Crushing Millennium Myths: Revelation 20

Crushing Millennium Myths: Revelation 20
Dr Chuck Crisco


Unfortunately most teachers start with ideas in this controversial chapter of Revelation 20 and then work backwards to interpret the NT and the cross. But it is an apocalyptic book, filled with symbols. As westerners we can't import meaning into the text from our mindset, rather we have to look at the context and the way symbols have meaning in the Hebrew scriptures. Especially since this book is filled with about 400 OT references.

Let's start with the Millennium and crush some myths about the millennium.

Revelation 20:

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.

I. What does Millennium mean? 

A.  Symbolism in OT and in Peter:

Ps. 50:10 “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” This is the phrase that we use when we need money right? God you own the cattle on a thousand hills, would you sell a cow and help me??!!! But it doesn't mean that God only owns the cattle on a thousand hills. What about the 1001'st hill? We understand that it is a figure of speech to teach us that he own it all. It is a large number to simply include the fullness of all the hills. 

This is borne out a couple verses later with the same parallel. “The world is Mine, and the fullness thereof.” (Ps. 50:12b) So the idea of 1000 is the idea of fullness. 

In Ps. 90:4 the psalmist says that a “thousand years” is as “yesterday” and as “a watch in the night.” So in this case it is not literal either. To God who stands outside of time, it is all the same to him. 

In Ps. 105:8, “He has remembered His covenant forever, the word that he commanded to a thousand generations.” (Ps. 105:8) Does that mean that he forgets his covenant after the 1000th generation? No, it means the fullness of all generations and its parallel in the text is forever. 

In 2 Peter 3:8 a “thousand years” is as one “day.” In this context it is about the fact that God sees all time the same from his eternal above time view. He isn’t teaching us a model on how to figure out some code in the bible about Genesis where each day represents 1000 years. It meant that God is patient because he stands outside of time. (Job 7:7; Ps. 39:5; 90:2; 144:4; Heb. 13:8; Jms. 4:14.)

B. What does the Greek Mean?

5507 xílioi – properly, a thousand; the product of 10 x 10 x 10 (103, ten cubed); (figuratively) emphatic, total inclusiveness, showing no one (nothing) is left out. ["Ten" in Scripture can already express the symbolic meaning "completely" (inclusively) so 5507 (xílioi) as the cube of 10 ("a thousand") powerfully stresses the meaning "full/inclusive" (totality).]

According to the “fullness” scriptures, the fullness of time was in Jesus’ period of history, under the Law, not ours.  

Galatians 4:4, In the FULLNESS of time God sent his Son born of a woman, born UNDER the Law. " 
Eph 1:10, "that in the dispensation of the FULLNESS of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him."
Luke 21:20-24, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled."  
Acts 3:24, “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days.”

In these passages Jesus warns THAT generation about the fall of Jerusalem, and he does so by saying that this is a period in history where everything that had been written was being fulfilled.

The fullness of time and the millennium are the same thing. The 10x10x10 is the idea of emphasis that the all inclusive fullness of time when the promises of the scriptures all come to fulfillment are happening. So it is not a literal 1000 years. It is a figure of speech to describe a period in history when all the promises to Israel would come to fulfillment. It was the fullness of time. 

II. The Millennial Utopian Myth

A. Pre-millennial view of a short Utopian kingdom. 
Most are familiar with this view where our future was supposed to follow this time line: Rapture… tribulation in our future… then Jesus comes in judgment, then new heavens and new earth, then the millennial kingdom.

Problem is that in Rev 20-21 there is no rapture, the judgment is the city of Jerusalem, a millennium comes first THEN new heavens… as a utopia of perfect world. The time line doesn't match. 

In fact, the idea of a future 1000 years of literal physical utopia in the early church around 400AD was considered by many at that time a heresy. 

B. The Source of the Utopian Idea and WHEN it would be. 

The idea of a forced future Utopian is not consistent even with the text where they think it is from in Isaiah. The Isaiah 65 passage contains promises for the kingdom of God increasing in the earth, not a 1000 year millennium. In fact 1000 years or millennium is not mentioned anywhere in the bible as a utopia, nor is it mentioned in Isaiah 65. Notice instead that there would be sinners, death, building of houses, growing gardens, and so forth.

