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Foundation Truth, Number 30 (Summer 2012) | Timeless Truths Publications

Perspective—The 1880 Evening Light Reformation

Part 2

See also: Part 1

In the previous issue, we began to address the subject of errors made by some of the prominent brethren in the 1880 Evening Light Reformation, and the tendency of people to look at and lean on the instruments God uses instead of God Himself. We examined what D. S. Warner taught in the booklet The Age to Come, in which he attempted to explain Revelation 20:1-3 by asserting that Satan was effectively bound by the gross darkness and superstition of the time when apostate religion dominated the earth, because it gave him few souls to deceive or destroy, as they were already in darkness. We stated that the correct understanding was that one of Satan’s “great tools for wrecking mankind was bound”—paganism.

Walking in the Light as He Is in the Light

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all…. If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”* (1 John 1:5,7)

“O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.”* (Isaiah 2:5)

As we look at Brother Warner’s writing on this subject, we see a great reaching and searching for light as to the prophecies of the history of the New Testament church. He knew the millennium doctrine was wrong, and his teaching on the falseness of that theory brought him into questions about such subjects as the exact meaning of many Revelation prophecies. He attempted to answer those questions, but some of those answers were just plain wrong. He simply didn’t have light on those areas.

It wasn’t just Brother Warner who was mistaken about the nature of the binding in Revelation 20:1-3. If we examine a chronology of reformation writings published between 1890 and 1906 that mention this passage of scripture, we see that the general assumption of the ministry was that the bottomless pit referred to hell (gehenna), and that the serpent, “which is the Devil, and Satan,”* (Revelation 20:2) was the father of evil himself, rather than being representative of a power so associated with and used by him (as Revelation 12:9 states it, “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan”).

There were reasons why a right dividing of the Word of God on the second coming of Jesus and the nature of the kingdom of God had not happened during the centuries since the great apostasy of A. D. 270.

The millennial doctrine obscures and blurs the New Testament teaching of a great, general, physical resurrection of all the dead at the coming of Christ. It diminishes the glory of the spiritual Kingdom of God in the heart now by locating a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies of the reign of Christ and His people on the earth in the future, and with that distortion of the truth, it offers a second chance to be saved after the coming of the Lord.

This false millennial doctrine is directly responsible for the deferred hopes of millions, who trusted that they would have another chance to get right with God in a supposed age to come. The doctrine has comforted millions of others with the idea that spiritual unity cannot and will not be realized to the extent that the Bible teaches until such a golden age has come.

The stronghold of this false doctrine is Revelations 20:1-10. The very name of the doctrine (Millennium, the thousand-year reign) is taken from the thousand years mentioned in this passage of scripture. Any attempt to refute the false millennial doctrine must deal with this text, and the millennial doctrine is based on the binding of Satan a thousand years. In other words, behind one false doctrine is another false doctrine—a false understanding of the nature of the devil, both his origin and the nature of how God deals with him.

It is the two-fold nature of the deception on this point that so effectively hindered so many dear and precious saints from comprehending truth on this line for so many centuries after it was lost in the darkness of the great apostasy from the morning light of the gospel. For there have been many men and women of God who have loved Him devotedly over the centuries, and their writings and lives are an inspiration to those of us who come after them. Why did they not uncover the truth on these lines? Why was this teaching from the Word of God so hidden for so long?

The answer to this question lies in the nature of the burden of the times that we live in. The Spirit of God does not try to systematically and thoroughly indoctrinate us with answers to everything that there is to know spiritually, but He does bring us all that we need to know to deal with the burden of living victoriously with what we have on hand. If you were to bring Brother John Wesley back now and ask him, “Why didn’t you get light on the nature of the church of God that Jesus built?” he would probably reply something to the effect that God didn’t deal with him very much about that. Why didn’t God deal with him about that? Well, the short answer would be that it wasn’t time for that particular truth to be bought out in restorative work of gospel light in Brother Wesley’s lifetime. There needed to be considerable restorative work on entire sanctification to lay a foundation for further light. We tend to underestimate how very much other men have labored and how much is involved that we may enter into their labors (John 4:38), and we greatly underestimate how inter-related all truth is, and how difficult it is for understanding of it to be re-obtained when it is lost. If we reflect on how long God took to establish a foundation of truth throughout the Old Testament for the first coming of Christ (who came in the fulness of time* (Galatiaans 4:4)), it should help us to understand the long, arduous effort to reveal light sufficiently for men to grasp and appropriate in a practical way for current need.

The first tendency of the Evening Light brethren was to interpret the binding of the devil in Revelation 20 as an actual imprisonment of the father of evil. This posed several questions. How was he bound? When was he bound? We will here notice several Bible descriptions of Satan.

