Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rev 20: Millennium, Judgment, Satan and more ...

Dear in Christ,


Revelation 20 is a very short chapter that anyone can read in less than 3 minutes. There are quite a few important events happening here in it and it is hard to say which one is more important than others. Many have their focus on millennial rule and the so-called last judgment. My focus is on the destruction of Satan or Devil - the great adversary.

Before reading any further, make sure that you have read the posts on Rev 22 and Rev 21, in exactly the same order.

Many have serious issues with Revelation 20. Some want the order of proceedings to be shuffled, some others want part of a verse to be dropped - all to match their presuppositions and agenda.


Even I have a problem, perhaps the only problem that I have in eschatology. But, as you read this you will agree that my conclusion makes sense, logically, scripturally and historically.


To aid our discussion of Revelation 20 a chart is included below. The circled numbers on the right edge of the image represent various sections of the chapter and they correspond to the sections of this post.





① Binding of Satan and first resurrection. Rev 20:1-5



Events in this section of the text is pretty clear. An angel, presumably Jesus, comes down from heaven and catches hold of Satan and binds and casts Satan into a pit or prison for a 1,000 years. Martyred (beheaded) saints are resurrected and they reign and judge with Christ during that period.
  • Most of the Christians include themselves in this category of martyred saints. They claim that these are the 144,000 mentioned elsewhere in Revelation. I am yet to see a passage which says that the 144,000 will reign with Christ and judgment is given to them.
  • The passage is about those who are beheaded for Christ.
    • Does that include me, who spends most of my time in front of a computer?
    • Or some of my readers who works in a bank and spends a couple of hours in the evening or morning in Bible study and online theological debates?
    • Does this include some preacher who is beheaded in some non-Christian country? Probably, he/she may, because he/she is beheaded.
    • 1,000 years reign is a limited time reign with a specific end. It appears to me that Christian saints (not only the beheaded ones of Rev 20:4) should be reigning for ever and ever (Rev 22:5) and not for a limited time.
  • The right to sit on thrones and judge is given to the apostles alone.
    • Mat 19:28 Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel 
  • The purpose of binding Satan is to stop him from deceiving the nations. Most assume that these are non-Jews who are raised from death. Does it make sense to say that a resurrected spirit retains his/her ethnic, religious, national and racial identities?
  • Most assume that Rev 20 happens at the end of time and there won't be anyone to be reigned upon. In order to solve this riddle they transpose the time of the so-called general resurrection (Rev 20:12-15) to be within the 1000 years. Since this is contrary to the clear statement in Rev 20:5 that "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended", they say this clause is spurious. Even if the clause were spurious, verses 7-15 makes it clear that the so-called general resurrection happens after the 1,000 years and after Devil is cast into the lake of fire.


② The "Millennium" and imaginations.


Apart from the statement that the martyred saints would reign with Christ for a 1,000 years, there is nothing stated as to what would happen during that period. This silence of the scriptures has given scope for human imaginations to run wild.

People cook up stories by plugging in passages from the book of Isaiah and 1 Cor 15 and claim things like dead people would be raised in batches ("order" from 1 Cor 15:23) and trained in righteousness for a 100 years each (Isa 65:20). Assuming that you are raised in the first batch, after the 100 years of training you would be waiting for the rest of the 900 years, doing nothing! And if you haven't learned righteousness, you will be cut off after the 1,000 years! Just imagine the mental agony of someone who has to wait for 900 years only to be cut off! (Surely, such monstrous teaching cannot be from God). 

I have a friend who has written 13 books that vividly portray how earth would become a paradise (garden) during the 1,000 years. He does this by plugging in unrelated passages from Isaiah.


Now, the truth:


Unlike all the fabulous stories that people cook up, the truth is startling! Without having to plug in from Isaiah or elsewhere, the book of Revelation itself tells us about the nature of Christ's reign.

Rev 2: 26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Rev 2:27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
Rev 12:5 She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
Rev 19:15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of ironHe will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

How does ruling the nations with an iron rod and crushing them like earthen pots match up with the vain imaginations of false teachers that earth will be made into a paradise in the 1,000 years?



③ 1000 years end, Satan released. Rev 20:7, 8


If the nations are raised from death during the 1,000 years (as commonly believed) where would Satan find nations in the four corners of the world after the 1,000 years? Frankly, my friend, popular understanding of Revelation 20 does not add up.

Another area where people's imagination runs wild is the identity of Gog and Magog. Magog has to be in the Southeastern Europe, in the vicinity of the Black Sea. But, our end time experts make Magog to be any nation of their choice starting with USA to China to Japan. So far they have spared only a few nations like India, Australia and New Zealand from being identified as Magog. If we live long enough we may even see that a small nation like Fiji, somewhere out there in Pacific Ocean, also being termed as Magog.


If you agree with me that the book of Revelation was written in the 1st century, do you think it is just a coincidence that Roman Empire occupied the same region (
Southeastern Europe) during that time?



④ Satan & Co surround "beloved city". Rev 20:9-10



Almost everyone agrees that the "beloved city" is Jerusalem, but there is not much agreement on when this happens. Though the expression "beloved city" is not used anywhere else in the scriptures, it is not hard to identify it as Jerusalem.

