Revelation 20: Why Two Books are More Important than One Thousand Years

In reading Revelation, many focus on the 1000 years. I would have you focus on the 2 books.

John sees yet another vision. In this revelation, he sees an angel who plays the role of a divine prison warden. This angel seizes Satan and throws him into a dungeon. Perhaps one should think of the various mafia movies produced. Godfathers are sent to prison, but even there they have some ability to affect the lives of men and women outside the prison walls. Similarly, Satan is still alive, but his ability to harm the nations is limited. Such is the situation on earth from the first to second comings of Jesus Christ. Jesus has come to reign on earth and is offering men the opportunity to kiss him. (Psalm 2) Jesus has entered the strong man’s house, bound him, and plundered his goods. (Matthew 12:29)  Jesus has already seen Lucifer fall from the heavens, and he has given his church power over Satan’s demons. (Luke 10:17-18)  The ruler of the world has been cast out and Jesus is drawing all men to himself. (John 12:31-32)  The kingdom of God was once nationally and ethnically centered in Israel, but now it is global and multinational. (Matthew 28:16-21)  The kingdom of God is like a mustard seed growing out of proportion; it is like leaven moving through the dough; God’s truth is marching on.

Meanwhile, while Satan is imprisoned and the cause of Christ is advancing, martyrs are gloriously worshiping and reigning in heaven. John sees many thrones, and on them are they who loved Christ to the death. They have come back to life. They have experienced the first spiritual resurrection. They are now judges, priests and kings; any price paid by them on earth for the cause of Christ was well worth it.

However, right before the end, when the symbolic thousand years are ended, the divine prison warden releases Satan. Before the Second Coming and Great Judgment, there is one last period of Satanic fervor. The nations are deceived. They are encouraged to rebel, and they gather to harm the beloved of Christ. But their rebellion is short-lived. God rescues his people; divine fire consumes them all. Such is the final chapter earth’s story.

John’s focus then shifts to the heavenly courtroom. All who have ever lived are present. At this point, if one will grant some imaginative liberty, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit sit as the Supreme Court. Moses, the great Lawgiver, is the prosecuting attorney. Sitting in the defendant’s chair are Adam’s children — you and I. God, the judge, then calls for the prosecutor’s evidence. Moses opens his book, reads the Law, then he presents how you and I have sinned profusely. It becomes very apparent, beyond a shadow of doubt, we have sinned every single day. We have transgressed God’s holy will. None is righteous. None has loved God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength. We are not the exception. We have looked more like Satan than Christ, and we deserve the same fate as our wicked leader. But then it happens. One of the members of the Supreme Court excuses himself from the bench. Jesus walks down to the defendant’s table with his Book of Life. At this time, Jesus is granted the floor and he presents his personal lack of sin. Then he presents his personal obedience. Jesus shows the court his hands, feet and side, and then with his nail-pierced hands he opens the book and begins to read certain names. These are the elect. These are the called, beloved and kept. (Jude 1:2)  These are those for whom he died.  These are those, whosoever, who have called upon his name for salvation. Then, without any deliberation, the judge delivers his verdict. All those found in the Lamb’s Book of Life, they are granted new bodies, new robes, new crowns, new houses, and a new earth. They will dwell in God’s paradise forever. All others will receive exactly that which they deserve. Those whose names are not found written in the Book of Life, they are thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Friends, I do not completely understand the Kingdom, the Tribulation, the Millennium or Armageddon. I might get somewhat confused over which numbers are symbolic and which are literal. Regarding Israel, I am not sure exactly how God will close her chapter. But of this I am sure:

Before the throne of God above


I have a strong and perfect plea.


A great high Priest whose Name is Love


Who ever lives and pleads for me.


My name is graven on His hands,


My name is written on His heart.


I know that while in Heaven He stands


No tongue can bid me thence depart.

 

When Satan tempts me to despair


And tells me of the guilt within,


Upward I look and see Him there


Who made an end of all my sin.


Because the sinless Savior died


My sinful soul is counted free.


For God the just is satisfied


To look on Him and pardon me.

 

Behold Him there the risen Lamb,


My perfect spotless righteousness,


The great unchangeable I AM,


The King of glory and of grace,


One in Himself I cannot die.


My soul is purchased by His blood,


My life is hid with Christ on high,


With Christ my Savior and my God!      

 

(C. Bancroft, 1863)

 

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Historic Premillennialism teaches that Christ will return again, and the church will rule and reign with him during this era. Perhaps this time will be like the early years in the American colonies. It will be a time when wickedness is not thoroughly vanquished, but a season when righteousness reigns supreme and wickedness is curtailed on earth.

Dispensational Premillennialism teaches that Christ will return again, the church will be raptured, and the nation of Israel will once again reign supreme. When one studies eschatology, one will find this to be a relatively new doctrinal position first put forth in the 17th century. However, this is the most widely held view in contemporary evangelicalism today.

Postmillennialism teaches there will be a golden age before the Second Coming of Christ. Worldwide revival will be experienced, the world will be thoroughly Christian, and Satan will be progressively defanged.

Amillennialism teaches the kingdom of heaven is at hand today. The entire period between the first and second comings of Christ represent a time when he rules and reigns from the throne above. He will come again; judgment and recreation will then be the order of the day.

For a somewhat quick presentation of these four views, I might recommend the following resources: Four Views on the Book of Revelation, edited Gundry and Pate; The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, edited by Robert Clouse; Rose Book of Bible Charts, Maps, and Time Lines; Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine, edited by H. Wayne House.


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