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”* (1 Peter 5:8)

This doesn’t sound very good, does it? Watch out! Think realistically, soberly! The devil is loose, walking around and devouring people. Thus Brother Peter warned the saints.

“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils.”* (Luke 11:21-22)

Again, we see an unbound Satan here. He is “a strong man armed,” keeping his palace with his goods in peace; i.e., holding a precious human being in slavery and possession. But, praise God, “When a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him….” This is my Lord, who came to destroy the works of the devil and take from him his armor wherein he trusted. The wonderful result is a soul set free, delivered from the power of the enemy of mankind and the enemy of God. Praise God! I serve One who is stronger than the devil! But we see that Satan is not bound from enslaving people; he is in the business of caging and holding people. Yet our Lord is in the business of delivering the devil’s captives on a one-to-one basis. This is how our Lord described what the devil was doing and what He Himself was doing.

This is the dilemma that faced the brethren in Brother Warner’s time: when did/will Satan go out of business? When did/will he “deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season”* (Revelation 20:3)?

The brethren comprehended that they were in the last days of the last days.1 Behind them lay a long line of church history; before them was the final judgment. They realized that the kingdom of God was now (Luke 17:21; Romans 14:17). What they did not yet realize was that the doctrine of fallen angels, including the supposed fall of the chief angel, was not Biblical either, and they attempted to reconcile the scriptures with the light that they currently possessed. How could they do otherwise? Centuries before, the brethren of the Morning Light attempted to reconcile their understanding of circumcising with the transforming full salvation of the New Testament. In due time, the Spirit of God got it over to them that it was circumcision of the heart that mattered, not circumcision of the flesh; and that this fact was indicative of the whole shadowing of the Old Testament. But it took time for their hearts to be enlightened. The progression of light on the subject of circumcision is readily visible in Acts 15, all the way to Galatians 5:1-6. There were many of the brethren in the church who only dimly realized the facts, but the Spirit of God was leading unerringly to the understanding that “in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”* (Galatians 5:6) This was the truth; this was light from heaven. Fleshly circumcision did not avail anything. Those who resisted and fought against this were actually resisting light from heaven.


For support of this understanding of prophecy, see Issue #19, “The Voice of Prophecy.” Also, The Revelation Explained, by Frederick G. Smith.

In February, 1890 (dates are obtained from Familiar Names and Faces), Brother Warner and others published the book, Bible Readings. H. M. Riggle authored a scripture outline for this book on the subject of “Satan.” In the first point of the outline, he lists 1 John 3:8 with the description, “He sinned against God.” The scripture reads, “He [the devil] sinneth from the beginning.” Note the difference in tense between Brother Riggle’s comment versus the scripture. The scripture presents the devil as an ongoing transgressor, “from the beginning”; while Brother Riggle puts it in the past. Under the topic, “Angels,” (the author of this outline is not identified), the description is given, “Some angels have sinned,” with the scripture references 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 listed. (I do not have a copy of the book as first published in 1890; I have a copy published in 1902.)

In 1890, Brother Warner and others also published Holiness Bible Subjects, arranged by H. C. Wickersham. This book refers to Revelation 20:3-6 with the following description, “Other expressions made use of in the scripture in reference to the nature of this punishment. [hell] 1. The bottomless pit. Revelation 20:3-6.”

In 1893, the book Biblical Trace of the Church, by William G. Schell, was published. (We have emphasized the statements dealing with the binding of the dragon.) After quoting from the passage of scripture in Revelation 20:1-9, he states:

No prophecy of the Bible is, perhaps, so generally misunderstood as the above. It is supposed to teach a thousand years of universal reign of righteousness upon the earth; when nothing of the kind is hinted at. This is truly a mysterious prophecy, which requires the aid of the Holy Spirit to interpret. The misconstructions of commentators upon it, have, perhaps, established the millennium doctrine in the minds of many. Some who have been unable to see a millennial reign in any other part of the scriptures, have seemed to see it here. The Encyclopedia Britannica asserts that it is the only text in the Bible teaching the millennial thousand years. The New Testament teaches that the world shall wax worse and worse right up to the coming of Christ; so there is no room for a millennium before He comes. It is further taught in the New Testament that the coming of Christ will be the instant of the resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked: the general judgment; the rewarding of the righteous in heaven; the banishment of the wicked and the destruction of the earth. So there can be no millennium after He comes. The doctrine of the millennium is, therefore excluded from the Bible, and is a mere tradition having its origin in Cerinthus, the most noted heretic of the first century.

But what about the thousand years in Revelation? Let us examine it carefully. In the first place we observe that it is not a reign of men in the body, but of “the souls of them who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God.”* (Revelation 20:4)

We further see, that they had not during their life upon the earth “worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark” upon them; hence we conclude that they lived in the early part of the Christian era, before the beast made his appearance.2


This conclusion does not necessarily follow from the verse; the implication is stronger that they lived during the time of the beast.—Ed.

