Apostolic Preterist

Millennial Reign

 

The Millennial Reign

 

The One Thousand Year Imprisonment of the Devil

Satan is shut up for a thousand years. The great chain that bound Satan is actually the symbol of the Gospel. The Gospel of Christ is that power that puts restraints upon the Devil and renders him impotent.

 

Bound with a Great Chain

The keys to the Kingdom were given to the Church along with the authority and responsibility to bind and to loose that come with them. Jesus took pains to explain this matter of the keys, the binding of Satan, and how it would relate to the Church. The story is recorded in Matthew 16:13-21. In that passage, Jesus showed them that it was the Gospel confession among men that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, that would bring the specific power of the keys and the binding of Satan and losing of captives into play. He went on, in words they did not understand at the time, to show that this was inseparably tied to the Cross and the Resurrection, and until that central event of history was accomplished the liberty that Christ and His disciples were to have simply was not available. In Luke 12:50 He said: "But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straitened [or in other words, hindered] till it be accomplished!"

Jesus further gave instructions on this very subject in Mat 12:22-32. It is hard to imagine how the lesson could have been clearer. The binding of Satan and rendering him impotent is a work of the Holy Ghost working through Christ and the Church. The tendency to attribute this important feature of the Church era to any other source is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. As in all cases of these signs and miraculous outward manifestations, Jesus did not come to give credence to the shoddy theatrics that one sees in the world of religious humanism. The point is that this power to bind Satan and to spoil his kingdom is resident in the Church. It is in fact what we do every time we preach the Gospel and a soul is set free by it. Jesus made it clear that this could not be happening if it were not also true that we have first bound the Devil so that he cannot stop the mission of the Church. One must not take this principle in the letter. Not everyone who heard the Gospel was set free by it because not everyone wanted to be set free. Yet in the sovereignty of God, this is according to plan. In the cases of those who were elected to eternal life, it worked every time. We may say, for the sake of this discussion, that in every instance the great chain, which was the Gospel, was put on Satan, he was bound by it, and the captive was set free.

In Mark 3:23-27, Jesus said that Satan cannot and does not oppose himself. It is Christ and the Church who oppose him and expel him from the lives of those who were delivered from the bondage of sin.

As for the notion of literality here, which is misguided on its face, we have the carefully ordained message of Mark 5:3. A maniac who was possessed of devils was dwelling in the graveyard. No authority could bind the man, not even with chains. Do you suppose it is an accident that the Holy Spirit put this passage in the Bible for us to read. I believe that one of the very reasons is to expose the foolishness of those who rob such passages as this one of its voracity by trying to force a literal interpretation that is not intended and will not fit.

Recently I was listening to a renowned theologian of the past on the subject of the Beast, the False Prophet and the city of Babylon. In caustic tones (not characteristic of his teaching except on prophetic subjects) he declared that the city was real, the False Prophet is real, and the Beast is real. He went on to say unkind things about people such as me who take things symbolically in Revelation. The good doctor did not explain why he himself often resorted to symbolism when it came to the sword coming out of Christ's mouth, the eyes on fire, the ivory belly, the brass feet, the Lamb as it had been slain having seven eyes and seven heads, the star falling from heaven whose name is wormwood, the horns, the heads and the crowns of the Dragon and the Beast, the great whore, the three frogs coming out of the mouths of the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet, and on and on.

The chiding of the Orthodox principle of teaching by symbols in Revelation does nothing at all to discredit that practice. It only serves to highlight the superfluous humanism and legalism of Christian Zionists who pick and choose with the symbols of Revelation to teach their Old Testament doctrines of the circumcision or worse; and then attempt to defend against legitimate New Testament teaching by prating against symbolism.

The imaginary rules that these Old Testament theologians wish to make for others to live by are so arbitrary as to be dishonest. I was listening to a widely noted pastor of the area saying that one of the reasons why we should look for literal interpretations in prophecy is that every prophecy fulfilled by Jesus was fulfilled literally. It is not difficult to say that this misguided teaching is far from true. What is difficult is to imagine that this can have been a genuine oversight by one so learned. When Jesus, by His Resurrection, fulfilled the prophecy, "destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again," was this a literal fulfillment? When James declared, in Acts fifteen, that the bringing of Gentiles into the Kingdom of God was the fulfillment of Amos' prophecy in Amos 9:11.12, was this a literal fulfillment? The bringing of Gentiles into the Church was the building again the Tabernacle of David. It was the fulfillment of that part of the prophecy that said, That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

James also said, in verse 15, that all the words of the prophets were written about Christ and the Church. It was never about some restored Jewish thing however defined. Everything the prophets wrote was in full agreement with what was happening.

