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:1 And I saw another angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

:2 And he laid hold of the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Dev'il and Sa'tan, and bound him a thousand years,

:3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled. And after that he must be loosed a little season.

:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness to Je'sus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Sa'tan shall be loosed out of his prison.

:8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Ma'-gog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

:10 And the devil, that deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are. And shall be tormented day and night forever and ever.

:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that 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, stand before God; and the books were opened: And another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.


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Statement of Faith


Verses 1 - 3

"...the key of the bottomless pit..."

Chapter 19 ended with the Beast and False Prophet being cast into the Lake of Fire which was created by the final judgment of Babylon (chapter 18). We now turn our attention to the initial phase of the final judgment of the ring leader, who sits atop this rebellious trinity: Satan himself.

This chapter opens with the appearance of an angel coming down from heaven having the key to the bottomless pit. He should not be confused with the angel who opened the pit in chapter 9.

As shown there, the angel's descent to earth was involuntary and uncontrollable, unlike that of heavenly angels. In other words, the angel of chapter 9 fell from his heavenly position; whereas the angel of this chapter will come down to earth in a very orderly manner. {Review}

Both angels have missions to perform. The angel of chapter 9 will open the bottomless pit, freeing its demonic captives to torment the rebellious people of the earth.

The angel of chapter 20, on the other hand, seizes their captain (Satan), {binds} him with a "...great chain..." , and casts him into the same pit. He then finishes things by closing it up again and setting a seal upon it which cannot be loosed for a period of one thousand years (the millenial reign of Christ and his saints).

While it is not specifically stated, it is reasonable to believe that the same angel will remove the seal which restrains Satan, after the thousand years are finished.

The binding here may be comparable to that which is spoken of in {Matt. 16:19} The Greek word for binding (pronounced deh'-o), which is used in that passage, is the same one used for the binding of Satan in this chapter. Also, in that passage, "...the keys..." are an important element in the process of binding and bringing something into subjection. They may simply be representative of specific words, when spoken, evoke the power of God in the completion of a given task.

Initially, the archangel Michael and his army, cast Satan out of heaven and into the earth {12:7-9}. Now another angel continues Satan's demotion by binding him and casting him into the place of his imprisonment {Isaiah 14:13,15}

Again, we are seeing the bottomless pit as a place of demonic captivity. Satan's adversarial abilities will be put on hold for one thousand years, during which time the earth will recover from the horrendous devastation incurred during the tribulation period. It will be a glorious age of peace on earth and restoration, led by the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ and the saints, the world will once again be led astray by Satan, which will result in God putting down the rebellion for the final time.

Will sin cease in the world during millennial reign of Jesus? We are told in I. Cor. 15:26 the the last enemy to be destroyed shall be death. This is confirmed in Rev. 20:14. If death continues in the human race until the end, then sin which brings forth death will also be present, for "...the wages of sin is death..." (Rom. 6:23).

In that day however, the price exacted for committing sin will be more severe and immediate than we see in the world today. {Isaiah 65:20}, seems to indicate that the righteous shall live to ages comparable to those found in Genesis 5, while the wicked shall be cut off early.

The righteous person shall be regarded as a child at the age of 100 years; but the sinner who is 100 years of age shall be considered an old man who has fulfilled his days. The latter shall be cut off, numbered with the wicked, and reserved for the day of the "Great White Throne" judgment (Rev.20:11).

There is a mystery concerning the righteous (the child who dies at 100 years) during the millennial reign of Jesus. Will they appear, at the great white throne judgment, as those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life (verse 15); or will they be immediately transformed upon death, so as to have glorified bodies? Is there a common resurrection indicated here; whereby the the saints who died during the millennial reign are resurrected with the wicked of all ages? The righteous whose names are in the Book of Life are redeemed: the wicked are then cast into the lake of fire.

