THE THOUSAND YEARS OF PSALM 90, 2 PETER 3 AND REVELATION 20 CONNECTION
BY: Michael J. Sullivan
Here are my propositions on the content of these three passages and what ties them together:
1) Adam perished outside of God's presence in the garden and was banished eastward to perish in the dust of the land of Eden where he was originally formed, at the age of 930 years old.
2) Moses alludes to Adam just before making the 1,000 years statement (Ps. 90:3-4) as he meditates on his similar situation of an entire rebellious generation perishing outside of the Promised Land due their unfaithfulness in breaking God's law or commandment. Observations and meditations of Psalm 90:
a) A thousand years is being contrasted with Adam's age - man is temporal/sinful vs. God is eternal/holy. Futurists and Preterists debate if the long ages of Genesis 5 are literal or symbolic. That isn’t the point however. The point is that God’s day of 1,ooo is being contrasted as being “eternal” or from “everlasting to everlasting” compared to man’s best and most long lived days (Gen. 5). Thus…
b) A thousands years becomes a symbolic number representing fullness, completeness, and I believe and is my proposition, represents eternal life.
c) This Psalm contains a passage in which some Jews understood the Messiah’s interim reign (the millennium) between “this age” (the age of Mosaic Law) and the “age about to come” (the New Covenant Messianic age) to be 40 years or a new exodus Psalm 90:15-17. This is the literal time frame of the millennium before Christ returned in His “this generation” (Mt. 24:34/Deut. 32:5, 20).
d) Psalm 90 contains both the figurative or symbolic number for the millennium 1,000 and the literal “generation” or “make us glad…according to the years we have seen evil.”
3) 2 Peter 3:8:
a) In context, God’s “longsuffering” with that generation was salvation being accomplished for the elect.
b) Because they were in the millennium period, and the Prophet’s prediction of the Day of the Lord and the arrival of the New Creation was “at hand” (cf. 1 Peter 1:4-12, 4:5-7, 17), the mockers would be swept away and judged to be outside of God’s presence if they did not “remember” that God keeps His Word as He had in previous judgments such as the flood. In spite of what the mockers were teaching, Jesus was coming in their generation even if this seemed like a long time for them under such intense persecutions.
c) Peter’s themes and parallel material of inheriting salvation/the New Creation, the 1,000 years, and the saving of the soul at Christ’s Second Coming with that of Revelation 20 should not go unnoticed by the exegete.
4) Revelation 20:
a) There are two phases of one resurrection/harvest being taught here just as in John4-6 (John being the same author). The firstfruits are primarily Jewish Chritians being raised at Pentecost, and the rest of the dead will be raised at "the end" - of which the parousia ushers in (1 Cor. 15/Mt. 24-25). That "hour" and "day" was coming and had arrived!
b) The Church was in the process of reigning and being raised for a 1,000 years before Christ’s imminent coming in AD 70 which would bring an end to the Old Covenant age and usher in the harvest/judgment of the dead (Mt. 3, 13, 23-25/1Thess. 4/1Cor. 15/Rev.6, 7, 11, 14).
c) In Christ, the Church was in the process of receiving eternal life, which the number 1,000 symbolically represents (along with fullness and completeness). Christ as the Last Adam was bringing the Church back into the Garden/Presence of God for a 1,000 years whereas Adam could only bring man to the dust of the earth – in separation outside of God’s presence. G.K. Beale in discussing the 1,000 years millennium of Revelation 20 discusses that some Jews considered the transition period or millennium to be 40 years while others 1,000. The number 1,000 was said to be a reference to Adam’s almost attained age. He also discusses that some Jews like some Protestants believed that the 1,000 years was literal and others figurative (G.K. Beale, THE NEW INTERNATIONAL GREEK TESTAMENT COMMENTARY NIGTC The Book of Revelation, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 1018-1020).
This is my understanding of the 1,000 years and “this generation” from Deut. 32:5, 20/Psalm 90:3-4, 15--to Matthew 24-25--2 Peter 3--Revelation 20. The “this generation” is the literal new exodus time frame for the millennium, and the 1,000 years is a symbolic anti-type to the long ages of the patriarchs and Adam in particular (see also Isaiah 65:20, 22).
The Church now possesses “eternal life” and unlike Adam, “never dies” outside of God’s presences. We will always be face to face with God in His presence which is what His parousia (presence) is all about – Revelation 21-22:4, 10-12, 20/1Corinthians 13:10-12---chapter 15. Selah.
The "House Divided" of Amillennialism and Postmillennial Partial Preterism forms my position:
1) AMILLENNIALISM: Claims that there is only one Second Coming and judgment of the dead mentioned in the Book of Revelation and that Revelation 20 is the same scene as that depicted in chapters 6, 7, 11, 14 etc. (see G.K. Beale, Simon Kistemaker, etc…). These men also see the time texts (although they spiritualize them away) at the beginning of the prophecy and at the end, functioning as "book ends" to describe the fulfillment of the entire prophecy (not "some" or "most" of it [per partial preterism], but ALL of it [which would include the millennium/judgment/resurrection/second coming],
"But 1:3 and 22:10 are like bookends enclosing the whole prophecy of Revelation. The fulfillment of everything, not just part, is near." (Vern S. Poythress, THE RETURNING KING A GUIDE TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION, (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2000), 34).
These men understand that the transition period to the wheat and the tares and the end of the age in Matthew 13:40-43 is the same harvest/judgment/resurrection of Revelation 20.
2) POSTMILLENNIAL PARTIAL PRETERISM: Claims that the imminent time texts in Revelation 1:1, 3:11, 10:6-7, 22:6-7, 10-12, 20, describe Christ's coming in the judgment and the raising of the dead in AD 70, and that this prophecy (like Matthew 24), cannot be double fulfilled (Gary DeMar, Kenneth Gentry, James Jordan). These men also understand that the transition period to the parable of wheat and the tares and the end of the age in Matthew 13:40-43 (and the end of the age in Matthew 24) is the same harvest/judgment/resurrection as that of Revelation 20. However, Peter Leithart takes the end of the age in Matthew 13:40-43 as having been fulfilled at the end of the Old Covenant age in AD 70, and DeMar takes the end of the age in Matthew 24 as fulfilled in AD 70 as well.
SYNTHESIS OR SYNERGY:
My position as outlined above, builds upon the other two common sense “orthodox” positions, and yet is much more "orthodox" (straighter) and more exegetically consistent than the above "House Divided" approach to the book of Revelation and to NT eschatology in general. Christ’s one and final second coming event closes the 1,000 years millennial period which is a description of the harvest/resurrection/judgment that closed the Old Covenant age of Matthew 13 and 24. The Book of Revelation describes one second coming and judgment/resurrection/harvest of the dead throughout with a recapitulation structure. The imminent time texts at the beginning and the end of the prophecy, serve as “book ends” informing us that the fulfillment of the entire prophecy (including the end of the 1,000 years period/the judgment/resurrection) would be fulfilled “shortly” - Selah.