32 – The Millennium, Victory and the Great White Throne.
Satan’s defeat is comprehensive. We have seen the outworking of this, in the last few chapters of Revelation. His freedom is now completely truncated for the period of a thousand years. After this millennium, he will be released for a brief period of time, to deceive any who are still open to his wiles, Revelation 20:3.
Revelation 20:1-6. Millennium Joy!
Satan had been an angel, a created being, before he fell from grace, so it is fitting that another angel, who is a loyal servant of God, has been given a great chain and the key to the Abyss. It is this angel’s privilege to escort the devil to his incarceration, binding him in chains, then locking him up and sealing him into the Abyss for a thousand years. The Abyss is sometimes called the ‘bottomless pit,’ so it is apt that there, Satan will initially experience in part, the same sentence he imposed on those whom he deceived and who were consequently condemned.
It is good here to remember the agony of isolation that Christ suffered when His eternal relationship with the Father was broken on the Cross. His heart-felt loud cry of anguish was heard, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” as He bore the enormous burden of our sins, past, present and future. Christ was suddenly alone on the Cross, forsaken, isolated and cut off from His Father. He experienced the sheer torture of abandonment, so that we would never have to be abandoned by God. But the price of Christ’s suffering and isolation, which were beyond our comprehension, ended in glorious victory and the promise from the Father that, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.
So now in comparison, we see Satan abandoned, isolated and alone, incarcerated for a thousand years! He is left to wallow in the darkness of the Abyss, with only his evil thoughts as company and the knowledge that there is no victory for him! Imagine what it would be like to wallow in our sins, without any relationship or the hope of forgiveness? The comparison is shocking and yet still people choose to reject the Love of Jesus!
Often we believers, give Satan more credit for his power than he actually deserves! Jesus defeated him at the Cross and has ALL sovereignty bestowed on Him; He has chosen to delegate that authority to us, Matthew 28:18-19. If we act in our own strength and name, we have no power, just like the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-16. These seven sons chose to act in their own power, so the man with the evil spirit gave them a severe beating! The demon in the man recognised Jesus’ authority, but did not see His Power in the seven sons; this is a lesson that the only power to overcome Satan is the Name of Jesus.
Let’s look at another analogy. If we buy two puppies and one is big and black, the other small and fluffy, which will be the stronger dog? The answer is the one that we feed and care for the most! Now honestly, compare this analogy to our relationship between Jesus and Satan? In truth, it is so easy to focus and feed our relationship with demonic influences, either knowingly or unknowingly, especially in our wrong-thinking, which outworks into our actions, such as with fear, or offensive and negative talk! These thoughts and attitudes are attention-seeking and distract us whenever we spend time with Jesus, either in the Word, or in our worship to Him. Unfortunately, this can open the door to believing that demons are more powerful than the Holy Spirit, as we become disheartened in our walk with Jesus. This is why it is especially important to be accountable to other Believers and to allow them to love us enough, to gently point out our errors, so that we can ask for forgiveness and have our relationship with Jesus restored, through His Holy Spirit.
Everything we do, whether good or bad, produces fruit. We have to ensure that we feed our spirit properly, so we are bearing Christ-like fruit, Galatians 5:16-26. “…. Let us keep in step with the Spirit…” “Don’t give place to the devil,” Ephesians 4:27. Providing we operate within Jesus’ parameters, we also can carry out His commands in the world. In the Name of Jesus, we have His authority to act. In His Name alone, we can address Satan, for the Bible tells us, “Submit yourselves then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James 4:6-8. It is important to note that as a true Believer (one who has asked Jesus into their life) can still be influenced by demons, but not possessed. Satan will always use his wiles to tempt, but God never tempts us, instead He will test us to strengthen our faith, James 1:3.
This binding of Satan and his incarceration in the Abyss will occur in the preparation for God’s thousand year reign in His kingdom on earth. What a glorious time of celebration and worship of our One True God! Jerusalem has become the world’s capital and the Temple has been rebuilt on Mount Moriah. Jesus has come to reign and there will be prosperity everywhere. There will be no need for prisons, hospitals and dens of iniquity, as all is at peace. Jesus’ reign is righteous and all the nations willingly obey. The principles of the Sermon on the Mount are the rules of His Kingdom, which makes this an amazing place; heaven on earth!
Throughout the Tribulation, Satan opened the Abyss to plague mankind, now the irony is, as we have seen, that he himself is thrown into this black hole and sealed in by God, in isolation, with only his terrible thoughts as company. We can only imagine his reminiscing of the Garden, of his work as leader of worship to the King of Kings, his thoughts of Calvary when he thought he fleetingly saw fantastic victory, but thoughts of how he was still unable to contain his enemy; and especially the thought of: ‘How did this all go so wrong?’ This is just judgement, but it is still not over!