Notice in the beginning verses here the new heavens and new earth (the new era of the kingdom of God) would be a time when he remembers the Law no more!

Isaiah 65: 17“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. 19I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. 
20There is not thence any more a suckling of days, And an aged man who doth not complete his days, For the youth a hundred years old dieth, And the sinner, a hundred years old, is lightly esteemed (YLT)
21They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.22No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them.
24Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.
25The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,”

The wolf and lamb feed together. This is when the Gentile and Jew walls of division are broken down because of Christ. There is hope starting at the cross and the middle wall of partition being removed, that ALL people will grow into a time of peace. It is the time of the defeat of Satan (groveling in the dust or being made to eat dust is an ancient way of saying utter defeat.) My holy mountain means the spiritual kingdom of God and how God operates. Neither with harm or destruction will God relate to anyone n the new era of the kingdom.

But notice this

Acts 3: 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. Acts 3:24, “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days.”

Peter said there was a restoration of all things coming at the return of Jesus TO THEM. It is the restoration of the relationship that was lost in the garden. It is the removal of Law and legalism introduced in the garden.

Remember in the garden he did not die that day. There was some kind of soul death sin death that happened, but not physical. It AFFECTED the physical and degenerated. NOW it is happening in reverse. The relationship with his creation has been restored, he walks with us in the cool of the day, nothing can separate us from his love, and that will affect the creation… it will affect our health, prosperity, etc. over time.  Isaiah 65 is the description not a a literal 1000 year reign of Christ. It is a time of history when the kingdom increases in the earth (Isaiah 9:7), and when like a seed planted in the earth of the kingdom, it will continue to grow into a mighty tree. 

III. When was Millennium?

A. Satan is Bound

Remember all Revelation is full of symbolism, signs, language non literal. Satan is not literally a dragon. So Satan being bound is not a future event, it started in the ministry of Jesus and was completed at the fall of Jerusalem. The "little while" he is loosed again is the period of 3 1/2 years during the fall of Jerusalem where the Jews experienced the "strong delusion" that Paul refers to.

Matthew 12: 24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.” 25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first BINDS THE STRONGMAN [SATAN]?
Colossians 2:15, 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. 

B. Saints Reign with Christ on Thrones

Paul tells us in Ephesians 2, we/they were raised together with him. This was first resurrection.

C. They were Judging:  

Peter says that the end of all things is NEAR! All WHAT THINGS? All the old covenant things! Then he says, it is TIME for THE judgment to begin in the house of God… the separation. (1 Peter 4:17)

Remember that the word KRINO has the idea of separation. The judgment of the sheep and goats was a separation of the believing Jews from the Jews who did not believe and they killed their brothers instead of clothing and feeding them. 

The saints were judging, How? By their message and calling them into the gospel. They were separating wheat and chaff (John the Baptist), and the wheat and the tares (Jesus). The saints were calling them OUT OF THE OLD COVENANT, separating from that covenant. That is why Jesus said, "I did not come to bring peace but a sword."

C. Martyrs Were Beheaded… Mark 6:28

When we draw our finger across our throat in front of someone, especially if they are talking, it means, be quiet, stop talking. It has the idea of being silenced. The religious leaders of the 1'st century were trying to silence the voice of the gospel. (See Matthew 23 where Jesus said it would happen). We see it literally happening with John the Baptist where they wanted to silence his voice.

D. The Mark of the Beast

For a discussion of the mark of the beast click here. 

E. All this chapter finds its timing in Daniel 12. 

All the elements of Daniel 12 which according to the oath the angel swore, would happen in the time of the fall of Jerusalem. Therefore we have a clear setting and time when these things happened. The first century.

We live on the other side of the “millennium” , with the great promise of the increasing kingdom of God impacting our entire world with greater prosperity, with living longer, with relational peace increasing in the earth, and so on.