After seven long and increasingly severe years, the Tribulation is over. Christ Jesus comes to earth again and the forces of Antichrist are defeated in the awesome battle of Armageddon. Now comes the calm after the storm. Chapter 20 of Revelation informs us of the one thousand year reign of Christ on this earth known as the Millennium. Once again this planet will return to an atmosphere similar to the Garden of Eden.
1. ¶ And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
An angel come down from heaven – This is a very powerful angel with a great responsibility.
Having the key of the bottomless pit – The key indicates the bottomless pit is locked up. The bottomless pit is a place of torments.
A great chain in his hand – This chain is for binding the devil.
2. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
Laid hold on the dragon – The angel doing this work is not named, but probably is Michael.
Notice the four names used here:
1. Dragon. We saw this name for the devil in 12:4-9. This refers to his power.
2. That old serpent. Whenever these words are used for the devil, they are referring back to his activity in the Garden of Eden when he led Adam and Eve astray.
3. Devil. This name means slanderer.
4. Satan. This word comes from Shatan, and means adversary, enemy, the main enemy.
Satan was bound – This means the most powerful creature of the evil world was bound by the powerful angel of God.
And bound him a thousand years – This is the Millenium. The word millennium comes from two words, melle meaning 1,000 and annus meaning year.
Six times in this chapter we have the words thousand years. God must have wanted us to well understand this.
3. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
The reason that the earth will return to an Edenic atmosphere is that an angel, which proceeds out of heaven, seizes Satan and binds him for 1,000 years, casting him into the bottomless pit, shutting him up and sealing him there. All of this is done to prevent the devil from deceiving the nations till the 1,000 years are fulfilled. After that, he is again loosed for a little season.
This is a literal 1,000 year era when the Lord of Glory will be the King of the earth.
Multitudes of people shall enter the Millennium. New Testament saints (the church) will rule and reign along with Christ (3:21). Old Testament saints shall rule in some sense as well. Other saints will now be resurrected to reign with Christ.
4. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
John sees the judgment seat and the judgments.
John sees those beheaded during the Tribulation. They were beheaded for their witness of Jesus. They did not receive the mark of the beast, neither worshiped the beast or his image.
Here they are living with Christ during the thousand year reign.
5. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Great numbers of the nation Israel shall enter the Millennial Kingdom: the 144,000 (14:3-4), those who flee into the wilderness hideaway (12:6), and those who remain in Jerusalem (12:17).
Millions of Gentiles who are save during the Tribulation shall enter the Millennial Kingdom of Christ (Mt. 13:41-43, 49-50; 25:41, 46). But no unsaved person will enter the Millennium. They have all been vanquished in battle.
6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
With the Antichrist and False Prophet in the lake of fire, and Satan bound in the bottomless pit, this will be an idyllic place to live. In his vision John does not occupy himself with the details of the Millennial kingdom. However, many Old Testament passages describe this blessed reign of Christ.
Isaiah 2:2-4 indicates that Jerusalem will be the Lord’s capital city and the center of the world. Also, the world will now see for the first time what the United Nations spends millions of dollars each year searching for but will never find…worldwide peace.
This peace will come under the administration of the Prince of Peace. Read Isaiah 2:4. There will be no world peace until the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, for there can be no peace apart from Him.
Read Isaiah 11:6-8. We have here a description of peace and tranquility of Christ’s kingdom.
During the blissful 1,000 year reign of Christ this earth will have a perfect physical environment. It will also have a perfect spiritual environment because Satan is no longer free to deceive the inhabitants of this planet. It will have a perfect moral environment because the sovereign of this kingdom is Christ Himself. (Psalm 2:6-9)
7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
This is the longest prison sentence in history.
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.
After Satan is loosed, he goes out to do what he does best, deceive.
Notice, nations are still around at this time and the purpose of Satan has always been to deceive the nations.
Gog and Magog. This is the title for these people who rebel. Sometimes this refers to geographical locations, but here, it refers to people.
There has been 1,000 years of perfect peace, yet Satan has means of getting implements of war so he can wage war. In Isaiah 2:4, we are told that implements of war were beaten into pruning hooks, but there is no way to stop war when evil, unbelieving men want to wage war. War and crime come from the old sin nature and these unbelievers, following Satan, even in the Millennium can produce implements of war.
This verse tells us just how many unbelievers will exist during the 1,000 year reign that will make up the final army of the devil.
9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
At the end of the 1,000 years, Satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit and again deceive the nations, gathering them together for battle.
How can there be any who follow Satan if all who enter the Millennium are washed clean in the blood of the Lamb?
