The biblical Millennium is mentioned in every verse of Rev 20:2-7.
‘He laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent who is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season’
A millennium is ‘a thousand years’, so the thousand years mentioned in these six verses are known as the biblical Millennium.
Some Christians don’t believe that this biblical Millennium is a period of future Gospel blessedness on Earth. Those who hold this view are called amillennialists, the ‘a-‘ indicating that they do not believe that there is a distinct future Millennium. They explain the Millennium in Rev 20:2-7 as the whole period of time since Christ bound the devil by His crucifixion on the Cross of Calvary until Christ comes again on the last day at the Day of Judgment. As the book of Revelation is a figurative book, they explain that the numbers are not literal and so the two thousand years since the crucifixion is no difficulty to their exegesis.
However, the godly know that the devil is very active at present and does not appear to be bound. So much so that many godly amillennialists have a pessimistic view of the future of the world. Some of them think that things will only get worse and worse, but others of them are more optimistic because they can see that Rom 11:15 points to the widespread conversion of the Jews, which Paul describes as ‘life from the dead’. So these latter amillennialists call themselves ‘optimistic amillennialists’. The need for an adjective demonstrates that amillennialism is inherently pessimistic. Pessimistic amillennialists think that Christ might come at any minute to end the world.
So what does Scripture say about it? The first thing to say is that I agree that ‘a thousand years’ in the book of Revelation is not necessarily a literal number of years, of which Peter reminds us 2Pe 3:8, and that it probably indicates a long period of time.
However, Scripture does not leave us ignorant how long this could be.
‘Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, Who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations’ Deu 7:9
A generation is usually taken to be 30 years, and some make it longer or shorter. So a thousand generations is probably about 30,000 years! So this earthly sphere has a long time yet to run. Nor does the Lord say this only once, through Moses, but He gave it to the church to sing in the book of Psalms:
‘He has remembered His covenant for ever, the Word which He commanded to a thousand generations’ Ps 105:8.
Much later still, for a third time like a threefold cord, towards the end of the Old Testament period, the chronicler recollects David’s publication of this Psalm when he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem:
‘Be mindful always of His covenant; the Word which He commanded to a thousand generations’ 1Ch 16:15.
So throughout the whole Old Testament period we have been told about God’s long-term timing and plan. Those Christians who are expecting the world to end soon need to adjust their prophetical clock.
There has been tremendous technological advance in the past few hundred years, with greater prospects ahead during these 30,000 years.
At present, contrary to pessimistic amillennialists who think the world is getting worse and worse, secularists think that the world is getting better because of technological advances. However, this technological advance is masking the sociological regression in our secularised western world, which is abandoning Christianity.
Secular sociological regression is masked by this sense of technological progress. Secular policies are hitching a free ride on technological progress, to such an extent that ‘progressive’ is the current political buzz word added to unchristian sociological policies to try to make them palatable to the public.
Many people are concerned about the sociological regression and this colours their pessimism – some Christians included. The secular world has its own prophets of doom and a multitude of doomsday scenarios, which keep the film industry busy.
Commentators like Peter Hitchens and professor Jordan Peterson are highlighting the deficiencies of sociological dogmas which have gripped the western world by the throat. Christians should be in the forefront of its exposure.
Christians should lift up the hands that hang down Heb 12:12 and remember that Christ is upon the throne of the Universe. This secular advance is a temporary blip in Christ’s long-term strategy Job 20:5. In spite of the opposition of the wicked Ps 2:2 vainly imagining that they can cast off the Lord’s sovereignty, God has appointed Jesus Christ King over Zion and He laughs at their opposition Ps 2:4. The Lord will give the uttermost parts of the Earth to Christ Ps 2:8, and earthly kings are commanded to change their minds and submit to Him Ps 2:10-12.
The Great Tribulation, the pre-millennial judgment and Christ’s Millennial Advent
With this biblical perspective in view, it is easier to see that rather than our current period being the Millennium of Rev 20, as amillennialists wrongly teach, rather it is the Great Tribulation that Jesus predicted Mat 24:21, which has lasted from Jesus’ time on Earth until the pre-millennial judgment and Christ’s Millennial Advent.
