Are we living in the Millennial Age? Revelation 20:1-6 describes a one thousand year period of time known as the millennial age as follows:
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for 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 is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
Here in the UK, we think it’s fair to suggest that the overwhelming majority of churches teach we are currently living in the period of time described above – this is known as amillennialism.
If you read the text above and then look at the world around us, it seems absurd to suggest that the devil is bound in the bottomless pit with a great chain and a seal above him…and why is the devil bound? So that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the end of the 1000 years! It seems patently clear to us that the devil is NOT bound and that he IS deceiving the world right now. This teaching that we are living in the millennial kingdom now is not supported in the Bible and certainly does not fair well when comparing the description of the millennium with the state of the world around us – we are even told elsewhere that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking people to devour:
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
How can the devil be both bound so that he cannot deceive the nations AND prowling around looking to devour?! This makes no sense at all.
When church leaders are confronted with this, the standard response is that this is a peripheral issue and one that should not cause division.
Although this doctrine is not a ‘salvation issue’, it does provide a good litmus test in revealing a person’s approach to the Bible. Alan Kurschner outlines four reasons detailing why this is an important issue in his blog – Four Reasons the Millennial Debate is Especially Important for the Church Today.
Where does your church stand on this issue? Like so many, does it simply symbolize this passage away and reduce it to some non-literal genre of the Bible that basically renders it meaningless? We believe God’s Word should be taken at face value and that it means what it says. Many passages in Revelation do claim to contain symbolism – the reader is usually informed where symbolism is intended (e.g. Revelation 12).
Revelation 20 is not one of these passages and therefore a literal understanding is assumed AND makes the most sense. We cannot be living in the millennium as described in Revelation 20 – we earnestly look forward to this unique period of time with great anticipation!