The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Luke 11:15-26....
But some of them said, 'He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.' Others, to test him, kept demanding from him a sign from heaven. But he knew what they were thinking and said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself becomes a desert, and house falls on house. If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? - for you say that I cast out the demons by Beelzebul. Now if I cast out the demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out the demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.'When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless regions looking for a resting-place, but not finding any, it says, "I will return to my house from which I came." When it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.'
There is much of interest in this passage, but what I find most intriguing is the word picture Jesus uses to describe his ministry of casting out demons. "When a strong man, fully armed, guards his castle, his property is safe. But when one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away his armour in which he trusted and divides his plunder."
The parallel passage in Mark 3:27 reads as follows: "In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house."
This is intriguing to me because the Greek verb translated as "tying up" is the same one used of Satan being bound in Revelation 20:1-3....
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.Revelation 20 is the only place in the Bible that talks about the millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth. Thus, in order to understand this obscure passage, we must interpret it by other passages of Scripture. Jesus is the only other one in Scripture, other than the author of Revelation, who talks about binding Satan. Thus, if we want to understand when the millennium begins, we must look to the words of Jesus in Mark.
I submit to you that "binding Satan" is what Jesus did in his earthly ministry. At that time, Jesus bound Satan so that he might not deceive the nations anymore.
Think of it, up until Jesus' first coming, the good news of the kingdom was limited to Israel. All other nations were walking in deception. But once Jesus came, and bound Satan, through his life, death, and resurrection, the Gospel was able to go forward to the nations.
"But," you say, "It has been more than one thousand years since Jesus' first coming." That is true. But I would also submit to you that the thousand years in Revelation 20 is symbolic just like all the other numbers in the book of Revelation are symbolic. One thousand years is symbolic of a long period of time.
Jesus has been reigning on the earth through his people ever since his first coming. And he will continue to reign until all his enemies are put under his feet.
The other good news that Paul tells us is that believers in Jesus get to reign with him, not just in the distant future, but now....
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:6-7)When Jesus ascended into heaven (in Acts 1), he ascended to his throne. And we who believe in Jesus have been raised up with him and seated, spiritually, in the heavenly realms. Not only that, but we extend the reign of Jesus, and the corresponding defeat of Satan, every time we share the good news of Christ with someone else.