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ch. 20:1-6     ch. 20:7-10     ch.20:11-15


The Thousand Years (ch. 20:1-6)


In verses 1 through 3 we see an angel coming from heaven who is in charge of the Abyss. The common understanding of the Abyss is the lowest part of Hades.  Hades was the place of both the departed wicked and righteous dead souls.  Jesus frees the righteous souls from Hades at His resurrection.  The wicked dead still remain in Hades.  It's in the lower parts of Hades that many say the Abyss is located.


We should note that an angel is in charge of this Abyss.  Throughout the book of Revelation we have seen angels in charge of various things.  Angels don't simply float around in the universe.  They have jobs to do.  They have responsibilities to carry out in their service to the Lord.      


This particular angel has the key to the Abyss.  He also has a chain.  Many would view the key and the chain symbolically, but why?  I admit the key and the chain probably aren't made of metal or copper, but whatever they are, they are real in the angelic world. 


This particular angel seizes satan, throws him into the Abyss, and binds him up for one thousand years.  The words "seize" and "throw" suggests to me a violent seizing and throwing.  These angels don't fool around when it comes to satan.  We've seen them before in battle.


 It is interesting that this angel binds satan.  I’ve been in many charismatic meetings where people claim to bind satan with their prayers.  When I‘ve heard people pray this way, I’ve always felt that this was an ineffective prayer.  It's not our place to bind satan.  You can see here that it is the angels place to bind satan, and, he is only bound when his time to be bound comes.  It's not satan's time to be bound at present. 


These thousand years when satan is bound is known in prophetic circles as the millennium. 


One view of the millennium is called the au-millennium view.  Those who hold to this view say that we are in the millennium right now.  Many people say the millennium is spiritual that began at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given to the believer.  For various reasons I don't believe that for a minute.  This view is based on an allegorical or symbolic approach to the book of Revelation, which in my view, is not the way to approach the book of Revelation.  This approach began as early as the second century when theologians began to not take the Bible literally but allegorically.  It was cemented into church doctrine by Catholicism, thus the reason for its popularity over the centuries.  The Reformers of the 1500's did not address this issue and therefore carried on the Catholic way of thinking until this very day.  Liberal theologians hold to this view today.  


Another view that is similar is called the post-millennium view. This view states that Jesus will return to a world that has been perfected by and through the church.   They believe we are in the thousand years right now, and that these years began at the resurrection of Jesus when they say satan was bound.  I certainly do not believe this position.


I believe in what is called the pre-millennium view.  That is to say, Jesus will return to earth and set up His kingdom for a thousand years, or, for a millennium.  This is the view of Prophetic Futurists.  Jesus returns to the earth.  Satan is bound for a literal thousand years.  Jesus rules on earth with a rod of iron as stated in chapter 19 from Jerusalem . 


As an aside, the mere fact that Jesus has to rule with a rod of iron tells us that not all people on earth at this time are true believers, willing to submit to Jesus.  During the tribulation period many people are killed by God’s’ judgments but not all are killed.  You can read Zechariah 14 to confirm this.  Those who remain into the thousand year period of Jesus’ reign will have to be subject to Him.  Those saints who return with Jesus will rule with Him on the earth. Isaiah 2:3 states that there must be instruction of the Word of God during these years.  This means that not all will know the Word of the Lord.  Isaiah 2:4 states that Jesus will settle disputes during this time period. There will be relative peace in the world because satan is bound for a thousand years but relative peace isn't perfect peace.  Those who manage to survive the tribulation will still have fallen human nature to contend with.         


Zechariah 14 tells us that if those people and nations don’t come to Jerusalem once a year during the thousand years, they will be judged with no rain.  This tells us that the non-believing survivors of the tribulation have free choice during these thousand years and there is a possibility that some will not obey Jesus.  Still, Jesus will be in charge of all nations on earth, and He will maintain the peace by ruling with a rod of iron. 


Futurists suggest that there are at least 400 verses in the Bible speaking of the thousand year rule of Jesus.  One example is where we see the lions laying down with the lambs. (Isaiah 11:6)  Another is where we see weapons made into plows. (Isaiah 2:4)   


In verse 3 the angel throws satan into the Abyss where he is locked up so he can’t deceive the nations of the world any longer.  Deception is the main weapon satan has to use on both individuals and nations.  Note the word nations here.  Both God and satan deal with humanity on two levels.  They deal with us as individuals and as nations.  God judges the nations of the world.  Satan deceives the nations of the world.  A quick reading of Zechariah clearly tells us how God deals with the nations of the world. 


In verse 3 we see that satan is let lose for a short time at the end of the thousand years.  He’s given one last chance by God to deceive people on earth.  So, once again, those non-believers who survived the tribulation and their descendents still have free choice in the millennium. 


