Fogg Art Museum/Harvard University

Throwing away the key. An angel forces Satan into a bottomless pit for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1–3) following the victory of Jesus’ army over the Beast, his client kings and the false prophet in William Blake’s “He Cast Him into the Bottomless Pit and Shut Him Up” (c. 1800). In the Book of Revelation, Christian martyrs are resurrected and reign with Jesus on earth for 1,000 years during the devil’s temporary incarceration. Satan is released, albeit temporarily, yet his campaign against the millennial kingdom of God fails; following his defeat, Satan is confined to a lake of fire. James Tabor traces the practice of counting the years by thousands to Jewish tradition. The end of our millennium—the second millennium as dated from the birth of Jesus and the sixth based on the chronology of the Hebrew Bible—reflects the ending of the 5,999th year of world history, if the numbers of the Hebrew Bible are read literally. In Jewish and Christian tradition, six is the number consigned to a humanity estranged from its creator; seven symbolizes the perfection or consummation instituted by the Kingdom of God. Commentators on Revelation have drawn an analogy between the six days of creation in Genesis and the past six millennia, and between a seventh day of rest and a seventh millennium, marked by a loosening of Satan’s grasp on the planet.