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. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
– Revelation 20:1-3
I believe the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 will be a sabbatical millennium when Earth gets a rest from the works of sin. Bible chronology indicates that we are nearing the 6,000 anniversary of sin. If the Second Coming were to occur at the end of the 6,000th year of sin, the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 would be a sabbatical millennium. Of course, no one knows when the 6,000th year will occur and the Bible does not say that Jesus is going to return at the end of 6,000 years, but the progressive fulfillment of apocalyptic prophecy confirms the Second Coming of Jesus is very near.
The Bible says that no man knows the day or hour of Christ’s return ( Matthew 24:36), but the Bible does say that we can know when the end is near! ( Daniel 8:17,19; 12:4,9) We should thoughtfully consider clues about the timing of the Second Coming in the Bible. ( 1 Thessalonians 5:3-9) Eighteen apocalyptic time-periods are mentioned in the books of Daniel and Revelation and these time-periods are pieces of a big puzzle that reveal God’s timing. God is always on time ( Exodus 12:40-42, Galatians 4:4) and with Him, timing is the basis for everything.
God’s Use of Clocks
The Bible teaches that God created four clocks during Creation’s week by which He measures Earth time. Three clocks are based on planetary motion: The “day clock” is based on one rotation of Earth on its axis; the “month clock” is based on one orbit of the moon around Earth; and the “year clock” is synchronized with the positions of the Sun and moon in the spring of the year.
The weekly cycle also began at Creation and it remains synchronized with Creation’s week to this very day! About 2,500 years after Creation, God introduced five more clocks. It is interesting to note that these clocks are based on the template of the weekly cycle. Notice:
1. Week of seven months (Israel’s religious year)
2. Week of seven years (7 years)
3. Week of seven weeks or one Jubilee cycle (49 years)
4. Great Day = ten Jubilee cycles (490 years)
5. Great Week = a week of Great Days (3,430 years)
In addition, if you add up the genealogical records found in the Bible, the prophetic time-periods mentioned in Daniel and Revelation and the 1,000 years of Revelation 20, the Bible record covers a total time span of 7,000 years. Using the weekly cycle template, two more clocks appear to be at work:
6. Grand Day = ten centuries (1,000 years)
7. Grand Week = a week of seven Grand Days (7,000 years)
I have asked myself, why did God create seven clocks based on the weekly template? After much study, I have concluded that each “weekly” clock points man toward God’s Sabbath rest and God’s Sabbath rest at every level says something significant about the duration of sin. (See my article, Great Clocks From God for an in depth explanation. It can be downloaded from the Wake Up America Seminars web-site at wake-up.org or a printed copy can be obtained for a minimal cost by contacting the office.)
Four Prophetic Views
Students of Bible prophecy usually accept one of four basic views regarding the 1,000 years mentioned in Revelation 20. Of course, there are also variations within each view. They are:
The most popular of the four views is called Premillennialism. Adherents of this view are so called because they believe that Christ’s kingdom on Earth will be established before the millennium begins. In essence, premillennialism teaches there will be a pre-trib rapture. Seven years later Jesus is supposed to return to Earth and resurrect the righteous. Then, it is believed that Jesus will reign for 1,000 years in peace and righteousness from the throne of David located in the city of Jerusalem.
At the end of the 1,000 years, there will be a final resurrection, judgment and a renewal of the heavens and Earth. Many premillennialists believe that the promises and covenants God gave to ancient Israel in the Old Testament will be fulfilled during the 1,000 years. (Premillennialism is largely based on the doctrine of dispensationalism.) There is some dispute among premillennialists concerning the identity and role of the saints during the millennium. Some scholars teach that the saints will rule as priests and kings with Christ over the unconverted.
Others believe the Jews will be converted to Christianity as a result of the rapture and they will rule over the Gentiles. The net effect in either case is that the saints will rule over the wicked.
The opposite of Premillennialism is Postmillennialism. Bible students who believe in Postmillennialism teach that Christ’s kingdom will be established on Earth after the 1,000 years are over. One group of postmillennialists believe that the world will continue as it is, getting more and more Christianized as a result of Christians sharing the gospel on a wider scale (i.e., worldwide TV, shortwave radio, Bibles printed in many languages, etc.).
