It’s hard to image a day when evil is no more, when all wrong things have been made right and that which we used to know is no more because a new age has come. Our minds, especially those of us that have been reared in Western culture, struggle to believe and live for something that we can’t see with our natural eye. But in order for us to understand the end of the story, even in an introductory way, we have to look at the beginning of the story to see why God has lead human history the way He has.
In Genesis 3, through the fall of Adam and Eve the unthinkable took place; the leadership that God had reserved and given to Adam (Mankind) was forfeited through sin and given to satan. God had entrusted the stewardship of the earth to Adam, but through the Fall, it was given away to another, satan. From this day forward Satan’s foothold throughout all of life in this age has only increased. And at best, the people of God have held Satan at bay partially, but never permanently (Matthew 4:1-11).
Throughout history the Children of Israel attempted to establish God’s kingdom on earth, but also knew that they would continue to struggle until the Greater David, that Great Messianic King would come and fully establish His Kingdom “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” The Old Testament saints and the New Testament saints had one primary common denominator; they were both looking for the Son of David to come and set up His Kingdom “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.”
It says in 2nd Samuel 7:12-13 “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish His Kingdom forever.” And then in Luke 1:31-33 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” And once again Luke records in Luke 24:20-21 “…how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.”
As you can see, the fulfillment of an Earthly King, with an Eternal Kingdom was something written deeply into the Old Testament, and clearly restated in the New Testament. It would be through the Incarnation (God taking on flesh), that God would finally have a Man on the earth who could rightly challenge satan and take back the authority and leadership of life in this fallen age. It’s not that satan was a contest for Jesus, it’s just that He had to overcome Him, and through His victory God would be able to rightly take back from satan what Adam had given to him in the Garden of Genesis 3. Through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection from physical death He rightly stripped satan of His monopoly of authority.
Jesus who is now seated at the right hand of the Father gives His authority on earth to those that call upon His name for salvation in this age. As of right now, the Kingdom of God is both here and still yet coming. God’s kingdom has not come in fullness yet. It’s been inaugurated but not consummated. We have received the down payment of what is still yet to come.
Now, returning to the storyline of the Revelation, Revelation 19 and 20 make up the fifth and final chronological/storyline section within the Revelation. What we see in Revelation 19 is the events that follow the fall of Babylon which include; the ascent of the saints in the rapture/resurrection to meet Jesus in the air, and our descent back to this physical earth with Him as He establishes His Kingdom “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” Beloved, Revelation 20, what I am currently covering tells us the end of the story, when Jesus’ rule and reign are openly displayed on the earth! This is our story and this is our glory!
Satan’s Bound For One Thousand Years (Revelation 20:1-3)
Revelation chapter 20 opens up with the most glorious scene where satan is cast alive into the bottomless pit. John says in Revelation 20:1-3 “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he (the devil) must be released for a little while.” Before I break down what’s being said here, we must celebrate a little bit that this great opponent of the human race has been thrown into prison. Though it’s temporary, and he will come back out, this will be the first time in human history, that satan is not allowed to walk freely throughout the nations.
In the previous chapter (Revelation 19), the antichrist and the false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire (which is different from the bottomless bit) alive, along with all those that received the mark of the beast (Revelation 19:20-21). Those that have been thrown in the lake of fire will never rise again, being permanently separated from Christ, eternally. But the devil, satan himself is a different story. We see in the opening of Revelation 20 that an unnamed angel actually binds him and throws him into the bottomless pit. This is the last great insult to Satan. The one who reeked so much havoc within God’s creation is thrown into the pit by an unnamed angel.
The pit that is mentioned here is the same pit, the bottomless pit from which the demonic locust ascended from and it’s the home of thebeast (Revelation 9:1-6; 11:7). This pit is not the same thing as the lake of fire (the final destination of the unrighteous) or the grave (the intermediate place of the unrighteous dead). The pit that is in view here is later called a prison in Revelation 20:7 and it’s not the ultimate destination of satan, but rather a temporary one as God set’s up His millennial kingdom “On Earth As It Is In Heaven”for a thousand years. Though it’s not permanent removal of satan, this temporary one of one thousand years will be a glorious beginning of a soon coming end.
Reigning,Ruling And Resurrections (Revelation 20:4-6)
In my personal opinion what the Bible says both in these verses and the many others throughout the whole counsel of the Word of God regarding the 1,000 year reign of Christ are crystal clear. But many both today and throughout history have made these verses state something that the Bible doesn’t validate. Around the 1,000 year reign of Christ there have been three primary schools of thought. I will mention each in brief, and then state what I believe the Bible says.The first school of thought is what’s called an Amillennialist. This group sees our world as too far gone for it to be reclaimed. They don’t see that our earth will ever be recreated, only destroyed.This group doesn’t believe in a millennium. In my opinion they seem to be way to pessimistic.
