The Binding of Satan
Snippets taken from the October 2019 Special Study Issue
The Binding of Satan
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 (Revelation 20:1-2).
There are two primary interpretations of the binding of Satan, contrary to one another as to the identification of the thousand-year period within which Satan is bound, and the rebellion that follows Satan’s release for a “little season.” As a result, these two interpretations compete against one another. For some, this subject elicits great passion.
However, the “binding,” the subsequent “loosening,” as well as the rebellion that follows as presented in Revelation 20, is not a fundamental principle found in the Unamended Statement of Faith. It is instead a glimpse into those things given by our Lord Jesus to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass (Revelation 1:1), that we might more fully understand the plan and purpose of Deity: that we might watch and anticipate those things whereby we can be strengthened.
Our purpose in selecting this topic, controversial though it may be for some, is perhaps best expressed within the first article in this issue – “The Binding of the Devil” – originally printed in the Advocate in December 1998 in the Question Box section. In it Brother Jim Millay wrote:
When brethren attempt to discuss this issue, it often leads to confusion and strife rather than edification. It is worth our consideration, that this is a subject over which brethren have earnestly contended for years without making the interpretation a matter of fellowship… We are to “study to show ourselves approved,” and that entails searching the Scripture as did the Berean brethren, who are presented to us for an example in that they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”… We have consented to respond to this question in the hope that there may be some benefit in a review. This issue may demonstrate how we can weather disagreement on other matters…
A Revolt of the Nations at the Close of the 1000-Year Reign of Christ:
Not an Impossibility, but an Absolute Necessity
…Under such rulers, the people will learn righteousness, and outwardly will be righteous, showing the blessed effect of the rule of Christ in the earth. During their administration, there will be no war, nation will not lift up the sword against nation, military drills and tactics of war will no longer be practiced, munitions of war and costly fortifications will no longer be needed; and all the earth will be at peace, such as was never known since man was upon the earth.
But as the 1000-year reign is drawing to a close, mortality and death – the last enemy, are to be destroyed. Here are millions of mortals, all righteous under restraint, but will they all be immortalized? If so, then God’s plan of salvation must be changed, for it is testified that it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22.) There is no testimony saying God’s plan is to be changed, but rather we are to earnestly contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3 RSV). It therefore becomes an absolute necessity that these millions, all righteous under restraint, must be put to the test to prove that the Truth is not only in their head, but also in their heart; for if it is not in their heart they will lapse back into the thinking of the flesh which is enmity with God.
In order to determine this very important point, the saints are withdrawn, and for a little season cease to exercise any restraint upon the nations, who during that time are free agents and allowed full liberty to think and act for themselves, or as expressed in Revelation 20:7, Satan is loosed out of his prison and goes forth to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth. In other words, the diabolos is now unrestrained, or let loose in human nature… The prospect of ruling themselves will be very pleasing to the flesh, and become very popular with the masses, many of whom have the Truth only in their head and not in their heart…
Does Scripture Support a Rebellion at the End of the Millennium?
…Assumptions:The traditional interpretation of these verses is that this binding will occur at the beginning of the thousand-year reign of Christ and the Saints, Satan being identified as Sin in the Flesh. This view makes several assumptions:
It assumes that the period of 1000 years that Satan is bound in the bottomless pit begins with and is co-existent with the 1000-year reign of Christ and the Saints.
It assumes that this power, spoken of as “Satan,” is human nature or Sin in the Flesh, which is to be held in check until the end of the 1000 years at which time it will be released. However, the correct rendering of Satan is “Adversary.” Also, note that Rome is identified as the Devil in Revelation 2:10, so the identity of the Devil and Satan can be a nation or an entity.
It assumes that the nations, which encompass the camp of the Saints and Jerusalem, are rebelling against Christ’s rule at the end of the Millennium.
NOTE: The words rebel or rebellion are not in the relevant texts above, or even in the book of Revelation!
It assumes that there will be a large mortal population in the earth at the end of the thousand years, who, after one thousand years of “peace” and the “knowledge of the glory of the Lord,” will be incited to rebel against Christ and the Saints.
It assumes that Christ and the Saints will be encamped in such an area that they could be encompassed by these rebels…
This chapter [Revelation 9] has long been recognized as dealing with the Mohammedans who came out of the Abyss and conquered Europe beginning in AD 632 for a period of 300 years. In AD 932 they were defeated and driven back (into the abyss) where they remained for a thousand years.
The major problem in determining the time in which Satan was to be loosed for a little season is identifying whom Satan represents and the year in which he was (or will be) bound. Until this century, history did not provide a reasonable 1000-year period other than the Millennium for the binding of Satan. If we have properly identified the power which was represented in Revelation 9 as the Mohammedans (Islam), then we can examine their dominion which extended over the territory of the Dragon or Roman empire from AD 632 until AD 932-3, when they were defeated and figuratively forced back into the Abyss.