The great white throne is a place of terror, from which the world will flee away: yet the Book of Life is opened there to verify whose names are written in it, and possible whose names have been blotted out {3:5}. It may be a place where all the names, which are in the Book of Life, are read out, and those whose names are not called are cast into the lake of fire.

It appears that all the righteous will be present at the great white throne judgment as witnesses, both to God's holiness and His righteous judgment. Countless tears may be shed for those cast into the lake of fire, but consolation is given to the saint, that God Himself shall wipe away their tears {21:4}. Scripture declares that afterwards God will make all things new. Tears will be shed, then the wicked will pass away, and former things shall not be remembered or come to mind.

Verse 3 confirms that after the thousand years are finished, Satan will be released from his prison for a short time, and allowed to incite a final rebellion against the God of heaven.

 
 
 


Verse 4

"...I saw thrones and they sat upon them..."

Here in verse 4, we see the setting of thrones from which the world under the leadership of Jesus Christ will be governed.

Prior to this verse, there is no indication as to who "they" represents. When reading a literal translation of the passage however: it becomes clear that "...they..." refers to believers who were beheaded for their faith and testimony during the tribulation; as well as, those mortals, who survived that period without doing homage to the beast. It is not here stated that all the saints of God will reign with Christ for one thousand years; but those who were killed during the tribulation for their refusal to comply with the beastly system.

The words, "...I saw.." in the phrase, "...and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded..." are not found in the original Greek text. Their inclusion in the King James Version leads one to possibly conclude that more than two groups are being referred to here. To get the proper context of a literal translation of this verse however, read the full verse below first, then go back and read again only the words highlighted in blue):

"And I saw thrones; and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and [I saw] the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had receive his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

It thus becomes clear that those who were beheaded during the tribulation will be resurrected to rule jointly for a thousand years with Jesus Christ, as well as, those who survived the great tribulation without bowing to the beast.

Verse 5 - 6

"...This is the first resurrection."

This verse of Scripture is often cited by those who follow the post - tribulation resurrection and rapture of the church. However, when we veiw the use of this phrase in the context of this chapter, it can clearly be understood to be the first of two resurrections that will occur following the second advent of Jesus Christ.

The "first resurrection", as mentioned here, is applied exclusively to those who were beheaded during the tribulation period (verse 4). If we choose to apply the term in the absolute sense, as post - tribulation adherents believe, then it would have to be applied to Jesus who was the first to be resurrected: or at least, to the two witnesses who were resurrected in chapter 11. All saints, from all ages, will ultimately reign "...forever and ever." in New Jerusalem {Rev. 5:10 ; 22:5}.

The context of verses 5 and 6 better reflect the division made between the tribulation martyrs of God, who will rise to rule during that time, and the wicked who will remain silenced until the day of their judgment, a thousand years later.

Bear in mind, that things pertaining to the revelation of Jesus Christ were, for the most part, a mystery prior to it being given to John. When the Apostle Paul spoke of the resurrection at the "last trumpet" {I Cor. 15: 51-52}, he could not have been speaking of the seventh and final trumpet of the Book of Revelation, because the contents of that book was not made known, even to John, until many years after Paul's statement.

We may also consider Zechariah 14:4-5, where the feet of Jesus are about to touch down on the Mount of Olives. The faithful defendants of Jerusalem are not caught up to meet Him in the air {I Thess. 4:16-17}; but it is said to them, "And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains." There is no hint of a post tribulation rapture here.

In Jewish understanding, the "first trumpet" sounded at Mount Sinai {Ex. 19:19} when God made His covenant with the people of Israel. Jewish people believe the "last trumpet" whereby the dead will be resurrected, will sound on some future Rosh Hashanna (The Jewish festival or feast of trumpets - {Lev. 23:24}).

Even the Jewish "last trumpet" however, is not the final one to sound. Following the resurrection of the dead, the "great trumpet" (the shofar haggado) will sound and God will gather all of his people (living and resurrected) from the four corners of the earth unto the great judgment of the nations {Matt. 24:31 ; 25:31-32}.

