Long before the dawn of the computer age and concern over the alleged influence of Russian hacking, the fate of nations and the tides of war lay in the power of cryptography. During World War II, the best and the brightest were pressed into service as cryptographers seeking to create and to break unbreakable codes. The stories of these unsung men and women have been recounted in recent movies such as Windtalkers and The Imitation Game.
One of the most significant of these crypto-analysts was British mathematician, Alan Turing. Turing led a team of researchers at Britain’s infamous Bletchley Park lab to build a machine capable of decoding messages encrypted by Hitler’s famed Enigma machines. Turing’s machine, or Automated Computing Engine, was the earliest electro-mechanical computer, a machine which revolutionized the modern age.
Despite Turing’s brilliance and achievement in cracking the world’s foremost cryptographical enigma, however, he could not decode the ultimate enigma, the meaning of life. His untimely death by cyanide poisoning in 1954 was ruled a suicide. Turing was not the first notable man in history to grapple with the enigma of meaning and meaninglessness. Solomon, in the Bible, had done it all. He had unparalleled wisdom, wealth and experience, but he still wrestled with the same ultimate questions of meaning and meaningless that create existential angst for each of us today.
Cracking Hitler’s Enigma machine seems child’s play compared to deciphering the symbolism of Revelation 20. The theologies growing out of the events described in Revelation 20 are the most divisive and enigmatic in Christian eschatology, or the study of ‘last things.’ And Christians often use another’s position on the Millennium as litmus tests for orthodoxy or heterodoxy. Though fashionable to ask, “are you pre-mil, a-mil, or post-mil?” Asking another Christian his position on the millennium is akin to asking how he voted in the last election.
But the enigmata of Revelation 20 is its ultimate irony. The Revelation is not given to obscure, but reveal. Not to distress, but comfort. Not to divide, but to unify. In An Eschatology of Victory, Marcellus Kik notes that accessing the comfort of Revelation 20 depends upon rightly understanding three simple, yet profound images: the binding of the devil, the reigning of the saints, and the two deaths and resurrections.
Warfare between various theological camps erupts at just these salient points. Yet, to miss the meaning of these powerful images is to miss some of the richest gospel comfort offered in Scripture. Join us as we examine Revelation 20:1-10 and find simple, yet profound comfort from one of the Scripture’s most enigmatic passages.