7] Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison, 8] and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9] They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10] The devil, who deceived them, was cast it into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
11] Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12] And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, bu the things which were written in the books. 13] The sea gave up the dead which were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14] Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15] And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
In our last post, we looked at the first two of the four things contained in Revelation 20. They were, 1) the binding of Satan, and, 2) the 1000 year reign of our Lord. In this post, we want to consider the other two things.
1. The freeing of Satan from his prison, vs. 7-10.
We might ask, why is Satan freed, v. 7? Has he served his sentence? “Paid his debt?” Is he out on parole?
Why is he let go? What purpose could possibly be served in letting this archenemy of God and man loose?
Verses 8-10 give us the answer.
Satan immediately sets about to gather together the nations of mankind and rally them against God and His people. And he is successful. He will demonstrate once and for all that unrenewed human nature is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be, Romans 8:7. For 1000 years, Satan has not been able to deceive or mislead a single person, but will be bound and imprisoned – in a “solitary confinement” no earthly prison can begin to approach. An environment as ideal as possible has been established on the earth. War has been abolished and peace reigns universally. Government will be just and righteousness, with no trace of the corruption so often associated with it. Slums will be cleared away; there will be no “underprivileged” class. The problems of pollution will be done away with. Human longevity will be greatly increased, and death and disease, though still present, will be greatly curtailed. “Evil influences” will be publicly unavailable and righteousness will be the order of the day. Weather and physical changes on the earth will be beneficial and fertility will be greatly increased.
But, does all this blessing and improvement lead men to turn to God? Psalm 18:44, As soon as they hear of me they obey me; the foreigners submit to me, and 66:3, say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You,” indicate otherwise. The margins of both verses translate “submit” as “feigned obedience”. Though everything on the surface seems to be ok, it will be seen to be only a superficial conformity to the rule of the Lord Jesus. Human nature may be restrained by force and justice, but it can be renewed only by grace. Isaiah 26:10 says, Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD (KJV). In fact, it often has the opposite effect, Exodus 8:15; Ecclesiastes 8:11. 1000 years of “favour” will be showed, but multitudes indeed will not “learn righteousness.”
But doesn’t the Millennium start with everybody being saved? Where do all these rebels come from? Remember those who survive the Great Tribulation and are accounted “righteous” at the judgment of the nations will enter the Millennium, Matthew 25:34. Unlike the OT and church saints, who will be in glorified bodies, these will still be in their natural bodies. They will have children. The favorable conditions and long lives will probably result in a great increase in population. But these children, born under such different conditions as we know, will still be born sinners, Romans 3:23, and will still need to be saved. Those who aren’t saved will become the rebels. Once and for all, God will show that it is their nature and not a poor environment or the lack of education which makes men sinners. They, and we, are born to it.
Verse 9 shows the result of this rebellion: utter destruction.
This is the final scene of the last act of this earth’s history. Man still refuses to bow to the God who created Him.
V. 10 shows the final judgment on Satan: he joins the Antichrist and the false prophet in the lake of fire. Many have difficulty accepting what these verses plainly teach: that hell is a place of torment, not annihilation, and it is forever and ever. Though it may be said that this verse refers only to the Devil, the Antichrist and the False Prophet, Scripture teaches no other fate for those who go there than what we read here.
2. The Great White Throne judgment, vs. 11-15.
This judgment isn’t the same as the judgment recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. Matthew records the judgment of nations before the Millennium; Revelation records the judgment of individuals after the Millennium, indeed after all human history is over and time itself, at least as we know it, is no more. These verses are looking into eternity.
This is not a trial in any sense of the word. Many have the idea that our “good” and our “bad” will be weighed in the balance and whichever is more determines our eternal destiny. This is not a “general judgment” to determine such destiny, but a sentencing of the unsaved according to their works. And John 3:18 says that, apart from faith in the Lord Jesus, we are condemned already.
No one will escape this judgment. Even those long lost in the uncharted depths of the ocean will be there. I don’t understand the references to “Death and Hades” in vs. 13 and 14, but it doesn’t matter. God knows what He is doing. No one will escape judgment.
V. 15 has the only “ray of hope” in this dark scene. There is a “Book of Life.” Those whose names are found there, and they only, escape being sent to the Lake of Fire.
While there is life, there is hope. But after life is over, so is hope.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.