Often times, somebody asks about the millennium and wants to know whether I am pre-millennial, a-millennial, or post-millennial. The definition of millennium is usually termed as a thousand years, but in the actual Greek it simply interprets as a very long time, not an actual thousand-year term. Despite this fact, most people divide the Book of Revelation into pre-millennial, a-millennial, and post-millennial.
Premillennialism teaches that the Second coming will occur before a literal thousand-year reign of Christ. In the early church, premillennialism was called chiliasm, from the Greek term meaning 1,000, a word used six times in Revelation. These believers consist of most Fundamentalists, Baptists, and Protestants.
Catholicism is a-millennial, or ah-millennial, depending on how some choose to pronounce it. A-millennial believers think that the world is presently in the millennium, or the thousand-year reign, of Christ. Other Christian groups, such as some of the White Supremacist groups, Victory Now groups, and perhaps some Calvinistic followers, believe that humanity is currently in the millennium and that Christ will return whenever the earth is subdued.
Post-millennial means that Christ returns after the millennium and that mankind lives through the millennium. “Pre” means that Christ returns prior to it. The pre-millennialists and the post-millennialists divide over the question of whether the second coming of Christ will take place before or after the thousand years mentioned. Some people will take it one way and others another but it is fairly clear that the Book of Revelation is pre-millennial. Jesus appears prior to the millennium.
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up … (Revelation 20:1-3).
This is where the term “the millennium” comes from–a thousand years, during which time Satan is bound. As for why would God allow it to be done this way is unclear. Obviously, this is the same bottomless pit that the scorpions and so forth came out of earlier. Apparently it is also the same bottomless pit mentioned in Peter where the fallen angels of Noah’s time are incarcerated, a place called Tartarus.
SATAN BOUND A THOUSAND YEARS
… and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, and they that sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:3-4).
A part that is hard to understand is why God will set Satan free after locking him up. No one really knows the answer.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog (generally references countries of what is now *Turkey), to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Revelation 20:7-10).
*Turkey- Draw a straight line from Jerusalem North and you will intersect Ankara hence, the King of the North.
The beast and the false prophet, the Antichrist, are already thrown into the lake of fire, or the second death, prior to the millennium. When Christ returns he throws them into the lake of fire. Now there is some subjective reasoning to that; perhaps they are not totally human. Thus, they go to judgment before mankind goes to judgment. Maybe they do not stand before the Great White Throne Judgment because they are Nephilim (half fallen angel and half human).
Before discussing this Great White Throne, read 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 about two judgments.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.
Judgment in Greek is the word bema, meaning “tribunal.” This is some type of court that is often referred to in Theology as “The Bema Seat of Christ.” Prior to the Great White Throne Judgment there is the judgment of Christians. Some people think heaven is Communism and that once a person gets through the Great White Pearly Gates everything is level but that is not true. How one enters the Great White Gates greatly determines what he or she is on the other side.
Daniel 12:3 says, “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament.”
This means there are going to be some Christians in heaven who shine brighter than others. How everyone lives their life in this world is not without final definition. All will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ and those who have earned it will receive crowns for the work they did while on earth. Each person must stand before the Bema Seat of Christ at judgment and have his or her life summarized. Getting into the Pearly Gates is not enough reward; those who enter also receive crowns. The key is to live this life by running the race according to the course in order to obtain rewards in heaven. As for the rest of the world, those who did not serve God, it is a bit bleaker.
Imagine this: perhaps this throne has a rainbow behind it, a sea of glass in front, twelve-sets of elders sitting around it, and an angelic company of millions or billions.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God … (Revelation 20:11-12).
In this case, Scripture is not talking about the Believers. They already stood before Christ, are in heaven, and are watching this judgment unfold. Reference is being made pertaining to the unbelievers, who are also sometimes called the sheep and the goats.
… and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works (Revelation 20:12-13).
All those who have died and gone to hell (or maybe somewhere else) are standing in their bodies at the Great White Throne for judgment. Notice it says “according to their works” but it is much like a black and white judgment: a sheep and goat thing.
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:14-15).
Interpretation of this is that all these people standing before the Great White Throne are cast into the Lake of Fire because their names were not written in the Book of Life. Being that it is associated with each person’s works as well, perhaps hell has portions of it that are hotter than others. Personally, I do not believe hell is equal; it has different levels of torment. Some suffer more than others. One thing is for sure, nobody wants to be in hell.
Think about someone such as Hitler burning in hell today. Most likely, the gas and fire are turned up higher on him than on my daddy. My daddy was a good man but he believed his works would get him to heaven. He did not know Jesus nor understand the Cross. Up until the very last moments when his heart stopped beating and he succumbed to death, I yelled at him, “Trust in Christ, put your faith in him, not how you have lived your life!”