In another chapter the Revelator sees these same souls under the altar, and heard them cry “with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell upon the earth?… And it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants, also, and their brethren, that should be killed, as they were, should be fulfilled.”* (Revelation 6:9-11) These souls were resting, hence we understand that this vision also applies to their thousand-years’ reign with Christ. We also see in the above that the thousand years lies between periods of martyrdom; and that those who reigned were the victims of the first, awaiting the death of those of the second.

But are those thousand years past, or are they yet to come? Let us turn again to the twentieth chapter and make a further investigation of this subject. We find the devil was chained during that period (Revelation 20:3). Of course none would take this to be a literal chaining, for a spiritual being could not be thus confined. In what sense was he chained? By reading a little further, we find his chaining was a deprivation of the privilege of deceiving the nations (Revelation 20:3). We observe, also, that at the expiration of the thousand years, the devil is loosed for a little season; during which he gathers the forces of Gog and Magog together to battle against the saints, and is defeated by fire from heaven (Revelation 20:7-9).

The fire from heaven signifies the coming of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:8); hence the devil is loosed from his thousand years confinement, a little season before the second coming of Christ. The fact that the Gog and Magog forces are already uniting proves that the thousand years are past.3 But can we find anything in this chapter pointing to the commencement of the thousand years? Let us see. We have seen that it was the souls of the martyrs of the early days of the Christian era who reigned. Hence we would suppose that the thousand year period begun soon after their martyrdom. This must be the case, for we have seen that they are already in the past.


For support of this understanding of prophecy, see Issue #19, “The Voice of Prophecy.” Also, The Revelation Explained, by Frederick G. Smith.

We have now laid the foundation, and will proceed to show the exact interpretation. The thousand years were the darkest part of the papal reign, A. D. 530-1530. During that period there were very few Christians upon the earth, hence the devil was deprived of the privilege of deceiving them, and in this sense was chained.

The reformation at the close of the thousand years brought forth a host of redeemed people, thus restoring to the devil the opportunity of doing what he could at deceiving them. In this sense he was loosed. The awful persecution inflicted upon the church in apostolic times was, during those thousand years, greatly abated: but it was poured forth afresh, and with greater ferocity, at the outburst of the Reformation. Hence it is seen that the thousand years as we have located them above, were in fulfillment to prophecy, an intervening respite from persecution.

[William G. Schell; Biblical Trace of the Church]

The reader will note that the binding of the devil is presented in exactly the same terms as the statements of Brother Warner in his book The Age to Come and Millennium Doctrine Refuted,4 as quoted previously. This is an accurate picture of the level of understanding that the saints of the Evening Light Reformation possessed then on that point. The understanding was false, for if anything, the dark ages of Catholicism were one of the most fruitful ever for the devil in terms of deceiving and damning human souls. The subject was viewed from the standpoint of saved souls to be deceived, rather than human souls to be deceived, and it ignores the fact that all of earth’s population starts out in life as innocent of transgression before God until each sins and is guilty. Behind the ignoring of this fact stands the influence of a false doctrine that the devil was once an angel in heaven.


See Part 1 from Issue #29.

In The Gospel Trumpet edition of January 31, 1895, we read:

Please explain 2 Peter 2:4. Was it ever possible for an angel to sin and be cast out of heaven? Was Satan ever an angel of glory?

Answer: We receive the above record as the true origin of Satan. Jude bears testimony to the same thing. “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.”* (Jude 6) These two scriptures state the case very plainly. These angels “sinned,” were “cast down to hell.” They “kept not their first estate”; that is, did not continue pure and holy as God created them. And losing holiness they also “left their own habitation.” According to Peter they were cast down; according to Jude they left their own habitation. Both were true: they left of choice, but it was God’s presence, power, holiness, and glory which made the place unendurable for them. In this sense God cast them out, and yet they left. Doubtless, it was in the same way that Adam and Eve were expelled from the Eden of God’s presence. And here is a good lesson for us all; an illustration of the fact that without holiness, no man shall be able to see and enjoy God.

When we consider the facts as stated by these two inspired writers, that these angels were in heaven, and that was “their own habitation,” there can be no doubt of their having been once holy angels; for heaven was not created for devils, nor was hell prepared for any one but “the devil and his angels.”* (Matthew 25:41)

This record of the origin of Satan and his emissaries is consistent with sound reason. First, God is the creator of all things. But evil spirits exist. Therefore they must originally have been of God’s creation. But since like produces like, a holy God could not consistently have created that which is unholy and sinful; therefore those evil spirits must have been created holy, and afterward became sinful, kept not their first estate, their original purity.