In this judgment, the resurrected saints who were beheaded during the great tribulation will be among those who receive their reward. It is clear from Scripture that both mortal and resurrected saints will be a part of the Kingdom of God on earth, with the latter group living to ages comparable to those of Gen. 5. Both the mortal, and the resurrected live and reign with Christ a thousand years.

"...Blessed and holy is he."

Here we are told that those who are a part of this resurrection are "Blessed and holy...", and that the "second death" which shall consume those resurrected a thousand years later, will have no power over them. Those who are part of the first resurrection, shall reign with Christ as His priest in the Kingdom of God.

 
 
 


Verses 7 - 9

When the one thousand years are expired, Satan will be loosed from the pit and allowed to test the allegiance of the world's populace to Jesus Christ. Scripture states that he will be released for a short time. During that period, he will go forth to deceive the nations, " ...which are in the four quarters of the earth." stirring up rebellion; and unfortunately, vast numbers of people will follow him, whose number, "...is as the sand of the sea."

The naming of the rebellious peoples as "...Gog and Magog..." hearkens back to the alliance led by Gog during the tribulation period. At that time, a great invasion of Israel occurred which was thwarted when God rained down fire and brimstone upon them (Ez. 38:22). This latter invasion, led by Satan himself, will result in a similiar outcome as stated in verse 9.

It seems incredible that those among the nations, who have seen the glory of Jesus during the one thousand years, could be so easily deceived. The point made, that Jesus and his saints will rule the earth during the millenium with a "rod of iron" (Ps. 2:9 ; Rev. 2:26 ; 19:15) seems to point to the ongoing problem of a rebellious spirit in the hearts of mankind.

Even under the rule and influence of God Himself, there will still be that inclination to rebell against Him. The final assault by Satan and those who follow him, will forever seperate the rebels from God, and those who love Him.

 


Verses 11 - 15

"...great white throne..."

The last statement made above brings us to the great day of reckoning, when the wicked will be recompensed for their deeds. A great white throne appears at this point, which produces utter panic among the inhabitants of the world. Flee though they may, there will be no refuge or hiding place found for those who continued to defy the will of God to the very end of their lives. Every supposed avenue of escape, will only lead the individual back to the great white throne of judgment, from which they are fleeing! Sitting upon this throne will be the Lord Jesus, for He stated in John 5:22, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son."

The dead, both small and great, are gathered before the throne. Here we see "the second resurrection", which is implied by verse 5 of this chapter. The books of the deeds of the resurrected are opened; as well as, the Book of Life. All of the dead will be judged by the deeds recorded in the books.

Will there be those at the great white throne judgment whose names were written in the Lamb's Book of Life? The answer, which will shock many, is Yes! Jesus made it clear in 3:5 that the one who overcomes will walk with Him clothed in white garments, and that He would, "...not blot out his name from the book of life.". Also He states that He will confess him before the Father and the angels.

This obviously implies the opposite to be true for those who do not overcome, but deny Him before men. We are told in Scripture, that we are made partakers with Him, if we continue steadfastly in our walk unto the end {Heb. 3:14}. Our ability to exercise choices by free will is not extinguished by the fact that we receive Jesus as our Saviour. Salvation is indeed by grace, but it's a grace which calls us to holiness; without which no man shall see God.

An example of where this is the case can be found in {II Thess. 2:3} Here, it is speaking of a "falling away" (apostasy) of those previously faithful. One cannot fall away from something he never believed in. So, we can understand that this is referring to those who were believers, and as such, have their names written in the Book of Life. In His messages to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3, Jesus repeatedly emphasized that the rewards of heaven are reserved for those who overcome. It becomes clear that those who fall away, will have their names blotted out of the Book of Life. It doesn't matter what you believed 20 years ago; or last week; or yesterday. The question is: What do you believe at this very moment? If you died at this very moment, what would your heart testify of you before God?

