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Bible Study: The Book of the Revelation – LESSON 18

Calvary Bible Church Bible Study

The Book of the Revelation

 

LESSON 18:  Chapter 20

 

This chapter serves as a Continental Divide of Scripture.  Premillennialists (also known as chiliasts from the Greek word for 1000) use a single interpretive principle and find in this vital chapter that, after the visible coming of Christ in chapter 19, He will set up His earthly kingdom and reign with His saints for a thousand years, while Satan is confined to the bottomless pit. 

 

Vrs     1–3               This chapter follows the events of the previous chapter. Though unseen by mortal eye, Satan has been on earth since 12:9, carrying on his evil work.

The purpose of the angel is to bind Satan for a thousand years. Dragon indicates cruelty; serpent speaks of guile; Devil indicates him as the tempter of man; and Satan indicates he is the adversary of Christ and His people. From verse 2–7 there are six mentions of 1000 years. Although many modern “liberal” commentators state that this number is only symbolic, if this number is symbolic, of what is it a symbol?  It cannot mean something that is endless, because the Greek language, as well as the Hebrew, has ample means to convey endlessness without ambiguity.  Thrown into the abyss, Satan is incarcerated, so that he is unable to deceive the nations for the length of that period, namely, the Millennium. The sealing is for security, as elsewhere in Scripture. He is adequately curbed and restrained. What a wonderful time for mankind is this! Deception has characterized Satan from Genesis 3 to the time now under consideration (2nd Corinthians 4:3, 4).  In God’s purpose Satan will be loosed a little after the allotted time. Why? Simply, God will reveal to us that we are not changed in our fallen nature, and that we are still susceptible to his lies and strategies.  The result of the loosing is indicated in verses 7–8.

 

Vrs     4                  What was seen in 11:15 by way of anticipation is here realized.  It is understood that Christ will sit on His throne and reign as the legitimate Son of David, and that is clearly stated in the last clauses of this verse.  Who are the occupants of the thrones? From the combined testimony of Scripture, it appears that they will be New Testament saints (1st Corinthians 6:2) who reign as the Queen of the King (see 2nd Timothy 2:12 and Revelation 5:8-10).  The martyred through the Tribulation Period, and those who resisted the idolatry worship of the beast, will come to life (only a literal, not spiritual, resurrection will meet the demands of the context, in which individuals have been beheaded or killed) and reign with Christ for the Millennium.

 

Vrs     5                  The rest of the dead do not experience resurrection until the thousand years were finished.   The order of the resurrection can be gleaned from these Scriptures: Luke 24:5-7 (Christ), Matthew 27:50-53 (many saints), 1st Corinthians 15:51-53 (Rapture), Revelation 20:3-5 (specifically martyrs during Antichrist’s persecution). The word first is found in verses 5 and 6. If this means there is but one resurrection, words are emptied of meaning. There are definite stages in the first resurrection; the chief one is Christ Himself (1st Corinthians 15:20).

Vrs     6                  Blessed and holy are all who have part in the first resurrection, i.e., of the righteous. Blessed tells of their condition; holy speaks of their character. They are priests and kings (Revelation 1:6; 1st Peter 2:5), exactly as Christ combines the two offices (Zecheriah 6:13).  The reign with Christ, prophesied in Old and New Testament alike, will endure a thousand years. Over these righteous ones the second death (the lake of fire, vs. 14) has no sway; it holds no terror for them through the all sufficient work of the Savior.

 

Vrs     7                  After the Millennium, Satan shall be loosed from his imprisonment in the abyss. This loosing is for the last exhibition of his venom and the last test of man to prove God’s justice.

 

Vrs     8                  After Christ’s glorious reign on earth for 1000 years, Satan stages a rebellion through his deceptions.  Notice, first of all, it is on a universal scale, namely, the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth.  How could this occur? It must be remembered that there will be procreation in the Millennium on the part of those who have entered the kingdom (Matthew 25:31–46) in unresurrected bodies; but their offspring will not be born redeemed any more than has been true at any time in the history of man (Isaiah 65:20). Furthermore, many will give only feigned obedience to the ruling King.

