There is plenty to discuss in this short chapter but as usual, we will take the approach of identifying or defining the significant and major points made by the Apostle John. Revelation 20, 21, and 22 could easily fall in sub captions of 1) the fall of the dragon (Satan), 2) The new Heaven, and 3) The New Earth; a closing well deserving our attention.
A Revelation 20 outline subhead form looks like this:
- Millennial or statement per the thousand years,
- Satan’s final judgment,
- The Great White Throne judgment of those resurrected to face their eternal decision on earth while alive.
We could add the Battle of Gog and Magog along with the Lake of Fire but these will fall into our discussion of the above outline of a, b, & c. In chapter 19 many theologians and commentators would identify as Armageddon and chapter 20 as the Battle of Gog/Magog. Either way, keep in mind that both battles follow the 7-year Tribulation. Yes, there will be wars and rumors of wars [Matthew 24:6] but these lead us up to and into the Great Tribulation. Satan is alive and well and can cause such destruction that Jesus has to return to the earth less there are no humans left alive [Matthew 24:22].
Hosea the prophet clearly tells us that the latter days are a specific time when the Tribes of Israel will return to the State of Israel. They are dispersed throughout the world; the four corners of the earth. [Isaiah 11:12]. However, Israel today is mostly those descended from the Tribe of Judah. They are the New Testament Jews who crucified Jesus. “Jews” descended from those who were exiled for 70 years in Babylon. Only a very small remnant returned. There has yet to be a massive return of Israelites from the other 11 tribes. We mistakenly try to identify the Jew as all-inclusive of Israelites. In the first five books of the Bible [written by Moses] he never Identifies Israelis as Jews. The word Jew is the Anglo-Saxon/Greek version of Judah or from the country or territory of Judah; the predominant people in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus Christ on earth. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jew_(word)]
The sequence so far is: Church Rapture – 3 ½ Tribulation plus 3 ½ years of Great Tribulation – The return of Jesus to the Mount of Olives – the earth shudders, shakes and divides along natural fault lines (including the one geologists say goes right through the center of the Mount of Olives – Armageddon – the beast and false prophet captured, judged, and thrown into the Lake of Fire – birds of the wild feast on the dead the dead 200 million man combined army in Har Megiddo 55 miles north of Jerusalem who try to attack Jerusalem – THEN CHAPTER 20: the beginning of the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ on the Throne of David in Jerusalem.
This is the point at which one can get distracted by or caught up in the theological positions of a-millennialism [no millennium], postmillennialism [all after the fact including Christ’s return; the power of the church binds Satan not the angel from heaven], and premillennialism [the position of this website since it makes most sense without drawing at straws or spiritualizing factual scripture throughout the Bible]. We are deliberately side-stepping the minor disagreements between the classical and the dispensational premillennialists; both for the sake of the reader of this blog and its authorJ.
A lengthy but good discussion on Revelation 20 can be found at: http://www.centralbaptist1873.org/downloads/revelation/Outline%20for%20Revelation%2020.pdf. Not yet studied by us, website blog appears to be solid.
We won’t get into the theories of what the key or chain may represent in verse one. The bottom line: this angel has the power to grab, hold, restrain, and bind Satan in such a manner as his personal powers are useless to either escape or to any longer influence the peoples and nations of this world. Powerless until the thousand year millennium is over. One might ask as we addressed in the previous blog, “why must Satan be released even if it is but for a short time after the millennial reign of Jesus and God?”
Good question. The answer is hidden in plain sight. If Satan is able to assemble a huge army after the thousand years of “iron scepter” (Revelation 2:27; Psalms 2:9; Revelation 12:5) rule of Jesus, it is obvious there are still those who do not Love or Accept Jesus as his or her Savior or King. Satan’s last stand (phrase borrowed from Custer’s Last Stand) will be judged. Satan first, then the books (plural) are opened and each person is judged according to his or her deeds; i.e. different levels of eternity in Hell (?).