Those who failed to overcome in this world, and have denied Jesus before men, will also appear at the great white throne judgment; only to have the Books of Deeds confirm their failure to overcome, as well as, their denial of Jesus. To their horror, they will learn that their names have been be blotted out of the Book of Life, and that they are appointed a place with the wicked in the lake of fire. Jesus stated that, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back is fit for the Kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62). The very words of Jesus show us that the possibility of turning away does, in fact, exist; otherwise, his statement would be pointless. This may sound harsh, but obedience, not ambivilence, is the earmark of saving faith. II Pet. 2:20-21, speaks precisely to this point:

"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of this world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them."

It's very difficult to intepret this passage to mean anything other than exactly what it says.

The sea, death and hell (the grave) shall deliver up all the dead found in them. Then death and hell (6:8) shall be cast into the Lake of Fire, and the perpetual "second death" from which there is no escape, will be instituted. It appears that Death, which is cast into the lake of fire, will be given absolute authority over all the inhabitants of the lake. No one, who finds himself in the lake of fire, will ever again have the opportunity to escape its grip.

Verse 15 closes this chapter with the statement that anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life, was cast into the lake of fire.

For those who believe that God is too merciful to let anyone suffer eternally for their sins, consider the words of Jesus in Matt. 25: 46

" And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous in life eternal."

The words "everlasting" and "eternal" in this verse, and the one following, come from the same Greek word (pronounced ahee-o'-nee-os), meaning, "... without end, never to cease...". There is no suggestion here that the wicked will be punished for a period of time, for their sins; and then God, in His mercy, will simple cause both the wicked and their punishment to cease to exist.

God is a Holy God and sin, which challenges that holiness, will ultimately be dealt with in the harshest of terms. He, in His mercy however, has instituted a plan whereby people may escape the everlasting misery associated with His response to that challenge. That plan requires us to accept the redemptive work and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His son. He has established the reward for acceptance of His plan, as well as , the reward for rejecting it. {Click Here to view the plan}

The wicked shall be cast into the lake of fire because they have rejected the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, without which there is no forgiveness of sin. Their punishment must be eternal because, aside from the shed blood of Jesus, there is nothing which can satisfy the justice demanded for unforgiven sin. Since the unforgiven sin of their mortal lives will remain ever present, their punishment cannot cease to be administered. They therefore, will be subjected to the same eternal punishment decreed for Satan, the Beast, False Prophet, all fallen angels and demonic spirits:

"Then He will also say to those on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" (Matt. 25:41)

"And the devil that deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever."

There is little room for opinion in these verses.

 


CHAPTER SUMMARY

Chapter 20 unveils the judgments which have been reserved for Satan; the reign of the saints who prevailed against him, even through death: and the final disposition of all peoples deemed to be wicked in God's eyes. It also speaks to the ultimate destiny of the current planet which is called earth; the birthplace of all humanity; in connection with the coming of "... a new heaven and a new earth..."

With the Beast and False Prophet cast into the lake of fire, judgment is now turned to the ring leader of all the rebellious: Satan. An angel comes down from heaven binds him with a chain and locks him away in the bottomless pit for one thousand years.

The martyred saints of the tribulation period are resurrected at this time, to live and reign with Christ for the millennial period. It will be a great time of restoration of the creation. However, after the thousand years are expired, Satan is released from his captivity, and allowed to test the loyalty of the peoples of the earth. Unfortunately, the masses will follow Satan in the rebellion, in an attempt to destroy the holy people. The wicked will then be destroyed as fire comes down from heaven upon them.

A "great white throne" next appear before which the wicked of all ages are gathered. They are judged by the deeds recorded in the books of heaven, and everyone whose name is not found in the Book of Life, was cast into the Lake of Fire. Here they will remain forever and ever in eternal punishment for a life filled with sins, of which they did not repented. This is called the "second death", from which there is no escape.

 

19                                21



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