A COMMENTARY ON REVELATION CHAPTER 20
INTRODUCTION TO REVELATION CHAPTER 20
In our discussion of the seven seals we disclosed the fall of the Roman Empire. The seventh seal is developed by seven trumpets, and when the last is sounded this announcement is made: “The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ: and He shall reign for ever and ever (Rev. 11:15) Now the real question is what the kingdom of the world became. Did the kingdom of the world go to the Devil or become the kingdom of the Lord? Is this world headed for a better day or headed for the rocks? Did Jesus send us out with a message of despair or a message of hope? Either the gospel is good news or bad news. Either Christ and His kingdom shall triumph or the kingdom of Satan. In this chapter we will find the answer to these questions. We know that “the gospel is the power of God” (Rom 1:16) and that it is the means of Satan’s downfall. (Rom. 16:20) Jesus shall reign until every enemy is abolished (I Cor. 15:25,26). Yes Christian friend there is hope for a brighter day and this chapter forecasts such a triumph.
Alleluia! We have heretofore described the proclamation of “eternal good tidings” (Rev. 14:6,7). This proclamation of the Gospel has been committed to the church. Therefore, the idea of an angel “flying through the midst of heaven proclaiming the word to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” must have reference to an effort to evangelize the world by means of telstar and other satellite communications used by the people of God to proclaim the gospel.
In the previous chapter (19:11-16) we have the following description: A rider on a white horse, followed by warriors “clothed in fine linen, white and pure,” a sword is protruding from the mouth of the rider on the horse. This sword is the word by which he will smite the Nations and take rule of the world resulting in the fall of “Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth” (17:5). We have already described the power and the Roman Catholic church. The False Prophet of which we have described as Mohammed, these two powers along with the Kings of the Earth are described as being overthrown. The nations of this earth are doomed because of their misrule, because they supported these beastly institutions. Evidence of that fact at present is the diplomatic relation between the Vatican and all civilized nations. The Devil is arrested and incarcerated. He is sentenced without parole for a thousand years. Our Lord spoke of Satan’s defeat as a result of preaching by the seventy (Luke `10:17,18). In Rev. 12:10-11, Satan (who is called the dragon with seven heads and ten horns) is overcome by three means–the blood of Christ, the testimony of the gospel, and the suffering of the church. Martyrs are reigning with Christ for a thousand years. This is called the first resurrection. After the millennium Satan will be released for a short period. Like most released convicts he is incorrigible and goes out to stir up more trouble but this time God will put him and the false prophet where they belong–in the lake of fire and brimstone to be tormented for ever and ever. In the previous chapter we noted that the beast and the false prophet were already in the lake of fire and brimstone. The general resurrection will then occur in which all the dead will participate. The whole world will be judged and those written in the book of life will experience all that is promised them in the next two chapters. You are now invited to join me in an analysis of the text.
EXPOSITION ON REVELATION CHAPTER 20
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
Prisoners were generally taken to dungeons where there were bars and little or no light. In this verse we are told of a pit in which the Devil is thrown and the door is closed behind and locked. He is chained to the walls of this prison and will be there for a long, long time.
2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
Yes, they caught the dragon (Paganism) Alias the Devil, Alias Satan, Alias the Seducer, Alias the Father of Lies, Alias the Evil One, Alias the Angel of the bottomless Pit, Alias god of this World, Alias Prince of the Power of The Air, Alias Apollyon, Alias Abadon, Alias Beliel, Alias Beelzebub.
3 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.
The seal would prevent intrusion by secretly opening the door. It will be a long, long time before the parole beard meets.
4 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.
This is the reign of the martyrs. In 6:9-11 these martyrs are seen “underneath the altar,” crying for judgment on those who had slain them. They are told to “rest yet for a little time” until more have been killed. In 13:15 power is given the Beast to kill those who would not worship his image. In 17:6 Babylon, the papal church, is described as being “drunken with the blood of the saints.” Since the same martyr class is spoken of in the twentieth chapter as reigning with Christ, it follows that the millennium is the reign of martyrs. Many speak of the millennium as if they were going to participate in it when they haven’t suffered a briar scratch for Jesus. Our generation has had clashing, discord, strife, wrangling, contentions, but few can lay claim to martyrdom. John would have seen Stephen, who suffered martyrdom at Jerusalem, James the son of Zebedee, Martyred by Herod Agrippa, Phillip suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and crucified. Matthew suffered martyrdom Ethiopia he, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah. James the Less, he was beat and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller’s club. Matthias, He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded. Andrew, He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria. Peter, crucified, as some do write, at Rome. Paul, Crucified at Rome under Nero. Jude, Crucified at Edessa. Bartholomew was crucified in India. Thomas was martyred by Pagan priests in India. The idolatrous priests of Greece hanged Luke on an olive tree. Simon was crucified in Britain. The list is endless; historians estimate that at least fifty million were killed by Papal Rome during the dark ages. But, the church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and watered with the blood of saints. Beloved how does it appear to you? Does it not say in this verse of scripture that these martyred ones are going to reign with Christ a thousand years? I am not interested in speculative theories but rather in the truth of Gods word.
5 (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection.
