ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY
Lord Jesus, you are near as well as far, you accompany me as well as beckon me. You are my Lord.
Read REVELATION 20:1-6
The Thousand Years
20 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
4 I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They[a] had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
- Revelation 20:4 Or God; I also saw those who
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I pray … that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance.’1
We come to the fourth and (start of the) fifth visions (‘And I saw …’, vs 1,4), over which much theological ink has been spilled! The meaning of ‘a thousand years’ (v 2) has been debated since the second century, but several things are evident. First, John never uses numbers literally; they are always symbolic. The seven churches2 were not the only seven; the number stands for ‘the whole church’, which is why they hear each other’s messages, and we overhear them all. A thousand years symbolizes a long period, which is why many human empires claim they will last ‘a thousand years’ (they rarely do). This period of Satan’s defeat and the reign of the saints is vast in comparison with the short time of three and a half years of tribulation and testing. ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.’3
Within Revelation, a thousand has an additional meaning. As 10 cubed (103) it symbolizes God’s holy presence, since the Holy of Holies was cube-shaped. Thus the saints are numbered as a square times a cube4 and the holy city is a cube cubed!5 This makes it very difficult to think that the thousand years stand for the ‘church age’, as if all is right with the world now, before Jesus returns. In our world, where everything is locked, keys mean access, but in the ancient world locks were rare and keys meant security. In the age to come, the world will be completely secure from Satan’s influence – and those who ‘did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death’6 will be vindicated on earth as they reign with Jesus. Whatever trouble we face now, as we follow him, we will be more than rewarded.
What most frustrates you in your spiritual life and the world around you? How might you grow in the ‘patient endurance’7 that we all need to learn?
Loving Lord, your goodness and mercy follow me. I praise you for the assurance that one day I will live in your house forever.
1 Eph 1:18 2 Rev 1–3 3 2 Cor 4:17 4 Rev 7:4 5 Rev 21:16 6 Rev 12:11 7 Rev 1:9
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