[The Gospel Trumpet January 31, 1895]

Now this is proof beyond any doubt that Brother Warner and other saints in 1895 believed that the devil was at one time in heaven. As one brother (who believes that the devil was once a pure angel in heaven) remarked in discussion on this point, “Even the pope of Rome did not dare to such impudence [of believing the devil was not a fallen angel]. If we are not mistaken, such an impudent and false teaching did not exist earlier, before the twentieth century.” A full and complete analysis of what the scriptures teach on the origin of evil is too lengthy for this writing, but we willingly concede that most of the nominal Christian world, including the pope, taught that the devil was created a holy and pure angel and had fallen. Most of the nominal Christian world also taught an earthly thousand-year reign of Christ, too. It was natural enough for Brother Warner and others to think in terms of their conditioning and to regard these errors as true. But when they began to realize that the millennial doctrine was error, it was not readily apparent that the millennium was based on another error concerning the origin of evil. This is what led to the unsustainable statements about Satan being bound during the long reign of Catholicism, whereas in fact, he was not bound at all, but was going about devouring and deceiving, even as he is today.

One of the main effects of the false teaching that the devil was in heaven was to anchor the millennial fallacy. For centuries, the scriptures in Revelation 20:1-3 were understood to refer to a future thousand-year reign on earth, with Satan bound. The scriptures in Revelation 12:7-9 were also part of the deception. Any attempt to interpret these scriptures in any other way than a imagined millennial reign had to confront the fact that the dragon—the old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, was not actually the devil himself, but a tool of the devil. To get light on the millennial-reign deception, one had to face the other false doctrine about the origin of evil. Light on the history of the church of God necessarily led to light on the incorruptible nature of heaven and the fact that the devil was never in there. Both of these false doctrines had been held for centuries—and both are connected. The false understanding of Satan underlay the false earthly millennial theory.

Lactantius was appointed as head of rhetoris at Nicomedia in about A.D. 300 by Emperor Diocletian. He converted to Christianity and served Constantine as tutor to his son, Crispus. Here is what he wrote about the supposed thousand-year reign:

When the thousand years of the kingdom have ended—that is, seven thousand years [from the creation of the world]—Satan will be loosed again. Being sent forth from prison, he will go forth and assemble all the nations which will then be under the dominion of the righteous…. Then the last anger of God will come upon the nations and will utterly destroy them…. The whole race of the wicked will utterly perish. There will no longer be any nation in this world except the nation of God…. Thereafter, there will be no war—only peace and everlasting rest. But when the thousand years are completed, the world will be renewed by God and the heavens will be folded, together. The earth will be changed and God will transform men into the likeness of angels…. At the same time, the second and general resurrection of all mankind will take place. In this, the unrighteous will go into lasting punishments.

We see from this quote (and others could be produced) that the millennial theory was received and believed at the time of the rise of the first beast—Catholicism. It actually had its roots in the Jewish idea of an earthly kingdom when the Messiah would come. And right with this deception went its twin falsity. We will quote from Origen of Alexandria (A.D. 146-211), another writer of this period:

Regarding the devil, his angels, and the opposing forces, the teaching of the church is that these beings do indeed exist. However, the church has not explained with sufficient clarity what they are, or how they exist. Most Christians, however, hold this opinion: that the devil was an angel and that, having become an apostate, he induced as many of the angels as possible to fall away with him.

Note that, though “most Christians” believed that the devil had been an angel in heaven, there must have been a few in Origen’s day who did not believe this.

But now, moving across the centuries from the 200’s to 1885, it became increasingly evident to the brethren of the Evening Light Reformation that the devil himself was not bound during the long period of the first beast (Catholicism), and therefore, there must be another correct understanding of the binding of the dragon (called “the Devil, and Satan”). In 1896, the year after Brother Warner’s death, his book Salvation: Present, Perfect, Now or Never was published. We quote:

Reader, are you a candidate for heaven and eternal glory? Then mark well the conditions upon which you must take your crown, without which you must sink to an awful doom. How think you the gates of heaven will be guarded against the entrance of unworthy characters? We read of no mighty angel, who, with all-penetrating eyes shall examine those who would enter there. How then will the purity of heaven be protected? Find an answer in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9: “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.”

At the same time we are told He will “be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.”* (2 Thessalonians 1:10) So let it be known once for all that all who are unfit for heaven will be driven back to hell “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” Though heaven’s gates stand wide open before all men, no person will enter with a stain of sin upon his soul. No unholy man can endure the presence of God and his divine glory. The hottest place in hell is a relief to the soul unsaved and out of Christ.

