Revelation Chapter 20



So very long ago, as we in humanity see time, Satan threw a challenge at God in a garden spot on the earth known as Eden.  “I could have all men worship me,” Satan said, “as if I were God.”

Isa 14:14

I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." NIV

People ask why didn’t God just destroy Satan, along with Adam and Eve at the time, and start over?  Well Satan’s end was scheduled the moment Satan threw the challenge but there are two very good reasons why Satan was not destroyed immediately along with Adam and Eve.

     Reason 1.

     If God had started over it would have meant that there was something wrong with His plan to begin with. This is not true, for if you recall the tree of knowledge of good and evil, along with the tree of life, were part of the Garden of Eden from the very start.

     Reason 2

Had God destroyed Satan, at that time so long ago, the question Satan posed would never have been answered.  That question was, could Satan have all men worship him as if he were the Creator? Now Satan may have won many battles, but he has, long ago, lost the war.

By the way it was never a contest.  Satan was allotted so much time to attempt to prove his claim.  When that time is up, he along with all he built will be destroyed.

This chapter verifies that the destruction of Satan was, and is, in the works from long ago.

Rev 20

20:1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.

Why is this angel coming down out of heaven?  Because he is coming to restrain Satan, and the earth is where Satan had been cast to when he was thrown out of heaven.

Rev 12:9

The great dragon was hurled down-that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. NIV 

Now in Revelation the time has come for Satan to be dealt with, so the angel sent by God does the following.

Rev 20:2

He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. NIV

Notice Satan is tied, or locked up and the next verse tells us he is thrown into the abyss and the angel does this for a very explicit reason.

Rev 20:3
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. NIV
The explicit reason mentioned is explained in the verse above, for it is telling us that Satan is taken out of the picture, completely, for a period of a symbolic thousand years.
Now again, that time is not only symbolic but it has nothing to do with our calendar.   The thousand years corresponds to the thousand-year reign of Christ and it is a thousand years as God sees time, which we cannot gauge.   As an example of that, the reign of Christ in the new heavens began the moment he was resurrected and that was almost two thousand years ago as we calculate time.  Nonetheless, the new heavens spoken of in the Bible began the moment Christ was resurrected.  What was new was that Christ at the moment of His resurrection took control of heaven as its king and ruler under His Father.  This makes the point of Rev 20:3 clear.  It is a time still to come when Satan will not be able to deceive the sea, or the nations, because he will not be around to do so.
Now when those thousand years are completed Satan is released again for a short time…why? He is released so he can be used for the final test or what the Bible terms the second death after Armageddon that we will learn of shortly and also for the consequences of the final trumpet or judgment.
However, that is far down the line in time for the thousand-year reign of Christ must take place first.  But for the time stipulated in this chapter of Revelation, Satan is locked away and the narrative of John takes on a different focus.

Rev 20:4

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 for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

“They came to life” In verse 4 above we are being told the dead came to life. Who came to life?  “…Those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God.” Now does this mean that only those like John the Baptist are resurrected?  Of course not, the symbolism is referring to anyone that was killed because they preached and followed the way of the Son of God.  Also anyone who “…had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands.”  Does this mean that huge stamps will suddenly appear in the sky to indelibly mark each individual on his or her foreheads and hands?  Again of course not, and we shall see the explanation for this in verse twelve of this chapter where we are told that each person will be judged by their past actions and we already know that it is by their actions that true Christians are known.

1 John 3:19

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. NIV

However, up to now we have been told what will happen to those that are part of the family of God?  Those, in the family of God, which have been judged to be part of the first resurrection because they have already passed the test and are now, as Christ promised, being given the prize they sought while here on the earth.  This is why James has told us that faith without works is dead.

James 2:17

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

In fact James repeats this in the same chapter:

James 2:26

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. NIV

Matthew said the same thing in a different way.

Matt 12:33

Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. NIV

Take note that none of this has anything to do with salvation.  That had already been bought and paid for with the ransom from death of all mankind by Christ.  However, it is by your actions, the way you conduct your life in all things, which allows others to recognize you as a true Christian.  It is by your actions that God recognizes you as a true Christian and therefore as a member of His family.  It is by the double edge sword of truth that Christ can read the sincerity of your actions as a Christian.  In short God cannot be fooled. 

Nonetheless, that does not mean that men cannot deceive themselves either willfully or out of ignorance.  Well, one might say, if they are doing something wrong without knowing it are they really responsible for that action?  Oh yes they most certainly are!  For that wrong action has being clearly marked as wrong in the word of God and God holds us all responsible for knowing that word as He has given it, not as anyone else has spoken it through various religions. We have been warned in God’s word of these men.

2 Cor 11:13-15

13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.

