Jesus Christ Victor over Satan
Chapters 19 and 20
After a lengthy study of chapters 13-18 we have arrived in our journey through the Revelation of Jesus Christ at the point of the overwhelming victory of Jesus Christ and the utter demise, destruction of the devil and his followers. Planet earth will be cleansed from sin and all its aftermath. When we follow these two chapters step by step and verse by verse we will not meet any special problem or complications. One part fits perfectly another part. Also no need for many comments or references from other sources except for may be a few to strengthen a certain point in these chapters.
“and after these things”, this refers most likely to what we have discussed in chapters 13-18. In those chapters we have dealt with the severe battle between Christ and Satan and how it led to the final battle called “the battle of the great day of God Almighty” (16:14). We have seen how this battle terminates in victory for Christ, the Lamb, and his followers, 17:14. We have seen how the world which followed the powers of Babylon, the Great, collapsed totally and profoundly, 16:19; 17:16; 18:10. With awe and “holding breath” type of attention, the inhabitants of heaven have followed this battle. Upon its victorious outcome in full, undisputed favour of their Master Jesus Christ they burst out in great jubilation of joy and gladness. John hears “a great voice of much people in heaven” (KJV), the NKJV and NASB read for the word “people”, multitude. This is in harmony with the Greek word oxlos. We do know that there is a multitude in heaven, the multitude of angels we have met and heard in Rev.5:11. The angels in heaven have followed this war, the Great Controversy, on earth since it started in heaven, 12:7-9. Now they rejoice with intense jubilation over its final victorious outcome. They use the word Alleluia and is repeated four times in this chapter, 19:1, 3, 4, 6. Some times this word is written as Halleluiah. It is a transliteration from the Hebrew and found nowhere else in the New Testament. It is often found in the Psalms as praise ye the Lord, 104:35; 105:45 and other places. Dr.MacArthur found five reasons why they give praise to the Lord:
1. God’s deliverance of His people from their enemies, 19:1
2. God’s meting out of justice, 19:2
3. God’s permanent crushing of man’s rebellion, 19:2, and 3
4. God’s sovereignty, 19:6
5. God’s communion with His people, 19:7
(These five points found by Dr.MacArthur in NUBR)
Regarding salvation as mentioned in 19:1 the NEB reads more clearly victory and glory and power belongs to our God. The NASB reads salvation and glory and power belong to our God. Throughout eternity we will recognise this and give praise to God that it is He who has saved us We cannot save ourselves, it is not because of works, Eph.2:8-10 not of our works lest any should boast. Read also Rom.3:23, 24, 26 and John 3:15-17
Here we hear the declaration about God’s righteousness. We have met the same in 15:4; 16:5-7. Read also in Deut.32:4; Psalms 19:9; and Isa.25:1. According to Phil.2:10, 11, the day will come that every knee shall bow and give glory to God. But in that day it will be too late for the unsaved. We quote from SDABC vol.7-157 These words have not yet been fulfilled, but they are an assurance that the time will come when every creature will acknowledge Christ’s overlordship (Rev.5:11-14) This can only be when the great controversy is ended, when all including Satan and his followers, will bow down at the feet of Jesus and own that the ways of God have been just and righteous.”
(Read also in Great Controversy by E.G.White, pages 666-670)
The great whore is now judged for what she has done and the spilled blood of the martyrs is avenged. The prayers of the martyrs are at last fulfilled. Rev.6:10; 16:6
They perish in fire and her smoke goes up for ever and ever. 14:11, and see our note there. Check also with Jude 7 and what it says about Sodom and Gomorrah, cities which perished in fire, but are not burning anymore. In the end the wicked, the unsaved will be ashes, Mal.4:1
The twenty four elders and the four beasts or heavenly beings join in the praises to God. We have met them before in chapters 4 and 5. They sang Amen which is an expression of confirmation and affirmation. In Rev.3:14 Christ is called The Amen. In Christ all will be restored and established for eternity. Christ is the all in all, Eph.1:20-23
Out of the throne comes a voice. NASB reads from the throne area. From 19:4 we learned again about those nearest to the throne and how they worshipped God. Now in 19:5 we are urged to praise God and praise to be given by all His servants, and that fear Him both small and great. The throne area where God sits on His throne is an active place. According to 4:5 lightnings and thunder and voices are heard. In 16:17 it is said that from this place a voice is heard saying, it is done. The river of life also proceeds out of the throne, as we will learn from 21:1. The throne area is the heart beat of the universe, its command centre.