A wit once said in a New York paper that he dreamed a certain man, prominent in his circle, had died, and approached the gates of heaven, where he was told, “YOU MAY COME IN, BUT YOU WILL NOT LIKE IT.” A mighty truth was unwittingly uttered by the thoughtless sinner. Oh, that the Almighty may make men to consider that heaven is worse than hell itself for all who are not of heavenly temper! Oh, how sad and sickening the sight of our present evil world, and its awful destiny so near! The masses who profess the Christian name, know they are sinful and unholy, and yet hope to stop sinning when safe in heaven. We used to hear them sing with much animation,

“If I only get to heaven,
If I only get to heaven,
If I only get to heaven when I die.”

They hope to see the beautiful gate ajar for them, and if they may only be permitted to slip into the golden city, imagine they will be all right. Oh, how awful will be their disappointment! The very holiness of heaven will drive them back in terror. Jesus knew very well that men would base their eternal happiness on merely getting into heaven, and has given us a parable to show all men how such a faith will terminate. He tells of one who came in without the “wedding garment”; but he did not enjoy it. He was speechless, and was bound hand and foot, and cast out into outer darkness; “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”* (Matthew 22:11-13) Nothing but the spotless robe of perfect holiness will make heaven a heaven for you. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked.”* (Galatians 6:7) None but the pure in heart can enter there and see God in peace. Yea, in the light of God’s truth we cry aloud and say unto all, you must be as pure as heaven to enter and enjoy that holy place. And, thanks be to the God of all grace and mercy, SALVATION will put you in that condition and preserve you ready to enter and enjoy all the glory of heaven.

[Daniel S. Warner; Salvation: Present, Perfect, Now or Never, “Salvation Fits Us for Heaven”; emphasis added]

These statements of Brother Warner agree wonderfully with the following scripture, “To an inheritance incoruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”* (1 Peter 1:4) Nor can it be scripturally proven that heaven has not always been incorruptible and undefiled. We see plainly that “purer light” was coming fast on the very nature of heaven, and that the nature of this light of truth proves definitely that Satan could never have been in that holy place, for “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie.”* (Revelation 21:27) There never has been and never will be.

The next publishing of the Evening Light saints that pertains to the binding of the dragon was in 1899. In The Kingdom of God and the One-Thousand-Years’ Reign, by H. M. Riggle, the great dragon is correctly identified as paganism. The correct interpretation of the dragon in Revelation is expounded.

As before proved, the dragon represents Paganism, or Rome under the Pagan religion. Now, if by the dragon be meant Beelzebub himself, then we are led to the conclusion that the great apostate Spirit is a monster having seven heads and ten horns, and also that he has a tail, with which he drags after him the third part of the stars of heaven. God never created such an angel, nor can it be proved that Satan now has such an appearance. The appellations “old serpent,” “devil,” and “Satan” must, therefore, be understood figuratively. Paganism is called “the devil,” because its religion was purely of devilish origin. Paul says that “the things which the Gentiles [heathen nations] sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils… and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye can not drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils.”* (1 Corinthians 10:20-21) It is called “Satan,” which is a Hebrew word signifying “adversary,” from its great opposition to and persecution of the Christian church. It is also called “that old serpent… which deceiveth the whole world,” from its subtlety against the Christians, and its causing the whole Roman world, as far as it was in its power, to embrace the absurdities of Paganism. At the ushering in of this gospel dispensation, Paganism was the universal religion. Even the Jews as a nation had accepted it; forsaking the God of their fathers, they were worshiping idols. Rome held universal sway. Paganism held the highest position on earth when Christ appeared to save the world. But he who is called Michael, because he is like God, he and his angels (messengers, ministry) waged war against this dragon in his high places. Being victorious he proved to the world that Paganism had no right to such a high seat. Therefore Christ cast him down, and set up his kingdom instead.

It is said that “the dragon fought [opposed Christianity] and his angels [Paganism’s adherents, messengers or advocates], And prevailed not [were not able to conquer that kingdom which ‘broke in pieces’ and ‘consumed’ all others]; neither was their place found any more in heaven [Paganism no longer held the highest throne of honor.]: and the great dragon was cast out [Christianity prevailed]…. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.” This represents the glorious triumph of the gospel over heathen darkness in the beginning of the Christian era, the victory Christianity obtained over Paganism, a song or triumph of the church of God over heathen idolatry. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb… and they loved not their lives unto death.” Here is given the reason why the followers of Christ prevailed at this time against all their adversaries. It was because they fought against the dragon in the armor of God. “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,” by proclaiming salvation to sinners through Christ crucified, and by their continual intercessions at the throne of grace for the conversion of the heathen world. All this they did at the peril of their lives.

