Summary: The arguments between holders of the various millennial theories has led not a 1000 years of peace but to 2000 years of strife. Perhaps it shouldn't be so much about the 'whats' as about the meaning.
“The Great Unveiling: But What About the Rapture?”
People have given so much attention to the various ‘millennial’ theories, and tried so hard to prove that their positions the only truthful ones, the message of this great chapter has been lost. Instead of the 1,000 years of peace, there has been instead 2,000 years of theological strife and division. The arguments between the Postmillennialists, the Premillennialists, and the Amillennialists have led some to become Bahmillenialists – to say “Bah!” to the whole thing! So, as it has been throughout this series, the message of Revelation is my concern. In spite of the controversy, what does it have to say; what’s the point? May God lead us into His truth!
The first message is that we can look forward to THE END OF SATAN. The one loud, clear message of verses 1-3 and 7-10 is that there is a binding of Satan, followed by a release, and his ultimate collapse. Let’s look at THE ACCOUNT OF THE BINDING. Listen to verses 1 & 2 again: “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.” Our natural reaction is to ask, “WHEN WILL THIS BINDING TAKE PLACE?” Recall Matthew 28:18 – Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.” Following His resurrection Jesus had full authority – Satan must have been bound! Let’s turn the clock back a little further, to His last public discourse where Jesus said, (Jn. 12:31-32) “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” In other words, AT JESUS’ CRUCIFIXION, Satan would be bound! The death of Christ would not be Satan’s victory but his defeat! Instead of being free from that point on, Satan would be bound and cast into the abyss!
And it’s for A PERIOD OF 1,000 YEARS. When does that occur? If Satan was bound at Christ’s death and resurrection, then now must be the thousand years! And that only follows the approach we’ve been taking to Revelation. As are all the numbers, 1,000 IS SYMBOLIC; 1,000 is THE CUBE OF 10, THE NUMBER OF COMPLETENESS. And that’s born out by verse 7 where we read, “When the thousand years are over…”; ‘are over’ literally means “are completed” or “have reached their goal.” When, in God’s mind, the years have accomplished what He wants them to do, God will bring them to an end. It marks THE COMPLETENESS OF TIME GOD NEEDS FOR HIS PURPOSE. As we’ve said before, that time is this time in which we live – these days are the last days.
But certainly that raises some questions. We’ve been saying all along Satan is active. But Satan himself is not here, active on the earth. Rather, his agents are. We need to understand THE PURPOSE OF HIS BINDING. Verse 3 tells us he was bound, “to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.” The binding affects only his DECEPTION OF THE NATIONS, not of people as individuals. Prior to the time of Christ, nations other than Israel were not ‘evangelized.’ But then Christ came, Satan was bound, and the disciples went forth to all nations. The boundaries of Israel were blown apart! The rest of the world was no longer under Satan’s sway! He was no longer sovereign in those nations! The point of the parable of the Strong Man (Mt. 12:29) was that the strong man, Satan, is bound by Jesus so Jesus can carry off Satan’s property and people!
Yes, people are still deceived, but not whole nations! That’s the significance of the Wise Men coming to the manger, of the Roman Centurion’s confession at the cross, of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman, and with that company of Greeks in John; it’s the meaning of Pentecost, and the message of Acts. EVERY NEW CONVERT TO CHRIST IS A REMINDER THAT SATAN IS BOUND. That’s why Jesus cast out demons – to prove that Satan was no longer sovereign anywhere.
But, as verse 3 plainly states, “After that he must be loosed for a little while.” Satan will make that ONE, FINAL ASSAULT. Listen to verses 7-9 again: “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and 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. They 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.” Remember chapter 11 and the two witnesses in the midst of the great city – they were killed by the beast! This is it again. “The Camp”, the church, God’s people, are surrounded and hounded. Chapter 20 just gives a different perspective of Satan having that one last rally against Christ. Paul taught about this in II Thess. 2:3-12. Millions will be deceived!