The Way It Happened

Revelation 20:4, The Thousand Year Reign

… and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

//Ever wonder where the idea of a thousand-year reign came from?  Most of Revelation’s ideas come from prior writings, both in and out of the Bible. Revelation borrows so many themes from the book of Ezekiel that I like to think of it as a rewriting of Ezekiel. But there’s no other reference in scripture to a thousand year length of the Messianic era, even in Ezekiel.

Nevertheless, the idea is borrowed, this time from a Jewish book written in the second century B.C. titled the Book of Jubilees. It explains that when Adam died at 930 years of age, “he lacked seventy years of one thousand years; for one thousand years are as one day in the testimony of the heavens, and therefore it was written concerning the tree of knowledge: ‘On the day you eat of it you will die.’ For this reason he did not complete the years of this day; for he died during it” (Jubilees, 4:30).

The idea is that a perfect life, living in paradise (the garden of Eden, or the  millennial reign), would last one thousand years. In the Septuagint, Isaiah 65:22 is rewritten to read “the days of my people shall be as the days of the tree of life.” This puts a little different spin on these two familiar verses:

For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. –Psalms 90:4

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. –2 Peter 3:8

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