SATAN BOUND FOR A THOUSAND YEARS
Rev 20:1-3 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, 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.
In the previous chapter of this book we found the symbolic battle of Armageddon between Jesus and His righteous Christian followers, being fought against Satan-inspired followers of the apostate Roman church and the armies of the temporal kings and leaders who were selected, installed, and followed the edicts of the Catholic papacy. These two Christ-opposing entities, the Roman Catholic religious order and the civil governments under their control, were symbolically represented as the beast and the false prophet. Christ's righteous army prevailed, and the evil armies were captured, and cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone and their armies were slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse (Christ Jesus), (See Rev. 19:20-21).
Beginning with the lesson text we find the symbolic prophecy of Satan's defeat and the destruction of his power and influence over mankind. John writes, And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. There is no indication that the angel mentioned here had appeared to John previously, so we are free to assume that it is probably another angelic messenger sent from heaven, by God, to bring this specific symbolic message to him. In the possession of this angel we find the key of the bottomless pit, also mentioned in Revelation 9:1-2, as the pit from which the influence of Satan came to darken the air and captivate the minds of mankind for centuries. The key indicates that, under God's authority, His angel could open and close (lock or unlock) this abyss. It was this unfathomable pit from which Satan's evil influence came into the world and it seems to be an appropriate place for him to be finally imprisoned. Satan was to be restrained with a great chain and cast into the depths of this bottomless pit from which there was no escape. The key was now in God's possession. This great chain was the symbolic means by which Satan and his influence on mankind was to be bound. It is the opinion of B. W. Johnson that the chain that bound Satan and his influence over the world, was the New Testament Word of God established by His Son, Christ Jesus, and His apostles through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To this I readily concur.
Satan was to be symbolically bound for a thousand years. It seems that at this period of earthly history, which occurred in the latter years of the 1300's and during most of the 1400's, that righteousness triumphed over evil, the preaching of gospel of salvation through Christ Jesus flourished, and Satan lost his papal-dictated evil power and influence over the lives of men and women of the world. When God's truth is unrestrained by the apostasy of false teachers, and when God's law becomes indelibly written on the hearts of mankind, then Satan is bound by the chain of God's Holy Spirit - the truths of His New Testament doctrine of salvation through our Savior, Christ Jesus, the Son of God. The period for which Satan is to be restrained is described in the lesson text in this manner: it is said that God cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, 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.
This thousand year period is most often referred to in religious theology as the "millennium." Its spiritual significance is one of the most debated among self-proclaimed scholars in denominational Christian religious circles. Some contend that the millennium has already taken place; some say that we are presently experiencing the thousand year event; others argue that it is destined to take place at some time in the future. Others hold that the millennium, as practically all other events depicted in the Revelation letter, has no definite chronological value, and merely depicts Satan's power being bound throughout the Christian age until it comes to a close on the Day of Judgment. The sense here is that the freedom of mankind to choose to serve God will never be completely prohibited. This latter description seems to hold more merit.
For instance, does anyone think that Satan will be literally bound with a great chain (Vs. 1)? Bible scholars are unanimous - none has the opinion that this will literally take place, contending that it is merely a symbolic binding of the power of Satan. Would anyone contend that a literal chain would be used to bind an unearthly being such as Satan? I think not. That being the case, why do so many so-called bible scholars take this event, that begins with symbolic depiction, and immediately say the thousand year period, referred to in verses 2 and 3, is to be taken literally, as a chronological period of time, and then argue that it has already taken place, is presently occurring, or will happen at some undetermined time in the future?
The number ten, and any multiple of it, such as one hundred or one thousand, has always represented completeness in God's Holy Word. No doubt when the apostle John penned these words, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, they were not given to mankind to be debated - God's Holy Word was never intended to have multiple meanings. Certainly the symbolic nature of Satan being bound for a thousand years is to be taken in the manner it was inspirationally given. It does not represent a period of time either before or after the second coming of God's Son, our Savior, Christ Jesus. It merely tells us that the binding of Satan's power over mankind has fully and completely come to an end. Although Satan still roams the earth with his false, deceptive teaching, which continues to appeal to the earthly nature of mankind, he cannot force his will upon the men and women of this world. Human beings have the ability, and the power to reject all deceptive aspects the devil, and those that teach his anti-Christian doctrine.
During the Christian era we are currently living under, and until the second coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ, men and women of the world are in complete control of their final destiny. James, in his inspired writings tells us that those seeking eternal salvation in heaven are to do this: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you (James 4:7-8a). This tells us that Satan has no power of life or death over mankind. The power that was once ascribed to him was bound by the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God. That binding was complete; it was final; it well remain so for a symbolic thousand year period - until Judgment Day when time on earth has been completed. How could it possibly be otherwise?