The Thousand Year Reign
The idea of Christ reigning for one thousand years, is the basis of what is called “Millennielism”. That belief is based on Revelation chapter 20, verses 1 thru 10. Those are the only verses in the bible that speak of a thousand year reign, and those verses are describing a vision that the apostle John received. But what everyone needs to realize about visions, is that the things seen in a vision are symbolic. They represent something. Visions are a lot like parables, they are symbolic and they teach spiritual truths.
Here’s what’s described in John’s vision;
An Angel comes down from heaven and binds Satan, and casts him into an abyss for a thousand years, so that he could not “deceive the nations any longer”, verses 1 thru 3. Then, the souls of those who had died in Christ, some of whom had been beheaded because of their faith, and others who simply had not “worshipped the beast, or received his mark”, came to life, and reigned with Christ for this thousand year period, Verse 4. It says in verse 5 that the souls who came to life at this time, represent the “first resurrection”. And verse 6 says that these souls would not be affected by the “second death”. Verse 6 also says that these resurrected souls will be “priests of God and of Christ”, and then it reiterates that they will “reign with Him for a thousand years”.
Verses 7 thru 9 say that after the thousand years is over, Satan will be released from the abyss, and that he would gather up all the nations of the earth, and they would surround the “camp of the saints” for the purpose of making war with them. But verse 9 says that as they surround the “camp of the saints”, that fire will come down from heaven and devour them, and that the devil will then be cast into the lake of fire.
Now I want to mention here, that people have very vivid imaginations. And many people have imagined that verses 7 thru 9 are predicting a great war that will take place, between the forces of Satan, and the forces of God. But that’s just the imaginations of men, going beyond what the bible actually says. The bible never says that there will actually BE any war. Let me read exactly what the bible does say;
“And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the sea. And they came up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and of the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them!” They didn’t get the chance to fight a war did they? “Fire came down from heaven and devoured them”, and no war ever took place.
But let’s stop here for a minute.. Do you know what “God and Magog” refers to? According to Ezekiel chapters 38 & 39, Gog was the king of the land of Magog, a land in the remote north. It says in Ezekiel 38:15 & 16; “You will come from your place out of the uttermost parts of the north, you and many peoples with you, all of them riding on horses, a great host, a mighty army. You will come up against My people Israel, like a cloud, to cover the land. It will come about in the last days that I shall bring you against My land, in order that the nations may know Me, when I shall be sanctified through you, before their eyes, O Gog!”
But chapter 39:2 thru 4 says; “And I shall turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north, and bring you against the mountains of Israel. And I shall strike your bow from your left hand, and dash down the arrows from your right hand. You shall fall on the mountain of Israel, you and all your troops, and the peoples who are with you. I shall give you as food, to every kind of predatory bird and beast of the field!”
Do you know the really interesting part of all that whole prophecy? It never says that a battle ever actually took place. Gog and his allies were ready for a battle. As a matter of fact, God said the He Himself would BRING them against Israel! Isn’t that interesting that God is going to bring them up against His own land and His own people?
And God even says WHY He’s bring them up against Israel. In Ezekiel 38:16, God said; “..in order that the nations may KNOW ME, when I am sanctified through YOU, before their eyes, O Gog.”
God is going to use those unbelieving nations, to demonstrate His power and His judgment. And when he does it, those nations are going to come to KNOW God! They’re going to wish they DIDN’T know God! But it does say, in Romans 14:11? “For it is written; As I live says the Lord; Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” They’re going to know God!
Now, those verses in Revelation chapter 20 are just like the ones in Ezekiel 38. Listen.. “Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations, which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog..” (Remember where Magog was? Ezekiel says that it was in the “uttermost parts of the north”. Revelation calls it, “the four corners of the earth”. In other words, the “remotest parts” of the earth. And so the mention of “God and Magog” here in Revelation, is obviously referring to the prophecy of Ezekiel. Listen again to Revelation.. “Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations, which are in the four corners of the earth, (nations everywhere, even in the remotest parts of the earth, in the “uttermost parts of the north”, all those who are in opposition to God) “Gog and Magog”, Revelation says; “..to gather them together for the war. The number of them is like the sand of the sea.” Ezekiel had said that they’re going to “cover the land like a cloud”.
But now listen to verse 9 of Rev 20; “And they came up on the breadth of the earth, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city..” And what happened? Did a war break out? No, no war broke out. Here’s what happened; “..and fire came down from heaven and devoured them!”
Satan is the very spirit of evil, so then the spirit of evil, which drives all the unbelieving people and nations, is all ready to make war against Christians, but that spirit doesn’t get the chance to make war, because God destroys even the very spirit of evil, with fire from heaven! If you try to “make war” against God, He’ll laugh in your face, and then He’ll destroy you!
And then after God destroys all His enemies, Revelation 20, verse 10, tells us that the devil, (the spirit of evil) was thrown into the lake of fire. So that’s the gist of what happens during this thousand year period. Satan is bound for a thousand years. The saints reign with Christ for this same thousand years. Then Satan is released, he gathers all the nations of unbelievers together for war, and God destroys them.
Now, let’s tackle this idea of a thousand years; The time period when Satan is bound, and when Christ reigns. Does that mean that one thousand years is the exact literal length of time that Christ will reign, or is that to be understood figuratively, as being symbolic of something? Is Christ’s reign, in the future, or is it in the present? When does the bible say that the reign of Christ will begin?
Let’s start by going all the way back to the book of Daniel. Daniel had been given a series of visions, just like the apostle John was given a series of visions in the book of Revelation. It says in Daniel 7:13 & 14; “I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming..” (This vision was seen from the prospective of heaven itself) “One like the Son of Man was coming. And He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory, and a kingdom..” It’s probably needless to say, that Christ reigns in His kingdom. And in Daniel’s vision, we see the kingdom being given to Christ. But WHEN is the kingdom given to Christ, and when does His reign begin?