Taking a slight step backward, be mindful that Jerusalem is the bride of God (O.T.) just as the church is the bride of Jesus Christ (N.T.). Let me borrow a quote from: http://tedmontgomery.com/bblovrvw/emails/thewoman.html
The Church did not “replace” Israel; rather, it was grafted into Israel. At a future time, Israel (Zion) will receive all of the blessings promised to her millennia ago by God (Isaiah 45:17, 51:2,3,16; Jeremiah 50:4,5; Ezekiel 36:1–37:28). Also, the “woman” does not represent only Jews, who are descendants of Judah, since they are only one of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Read Revelation 11 once again or revisit the blogs in this website of Revelation 11, 12, 13, and 14)
Verse 4 of C20 is significant:
(paraphrased) The souls (not bodies) of those beheaded, who had not worshiped the beast, his image, or taken the mark of the beast. These must be the Christians martyred DURING the tribulation and probably the voices of those “souls” heard under the Throne (Revelation 6:9) asking for justice (Revelation 6:10).
This, as hinted to in Revelation 6:11 and as previously discussed in this series of Revelation blogs, could be one of the two 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7:4 and again Revelation 14:1-5. It matters little as to if separate or different groups of 144,000 per Revelation 20:4. Those who die, for their witness of Jesus Christ during the Tribulation, will “Live and reign with Messiah (Christ) a thousand years.” (Also read Isaiah 51:11)
However, verse 6 should not be overlooked per a resurrection. This can get to be sticky theological detail here but here is the quick kick of it all. Being that if there is a pretribulation rapture, those who are the bride or church of Jesus Christ are already gone; i.e. Rapture. Those who die for their witness during the Tribulation are resurrected in verse 4.
Easy answer to the obvious question… who is left on earth before this resurrection? Answer: those who rejected God (O.T.) or reject Jesus (N.T.). This is how we get the first and the second resurrection. The dead in God/Christ are resurrected for the Millennial Reign. Recall from previous blogs in this study that millions have died by now via Satan’s effort to destroy mankind. Millions have also died at Armageddon; Tribulation ended. We calculate that between 1/3 and ½ of the world’s population have died within a short period of time. Then Gog and Magog deaths. No problem with overcrowding on earth.
The second resurrection is those who died without God or Christ. This is the Great White Throne judgment and capacity is no problem since “the heavens [sky] and earth flee the presents of God.” We see this verse in Revelation 20:11. But first let’s not skip some important discussion beginning in verse 7; i.e. Satan’s final judgment.
If unbelievers are wrong and chapter 20 is right, they have a serious and eternal problem of resurrection, judgment, and Hell. If I am wrong as a believer, then I will simply die like the rest of the world’s population; past and present. You decide but there are only two options. Reject Christ and possibly be wrong and the judgment correct, or accept Christ and be safe regardless of end time. Being a believer is not a safety net; it is a life style!
As already mentioned, Satan is bound a thousand years. When released, he raises an army the sized or “like the sand on the seashore; [then] march the breadth of the earth, surround Jerusalem [V9c], but never get to fight. They are devoured by fire from heaven… only to be raised in judgment in the second resurrection shortly thereafter. They see a second death; one of eternal punishment. I have been asked many times; what might Hell be likened to? My best guess is like the fire or burning of a deep-rooted hate, or lust for something one cannot get or get over. This feeling will be stamped into one’s mind to the power of ten, never to leave or be replaced by another thought while camping out at the lake of fire.
In verse 10 we are reminded that the beast (anti-Christ) and his false prophet are already in the Lake of Sulfur waiting for their cherished and loving Satan (pun intended) with very warm and open arms of welcome. Thanks for joining us you devil!!!!!! The beast and false prophet have already been there a 1,000 years. That is plenty of time to develop a very warm welcome for their master deceiver… Satan.
Finally, chapter 20 closes on the subject of the Great White Throne Judgment. We previously discussed some of this but allow us to point to or remind the reader-student the exposé of a few additional facts.
- The earth and sky flee from the presents of “him who is seated on the throne.”
- The dead resurrected, small and great, stand before the Great White Throne.
- The BOOKS are opened; books that have recorded his and her life and deeds while on earth. This opens up the possibilities of greater or lesser punishments but does not eliminate the fact of a judgment.
- Another book (singular) is opened and those whose names are written in the [Lamb’s] Book of Life are given life with God (trinity). These are possibly those who are still alive on earth but repent of their sin before the judgment day of reckoning. (emphasis mine)
- V13c: (NIV) “…and each person was judged according to what s/he had done (while on earth). (emphasis mine – see #3)
- “If anyone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life, s/he is thrown (accordingly) into their Lake of fire for eternity.” (emphasis mine)