What is the “Millennium” that is repeatedly referred to (six times in Revelation chapter 20) in the Book of Revelation?
Well, the Latin word “Millennium” itself provides much of the answer: “mille” means “one thousand” and “annum” means “years.” One thousand years. Sadly, what is quite clear in Scripture is largely denied by the majority of the last days Church. “One thousand years” doesn’t mean “one thousand years”; it becomes a metaphor for something else; it’s all just smoke-and-mirrors symbolism. And Revelation becomes an incomprehensible book that is better left unread because Amillennialists have muddied and distorted it until it is nigh impossible to explain.
For the record, “Amillennialism” means “no thousand years” even though Revelation chapter 20 specifically refers to “a thousand years” six different times. How did such a bizarre doctrine form?
During the time of the great Christian scholar Augustine in the fifth century AD, there was no Israel, there had been no Israel for centuries and there was no apparent hope of there ever being a national Israel. And so many passages in Revelation that made crystal clear sense in light of a national Israel made no sense at all without a national Israel; and we needed symbolism to understand what apparently could not be understood literally. If there were no Israel, as I shall explain in this article, there would clearly be no reason whatsoever to have a Millennium. And since there was no Israel when this theology was written, Israel was literally written out and allegory and metaphor was literally written in in Israel’s place. And since “Israel” was merely a word that had been redefined to mean something else, why not do the same thing with the words “thousand years”???
Tragically, many of these amillennialist denominations have largely abandoned the true faith in favor of secular humanism and political correctness. And that happened largely because nothing literally meant anything on their interpretations any more – and even the Resurrection of Christ became another allegory or metaphor rather than a literal event in history.
I argue that this is a lack of faith on man’s part rather than a lack of ability to perform a miracle on God’s part. Ezekiel chapter 37 prophecies a national rebirth of Israel from “dead bones.” And that is precisely what happened as a people who were nearly destroyed in the Holocaust – with the survivors being transformed into living skeletons due to starvation and disease – in 1948 as Israel miraculously became a nation after two thousand years of exile. During those two thousand years, Jews who clung to the promises of God would say every year in conclusion of the Seder, “Next year in Jerusalem!” And Bible-believing Christians always believed that with them.
Amillennialists want to depict premillennialism (the belief in a literal 1,000 year rule of Christ on earth) and dispensationalism (the belief that God has been dispensing or administering His revelation according to His own will and according to various stages of human history) as something that was developed in the mind of one man named Charles Nelson Darby in the late 19th century. But that simply isn’t true. In fact, the doctrines that fly in the face of the amillennialist system have been around for centuries and in fact predate amillennialism. You can go back to Romans chapter 11 to see that Israel – yes, national Israel – would be saved. Romans 11:26 very specifically says “all Israel will be saved.” And there is no rational definition of “all Israel” that does not include the nation of Israel. And for ”all Israel” - very much including the nation of Israel - to be saved, it would have to actually somehow EXIST. Which happened on May 14, 1948. Exactly as those who took the Bible literally held to a literal nation of Israel and a literal Millennium said would happen for centuries prior to 1948 and continued to say right up to that historic day on May 14.
On May 14, 1948, those who clung to a literal Millennium and a literal Israel were proven right. And those who denied the Millennium and denied national Israel were proven wrong.
Why is the existence of Israel crucial to the belief in a one thousand-year Millennium during which Jesus Christ will physically rule and reign over the earth from His Davidic throne in Jerusalem? For one reason: the Millennium is the time when Messiah will fulfill EVERY SINGLE promise He made to His people Israel.
In the Old Testament, God’s promises to His people for faithful obedience were very literal and very material. He promised them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (see Gen 12:1-7; 22:17 cf Numbers 26:52-56); He promised them material abundance and long physical lives on earth (Isaiah 65:17-23). But most of all they were promised that their Messiah would rule and reign over the nations among them on the throne of David in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 7:12-16; Micah 4:1-5; Zechariah 6:13). The very nature of nature itself will be profoundly altered during this period, such that the wolf will lay down with the lamb (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25).
Amillennialists want to allegorize such verses and claim that they refer to heaven. But when Isaiah 65:20 teaches that a person who dies before the age of a hundred will be presumed to have been cursed for his sins, how can that possibly refer to “heaven”? This is clearly a reference to a very clearly literal Millennium period during which Jesus Christ shall physically rule from Jerusalem just as the Scriptures consistently claim.
During the Tribulation all Israel – national Israel – will be saved. God has a purpose for the Tribulation to bring grace to His people and He will bring grace to His genetic people Israel just as He promised. They will see their Messiah and mourn and weep as they would for a lost son and they shall repent as a people and be saved (Zechariah 12:10). And during the Millennium Jesus Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, shall rule over the nations for one thousand years from the city of Jerusalem and from the throne of David – just as God promised His people Israel.
And every single promise God made to His people Israel He shall fulfill. Because the God who is faithful to His Church will be faithful to the people through whom God gave birth to the Church.
I find it interesting that King David ruled Israel very nearly exactly one thousand years prior to the coming of Jesus of Nazareth to die for the sins of the world as in His First Advent as Messiah. The nation of Israel almost immediately stumbled into sin. Even King David himself had to be judged for gross sin (2 Samuel 12; 2 Samuel 24). During the Millennium, Jesus Christ will show Israel how He would have blessed them if they had obeyed His Word. Jesus will heal Israel for a thousand years of disobedience by giving them a thousand years of blessing. That, I believe, is the ultimate purpose of the Millennium.
But just as with the Tribulation, God has a secondary purpose for the world.
At the very beginning of the Millennium, God sends an archangel to bind Satan and throw him into the abyss for the duration of the Millennium (Rev 20:1-3) so that he cannot deceive the nations to pursue evil. At the end of the Millennium, Satan is released (Rev 20:7).
So why is Satan bound for a thousand years only to be released in Rev. 20? Just as God gives sinful man his chance to “have it his own way” during the Tribulation in order to reveal in history that man simply cannot make it without Jesus Christ, so also does God give the human race in the Millennial Kingdom this “opportunity” to turn their backs on Jesus. By releasing Satan, God demonstrates in human history that as long as man has a choice – even with Christ physically ruling over him in Jerusalem – sinful man will always choose evil. The wicked always have an excuse for their wickedness; they will claim now that God was not visible enough for them. But even when God is so visible He is literally reigning over them in Jerusalem for every human eye to see, they will still rebel against God the moment they have a chance to hear the devil’s lies. Sin is not the unfortunate result of poverty or our environment; it is the result of our fallen nature apart from Christ. And so even the Millennium Kingdom – as idyllic as it is compared with the world Christ just saved at the end of the Tribulation – is not ultimately adequate. We need the ultimate state of heaven where God will confirm us in our righteousness and where no Satan can ever tread. That’s why.
If you have the kind of faith by which God will save your soul from hell, you do not need to see God with your physical eyes. If you do not have such faith, you will not believe even if God is right in front of you. It is ultimately not the lies of the devil which snare us, but our own propensity toward wickedness that makes us beings who want to be deceived with lies because we do not love the truth as embodied in Jesus Christ.
In the end, God stands as always true to His Word, while Satan will ultimately burn forever in hell as the great deceiver who always encouraged fallen man to live down to his lowest common denominator of sin.