According to sound hermeneutics the meaning of any passage is to be obtained from its context and to harmonize with it. According to the text only those who risked their lives and were killed for their faith shall share in this blessed millennium. The highest degree of honor is reserved for those who drink his cup of suffering. Respected reader, how does it appear to you?
6 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.
There is an absurd doctrine being taught and widely accepted that this has reference to baptism. Such a doctrine is so ludicrous and incredible that one wonders how intelligent reasoning students of the scripture could think so irrational.
7 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
The parole board meets and releases Satan and he goes on another of his sinful rampages. He evidently promised God that he would be good if he would release him.
8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth–Gog and Magog–to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore.
The term four corners of the earth mean four directions North, South, East and West.
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, [Hebrew from Pathros] from Cush, [That is, the upper Nile region] from Elam, from Babylonia, [Hebrew Shinar] from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. ISA 11:11,12
The terms Gog and Magog are found in the Old Testament. First we consider the passages in which Gog is mentioned:
The descendants of Joel: Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son. I Ch. 5:4
Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of [Or the prince of Rosh,] Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him and say: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of [Or Gog, prince of Rosh,] Meshech and Tubal. Eze. 38:2,3
Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it? You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. EZE 38:14-18
These are the passages in which the term Magog occurs:
The sons [Sons may mean descendants or successors or nations; also in verses 3, 4, 6, 7, 20-23, 29 and 31.] of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. GEN 10:2
The sons [Sons may mean descendants or successors or nations; also in verses 6-10, 17 and 20.] of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. I Ch. 1:5
Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of [Or the prince of Rosh,] Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him. Eze 38:2
I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord. Eze 39:6
I have set before the reader all the passages in which the term Gog and Magog occur. In Ezek.38 we have a Scythian attack upon Israel which was made by Gog and Magog, this included Persia in the East, Cush in the South, Put in the West, and Gog and Magog, Rosh Mesh, and Tubal in the North (which he calls the four corners) This four corner attack was a massive attack upon Israel. Now John is prophesying of a similar attack from the same regions (namely a four corner attack) against his beloved city.
9 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.
This must have reference to Jerusalem:
For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling: Psalms 132:13
Brothers, this is the last war and Satan will lose the battle because God himself will intervene with fire from Heaven and destroy the enemies. Satan will be tried for war crimes and thrown into the lake of fire. God has been known in the past to destroy his enemies with fire. Let’s take a look at some of the passages:
Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah–from the Lord out of the heavens. Gen 19:24
Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. 1 Kings 18:38
Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. At this the king sent to Elijah another captain with his fifty men. The captain said to him, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once!’” “If I am a man of God,” Elijah replied, “may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then the fire of God fell from heaven and consumed him and his fifty men. So the king sent a third captain with his fifty men. This third captain went up and fell on his knees before Elijah. “Man of God,” he begged, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants! See, fire has fallen from heaven and consumed the first two captains and all their men. But now have respect for my life!” 2 Kings 1:l0-14
When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2CH 7:1
10 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.
Well finally the Devil ends up where he belongs. If the lake of fire is only figurative, then it must be more awful for the fact must of necessity be stronger than the figure. If this is, as some affirm, figurative, then the devil is figurative, and so also is God. Children of God, be careful not to be entrapped with such sophistry.
11 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.
When Luke wrote to Theophilus, he tells us that his coming would be like his departure:
“Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” ACT 1:11
When he ascended, a cloud received him out of their sight. Acts 1:9.
When he comes again it shall be with clouds and every eye shall see him.
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. REV 1:7
His departure was with Angels and his coming will be with angels.
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. MAT. 25:31
Jesus will descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God to wake the dead from their sleep.
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1TH. 4:16
Paul wrote to Titus and spoke of it as follows:
while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, TIT. 2:13
Listen to what Paul says will happen when Jesus comes.
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. PHI. 2:10,11
Simultaneous with the raising of all the dead saints the living saints will be changed from mortality to immortality.
According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 1TH 4:15-17
12 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.
OH! My soul: You and I must be there. Our history known and our conscience laid bare. Jesus said we would be judged by His words.
There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. JOH 12:48
This fact is further established and collaborated by the scriptures:
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. JOH 6:39
For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. JOH 6:40
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” JOH 11:24
13 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.
According to Paul, God will judge the world:
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. ACT 17:31
Jesus taught that all nations would be present for this judgment.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” MAT 25:31-46
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
Jesus Christ will deliver His kingdom to God at this time according to I Correntians:
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” [Psalm 8:6] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. I Cor. l5:24-28
15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The word of the Lord teaches that the present material universe will be destroyed by fire and a new universe created.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. Ps. 102:25,26
This event is connected with the Lord’s coming.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. [Some manuscripts be burned up] Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. [Or as you wait eagerly for the day of God to come] That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. 2 Pet. 3:8-13
Again we are told by Paul that the heavens and earth will be destroyed:
He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” [Psalm 102:25-27] Heb. 1:10-12
Accordingly, John “saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away: and the sea is no more” (Rev. 21:1). Furthermore, John saw the “new Jerusalem,” defined and explained as the “wife of the Lamb” coming down from heaven to the new earth as the saints eternal home.