|<< Rev 19||
Revelation 20-22 Listen
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, 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 of Jesus, 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, Satan 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 Magog, 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 for ever and ever.
Here's the setting for yet-future events of chapter 20. The Battle of Armageddon has been fought and won against the Antichrist and his forces (Revelation 19:11-21, see notes); the tribulation period of seven years is over. At this point in time, Satan is bound for 1,000 years at the beginning of the millennium (verse 3). First, however, there's a resurrection of the slain tribulation saints who will reign with Christ for 1,000 years. The only Biblical reference to a prophetic millennium is found here in Revelation 20.
The bottomless pit of verse 1 is from the Greek word "abussos," which is transliterated into our English word, " abyss." For Satan, this is a temporary stay...ONLY 1,000 years. The Greek word for "nations" in verse 3 is "ethnos" which is used in the New Testament as a reference to non-Jewish people. We'll see the release of Satan down in verses 7-10.
Let's take note of the following regarding the millennium:
The structure of verses 4-5 is confusing. The "first resurrection" of verse 5 is a reference to the resurrection of the people described in verse 4, the ones who "lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." There is a parenthetical statement in verse 5, "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished." That is NOT a reference to the "first resurrection" people, but rather refers to the people who decline salvation in Jesus Christ and are to appear before the white throne judgment of verses 11-15 (see below).
Let's take a look at the collective resurrections that take place in scriptures:
You will notice that the wicked dead aren't resurrected until after the millennium (verses 4-5). After this 1,000-year period, Satan is loosed only for a short time (verse 7), but long enough to gather an army of rebels who will have declined to get saved during the millennium (verses 8-9). NOTE: the millennium starts out with all saved people, but this rebel force will be made up of people born during the millennium who decline a personal relationship with Christ. While they will obey under the righteous rule of the Messiah, it is not in their hearts to do so; they will only obey the Messiah out of necessity. Of course Satan is defeated once and for all at the end of the millennium and cast into his final home, the Lake of Fire (verse 10).
So, who are the people of verse 4? It says of them, "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them..." While we aren't told for certain, that seems like an easy call. The rapture (I Thessalonians 4:13-18, see notes; I Corinthians 15:51-58, see notes) takes all Believers to Heaven where we are told in I Thessalonians 4:17, "...and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Paul asks this rhetorical question in I Corinthians 6:2 (see notes), "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?" I'm convinced that Paul taught that the saints (Believers) will be part of the millennium ruling team, so they are likely the ones sitting on the thrones here in verse 4. That notion is confirmed in verse 6 where it is said of them, "...but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." There can be no question but that the priesthood of the Believer is a clear New Testament doctrine (Revelation 1:6, see notes; I Peter 2:9, see notes).
Let's be clear about this very important aspect of the yet-future millennium. This is the Messianic kingdom prophesied by the prophets of the Old Testament. However, the Old Testament prophets saw two distinct periods, the 1,000 year millennium AND the new Heaven and Earth which begins in Revelation 21:1 (see below). After the creation of the new Heaven and Earth, the earth will no longer be populated by unregenerate people; all will be God's people. However, during the millennium, there will appear a growing number of descendants of the original millennium inhabitants who will decline a faith relationship with the Messiah. Nevertheless, these people WILL comply with the wishes of the Messiah all the way down to the end of the millennium, at which time Satan will gather them as his allies in battle when he is loosed (verse 7). That event (verses 8-10) marks the end of all resistance against God for eternity.
The existence of potential enemies during this period is not a foreign concept to the Messianic kingdom in Old Testament prophecy. Isaiah described it in Isaiah 54:14-15 (see notes), "In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee. Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake." There, Isaiah references the existence of an enemy during the Messianic kingdom, but one that is not able to harm the righteous inhabitants.
We see a reference to "Gog and Magog" in verse 8. In Ezekiel 38-39 (see notes) we see this enemy as specific countries that ally with others to attack Jerusalem during the tribulation. However, here in verse 8 they undoubtedly represent a composite of the worldwide enemies of Christ at the end of the millennium inasmuch as they are gathered from the "four quarters of the earth" to do this battle. There is no indication in this passage that this rebellion consists of any Jews. Per the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes), we can safely assume that this 1,000-year period begins that specified relationship between God and the Jewish people.