I don’t believe that the redeemed saints who have returned to earth with Jesus in their glorified bodies to rule with Christ are able to be deceived.  Those who are deceived are the descendents of those who have survived the tribulation 


Just why the devil is released at the end of the thousand years is debatable.  The text doesn't really say why.  My view of the thousand years is that God's people, whether Adam , Israel , or the church, failed to rule the earth and be God's representatives as that they were meant to be.  Therefore, Jesus comes and shows us all how it was meant to be.  He allows satan one last chance to deceive the nations but this time he is not deceiving, Adam , Israel , or the church.  He's attempting to deceive Jesus and that' doesn't work.     


In verse 4 John saw thrones on which people sat who were given authority to judge.  I believe those sitting on these thrones judging are the redeemed saints who came back to earth with Jesus.


After seeing these thrones John then saw those who were killed for their faith in Jesus.  They were ruling with Jesus. 


I see two groups of people in Revelation 20:4.  One group is the redeemed saints who return with Jesus to earth.  The other group is those who come to faith in Jesus during the tribulation.  I also see two jobs these people perform.  The first group judge and the second group rule.  I see these as separate and distinct jobs.  


Just for the record, not all separate verse 4 into two groups and two jobs.  They say there is only one group who rule, and, in the process of ruling, they judge.           


Verse 5 tells us that this is the first resurrection of the dead.  That is to say, those who died during the tribulation period are raised to life and rule with Christ.  This raising is the first resurrection.  Some people believe, and I tend to believe this, that the first resurrection is actually in three phases.  The first phase is when the church is raptured prior to the tribulation.  The second is that somewhere during the tribulation is that the Old Testament saints are raised from the dead.  The third is when the martyred saints are resurrected.  


We'll see the second resurrection later when the wicked unbelieving dead are raised at the White Throne Judgment.


Verse 6 tells us that those involved in the first resurrection will not be a part of the second death.  The first death is our natural death in this life.  The second death is when the unbelievers are thrown into the Lake of Fire.


Note also in verse 6 that those involved in the first resurrection are priest of God and Christ and will rule on the earth for the thousand years.  This tells us that part of ruling is being a priest.  The Kingdom of God during the thousand years is clearly a Theocracy.  It's a religious kingdom.  Also, it certainly won't be a democracy.            




Satan’s Doom (ch. 20:7-10)


In verses 7 and 8 we see satan unleashed from his prison for a short time at the end of the thousand years.  You might wonder why Jesus allows satan loose again.  I don't know if I have the answer but I do know that a close search of Scripture teaches us that God has a preset volume of sin that a nation or an individual, and I'd say including satan, can accumulate.  It is quite possible that both satan and the nations of the world have not yet reached that volume of sin until the end of the thousand years.       


Satan goes throughout the whole earth and gathers people unto himself to rage war once again against God and His people.  As the text states, the way in which he does this is through deception.  Deception is how satan always operates.  How long this rebellion takes we really don’t know, but you can guess that any evil that we’ve seen in the world to date will not compare to the evil of these days.  Satan will have been tied up for one thousand years.  He will surely be raging at this point in time. All sorts of pent up evil emotions will explode onto the world scene by satan at this time.  Human history has never known a time like this time. Whether he knows it or not, this is his last chance.   


Note Gog and Magog in verse 8.  You may remember Gog and Magog from Ezekiel 38 and 39.  Many Prophetic Futurists believe this to be Russia .  It may well be Russia in Ezekiel 38 and 39 but I'm not convinced it is Russia here.  The Ezekiel 38 and 39 passage refers to a different battle than what we see here. 


The first mention of Magog is found in Genesis 10:2.  Noah had three sons.  They were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.  One of Japheth's sons was named Magog.  The name Magog comes from the word gog.  There is a debate over just what gog means.  Whatever the case, it appears to me at present that the term Gog and Magog that is found here in Revelation 20 simply refers to the nations of the world.  The beginning of all world nations began back in Genesis 10 and thus are finally judged here in Revelation 20.       


Note how large this army is.  There are as many soldiers as there is on the sand of the sea.  This is idiomatic of the army being very large.   The terms "sands of the sea" as applied to people throughout the Bible should not be taken literally.  It simply denotes a number that can't be counted.  This tells us that the population of the world at this time is very large.  We will have had one thousand years to repopulate the earth from the horrors of the tribulation. Along with the time period here we know that people will live longer during this time.  You can learn about this in Isaiah 65.         


In verse 9 we see this great satanic army marching across the face of the earth and surrounding the city that Jesus loves, which would be Jerusalem.  Prophetic Futurists believe that Jesus’ headquarters during this one thousand year period will be in Jerusalem , but like the so-called battle of Armageddon, the fight really doesn’t get underway.  Fire comes down from heaven and destroys the satanic inspired armies of the nations.  The vastness of this army suggests that satan has a good measure of success in deceiving the nations of the world.  The army is huge and the soldiers come from all over the world.


If satan deceives the nations of the world, this tells me that there would have to be a major revolt against the saints who are ruling these nations under the authority of Jesus. 


