (Rev 20:7-13)  The amillennial teaching says, as one preacher expressed it to me, “You’re just walking down the road one day and the end of the world happens.”  By contrast, the Scripture outlines in broad terms a certain sequence of events leading up to the final judgment, and that sequence has not come to pass either literally or figuratively.

6.  The resurrection occurs in Revelation 20 at the beginning of the millennium.  If this present time is the millennium, is the resurrection already past?  (2 Tim 2:18)  This is a very serious difficulty for the view that the millennium is going on right now.

The face-value interpretation of Revelation 20 provides a better fit with the reality we face today — that Satan is out there and is a force we must contend with — while fitting together with the other parts of the prophetic Word.  This is not to say that there are no interpretative problems with the premillennial view.  But it is to say that the problems with the non-millennial view are so deep that we believe it’s not a viable hypothesis for the serious Bible student.

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