There are three reasons why we know this rebellion consists of Gentiles:
Notice in verse 10 that Satan will be finally "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone." This is Satan's final non-resting place, and it is NOT climate controlled. More company follows - seen in verses 11-15 as a result of the white throne judgment.
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.
White Throne Judgment - sounds pretty, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this is where the wicked dead are judged just prior to being cast into the Lake of Fire. The book described here is the Lamb's book of life - a compilation containing all who have ever been saved. This is the only basis for going to Heaven; verse 15 says so, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." So...what about the books in verse 12? Obviously from the context of verses 12 and 13 these books contain a list of the works of lost people. Why? If they're going to the Lake of Fire anyway for lack of having their names written in the book of life, what difference do their works make? I can only offer an educated guess here, but I think there must be different degrees of punishment in the Lake of Fire, thus making the works of even these lost people significant. It's just a guess though. It does seem reasonable, however, that someone like Hitler should receive more severe punishment after death than others. Incidentally, this is one of six judgments concerning mankind. Click here for an understanding of all six.
To lend support of the notion that the "works" of lost people will have some bearing on the eventual outcome, though in the Lake of Fire, for those present at the White Throne Judgment, consider Romans 2:1-11 (see notes). Specifically, verses 5-6 in that chapter say, "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:" There we see that, though without Christ, their works will have some bearing on the results of their appearance before the White Throne Judgment.
Verse 13 lists three places of confinement for the unsaved dead, the sea, death and hell. This distinction would appear to be for the purpose of making certain the reader understands this to be all of the dead without Christ - not to create a doctrine of three distinct holding places for the dead without Christ. No such distinction can be validated elsewhere in scripture. It is likely that the distinction made here is related to the outcome of the event which immediately precedes the White Throne judgment - the Gog/Magog rebellion. There appears to be no lapse of time between the destruction of the Gentile aggressors and their appearance before the White Throne judgment. It makes sense, therefore, that these "death" and "sea" people are the ones who did not spend one millisecond in Hell, but were transported from their point of destruction immediately to appear before Jesus for judgment. So, these would have spent NO time in Hell.
You will notice from verse 14 that Hell is also cast into the lake of fire. If you followed the link above on Matthew 27:52-53 (see notes) and Ephesians 4:8-10 (see notes), then you read Matthew 12:40 (see notes), "For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." Then and now, hell is located at the center of the earth according to Jesus. At the end of the millennium, according to verse 14, it will be removed from "the heart of the earth" and cast into the lake of fire. The reason? This sphere we currently inhabit called earth will be destroyed at the end of the millennium to make way for a new earth.
Let's take note of the eternal inhabitants of the Lake of Fire according to scripture:
|An overview of Revelation 21-22
Chapters 21-22 are introduced by Revelation 21:1, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea." An outline of what is to be discussed is then seen in verses 2-8 of chapter 21, with detail then added beginning in chapter 21:9 through 22:19.
New Jerusalem (21:2)
|God dwells with men (21:3)
|All things new (21:5)
|True/faithful words (21:5)
|Final blessing (21:6-7)
|Final curse (21:8)||22:18-19|
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Up through the judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 (see above), the earth referred to is the same earth that we inhabit today, the one created in Genesis. At the end of that passage, Hell is removed from the center of the earth and cast into the lake of fire. At that time, the wicked dead are cast directly into the lake of fire. Revelation 21:1 tells us of a new Heaven and new Earth that will be created immediately following the millennium. There are no unrighteous people on the new earth, nor will there ever be from that time forward. Satan will have been permanently banished to the lake of fire, and the old earth creation will have been destroyed. Only righteousness will prevail throughout eternity.
Isaiah prophesied of a new heaven, a new earth and a newly created Jerusalem. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to see a distinct line in his prophecy between the millennium and this recreation. He apparently saw aspects of each in the same vision in Isaiah 60 (see notes) and Isaiah 65-66 (see notes). In the Old Testament, conditions of the Millennium and conditions of the New Earth are not clearly differentiated.
Note particularly these verses regarding the New Heaven and New Earth:
Verse 2 speaks of a new Jerusalem; we get some detail on this holy city beginning in verse 10. This supernatural city descends from Heaven and contains the Bride of Christ; Jesus is the husband. All the descriptions people generally associate with Heaven are really descriptions of the New Jerusalem. We are told in verse 3 that God will dwell with man from this point forward. Let's be clear: This is a physical reign over the New Earth. Here's where we find the permanent Messianic reign of Jesus, and only saved people will exist on the earth. Those with glorified bodies will be at home in the New Jerusalem.