In all of this, God never forgets those who have been faithful and true to Him, during the seven years of the Tribulation. Persecution against the Believers will have been intense and most will have lost their lives; martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ. The Antichrist and his system will have attempted to force everyone to take the ‘mark of the beast.’ This will be a seal or a brand applied to either their right hand or to their forehead. It will be visible and recognisable, and the purchase of goods will be impossible without it.
Holy Spirit filled Believers however, are sealed into the Body of Christ and marked by the Spirit, so that the Lord recognises those who are His. This is a mark that is invisible to the outside world, and is incompatible with Satan’s ‘mark of the beast.’ We carry one or the other; we cannot have both marks and nor can we live in the Body of Christ and remain married to the world’s system of today. Of course the liberal world doesn’t mind if we attempt to do both, but the consequence is ridicule from those around us and powerlessness, where our faith is concerned. However, in the days of the Tribulation, not having a visible mark of the beast system will cost us our life. We could be beheaded, or worse, Revelation 20:4.
The Believers who have suffered for their faith and are part of the first resurrection will reign with Jesus during the ensuing one thousand years of peace. They have died once, the first death, just like the Believers who have died in this present Age of the Church. Like them, they will not be eternally separated from God which is the second death. The second death has no jurisdiction over them. “Do you not know that the saints (the Believers) will [one day] judge and govern the world? And if the world [itself] is to be judged and ruled by you, are you unworthy and incompetent to try [such petty matters] of the smallest courts of justice? Do you not know also that we [Christians] are to judge the [very] angels and pronounce opinion between right and wrong [for them]? How much more then [as to] matters pertaining to this world and of this life only!” 1 Corinthians 6:2-3 Amp.
The character of the saints of God who experience the first resurrection is described as “blessed and holy,” in Revelation 20:6. Happiness and holiness in the Word always go together, which is a challenge today, as often we do not see much happiness in the Church, perhaps because there is little holiness!
Read Revelation 20:7-10. At last!
Now we look to Satan’s final end. Nothing occurs that God does not already know. Nothing takes Him by surprise and nothing causes Him a problem. The incarceration of Satan for one thousand years, followed by his release – all has a purpose – the final stage of weeding out the tares (or the weeds) from the Wheat of God’s people, Matthew 13:24-43.
Satan has been in the Abyss for a thousand years, plotting his revenge! After this time, he is released from captivity to again loose his wiles, in attempt to deceive the nations. Imagine how he has plotted and schemed his revenge, so he knows exactly what he has to do to destroy everything that will NOT succumb to his evil plans. Even after the millennium rule of Jesus on earth, which has been a time of great peace and prosperity like none before, the earth will still be full of people who are disgruntled and want nothing to do with the King of kings and Lord of lords! No wonder there is so much wrong teaching against the Holy Spirit, Who leads us into all Truth. He alone gives us the power to walk closely with Jesus, constantly revealing to us the awesome eternal Love of God, which far outweighs the things of the world that give no satisfaction or happiness.
When Satan is released it will bring to light the dark secrets of men’s hearts. All who are born during the millennium will still be born with sinful natures, so many might allow their hearts to become hardened to the Glory of God. Plenty will show only false allegiance; obedience from their heads and not from their hearts, “As soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me; foreigners submitted themselves cringingly and yielded feigned obedience to me,” Psalm 18:44 and in Psalm 66:3 Amp, “Say to God, How awesome and fearfully glorious are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power shall Your enemies submit themselves to You [with feigned and reluctant obedience].” Many will have obeyed the rules of the Kingdom, but as we know good works never earn us the way into God’s Kingdom. This truth will not change during the millennium. Plenty will take no notice of the warnings and will retreat to the far corners of the earth, hiding as far away as possible from the glory of the ruling saints and from the transformed Jerusalem. These rebels will gather together to fight against the Lord, for one final time.
Many commentators feel that this is the battle, which is described in Ezekiel 38 and Ezekiel 39, (see our previous notes in Lessons 15 and 16). However this cannot be the case, as the battle in Ezekiel’s description is confined to very clearly defined nations, for example Egypt is not mentioned and nor is the far East. In Revelation 20, Gog and Magog are indicated, but although they are more prescriptively used here to mean people from the nations of the four corners of the earth, it will be people from all of the nations, who gather together for this final and conclusive battle. Satan will seek out the dissidents on the earth and will find them more than willing to cooperate with his plans and listen to his lies. They will rejoice at his bold claims and follow him into a new rebellion. Once again the focus of the battle is the camp of God’s people, Jerusalem. It is God, whom Satan wants to overcome, and the only way he now has of attempting this is to march against His people; those who love Him and are called according to His purposes, Romans 8:26-30.
