Revelation 20:1-10

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Revelation 20:1-10

Copyright © July 22, 2017 Douglas W. Jerving.
All Rights Reserved.

Revelation 20:1-10

Millennial Schizophrenia

Christian theology and consequently Christian ethics are largely understood and practiced on the framework of our eschatology (i.e., our view of the end of all things). Where did we come from, and where are we going and how does that influence our present reality, are the questions behind all philosophy, theology and ethics, no matter what religion or philosophy to which you adhere. Even atheism or agnosticism find this tripartite inquiry inevitable.

Christianity has always answered the query in one decisive way. Despite differences of opinion regarding the out-workings of Christian doctrine, there is one basic concept to which all Christian thought conforms regarding last things. That constant is that the Kingdom of God, through Christ, shall have world-wide dominion. Ultimately, Jesus Christ shall rule all the world, and His law shall be established through all the earth. Despite our different interpretations of how this comes about, we all agree on that one basic point.

Scripture bears testimony to this idea, validating it, and the idea itself is so thorough-going in Christendom because it is founded on that very Scriptural testimony. Below are just a few of the great many passages from the Bible that are the foundation for the premise. All quotes are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. 1.

Numbers 14:21: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.

Psalm 86:9: All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name.

Psalm 22:27: All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

Psalm 2:8: Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Psalm 72:8-11, 17-19: He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him. His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.

Psalm 110: The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.

Isaiah 2:1-4: The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD's house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Daniel 2:44: And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Read the whole chapter for the context. The vast majority of commentators down through Jewish and Christian history agree that “the days of these kings” refers to the Roman Empire.)

Habakkuk 2:14: For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 42:1-4 Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Luke 13:18-21: Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. (The growth of the Kingdom of God is universally extensive.)

Acts 13:44-49: And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.

Revelation 7:1-10: And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (All the elect of Israel are saved, and also an innumerable company out of all the nations. Yes, God is still interested in saving the Jewish people!)

Revelation 11:15-18: And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Note that the past tense is used throughout the passage. 2 The Kingdoms of this world HAVE BECOME the Kingdoms of God. God has taken power, and has reigned.)

Revelation 15:3,4: And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.

Ephesians 1:20-23: Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (All authority in heaven and earth is NOW, since the resurrection of Christ, put in subjection to Him through His body, the Church.)

The world-wide dominion of Jesus Christ is obvious in these passages, and in many more not even here presented. The Kingdom of God rules over the kingdoms of men. That is one of the clearest declarations of Scripture. It is beyond a doubt that it is the most important doctrine of all Christian eschatology regardless of any particular views of how the Kingdom of God works out in history. As Christians, we all believe that Jesus Christ is, or is ultimately proven to be, The King of kings and Lord of lords. To deny such is to deny Christianity. Whatever we believe about the historical out-workings of the Kingdom of God, if we are serious about the Bible, we whole-heartedly believe that Christ is King, and that His kingdom is destined to overtake the entire world.

Postmillennialism and premillennialism both take these passages literally. Postmills see a present fulfilment, and premills see a future fulfilment. The former see the Kingdom of God (KOG) coming to pass in the present age due to the spread of the Gospel worldwide. The KOG is coextensive with the expansion of the Gospel throughout the earth. The believing Church is the fountainhead of that expansion.

The latter (premillennialism) see the KOG arriving after Christ returns to earth to set up a literal political empire in Jerusalem that will subject all the nations under His world-wide political autonomy. (In this, they are not much different from the Jewish zealots of Jesus’ own time on earth.)

Amillennialism is the contrarian opinion even though it has a very long history. It goes back at least as far as the 4th century, and may even be traced to a few of the post-apostolic fathers. None of the earliest writers can be securely tied to any millennial viewpoint; they had better things to worry about, and were often fed to lions before they had a chance to kick back and contemplate the finer points of Christian thought.

Amillennialism interprets the millennium spiritually, as opposed to pre- and postmillennialism’s literal interpretations. Amill thought views the millennium as a reference to our salvation. The millennial hope is that the believer is saved from eternal death. It is equivalent to going to heaven rather than hell. There is a large amount of ambivalence on this approach among traditional amillennialists however, many of whom are closer to the postmill view. (Gerhardus Vos, Cornelius Van Til, et al.)

The developmental nature of the KOG is obvious from the passages set forth above. The Kingdom starts small and eventually envelops the entire earth. That is the whole point of the mustard seed parable and the leaven in the loaf parable. The slow developmental growth of God’s kingdom until it eventually absorbs the entire world appears to be missed by amillennialism. The growth principle inherent in such parables is consistent with postmillennialism. Since premill thought is also more literal about the political nature of the KOG, it is only a small step away from the “kingdom now” vision of postmillennialism. Both subscribe to a literal view of Christ’s rule over the nations. The only difference is when that political rule takes place.

Amillennialism fails because it does not recognize the developmental nature of the KOG. It has no sense of history being modified by the resurrection of Christ. The world continues one path toward hellish oblivion and the Church’s only hope is to die and go to heaven. Premills are not much far removed, in as far as the dispensationalist premill waits to die or go up through a hole in the sky (the “rapture”) before the eschatological millennium of the future.