 

No Literal Tabernacle of David to Restore

This is obviously not a literal fulfillment of prophecy and there is another, very significant reason that this prophecy could not be literally fulfilled. There was no literal tabernacle of David in the Old Testament. The Tabernacle of David is a metaphor for Christ and the Church from the day it was made. In I Chronicles 17, the son that God promised David was not Solomon but Christ and the house that God promised to build David was not the Temple but the Church. There are numerous other fulfillments of prophecy in Jesus' time and after that are by no means literal. These self-serving proclamations are based on wishful thinking, not sound exegesis.

I do not believe that either of these men are - in the first case, were - Pharisees and false teachers. Even so, I believe that both of them have bought into pharisaic false doctrine when it comes to the Jewish fables about the Kingdom of God. The notion that the Jews are still the people of God is as clear a heresy as is being taught in the Church today. Anyone who cannot see that is blinded by the traditions of men on this most important subject.There is niether Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, but we are all one in Christ Jesus.

 

No Literal Bottomless Pit; No Literal Chain

It is equally clear that the chain that is binding Satan is not literal nor is the bottomless pit in which he is bound. These teachings are only useful to us if we shed the scales of tradition from our spiritual eyes so that we can look for the meaning where it exists: in the symbolism.

 

No Literal Keys

The Biblical references to the keys to the Kingdom are themselves metaphorical for we know that we are not talking about literal keys. If one wishes to make anything useful out of these Scriptures, he must acknowledge the fact that in the book of Revelation we are employing symbolism more than in any other book of the Bible. Numbers and figures are almost entirely symbolic here. The authority that is arresting Satan is the presence and the power of the Church. The Church's power is administered by the same Holy Ghost against Whom the Pharisees were prating in Jesus' day. The preaching of the Gospel and the power of the Word of God is the great chain.

 

The Binding of Satan does not Mean that He Cannot Try

This did not intend to say that Satan was not allowed to do any activities. The specific point here is that Satan was impotent to hinder the work of the Church. He could not deceive the Nations during this era of the Church (which is at once the tribulation and the Kingdom of God). He could not hinder the work of the Kingdom of God. He had no power to interfere with what God was doing. In the ultimate and final sense, the Devil could not do that-and he did not.

Someone will perhaps say, "But he does have power to hinder God and His people. Satan and demons were defeated by Jesus and at the name of Jesus they have to flee. Sure they will still try to attack, the point is we have the power now to make them stop. In Jesus name.

 

He Who Had the Power of Death

The Devil had more power and influence before the Cross than He does now, and it is now that we are talking about. The thousand years is a number symbol for the Church. We want to look into this loss of power for a few moments. In Hebrews 2:14 and 15 we are told God took on Himself the form of flesh and blood so that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

In Luke 10:17,18, in a situation that was a prelude to the coming era of the Holy Ghost, Jesus had sent the seventy out after He had breathed on them and told them to receive the Holy Ghost. They came back and told Him the many things that they were able to do. Jesus replied: I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

In verse 10 of our current text, Satan is cast down. In chapter 12, verses 7-9, we saw that: there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Satan's powers had are gone. Even so, if we look at it from the broad perspective of the Scriptures, the Devil never was the winner in anything. Always there are the notations: "as it was written," or "whereunto they were appointed before of old time," or words to that effect. God has said in the prophets, "I create light and darkness; I create evil; I created the heathen for the Day of Judgment." God is saying that all things have happened by His design. It does not mean that the person who did them has done good. Jesus said that it is inevitable that offenses must come, but woe unto that man by whose hand they come. In the 14th chapter or Isaiah God once told Babylon: "I raised you up to punish my people for their dereliction's, but you did not mean any good by it. And so you are going to get punished for what you did to my people," or words to that general effect. In the mind of the great God, this is just and fair. God's thinking goes in different directions from ours. Sometime we are doubtful or critical of God because we do not understand things the way we should. That does not matter. God always does. So, in the final analysis all that Satan has done has been according to the plan of God and to our benefit.

 

We Have Gained More In Christ Than We Lost In Adam

It is better for the race that it fell because we have gained more in Christ than we lost in Adam. The Crucifixion of Christ was the greatest event that ever took place in human history because it brought redemption to the world. Thus, you see how in the ultimate sense, Satan did not really hinder the working of the plan of God at all, even in days of old. He played into the hand of God. The Devil has lost even such meager powers as he had; that is the point. Satan can do things but he is not able to hinder the program and the plan of God. Nor could he in any way interfere with the true Church on Her mission. He simply could not do it. They were given the power, by the Holy Ghost and through the Gospel, to bind him and render him impotent. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "I will build my Church upon the basis of your profession of me as the Christ, the Son of God, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it." As we move along in this world, God wants His Church to know that Satan is powerless to do anything that is destructive or detrimental to the true and faithful child of God and to the true work of the Kingdom of God. All that Satan can do is that which has been appointed to him. The only ones hurt by him are those who are outside of the protection of God because of the way that they live. That is a little bit about the thousand year binding of Satan and the Church's on thousand year reign with Christ.. We should say something about the Biblical use of the term one-thousand.