When the world has been reached with the gospel, a long period of peace and prosperity will exist for 1,000 years. At the end of the 1,000 years, Christ will return to Earth, resurrect the dead, perform the final judgment, give the saints eternal life and destroy the wicked. Other postmillennialists believe that Christ will establish His kingdom on Earth at the end of the 1,000 years, but they believe the Earth will be desolate of mankind during the 1,000 years.
The third view of the 1,000 years is called Amillennialism. Advocates of this view maintain that the 1,000 years is not a literal period of peace and righteousness. They believe the millennium alludes to the present reign of deceased souls with Christ in Heaven. This will be followed by Christ’s Second Coming, a resurrection, final judgment, and Christ’s eternal reign over a perfect kingdom on Earth. Just what takes place during the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 is a matter of debate among amillennialists. The millennium, according to amillennialism, is to be understood in an allegorical sense.
There is a “tongue-in-cheek” position on the millennium called “Panmillennialism.” People in this category do not attempt to explain or understand Revelation 20. They take a fail-proof position saying the millennium will “pan-out” just as God intends.
So, which view of the millennium is best? Which view is more comprehensive? What is the truth about the 1,000 years of Revelation 20? Do Christians really need to know about the millennium right now? Certainly, the subject of the millennium years invites many good questions.
A Completed Picture
It is human nature to dismiss the importance of things we do not understand. An elderly man once said to me, “I’ve lived 80 years without understanding the millennium. Do you really think I need to know about it now?” I smiled and responded, “People lived on Earth for thousands of years without refrigerators. Do we really need them now?” We both smiled. I find that God has included “timely” information in the Bible because this information becomes essential to His believers who want to understand the ways of God when the appointed time arrives.
The better we understand God’s actions, the deeper our faith in God can grow! Therefore, I believe the subject of the millennium is important because I believe the time has come to understand a host of prophetic matters that are about to be fulfilled – Revelation 20 brings the big picture of God’s plans into focus.
The Sequence of Events
In the previous chapter, I mentioned how the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are “stacked” onto each other like layers of a wedding cake. As we investigate the 1,000 years of Revelation 20, I would like to present portions of prophecies #16, #17 and #18 so you can see how the layering of prophecies says so much in very few words. The first prophecy we will examine (#16) is taken from Revelation 19:11- 20:10.
This prophecy has a beginning point in time and an ending point in time and the events within the prophecy occur in the order in which they are given. It provides an overall big picture of what happens at the beginning, the middle and the end of the 1,000 years. The two short prophecies that follow (#17 and #18) add more detail. Notice how the chronology in each prophecy contributes to the overall story.
Prophecy #16 ( Revelation 19:11 – 20:10)
Step 1: Heaven’s Army Assembled for the Second Coming
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”
Step 2: Jesus Returns to Earth
“And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, ‘Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.’ Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast [Babylon] was captured, and with him the false prophet [the lamb like beast] who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them [the wicked] were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.”
Step 3: The Antichrist is Returned to the Abyss
“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. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.”
Step 4: The Saints Judge the Actions of the Wicked
“I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.”
Step 5: The Wicked are Annihilated
“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. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Prophecy #17: The Great White Throne Judgment Scene ( Revelation 20:11 – 21:1)
A new prophecy begins with Revelation 20:11 because verse 11 breaks the chronological order of the previous prophecy. This prophecy reveals certain details that take place at the end of the 1,000 years, just after the wicked are resurrected, but before they are destroyed in the lake of fire. After studying the contents of this prophecy, see if you can chronologically harmonize this prophecy with the previous prophecy:
“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.”
Prophecy #18: The Holy City Descends at the End of the 1,000 Years ( Revelation 21:2 – 6)
A new prophecy begins with Revelation 21:2 because verse 2 breaks the chronological order of the previous prophecy. This prophecy reveals certain details that take place just after the wicked are resurrected, but before the destruction of the wicked.
“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true. . . .’ ”
When I align the chronological details in these three prophecies, I reach the following conclusions:
1. When Jesus returns to Earth, the armies of Earth will actually attempt to destroy Him.
2. Jesus will face His enemies and command them to die. (This is represented by the sharp sword that comes out of His mouth.) Incidently, the righteous dead are resurrected by words from the same mouth!