The posturing and attack are all to no avail, as it never had a chance of succeeding, but is only permitted by God to bring to light the true state of the human heart. The Bible does not spend long on telling us of the ultimate ending to the devil and his demonic forces. Fire came down and devoured them. There is no great story-drama, just simple facts. The lake of fire and sulphur opens its gates of torment to engulf Satan, who now joins the Antichrist and the false prophet. So the satanic trinity of Satan, (the self-styled father), the Antichrist, (the executive perpetrator of death on earth – Satan’s ‘son’) and the head of the one-world religion (the false prophet – the satanic counterpart to the Holy Spirit) enter the eternal torture, which they had intended for all true Believers in Jesus Christ. Their suffering is eternal – without end, day and night, forever and ever! But far from being annihilated they are alive, in torment and facing the horrors of hell for all eternity, as a punishment for all the guiles and wickedness, which they have caused since the Fall. With a flash the fire of God falls and it is all over! There is no recording of a shot being fired, or a saint being harmed. We can righteously shout a loud and victorious Amen!!
Read Revelation 20:11-15. The Great White Throne Judgement
John now sees the great white throne which is not on earth. It is at the entrance to Eternity and shows God’s perfect purity. It is so terrible that nothing can stand before it, save for the redeemed human spirit – the real person; the one each of us really is, while we live on earth, in a body – an “earthly tent,” 2 Corinthians 5:1, enabling us to live, breathe and to make our choices, on the stage of life. Guilty men called to the throne have nowhere to hide. All the foolish lies behind which people hide today will be gone and this will be the terrible moment of realisation, of Who the One is, whom they have denied, ignored, cursed and disbelieved in. Now He is their Judge and all will be exposed! Earth and sky flee from His Presence, and there is no place for them, they have been defiled by sin and need to be made afresh. God made the earth and the heavens, they are the work of His hands, but it is true that “the heaven’s will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment,” Isaiah 51:6. “‘Heaven and earth will pass away,” Mark 13:31. The new man in Christ must have a new world in Christ.
All peoples will be assembled before this amazing throne to be judged while standing beside the perfection of Jesus. “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on the earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father,” Philippians 2:9-11. The great and small now find themselves standing before God. Here are the world’s ‘little people;’ those who have lived for their own ends and whose lives were filled with pettiness and selfishness. There are also the ‘great men;’ those who contrived great wickedness on a grand scale and died unrepentant. This will be the last time they are all together, as they face the future they have chosen, which will be bleak and isolated; totally alone and separated from God forever, if they have still not chosen to be saved through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
The decisions we make are all recorded! God says they are in books, because He showed them to John. Everyone must stand before the Throne in Judgement. The reason for the Judgement is simply this: What have we done with His bountiful provision for our eternity? What decision has been recorded about our relationship with Jesus Christ? If we have decided to ask Jesus to be the Lord of our lives and to allow Him to rule in our heart, an entry was made in another book – the Book of Life.
These are the books in which there are no mistakes. All those who have ever been born (or aborted), have had their names entered into the first set of books. However, those who have been born again by the Spirit of God have had their names indelibly entered into a separate book, the Book of Life, so these names will never be erased! This Book is vast. It contains the names from every nation, race and tongue; each strata of society and every culture are represented. On the pages are the names of hopeless sinners, who trusted in God’s Son and were saved through Him, from the wrath. There are the names of thousands who followed false religions, but in their searching for Truth, finally found Jesus. Also included are the names of those who made the decision to follow Jesus in the very early stages of their lives, and those who chose Him with their dying breath. It even records the names of those who have gone from strength to strength in their relationship with the Lord, as well as those who continually fall again and again, but are washed in the Blood of Jesus.
So the Judgement is very simple. There are no errors and there is no Higher Court to which to appeal. The first set of books records the deeds of all who have lived and it is also likely to contain the Word of God, as evidence that salvation was available to every man, woman and child. If anyone is in denial and claims that they never had access, then the fact that God’s Law was written on their hearts and was witnessed to by their conscience is sufficient. But even then, the Word of God states quite clearly that everyone will be without excuse; there will literally, be nowhere to hide except in Jesus.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles,” Romans 1:18-23.