There are only two occasions when Jesus wept, once when his dear friend Lazarus died (John 11:35) and the other was on his entry into Jerusalem on the colt of an ass, a few days prior to his own death. He wept foreseeing the destruction that was then about to happen.


Luk 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city (Jerusalem)and wept over it,
Luk 19:42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
Luk 19:43 For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,
Luk 19:44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.

I would say confidently that the city for which Jesus wept was the beloved city.

Additionally, Jerusalem was the city Jehovah chose to "put His name there" (1Ki 11:36; 14:21; 2Ki 21:4; 21:7; 2Ch 12:13; 2Ch 33:7)


The timing of Satan & Co surrounding Jerusalem


  • Some say this is about New Jerusalem. After having stated there won't be death, sorrow, crying, or pain in New Jerusalem, it does not make sense to say that Satan & Co will encompass it? Yes, there are evil doers outside the city gates, but they are not surrounding it with the intention of doing harm; they are given the option of washing their robes white and entering the city through the gates.
  • Some say that God has brought back Jews to their homeland in the 19th century and made them an independent nation in 1948 and has been on their side in all their wars against their neighbors. They claim that some time in the future Satan would bring all the nations against Israel and Jerusalem. This view cannot be true.
    • Though I cannot speak about other nations, I am quite confident that India would not wage war against Israel in the next 500 years or more. 
    • Also, if all the world powers come together against Israel, they need not to surround Jerusalem, they can just wipe out Israel from the face of the earth without moving an inch from wherever they are.
    • If God were to intervene in the affairs of Israel in some unknown future date, why He did not intervene while they were persecuted in Germany, Poland and other European nations and millions of them were brutally killed?
    • If God were to wage war against the enemies in some infinite future date, why He is not doing it right now? Is not Israel claiming that practically every nation around them are their enemies?
    • Prior to coming to the land of Palestine, Jews were persecuted in various parts of Europe. Does it make sense to say that they are brought to Palestine to be ambushed by Satan & Co., and let two thirds of them to be annihilated, as popularly believed? For me, it looks like God was trapping them and deluding them.
  • More coherent answer is that the discussion of Rev. 20 is about the events took place in Jerusalem in the first century.
    • A vast majority of Christians are not aware of the fact that Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies for 3½ years during 66 to 70 AD.
    • Churches do not teach that Jerusalem was destroyed in the first century.
    • If this theory is right, some entity that can be termed as Satan brought about nations against the beloved city.
    • As we have seen above, Magog is in the southeastern Europe, a region that was part of the Roman Empire.
    • It is a known fact that the first century Jewish leaders were in active connivance with Roman rulers in getting Jesus killed (1 Thess 2:14-15) and persecuting the 1st century Christians. Later on, Jews revolted against Romans and provoked them to surround Jerusalem and destroy it.
    • Due to their hostility toward God, Christ and early Christians, we can safely say that the 1st century Jews were the adversary or Satan mentioned in several passages of the New Testament.
    • Jewish economy, sacrificial system, temple and their political identity was destroyed in 66 to 70 AD and nearly 1.1 million of them were killed and and their bodies were thrown in the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna, mistranslated as hell in KJV).


⑤ the Great white throne judgment. Rev 20:11-15



The great white throne judgment here in Rev 20:11-15 parallels with the same in Matt 25:31-46.

Many Christians earnestly desire to be among the sheep on the right hand of the throne (Mat 25:33) and to be seen in the book of life (Rev 20:12). One wonders whether these well meaning Christians have noticed that the judgment mentioned in both these chapters are based on deeds and not by faith.

Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand...
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Are not Christians saved by faith? If we are, how do fit in among the sheep that are saved by deeds? Some may argue that the deeds mentioned here are the "deeds of faith". Giving someone to eat, drink or clothe cannot be deeds of faith. The so-called "deeds of faith" is an over-spiritualizing. They say food is their version of truth, drink is the Holy Spirit and so on. Frankly, over-spiritualizing does not add up. It is just an attempt at covering up ignorance. 





If good deeds are valid reasons for being judged as righteous, then non-Christians who do charitable works also should be judged as righteous. Ask a typical Protestant Christian whether Mother Teresa, (a Catholic) would be in heaven and he/she would answer: NO. Double standards?!


The fact that faith is not mentioned in either of the passages is the proof that it has nothing to do with Christians. If sheep on the right cannot be Christians, goats on the left cannot be Christians or anyone alive today.


The judgment in both the passages, logically, should have been for the 1st century Jews. It is a Jewish belief that they would be judged for their deeds. Have you noticed the expression "the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done". This is a distinctly Jewish concept. No, this is not my invention, read this from Jewish writings:


all the works which a man does in this world are written in a book, and they come into thought before the holy King, and they are manifest before him[Tzeror Hammor, fol. 154. 2. T. Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 16. 21. T. Bab. Roshhashanah, fol. 32. 2. & Erachin, fol. 10. 2. Zohar in Gen. fol. 118. 3.]

Jesus did speak on deeds, but never as criteria for justification.

