Revelation 1:10. John, in exile on the Island of Patmos, just off the coast of Asia Minor (now Turkey), receives many distinct revelations from the Lord, and is told to write them down and send them to the Churches in Asia. In his introduction, he says, “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.” Due to the long-held traditions of the English church, most people reading these words obtain the impression that John was sitting in a trance one Sunday afternoon. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We have already seen that the Old Testament is crammed full of references to the Sabbath as the LORD’S DAY, His own special day, set apart from the other six, and to be treated as sacred and holy. The Sabbath Day is Saturday in modern parlance, whereas it was simply “the seventh day” in Bible times. But even correcting this first error still doesn’t tell us very much. There would be no great enlightenment for anyone to be told that John was ecstatic on Saturday rather than Sunday. What difference would it make?
But what is the LORD’S DAY? Is it not that period of 1,000 years defined by the symbolism of the ancient week? To be told this is to have one’s eyes opened to a most significant truth, namely that the Book of Revelation is all about the 1,000 years, and especially that period of time leading up to it, in which the forces of antichrist try to prevent it from happening. Remember Paul’s words to the Thessalonians, that the Day of the Lord wouldn’t begin without first a great “standing away”, an apostasy from truth within the Christian communities of the world. This is a major theme of John’s revelation.
It is instructive to note that we have this mention of the Day of the Lord right at the beginning of Revelation, and then again in chapter 20 at the end, where it is spelled out in more detail as the 1,000 years of Christ’s reign on earth. I am aware that there is much argument amongst scholars about this period of 1,000 years. It was St Augustine who first challenged the simple statement and suggest that it referred to the period of time between the two comings of Christ. Since then many others have tried to show that the 1,000 years can be any length of time – but never 1,000 years. This seems strange when the Bible is full of Millennialsymbolism. In this writing, I shall take the Millennium to be a literal 1,000 years and not question it as to its length. I have been told that Revelation is full of symbolism, and I am quite aware of that, but it doesn’t mean that everything has to spiritualised. I’ve yet to find anyone trying to spiritualise statements like, “Behold I come as a thief,” “His name is King of Kings, and Lord ofLords,” and “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” and “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, etc.”
So let’s have a look at the statements in chapter 20.
Verse 2. Satan is bound for 1,000 years, preventing him from deceiving the nations during that time.
Verse 3. After the 1,000 years he must be released for a short time.
Verse 4. Those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus lived [again] and reigned with Christ 1,000 years. This is the first resurrection.
Verse 5. The rest of the dead lived not again until the 1,000 years is fulfilled.
Verse 6. Blessed and holy are those who partake of the first resurrection, they shall be priests of God and Christ, and shall reign with Him 1,000 years.
Verse 7. When the 1,000 years is fulfilled, Satan will be released out of prison.
The importance of these statements cannot be overestimated. Throughout the Old Testament era people had believed in a resurrection “in the last day”. Very few would probably have understood that this was the eighth millennium, but rather looked upon it as “the time of the end.” However, the eighth day according to the Feast of Tabernacles is now seen to be a symbol of the time after the Sabbath Rest. John speaks of a “first resurrection” at the start of the seventh day. In the Gospels Jesus gave credence to the resurrections “on the last day”, and so it was an entirely fresh revelation that was received by the Apostles, via the Holy Spirit, to the effect that Christ would return and raise up His faithful servants to reign with Him for the great Sabbath Rest of 1,000 years.
Paul knew about this revelation, and wrote accordingly in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians, saying that at the “last trumpet” the faithful would be raised. John showed that there would be seven trumpets, and therefore the last trumpet would be the seventh. This moment in time would be immersed in an escalating judgment scene, and would herald the return of the Lord to set up His millennial reign. By the manner in which John wrote, he expected the whole sequence to begin in his life-time. In fact it could be deduced that he imagined the early stages had already begun. Paul likewise believed that, otherwise he wouldn’t have written about “those of us who are alive and remain”. Hence although we now write about the eight millennia as an overview, it is certain that people in earlier days didn’t appreciate the fullness of the symbolism as we do now. It is doubtful they even realised how many years had transpired from Adam, because they tended to rely on the Septuagint Version. Even today, the Jews seem incapable of assessing how many years separated Adam from Christ.
The binding of Satan is another important point because those who have maintained (like St Augustine) that the Millennium is the Christian era, have then to believe that Satan has been bound throughout the last 2,000 years. Forgive me for smiling, but I find it crazy even to contemplate such a thought. No, there will be a time when Satan is bound, and that will spell the end of spiritually organised deception, but it hasn’t yet begun.
The faithful in resurrection will be “kings and priests” during the Millennium (Rev.1:5). Those who overcome will be granted to sit of Christ’s throne, (3:21) thereby sharing in the government of this world. But they will also be priests, and as their Great High Priest is our Lord, of the Order of Melchizedek, they will be priests after the same order. This is no return to the Aaronic priesthood as it operated in the days of the Old Covenant, but an entirely new form of priesthood pre-figured by the one who met with Abram after the battle of the valley. See Genesis 14:18-20. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine, and he was the priest of the Most High God, and he blessed Abram, and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And Abram gave him tithes of all.”
Finally, we are told that when the Millennium has run its course, Satan will be released to continue his dastardly work. His time of imprisonment has made no mark on his character. One may surmise that it only caused him to dig his heels in and become even more entrenched in his own ideas instead of witnessing the glories of Christ’s reign, and the victories He had achieved against his own empire.
Vast hordes of people follow him, we are told. John is only allowed to give us the very briefest of details about the events of the eighth millennium, but we know from 1 Corinthians 15 that it is the final stage of Christ’s reign, when He will accomplish all that had not been accomplished during the Millennium. At the end, when “all things are under His feet” He will deliver up His Kingdom to His Father, thereby to acknowledge that He had fulfilled His Father’s will in its entirety.