The vision that Daniel saw, shows Christ ascending into heaven, and being presented to “the ancient of Days”, that’s God. And when Christ ascended into heaven, was when He was given “dominion, glory, and a kingdom”.
So, it sounds like all we have to do, to find out when Christ’s reign begins, is to find out when Christ ascended into heaven. When DID Christ ascend “with the clouds of heaven”, up to “the Ancient of Days”?
Well, the bible is going to tell us. Jesus had appeared to His disciples several times after His resurrection. And the last time that he appeared to them, the apostles asked Jesus, in Acts 1, verse 6; “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus answered and said, in verses 7 & 8; “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority. But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”
Then in verse 9, it says; “And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight..” And verse 11 says; “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven..” Jesus ascended into heaven!
So then on that occasion, Jesus ascended “with the clouds of heaven”, up to “the Ancient of Days”. And this took place, 40 days after His crucifixion. Acts 2:32 & 33 says; “This Jesus, God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God..” Do you know what that word exalted means? It means.. “to be lifted up on high”. In other words, Jesus was lifted up to heaven by the power of God.
Daniel’s vision tells us, that when Christ ascended into heaven and was presented to God, that it was THEN, that He was “given dominion, glory, and a kingdom”. So then, when did Christ first begin to reign in His kingdom? It was when he ascended back to heaven, in 33 AD, 40 days after His crucifixion. That’s when His reign began. The bible is “as clear as a bell” on this.
And how LONG will Christ continue to reign? We’re told in 1 Corinthians 15:25 & 26; “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.” And when will death be abolished? Death will be abolished when the dead are resurrected. 1 Cor 15:54 says; “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, Then will come about the saying that is written; Death is swallowed up in victory.” Death is the “last enemy” that will be abolished.
1 Cor 15:22 thru 24 says; “..In Christ all shall be made alive. But each in his own order. Christ, the first fruits, after that, those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then, the end! When He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and authority and power.”
Christ’s reign as King over His kingdom, began in approximately 33 AD, and it will continue until He comes again, and resurrects the dead, and delivers up the kingdom to God. How long has that been so far? Well, from the year 33, until 2018, that’s 1985 years. So then Christ has already reigned, for almost 2,000 years! How long does Revelation chapter 20 say that Christ will reign for? It says one thousand years.
Is the book of Revelation simply wrong? We KNOW that Christ has literally reigned for almost two thousand years already. So is Revelation wrong? Or could the expression “a thousand years” be a figurative expression to signify the “complete period” of the reign of Christ? From beginning to end.
The scriptures say; “They will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him a thousand years.” They will reign from the beginning, ’til the end! They’ll reign until the kingdom is delivered up to God! They’ll reign “a thousand years” so to speak.
So then, once again.. is Revelation wrong, or is a thousand years a figurative expression? Its’ got to be one or the other. Obviously, the bible isn’t wrong, is it? Therefore, obviously, “a thousand years” is a figurative expression signifying the complete period of the reign of Christ!
Now, WHO do the scriptures say, will be.. “priests of God.. and will reign with Him a thousand years”? Revelation 20, verse 4 says it will be.. “the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus, and because of the word of God. And those who had not worshipped the beast, or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand, THEY came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
That verse is describing FAITHFUL Christians. Some had even been faithful “unto death”. That’s who will reign with Christ; Faithful Christians.
Listen to what it says in 2 Peter 2, verse 9; “But YOU are a chosen race, a royal PRIESTHOOD, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light.”
“YOU are royal priesthood” ALL faithful Christians, are “priests of God and of Jesus Christ”. But do we “reign with Him”?
Well, listen to Romans 5, verse 17. This verse talks about death because of sin, and life because of Christ. Listen; “For if by the transgression of one, death reigned through the one, much more, those who receive the abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, will REIGN in life, through the One, Jesus Christ.” Christians will “REIGN IN LIFE” through Jesus Christ.
Are we priests? Yes we are! Are we reigning with Christ? Yes we are! And as long as we remain faithful to Christ, we will continue to reign, until the end of time! We’ll reign “a thousand years”, in the kingdom of God, with Jesus Christ the King!
So now we know, straight from the bible, that the thousand year reign spoken of in the book of Revelation, doesn’t refer to a literal thousand year long period, but rather, it refers to the entire reign of Christ in His kingdom, which began in about 33 AD, and will continue until the end of time. He’s already been reigning for almost two thousand years, and who knows how much longer His reign will go on for.
The important thing to know, is that Christians are now reigning WITH Christ, as “priests of God and Christ”, in His kingdom. Colossians 1:13 & 14 says; “For he DELIVERED US.. (past tense, it’s already happened) He delivered us, from the domain of darkness (the domain of this world) and translated us INTO THE KINGDOM of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Revelation 1:6 says; “And He has made us, a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever, Amen.”
We’re told in Mathew 16:19, that Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom to the apostle Peter, and Peter used those keys to open the doors of the kingdom, on the day of Pentecost, so that everyone who believes in Jesus, and obeys Him, can enter that kingdom.
In other words; If you believe that Jesus is the Christ, just like it says in Mathew 16:16; And if you will repent of your sins, just like Jesus says to do in Luke 13:3; And if you will confess Jesus’ name, like He says to do in Mathew 10:32 & 33; And if you will be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins, just like it says to do in Acts 2:38; Then, not only CAN you enter the kingdom of God, but God Himself will ADD you to His kingdom! And if you will remain faithful unto death, just like we’re told to do in Rev 2:10, you will be given the crown of life.