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.
The chain in the hand of the angel in Revelation 20:1 is used to bind Satan for a thousand years. Obviously the chain is a spiritual one, not a literal chain. It is associated with time, and so this chain may be connected to the time prophecies in Daniel 7–12. Time is like a chain, in that it is continuous; each year is linked to the one before, and the one following. Similarly, each day is linked to the one before, and to the one following.
The prophecy of Daniel 7 describes four beasts, that represent successive great empires, the fourth being the Roman empire. The little horn that arose among the ten horns of the fourth beast makes war with the saints and overcomes them. It has eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. I suggest the eyes like the eyes of a man depict a human view, which opposes the divine view. It continues for a time, times, and a half, a period which corresponds to the last half of the 70th week of the seventy weeks in chapter 9. It is mentioned in Daniel 12:7, where it is the last time period of prophecy, and ends with the resurrection, and judgment. When the 70 weeks are fulfilled, all the things listed in Daniel 9:24 are fulfilled.
There are various interpretations of the thousand years of Revelation 20, when Satan is bound. Premillennialism says the thousand years is yet future, and the return of Christ to the earth, to reign at Jerusalem, will happen first. Postmillennialism says the thousand year represents a golden age for the church, and Christ returns after the thousand years. The amillennialism says the thousand years represent the present age. In discrete millennialism, the thousand years is identified as the period of time when individual believers reign with Christ, as Paul described in Ephesians 2.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
The thousand years could not apply to the reign of Jesus, as his reign is forever, but it applies to individual saints, who experience a foretaste of eternity, in the present age, when they reign with him. Satan is bound with respect to them.
The time, times, and a half is part of a greater period, the seventy weeks of Daniel 9. The seventy weeks of Daniel 9 consists of three sections, 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week. These sections are like three separate chains, connected together, forming a greater chain. In each section, the links may be of a different size, but the chain is continuous from end to end. The first section links to Jeremiah’s prophecy of the seventy years of exile in Babylon, so the seventy weeks prophecy is part of an even longer span of time, which is depicted in the four periods of seven times of Leviticus 26. This is the time for which Israel was to remain under the curse which was part of the old covenant.
In the curse, there can be no pause or gap, as that would imply a temporary lapse in the curse, and a temporary reconciliation to God, and a temporary restoration of blessing, but that has not happened. Any reconciliation is permanent. The “restitution of all things” is not temporary. Similarly the times of prophecy are continuous; there are no gaps. They are like an unbroken chain which spans all time since the exile, to the present, and to the end of the age, which is yet to occur. This chain effectively binds Satan, as Jesus said, “the scripture cannot be broken.” [John 10:35]
Dispensationalists have a broken chain, because they believe there is a long gap between the 69th and the 70th weeks, which means their doctrine breaks the chain of prophecy into two chains. How can broken bits of chain bind Satan? And they fail to link the first section of the seventy weeks to the seventy years of Jeremiah, which implies and additional gap. Their broken chains seem useless for restraining Satan, and allows him to deceive men. Similarly, preterists have a chain that is too short. Typically, they insist that the units of each section of the seventy weeks are the same, and that the period spans 490 years, which, they suppose, ended in obscurity in about 34 AD. The apostles did not notice it; there is no mention of it in the New Testament. Their doctrine also fails to connect the first section of the seventy weeks with the seventy years of exile foretold by Jeremiah, and they overlook the connection between the 70 weeks prophecy and the four periods of seven times of the curse, outlined in Leviticus 26. Their chain does not bind Satan, but allows his deception to continue.
Copyright © 2012, 2014 by Douglas E. Cox
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