|.7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.|| Expired
Satan's prison sentence completed re2002.
Loosed We remember that the prison is symbolic. As soon as he is out of jail the devil begins to deceive v8. We infer that his confinement was having no one to tempt.
|.8 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.|| Nations
See note 8a.
Gog and Magog See note 8b.
Number ... as the sand The saved ones will be relatively few as was the case at the time of the flood. 1pe0320.
|.9a And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city:|| Went
up They (the wicked whom Satan was about to deceive) were raised
to life v8. See 1sa0206.
We see the beloved city come down as a "bride" re2102b
meaning the people who belong to Christ. The word "beloved" implies this
relationship. So here we see the camp (barracks) and the city as the same
thing. Note 9a.
[How we get into the city time line] Special note.
|.9b and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.||Fire ... devoured The Greek word for "devoured" indicates that the fire "ate down" the wicked. Note 9b. The fire left their ashes on the earth mal0401. Thus they received their wages of sin|
|.10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.|| Tormented
that this is symbolic language. See note 10a.
Day and night See note 10b. (mostly on another page).
At the beginning of this chapter, Satan was bound in the abyss re2003. Here in verse 7 his thousand years are over and he is released. And what does he do? He goes out to deceive the nations.
As you recall, the wicked of all ages have been dead during the thousand years re2005. Are they now alive again? Yes, as the "nations," Satan gathers them for battle ez2807. Notice in verse 9, that they "went up on the breadth of the earth" and surrounded the camp of the saints. Going up, I believe, pictures their resurrection. At the call of Christ, they will appear, evidently from the locations where they died all over the face of the earth. Verse 5 also indicates this resurrection by telling us that the dead would live again at the end of the thousand years. We have already looked at the resurrections re2006a. The second movement in the verse is surrounding the city.
Why wouldn't Christ simply let them stay dead? I believe they will be raised so that they and all the universe will know that God made no mistake in not saving them. Their aggression in surrounding the city demonstrates their permanent decision to follow Satan's ways of evil the ways of death rather than life.
Satan, the same and different
And how does Satan convince them to follow him? I'll let you read it from the text. His objectives and character have not changed. Something has changed, however. Before this final demonstration of evil and before the thousand years began, he operated through his agents, the beast and false prophet. Where are they now? Notice verse 10. re1920. When Satan is released at the end of the Millennium, he leads the wicked directly and not through agents as before re1708a. The wicked have not changed. The deception is part of the picture here as it was in the gathering of the kings for the battle of Armageddon. Notice:
|And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. (Rev. 16:13, 14) re1613|
of the earth - angry nations
The points of the compass are often used as symbols of the whole earth. We saw that before the sealing of the 144,000 and the coming of Christ, angels held the four winds of hateful harm by the nations 0701: "And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree." In connection with the seventh trumpet call, we saw the "anger of the nations."
Following this anger, which is now developing, will come the wrath of God 1118. Here in chapter 20 we again see the wicked nations (people groups). They have another chance to display their true character.
The nations gathered, Gog and Magog
These were traditional enemies of God now seen symbolically. Look at Ezekiel's description of them. Do you see parallels with the texts of Revelation which show God's dealing with the wicked?
| Son of man,
set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech
and Tubal, and prophesy against him, And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD;
Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal:
(Ezek. 38:2, 3)
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus saith the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts, thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezek. 38:14-16; Compare to the threats of false religion in the latter part of Rev. 13 r13g.)
More from Ezekiel: "Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: And I will smite thy bow out of thy left hand, and will cause thine arrows to fall out of thy right hand. Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israel, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort 1917, and to the beasts of the field to be devoured. Thou shalt fall upon the open field: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am the LORD." (Ezek. 39:1-6; compare to the wrath of God for those who follow the beast and it's image 1409c)
It seems to me that the beast
and the image to the beast, along with the false prophet who set up the
image (Rev. 13:11-18), may be seen as the end-time parallels of Gog and
Magog. While beast and false prophet (who is the earth beast) met their
end in the final conflict at the return of Christ, the unrepentant people
who developed and supported them will be among the wicked who come up in
the second resurrection and are led by Satan. The wicked of all of earth's
history will be present in the army that comes to attack the city.