3. The Antichrist (the false prophet) and his global administration (the beast) will be thrown alive in a great lake of fire at the Second Coming. Everyone will be destroyed in that fire, but the fire itself will burn on throughout the 1,000 years. Lucifer and his angels will see the place of their coming execution for 1,000 years.
Note: Lucifer and his angels are allowed to physically appear on Earth during the fifth trumpet. At that time they will be given visible bodies for the benefit of mankind to see. ( Revelation 17:8; 9:1-11) These bodies will be taken away from them at the Second Coming and destroyed in the lake of fire. This forces Lucifer and his angels back into the spirit world or the Abyss (from whence they came) and they remain in this state, “chained” to a desolate Earth for 1,000 years.
4. During the 1,000 years, the saints reign with Christ. This means they will share in Jesus’ great authority in reviewing the records of the wicked to determine the appropriate amount of restitution as required by law.
5. At the end of the 1,000 years, the holy city, New Jerusalem, descends from Heaven to Earth with the saints inside. The wicked will be resurrected and Lucifer will be “released” to lead the wicked in an all-out attempt to destroy God, the saints and the city. God allows this to occur to demonstrate once again that sin cannot be justified. Sin is nothing but rebellion against the authority of God. When the righteous see the defiant behavior of the wicked in the very presence of Almighty God, this evidence will be more than enough to satisfy any question that may linger about the necessity of destroying the wicked. Every tear will be dried.
6. As the wicked rush the city, the Great White Throne judgment scene takes place. The Maker of Life will stop the great throng as it advances toward His city. Jesus will address His created beings and reveal to each wicked person why He could not save him or her. He will also reveal his or her forthcoming punishment. I presume there will be a few special words addressed to Lucifer, the father of sin. Jesus will lament the rise of sin as He speaks to the being who was once His best and closest friend. It will be an awesome day of reckoning.
7. When the wicked realize their great loss, when they see that their fate was sealed by their own rebellion, when they hear their sentence of restitution and death, panic stricken they go into an agonizing frenzy. Jesus calls fire down out of the heavens and the judgment decided by the saints is applied and ultimately, the penalty of death by execution brings sin to an end.
Perhaps the best way to conclude the study on this topic is to answer nine commonly asked questions.
1. Where are the saints during the 1,000 years and what will they be doing?
They will reign (share authority) with Christ in Heaven. This conclusion is based on four concepts: First, the righteous dead of ages past and the righteous living will be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Important point: Christ does not walk upon the Earth at the Second Coming. Instead, He calls the saints up to meet Him in the air. ( 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17) Jesus takes the saints back to the holy city, New Jerusalem, where He has been preparing homes for them. ( John 14:1-3) Second, when Christ appears at the Second Coming, He commands the wicked to die. ( Revelation 19:15-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:8) Third, the saints will have the responsibility of determining the appropriate punishment for wicked people and Satan’s angels.
( 1 Corinthians 6:1-3) Last, at the end of the 1,000 years, the saints descend from Heaven to Earth in the Holy City at the end of the 1,000 years. ( Revelation 21:2-22:5)
2. Where are the wicked during the 1,000 years and what will they be doing?
With the exception of those who participated in the crucifixion of Jesus, the wicked are not resurrected at the Second Coming. They remain in a state of soul-sleep or death. They wait for the second resurrection and the White Throne Judgment scene. ( Revelation 20:5; 20:12,13) At the Second Coming, the devil is forced to return to the spirit world (the Abyss) for 1,000 years. (He was let out of the Abyss during the fifth trumpet. Revelation 9:1-11) Because the Earth is desolate of life, he cannot deceive anyone during the 1,000 years. Furthermore, he is “chained” to his earthly prison and cannot go anywhere to tempt or annoy the other inhabitants of the universe. ( Revelation 20:1-3) The devil and his demons will have a lot of time to reflect on their eventful history of rebellion against God and they will churn with depression and anxiety over their coming destruction – especially the restitution phase. Remember from page 238, Lucifer is the scapegoat. All the sins from the temple will be placed on his head.
3. Did God pre-decree a precise period of 1,000 Earth-years or should this time-period be interpreted as a general statement?