Verse 4 differentiates this period from any other when it says, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." We see in verses 7-8 that only righteous will dwell with God from this point forward while all others (verse 8) will dwell in the lake of fire.
9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
18 And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass.
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Verse 9 speaks of "the bride, the Lambs wife." Of course, the groom is Jesus, "the Lamb." The "bride" is a collective term referring to all of those who have trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. The New Jerusalem is a cube - a huge cube, 1,400 miles to each side. That's a different living concept than usual - one that's particularly suited to people with glorified bodies like ourselves. Verse 27 tells us that only perfect people will live there - people who have been washed in the blood of the lamb - SAVED PEOPLE!
It is obvious from this passage that the Messiah (Jesus) rules from New Jerusalem and that Believers, the "bride" dwell there as well. Paul portrays the church as the bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:25-33 (see notes). In Matthew 25:1-13 (see notes) we see ten virgins; these are bride attendants...Jews who enter into the millennium from the tribulation without dying.
We see in verses 12-14 that a wall surrounds the area where the city is situated. In verses 15-17 we see that the wall has twelve gates - each with an angel, named after the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve foundations of the wall are named after the twelve Apostles of Christ. The wall is 144 cubits high...about 216 feet. We see some interesting building materials here in verses 18-21: The wall around the city is made of jasper. The city is made of transparent gold...streets too, and the foundation of precious stones...the gates of pearls. Who wouldn't want to live there!
Notice a few unusual features about the New Jerusalem: No night, no sun, no moon - Jesus is the light. And there's no temple there either. Ezekiel's temple (Ezekiel 40-41, see notes) is part of the old earth during the millennium which is gone at this point in time. Sacrifices will be made at that temple during the millennium as a memorial of salvation through Jesus Christ (Ezekiel 43, see notes), but not on the new earth or in the new Jerusalem according to Revelation 21:22, "And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it." It should be noted that this marks a period substantially different from that of the millennium which precedes it. Jesus still reigns as Messiah, but there are no provisions from here to eternity for the existence of unregenerate people as there were during the millennium.
This passage, along with Isaiah 65-66 (see notes), indicates that there will be other earth dwellers as well (verses 24-26), in addition to those who dwell in New Jerusalem. Verse 27 indicates once again that there will be no unregenerate people located there.
1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
4 And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.
5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
6 And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.
7 Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.
10 And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand.
11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
The description of the New Jerusalem continues from chapter 21 in verses 1-5 here. From the throne proceeds a "pure river of water of life." The tree of life there keeps everyone healed, and there will be no more curse on the earth. Moreover, all are in Christ. Incidentally, notice that God will provide the light for everyone. This state of perfection is eternal.
John begins closing his prophecy in verse 6. We are told that John's Revelation has the same authority as the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. The imminent appearing of Jesus Christ is to be anticipated. The Greek verb for "keepeth" (verse 7) is "tereo" which means "to guard." In other words, we are to guard the Book of Revelation.
In verses 8-9, we see that John has an inclination to worship the angel messenger. The angel proclaims that only God is to be worshiped. In verse 10, John is told by the angel that this prophecy is not to be kept private. At the time of the completion of this prophecy, the spiritual state of all will remain unchanged throughout eternity. The words “unjust” and “righteous” are opposites of the same Greek root - “dikaios” The word “holy” means “set apart.”
In verse 12, the judgment seat of Christ is referenced. The ones “that do his commandments” in verse 14 are Believers. John defines them as such I John 3:23 (see notes), "And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment." Those “without” (verse 15) are the lost.
Let's take a close look at verse 16. This prophecy is directed to "the churches." Jesus is the “root” (Greek: rhiza) and the “offspring” (Greek: genos – family, race, kind) of David. The Messianic promise through David is seen in II Samuel 7:12-16 (see notes). At this point in time, all will have been fulfilled.
Verse 17 is an invitation to salvation for all who will trust Jesus Christ as Savior. And then a warning in verses 18-19, "Don't mess with the contents of the Book of Revelation!" It is what it is - a revelation of the end that is progressively illuminated to us as we approach the end of this dispensation. As time passes, more and more of this prophecy is specifically manifested to us as we see current events fall into place.
As someone notably said, "I read the end of the Book, and we win!"