Revelation 20 (NRSV)
The Thousand Years
This chapter has led to many differences among Christians. What is the meaning and the timing of the millennium? Let’s start by defining some terms, realizing that even the meanings of the terms are subject to argument.
The Millennium: The thousand-year reign of Christ mentioned in Revelation, chapter 20. (My husband has a saying: The millennium is a thousand years of peace over which theologians war.)
Premillennialism: The belief that the Second Coming of Christ occurs before the millennium, which is a literal 1000 years. The resurrection of Christians occurs at the beginning of the millennium, the resurrection of the unsaved at the end of the millennium. It will be the fulfillment of Old Testament promises to ethnic Israel, that the prophecies of the promised earthly kingdom will be fulfilled and Jerusalem will be a shining city from which Jesus reigns on earth over all other nations.
Postmillennialism: The belief that the Second Coming of Christ occurs after the millennium. There is an increase in the spread of God’s rule in every area of life during the millennium (a figurative concept referring to the entire New Testament age). The kingdom of God is a present reality, and its purpose is essentially to usher in the reign of Christ. It is expected that all nations are converted to Christianity followed by one thousand years of peace before Christ’s return. It isn’t until after the thousand years of peace that there will be an outbreak of apostasy and rebellion against God; it is during this time that the Antichrist will step into the picture before he is vanquished by the return of Christ.
Amillennialism: The belief that the Second Coming occurs at the end of history, like postmillennialism, but there is no earthly millennium. The millennium is purely spiritual, applying only to heaven and the Church, a symbolic representation of the current church age. The term one thousand years is a metaphor for a long time. This view also holds that the kingdom does not refer to ethnic Israel proper, but instead to all of God’s saints.
My position? Christ said his coming will be like a thief in the night, and I try to be ready at any moment!
Seven final visions: No. 3
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended.
“The final importance of Satan is perhaps indicated in the fact that it is not the Father who deals with him, nor the Christ, but only an unnamed angel.”
–Leon L. Morris
After that he must be let out for a little while.
Seven final visions: No. 4
4 Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshiped 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. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him a thousand years.
2 Timothy 2:11-13 (ESV)
The saying is trustworthy, for:
If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.
Seven final visions: No. 5
7 When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, in order to gather them for battle; they are as numerous as the sands of the sea. 9 They marched up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Finally, evil is extinguished forever.
The Dead Are Judged
Seven final visions: No. 6
11 Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. 13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15 and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
Saved by faith, judged by works. Two sides of the same coin. As James wrote, “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Let us ask God to help us grow in faith and excel in good works!
What is under your name, my name, in the books that will be opened on that great day? HERE is a song that speaks to that report, which we write every day as with the help of the Holy Spirit we choose our words and our deeds to honor the Lord.
“I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is a Christian hymn originating from India.
The lyrics are based on the last words of a man in Assam, north-east India, who along with his family was converted to Christianity in the middle of the 19th century through the efforts of a Welsh missionary. Called to renounce his faith by the village chief, the convert declared, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” In response to threats to his family, he continued, “Though no one joins me, still I will follow.” His wife was killed, and he was executed while singing, “The cross before me, the world behind me.” This display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and others in the village.