Evidence from the Bible suggests the 1,000 years will be a sabbatical millennium. There is nothing in the Bible to prevent the 1,000 years from being a precise time-period that fulfills the weekly template God designed at Creation. ( Genesis 2:1-3; Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8)
4. Does the millennium occur before or after Christ sets up His kingdom on Earth?
Based on the material presented in this chapter and the previous one, Jesus will return for the saints at the beginning of the millennium. At that time, He will take them to “His Father’s house,” which is located in Heaven, for 1,000 years. During the 1,000 years, the saints will conduct a judgment process upon the wicked, determining the amount of restitution that each wicked person must pay. At the end of the 1,000 years, the Holy City and the saints descend to Earth. At that time, the wicked are resurrected to see the reality of salvation and why He could not save them. Then the punishment begins and ultimately, God cleanses the Earth of every impurity. Hallelujah! After seven millenniums of sin, a new Heaven and a new Earth will be created. Then it can be said, “the Kingdom of God is among men.”
5. What event marks the beginning of 1,000 years?
The Second Coming.
6. What event marks the end of the 1,000 years?
It could be called the Third Coming, since the Holy City descends and the wicked from all ages are resurrected to meet their fate.
7. Will the 1,000 years of Revelation 20 be the seventh millennium since sin began, in effect, a sabbatical rest for Earth?
Yes, it appears that way. (See 2 Peter 3:8.) Consider the parallel: The works of sin last for six millennial days (six 1,000-year periods). Earth will then receive its Sabbath rest for 1,000 years before it is put back into proper “working” order at the beginning of eternity!
8. What is God’s overall purpose for the 1,000 years?
In addition to the purposes stated in previous questions, God uses the millennium as a time for the saints to prove to themselves that God’s judgment of the wicked, His character and His government are righteous beyond question. All issues surrounding the judgement process will be resolved before God permanently annihilates anyone. The first 1,000 years of eternal life will also include their judgment regarding restitution from the wicked. God gives this job to the saints at the beginning of their eternal life because He wants the redeemed to carefully consider the seriousness of sin and rebellion from His perspective. Therefore, He requires them to sit in judgment upon human beings as He must do. As a direct result, the saints will be able to testify throughout the endless ages of eternity about the importance of maintaining a nonnegotiable faith in God and His government. Their eternal testimony will thwart the rise of sin forever in God’s expanding universe.
9. Although the 1,000 years are only mentioned in Revelation 20, do other Bible writers indirectly speak of this time-period?
No details or comments about the millennium are given by Old Testament prophets. Since God’s original plan (I refer to it as “Plan A”) to rescue Earth from sin was based on a scheme that directly involved ancient Israel, the original plan did not have a 1,000 year respite from sin. But when ancient Israel failed to meet God’s requirements, God introduced what I refer to as “Plan B.” The book of Revelation demonstrates how God can take the failure of man and produce an even more glorious outcome. Remember this, the greater the chaos, the greater God’s glory for resolving the problem!
We have reached the end of this volume. I have attempted to explain five essential Bible truths (I call them the five S’s):
- Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ
- God’s seventh day Sabbath rest
- Parallel Sanctuaries
- The State of man in death
- The circumstances and events surrounding the Second Coming.
Each of these doctrines centers on the generous ministry of Jesus Christ. As we begin to understand the depth of God’s plans, it leads the sincere in heart toward a greater appreciation for Jesus. I have written this book for two reasons. First, I want to exalt my Savior, Jesus. Even though I continue to learn more about Him every day, my desire is to share a number of wonderful things I have gleaned from Scripture.
No one compares to Jesus. He rightfully deserves to be called, “The Alpha and The Omega.” He is the most awesome being in the whole universe. Second, this book was written as a primer for prophetic study. The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are an advanced area of study and a harmonious understanding of the prophecies requires a solid foundation of the five essential truths presented in this book.
For example, Revelation 8:5 mentions the “casting down of the golden censer” at the golden altar. To understand what this means, we need to understand it within the context of services being conducted in Heaven’s temple at the Altar of Incense. Since information about services conducted at the heavenly Altar of Incense does not exist in the Bible, we must turn to the parallels and patterns between the heavenly and the earthly sanctuaries. As we examine the ministry conducted at the Altar of Incense on Earth, it helps us to understand the significance of casting down the censer at the heavenly altar.