It is further said that when the dragon saw he was cast down, “he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” This refers to the Pagan persecutions against the church. When Rome saw her religion crumbling and falling before the increasing light of the gospel which was rapidly filling the earth, she tried to save herself by slaughtering the Christians; but this only increased the work of God, and watchfires were kindled in every land. The then known world was being rapidly girdled with salvation, which caused heathen Rome finally to totter and fall. Next the woman fled into the wilderness “for a time, and times, and half a time.” This wilderness is the same as that spoken of in v. 6, which was before proved to signify the great apostasy. In v. 6 it is said that the woman remained in the wilderness “a thousand two hundred and threescore days,” which, as before proved, signifies 1260 years. Here it is said she remained for “a time, and times, and half a time,” or three and onehalf times. A time signifies a year (Daniel 4:23,25). Three and one-half times, then, equal three and one-half years, or forty-two months: and counting thirty days to the month according to the Jewish calendar we have 1260 days, or [prophetic] years. It is further said that “the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”* (Revelation 12:17) “The remnant of her seed” refers to the few who faithfully stood for the truth down through the dark ages. The dragon, being conquered (cast down) and his power broken by Christianity, became wroth at the woman, or church, and through his son—the “beast”—made war against the remnant of her seed.

[Herbert M. Riggle; The Kingdom of God and the One-Thousand-Years’ Reign; emphasis added]

After continuing to discuss the nature of Catholicism (the first beast) and the second beast (Protestantism) after it, Brother Riggle continues:

We will now turn to Revelation 20:13“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit… and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Upon this scripture theological speculators have sat until the world is full of opposing theories. Most Millennial teachers admit that the book of Revelations is highly symbolic, but when they come to the twentieth chapter they all contend it must be interpreted literally. Observe, dear reader, how closely Revelation 20:13 agrees with Revelation 12:7-10. It was the dragon that was bound by the angel—the dragon with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12:3-4). There is but one dragon spoken of throughout the book of Revelation, and that dragon represents Pagan Rome. The appellations “old serpent,” “Devil,” and “Satan,” in these texts have already been considered. The casting down of the dragon in Revelation 12 is identical with his binding in Revelation 20. The angel which came down from heaven and bound the dragon was Michael the archangel, i. e., Jesus Christ. He has the keys of death and hell (Revelation 1:18). The great chain with which he bound the dragon was the gospel of the kingdom. Christ, with the eternal truths which He advocated, both in person and through His apostolic ministry, bound the religion of Paganism, and hurled it from its lofty position to the great abyss from which it emanated.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”* (Revelation 20:4-6) The thousand years in these texts (like the one hundred and forty and four thousand in Revelation 7:4; 14:1, and the twelve hundred and sixty days in Revelation 12:6; 11:3) are not to be understood literally. They signify a long period of time. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them”—the glory of Christ’s kingdom before the apostasy. Through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, multitudes were raised up from a dead state in sins to life in Christ. This great host, thus quickened into life in the clear morning of the Christian era, composed the first great spiritual resurrection. Through full salvation, they were made kings and priests unto God; and sitting upon thrones of love they reigned “in life” over sin, Satan, and disease. “And judgment was given unto them.” The righteous judgments of God executed by the apostolic church against the works of darkness. This caused Satan’s kingdom to fall “like lightning.” But soon the apostasy came. The clear light of truth was largely extinguished by the darkness and superstitions that filled the earth. An awful beast power reigned for twelve hundred and sixty years. This was Popery. During her reign about fiftyfive millions of God’s people who would not “worship the beast,” namely, submit to her doctrines, were put to death. Next came the religion of Protestantism, when an image to the first beast was made.

During this long period of time, the kingdom of God was largely hid under the human rubbish of men. The reign on earth ceased, and the only reign enjoyed by God’s people during that “thousand years”—long period of time—was enjoyed with Christ in Paradise. The thousands who had taken part in the first resurrection, before the great apostasy, together with those mentioned in the fourth verse who lived true to God during the reign of the beast (Popery) and his image (Protestantism), many of whom were “beheaded for the witness of Jesus,” as soon as they died, were caught up unto God and to his throne and reigned with him in a disembodied state. While on earth the reign of God’s people ceased, they still continued during that thousand years to reign with Christ in Paradise. But, thank God, the time has come that God’s people again reign upon earth. Daniel with prophetic eye looked down to the end of the apostasy and saw the “Ancient of days”—the old apostolic times—returning. And he said that “judgment was given to the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.”* (Daniel 7:21-22) Hallelujah! That time has come. A mighty host is being gathered out of the apostasy; while thousands of the “rest of the dead” are being quickened into life. These stand upon the sea of glass (pure word and holiness of God), and have victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name (Revelation 15:2).


It was not the actual devil that was bound during the long, indefinite, period (the prophetic thousand years), but a certain instrument of the devil that was bound—paganism, the red dragon. Now he is loosed for a season and is making a comeback.