Gog and Magog would have attacked the Jerusalem that was to have been established after the Babylonian captivity. In response, God would have destroyed them. See Ezek. 38:14-19. The attack on the New Jerusalem that will descend from heaven is in the pattern of the enemies of Gods people described by Ezekiel. The picture is clear in the present context.
The camp of the saints
Went up on the
breadth of the earth
This the second resurrection. We left the wicked dead in their graves while the righteous were raised in the first resurrection. See on v5b. The verse here involves more than gathering. The "breadth of the earth" would be everywhere. Compare the wording of ez3712.
The symbol of the righteous being in a camp reminds us of the children of Israel who left Egypt. Their temporary city sites were camps. The following text is from their experience of despair before God opened a path of escape through the Red Sea. You can see how it reflects the situation of the righteous at the end of the thousand years.
| And Moses
said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of
the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have
seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight
for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen.
And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: 20 And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. (Ex. 28:13-20).
Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven (Rev. 1:7 0107)
# The dead in Christ (the sleeping ones) will be raised and those alive will be caught up at the same time to meet the Lord in the air.
# When He receives us to Himself 2009abl, we ascend to heaven with him and enter through the city gates 2214.
# For a thousand years we will be kings and priests judging the wicked 0204.
# The city comes down as noted above. We, as the wife of Christ, are part of it.
# The wicked gather to take the city by force.
# They find themselves before the great white throne for sentencing. (20:11)
# Fire comes down and destroys them and Satan along with the evil angels. 2pe0204.
# The fire of punishment burns 0513a until the old Earth is cleansed of every trace of sin 1411; mal-0401. "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful." (Rev. 22:4, 5). Finally all is again in harmony with our loving God. Praise His holy name!
These points are mostly explained with comments on the passages they describe.
Chapter 20 and the first part of 21 are a unit. The parts follow in an
order where one part expands on the previous one rather than being in a
strict time sequence. A chart shows how the events flow in time r20t-1.
Fire came down
When the wicked surrounded the city to capture it, ". . .fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." What solemn words!
Some feel that, because God is love, He will not punish the wicked. Here are some texts that help us understand.
"For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth." (Isa. 28:21, 22). Fire image © Corel. See home page.
"Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" (Ezek. 33:11) ez3311.
If we persist in evil, we are rejecting the source of life and, after the Spirit has pleaded with our souls, God will grant our wish. While final destruction will be the choice of the wicked, we can't say that they will not want to get into the city. They will, but on their terms. At this point the whole universe will see that they do not want the way of happiness and it is no longer fair to the righteous to permit them to continue. The time will have come and God will act. ze1412.
If this is the very end for the wicked, why do we see a throne of judgment in verse 11? The next scene explains how they and Satan have come to this end.
At the end of chapter 14 we saw the gathering of the grain which represents the final righteous and the gathering of the grapes who are the wicked. The stomping of the winepress to get out the juice represents the blood punishment of the wicked. It is described as "outside the city." 1420a.
On the earth
The holy city was surrounded by the wicked v9. In 2101 we see how it got there. It came down from heaven [to the earth]. Also the fire came down from God out of heaven in v9. Thus the wicked are destroyed on the earth. The devil is on the earth with the wicked angels 2003c. See pr1131.
According to Rom. 6:23, the wages of sin are death. Isn't it strange that most Christians today read the verse to say that the wages of sin are eternal life! in the hot place, of course, but nonetheless eternal life. Hitler, I understand, said in his book that if a lie is big enough and you say it often enough, people will believe you. Today people are taught that God punishes the wicked through the ceaseless ages of eternity. The teachers themselves may not understand so I wouldn't condemn them. The devil told Eve that she wouldn't really die and he has been selling that lie ever since. He convinced the pagan Greeks, and by the time of Jesus, Greek was the language of the educated and and anybody important had a high view of Greek culture and literature. And they listened to the Greek explanations of life and death r14q. As the majority in the new Christian church fell into apostasy, they accepted more of the ideas popular in the world around them 0204.
From our verse we see that the wicked are "devoured." The Greek here means just what the English does eaten up. Malachi agrees: "And they [those who fear God and have their names written in a book] shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." (Mal. 3:17 - 4:1). Also ob16.
We need to clarify that the wicked will be duly punished. When the debt has been paid, however, the suffering will end and death for which there is no resurrection will come 1806.
We just read from Malachi that the wicked would be burned up, root and branch. It's good to know that the "root" who brought sin into the universe will himself be finally destroyed.
"Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering. . . . Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
"By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more." (Ezek. 28:13-19) ez2813.
For further explanation, see r14p.
Tormented day and night
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever." (verses 9 and 10)
What happened? We just learned from Ezekiel and Malachi and John himself that "all that do wickedly" will be devoured completely gone 2009b. Here we learn that the devil will be tormented day and night for ever and ever." To resolve this apparent conflict, we need to consider two aspects of the situation. Here we will concentrate on the meaning of the lake of fire. Later we will discuss the meaning of "forever." 2010b.
The fire which comes down is literal just as the waters of the flood were literal. Peter clarifies the relationship between the them.
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men." (2 Peter 3:3-7).
After the flood, God promised that the earth would never again be destroyed by water (Gen. 9:11, 15).
We said that the fire that comes down from heaven is literal. I see the lake of fire as God's agent for cleansing the universe of sin, taking its name from the literal fire that God sent to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. To illustrate the relationship between literal events and their symbols, let's look at 19:19, 20 where beast and false prophet were sent into the lake of fire. Literal fire doesn't come down from heaven until a thousand years later. The statement in chapter 19 is that these two religio-political systems are destroyed at the time of the final conflict of earth just as the wicked are destroyed later by fire from heaven. They are both rebellious elements of the sin problem. God judges both, and when all questions about His justice are clarified, they are destroyed. At the beginning of the thousand years they had been consigned to the lake of fire forever just as Sodom and Gomorrah had been totally burned up and just as the Egyptian army was drowned in the Red Sea never again to be a danger to God's people.
God brings the wicked religious systems as well as the wicked humans to a literal end which is represented by a symbolic statement. The systems end when the people who follow them realize they have been deceived. This is seen in the symbols of chapter 16. There, during the sixth plague, the beast, the false prophet, and the dragon deceive the kings (political leaders of the people) with frogs from their mouths (16:14) gathering them to fight God 16:13th. Under the seventh plague, the great city Babylon, produced by the gathering, splits into its three parts (16:19). And in 17:16 horns (empowered by the false prophet) and beast turn on the prostitute (joint world religion Babylon) eating her flesh and burning her with fire. Changing symbol sets again at the end of chapter 19, beast and false prophet are cast into the lake of fire never again to rise just as the literal fire and brimstone did a permanent work on Sodom and Gomorrah.
Satan, the great originator of evil, gets a thousand years to think it all over, then is cast into the symbolic lake of fire to join the two evil systems he created. The three are tormented day and night forever. This doesn't mean anyone is conscious eternally or even continues to exist. It means that, because they will never have repented, their sentence of punishment is never excused as it is for the redeemed. Of course systems don't repent, but we can be sure their leader, Satan, had a chance to in heaven before making his decision permanent. He will never never enjoy the peace and love of the heaven he once knew and the Lord he rebelled against.
Satan will receive literal punishment outside the New Jerusalem along with his evil angels and the human masses he has deceived. Each sinner is rewarded according to his behavior 2212 so Satan will suffer the longest time. Then, following the end of rest of the wicked ob16, ps03720, he will cease to exist ez2819. The entire universe will be physically and spiritually clean. Praise be to our holy and loving God!
In the final conflict on this earth before the coming of Jesus and the beginning of the thousand years, when the angels cease to restrain the evil winds 0701, the earth will become a house of demons 1802, by God's permission and under Satan's control. We may expect fire to be part of this process. So fire will be involved at both ends of the millennium. The two fires are different in that the first adds to the chaos resulting from Satan's full control and the time-of-trouble punishment by Christ on the white horse 2003c. The fire at the end of the thousand years destroys the wicked and cleanses the earth. God declared that He will make a new heavens and a new earth.
The wicked are said to be tormented day and night while the multitude which we saw serving as priests, served God day and night. (Rev. 7:15). Perhaps this indicates that no part of the behavior of the wicked who are judged is overlooked, and we may expect to see no rest from the punishment until it is finished is2819.
goat of removal
As part of the atonement process represented by the sanctuary system, the scapegoat or "goat of removal" bore the confessed sins of the children of Israel into the wilderness. This represents punishment of Satan for his responsibility as author of sin. He is not our redeemer, of course. We examine this process in detail on another page as we look at the fates of two goats r20x.