Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Millennium and the Pit (the Abyss) in Isaiah 24


The Millennium doctrine of Revelation 20 seems strange to many Christians because a specifically one thousand year future period is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible.  Yet a future time in which the Messiah will rule on this earth is a common prophetic theme.  It’s only the length of this period of time that isn’t mentioned elsewhere.  But the prophets foretold not only the coming reign of the Messiah.  They also mentioned other details of the Millennium teaching long before the time of the New Testament.

One beautiful example appears in Isaiah 24, in which Isaiah prophesies the coming devastation of the earth.  After that coming devastation, at the end of the chapter, he says that God will give particular attention to “the army on high” (the angelic army) and the kings of the earth:  “They will surely be gathered together as prisoners in a pit, and they will be shut up in prison; and after many days* they will be punished” (Isa. 24:21,22).  During this period of time in the “pit,” “the LORD of hosts will reign on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem; and before his elders will be glory” (Isa. 24:23).

* The Septuagint (LXX), the old Greek translation of the Bible, says that they will be punished “after many generations.”

Here, in capsule form, is the whole Millennium teaching.  God, it says, will appear in his “glory” at a particular place on this earth:  “on Mt. Zion and in Jerusalem” (Isa. 24:23).  This implies the localization of God later revealed as Messiah Jesus.*  He will rule over the earth while the wicked are kept in the “pit”** (Rev. 11:7, 17:8, 20:3) as in a prison (Rev. 20:7) for an extended period of time (the Millennium).  At the end of this time, they will be released from the pit (Rev. 20:9 says “And they [Satan and the nations (Gog and Magog)] ascended upon the surface of the earth…”) in order to be punished (the final judgment of Rev. 20:11,12).

* The localization of God in a particular time and place is the essence of the Trinity concept of Christianity:  that God can be ruling the universe in heaven yet appear to us here on earth at the same time.  This appearance of the invisible God to men is referred to in the Old Testament as the Angel (or Messenger) of the Lord and prophetically as the Servant of the Lord, the Arm of the Lord, the Son of Man, etc.,  and in the New Testament as the Son of God who took on flesh to become Jesus (Yeshua).

** The book of Revelation uses the Greek equivalent “the abyss,” often translated “the pit.”

It’s a perfect match with the Millennium teaching found in the book of Revelation.  

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