In 1902, The Gospel Day was published. Brother C. E. Orr writes concerning this subject:

We will now ask the reader to read the only text that speaks of a thousand years. This is found in Revelation 20:1-10. If you will open your Bible and read, we can by the help of the Lord show you that this cannot possibly mean a thousand years of Christ’s reign upon the earth after His second coming. This language is figurative. Satan is an evil spirit and cannot be bound with a literal chain. After the thousand years have expired, Satan is to be loosed, and shall deceive the nations. After Christ reigns here a thousand years in righteousness, shall Satan be loosed and deceive the nations? Who can look forward to such an end with joy? How do you know but you will be one that will be deceived? If you are building hopes upon a millennium, you are already deceived, and this deception is among the deceptions which are to come after the thousand years. This thousand years is in the past. This may be a startling statement to one who has been educated to believe in a reign of Christ in person here upon the earth in some future age of a thousand-years’ duration.

Reader, will you please notice that the devil, and Satan, that was to be bound a thousand years, is also called the dragon? Now the Scriptures do not always mean Beelzebub when speaking of Satan. Jesus, upon one occasion, because Peter was remonstrating with him concerning his death, said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Christ did not mean to say that Peter was the devil, but He addressed him as Satan, because the devil was using him as an instrument to persuade the Savior to escape the death He came here to endure for all. So Satan and the devil spoken of in Revelation 20:2 does not refer to the personal devil, the prince of evil spirits, but to some great power antagonistic to gospel light and truth as revealed in the church of God.

Now we feel ourselves under obligation to the reader to give him the correct interpretation of this binding of Satan a thousand years, and of his being loosed at the end of that period. The term “dragon” is used to represent a state power, which gives power to some religion antagonistic to the religion of the Bible.

However the original and real fundamental dragon power was Rome, when she supported a heathen religion, and when the world, on the whole, was so under the seducing charms of idolatrous worship that it knew not the one true God and his relationship to man. The Syriac New Testament, in speaking of this dragon in verse two, says, “Who seduced the whole habitable world.” The binding of Satan refers to some time when the delusive charms of heathenish worship were largely cleared away, and there became a greater universal knowledge of the true God. At the end of that thousand years, or long period of time, which time we have reached, the true God and the pure religion will be lost or unknown to the generality of mankind, and heathenish rites and customs and ceremonies will be the universal religion. Do we not read that at the end of the thousand years Satan shall again deceive the nations? We understand by this that the world on the whole shall be reveling in the delusive seductions of a lewd, lustful, idolatrous religion, making the times like it was in the days of Noah. Let me again say we are now entering these times, and this world is swiftly passing under awful and blinding delusions. So great are the delusions that, if possible, the very elect should be deceived.

The religious teachers of today on the whole are in ignorance concerning the binding of Satan. We will give you a sample of the ignorance of these teachers. In the Gospel Messenger of March 25, 1899, the Querist Department in answer to a question asked concerning the binding of Satan, said: “Satan will then be bound, cast into the bottomless pit, and there will be a chance to convert the unrighteous and lead them to accept Christ as the Savior.”

A subscriber in search of knowledge asked the Querist Department to give a scripture to prove the last clause. He received this answer: “It seems to us that it is one of those self-evident views that needs no proof. If the Bible teaches otherwise, let us have the chapter and verse. The Querist Department does not pretend to know everything.”

There are many other chapters and verses that teach otherwise. “Now is the day of salvation.”* (2 Corinthians 6:2) “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?”* (Hebrews 2:3) The wicked shall be resurrected to damnation (John 5:29).

[Charles E. Orr; The Gospel Day; emphasis added]

We will also quote from The Cleansing of the Sanctuary (1903), by D. S. Warner, and completely posthumously by H. M. Riggle. After quoting from Revelation 20:1-3, they write:

This scripture, no doubt, has been more speculated upon than any other in the Bible. It is used as a foundation for all the multiplied absurdities and diversities of false doctrines respecting a fancied millennium future. Many precious men and women, in order to prop up a corrupt theory, in their blind zeal will set aside the plain testimony of New Testament scripture and literalize this text. But no such thing is hinted at as a future literal reign upon earth. If the reader will closely compare Revelation 20:1-3 with Revelation 12:7-11 he will observe that the same event is referred to. The angel which came down from heaven is Michael, the archangel, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had the key of the bottomless pit; for he testifies, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”* (Revelation 1:18) The language of this text is highly figurative. The dragon here referred to is the same as that in Revelation 12; viz., pagan Rome. There is but one dragon brought to view in the book of Revelation, the dragon with seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 12:3). That dragon represents Rome under the pagan religion. The appellations “Devil, and Satan,” are applied to this hellish power both in Revelation 12 and 20.

We have before observed why these terms were applied to paganism. Because its religion was purely of devilish origin, and because it was the chief instrument through which the devil deceived the whole then-known world. When this power ruled the earth, and its religion was universal, Christ the archangel came down from heaven, set up His everlasting kingdom in direct opposition to this dragon power, and with the great chain of His eternal gospel, He bound the religion of paganism and hurled it from its lofty position to the great abyss from which it emanated.

