1] Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2] He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3] and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.
4] And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. The I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not receive his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5] But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6] Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Revelation 20 continues the events begun by the return of our Lord in ch. 19. The events in this chapter conclude human history. They include the binding of Satan, the 1000 year kingdom, the loosing of Satan for the final rebellion, and the Great White Throne judgment. We’ll look at the first two in this post.
1. The binding of Satan.
We’re not going to spend a lot of time on this, just a couple of things. Satan will be bound, not just “hindered,” as, say, by the preaching of the Gospel. Some have the idea that he’s just going to be like a dog on a chain in the backyard, but still have a limited amount of freedom. Scripture says he will be bound up and put away. Out of sight and out of mind.
Some object to the idea of a “chain” binding a spirit creature like Satan. However one may choose to look at this, the teaching is plain: Satan will literally be taken out of the picture, by whatever means God chooses to use.
2. The “1000 years”.
These verses are some of the most controversial in Scripture. The very idea of “an earthly, carnal, kingdom” where the Lord sits on an actual throne in the actual city of Jerusalem is just too far beyond what some can accept. According to this mindset, these verses can’t possible refer to an actual 1000 year period, but, as one writer put it, simply refer to our present Gospel dispensation of nearly 2000 years (!)
I think there’s a reason the Holy Spirit inspired John to use the phrase “1000 years” five times in six verses. It’s to impress on us that He means 1000 years, not just some indeterminate amount of time! Besides, isn’t it an insult to our Lord to describe any rule of His, regardless of where it is, as “carnal”?
Revelation doesn’t tell us a great deal of what will happen during these years, but other Scriptures give us some idea.
1. Satan will be bound.
We’ve already seen this. The chief enemy of God and His people will be taken out of the picture.
2. Israel as a nation will be saved, Zechariah 12:9-14. They will realize that this One whom they crucified is actually their Redeemer. Some have objected that their sin shut them out of the possibility of being saved, but, in fact, it will be the means of their eventual conversion.
3. Israel as a nation will be judged, Ezekiel 20:33-38. When our Lord come back, not every Jew will bow to Him as Lord. Those refusing to do so will be purged out of the nation.
4. The living Gentile nations will be judged, Matthew 25:31-46, apparently on the basis of how they have treated the Jews. This might have some reference to the invasion of Israel.
5. The curse will be removed from the earth, Isaiah 65:17-25. This is the time Paul said that creation was looking forward to, Romans 8:19-21, where creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
Some have take Isaiah’s reference in 65:17 to new heavens and a new earth to mean eternity. Revelation 21:1 also describes such a creation. However, I don’t think Isaiah and Revelation refer to the same thing. I may be wrong, but Isaiah says there will still be death in his vision:
“No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days’
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed, Isaiah 65:20.
In contrast, John describes a place where “there shall be no more death, no sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.
Considering the radical changes that will take place when the Lord comes back, I think it can safely be said that things will indeed be “new”.
The beast and his minions had killed those who refuse to bow down before him and receive his mark. Here we find, though, that these same martyrs are resurrected and share in the millennial glory. This isn’t simply “conversion,” as some teach, but an actual coming back to life of those who gave their lives for the Lord.
What about OT and church saints? Paul taught that OT saints will come back with the Lord at His return and NT saints will be resurrected then. These won’t be left out of the blessings.
Man longs for and dreams of a “utopia” in which everyone lives happily ever after. That will not be realized in any real sense until our Lord comes back and establishes His kingdom on this earth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.