Note the people of God in verse 9.  They live in Jerusalem.  They are Jews.  These people would be the Jews who give themselves to Jesus at the end of the tribulation.  They would also be their descendents.  This is yet another reason why I believe that during the thousand year rule of Jesus on earth there will be a distinction between Jews and Gentiles. 


Note also that even at the end of the thousand year rule of Christ, Jesus loves the city of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem has always been special in the sight of God.    


In verse 10 we see that at this point in time the devil is thrown into the Lake of Fire where the anti-Christ and the false prophet have been for the last thousand years.  Here the devil is tormented day and night for ever and ever. 


Many people who claim that the Lake of Fire is temporary say this because of the Greek word “ion”, which means “an age”.  “Ion” is translated for ever here.  With the use of the phrase “ion upon ion”, the Greek seems to suggest ages upon ages or eternity.  Punishment that lasts forever is called eternal death.  To me it is like you are in the process of dying, and even though you wish death to come, death will never come.  You’re always in the process of dying but not being able to die.



The Dead Are Judged (ch. 20:11-15)


In verse 11 John saw a “great white throne”.  What takes place here is called by most all Prophetic Futurist as the “Great White Throne Judgement”.  Also in verse 11 we see that both earth and sky flee from the one sitting on the throne.  The one sitting on the throne is obviously God Himself.  Not even the earth and the sky are able to stand in His presence.  This could well be where the new heaven and the new earth come into being.  The present earth and all that is associated with it, flees into nothingness.  This should tell you that nothing that is defiled by sin can stand in the immediate presence of God, not even non-human things like the earth.


In verse 12 we see all the dead standing before the one sitting on the throne.  This is in reference to those we saw earlier in the chapter that were not part of the first resurrection.  These are not the saints because the saints have been raised to a new life with Jesus already.  These are those who remained dead until this point of time.  They now rise from the dead and are judged according to their works.      


We see that God judges these wicked people according to their works, suggesting that there might well be different levels of punishment.  Those who did more bad works would be punished more.  I believe this to be the truth.  We know that salvation does not depend on works, but those who are saved are rewarded for their works and those who are not saved are punished for their bad works.  We should understand the worst of the bad works is not believing in Jesus.  This is the real reason why these people are sent to the Lake of Fire .  So, unbelief sends these people to the Lake of Fire while their bad works determine how severe their punishment is.      


I've recently pondered over the seven letters in Revelation 2 and 3.  There are many references to works in these letters.  If you notice at the White Throne Judgment, those who are judged are judged according to their works.  The works they are judged for are works of sin, the biggest, although not mentioned in the list, is unbelief in Jesus.  This is what I believe is going on here.  Christians are saved by faith in God's grace.  Those who choose the way of grace for their lives will not be judged for their works, neither good nor bad.  Those who reject the path of faith and grace are therefore judged for their works, including good and bad.  This is what I see happening here in this judgment.  


Another thing to think about here concerning works is that we are no longer in the age of grace; that is, the age we now live in as I write these words.  There is no longer any grace available.  If this is not the age of grace, then, it is the age of works, thus works are being judged here at the White Throne Judgment.                       


In verse 12 John notes that there are books, meaning, more than one book.  He also notes the book of life.  In this book were written the names of those who received salvation because they put their trust in Jesus.  The other books seem to deal with all the deeds of these people who are being judged were recorded.  These books were opened and the lives of these people flashed before their very eyes and were judge accordingly.  I can't imagine how people will feel at this White Throne Judgment.  All of what they have done and who they were will instantaneously be made known to them and they will give account of this and be judged accordingly.


Concerning the book of life, some suggest that there are two books of life.  This one, and the Lamb's book of like as seen in Revelation 13:8.  Those who believe there are two books say that one's name can be blotted out of the book of life but not out of the Lamb's book of life.  The thought is that all humans have their names listed in the book of life until such time they reject Jesus.  When it comes to the Lamb's book of life they say that no one's name is written in it until one gives his life to Jesus.  They say that once your name is written in the Lamb's book of life it can't be taken out, as it can be in the book of life.  This reasoning might be a way to back those who believe in eternal security.  At present, I'm not convinced these two books are two separate books.      


Verse 13 tells us that the sea, death, and Hades, gave up their dead.  This simply means that all who died apart from Jesus were now resurrected.   Notice that Hades gave up her dead.  Hades at this point is the abode of the wicked dead.    


In verse 14 we see that after this White Throne Judgement both death and Hades were thrown into the Lake of Fire along with the devil, anti-Christ, and the false prophet.  There is much confusion about hell.  Hell is the Lake of Fire.  Hades is the present dwelling place for the wicked dead.  Hades is thrown into the Lake of Fire , not hell. 


Then in verse 15 we note that all those whose names were not found written in the book of life were also cast into the Lake of Fire.  They too would experience this second death along with satan himself.



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