THE END OF ALL THINGS
Lord, You are master of all, including the devil.
Read REVELATION 20
The Thousand Years
20 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 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.
4 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[a] 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. 5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. 6 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.
The Judgment of Satan
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 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. 9 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. 10 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.
The Judgment of the Dead
11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
a Revelation 20:4 Or God; I also saw those who
New International Version (NIV)
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What must it feel like to be told “depart from me” within eyeshot of a lake of pure fire?
How do we understand the millennium and where does it fit? Christians differ on this matter. My approach has been to see the whole sweep of history presented again and again from different angles in increasing intensity; this passage starts us on the final spiral – so chapter 20 doesn’t follow chapter 19 chronologically but rewinds to the beginning of history. The 1,000 years retell the story since the first coming of Christ. Having foretold the fate of Babylon and the two beasts the focus now is on the dragon, the arch-enemy of God. In the Bible, “1,000” is used to describe a very large number or a very long period of time. I take it here to describe the whole period between Christ’s first and second comings.
John describes a period in which, in the imagery in the parable of Jesus, the strong man is bound (Mark 3:27), the gospel is preached, and people respond and find new life. This is the gospel age. Satan’s defeat at the cross is a New Testament truth, however difficult it can be to accept. During this time, the church has become truly international.
At the end of a period of advance for the church, there will be a time when it is opposed and curtailed. Persecution rather than expansion will be the norm. The gospel will be opposed and under real attack by the forces of evil. However, victory has already been won and all the posturing of evil will come to nothing. Evil will be powerless and the devil, like his beasts, will be destroyed. Then the judgment of humankind will begin. Here, before the great white throne, the final separation takes place. All will be present as the books are opened. Our great hope then is that Christ, our Savior-Judge, has written our names in the book of life.
Lord, while Satan is bound, help us to work and pray to set others free through the gospel.
Lord, help us not to get sidetracked into speculation and miss the challenge of the call to dogged obedience, sacrificial love, and alert response.