Monday, September 08, 2003

What is missing in Revelation 20?

It is interesting and instructive to look once again at the only passage in the bible that mentions "1000 years" and ask, stand alone, which end-times view does it support? This is not critical—we should interpret scripture with scripture, but it is not insignificant either.

So, once again, here is the millennium passage:
1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4I 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 for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy are those who have part 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. 7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth--Gog and Magog--to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
(Rev 20:1-10, NIV).

Now let us look at, not what this passage says, but what it doesn't say. 1

In particular, what it does not say includes:
  • Anything whatsoever about the Second Coming

  • Anything about bodies, resurrected or otherwise (it talks about the souls of those who died)

  • Anything about an earthly kingdom or throne

  • Anything about a rebuilt temple or animal sacrifices

  • Anything about Jerusalem, or Palestine, or Israel

  • Anything about Jewish conversion

  • Anything about righteousness prevailing on the earth

  • Anything about worldwide conversion

  • Anything about Christianization of the nations

In short, this famous passage, taken by itself supports neither the premillennial or postmillennial positions, but (somewhat ironically) the amillennial view. That is because none of the missing elements, each critical for the pre or post millennial view, is relevant for the amillennialists.

Just some food for thought.

1 This argument is based on a self-published tract called The Millennium by Pastor John L. Bray

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