Making Sense of Revelation – Part 3

Holding Glasses over BibleThe terminology associated with interpreting the Book of Revelation has been off-putting to many. Do you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture or a post-tribulation rapture, in which the church is suddenly caught up into the air? It is a pre-post-erous question (pardon the pun) if there is no rapture mentioned in the book! But what about the thousand-year Millennium in which Christ reigns with His Church on the Earth. Pre-Millennial interpreters see Christ returning (in the ‘Second Coming’) before this occurs, but Post-Millennials after. Amillennialism is an unfortunately named view that suggests not that there is no Millennium (since it is clearly described in Revelation 20:1-6), but that it is not a literal thousand years.

The Book of Revelation is highly symbolic and uses many numbers with deliberate intent. This is not to suggest that these cannot be associated with literal events, but it is not always intended that the numbers themselves are literal. The “cattle on a thousand hills” of Psalm 50:10 is not intended to distinguish between 999, 1001 or even 5000. The suggestion of 2 Peter 3:8 that the Lord sees a day as a thousand years is seldom taken literally, either, let alone such a number in a symbolic book like Revelation.

When the Millennial passage speaks of Satan being bound for a thousand years and prevented from deceiving the nations, could this simply mean that the time period is lengthy, that he is unable to prevent people from freely responding to the gospel in the Church age even though he blinds them (2 Corinthians 4:4), and that he is a defeated foe despite being an active one (1 Peter 5:8)? Christians naturally need to exercise their authority over Him, anyway, which the New Testament repeatedly affirms, and this is ultimately expressed in their eternal reward in Heaven.

The first death/resurrection of this passage is described as physical death, where those who have suffered or lived for Christ live with Him immediately after this death throughout the Church age. The second death/resurrection then arises at the final judgment, but this death is said to have no power over those who have served Christ.

This is the great news here that we can all hopefully agree on. We secure our eternal destiny while we live on Earth by our response to Christ’s offer of salvation. It is affirmed in Revelation 21:6-8 where the second death claims all who have continued in sin in their life on Earth and have therefore not surrendered their lives to Christ. The triumphal closing of the book therefore recognises the huge reward for living as a Christian on earth, and the huge penalty for choosing not to do so.

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