Premill critics will say “We see no evidence that the world is getting better.” They conveniently ignore the last 2000 years of history, forgetting how horribly wicked the world was before Christ. We live in a far more humane world environment today than has ever before existed. Postmillennialism admits the steady upward climb toward a triumphant world history. In consideration of the last 2000 years of history we fare better now than before. It is not yet as good as it shall be, but it shall be better as the Gospel becomes more entrained in the hearts and governments of man. That is the undeniable teaching of the Gospel. It is why it is Good News.

Postmillennialism is the true “eschatology of victory” as J. Marcellus Kik called it. 3 The world is still struggling against a fallen and defeated foe, but our preeminence is becoming more evident as history moves forward. Amillennialism is an eschatology of indifference. We should hold on as best we can, but we have no hope in this life, so just get saved and die. Not much victory there.

Premillennialism encourages us that Christ will reign someday in the future, but for now we are in a losing battle. Their millennial future will force a political détente when Jesus becomes the world dictator for good by deposing the world’s dictator of evil (their “anti-christ” figure).

Premills, as well as the amills, conveniently ignore history, but in their case it is the fictionally predicted “history” of their millennium. Their millennium is a dark one by the simple fact that Christ must reign as a totalitarian dictator. This is an admission that the millennium they look forward to is not one of loving submission to God’s Law, but of harrowing discipline against multitudes who resent His rule. Arthur H. Lewis poignantly referred to this as “the dark side of the Millennium” in his book of the same name. 4 The fact that their dark “millennium” includes much that is contrary to the Kingdom of God is enough to question the futurist interpretation of premillennialism. How is that millennium any different from the present age except that it has a better autocrat?

Premillennialism is a schizophrenic form of eschatology. It is amillennial in its analysis of the current world events and postmillennial in its future expectations. The evidences for this are set forth below.

For the premill the KOG is only concerned with the saving of souls in the present age. Don’t waste your time saving the sinking ship. Sell the ship’s mortgage and man the lifeboats! Jesus is coming to soon to waste time on education. Forget planning for a future. The end is near. Repent or perish. In this sense it is an apocalyptic form of amillennialism.

The other side of premill schizophrenia is its insistence on a great future that is always a twinkling of an eye away from the present, but like the donkey’s carrot, never obtained. It is a future always ahead of us, after the second advent of Christ. Only then will the promises of worldwide evangelism be fulfilled. Only then will all the nations finally serve our Lord Jesus Christ. Only then will peace and prosperity visit all mankind. Premillennialism is a futurist (and again, apocalyptic) form of postmillennialism.

Premillennialism is essentially both amillennial and postmillennial at the same time, with an apocalyptic (end-of-the-world) twist. It is an attempt to justify an ethics of the political abandoning of this present world to Satanic kingdoms, and of saving them politically in the apocalyptic “future” millennium.

Premillennialism hopes for a postmillennial future and lives in an amillennialist present. It is schizophrenic. It is schizophrenic because of its’ insistence on apocalyptic eschatology even though the Revelation of John on the isle of Patmos was written as a polemic against the Judeo-Roman political synthesis that opposed Christianity at that time. Revelation was written as a preterist diatribe against the soon to be deposed Judaic opponents of the Christian “cult” and the Roman Empire that supported the anti-Christian political system. A large group of modern historians agree that Revelation was penned by John prior to the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. 5

Postmillennialism, or as Lewis called it, historical millennialism, is consistent with all the passages set forth above, and the many more not discussed. It acknowledges the presence of evil in the world, but clearly teaches that Christ is King NOW! His Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom not waiting to be fulfilled, but is being fulfilled and proven to be true through the course of history. History is the process of His Kingdom being fulfilled step by step in all our lives, to be consummated at His Glorious Second Coming.

End Notes

1. I owe much attribution to Greg Bahnsen’s Theonomy in Christian Ethics, pp.411-414, for the Scripture references. Most of this article however, is based on my own observations which are compiled in my marginal notes within my copy of Dr. Bahnsen’s book. While Bahnsen clearly writes from a postmillennial point of view, in the cited pages he does not reference pre-, post- or amillennialism specifically. I am following his presentation of Scriptural references almost exactly, but the subject matter I am presenting does not follow his train of thought. Bahnsen is pursuing a study of the separation of Church and State, and his arguments are sound. I am taking his references in a different direction, being more interested in how these passages bear light on the three views of the millennium: Premillennialism, postmillennialism and amillennialism.)

2. Bahnsen noted this fact in the above reference.

3. J. Marcellus Kik, An Eschatology of Victory, 1971.

4. Arthur H. Lewis, The Dark Side of the Millennium, 1980. In his Preface, page 6, Lewis says “The point of view herein defended is not amillennial, if that label means a negation of a real millennial age. Rather, it should be called historical millennialism, since it will assert the present reality of all aspects of the “thousand years” as described in Revelation 20:1-10.” Historical millennialism is, for Lewis, equivalent to post-millennialism, although he chooses to avoid the term.

5. See for instance John A. T. Robinson’s authoritative Redating the New Testament, 1976. This is just one of many very influential modern scholars that insist that the entire New Testament was written prior to 70 AD. The old theory that the Revelation was written post 70 AD and just prior to the opening of the second century is now completely demolished by modern Biblical criticism.


Doug Jerving is the publisher of the You may contact him at


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