In these final chapters, we will discover how God frees His people from evil forever. All the wicked will burn in the lake of fire, which is the second death. Satan himself is destroyed eternally in the fire. The earth herself will be purified. Eden will be restored. The New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and rest upon our little world. And this one rebellious world now becomes the capitol of the universe.
Verses 1–7: Satan Captured and Bound
Chapters 17 and 18 pictured the judgment of God upon Babylon the Great. Chapter 19 began to show how God would deliver His people from evil forever. God began by punishing the beast and the false prophet. Now in Revelation 20, He will capture Satan and imprison him upon a desolate earth for one thousand years. The earth had just been destroyed by the seven last plagues; it lies in total ruin. See Isaiah 13:6, 9–13; Jeremiah 4:23–28; Revelation 16:17–21. For one thousand years, Satan is bound to this desolated earth to contemplate the results of his rebellion. He is not bound by a literal chain. Instead he is bound by circumstance. He cannot deceive the wicked because they are dead, and he cannot deceive the righteous because they are with Jesus in heaven.
The millennium: A millennium represents one thousand years. In this case, it represents the thousand years which follow the second coming of Christ. This period of time is mentioned six times in the first seven verses of this chapter. There have been already six thousand years of the reign of sin, and now Satan must contemplate during the seventh millennium his work of deception.
The second coming of Christ: The great event that bound Satan for one thousand years is the second coming of Christ. At Christ’s return the wicked are destroyed and the righteous are resurrected and translated to be with Jesus in heaven. See 1 Corinthians 15:21–23, 51–55; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18.
The first resurrection: The Bible clearly teaches that there will be two resurrections, “both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15. Again the Bible says, “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. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, we are told that when Christ returns “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” In Revelation 20:4–6, this is called the “first resurrection,” and it is clearly stated that all who have a part in it will be “blessed and holy” because on them “the second death hath no power,” and they will live and reign with Christ during the thousand years. It is also plainly stated that “the rest of the dead,” which must be the wicked, are not raised until the end of the thousand years. This places the two resurrections a thousand years apart.
The saints are in heaven during the millennium: The saints are transported to heaven at the commencement of the millennium. At His second coming, Christ’s angels reap and gather His elect from the four comers of the earth. See Psalm 50:3–5; John 13:36–14:3; Matthew 24:30, 31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–18. They will then ascend with Jesus and His angels to that heavenly place that He has prepared for them. See John 14:1–3.
Verses 1–3, 7–9: Satan Let Loose
When the thousand years is over, Satan is let loose for a short time. Instead of repenting, he continues his warfare against God. He convinces the vast multitude of the wicked that they can take the city, New Jerusalem. As the father of lies, he tells them that he had raised them back to life. The wicked are led to believe that they can win. After all, with their superior numbers and Satan’s ability to raise the dead to life, how could they lose? Of course, we know that only God can raise the dead back to life.
The third advent: At the close of the millennium Jesus returns to the earth a third time. At this third advent, He is coming with His saints and the Holy City. This advent is described in Jude 14, 15. At His second advent He is coming with all His angels. See Matthew 25:31, 32.
Gog and Magog: Gog and Magog were nations to the north of Israel. North represents judgment in Bible prophecy. See Jeremiah 1:14, 16. So Gog and Magog are used in reference to God’s judgments against the nations. Ancient Gog and Magog were enemies of ancient Israel, and hence, enemies of God. See Ezekiel 38, 39. God punished Gog and Magog to protect Israel, and to let all the heathen nations know that He alone is the true God.
Verses 11–15: The Great White Throne
White is the symbol of perfect righteousness and justice. The great Judge is about to execute the final sentence against sin and sinners. When the wicked hosts are ready to make their attack on the holy city and the camp of the saints, they are suddenly paralyzed by a scene of indescribable glory.
The books were opened: In panoramic view, the wicked will watch a replay of earth’s history. Beginning with Adam and Eve, they will view their temptation and fall. Then with each generation that followed, they will witness how God did all that He could to save every soul. They will witness just how the vast majority of the world’s population had forfeited this wonderful opportunity to live forever. Alas they will view their own life. They see just where they fell short. Then the time will come when “every knee” will bow, and “every tongue” confess that “Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
When the wicked see how they have been deceived by the religious leaders and Satan himself, then the terrible scenes of Revelation 17:16 will be repeated. It is at this time also that the following Scriptures will be fulfilled: Isaiah 13:7, 8; Zechariah 14:12, 13; Luke 13:28.
They are destroyed forever: The wicked will be burned up. The fire that comes down from heaven will leave them neither root nor branch. It is a complete destruction. This same fire will purify the earth. The wicked, death, and hell come to an end. After the second death there is no more life for the wicked. They are no more.
What the wicked experience in the lake of fire will be according to their deeds. See Romans 2:5, 6; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12. Not all the wicked will experience the same torment. Everything is brought into the judgment, every idle word, every unkind act, and every impure motive. See Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14; Matthew 12:36, 37.
Death is the penalty for sin. See Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Revelation 20:14. There are two deaths, the first being temporary because of the resurrection. All through the Scriptures this death is called “sleep” because there is to be an awakening. The other death is called “the second death,” and it will be eternal. The first death is the result of Adam’s transgression and has consequently “passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12. Christ by His atoning death paid the penalty of eternal death, whereby those who are born twice (first by birth and second by being born-again) die but once, whereas those who were only born once and never born again will die twice. When the wicked are consumed in the lake of fire, the universe will once again be pure, without one taint of sin.
Hate is a terrible thing. Imagine the wicked with Satan trying to take the Holy City and destroy all who are inside. If they had only chosen peace with God and their fellow man while here on Earth! If they had only sought good and not evil! Had they only told the truth instead of lies! If they had only found time to be with God in prayer, study, and the sharing of His Word! They can now see that they made the wrong choices in life. And now it is too late. Tragically, they have that same hatred in their hearts as before.
Without the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit what else could we expect the wicked to do? Their intention is to take the Holy City by force. They will attempt to kill all the redeemed. But they are no match for Him who created all things. As Creator He has the right to destroy; as created beings we do not.
It is important that all the rebellion that is in our heart be surrendered to Christ before it is too late.
Is there something in your life which is an act of rebellion against God’s commandments?
Do you hate any one right now?
Are you willing to forgive, and return good for evil?
How is your prayer life?
Do you study God’s Word daily?
Have your prayed that God would use you in His service?