(Today’s post by Wayne Bunting)
Revelation 20:1-10 paints the picture of what many see as the ultimate victory of Christ and the church over Satan and the forces of darkness. The description of 1000 years is an important symbol in this section. Satan is bound for a thousand years, and Jesus subsequently reigns for a thousand years. This verse seems odd when you read it at face value. Why would God throw Satan into a prison for only 1000 years? Jesus reigns over the world for a thousand years; why just a thousand years? He is Lord forever isn’t He? Why let Satan come back and have control again after 1000 years of victory?
In Revelation there is a duality of many things. For many Godly things, there are many demonic parodies. For example we see the New Jerusalem, God’s Holy city. We also see an unholy city, Babylon. There is a mark (or seal of God) that God’s people have on their forehead. There is also the mark of the beast that those who are not Christians have on their forehead and right hand. There are also many other dualities of light and dark in Revelation, including what we see here in chapter 20: the duality of a 1000 year punishment of evil and a 1000 year reign of good.
This section of the Bible is one that many people differ on. The chronological placement of the thousand year reign of Christ in relation to the other events of Revelation, namely the tribulation and the rapture as they actually happen, is where we get many different views, views such as premillenial (where Christ comes before the millennium and takes His church to Heaven), amillenial (where the millennium is the kingdom of God that was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection. God’s people are taken into Heaven at the very end of time when the final judgment happens), and post millennial (where Christ will return after the gospel has been fully spread through the world, I.e. the millennium). My personal view is the pan-millennial view: When Jesus comes back everything is going to pan out.
So much of our view of the future is based on this little part of the Bible. I think it makes this one of the most important sets of verses in scripture. Through all of the diverse views on the millennium, through all of the interpretations of this portion of scripture, there are a few things that are certain no matter what side of the millennium fence you find yourself on. First, and foremost, Christ is coming back. No matter what the details are surrounding this, it is certain that He is returning, and when He does there will be a final judgment of all people. Also, it is certain that Satan is going to be bound (or is currently bound), and that this coincides with the victory and reign of Christ.
These are things that the whole church can, and must, embrace. Satan is defeated and Christ reigns. This is a comforting thought, knowing that we are following the one who will have (or does have) ultimate victory in this battle of darkness versus light. The ultimate end of this world that seems to bear so much of Satan’s ravaging is that the destroyer himself will meet an ultimate end, and the one we hope in will ultimately reign. So where does that put us? Well, it puts us on the winning side. Christ has already won the victory for us. He has already defeated Satan. I believe this portion of scripture shows that the 1000 years (of both Christ’s reign and Satan’s binding) is symbolic of a very long and undefined period of time. I think it shows that “the millennium” is the kingdom of God that was brought in by Christ when He first came. It was then that Christ defeated Satan and “bound” Him. This would make sense because the victory that Christ has over Satan (his 1000 year imprisonment) coincides with His reign (also for 1000 years).
Keep in mind that Revelation uses imagery to paint the picture of the message that it is conveying. While I don’t think that every bit of Revelation is allegorical, I do think that it is important that we understand how to understand the symbols and messages that are in it.
At the end of the day our salvation does not hinge on a proper interpretation of Revelation 20. It is not dependent on, nor is it hindered by the absence of it. We are, however, all obligated to understand and submit to the fact that Christ is the victor and Satan is the loser. And because of that we have the power of Christ in our lives, the power over all of the forces of darkness. We should live with this hope in our hearts, knowing that no matter what happens here on earth we are bound in with our Lord Christ, and that trajectory is one of victory. No matter what darkness and suffering this world and Satan throws our way, Christ is victorious. Christ is the victor and we walk in that victory.
This does not mean that suffering and hardships will not come our way. That is a foolish thing to think. What it does mean is that because we are born again we always have Christ, and that He is working through us to bring the kingdom of God on the earth. This will bring inevitable suffering because although Satan is defeated, he is still active. But Christ has overcome the devil, and we walk in that victory if we persist and walk out the life that the Lord has planned for us. So take heart, call on the name of the Lord, and know that He is on your side. He has won the battle, and He is currently winning the battle in our lives against Satan if we rely on Him and let Him work in us.