14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. NIV

We have put the three scriptures above together because they are really one thought and therefore belong together.  They do not need an explanation other than to point out that they are confirming what was said just before them.  As Christ said…

Luke 6:44

Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. NIV

We now come to a verse in chapter 20 of Revelation that the NIV puts in brackets.  They do so because it requires an explanation.  It is not in brackets in other versions but nonetheless it needs and explanation. 

Rev 20:5

(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. NIV

It is in brackets because the sentence “This is the first resurrection.” Is referring to those that came to life in verse four of this chapter. “…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”

Notice the same kind of language, “Came to life” is used… and it is used that way with good reason.  The creator has already promised those that came to life in this first resurrection that death would never again be something for them to be concerned with.  This is why they are told they are exempt from the second death.

Rev 2:11

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. NIV 

 

          The act of resurrection means to restore life to a person who is dead.  However, the words coming to life as used in these verses means that you are no longer subject to death, which is what the following verse is saying.

Rev 2:7

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. NIV

The meaning in this promise is that the Creator will sustain life for any and all who overcome, and He will do so eternally. 

Can we be sure this is the meaning of the verses presented?  Well, lets look at the next verse and see.

Rev 20:6

Blessed and holy are those who have part 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. NIV

Shortly we will learn that Satan is to be released for a short time to go out and deceive the nations again and take many with him to the destruction of death.  But who are these people he is causing to die?  They can’t be any from those that are in the first resurrection for we have just been told that is not possible. “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them…”   Who then are these that this verse is referring to?  They are those that verse 5 of this chapter in Revelation is speaking of, “(The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.)  This makes it fairly obvious why the NIV has put those words in brackets.   (The Bible Probe does not believe nor is not trying to say that the NIV is superior to any other version of the Bible, it is simply pointing out a fact of recognition by those that rendered the translation for the NIV.)  

Now, those that comprise “The rest of the dead” are just that…the rest of the dead.  Those that are dead are not part of the family of God and are therefore considered dead by the creator.  This is why they do not come to life unless and until they accept Christ as their salvation.  And this is what the thousand-year reign of Christ is all about.

1 Cor 15:21-22

21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. NIV

Notice “ALL” will be made alive and being made alive is the result of the general resurrection.  However, coming to life is the result of accepting Christ and following his commands for coming to life means gaining eternal life.

This is the purpose of the thousand-year reign of Christ, to give all mankind a chance to accept “The Only Begotten Son of God” without Satan around to confuse or mislead.  This also explains “but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” It becomes self evident that they will be priests over the rest of the dead for there would be no reason for those who are part of the first resurrection to be priests over each other.  They have already gained the prize of eternal life but the rest of the dead need that priestly guidance from God so that they also might join the family of God.

1 Cor 15:23

23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. NIV   

Isaiah tells us of this time or age during which the kingdom of God will be as it is told in…

Isa 11:3-9

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest.

9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. NIV

We will hear more on the wonders of the kingdom of God during the thousand-year reign of Christ and all those resurrected both to it and over it.  But this chapter in Revelation is giving us a synopsis of all these events here, and it is now, in the narrative, time to hear about what happens when that reign of Christ concludes.   

Rev 20:7

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison. NIV

Even so we know from other versions of the Bible that Satan is to be let lose only for a short time.  Well why let him loose at all?  He is let loose for God to use.  So that God can now test all those that were considered by the Creator to be part of “The rest of the dead.”

So Satan is released…

Rev 20:8

and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth-Gog and Magog-to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. NIV

 

Is there a place such as Gog or Magog on this earth?  For it is clearly stating that it is the earth that Satan attacks for he has been cast out of heaven and is no longer allowed there. 

Again, Revelation is symbolic, but what are Gog and Magog symbolic of?  They symbolize enemies of God that He has clearly slated to be destroyed from ancient times.  Now there is nothing mystical about all this. Symbolism is representative of something else and God and Magog represent those that oppose God

Ezek 38:1-4

1 The word of the LORD came to me:

2 "Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him

3 and say: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.

4 I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army-your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. NIV

Ezek 38:7-9

7 Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them.

8 After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

9 You and all your troops and the many nations with you will go up, advancing like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land. NIV

Ezek 38:10-12

10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme.

11 You will say, "I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people-all of them living without walls and without gates and bars.

12 I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land. NIV

Ezek 38:14-16

14 Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it?

15 You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army.

16 You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. NIV

Ezek 39:1-8

1 Son of man, prophesy against Gog and say: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.

2 I will turn you around and drag you along. I will bring you from the far north and send you against the mountains of Israel.

3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand.

4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals.

5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD.

I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD.

7 I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel.

8 It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day I have spoken of. NIV

Notice in Ezek 38:14 that God is saying “In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth safely,” KJV This is referring to the time Isaiah is speaking of when God says nothing shall hurt nor harm in all my holy mountain. Of course, the holy mountain will include the whole earth at that time but Israel here is being used to symbolize the good that the evil of Gog and Magog come against.

