Saturday, November 07, 2009

Rev 12.12 and Preterist versus Idealist Amillenialism

It seems to me that Rev 12.12 is difficult to reconcile with idealist approaches to Revelation. Satan is cast out of heaven to the land, and "Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! but woe to the land and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."

G.K. Beale identifies the short time in Rev 12.12 with the short time in Rev 20.3. But that doesn't fit at all. In Rev 12, Satan has a short time on the land when cast out of heaven by Michael. The implication is clear that Satan was somehow in heaven. (Recall Jesus also noting that he saw Satan fall from heaven as a result of the disciple's work, Lk 10.18.) Being in heaven and then being cast out of heaven is a far cry from being released from the abyss where you've been locked for 1,000 years (Rev 20.3).

But I think that Rev 20 does provide us a key to understanding Satan's "short time" in Rev 12.12. Namely, the millennium is the period in which Satan is bound and thrown into the abyss. Amillennialists understand the millennium to be the entire church age.

If amillennialism is correct (as I believe it is), then the binding of Satan must occur at the very beginning of the millennium.

That then provides a natural way to understand the "short time" that Satan knows he has in Rev 12.12: With his casting out of heaven by Jesus, Satan knows that he has only a short time before being bound by Jesus and cast into the Abyss. Therefore he is filled with fury, which he takes out on the church by persecuting her.

The upshot is that the short time that Satan is on the land and sea is a time that Satan is unbound, and therefore Rev 12.12 cannot occur during the church age itself. Rev 12, therefore, needs to occur prior to the start of the millennium.


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