One Thousand Years Numbers are used as symbols in the book of Revelation. We have noted this with respect to the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 24 and 144. When a number is used as a symbol, it is impossible to derive anything of meaning from its mathematical property. If the meaning is in the symbolism, then the mathematical property means nothing. These are unrelated ways of using numbers. The number 1,000 is such a number, and it is often used symbolically as we have already noted on several occasions, not only in the book of Revelation but elsewhere. A Biblical study of the number one thousand will show that it is most often used as a literary device to convey something other than the literal. We shall certainly not attempt to be exhaustive, but a few citations will serve to bear this out.

God said in the 50th psalm and the 10th verse, that the cattle on a thousand hills are His. God did not mean that literally. He did not mean that the cattle on the thousand hills were His, and the rest of them belong to somebody else. He used the number one thousand as a figure in this instance. Certainly it is true that the figurative properties are different than in the book of Revelation. Even so, it is a figurative use.

In Psalm 84:10 King David said that one day in God's courts is better than a thousand. This Psalm does not mean to compare one day to a literal thousand days. This is a metaphor to say that a little of what the Lord has for us, for a short time, is better than all that the world can give us, even for a life time.

In Ps. 91:7 he said, speaking as a prophet on God's behalf, that a thousand would fall at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand; but it shall not come near him. This figure of speech, not to be taken literally, says that people may be falling all around us, but if we have made the Lord our refuge, nothing can hurt us.

In 1Sam. 18:7, as they came in from the battles of Israel, the women said one another as they played their harps and tamberils, that Saul had slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. This does not mean that David slew ten thousand while Saul only slew one thousand. It means that David was a mightier warrior and a better protector of Israel than was Saul.

In Ecclesiastes 6:6, Solomon said, talking about the futility of man and his ability to achieve, that if he lived a thousand years twice told, yet he would never see anything good come to pass. He did not mean that to be taken literally. It is a metaphor.

In I Cor. 4 St. Paul told the people of that church that though they had ten thousand instructors in Christ, they had only one spiritual father. St. Pual had begotten you through the Gospel. He did not mean anything literal here. He was using a figure of speech to say that one godly teacher who loves you is worth more than all the popular, learned, word mechanics in the world.

In 1Cor. 14:19, he said that in the church he would rather speak five words in an understandable language, from which others could learn, than ten thousand words in an unknown language. The Apostle was not trying to establish a mathematical equation. A ratio of one to two thousand misses the point. It is a metaphor - a figure of speech.

St. Peter said one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.

These are types of uses that you find for the number 1,000 in the Bible. Each of the foregoing is a different use of metaphor and symbol than we have in Revelation, and no doubt a scholar devoted to that pursuit could bring forth an interesting study on those differences. But the point is that they are all metaphorical and show that the number "one thousand" is commonly used as a figure of speech in the Bible

Certainly, in the book of Revelation symbolism is more prolific and more common than it is anywhere else in the Bible. In Revelation, one thousand is a term that is used to convey a vast period of time, unknown as to its parameters. In this case, it identifies the era of the Church, which is at once the great tribulation and the era of the Kingdom of God in this world. You may reject this out of hand because of your traditional teachings, but before you do, be sure to understand one thing. This is the Historic, Orthodox traditional teaching of the Church. It is how Jerome, Athanasius, Iraenas, and Augustine saw it, and it is how the entire Church believed from the fourth to the 19th century with very few known exceptions. Christian Zionism and its children was exorcised from the Church as Jewish fables in the fourth century. It was not until the hot-headed, legalistic, Anglican, John Darby, who left the Church in Ireland and joined the Plymouth Brethren movement - an enigmatic group of people who are more known for what they are not than for what they that this doctrine made a comeback in religious circles. This was mostly made possible by the enlightenment and the fact that scholars, notorious for their lack of spiritual discernment, could get hold on these materialistic views and manipulate them intellectually. In fact Christian Zionism is called the materialistic view by Orthodox Christianity for that very reason. It is long on intellectual imagination and Old Testament theology and short to the point of lacking almost altogether in spiritual discernment.

 

The One Thousand Year Reign

During this era of the Church, the faithful, those who have on white robes and golden crowns, live and reign with Christ for this entire period of time which is characterized as a thousand years. It is not a literal thousand years, nor is it intended by God that it be thought of as being. It would be out of character with the book of Revelation and the symbolic devices that are used if that were the case, which it is not.

You say you have been taught that there is a literal one 1,000 year reign on this earth in the future with its headquarters in the earthly Jerusalem. You may wonder how sure I am that this is not literal. I am certain beyond doubt that there is no literal one thousand year reign on this earth in the future, with Christ coming back to this earth, rebuilding the Jewish temple and making the earthly Jerusalem His headquarters. It is positively not going to happen. It is a false doctrine that does disservice to the Cross, the heavenly sanctuary into which Christ has entered for us, to the Melchisedec High Priesthood (and I am talking now about Hebrews, chapters 7 through 9) and is misleading altogether.

 

 

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