Jesus tells us that the Great Tribulation will reach a climax that needs to be curtailed or shortened for the elect’s sake Mat 24:22 and Mk 13:20. If this devilish activity carried on it would destroy all flesh, for the devil was a murderer from the beginning Jn 8:44, and it would interfere with Christ’s plan to save the billions upon billions of His elect in the earthly Millennium yet ahead of us. Just as the devil tried to destroy Jesus both as an infant and at the crucifixion, so he continues to destroy mankind as much as he can and Christ’s people in particular Rev 12:17. So ‘except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened’ Mat 24:22. Christ’s desire to save His elect in the lengthy biblical Millennium will ensure that He shortens and brings this Great Tribulation of devilish hegemony to an end. Those who fear global disaster are simply seeing the devil hard at work, but they need faith to see that Christ is still in control.
There are many features to this climax but, briefly, the concerted rebellion against God and the attempt to change times and laws and to wear out the saints Dan 7:25 will reach such a climax that it will necessitate the Lord’s intervention in an event so profound that it is pictured as Christ’s coming in judgment upon the nations Rev 19:15 – Christ’s Millennial Advent.
This pre-millennial judgment Rev 19 involves many things, but its essence is an international judgment Dan 7:26 that will expose the man of sin 2Th 2:8 for what he is, and with the fall of spiritual Babylon Rev 14:8 and Rev 18:2,10, lamented by worldly businessmen Rev 18:9-11 and false religious leaders Rev 18:13 alike, Christ will usher in the lengthy Millennium mentioned in every verse of Rev 20:2-7, when Satan’s influence on Earth will be bound by the faithful preaching of the Gospel in every nation of the world. Having outlined this vision, the Lord promised ‘Surely I come quickly. Amen’ – quickly, not soon – to which the apostle John prayed: ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus’ Rev 22:20. We should join in this prayer.
Instead of Christians taking fright at current global events they should see them as signs of the need for Christ’s pre-millennial judgment of the nations. ‘When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near’ Lk 21:28.
The Great Tribulation will give way to Christ’s triumphal international judgment and the overthrow of such worldly opposition.
How will this be accomplished? This will need another blogpost because this blogpost is about the length of the Millennium. Long as the Great Tribulation has been, in which the devil did his worst to frustrate the advancement of Christ’s kingdom on Earth, yet it will be cut short and Christ will not only triumph on Earth, when ‘the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ’ Rev 11:15, but His name will last as long as the Sun, all kings and nations will serve Him and the Earth will be filled with His glory Ps 72:17,11,19.
We can see that 2000 years since Christ’s First Advent is not only a Great Tribulation, but it pales into insignificance with the 30,000 years of Gospel prosperity yet ahead of this earthly sphere. This being so, one can also see that the pre-millennial judgment and the Millennial Advent at the beginning of the Millennium can be viewed as the completion of Christ’s First Advent Lk 18:7-8, Rev 6:10 and Rev 22:6 – the completion of Christ’s destroying the works of the devil and His securing His rightful reign upon the Earth with His saints Mat 5:5. Satan will indeed be bound with a great chain ‘that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled’ Rev 20:3.
Medical advances and gene therapy, only now in its infancy, will replace infant mortality with children living regularly to 100 years old:
‘There shall be no more an unweaned infant upon Earth, nor an old man that has not filled his days: for the child shall die a hundred years old’ Isa 65:20.
and so modify our environment that
‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb’ Isa 11:6 and and the lion shall eat straw like the ox’ Isa 11:7.
It will be such a transformation that it is described as new heavens and a new earth:
‘For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind’ Isa 65:17.
At the end of this long, indeterminate amount of time, there will be a final and short apostasy Rev 20:3,8-9, which will lead to Christ’s Second Advent and the final judgment Rev 20:10-15. This is why Jesus said: ‘when the Son of man comes, shall He find faith on the Earth?’ Lk 18:8.
The ungodly will find themselves belonging to a minority of losers, on the wrong side of history, and on the wrong side of eternity, to their everlasting shame and dismay, while the godly will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world Mat 25:34.
22 Oct 2018: Sir Jackie Stewart plans to introduce the principles of Formula 1 to accelerate medical research into dementia, an example and possible foretaste of a new inter-disciplinary progress towards the international peace of the biblical Millennium.