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Bible prophecy Biblical doctrines hermeneutics

Does Isaiah 65:17-25 refer to an earthly Millennium rule of Christ on Earth?

I have been told by many Bible commentators that the passage in Isaiah 65:17-25 refers to a Millennium period on Earth when Christ rules the nations directly before the Final Judgement of all men. They say that this is a period when nothing shall kill or hurt on Earth in the animal of human realms because God will directly be ruling the earth. Satan will be bound and have no influence on humans or the animal kingdom. Often the picture is shown of a lion and lamb sitting together. It portrays the idea of the Garden of Eden before the Curse.

lion lamb

I believed this idea for a long time. But is that really what these verses refer to? I held that view when I believed in the futurist eschatological view that the thousand-year period in Revelation chapter 20 was a reference to some sort of millennial rule of Christ on Earth before His Final Judgement on the unsaved. I no longer believe such ideas.

Now I believe the (so-called) Millennium is symbolic of the Church age — the period of time beginning with the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross and ending with the Final Judgement called the Great White Throne Judgement (Revelation 20:11-13). There are no others but the saved (in the new heaven and new earth) and the damned (sent to Hell). All are judged at the Great White Throne of God.

Now let’s look at these verses.

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Biblical doctrines Book of Revelation hermeneutics The Papacy

At the resurrection who is left behind?

Recently I have been studying the book of Luke, and especially the passage on the resurrection “...I tell you, in that night there shall be two men [people] in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left” (chapter 17:34-37). I asked myself when one person (note ‘men’ is not in the original) was taken by Christ at the gathering of the saved, the resurrection, and another was left, what happened to those who were left?

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The standard explanation today is that this is a description of the so-called Pre-Tribulation Rapture, the secret Rapture, like portrayed in the “Left Behind” series of books and movies. But that doctrine, which is attributed to John Nelson Darby, an early pioneer of the Exclusive Brethren (early 1800’s), in fact, had its beginnings much earlier with the Jesuit Francisco Ribera and later Cardinal Belamine. And this was independent of those who claim Darby had developed the ideas himself. Maybe he did. He certainly developed the system of theology called Dispensationalism, where he linked the restoration of the land and nation of Israel–God fulfilling His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob–to a scenario of the Church being caught away from the earth, leaving only the Jews as God’s people and that they would fulfil Millennium prophecies (e.g. Isaiah 65:25) during the subsequent 1000-year reign of Christ on Earth. The only part I agree with him on is that God will fulfil His promise to Abraham.

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The Jesuit Francisco Ribera originated the idea to divert attention away from the pope being identified as the AntiChrist, which was the standard belief during the 16th through 19th centuries with protestant Bible scholars. The Jesuits did not hold to the idea of physical Israel being restored nor a Pre-Trib Rapture, but they developed the notion of futurism, that most of the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation would come to a future end-time fulfilment in a final AntiChrist figure, who would rule the world from Jerusalem under some sort of 7-year peace agreement. This was to push attention away from the Papacy as the AntiChrist. But then the Papacy had and still does have all the hallmarks of the AntiChrist in the prophecies.

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Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 20

This chapter includes the one thousand year period, called the Millennium, when Satan is bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years (v.1-3), the Second Advent of Christ (v.4-6),  followed by a short period of Satan being loosed out of his prison and the battle of Gog and Magog (v.7-10), and finally the Great White Throne Judgment (v.11-15). Satan is cast into the lake of fire where the AntiChrist “beast” and his “false prophet” are. (All bold are my emphases added. Square brackets [ ] indicate meanings of words. King James Version Easy-Reading Bible (KJVER) used.)

Verses 1-3

1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 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.

Firstly we read that an angel brings down from heaven the key to the bottomless pit (prison of some kind) (v.1) and the old serpent (the Devil, Satan) is bound there for a thousand years (v.1-3). The ‘angel’ must be stronger than Satan (Matthew 12:29). We’ll see that he is Jesus, who is more powerful than Satan (an angel is not necessarily stronger). After the thousand years bound in prison Satan is loosed for a short period (v.3).

So the question must be asked what does Satan being ‘bound’ mean? That is, Satan is bound “that he should deceive the nations no more”. Before Jesus came to Earth, the first time, all nations were ignorant of the one true God, except for God’s chosen people, Israel. And we read that after Jesus knocked the Apostle Saul (or Paul) off his horse, while he was on the road to Damascus (Acts 9 and 26), Saul asked Him who He was (Acts 9:5; 26:15). And Christ told him that He is Jesus, and that He had chosen him (Saul) to be a minister to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, that is, to the rest of the nations of the world.

Luke 1018

Christ tells Saul the mission:

Acts 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified [set apart] by faith that is in Me.

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Bible prophecy Book of Revelation hermeneutics

Revelation 19

The focus here (v.1) is in heaven. Salvation is from the Lord God not the usurper. God has judged the great whore, the “old woman of prophecy,” and avenged the murder of the true believers (v.2). These are the enemies of God, but what do the Scriptures tell us about the timing of these events?

The LORD said to My Lord, Sit You on My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool? (Matthew 22:44. Also Psalms 110:1)

Christ must remain on the right hand of the Father, until all His enemies, including the great whore, are judged or put under His feet (or made His footstool). Christ cannot bodily return in His Second Coming to Earth until all His enemies are piled up and He rests His feet upon them.

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“Left Behind” series of books and movies was very popular promoting a secret rapture.

There is no secret rapture before Christ’s Second Coming. He resurrects all believers, both living and dead, at His Return, and all are judged then, and not before He has destroyed all His enemies.

And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31)

It will be very well known. It will be noisy. All will see it happen. It will be global.

Behold, He comes with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen. (Revelation 1:7)

Now read 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:42, 51-54. This means new bodies like the old but instead incorruptible. There is no doubt amongst commentators that these passages are about the Return of Christ and the resurrection of the saints.