We will be judged by our deeds. Our works, both good and bad are written in the first books to demonstrate that we have all fallen short of the Glory of God, Romans 3:23. We are lacking in God’s righteousness, which is only found in Jesus Christ. If we choose to stand on our good deeds, nothing will save us! Salvation is by faith “…for by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast,” Ephesians 2:8-9. A sinner can ask God for a free pardon or a fair trial, but if that option is chosen, all our good works are as filthy rags in His sight, as we are judged against Christ’s perfection. Consequently, we will be found wanting. We will also be judged for what we have not done; the sins of omission, Matthew 25:41-46. Without Him there is only one destination – the Lake of Fire! No Jesus – no salvation! To receive a free pardon, we must admit our guilt and cast ourselves on the mercy of God and accept His salvation, as the free gift in Christ. He will then adopt us into His Family, the Body of Christ. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1.
The people, who are judged here, are those who had no part in the first resurrection, Revelation 20:5-6. It includes all – those who died in the sea, or at sea, those who died and were disposed of in many ways – buried separately or in mass burial, through abortion, by cremation or even none of these, as some have been killed by the forces of nature and even eaten by wildlife! But here, there will be absolutely no hiding place! God knows everyone, without exception, so the first question He will ask is: ‘Where are you?’ Just as Adam and Eve came out of hiding to stand naked and ashamed before their Judge, so it will be the same again. People will have to come from every part of the earth, sea and nether regions, at the Judge’s command. There will be nowhere to hide, so they will stand exposed before the Great White Throne. What an awesome sight!
Finally it is important for us to recognise that the Lake of Fire is a very real place. It is a place that is totally separated from God. Perhaps it is also worth emphasising that today many people say that they just don’t want to have any part of God. We have all heard people say that ‘If God allows this or that, or is like one thing or the other, then I don’t want anything to do with Him.’ If we adhere to that sentiment at our death, then God will take us literally at our word, as He is a Gentleman and will never force us against our will! He will allow us to have nothing to do with Him. And yet the well documented and sad situation is that in our ever more irreligious age, the number of those who believe in heaven is going up! Even atheists believe in the afterlife. Whether we admit it or not, surely this is the innate footprint of God – His DNA in all of us, or ‘God-shaped hole?’ It is the deep inner longing to fill the emptiness with Love and to find our true purpose to life. This purpose can only be found and filled in a relationship with the God of Love, Who created us to love Him back! Only as Believers do we have the real hope and certainty of heaven, which is the revealed truth to us through Jesus Christ.
The Lake of Fire is not an organised place, because any place without God is chaotic. Paul, writing to the Colossians states this, “He Himself is before all things and all things are held together in Him,” Colossians 1:17. So, with God there is order and conversely, if He is ignored, then all is chaos. The only certainty is that hell is a ‘dark place’ with not even a flicker of light. This is definitely not a place in which we can be together with our friends, to eat, drink and be merry! Rather it is a place of utter isolation and torment, with the added misery of being able to recall all the missed opportunities to invite Jesus to be our Lord. Of course He is The Lord over all, but here, Jesus Christ is Lord in an entirely different way from what He intends. The terrible words are spoken “Depart from Me, you cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25:41. God knows how terrible this place is and in His Great Love, He sacrificed His only Son, Who suffered, bled and died, so that we could be saved from this eternal darkness and restored into a loving relationship with Him – forever! It was to warn men of this, that God put in place His Salvation plan at the Fall and wrote the Bible, which for hundreds of years has worked with the Holy Spirit to save men.
The only way to spend eternity in Heaven is to be part of the Body of Christ, grafted into Him, living in Him and producing life in all its fullness. Oh yes, we may be laughed at and mocked; we may have to suffer persecution from those who do not want to know; some may even be called to die for our faith, but we can be sure of this: ‘Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness,” ’ 1 Timothy 2:19. “And if He rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) — 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment,” 2 Peter 2:7-9.
32 Revelation 20 – The Millennium, Victory and the Great White Throne. Challenge Questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. *Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share with your group.
2. *Do we understand the power we have in the name of Jesus? Can we share a testimony of a time we have taken our authority in Christ and used His Name?
3. Can you describe how you might see what the thousand year reign of Jesus looks like?
4. *Choose the Great White Throne, the Lake of Fire, or the Book of Life and describe how you ‘see’ it and how you feel about it?
Read Revelation 21:1-4
5. *What is the new creation and what has it replaced? How is it described?
6. What does God declare about His new creation?
7. *What will no longer happen?
Read Revelation 21:5-8
8. What instructions are given to John and why?
9. *Who does God declare He is and what do the names mean?
10. *What promises are there in this section of the chapter?
11. Who is warned about the Lake of Fire again?
Read Revelation 21:9-14
12. Who took John to show him the New Jerusalem?
13. *Describe the city in these few verses.
Read Revelation 21:15-21
14. Further describe the city as seen in these verses.
15. *How many gates are there and what are they made of?
Read Revelation 21:22-27
16. *What is missing from the city and why?
17. *Who and what will come into the city? Who will not come into the city?
18. How does this chapter encourage you?