The second school of thought are a group called the Postmillennialist’s. This group believes that the entire world will be Christianized through the work of the Church. They say that the devil was already bound at Calvary and after we have converted the earth, then Jesus will return. In my opinion, with all the cultural and global numbers, we seem to be far off from this reality taking place. Therefore I see this group as to optimistic.
The third school of thought, is the one that I adhere to. This third group are called Premillennialist’s. This school of thought is hopeful of Jesus’ return, but not apart from the full growth of the tares (Matthew 13:24-30,36-43). They see the tares and wheat growing together and Christ returning to overthrow the reigning antichrist as He establishes His Kingdom. Premillenialism believes that our earth will only look like Eden again after Jesus returns, destroys the false prophet, the antichrist, and locks up the devil in prision. This school of thought believes that we do in part now what Jesus will do in fullness at His return.
During the first three centuries of Church history (1 A.D.-300 A.D.) there is no mention of anything but premillennialism. And among those that believed it were Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Hippolytus. Premillennialism takes the 1,000 years to be literal, primarily because it’s mentioned 6 times in Revelation 20 alone (Revelation 20:2,3,4,5,6,7). Just as we take most of the other numbers in the Revelation to be literal, we also have to do the same with these numbers.
David Pawson, a premiere British theologian once said “Historic Premillennialism believes that the world will get much worse before it gets better, but it will get much better after it gets worse.” This school of thought, in my opinion, is far more realistic.
Moving away from millennial conversation and looking at Revelation 20:4-6 we see that the Kingdoms of this world which were formally ruled and overseen by the antichrist, are now returned to their rightful owners, Jesus Christ, and the people of God throughout world history. God has transferred the kingdom from one hand (the antichrist) into the hands of many (His bride). It’s here in Revelation 20:4-6 that John mentions two groups of people that have been resurrected and are now ruling and reigning with Christ on this physical earth.
The first group of people mentioned are here in Revelation 20:4a when John says “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them…” This first group of people mentioned represent all those throughout world history that have loved His appearing (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob…) and have partaken in what the Bible calls the general resurrection of the righteous, at the end of the tribulation when Jesus appears. It’s important that we see the Bible always joins Jesus’ appearing in the sky to both the rapture or the catching away of the saints and the resurrection of the righteous dead. These two things happen at the same time.
But John continues in Revelation 20:4b in describing more people by saying “Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the for the Word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” This second group of people mentioned here by John are a smaller number of saints that have also participated in the general resurrection of the righteous, but are now being singled out by God so that their sacrifice for the Lamb, the laying down our their physical lives in death, isn’t forgotten. It’s not that there were two separate resurrections of the righteous, but rather two groups included in the singular, general resurrection of the righteous dead.
We see here in Revelation 20 that heaven and earth have come together under Christ with the saints ruling and reigning with Him on this physical earth. There are many passages in the Bible that speak about this reality including Ephesians 1:9-10 which says “…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.” And then again in Revelation 2:26;5:10;11:15 “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—he shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like potters vessels…and have made us a kingdom of priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth…and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”
Again it shows up both in the Gospels and in more of the Epistles. Jesus says in Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” and Paul in 2ndTimothy 2:11-12 “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him.” This season of reign on earth is what historic Christianity has defined as the millennial reign, which we have previously discussed, but I have also titled it “the great reversal.” The reason why I have titled it the great reversal is because it’s where the earth will see the One whom they have rejected and hated was in fact the One whom God had chosen and loved. The saints who were also murdered and hated are alive and ruling over nations, while those who have hated them have perished.
This millennial reign also tells us that though Christ was rejected and suffered for three years on earth, He will surly reign, once again on earth, for 1,000 and beyond. God is going to return to Jesus and set Him on display throughout the nations as the One whom He had chosen!
John continues in Revelation 20:5-6 saying “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” The Bible refers to the resurrection of the righteous as the first resurrection and the resurrection of the unrighteous as the second death. The first resurrection is a resurrection of the physical body with the soul already having been converted. At the worst, Christians are assured that we will only die one time, and that death isn’t a spiritual death, but rather a physical death. The second death speaks of a death of the wicked where both their physical body and their soul are sentenced to the lake of fire eternally.
This passage gives us great clarity and insight into the reality that the Bible only speaks of two general resurrections. There is one for the righteous at the end of the great tribulation and before the millennial (1000 years) reign of Christ. And the second resurrection for the unrighteous dead at the end of the millennial (1,000) reign of Christ. Beloved, this is good news.
