As we come to Revelation 20 I feel it necessary to reiterate some information as to how John received this revelation. The beloved Apostle is writing this book relating what he sees from the perspective of the spirit realm. There is a veil or barrier if you will, that separates the natural realm from the spiritual realm. John is taken to that place beyond the veil, that place not tied to the boundaries of time and space, and was allowed to see the gloried Christ (chapter 1), the Church Age (chapters 2 & 3), the catching away or rapture of the Church, and the Church in Heaven (chapters 4 & 5), the Great Tribulation (chapters 6 – 19), The battle of Armageddon and the glorious appearing of Christ (chapter 19). He sees the binding of Satan for 1,000 years, making way for the Millennial Reign or Kingdom Age (chapter 20). He sees the Great White Throne, the place where all of the unredeemed will appear before God to receive their eternal sentence, everlasting banishment to the Lake of Fire (chapter 20:11 – 15).
He then sees the beginning of the Perfect Age, which will last on through eternity (chapters 21 & 22). He sees all of this again from the vantage point of the spirit realm. This explains why much of what we read in this book seems so strange to us and is hard to understand. With this in mind, John begins this chapter; 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 shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. [Rev. 20:1 – 3 KJV]
There are many references to angels in this book, and we see another one here. The names of angels are rarely revealed to us in scripture, in fact only three are given to us; Michael, Apolloyon, and Gabriel (four if you count Lucifer). This angel is also unidentified, although some have thought it could be Michael, the great adversary of Satan (See 12:7). At any rate, whomever this angel is, he comes with a very specific assignment, and that is the capture and casting of Satan into the abyss for 1,000 years. This angel is said to have “laid hold” of Satan. “Laid hold” is the Greek, krateo, and conveys the idea of powerfully seizing or retaining. Satan is referred to here by several of his titles, and none is without significance, all revealing an aspect of his diabolical work. As a “dragon” we see his power, as a “serpent” his cunning, as the “devil” he is the accuser, and as “Satan” he is the adversary.
Notice the angel after binding the devil with the “great chain” in his hand, then casts him into the abyss (“bottomless pit”). Many people assume, as I did for years, that Satan resides in Hell. This is not the case however. In fact, even though Hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (See Matt. 25:41), it is very possible that he has never been there at this point. We know that he abides on the earth (Job 1:7), in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:2), and on occasion even Heaven itself (Job 1:6). When the angel takes the great chain in his hand and binds Satan before casting him into the abyss for a thousand years, it will mark the first time that Satan has been bound. We could take a side journey right here, but I will resist.
I want you to notice that in these first three verses, thousand years is mentioned twice. The designation of 1,000 years occurs a total of six times in this chapter. Even though there are other prophetic references to the millennial kingdom or Kingdom Age, Revelation 20 is the only place where any designation of time is given concerning it. Some have insisted that the time frame of 1,000 years is not to be taken literally, but rather is a figurative reference meant to convey an indeterminate amount of time. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit uses the specific time-frame of 1,000 years six times in this chapter, and there is no reason to assume that He meant anything other than the fact that Satan will be bound for a period of 1,000 years in the Abyss, during which time Christ will be reigning on David’s throne in Jerusalem. This will be the Kingdom Age, and it will last 1,000 years. You are free to believe what you want. I choose to read the scriptures and when the literal sense makes the best sense, I seek no other sense.
In one of the most imponderable statements of scripture we read that after the 1,000 years are fulfilled, he must be loosed a little season. Why, given all of the murder, mayhem, sickness, pain, and misery caused for some 6,000 years of human history by this dragon, this serpent, the devil, and Satan; would you want to let him go once you had him bound and locked away? A question to be asked and answered first might be, why was he let loose on the earth in the first place? In other words, why was he not judged and bound way back at the Garden? This is the great question concerning the presence of evil in the world. I can tell you that God has a great purpose in it. What that purpose is, is part of the mystery of God yet to be revealed to us. It is all going to be revealed one day, and in the meantime God calls us to walk with Him by faith. We can rest assured that whatever God does, it is right. It is just. Entire books have been written concerning the problem of evil. No author has ever answered the question no matter how many pages they have devoted to the discussion of it. The Lord had Satan incarcerated for 1,000 years because there could be no Kingdom Age without it.
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 worshiped 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. [Rev. 20:4 – 6] It seems the ones seated on the “thrones”, having judgment given to them, would be the 24 Elders. They will rule and reign with Christ for 1,000 years. Also reigning with the Lord in the Kingdom Age will be the many tribulation saints who pay the ultimate price of martyrdom for their testimony. Things will be pretty awful for them for three-and-a-half years, but it will all turn around for them after Satan is bound and the glorious Kingdom Age begins. In essence they will trade three-and-a-half years for a thousand! A pretty good deal by any estimation.
