My friend Frank Speer has written a very helpful article on the issue of the millennium. Be sure to read this carefully, with Bible in hand! I hope Frank does not mind, but, I will insert a thought or two in the appropriate places, that I think will strengthen his case even more! Don K. Preston
1,000 YEARS IS A LONG TIME
By Frank Speer
*Parenthesis in Scripture quotations are mine.
It seems to me that the oft debated time frame of the 1,000 years (i.e. the millennium, mentioned in Revelation chapter 20 can reasonably be understood as simply a symbolic reference to the “LONG TIME” referred to by Jesus is His Parable of the Talents…
(Mat 25:19) “Now after ‘A LONG TIME’ the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.
The Millennium and Matthew 25
Notice that in the parable the Master (Jesus) returns to THE VERY SAME WORKERS that He left behind years beforehand. This is crucial. The Master does not return to settle accounts with A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GROUP OF WORKERS. Messiah-Jesus’ parable clearly describes a boss returning to THE SAME GENERATION of his own workers…
(Note: Interestingly, Gary DeMar takes note of this very point in his Last Days Madness book. The significance of this can hardly be overlooked!)
(Mt 25:20) “And THE WORKER WHO HAD (at the time of the Master’s departure) RECEIVED the five talents came up (to the Master upon his return)…”
Now, we know from 2 Peter 3 that there existed first century ridiculers who were disbelieving and contradicting Messiah Jesus’ soon return for divine sentencing upon national Israel – they were denying any such “Day of The Lord” by saying, “IT’S BEEN WAY TOO LONG NOW!”
The Millennium and 2 Peter 3
(2 Pet 3:3) “Know this first of all (just as Jesus said would happen – vs. 2), that in the last days mockers would come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “WHERE IS THE PROMISE OF HIS COMING?”
First, notice that it was unmistakably the first century apostolic teaching that Messiah-Jesus would be returning to THAT SAME GENERATION else these cynics would not be rejecting the claim. These false teachers were outright contradicting the first century expectation of the “Day of The Lord” which Jesus and His apostles plainly and continually taught. See Don K. Preston’s Can God Tell Time? for full vindication of this.
Second, notice that these scoffers concluded that ‘TOO MUCH TIME’ had already passed (some 35 years) and so, according to them, the teaching that Messiah-Jesus would return was proven to be a false teaching. The Apostle Peter’s response to these pompous deriders is to quote Moses in Psalm 90:4…
(2 Pet 3:8-9) “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved (Israel), “WITH THE LORD ONE DAY IS LIKE A THOUSAND YEARS, AND A THOUSAND YEARS IS LIKE ONE DAY.” So, (despite what these cynics say) the Lord is not ‘SLOW’ concerning His promise (to return soon), according to what these mockers call ‘slowness’, but (rather) The Lord is (mercifully) being patient toward you (this generation), not wishing for any of you to perish (in the upcoming time of divine retribution – Jn 3:16 etc) but God desires all (who will) to come to repentance (so as to avoid the approaching day of judgment).”
In essence the Apostle Peter is saying…
“God is not running on the schedule of these mockers! It doesn’t matter one iota if they think God is ‘TAKING TOO LONG’! Don’t you remember what Moses wrote in Psalm 90? He tells us Jews that God exists outside the limitations of time and while time may seem ‘long’ or ‘short’ to people, God is not controlled by man’s expectations. It’s like Moses was saying, ‘There’s no difference to God between one thousand years or one single day – one is not long and the other short for God – all that matters is that God gets the job done in His perfect time.’ Therefore, there is no ‘late’ or ‘early’ with God. Yes, of course God operates with man according to the clock, but God goes by His own calendar not ours. When God says “soon” it means soon as man understands soon, but God is under no obligation to meet any human deadline! So, these mockers only demonstrate their stupidity when they make such statements as, ‘GOD IS TAKING TOO LONG!’ That’s a man thought – not a God thought. Messiah-Jesus will return in this generation, just as He promised, and what these mockers are calling ‘DELAY’ God is calling ‘MERCY’ for those yet to believe the gospel!”
The Millennium as Jesus’ Generation
For these reasons, my suggested explanation of the “1,000 years” of Rev 20 is this:
The “thousand years” of Psalm 90:4 is used to refer to “A LONG TIME”.
Jesus stated in His parable of the Talents that He would be away for “A LONG TIME”.
The Apostles Peter uses Psalm 90:4 to justify Jesus’ “LONG TIME absence.
Therefore, when we come to Revelation chapter 20, I believe we can offer simple and solid scriptural reasoning for suggesting that the 1,000 year time frame (the “millennium“) simply refers to the “LONG TIME” that Jesus would be “away” – i.e. the 40 year time period between his Ascension and His Parousia (40 years is equals Biblical “generation” as well as a Biblical period of “testing”).
In light of these things here is Revelation 20:1-4…
“And I saw a messenger coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for A THOUSAND YEARS, and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until THE THOUSAND YEARS were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw 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 worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for A THOUSAND YEARS.”
Here is my suggested explanation…
(Rev 20:1-4) “And I saw (in my supernatural vision of allegory) a messenger (of God) coming down from heaven (a position of authority), having the key (authority over) of the abyss (the abode of evil ones) and a great chain (restraint) was in his hand. And this messenger of God laid hold of the dragon (an adversarial leader – i.e. the first century political/religious Jewish leaders), the serpent of old (an enemy of God), the one who is the devil (an accuser) and Satan (an adversary), and bound (restrained) him for A THOUSAND YEARS (the “long time” of Jesus absence), and threw the dragon into the abyss (the abode of evil ones), and shut it and sealed it over the enemy, this was done so that this Opposer should not deceive the nations any longer (i.e. the dispersed first century Jewish peoples living in the surrounding nations – See Acts 2:5), not until THE THOUSAND YEARS (the “long time” of Jesus absence) were completed; after that time (the “long time” of Jesus absence) the accuser must be released (unrestrained) for a short time period (as opposed to the ‘long time’ – Aprox 66-70 AD). And then I saw thrones (a courtroom scene), and they (The 12?? See Mt 19:28) sat upon them, and judgment was granted to them. And there I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded (murdered) because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God (which The 12 lived and preached), and those who had not worshiped the beast (enemy leader – Imperial Rome) or his image (an idol – i.e. Caesar as god), and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand (worshipped the beast); and these martyrs came to life (resurrected from the dead) and reigned (co-ruled) with Christ for A THOUSAND YEARS (the “long time” of Jesus absence).”
It is extremely likely that the original readers of the Book of Revelation had also read the Second Letter of Peter and therefore would have undoubtedly grasped John’s use of Peter’s “thousand year/long time” motif. In other words, the Apostle John may very well have been ‘playing off’ of the pattern used by the Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3.
Note: See Preston’s Who Is This Babylon for a fuller discussion of the millennium issue.
What do YOU think?