One of the stock objections to amillennialism is the binding of Satan. In Revelation, the binding of Satan occurs in this sequence:
Satan unbound>Satan bound>Satan unbound
These alternating intervals in turn correspond to times when he was or wasn’t in a position to deceive the nations.
If, however, the millennium coincides with the church age, then there’s no room for this sequence in the amil timeframe. Satan is bound the whole time.
I’ve discussed my own responses to this objection. Now I’d like to discuss whether this is not, in fact, a problem for premillennialism. I think the premillennial interpretation generates a dilemma for premillennialism.
i) Who benefits from the binding of Satan? Who is party to the millennium? Who benefits from knowing that Satan will bound?
There are varieties of premillennialism (e.g. historic/classic, pretrib, midtrib, posttrib, prewrath), but to my knowledge, in all versions of premillennialism, Satan is bound before the millennium, as a necessary precondition of the millennium, while Christ is present on earth from the onset of the millennium. That’s what makes it the premillennial return of Christ.
On this view, why did God reveal the binding of Satan in Revelation? To whom is that useful information? Who benefits from having this advance knowledge?
On this face of it, this information doesn’t benefit 1C Christians. It doesn’t benefit John’s original audience. For they aren’t party to the millennium. The binding of Satan doesn’t affect them. They won’t be alive during the millennium.
One could say the same thing for medieval Christians. Or 16C Christians. Or 19C Christians. Isn’t this irrelevant to their situation?
ii) A premil might counter that everything stated in Revelation needn’t be beneficial to 1C Christians. In the nature of the case, prophecy often deals with events future to the audience. Events which will take place after the original audience is dead.
For instance, Revelation also talks about the Day of Judgment and the New Jerusalem, even though these events lie far in the future.
But that isn’t comparable. For one thing, 1C Christians as well as later Christians–indeed, every Christian–will participate in the new Jerusalem. And even though that doesn’t happen in our own lifetime, that’s encouraging to know, precisely because we will be party to that blessed event. Revelation uses that blissful prospect as an incentive to persevere. That’s our reward. That motivates us to stay faithful in tough times. We have that to look forward to.
It’s not clear whether the judgment scene in Revelation includes Christians. The emphasis is on the damned.
Assuming that this scene implicitly includes Christians, it’s encouraging to know that Christians will be acquitted at the Last Judgment. They will be acquitted because their names are written in the book of life. And they will be rewarded for their good works.
But even assuming that this scene is only about the damned, that’s encouraging to Christians. They know that in the long run, justice will prevail. Their persecutors will be punished. That gives them hope. Their fidelity is not in vain. God will distinguish the wicked from the righteous.
iii) But what about the binding of Satan? On the one hand, most Christians who read Revelation won’t experience the millennium (as defined by premils). It doesn’t involve them.
On the other hand, Christians who experience the millennium won’t need to read about it in the pages of Revelation. Once Jesus returns in power to rule on earth, if you happen to be alive at the time, you won’t need to read a prophecy about the millennium or the binding of Satan to know that Satan is bound or know that you are living in millennial age. You will enjoy a firsthand experience of the millennium.
Likewise, if Jesus is back, then prophecies regarding his return are passé. He is here! He is now! So what’s the point of knowing ahead of time what will happen if it doesn’t happen to you, or you are not the beneficiary?
Isn’t Revelation designed to prepare believers? To brace them to suffer for their faith, but edify them with a preview of their eventual reward?