So this is the part in the story where my childhood literal interpretation of Revelation kicks in. I was raised to believe that yes the Abyss is the pit of an eternally burning fire called Hell, that it is a literal 1000 year reign without Satan’s interference that yes people were literally beheaded and reigned with the Messiah for the thousand years and yes there will be another resurrection where all our bodies will be raised from the grave to meet our new bodies in the air. That’s a lot of literal.
And the other part of my dysfunction in all this was the expectation of achieving perfection in the interpretation of all the above. Yes to be a childhood Bible scholar is what I believe was expected of me. Lots of pressure!!
So for NT to say: “Those who go in …
As I’ve shared in earlier posts, I grew up on a conservative Baptist church where events of the “end times” were clearly and definitively (my nice way of saying dogmatically) delineated. You had the rapture (fully illustrated in end times genre Christian-made movies), pre-trib & post-trib events, who would reign during the literal thousand year reign, etc. I suppose that because Revelation can be such a perplexing, disconcerting and mysterious book, it felt good to church leaders to have an approved “agenda” for what happens, while allowing no room for debate.
I appreciate N.T. Wright’s attempts to interpret this “who’s on first, what’s on second kind” of passage and offer us some clues as to its meaning within a biblical and historical context. But I’m also thankful for his closing thoughts cautioning us not to be too dogmatic and his encouragement …
I’ll be honest, when I finished reading Dr. Wright’s commentary on this section I was disappointed. The Millennial Reign is one of the most confusing parts of Revelation for me, and it seems like all he ended up really saying was something like this: “It’s all symbolic, nothing’s really certain, so just live for Jesus and everything will be fine.” Really? REALLY? Everything we’ve seen so far has so clearly been grounded in early Christian history, this seems to be the part where the rest of us might actually have some kind of part to play. But we’re content to just get all hazy here and focus on staying true to Jesus. And I thought there would actually be some scatological insight here.
But after I got done throwing my little mental pout fest, I realized that’s exactly the right approach. …
The word ‘flummoxed’ means baffled, confounded, stumped, bemused, flabbergasted, perplexed, confused, mystified, or puzzled. This is how I feel after reading Revelation 20:1-6. Three things stand out as especially perplexing. First, “the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan” is apprehended and locked up in the Abyss for 1,000 years. Then, he is released for a short time. Why? I don’t have a clue. Hitler is the embodiment of evil. If Hitler were an eternal evil spirit, would you ever let him out of his cage? Isn’t that like letting a black mamba, whose venom can kill dozens of people with just one bite, loose in a playground full of blind children? Second, what is the 1,000 year reign mentioned here (and no where else in the Bible)? I know the theories regarding the millennium, that the …
Does God only own the cattle on a thousand hills (see Psalm 50)? Are we meant to forgive only 490 times (see Matthew 18)? Or are these numbers figurative?
When The Revelation speaks about the rule of Christ for 1,000 years some take that to mean Jesus will only triumph for a period of time (literally 1,000 years) before his reign is interrupted, contested and finally reasserted. To be clear, Revelation chapter 20 is the only place in the entire Bible that could even be misconstrued to mean something like that.
And it doesn’t mean that.
The numbers in Revelation are always symbols, not statistics. These few references to a 1,000 reign are meant to emphasize that the martyrs reign with Christ rather than specify the duration of their government (never mind the fact that the Second Testament repeatedly makes it clear that …