And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth —Gog and Magog —and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
In this chapter, we are given a preview of the Millennial Kingdom in relationship to Christ, Satan, man, the tribulation saints, the resurrections, the earth, and the Great White Throne judgment. This chapter is the division point for three main schools of eschatology: Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, and Premillennialism. Eschatology is the study of “end things.”
This writer takes chapter 20 literally. I believe John is seeing and writing about a literal 1,000-year reign of Christ upon the earth. Therefore, I approach this chapter from a premillennialist point of view. Once again, I realize a short devotion does not allow us to unpack all of this great theology.
The revelation of Christ’s earthly kingdom gives us a small glimpse of this 1,000-year time period. From the text, we glean that this will be a time of perfect earthly government under the authority of the King (Jesus), appointed and anointed by God. This government will be administered by those who have put their faith in the One True King!
According to the text, at the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be “released from his prison” and be allowed to go out and deceive the inhabitants of the Millennial Kingdom one last time. This is the last rebellion of mankind that will end with fire coming down out of heaven. Satan will be cast into the “lake of burning sulfur” forever! In his commentary on Revelation, J.V. McGee writes, “The Millennium is the final testing of man under ideal conditions. The Millennium is the final testing of mankind before the beginning of the eternal state.”
Following this final victory over evil, we are told about the Great White Throne Judgment. This is where those who rejected the salvation that came through Christ will be judged. Those whose names were not found in “The Book of Life” will be judged according to their deeds. In other words, in their own righteousness. They will experience the second death, which is eternal separation from God.
In his commentary on Revelation, G. Campbell Morgan writes, “There comes a final movement. Death and Hades are cast into the lake of fire. Deepest death would seem to consist in the destruction of the possibility of dying. Beyond these words, it is impossible to go in speculation, of hope or despair. Whatever that final sentence may mean; it is the sentence of Him who occupies the Great White Throne.” If man will not accept the life of God, he must accept the only other alternative: eternal association with Satan.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
Eschatology is a complicated subject. How do you view “end things”? How do the events revealed in Revelation chapter 20 impact how you live your life today? Will your name be found in “The Book of Life”? Are you surprised that at the end of the Millennium there will be some who still choose to follow Satan? Why or why not? Do you pray daily, “Thy kingdom come”?
- Lord, You, Jesus, are the One True King.
- God, You are faithful and true. We worship You and adore You.
- Holy Father, I ask that You would lead us out of temptation and deliver us from evil.
Lord God, You are worthy to be praised, and I glorify Your name. I thank You, Lord, for Your amazing grace and redeeming love. Lord, I ask for Your kingdom to come, Your will to be done. Teach me and Your church to live each day for You. Help us to keep short accounts with You, oh God, and to bring You glory in all that we do and say. I ask in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.