“Future telling” is not the primary purpose of Bible prophecy. Bible prophecy does involve a study of future events, but not in the way most people assume. Bible prophecy covers a number of topics that believers should want to understand. Ultimately, Bible prophecy reveals how Jesus will resolve all of the problems caused by sin.
He will eventually destroy the wicked, both humans and angels. Earth itself is so contaminated with sin that purification by fire is required! The Godhead has been dealing with the sin problem for a long time and they will bring the drama to a close as planned – and this is where apocalyptic prophecy comes into focus.
Unfortunately, the elimination of sin also involves destroying human beings that Jesus deeply loves. The deliberate and final destruction of fallen angels and fallen human beings must be done within a framework of justice and mercy that every survivor can understand. Throughout eternity, the drama of sin will be reviewed and discussed by men and angels. Of course, after the drama is over, God’s children will have a host of records to examine which will disclose the whole truth about sin and God’s behavior. ( 1 Corinthians 6:1-4, Revelation 20:4) But, we are presently living before the drama of sin has been brought to a close.
So, God has given us who live before the drama comes to a close, an opportunity to understand the sweeping outline of how the sin problem will be resolved. By giving this information to us in advance, our understanding of what He must do to the human race during the Great Tribulation makes sense.
If the balance between God’s eternal justice and His unlimited love to save man is not the central theme when studying Bible prophecy, then it is robbed of its sanctifying value, because human beings can do nothing to prevent the things God has determined to do.
At the present time, one man says this about Revelation and another says that, so no one can determine the truth. This is about to change. When the Great Tribulation begins, God will make sure all people will see and hear His truth. He will empower 144,000 spokespersons all over the world and they will speak with authority, as did Moses and Elijah.
For now, we must accept by faith that God is unbelievably generous in His grace and His government is based on the equitable rule of law based on love. God’s laws are not righteous because He declares them to be righteous. God’s laws are righteous and fair because the evidence will show that when sin’s drama has ended, His laws will have been proven to be righteous! The eternal well being of His creatures is God’s first and highest concern.
As I have come to understand His profound love for sinners, I conclude that, “Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and Last, the Beginning and End. He is the Engineer of everything and the Creator of all creations. He is the Architect of the universe, the Prince of Kindness and the Prince of Peace. But for a few hours in the tomb, He is eternal. He has no beginning and He is alive forever more.
He is unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone. He was bruised but He brought healing. He was pierced but He eased pain. He was persecuted but He brought freedom. He was put to death but He brought life. He is risen and He brings power to those who believe in Him. The world cannot understand Him, the armies of Earth cannot defeat Him, the schools of men cannot explain Him, and the leaders of nations cannot ignore Him. Herod could not kill Him, the Pharisees could not confuse Him, and crowds could not get enough of Him.
Pilate could not hold Him in the tomb, Caesars could not silence His followers, traditions cannot replace Him, and modern science cannot explain Him. He is the way, the true light, the bread of life, perfect love and Lord of Lords. He is goodness, kindness and gentleness. He is God, He is the angel of the Lord and He is man. He is holy, righteous, mighty, powerful, and pure. His ways are right, His word is eternal, His will is unchanging, and His expansive thoughts include me. He is my Redeemer and Savior. He is my guide and my peace. He is my joy and my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules over my life. I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light, and His objective for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He is the source of truth, the owner of wisdom and all knowledge. He is love. He is sovereign over the kings of Earth, the Ruler of rulers, the Leader of leaders, the Model for overcomers.
If His qualifications seem impressive, His demonstration of love is even greater. He desires a wonderful relationship with every human being. If I obediently submit to His call, He will never leave me, forsake me, mislead me, forget me, overlook me, or ignore my prayers. When I fall, He lifts me up. When I fail, He forgives. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am lost, He knows the way. When I am afraid, He gives me courage. When I stumble, He steadies me. When I am hurt, He heals me. When I am broken, He mends me. When I am blind, He leads me. When I am hungry, He feeds me. When I face trials, He assures me. When I face persecution, He sustains me. When I face problems, He comforts me. When I endure loss, He provides for me. When I face the shadow of death, He gives me grace. He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, and in every way. He is Almighty God, He is faithful and trustworthy. I am His, and He is mine.” (Variations of this statement have been circulated on the internet. I have added a number of statements that spring from my discoveries. Originating author is unknown.)