Welcome to this blog which is following the Book of The Revelation. Previous blogs can be found by date from the archive, or at emmock.com bible reference, or emmock.com topic word. Comments and questions are always welcome. My other blog, which is more political can be found at xtremejesus.co
The daily headlines are reminders of the world we live in.
AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO BOMB ISIL
20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and locked and sealed it over him, so that he would deceive the nations no more, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be let out for a little while.
4 Then I saw thrones, and those seated on them were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and for the word of God. They had not worshipped 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. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. Over these 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.
7 When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, in order to gather them for battle; they are as numerous as the sands of the sea. 9 They marched up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from heaven[b] and consumed them. 10 And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
The Dead Are Judged
11 Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. 13 And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; 15 and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
So what’s the meaning of the thousand year rule of Jesus Messiah and his holy ones? Certainly this prophecy has had many interpretations, for example, by people who thought it meant they should rule the earth.
But the first question should be, what’s the meaning of the binding of The Satan. Jesus joked with his disciples that their announcement of the kingdom had brought The Satan down from heaven like a bolt of lightning. I think we would not be far from the truth if we saw Jesus’ life and death as the event which tied up The Satan, because he refused all allegiance to him.( the legends of Jesus’ temptations are relevant in this regard.) The lives and deaths of faithful followers of Jesus were seen by this prophet along with Jesus’life as a single rescuing event for God’s creation. This interpretation would be in accordance with my principle, that in Revelation, what happens ‘in heaven’ is the counterpart and ultimate future of what happens on earth.
In that case, we should doubtless also see the thousand year rule on golden thrones as the counterpart of more mundane events. St Augustine saw it as an image of the time of the church. That could be, and was misinterpreted to mean that a powerful church should rule in place of the defeated Empire. But I think Augustine was on the right track; the image of the assemblies and their resurrected martyrs ruling a peaceful earth while The Satan is chained up expresses the view that those who make the great refusal of allegiance to evil powers and false Gods, do in fact rule the world by God’s goodness, helping to keep the Power of Evil chained until the final battle. The millennium is now, and I know a few of the saints who by their goodness chain the devil and serve God. Some of them are “dead” and some are “living” but all are alive in the partnership of God’s people. God’s victory achieved through Jesus and all who have refused to worship false Gods is not just for the new heavens and new earth of chapter 21 but also for this very earth, in this here and now. The millennium is the author’s story of how evil does not have the last word even in this world.
The final battle is barely dramatised. The Satan is released and gathers his troops for the great coup against God, only to find that they are wasted by fire and that he with his two great beasts are dispatched to the lake of fire, which is a symbol of their own evil.
Similarly the final judgment is pretty brisk. Those who have chosen life by their actions are named in the book of life, whereas those who have chosen death by their actions are given what they want in the lake of fire.
The battle and the judgement simply spell out what the author knows already, that the God of Life fights against evil in the person of his Lamb and finally kills it off. Many believers who want to be more merciful than God, protest against the consignment of evil people to the lake of fire. There are two answers I would give them:
- I have known and known of people who seem so committed to arrogance and destruction that I can imagine even God being unable to change their minds.
- We should not be too literal in our interpretation of this final judgment any more than of Jesus’ parables of judgement. The line dividing good from evil, sheep from goats, may not be between me and other people, but between one aspect of me and another. Perhaps I have to be prepared to see my own evil arrogance chucked into the lake of fire. Actually, painful as it might be, I’d be happy with that.