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Bible: What Does Revelation 20 Teach Us About Resurrection, Satan, and The "Great White Throne" Judgment?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Dragon

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Revelation 20--The First Resurrection, The "Short Season" of Satan, The "Great White Throne" Judgment

Satan Bound for a Thousand Years

While “warriors” from the Lord’s army immediately arrest and cast the Roman prince and the false prophet into the lake of fire where they will spend eternity, an angel apprehends “the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan,” chains him (with an invisible chain?), and incarcerates him in “the bottomless pit,” sealing this abyss so that he cannot deceive the nations for a literal one thousand years.

After the millennial phase of God’s kingdom ends, the Lord grants him freedom “for a little while” (vv. 1-3).

Martyrdom for the Faith

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Resurrection

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Gog and Magog in Revelation

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Tribulation Martyrs Reign with Christ

During the thousand-year period, God delivers the prerogative of judgment to a certain group of saints.

Since the Lord promised the Church that she would judge the world and angels (see 1 Cor. 6:2, 3), it appears that these are the believers (“they”) John refers to here (v. 4a).

In addition to the Church, tribulation martyrs (“the souls of those who had been beheaded . . . who had not worshiped the beast . . .”) will receive their resurrection bodies and share in Christ’s millennial reign (v. 4b).

The First Resurrection

After the Millennium, God resurrects “the rest of the dead”--obviously, people who do not qualify to enter the kingdom by virtue of the new birth; in other words, unbelievers.

[Why John tacks on “This is the first resurrection” after mentioning the resurrection of these unsaved ones presents a difficulty, since he designates only those who participate in the first resurrection as “blessed and holy.” ]

Only those who defeat “the second death” (eternal death in the lake of fire), minister as priests, and reign with Christ during the millennium, belong to the first resurrection (vv. 5-6).

Satan's "Little Season"

John now rehearses an allusion he made in verse three; that is, that God would release Satan from his prison after the millennium (v. 7).

However, here the apostle discusses why God lets him go: to deceive all the nations on the Earth again and to gather an innumerable force with the intent to overthrow the Lord’s reign (v. 8).

[“Gog”-- a term Ezekiel employed to refer to the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal-- and “Magog”-- the land from which Gog originated-- seem to point to Russia; in Revelation, however, the symbols expand to include the worldwide enemies of Christ.

One thousand years in prison do nothing to change Satan’s heart; knowing that the devil can never repent, God purposes to punish, not rehabilitate, him during that period.

[While Christ brings a glorious and prosperous era on Earth for those who obey Him, many of the children of those who initially entered the kingdom will not submit to His Lordship, and so will become Satan’s prime target during his “little season.”

Despite benefiting from all of the advantages of a perfected world, these unregenerate, totally depraved men and women will remain obdurate in their hearts, and therefore must suffer the consequences of uniting with Satan’s rebellion.]

Having assembled themselves around Jerusalem, they intend to destroy it and its inhabitants; God, however, completely annihilates them with fire, recaptures Satan, and hurls him into the lake of fire where the other two members of the diabolic trinity have been burning for more than a millennium and where they will continue to suffer for all eternity (vv. 9-10).

Great White Throne

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The "Great White Throne" Judgment

Apparently following this climactic final attempt by Satan and unsaved human beings to usurp God’s throne, Christ assembles all “the dead, small and great” before His “great white throne” of judgment after having dealt with the old Earth and the old heavens (vv. 11-12a; cf. Jn. 5: 22, 27; II Pet. 3: 10, 12).

[This court scene must take place somewhere else, for “the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them”].

In this “resurrection of judgment” (cf. Jn. 5:29), Christ examines “books” and “another book.”

The books represent the record of all of the deeds of those who now stand before Him, and the other book, the Book of Life, records the names of those God predestined to salvation (v. 12b).

“According to their works” found in the books, the Lord judges these people, including those which come out of the “sea” and out of “Death and Hades” (vv. 12c-13).

Since Christ cannot find the names of those people who came out of Death and Hades within the Book of Life, He casts the whole massa perditionis into the lake of fire (“the second death”) [vv. 14-15].

[What does the “sea” represent here, and why does John not mention that the sea is thrown into the lake of fire?]

© 2013 glynch1

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