We need to understand this concept of the, “first resurrection.” There is a company identified in scripture as participating in this “first resurrection”, and then we are told that the “rest of the dead”, that would be the unrighteous dead, will not “live again” or be resurrected until the thousand years is finished. So, who are included in this “first resurrection?” It actually has three phases: 1) The resurrection of Christ – Christ was the “firstfruits” in His resurrection. [1 Cor. 15:20] The “Firstfruits” offering included a wave offering. The Priest would wave the first sheaf of the wheat harvest before the Lord along with the meat offering that was offered. [See Lev. 23:10, 20] This was a statement of faith declaring that as the Lord blessed the first sheaf as it was offered to Him, so the rest of the harvest would be equally blessed. Christ as the “Firstfruits” of the righteous dead, declared at His resurrection that as He was raised, so they would be as well. 2) The rapture/resurrection of the dead in Christ – One cannot argue against the fact of the rapture. Sincere brethren may debate the timing of this event, but you cannot argue against the eventual fact of the rapture. Why? Because the rapture and the resurrection of the just is one and the same event. If you believe in the resurrection of the sainted dead, it is of necessity that you believe in the rapture. The dead will be raised first, then the believers who remain and are alive at the resurrection will be caught up, seized, snatched, and removed to meet the Lord in the air. [1 Thess. 4:16, 17] 3) The resurrection of the tribulation saints – this will occur just prior to the beginning of the Kingdom Age, and will complete the “first resurrection.”
Many theologians have taught the idea of a “general resurrection” through the years. They take this from, for example, Daniel 12:2, And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Also, Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. [John 5:28, 29] If we read these two statements, one from the Prophet Daniel, the other from our Lord; it would seem that there is going to be one general resurrection of the just and unjust. One resurrection of life and damnation. However, when we come to the book of Revelation, we see that there will indeed be a “resurrection of life” and a “resurrection of damnation”, but they will be separated by a period of 1,000 years.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 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. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. [Rev. 20:7 – 9] At this time the earth will have just come out of a time of rest, a time when all of mankind has been under the personal reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. You can’t get anymore of an ideal condition than that. In essence, the millennial reign will be a time of testing of man under ideal conditions. And yet even though that is the case, when Satan is loosed from his prison for a short time a large company will go over to him. Where exactly does this company come from? The answer to this question lies in the fact that not only will multitudes of natural people enter the millennium, but there will also be many births during the 1,000 year reign of Christ. [See Isa. 11:6; Isa. 65:20]
Since “Gog and Magog” are mentioned here many have assumed that this is the war of Ezekiel 38, 39. This is not the case however. The two conflicts are not parallel in terms of time, place, or participants. The only thing that is really the same are the names Gog and Magog. Gog and Magog are actually used by John in a figurative sense here. It describes a multitude and magnitude. Since the coalition of nations that will join with Russia in coming against Israel will be so horrific, the terms Gog and Magog seem to have become synonymous with nations coming against Israel. They will be destroyed supernaturally by the Lord.
The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. [Rev. 20:10] The Lake of Fire will be the eternal abode of the devil. He will never be loosed from this place of torment. This will mark the end of Satan. Sometime in eternity past Lucifer, possibly the greatest of God’s angelic creation, rebelled against the Throne of God taking with him some one-third of the angelic host. This will be his sentencing. This verse should put to rest the doctrine of annihilation taught by some. After 1,000 years the Beast and False Prophet are still in the Lake of Fire, now to be joined by Satan.
Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. [Rev. 20:11] I know that there are many so-called ministers today who no longer believe in eternal damnation for the unredeemed. To them, if there is a hell, it really isn’t that bad a place. In stark contrast to them however is the unchanging truth of scripture. The biblical fact is that multitudes will spend eternity separated from God in the Lake of Fire. I take no delight in saying that. My heart breaks and aches for the lost. I am not currently serving a church in the pastoral capacity. Since my ministry changed a few years ago, the Holy Spirit laid it upon my heart to begin teaching on matters of eschatology on a regular basis. A full one-third of the Bible is prophetic in nature. A portion of that of course is fulfilled prophecy, but there are many things yet to be fulfilled; and that is what I focus on. I am calling for every man, woman, and young person to repent and to flee from the wrath to come. Jesus I believe will soon catch away His Church. If you miss the rapture and find yourself left on this earth, you will face the Man of Sin and experience the horrors of the Great Tribulation period.
None of the redeemed will be at the Great White Throne. This will be a judgment strictly involving the unredeemed. This judgment will take place after the Millennial Reign and it will signal the beginning of a new heaven and a new earth. [Rev. 21:1] The one seated on the Throne will be the Lord Jesus Christ. [See John 5:22; 26 – 29]
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. [Rev. 20:12, 13] People will get a fair trial here. God has all of your information. Your life is all recorded. There will be no excuses or alibis. The dead are classified as both small and great. Apparently some have their names in the Book of Life However they have never come to Jesus for Salvation. These are books that record the works of every unsaved individual. Believers will not be at this judgment. Believers will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Every person alive today or who have ever lived, will stand before God. This is an appointment all of us will keep. You will either stand before the Bema seat, or the Great White Throne. Which you stand before is determined by what you do with Jesus.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. [Rev. 20:14, 15] This number would make up all of the lost from all ages. The Greek word translated Hell is, Hades. This is the realm of the dead and is made up of two compartments, Paradise and torment. Paradise is the place that all of the righteous dead before Calvary went to and were held captive of Satan who had the power of death. Following His victory on the Cross Jesus descended to this place and set free all of the captives. Paradise sits empty today The torment side is the place where all of the unredeemed are today. The dead will be brought up from there to stand before God, their bodies will be resurrected from the grave, then they will be judged and cast into the Lake of Fire.
This is reality folks. My friends, we will all stand before God. Where will you meet Him? Will it be at the Bema or judgment seat of Christ? Or, will you stand before Him at the Great White Throne?