Let’s continue in our second post based on the “Questions I’ve Been Asked”, regarding the binding of Satan, and more specifically, the term “a thousand years” in the book of Revelation.
You see, a brother asked me about the thousand year teaching in the Book of Revelation and if Satan is bound at the present time.
I hope I can address these concerns properly.
Let’s read the passage one more time.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
As I mentioned at the end of our last post, this next question has been the most influential in my understanding of the passage.
2.) Does the literalness of a passage increase due to the use of a precise number?
When John is writing this passage, he uses a specific number, and because of this, must mean what he writes, right?
(And isn’t that a cool gif? —->)
We must take his description of the thousand years literally since he specifically uses that specific term and did not modify it by using terms like “approximately” or “about” or “more than”. I must have heard this argument a million times! – Literally a million times!!!
But is that how a Jewish man would communicate 2000 years ago (not exactly 2000 years ago, but again, you know what I mean, right)?
John was a man steeped in the Old Testament, and surely knew of the instances the prophets used the very same term. Granted, sometimes the prophets would be defining a population, the result of a census, or a sum of money, and that seems to be an obvious use of the term in a literal sense. But sometimes the prophets used the term “thousand” to define an indefinite time, or an extended time.
Consider the following passages
May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!
Was the LORD going to implement a birth control system once the population grew to a certain point? (Don’t be so sarcastic Carl!)
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
Ok, follow me on this – let’s assume that one generation is 40 years (just for giggles!)
OK, lets make one more assumption, and that is that Moses recieved this promise aproximately 2,000 years before the birth of our Lord. I know it was less, but let me make the math easy!
A thousand generations would be forty thousand years. 40,000 years! That means that this promise ceases to be valid in the year 38,000.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad my great great great …. grandchildren have a chance, but honestly, what about my lineage in the year 38,001? (Ok Carl now you are being ridiculous!)
How could one have chased a thousand,
and two have put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
and the LORD had given them up?
Although there are many instances of small contingencies of Israeli men taking on multitudes (I am thinking of Gideon and Jonathon for instance), I don’t know if the exact thousand to one or five thousand to one ratios ever exactly occurred.
The Psalms are very descriptive and poetic and often use terms in a very symbolic fashion – not very much unlike the book of Revelation.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I am sure God owns all the cattle. I guess I need to google the actual number of hills on earth – I am sure it is one thousand exactly!
Again Carl – too sarcastic – tune it down a smidge!
The chariots of God are twice ten thousand,
thousands upon thousands;
the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary.
Twenty thousand chariots are a lot of chariots!
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Could the psalmist be using “thousand” days as an expression extending beyond two years and 9 months? Why is he so short sigted? I would have used a million instead of a thousand – At least then I would have over 2700 years of being in His courts!
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
Yesterday and a watch at night are two different spans of time, so if we are goings to be ‘literalists” regarding the use of the term thousand, we need to consider the literalness of some of the other time descriptions being used.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
The psalmist seems to use thousand and ten thousand interchangeably. Interesting.
He remembers his covenant forever,
the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant is referred to as being forever and the generations are numbered at a thousand. Is there a hint here that thousand means more than a thousand?
It seems that when the writers of Scripture wanted to define an extended number or time , they used the term thousand.
When they wanted to really blow your mind Scripture writers would use the term “murias”, which comes down into the English language as the word myriad. This term seems to give the impression of an innumerable number.
Although this is a short study, it is rooted in the Old Testament. As I grow as a Christian, I am increasingly impressed with the importance of comparing Scripture with Scripture. especially in the book of Revelation.
I look forward to comments and questions, especially passages of Scripture that may help in understanding this topic better.
Thanks again for coming to visit. I hope you found something of interest in this post and would appreciate a comment, to begin a discussion.