O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
By Michael Sullivan
If you have read many of my articles off of my sites or have read my chapter in “House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology…” you should be able to follow these points well:
1) Reformed Partial Preterist author Kenneth Gentry in his writings informs us that the book of Revelation is about things which were in the past, present, and things which were “about to be” fulfilled in John’s day (Rev. 1:19 YLT). Therefore, there is no exegetical evidence that Revelation 20 does not fall within these inspired time indicators.
2) As G.K. Beale has reminded us, it is reformed and orthodox to believe that the thousand years is not just a symbolic number, but is one that does not have to be taken to describe a long time (ie. thousands of years etc…): “The primary point of the thousand years is probably not a figurative reference to a long time…” (Beale, G. K. (1999). The book of Revelation: A commentary on the Greek text. New International Greek Testament Commentary (1018). Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press.).
3) It has also been acknowledged by reformed theologians Such as Beale when approaching the millennium of Revelation 20, that many Rabbis believed that the period of Messiah was to be only a transitionary stage between “this age/world and the age/world to come.” These Rabbis (such as R. Adiba), understood this transition period to be forty years, based upon how long the Israelites were in the wilderness before inheriting the land (Beale, ibid., 1018-1019; see also, A. Cohen, Everyman’s TALMUD, 356). This type/anti-type understanding and same kind of “this generation” or “in a very little while” time frame of “another day” approaching in which the “better” heavenly land/city/resurrection would be inherited or take place is developed for us in the book of Hebrews (cf. Heb. 3-4; 10:25, 37; 11—13:14YLT). And as we have noted from reformed Partial Preterists such as Joel McDurmon or Gary DeMar, it is within the realm of reformed orthodoxy to believe that Jesus’ and Paul’s “this age/world” was the OC age and that the “age/world to come” refers to a transition period between the OC age and the NC age (ie. between AD 30 – AD 70).
4) Reformed Partial Preterists such as Keith Mathison, Kenneth Gentry and James Jordan correctly teach us that the content of Revelation 1-19 and 21-22 was fulfilled by AD 70 (at which time there was a judgment and resurrection of the dead and arrival of the new creation). And yet Amillennialists such as G.K. Beale and Simon Kistemaker correctly teach that Revelation 20:5-15 simply recapitulates these verses and themes or are paralleled to the same events related to the same judgment and consummation scenes depicted in chapters 1-19 and 21-22. We hold to both of these reformed and common sense “orthodox” positions in interpreting the book of Revelation and this becomes relevant in our discussion of the millennium of Revelation 20.
5) In criticizing the Premillennial view which often seeks to isolate Revelation 20 from the rest of the NT, the Amillennial and Postmillennial views hold that Revelation 20 falls within the “already and not yet” of the “last days” period in the NT. Or this transition period can be found in the parable of the wheat and tares or the time frame leading up to the coming of Christ in Matthew 24-25. But as we have seen, it is “orthodox” to believe the “last days” ended with the OC age in AD 70, and that harvest gathering and coming of Christ in Matthew 13 and Matthew 24-25 was fulfilled by AD 70 (cf. the writings of and combinations found in Gary DeMar, Joel McDurmon, Peter Leithart, Keith A. Mathison, etc…).
Therefore, the reader should be able to discern that the Full Preterist AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” millennial view is: 1). consistent with the teaching of Revelation itself, 2) falls within the “orthodox” views of the Reformed church, 3) is in line with the analogy of Scripture and 4) offers historical support from many Rabbis whom promoted a forty years transitional period between the two ages. Our view on the millennium is both exegetically sound and orthodox. Finding support for the Full Preterist view of the millennium is not as difficult as many portray it – selah.
I know exactly what you mean by melting! I don't think I could live there unless I spent my whole time indoors with the AC on. What part of the Philippines are you in? Are you there permanently? Looking forward to getting to know you and having some good conversation, brother (I promise I won't forsake you regardless of what eschatology you choose) ....
The 1000 year reign is a challenging verse for preterists. I believe that this reign is literally 1000 years long. The Jewish War and the incitement of the Crusades by the Seljuk Turks are exactly 1000 years apart (plus or minus 1 or 2 years). It is not surprising to me that the Bible ends with the Jewish War and what appears to be a prophecy about the Crusades since these two wars or sets of wars appear to be the two biggest wars or sets of wars in Israel’s history. This would therefore imply that the Battle of Gog and Magog may be the First Crusade itself. I believe there is good reason to believe this is the case. Below is an excerpt from my website: www.revelationrevolution.org. This site is a preterist commentary on all major end time prophecies. I think it is a great place to lookup challenging verses since it contains a lot of original research.