The Devil’s Last Deception and Destruction (Revelation 20:7-10)
John now switches gears from the millennial reign of Christ and the resurrected saints ruling with Him on the earth to the Devi’s last great deception and destruction. It’s important that we see the finality of Satan’s destruction so that we don’t live with the misunderstanding that evil goes on forever. John says in Revelation 20:7-8 “Now when the thousand years have expired, satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.” I love that these two verses show so clearly that the Bible is written under divine inspiration. If this book (the Bible) were merely human and not divine, these two verses would have never been included. No human, in their right mind, would have ever released satan from prison, into a global Eden like state throughout the earth to reek havoc once again. But beloved, God is going to release the serpent of old back into the global garden for the purpose of deceiving humans once again! Crazy!
At the time of Jesus’ return and the end of the Great Tribulation there will be three different groups of people alive on the earth. These three different groups of people are specifically defined in the terms that I am going to use, but it’s clear through the text that they are alive and on the earth at the time of Jesus’ return. The first group are called The Redeemed.This group of people includes the believers that are both alive and dead in Christ when He appears. The second group are called The Reprobate. This group of people include all those that have taken the mark of the beast and are slain when Jesus marches into Jerusalem in the valley of Armageddon (Rev.19:21). This group doesn’t live any longer or even into the millennial reign because as Christ marches into the city, He will actually slay them all right after He slays the Antichrist and the false prophet before their eyes.
The last group are the group that I want to focus on a little more than the others. This third group are called The Resistors.This group of people includes those who both resisted Jesus and the Antichrist and survived the Great Tribulation. It’s this group of people that will actually be populating the millennial earth for a thousand years. This group is going to be made up of millions and we know this because the Bible says so in Revelation 20:8 when it says that the people are as many as the sand on the sea.
I believe that 1,000 years is the shortest time possible for Jesus in partnership with the saints and the nations of the earth to be able to recreate the earth and put all things in order, to bring in the restoration of all things. It’s during the millennial reign that a portion of this group of resistors, who don’t have resurrected bodies will not be able to openly reject Jesus, though they will still reject Him internally. Because God loves the dignity of choice, He is going to release the serpent of old back into His global garden of Eden in the millennial earth forcing these resistors to choose either Christ or satan.
We know that this group of resistors is large because they are referred to as being as many as the sand of the sea. Gog and Magog are used in Ezekiel 38:1 to speak of hostile nations against God and His people. In Ezekiel Gog is the prince of Magog and he comes from the north to do battle with God’s people. When we look at Ezekiel’s prophecy, we can see that it has nearly the same structure as Revelation 19-22.
Ezekiel 36-37 pictures the salvation of Israel as they are restored to their land and blessed with Messianic salvation. But in Ezekiel 38-39 we see that the hope of this Messianic rule is disrupted by the devil which is led by Gog and Magog. Lastly in Ezekiel 40-48 we see the picture of divine victory with eternal order in the form of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Not only is this really cool, but it also shows us that John’s mind was filled with the Old Testament, and this experience that He is having in the Holy Spirit is based on truths from the Old Testament.
John continues speaking about His encounter in the Holy Spirit in Revelation 20:9-10 by saying “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city (Jerusalem). And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” This is a grim moment that brings the clearest truth about the darkness of the human heart to light in all of the Bible.
This moment, will be the clearest indication of how dark the human heart is and without Christ how bent it is on doing evil. This could very well be the moment, that even with a resurrected body the saints will fully understand why all those that reject Jesus must be sentenced to the lake of fire eternally. God is going to send fire from heaven to kill those resistors that choose once again to follow the devil’s rebellion. They must be destroyed because their unrepentant hearts will defile His eternal city.
Once and for all the devil is thrown into the lake of fire to join the false prophet and the antichrist and never to surface again.This moment will also declare that the root of sin isn’t poverty, social conditions, political climate, ethnic persuasion, or the global economy, but of sin and it’s pervasive nature in the human race. It’s unfathomable to think that the people living “On Earth As It Is In Heaven” during this global garden of Eden with Jesus ruling and reigning, will still openly reject Him and choose satan when given the chance. But it’s not the first time that this has happened (Genesis 3).
The power of Revelation 20 and the truths that are contained within it, give us confidence in God’s sovereign plan to fully redeem the saints of God and to end all sin and rebellion against Him. Beloved, God is committed to crushing all rebellion and bringing all sin to an end. Not only is He desiring to do so, but He is also fully committed to it!