Mat 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.



⓪ Do you mean to say that the 1000 is a very short period?


It is an undeniable fact that the 1,000 years of Christ's reign had to end:

  • before Satan is released from prison (Rev 20:7)
  • and before the siege of Jerusalem (Rev 20:8-10)
The siege and destruction of Jerusalem happened in 70 AD. The present day Jerusalem has no role in God's scheme of things. It is absurd to think that Satan & Co would surround the New Jerusalem, which is not a geographical location.

One may ask why there is evil in the world if Satan is destroyed in the 1st century. Let me give you a quick answer: If you still believe that the fulfillment of Rev 22 is yet in the future and it happens after the fulfillment of Rev 20, in which Satan's destruction is mentioned, will you please explain to me how there are sinners just outside the city gates of New Jerusalem? Does it not tell you that evil people can exist without Satan? As for natural disasters, they are not from Satan; if they were, Satan would have used them indiscreetly to annihilate the entire human race. 


Beginning of the "1,000" year reign.


If the end of 1,000 years happened circa 70 AD, when should it have started? Do we have references to the binding of Satan anywhere else in the Bible? Towards the beginning of Jesus' ministry, while He healed a demon possessed man the Jewish religious leaders accused Him of healing with the help of Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Then Jesus in response tells this:

Mat 12:29 Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.
  • The entire Christianity understands that the strong man mentioned here is Satan.
  • What Jesus tells his detractors is that unless Satan is bound, you cannot spoil or loot Satan's assets.
  • If you have bound Satan, you can loot his assets.
  • Please note the context: Jesus has already looted the asset that Satan was holding - the demon possessed man!
  • He made the above statement after having looted the assets of Satan.
  • Is it not plain that Satan is bound before the asset was looted?
If the above narrative has not convinced you that Satan has been bound, it is my failure in convincing you, the truth remains. Please read the above passage and Mat 12:22-32 a few times.

[It may be helpful to remember that the Greek word translated as "to bind" in Mat 1:29 and Rev 20:2 are the same.]

None of use see any kind of physical binding of Satan. The only event that did happen was Jesus healing the demon possessed, by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Mat 12:28). (We will see more on this later on, if it be the will of God).

There are many well meaning Christians who believe that there would be a real bottomless pit on earth into which Satan would be dumped. To say it as kindly as possible, they should consider joining the flat earth society


The most misused and misinterpreted passage: 2Pe 3:8

2Pe 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day

This one verse has given rise to numerous theories. There are theories like day-age creationism built up on this verse. There are many who ignore the word "as" in the scripture and say that a day with the Lord is a thousand years. Everyone ignores the context.

Peter is addressing a group of people who ask: where is the promise of His coming? Nothing has changed since the days of creation! (2Pe 2:3-4, paraphrase). 

There are a couple of obvious things here:
  • these people were not looking forward to a visible appearance of Christ,
  • they expected some drastic change in the entire creation when Christ comes. (Just like most of our friends who look forward to earth becoming a paradise!)
Peter reminds them that the previous time there was a drastic change in the world was when evil men perished in the flood and warns them that this time around they would perish in fire. In other words, if they are looking for a positive change, they would be disappointed. (See also 1Pe 3:18-21)

The scenario that Peter depicts is quite contrary to the popular understanding about the "millennial" reign as a period when earth will be turned into paradise!


If flood could annihilate ungodly men in 150 days (Gen 7:23,24) do you really think that it will take a 1,000 years for fire to do the same? I guess it should be faster.

As we have seen above, the reign of Christ is of iron rod, unlike the fallacy taught by mainstream Christianity. Check up the Old Testament for occurrences of "day of the LORD" and you will see passages like: "the day of LORD's wrath", "the day of LORD's vengeance" and "the day of LORD's anger". You will also see passages which makes it plain that the day of the LORD is of destruction and desolation. Is there anything called benevolent and benign wrath, vengeance, desolation and destruction? Was anything benevolent or benign about what happened to Jews and Jerusalem in 70 AD? Absolutely NONE!

In other words, 1,000 years is not in terms of duration, but in terms of quality (or intensity). While it is said "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand" (Ps 84:10), obviously, it is about the quality and not about the duration. Here is a quote from Albert Einstein that may be helpful in understanding the situation:

Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity. ~Albert Einstein.

In short, Peter was warning the scoffers (mockers in Jud 1:18) that unlike their expectation for a positive change, what is in store is a rule of iron rod, destruction and desolation.

Conclusion

  • The 1,000 years end before the beloved city (Jerusalem) is surrounded by enemies, instigated by Satan.
  • It was in 66 to 70 AD that Jerusalem was surrounded by enemies.
  • The text does not provide for a huge gap between the siege of Jerusalem and the defeat and destruction of Satan & Co.
  • Nations or gentiles are present during the 1,000 year reign and afterward, unlike the popular understanding of Rev 20.
  • The so-called general resurrection and judgment is based on deeds and not faith and hence cannot include those who are saved by grace.
  • The chapter is not about the ultimate destiny of human race. It is all about Jews and what befell to them in 70 AD.
In Christ,