Although all who enter Christ’s kingdom know and love the Lord, soon children will be born to these believing parents. Over the course of 1,000 years, hundreds of thousands of children will be born. Because Christ rules in righteousness with a rod of iron, they will worship Him on the outside but not all will worship Him in their hearts. Those who do not come to truly love the Lord during the Millennium and place their trust in Him for salvation will be gathered by Satan at the end of the 1,000 years in one final desperate attempt to usurp the throne of God.
As in all other attempts, they will be unsuccessful, for God will send fire from heaven and devour them (20:9).
The millennial reign of Christ illustrates two things.
1. Having a perfect environment doesn’t make a sinner into a saint.
Those born in the Millennium have the most ideal environment imaginable. There is no war, no famine, no moral corruption. Still they rally around the devil when he is finally loosed.
2. Having a perfect heredity doesn’t make a sinner into a saint.
Each of these born during the reign of Christ is born to Christian parents. But believing parents do not make a believing child. Children of these millennial saints, number as the sands of the sea, will turn against God the very first chance they get. Why is that? Is it because of the sinful nature which is part of every human being. Everyone, even those born to believers in the Millennium, must recognize his individual responsibility to receive Jesus Christ as his Saviour from sin and hell.
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.
With Satan’s final armies purged from the earth by fire, Satan is himself now cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the Beast and the False Prophet still are after 1,000 years. Satan, the Antichrist and the False Prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
There is no more graphic way of saying that hell is a place of torment which lasts forever. The cults are wrong when they say death is annihilation. The scoffers are wrong when they say they will enjoy hell with their friends. Hell is sheer torment forever and ever.
Immediately after John views Satan being cast into hell, he receives another vision.
11. ¶ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
This time John sees a Great White Throne. There have been other thrones mentioned in this book, but none are like this one. It is pure white, the type of white that makes everything else look dirty. Only the wicked, the unsaved, will appear before this throne of judgment.
Unbelievers will have no difficulty in seeing their sin when they stand before the Great White Throne. The one who sits upon this throne is undoubtedly the Lord Jesus Christ, for “the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (Jn 5:22).
Verse 11 contains a curious reference to the fact that from the face of Christ the earth and heaven flee away and no place is found for them. The most natural interpretation of this is that at this time the present heaven and earth are destroyed and replaced by the new heaven and new earth.
The Bible frequently anticipates the time when this present world will be destroyed (Mt. 24:35; 2 Peter 3:10).
12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Those who stand before the Great White Throne are the dead, small and great. As they appear before God, a single book and many books are opened, and they are judged according to their works.
What can these books be?
The single book is identified by the verse. It is the Lamb’s book of life.
Here the names of God’s people are recorded from before the foundation of the world. A careful search is made to be absolutely certain that the names of none of these unsaved standing before the Great White Throne are in the book of life. None are, for God keeps careful, perfect records and knows who are His own. (Jn 10:14).
Not one person judged here has received Christ as Savior. These are the wicked who have died in ages past, now resurrected to be judged.
Next the many books are checked to see the works of these who are to be judged. The book of life is not among these books, which record the deeds of the wicked. They are condemned by the fact that their name is not in the book of life. But the degree of punishment they receive for eternity is decided by the number and atrocity of their evil deeds here on earth. The record of these deeds is the substance of the books.
13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Notice they were not judged according to their sins, but according to their works.
Notice how many were judged…every man.
14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Greek hades used here.
No one ever returns from hell. Death claims the body and may be referred to as the ground. Hades claims the soul and is an intermediate state for the wicked until they are raised at the Great White Throne. Hell is the lake the lake of fire and in these verses John indicates that death gives up the bodies of the wicked and hades gives up the souls of the wicked. Thus both are properly judged and together cast into hell, the lake of fire.
15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
This means that the death unsaved men die on earth is only temporary. All will one day be raised and judged. Since their names are not in the book of life, they cannot inherit eternal life. What they do inherit is the second death. From this final death there is no resurrection.
It is eternal separation from God in the darkness and punishment of hell. When the wicked die the first time, their fate is sealed. There is no second chance. When the dead are raised at the end of the Millennium and stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, they receive the fruit of their wicked deeds and rejection of Christ. The wages of sin is death…eternal death, separation from God and everything desirable forever.
Clark, Neal. Survey of the Book of Revelation. Pensacola, Florida: Thee WFBI Press, 1999. Print.
Falwell, Jerry. Liberty Commentary on the New Testament. Lynchburg, VA: Liberty Press, 1978. Print.