Evangelical Christian perspective on 1000 years of Revelation 20:1-6 (the Millennium)
Evangelical view of the millennium is dependent on hermeneutical approach towards the Bible as a whole, as well as our way of interpreting the book of Revelation. Since realized millennialism is at times suspected for not adopting the "literal" approach, this becomes extensively misleading. An evangelical Christian can affirm the literal-nature of Scripture and also recognize all metaphors pertaining to a text, which recognize the fact that all the prophecies of Old Testament were fulfilled by Jesus. Our debate revolves around interpreting Scripture rather than concerning the commitment to Scripture (Jupp, 2009).
The interpretation of Revelation 20 in the light of entire counsel of God is imperative as Revelation tends to be the only book present in New Testament which discusses millennium. Charles Hodge believes the explanation of obscure passages to be essential in interpretation of Scripture as they are important in making them agree with the plain ones. This implies that the explanation of prophetic and poetic passages which are usually quite confusing must be interpreted in the light of clear passages, which makes the process of interpretation much easier and understandable (Hodge, 1997).
John considers the book of Revelation to be? which is a revelatory communication of hidden truth and is a part of apocalyptic literature. The genre of literature is depicted in Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Isaiah, which was quite a common thing during the Inter-Testamental period. Apocalyptic literature explains spiritual truths by using the art of symbolism. Thus, we should not interpret each sentence to be the same; instead, it is essential for us to notice the various genres occurring within the limitations of that genre. Jesus also used parable for the communication of truths in a figurative way, rather than explaining them in a direct way (Jupp, 2009).
Esoteric symbolism also reaffirms the fact that Revelation could not be understood at the surface level; instead, it is understood as apocalyptic literature. Thus our interpretation is based on understanding the literal equivalents of beasts or places as symbols, rather than taking their direct meanings. It is imperative to realize the fact that everyone recognizes some degree of symbolism within this book. As in Revelation 20:3, literal interpreters do not view bottomless pit as a physical bottomless pit present in earth's middle part (Bebbington, 2007).
Progressive parallelism governs the organization of the book of Revelation when considering the book from an entire perspective. The book comprises of seven sections which run parallel to each other. Each section explains the church and Christ's time from its advent to His second coming. This structure might seem inappropriate to majority of the modern readers of today's world, yet those who understand apocalyptic literature find this organization to be an appropriate one. Obscure (2006) highlights that apocalyptic literature is characterized by repetitive themes and discourse cycles. Thus repetition tends to be a characteristic feature of apocalyptic literature. Hermeneutical Spiral Revelation is an example representing this repetitive feature. The observation of Revelation structure points out that Revelation 20 does not follows the chronological order of chapter 19. Chapter 20 revolves around church age following the repetitive feature of the book of Revelation and does not focus on the future age (Osborne, 2006).
As far as Satan's binding is concerned, the revelation discusses about the Jesus supremacy during the time when he was alive. John must have been familiar with Jesus super power. The other revelations have evidences in them. According to them; Jesus accepted that he guided his kingdom in a different manner and this was attitude was not expected by his supporters. Moreover, John must have known about the time when Jesus casted evil spirit by saying that it was Satan who was bounded in Matthew. The fact is that Hoekema (1977) later explained about binding. He further said that that both John and Matthew used the same words in revelation. Hence, this fact can neither be ignored by church and it was clear that Satan was bounded by Christ (Jupp, 2009).
The writing of John in the bible tells us that John was neither a schizophrenic nor a careless writer. In one of the revelation, John explained that according to Jesus, the time of judgment is near, the masters will no more lead the world and that he will be the one drawing all the men once he has been lifted from earth. Similar quotations were found in another revelation. Another important thing is about link between drawing of men and casting of Satan. It is clearly understood that earlier revelations referred to the death of Jesus and so the former is likely to draw the attention towards the victory of Christ over Satan. The significance of this cannot be ignored. Thus, such kind of readings recognizes the super power of Christ (Murray, 2009; Benware, 2006).
The duration of the millennium
Pre-Millennial Position: In North America, great numbers of evangelical Christians are firmly supportive of the theory of Pre-Millennial position. "Pre-millennialists" is a term used by the individuals who firmly believe in the second coming of Christ who will rule the earth for 1000 years, which is why it is regarded as millennium. He will rule on Jerusalem and his guidance will result in the return of Israel to theocracy. Pre-means before therefore Pre-Millennium indicates those who are firmly adherent to their belief of the return of Christ before upcoming millennium and the day of ultimate judgment of entire mankind will take place by the end of millennium. According to the supporters of pre-millennium theory the duration of this period from the return of Christ till the day of his ultimate judgment will be thousand years before that there will be a duration of seven years of distress in which the sinner's will survive. The Tribulation will apparently start with the rapture of saints; they will vanish from the earth in order to join the Christ and apparently with whom they will rejoice the wedding supper of the lamb. After celebrating for seven years the Christ will return as a leader. This point-of-view is greatly promoted by Scofield Reference Bible. According to Lloyd-Jones (2003), the above theory explains the millennium to be the end of seven portions mentioned in history.
2) The Post-Millennial position: This point-of-view is greatly supported by large portion of reformed community and has great popularity among Puritans as well. "Post" is a prefix that means after. It means that people are sure about the return of Christ after the millennium; hence, there is no distinction between final judgment and return of Christ. Similarly, they do not believe on the duration of this millennium as to be 1000 years. What they believe is the return of Christ with some powers to be demonstrated. It can also be said that extraordinary spiritual prosperity will flourish in "post-mil" period as Christ would return upon the earth. The belief of "post-mil" people is governed by the thought that entire world will be the empire of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ would return, spread the message of Lord in the world, and expand the empire to the remotest region of the world. The era that will be initiated by Jesus Christ would not have been seen by the previous eras of mankind. However, the distinction between pre-mil and post-mil believe is that pre-mil people thinks that the reign of Jesus Christ would be political in nature and it's headquarter would be located in Jerusalem. Contrary to this, post-mil people believe that the reign will be spiritual in nature due to the fact that Christ is seated at Father's right hand. No one knows how long this reign of spiritual prosperity will last. Still, "post-mil" people believe that this era would last for more less than a thousand years. During this period, Satan would start losing and finally Christ would go back into the clouds to initiate the day of final judgment (Lloyd-Jones, 2003).
3) The A-Millennial position: The term gives wrong impression and can be regarded as a misnomer. It implies that people disbelieve millennium, which is not true. A-mil people are against the idea of a future millennium; this notion is foreseen by both post-mil and pre-mil people. According to the position of a-mil we are currently residing in a millennium and the world wide spiritual sovereignty of Christ began with the outpouring of the Sacred Spirit, which took place on the day of Pentecost. A-mil people further believe that this reign would come to an end when the Christ would come back to execute the Day of Judgment.
We can also say that a-mil people consider that the number 1000 revelation is a symbolic one, and this number is regarded true for all the numbers of the Scripture's last book. According to the belief of a-mil people, it is the day of Pentecost that has marked the beginning of the time under which Satan became bound. Before this day Satan was free to…