By adding 1000 years to AD 932, we arrive at a time prior to the establishment of the Kingdom, which is the present time. According to verse 3, the Adversary must be loosed a “little season.” If the identification was correct, then the Satan power (or Adversary) is still the Mohammedan, or Islamic states, which are an ever-present Adversary or Satan to Israel, and have been since the rebirth of Israel in 1948.
It must be remembered that prior to the period after WW1, the Arab Islamic nations were insignificant in world affairs, powerless since their fall in AD 933. But with the discovery of vast oil reserves and the demand for oil by the nations of the world, they quickly became a world power. It was Great Britain’s need for oil to fuel their navy that caused them to side with the Arabs and abandon their commitments to Israel after WW1. Also, are not the nations mentioned in the 83rd Psalm prophetically identified with these present-day manifestations? …
The Binding of the Devil and Satan
…Never has there been a time in the history of the world that Satan’s kingdom has not been in power. Anything that opposes God’s will is satanic and a deceiver. When Satan is bound every man shall sit under his own vine and under his fig tree and none shall make him afraid. Let those who claim that Satan has already been bound a thousand years and is now loosed a little season, point back in the past to a time when the nations have not been deceived. All they could do is refer to events where certain powers overcame other powers, in effect binding the weaker power. The truth of the matter is, both powers were satanic and Satan was stronger in the victorious power. It’s the Devil (sin in the flesh) that is in people that causes them to want to rule and dominate (the very thing that Jesus had to overcome in his temptations). Even when wicked ones are overcome and rendered powerless; if given the chance – the “devil” still being in them – they are ready to rebel.
With this introduction, let’s look closer at the “binding of the Devil and Satan”: …
We note first– the Devil / Satan is bound a thousand years; second– that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and third– after that he must be loosed a little season. In verse 7 we read, And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, which confirms what is written in verses 2 and 3 – Satan is bound a thousand years and should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that, he must be loosed a little season. In verses 4-6 we are told, Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years (those that hath part in the first resurrection are those that are accepted, which does not nullify the fact that those resurrected and judged unworthy do not have a part).
Now in conclusion, the world is Satan’s kingdom, a universal kingdom that has always been ruled by mortal man prompted by the propensity of the flesh (sin in the flesh – the Devil), For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:16). So it’s the works of the flesh – the carnal mind that is by nature in man, that causes him to usurp authority to dictate to the subjects of his kingdom, to rule them, which has always been the custom of the rulers of the world. The only way to keep Satan down is to keep him bound, because if you loose him, we are by nature children of wrath, and when nature is allowed to rule, it manifests the carnal mind dictated by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life…
The Binding of Satan
A Critical Examination of the Traditional Christadelphian View of Revelation 20:7-9
…The traditional view espouses the position that throughout the period of the Kingdom of God sin is restrained. However, it holds that at or after the end of the thousand years of the Kingdom, that restraint is released resulting in the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth compassing the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city, ending with fire coming down from God out of heaven, and devouring them (20:9). The problem with the traditional view of these verses is that it would seem to contradict some beautiful prophesies regarding the Kingdom Age and what is to follow after. Let us begin this review by examining a few of those prophesies of the peace and righteousness associated with the establishment and the intended purpose of the Kingdom of God:
Isaiah 9:6-7 – Of the increase (Hebrew marbeh – meaning “abundance”) of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.
Isaiah 60:18 – Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
Psalm 72:3, 5) – The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness… They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3; – And it shall come to pass in the last days... many people shall go and say, Come ye, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord... He shall judge among the nations... and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more…
Considering the contradictions to other millennial prophecies that the traditional interpretation of the one-thousand-year binding of Satan represents, we propose for consideration that there are two separate one thousand-year periods referenced in Revelation chapter 20. One is the thousand years of the binding of the dragon / Satan (paganism) from around AD 500 to 1517; and the other is the thousand-year reign of Jesus and the saints. Martin Luther’s Reformation resulted in the awakening of paganism, which the church of Rome had outlawed on pain of death a thousand years earlier. Paganism and its offshoot “isms” have gone forth and grown exponentially since the year 1517 and have again filled the earth; playing its role in deceiving the nations and preparing them to gather together for battle against Christ and the saints…
Perhaps the most significant factor in whether or not someone is even willing to consider this interpretation is their concept of the purpose and efficacy of Christ’s reign in the Kingdom Age. Are “judgment and justice from henceforth even for ever,” “no more violence nor destruction within thy borders,” “peace and righteousness throughout all generations,” “fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure,” and “neither shall they learn war anymore,” viewed only as a pre-determined temporary manifestation of Divine restraint, in their end failing to produce lasting peace and righteousness? Do we view the righteous at the end of Christ’s reign granted immortality at that point or moving on to one last test? Would this likewise apply to the Jews to whom God has promised, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26)…