The one thousand years signify the long period of time when paganism as a religion was largely extinct. “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.”* (Revelation 20:4) John saw this after the angel came down, and while he was binding the dragon. Like Revelation 12:10, this refers to the triumph of the early church over heathen darkness; the glory of Christ’s kingdom before the apostasy. Through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit, multitudes were raised up from a dead state in sins to life in Christ. This great host thus quickened into life in the clear morning of the Christian era, composed the first great spiritual resurrection. Through full salvation they were made kings and priests unto God; and sitting upon thrones of love they reigned “in life” over sin, Satan, and disease. Judgment was given to them. This refers to the righteous judgments of God which filled the early church.

Thus, in brief, we trace the church through her first great conflict with ecclesiastical powers, and behold her sweep onward with triumph over all her foes. As we follow her to the end of the world, we give a history of events which should awaken a deep interest in the minds and hearts of all.

In Revelation 20, it is stated that at the expiration of the thousand years the old dragon would be “loosed a little season.”* (Revelation 20:3) “And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.”* (Revelation 20:8) This dragon power was bound by the gospel of Christ, and hurled from its lofty position to the great abyss from which it emanated (Revelation 20:1-3). This, as before proved, was accomplished in the morning of the Christian era. At that time hundreds of thousands were saved through the blood of Christ, and raised to spiritual life. That great host constituted the first great spiritual resurrection. They reigned in life, and Christ’s kingdom triumphed upon earth.

[Daniel S. Warner; Herbert M. Riggle; The Cleansing of the Sanctuary]

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”* (1 John 1:7) How much it means to “walk in the light”—and what grace and humility from God is needed to do so!

We look at Brother Peter on the mount of transfiguration, and we hear him saying, “Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”* (Mark 17:4) We are glad he said, “if Thou wilt.” For today, we do have three tabernacles in that area of the world, three religions all fighting with each other—nominal Christianity, Judaism, and Islam—and we see the results of Peter’s proposal for three tabernacles. But God helped Peter, those with him, and all the rest of us to know that God wants us to hear His Son only. God kept Peter from making a horrendous mistake. But then Paul tells us, “When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”* (Galatians 2:11-14) We see that Peter made a bad mistake, yet God allowed it to happen. God could have prevented Peter from making that mistake, but God allowed him to make it. This humble brother, who really loved God, was destined to be called the first pope and eventually to be reputed as infallible by an apostate ministry. But we see that God put a restraint on that tendency of sinful man by allowing this incident of Peter’s fallibility to be recorded.

The Evening Light Reformation of over a hundred years ago had its heroes and its villains in the minds of many. It has been followed by tens of thousands of minds and hearts in various spiritual conditions, pulling, prying, imagining, making honest and not-so-honest mistakes. There are people who look upon Brother Warner’s writings with a reverence that should only be given to Jesus. We respect the brother greatly, but we recognize that he was a man of like passions as other men of God, and we do not want to think of him “above that which is written.” God saw fit to use him prominently, but he (and I believe I can hear him saying, “Amen!”) would be quick to affirm that he was only an earthen vessel. It does not take away from the spirituality of his walk with God or the many solid and profound things he taught, to face the fact that he made a mistake in the writing under discussion. Now he sees no longer through a glass darkly.

Some brethren, who hold Brother Warner in a dangerous reverence, think it slander to contradict his work, but none of us are exempt from the Word of God. Whatever I say must stand the test of time, the scrutiny of others who love the Lord, and in the end God Himself will render final and absolute judgment.

Many have wondered why the Word of God was written as it was. Doctrines are not clearly put forth in a systematic way in many cases. There are obscure texts that seem to teach certain things, and it is not a simple matter to “rightly divide” many subjects of Bible truth because of the way in which they were recorded. Why? Why did God have it presented as He does? “For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”* (1 Corinthians 3:19) The context extends the same thought: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise…. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”* (1 Corinthians 3:18,20) If you are not humble in your heart—a fool for Christ’s sake—the Word of God is dangerously misleading, even deceptive. Why did God make the world with the appearance of age? Did He prepare a snare for the worldly wise—an outlet of seeming wisdom for their unbelief? There will be many a deceived soul who will be enlightened at the judgment—too late! Many an unbeliever or religious professor feels that it is not fair of God to approach things this way, as though God was required somehow to “play” by their rules, their ideas, of what is fair and right. He has made a way for men to know the truth, and He hath made it so it cannot be truly known any other way. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”* (Micah 6:8) “Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal [fair]: but as for them, their way is not equal [fair].”* (Ezekiel 33:17) But, “If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.”* (Isa 1:19)

“The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb…. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.”* (Psalm 19:9-10,12)

See also: Part 3