Evidence from Revelation 20

The 13th chapter of The Coming Millennial Kingdom is titled Evidence from Revelation 20, penned by Harold W. Hoehner.  Overall this was a very good chapter.  But here is the primary mention of the millennial kingdom in the entire scriptures.  If this chapter didn’t have solid content, the entire reliability of this book could be called into question.  The author did a very thorough job covering the subject of the millennium as a whole.  This is appropriate for this chapter since it is here that the battleground for premillennialism is fought.

Eight pages are spent documenting the historical interpretation of Revelation 20 within the church.  It is an interesting read when you understand that the early church held to a literal interpretation of the thousand years.  Only when a misunderstanding of what this thousand years consisted of was there resistance in the church.  Some set forth the idea that this thousand years consisted of a period of gluttonous feasting here on the earth.  Of course this was met with resistance from godly Christians.  Instead of correcting the teaching of the millennium, it was discarded.  That’s the short version, so in purchasing the book, you can get the fuller version along with the church fathers which are quoted.

Our understanding of Revelation 20 should not necessarily be determined by a historical teaching which has been passed down.  So Hoehner turns to the scriptures themselves to unfold what the proper view should be.  He explains the entire context of the destruction of the beast, but no mention of Satan’s destruction is contained in Revelation 19.  The question remains, what of Satan’s final judgment?  Revelation 20 is the answer.  Satan’s destruction comes at least one thousand years after the destruction of the beast at the battle of Armageddon.

To me, his explanation of the passage is an over explanation, but such is necessary when there are so many interpretations which lead many to an allegorical stance.  So he covers nearly every angle that I can think of, and some that I hadn’t thought of until I read them.  I had ran into the recapitulation view, so I was familiar with it.  This is the view that the destruction of Satan (along with Gog/Magog) at the end of the thousand years, is simply a re-explanation of what had been previously described at the battle of Armageddon in Revelation 19:11-21.  He comes to the same conclusion that I have, it can’t be because of the clear time markers that put the destruction of the beast before the thousand years and the destruction of Satan after the thousand years.  So if you have dialogued with someone about this and can’t quite grasp what they are getting at, this chapter will help you to understand the issue and how you can deal with the argumentation that is being set forth.  Again, this is the short version, so read it yourself as he interacts with several A-Millennialists in a hands-on sort of way.

Of course when one gets into the finer points of detail in Revelation, I’m going to have something to say about it.  Some of the conclusions that he makes are lacking.  For instance, he points out differences between Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:7-9 to show that these cannot be the same events.  Those who have been reading my blog for some time know my position.  Ezekiel 38-39 must be divided into two distinct sections.  Ezekiel 38:1-7 and all of chapter 39 are pre-millennial while Ezekiel 38:8-23 is post-millennial lining up flawlessly with Revelation 20:7-9 occurring “after many days” which is the millennium, see Ezekiel 38:8.  Demonstrating differences in a passage does not always prove them to be completely different, but sometimes complementary.  Concerning the physical coming of Christ, he places this after the bowls rather than before (see Revelation 14:14-16) because of the reference in Revelation 16:15 that Christ comes like a thief.  This is completely lacking in substance since Revelation 16:15 is not a time indicator, but a warning that Christ will come like a thief.  Similar warnings are given at Revelation 22:12, 20 significantly after Christ has physically returned.  Finally, he separates the onset of the millennium from the new heavens and new earth placing them after the millennium.  He doesn’t articulate his reasons for this view, but simply sets them forth.  Readers here understand my view that Isaiah 65-66 and Revelation 21 to be speaking of a new heavens and new earth which occur in conjunction with the millennial kingdom.

Overall though, this chapter is beneficial for one to understand the arguments that are set forth in favor of an A-Millennial understanding of Revelation 20.  I personally don’t think it’s a question of orthodoxy.  I have amillennarian brothers in Christ.  But I will defend the pre-millennial view since I feel it is the biblically correct view.  The problem for me is getting an a-millennialist to engage with me on the issues.  I just can’t one of them to tell me what they do with the first resurrection in Revelation 20:4-6.  This chapter was somewhat helpful, but still left me with questions on how they defend their view.

Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13

-The Orange Mailman

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3 Responses to Evidence from Revelation 20

  1. Chris W says:

    As a former a-millennialist, maybe I can shed a little light on this for you.

    There are 3 major views on what the first resurrection represents within a-millennialism. I have placed them roughly in order of popularity.

    1) The regeneration of believers (or their baptism for the more sacramentally minded)
    2) The ‘coming to life’ of the souls of believers in heaven after their death
    3) The national resurrection/spiritual revival of the church at a certain point in her history (fits well with the Ezekiel 37 background).

    Views 1 and 2 are most widely held, despite the fact that they are least defensible, since the first resurrection is clearly an event (like the second resurrection), not an ongoing process throughout history! And obviously, verses 4-5 are really hard to deal with in the amil scheme. They must insist on two different meanings of “coming to life” right next two each other, which nothing but an alleged ‘wider context’ to back them up. Although as a post-millennialist, I would agree with them that the binding of Satan doesn’t necessarily mean his complete restriction.

  2. Thanks Chris. I tried dialoguing with some a-millennialists a while back but they wouldn’t engage me. They just kept saying that premillennialists deny the person and work of Jesus by believing that the sacrifices will be reinstituted. It wasn’t overly productive. I did write a series on it titled Illumination. I think it’s on my other blog, which the link to it is the last post on this blog.

    http://theorangemailmanmyblog.wordpress.com/2010/06/04/illumination-series/

  3. Chris W says:

    Thanks for the link, I’ll check those out!

    🙂

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