In Deuteronomy 28, God threatened his people with a multitude of curses if they failed to follow his law. Every single curse listed in Deuteronomy 28 happened throughout the course of the Jewish War.1 Deuteronomy 28:63 promised that the Jewish people would be removed from Israel. Interestingly, in the 1000 years after the Jewish War there was a dramatic shift in demographics in Judea. Once populated almost exclusively by ethnic Jews, Judea was 95% Christian by A.D. 614.2 This was, in a large part, because of the expulsion of many Jews after the Jewish War and the second Jewish revolt, the Bar Kokhba Rebellion. After the second Jewish revolt in order to eliminate the possibility of future insurrections, Hadrian ordered the exile of the remaining Jews in Judea. After this war, few Jewish settlements remained with the exception of three areas in the Jordan valley.3 Jerusalem was then renamed Aelia Capitoline and racial Jews were not permitted to approach the city upon threat of execution.4 At the end of the fourth century with Jews still only allowed in the city one day a year, Jerusalem became an exclusively Christian city, the only one in the country.5 During the thousand years between the Jewish War and the Crusades, Judea enjoyed relative peace. This peace; only briefly interrupted by the Bar Kokhba Rebellion, the Sassanid invasion and occasional bouts of Roman persecution; continued until A.D. 313 when Emperor Constantine granted religious liberty.6 Then in A.D. 614, the Persians attacked Jerusalem. After a twenty day siege, the city fell and thousands of Christians were killed. Political control of the city was then turned over to the Jewish people before Christians finally reestablished control three years later. In A.D. 638, Moslems negotiated the peaceful surrender of the city; and for the next three hundred years, Christianity flourished unmolested under Moslem rule.7 Then in A.D. 1071,8 one thousand years after the fall of Jerusalem, Satan was released from the Abyss, and the Seljuk Turks took control of Judea making travel dangerous for Christian pilgrims. This angered Europeans and in 1095, Europe declared war on Israel and thus began the Crusades—the Battle of Gog and Magog. It is interesting that during the thousand years in which Satan was bound, and the saints reigned with Christ, nowhere does it say that Christians would enjoy one thousand years of uninterrupted peace. In speaking of the glorious return of the Jews from Babylon, Isaiah predicted: I will make your battlements of rubies, your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace. In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; and you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you.9 The important thing to note from the above quotation is that although Judea was promised peace, this did not mean that it would never be attacked. In the same way, although Christians may have reigned gloriously in Judea throughout much of the thousand years between the Jewish War and the Crusades, this also does not mean that they would never experience war or face occasional hardship. 1And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3He 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. The fact that Satan is bound does not necessarily mean that there will be a literal heaven on earth. A similar binding of Satan is found in the Book of Jubilees. In Jubilees 48:15, Satan was bound in order to allow the Jews to escape their Egyptian pursuers. This book also lists several other points in Jewish history when Satan was bound; and as a result, the people enjoyed prosperity and peace.11 When Satan reigned, God’s plan of redemption was thwarted. With the devil imprisoned, men now enjoy greater fellowship with God. But this does not mean that the world would be free of sin. According to James 1:14, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” According to this verse, it is the flesh, not necessarily Satan, that tempts men to sin. This notion has been verified by Near Death Experiences. Some people who have survived clinical death testify that living virtuously in the heaven is much easier when the cravings of the flesh have been removed. 4I 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 for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast or his image and had not received his 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. 6Blessed and holy are those who have a part 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. In v. 4, John introduces the Thousand Year Reign. During this time, Christ and his kingdom reign for a thousand years. In this verse, John describes the resurrection of the body of Christ. During the resurrection, the dead are given new spiritual bodies as stated in 1 Corinthians 15:35-54. Many of these spiritual bodies take up residence in another dimension—heaven. And it is here, according to John 18:36, Ephesians 1:20, and Ephesians 2:6, that Christ reigns with his people. The Thousand Year Reign, however, is not just in heaven. During this time, Christ’s authority extends to the earth as well. Christianity grew to become the dominant religion of Rome. Not only did Christian emperors succeed their pagan predecessors, Christian kings also ruled Judea, a country that during the thousand years between the Jewish War and the Crusades grew to become almost exclusively Christian. This trend continued until the start of the Crusades. At this time, Muslim settlers gradually replaced the Christian inhabitants of Israel.12 7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. One thousand years after the second coming of Christ in A.D. 66 and the subsequent defeat of the devil at the end of the Jewish War, described in Revelation 19:11-20:3, Satan is once again set loose.13 Immediately after his release between 1063 and 1099, Jerusalem, the city God loves, is involved in five wars,14 the last being the First Crusade—the Battle of Gog and Magog.15 In Ezekiel 38:2, Gog is identified as the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, two cities in southern Turkey. After converting to Islam, the Seljuk Turks took control of Israel in A.D. 1071. Their hostility to Christian pilgrims ignited a tidal wave in Europe causing the First Crusade in A.D. 1095. Immediately before this battle, the Christian population was expelled from Jerusalem by their Muslim conquerors.16 With the city now left virtually devoid of Christians, the crusaders arrived at Jerusalem and launched flaming arrows and other firebrands into the city. This “fire from heaven” is reminiscent of the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah and the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.17 Concerning the firebrands launched into the city of Jerusalem by the crusaders, Raymond d’ Aguiliers writes: But when the machines were drawn near to the walls [of Jerusalem], they hurled not only stones and arrows, but also burning wood and straw. The wood was dipped in pitch, wax, and sulfur; then straw and tow were fastened on by an iron band, and, when lighted, these firebrands were shot from the machines. [They were] all bound together by an iron band, I say, so that wherever they fell, the whole mass held together and continued to burn. Such missiles, burning as they shot upward, could not be resisted by swords or high walls; it was not even possible for the defenders to find safety down behind the walls.18 In addition, archers fired flaming arrows into the city. Raymond d’ Aguiliers also writes, “This shower of fire drove the defenders from the walls.”19 Eventually the crusaders entered the city and the Muslims and Jews therein were massacred. The city was left virtually empty of people.20 Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem were even killed by being cast into fire21 mirroring the punishment of Satan in the next verse: 10And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. In v. 13, John describes another resurrection. This one occurs after the first resurrection at the last trumpet mentioned in vs. 4-6.22 In Revelation 21, John reveals the fate of the righteous. Here he sees the New Jerusalem. Could such a city exist right now? In the next chapter, Revelation 21, John’s vision of the New Jerusalem will be compared with several commonly reported near death experiences.