The Great Sabbath
In the book of Revelation, the phrase “thousand years” appears six times, all within the tight framework of Rev. 20:1-7. This suggests a period of six thousand years of history up to this point in time, as if to emphasize the entrance into the Great Sabbath Day (millennium).
Sowing and Reaping
Further, John treats this millennium as a Sabbath Day. The law commanded Sabbaths to be times of rest. During Sabbath years, no sowing or reaping was to be done. Lev. 25:3-5 says,
3 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, 4 but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. 5 Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a Sabbatical year.
Resurrection is God’s way of reaping the fruit of the ground, and so we find that there are two resurrections in Revelation 20, one before and one after—but not during—the thousand years.
Further, God promised to provide an abundance in the sixth year in order to carry the people through the Sabbath without shortages. Lev. 25:20, 21 says,
20 But if you say, “What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?” 21 Then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years.
This passage was speaking specifically of the seventh Sabbath year, which was then followed by a Jubilee year. That is why God promised to bless them with enough food for three years, rather than just two. On other sixth years, God would bless them with double crops to last them through the Sabbath land rests.
The same principle was seen in the weekly Sabbath when Israel gathered twice as much manna on the sixth day to carry them through the seventh day (Exodus 16:22). John does not mention it directly, but we understand that God will pour out His Spirit at the end of the sixth millennial “day” at the end of the age, so that we have provision during the Great Millennium—the seventh great Day.
The Serpent Bound
Coinciding with the end of six days of labor and the start of the Great Sabbath, the serpent is bound for a thousand years. This is necessary, because when Adam and Eve believed the word of the serpent, they subjected themselves to his deception. Being unable to pay restitution for their sin, they were “sold” into slavery according to the law in Exodus 22:3.
Paul says later in Rom. 6:16, “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…?” He tells the believers that prior to coming to Christ, “you were slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:17).
So in order to release mankind from its slavery caused by Adam’s sin, the serpent must be bound and prevented from deceiving the nations during the Great Sabbath. But once the seventh “day” has passed, the serpent is again released, because this is only the end of the first Sabbath of history. There are yet six more such Sabbaths before Creation’s Jubilee, where all are fully reconciled to God, and where every man returns to his inheritance in God.
On this great millennial Sabbath, God also seems to observe the Sabbath law found in Exodus 35:3,
3 You shall not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.
For this reason, we do not read of “the lake of fire” until after the Great Sabbath Day has passed (Rev. 20:14, 15). The law itself prophesies of the acts of God, for He follows His own law. Why? Because the fiery law emanates from His nature, and He will always be true to Himself.
Six Days and Fine Linen
The Sabbath laws give us the foundation stones of the laws of Time, on which prophetic time cycles are based. Therefore, Revelation 20 speaks of a “thousand years” six times to suggest the end of six thousand years and the start of a Sabbath Millennium.
The Hebrew word for “six” is shesh, in Exodus 20:9, “Six days you shall labor.” But shesh, as used in Exodus 39:28 in describing the garment of the high priest, is also the word for “fine linen.”
This suggests that the Bride’s fine linen (in Rev. 19:7, 8) is given to her at the end of six thousand years. Although the Bride is made up of individuals living throughout many generations, John was referring to the time when the body would be complete. She is thus clothed and “ready” after six thousand years.