In our study of Revelation chapter twenty, we look at the thousand year reign of believers here on the earth and the judgment that is to follow. We might ask ourselves why God planned this one thousand year period of time. As we shall see, this is the final test of man under the most ideal circumstances possible.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
In chapter 19, we saw the other two parts of this unholy trio cast into the fiery lake which is hell. Here we see an angel from heaven seizing the leader of this trio who is Satan himself.
He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Unlike the other two, the devil is not sent to hell but is imprisoned in the Abyss which is a never ending hole or bottomless pit. We may ask why this is happening and the answer is pretty simple. There are many people who do not accept the fact that the problem with men is their heart and not their surroundings. It seems that all kinds of things are blamed on the devil giving him more power than he actually has. We have all heard the expression 'The devil made me do it'. Now, God is going to show the world that the problem is in the hearts of man as the devil has been removed for a time and cannot be used as an excuse. This is the final test of man under ideal circumstances and, as we shall see, they will fail.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
With Satan removed, the saints of God are going to reign and judge. Those that were killed during the tribulation for their faith will join with His church. Once again, we see that this period will last one thousand years. There are those who do not take this to mean one thousand earthly years but we have to take God at His word.
Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are saved from the second death which is hell and complete separation from God. They are saved for a purpose and that is to be a kingdom of priests and that is why Jesus said that He hated the "practices of the Nicolaitans". These practices were to get believers to go back to a religious system of following men instead of being led by the Spirit of God. As we see here, we were created to be priests and to rule with Him not to follow priests.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth - God and Magog - to gather them for battle. In number they are like sand on the seashore.
This is one of the most baffling passages in the entire Bible as I wonder why. These people had the opportunity to see that, even under the best of conditions, the heart of man is the source of the problem of sin and separation from God. The people that are going to be deceived are going to follow Satan as he battles Jesus. Satan knows that he cannot win and he knows that he is destined for hell. We see that he was "released from his prison" as he did not have the power to get out on his own and, yet, he will convince this many people to follow him in hopes of forcing their way into the kingdom of God.
They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
The shortest battle in history is the result of this deception. The people that were following Satan were devoured but this is not the end for them as they wait for eternal punishment.
And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
The devil was cast into hell with the other two parts of their unholy trinity. Their fate was sealed from the time they rebelled in heaven and now their judgment and punishment is carried out.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.
The results of the test of the inherent goodness of man are in and man has failed to live up to the standards of God. Now, Jesus is set to judge these people based on their own work instead of His work on the cross. Nothing can stand up to this judgement as even the earth and sky flee from His presence.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.
This judgment is for salvation and all who appear at this time are destined to eternal punishment. They wanted to be judged on the merits of their lives instead of on the basis of their relationship with Jesus Christ. So, the books that are opened contain all of their words and deeds. Nobody can stand up to that standard and so, without their name being written in the Lamb's book of life, they are found guilty. It is important to note that those who have trusted in Jesus Christ are not a part of this judgement as they have already been found not guilty and granted their rewards based on what was contained in those books.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The final destination for anyone who does not trust in Jesus is hell. This death is separation from God forever and eternal punishment. The last things to be sent to this place are death and the grave itself as they no longer have a place in creation.