Do the 1,000 years take place before or after the second coming of Jesus? Three major views have sought to answer this question. In the postmillennial approach, Jesus comes after 1,000 years of human progress. While popular in the nineteenth century when education and scientific progress made many believe that the world was getting better, it doesn't, however, match the Bible's prediction that things will be very difficult before the end (2 Thess. 2:8-12; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; Rev. 13-19). Also, it also doesn't match the realities of today's world.
The premillennial view regards the millennium as a literal 1,000 years after the second coming of Jesus. In the amillennial view the millennium is not a literal period of 1,000 years but a symbol for the whole Christian Era from the cross to the Second Coming. The choice between these two may not make a huge difference from a devotional point of view.
Our family pediatrician recently approached me with a fourth view of the millennium. He said, "I get a little tired of all these arguments about whether the millennium is 'pre' or 'post' or 'a.' I've decided to develop a different approach."
"What's that?" I asked.
"I call it panmillennialism! That means everything will pan out in the end!"
Our pediatrician's position may make a lot of sense. I believe, however, that John clearly intended the 1,000 years of our text to occur after the Second Coming. By the time the millennium begins, characters such as Babylon and the beast have already passed off the scene (Rev. 19). The beginning of the millennium also comes after the mark of the beast and the forced worship of the beast's image (Rev. 13:15-17; cf. Rev. 20:4).
So if the millennium begins with the cross (the amillennial position), the events in Revelation 13-17 would have to have occurred before the cross. But I am aware of no serious scholar of Revelation who interprets the book in this way. While I want to respect the kinds of theological arguments that godly people make for the amillennial concept, that position does not seem to flow from the narrative of Revelation itself.
Lord, the arguments people have over the meaning of the Bible sometimes leave me confused and discouraged. Help me to trust that You will work it all out in the end.