Isaiah 11:9

They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. NIV

So now that Satan is let loose, and he knows he is about to be destroyed, he tries to take all he can with him.  What I find surprising about all this is that he gets anyone at all to follow him.  Yet according to what we are being told there is a tremendous amount that is fooled again, for we are informed in Rev 20:8 that, “In number they are like the sand on the seashore.”  

Rev 20:9

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. NIV

Again all this is not going to happen over night for we were told in:

Ezekiel 38:8

After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

Notice the phrase in the scripture above ”…IN FUTURE YEARS.”  The Bible is referring to this period of time as years, plural.  And the opening statement of “After many days…” the scripture is referring to the thousand-year reign of Christ.

Here is a good point to again bring out that Revelation is symbolic.  The inference here, if one were to take what is being said in Rev 20:9 literally, is that fire came down to burn and destroy these people that follow Satan at this time.  BUT that cannot be and for good solid reasons.  Number 1 God has told us that nothing could hurt nor harm in His entire holy mountain at that time.  Well then what is this fire spoken of that came from heaven.  It is the same fire spoken of by Christ when he said

Mark 9:49

Everyone will be salted with fire. NIV

 

Everyone… would include the family of God, and so it does.  The fire mentioned above is the fire of refinement.  When you refine metals such as gold or silver it is melted down until all the impurities can be skimmed off leaving nothing but the pure metal desired.  And so it will be at the time mentioned in Rev 20:9. God allowing Satan to be released at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ means that He uses Satan to melt out whatever impurities are left so that His kingdom is finally restored to the righteousness it had from the beginning.  As we have been told before our efforts to battle Satan by ourselves is futile.

Eph 6:11-12

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. KJV

 

So if you are not using the armor of God you leave yourself open to defeat by Satan and his minions.  Even so the next verse does not apply to any but Satan, his beast, and his false prophet.     

 

Rev 20:10

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. NIV

 

Notice that it is the devil and his organization that is tormented day and night.  How this will be done is not for us to be concerned with for they are spiritual beings and not physical but obviously their punishment will fit their crimes.  What has been described here is also known as the results of the battle of Armageddon. We were told all this in chapter 16 of Revelation; lets take a quick review of that.

Rev 16:14-16

14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

15 "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

16 Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon. NIV

 

Therefore it is these “Demons performing miraculous signs,” that attract such a large amount of people at that time near the end of the thousand- year reign of Christ.  But the fire of refinement or truth devours them or makes them see the light we might say.  Now again our old friend time must be looked at here.  Because since they have had time to form kingdoms and gather these kings under one banner at what is called Armageddon something now occurs that no one past, present, or future will ever forget.

THE SEVENTH TRUMPET SOUNDS.

Rev 20:11

Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. NIV

 

What the verse above means is, in the sudden appearance and presence of the Almighty Creator we serve, what was going on in heaven and earth took a back seat.  Everything came to a halt as God’s only begotten Son steps forward to conduct the rendering of judgment.

Rev 20:12

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. NIV

 

The verse above is referring to the “rest of the dead…” spoken of in verse 8 of this chapter in Revelation. 

That the above verse is also saying books, plural, means we are judged on many things we were personally responsible for.  Then our names were checked against the book of life.  Verse 13 below is reiterating the fact that all men would have been resurrected by this time and is speaking of them as subjects facing their king for an accounting.

Rev 20:13

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 he had done. NIV  

 

          Remember what is being said above is symbolic.  This heavenly court never convened and has never happened.  There will never be a date such as a Monday or a Tuesday that we could point to on a calendar and say that was when the entire population of the world we inhabit stood before the bench of Gods justice as described above. Nonetheless, each and every one of us will stand before our Creator and we better have Christ in our corner.

          This is why the seventh trumpet was described in early chapters as the worst of all the trumpets.  Because when you hear that trumpet you will be on trial for your life.  If you don’t have God’s only begotten Son saying “Father he is mine” then it would have been better for you if you had never known life at all.

          As the notes of the seventh trumpet fade into the past we find God calls for the cancellation of his penalty to man.

Rev 20:14

Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. NIV

 

          The last enemy of man, death, is itself destroyed or made dead.  That is what the lake of fire represents, complete and total destruction.

The ancient pagan idea of a God that tortures people forever and ever in a burning hell is used by religions that take these scriptures out of context to keep that doctrine of hellfire going.  Satan wants you to believe that God is a monster.  This is why Christ when talking in parables of hellfire said repeatedly THEIR worms never die.  Who is the “THEIR” Christ is referring to.  He is speaking of those that foster this imbecilic doctrine on men. 

God does not insist that you accept eternal life as a gift. If you do not want it, which would be proven by your actions, then your life force would simply cease to exist just as described in the final verse of this chapter in Revelation.

Rev 20:15

If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. NIV



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