Are the Gog and Magog here the same as those of Ezekiel 38–39? Definitely not, for four reasons: (1) the chronological factor. The events of Ezekiel 38–39, take place before the Millennium in Israel’s latter days.  The rebellion of Revelation 20 occurs after the Millennium. (2) The geographical factor. More than once Ezekiel clearly states that Gog and Magog come from the uttermost parts of the north of the Land of Promise. Here John explicitly locates the nations involved as coming from the four corners of the earth. (3) The actuating factor. It is true that Satan can be faulted for much of the ungodliness in the world, but there are also the elements of the flesh and the world (cf. Ephesians 2:1–3). It cannot be denied that Satan is behind the invasion of Ezekiel 38–39, but not in so clearly a stated manner as here. (4) The interpretive factor. The reader of the Revelation will certainly agree by this time that John uses common nouns, even proper nouns, in a symbolic manner.  Witness the use of Jezebel (2:20), Sodom and Egypt (11:8), and Babylon  (the most extended use of symbolism in a name in chapters 17–18).  Thus, the student of the Revelation need not be surprised to find the names Gog and Magog used symbolically here.   It is indeed sad that after such a benevolent and beneficent rule of the Lord of glory, there should be a following of Satan like the sand of the sea.

 

Vrs     9                  These nations will be banded together for one purpose and will press on toward one goal, namely, to destroy the capital city of the King, Jerusalem, and work havoc among His faithful subjects. God delights in Jerusalem and calls it the beloved city, because outside its walls the Son of God accomplished redemption for the world in the will of the Father, and then has reigned in righteousness in that city for 1000 years. The judgment of God with fire on the invaders is swift and final.

 

Vrs     10                Now the instigator to sin ever since the Garden of Eden is dealt with. His final doom is the lake of fire—unthinkable torment. It will be eternal and irreversible, because the beast and false prophet, who were cast into the lake of fire before the Millennium, are still there. They will be preserved in judgment, but not annihilated. There will be never-ending mental agony and physical suffering. Unbelievers scoff at the concept of anyone or anything being preserved in fire. The same God who placed consuming power in fire can, if He wills, counteract that power. He has done so in the past (the Hebrew youths in the fiery furnace, Dan 3:27) and will do so in the future (Mark 9:49).  If the torment is forever, why are day and night introduced here? There will be no day or night in eternity according to our chronological reckoning; but this is the clearest way to convey it to our minds, which are accustomed to concepts of time and space.

 

Vrs     11                This is the judgment of the wicked dead.  It is described as great because it is the most awesome and widespread judgment ever held.  The characterization “white” (of the throne) is reference to the purity and holiness with which it will be conducted.  The throne indicates that majestic authority is involved. The One who sits on the throne is the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22, 27; 2nd Timothy 4:1).  To emphasize the gravity of the proceedings, John states that the earth and the heaven fled away from His presence, and there was found no place for them. This does not mean the annihilation of the earth and heaven. It is rather that the Great White Throne Judgment will take place between the passing of the Millennial scene and the entrance on the new heaven and earth.

 

Vrs     12                “Stand before God.”  Where will the subjects of the judgment stand? In the presence of God’s Throne. This is a deeply solemn scene that merges into eternity. The judgment is final and eternal; for all that are encompassed by it, that is, earth and heaven, have passed away. The high and low of rank on earth will be there. The sinner is now brought face-to-face with God the Son, from whom he cannot escape. The distinctions of this verse are vital: notice that there are books … and another book.   The book is the book of life, in which all who have trusted Christ are inscribed. Here it is introduced to show that the subjects of the judgment are unsaved. The books contain the record of their works (vrs. 12–13). Why is there any need to consult their works, if they are lost? It is intended to reveal the number and gravity of their sins to determine the appropriateness and righteousness of their punishment (Luke 12:47–48).

 

Vrs     13                Even the unsaved who have died on the seas, whose bodies have never been recovered, will not be exempt from this tribunal (John 5:28-29).  Death (used here for the grave) gives up the bodies; hell (lit. “sheol”, the abode of the dead) gives up the souls.  No one will escape facing this judgment.  All the unsaved will suffer their eternal doom (20:6).

 

Vrs     14                Death and hell, brought into existence by man’s sin, end where all sinners do, namely, the lake of fire. This means an actual, eternal separation from God in conscious, unceasing torment.

 

Vrs.    15                “Whosoever.”  There is no indication that any individual at the Great White Throne ever escapes judgment. The cause of their final doom—not that they did not accumulate sufficient good deeds in the books—is that their names were not found written in the Lamb’s book of life (3:5; 13:8; 21:27). This is all-inclusive, from Cain to the end of human history.