This takes us back to verse 1; the voice of a great multitude is heard again as of many waters. From 17:15 we learned that waters stand for people, in this case we deal with heavenly ”people”, or angels .In 1:15 we met a voice like waters which is the voice of Jesus Christ. And in 5:11 we have the voice of many angels “round about the throne”. In 14:2 John hears a voice as of many waters also as of a great thunder. During the seventh plague their will be voices of thunder and lightnings, 16:18. What’s done from the throne of God is not done in secret, but loud and clear, audible and noticeable. Same when God proclaimed His Ten Commandments, Exod.2O:18. There is no secret rapture, as some believe. When Christ will come and the dead will be raised and the living changed and taken up, this also will not take place in secret, but with a shout as of the voice of an archangel and with the trump of God, read 1Thess.4:16. The angels seen with God’s last message is done openly as flying in the midst of heaven, Rev.14:6 and the angel of Rev.18:1, 2 comes down with great power and will cry mightily. All this praise is directed to God who reigns, who is omnipotent and is the Creator of heaven and earth, Ex.20:8-11; Rev.14:6, 7. God is also omniscient. All wisdom resides in Him, Col.2:3 and He is also omnipresent, Psalms 139:7-10
Now the reason is given for this praise, joy and gladness. The marriage of the Lamb is come. The Lamb is Jesus Christ, John 1:29. Then it says also that His wife has made herself ready. The wife is the church. We have learned before that woman stands for a church, check with Revelation 12. We will come back to this point later.
“Her” in this verse refers to wife or woman in verse 7. She is granted to be arrayed in linen, fine linen clean and white. We are told what this linen is. It is the righteousness of the saints. This raises a question? Do the saints have any righteousness?
We read in Isa.64:6 they have none. We will come back to that question later, but let’s first deal with the question regarding the wife of the Lamb, His bride.
The word “bride” is mentioned from time to time in the Revelation. For instance in 18:23 where it clearly means human bridegroom and bride. The other three places are in 21:2, the New Jerusalem prepared as a bride. Then in 21:9, 10 John is shown the bride, the Lamb’s wife. Last place is in 22:17 where the Bride issues an invitation to come. This last place shows clearly that the bride as the city, New Jerusalem, is not happy by herself, but looks for people to inhabit the city. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray Thy kingdom come. Christ has a kingdom and His kingdom also has a city, Jerusalem. We have learned from our journey through the Revelation that Christ’s opponent, the Anti-Christ operating to take the place of Christ also has a kingdom and a city. The name is Babylon and as in the OT Babylon stands for both the name of the kingdom and city of that kingdom. Read again Rev.17:5 about Babylon the Great and the one sitting on waters which are people, 17:1, and 15
Those who accept Christ as their Lord and King become citizens of Christ’s city, Hebr.12:22, 23. They have come unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem and also to the general assembly and church of the first born. City and people form one unit. The patriarch Abraham looked already forward to that city, Hebr.11:10. But while city and people are one, the scriptures sometimes do mention them separately in terms of
Bride and Christ being the Bridegroom, Matt.9:15; 25:1-13. The relationship of Christ and His church is described by the apostle Paul as husband and wife, Eph.5:22-27. In 2Cor.11:2 Paul writes in terms of a proposed marriage, I have espoused you to one husband. Christ is the husband and espoused means “to be married to”. Further it says in 2Cor.11:2 that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. Some translations have taken the freedom in stead of chaste virgin to read as a pure bride. (RSV; dutch Leiden and Prof.Brouwer) An espoused bride is in waiting to be married, so spiritually the church is in waiting to be married to Christ. Jesus spoke about that marriage in two parables, Matt.22:1-13 and 25:1-13. Both parables give the impression that Christ is the Bridegroom and the church the guest to the wedding feast. But because those belonging to the Church of Christ are also citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, as we know from Hebr.12, 22, 23, they are one with the city and thus called with the city the bride of Christ. A city without people is like an empty shell. The saints of the city making it worthwhile for Christ to be married to the city His bride. People have become saints by the saving grace of Christ, 1Cor.1:2; Eph.2:8-10; Rom.3:26; John 3:16.
Those who will have the privilege to be called and have part in that marriage supper are blessed, another blessing of the seven blessings in the Revelation. It is confirmed by the last sentence, these are the true sayings of God.
We like to come back now to what the saints have to wear for that marriage supper. It says in 19:8 that they are dressed in “fine white linen which is the righteousness of the saints”. We mentioned before that we have no righteousness, Isa.64:6. The high priest in Zech3:3, 4 had to be undressed from his own dress, filthy garments. These were taken away and new garments given to him. In Isa.1:18 we read that we have to wash our filthy garments. This can only be done via the blood of Christ which has power to redeem us, Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; Rev.5:9; 12:11. By this process it becomes His righteousness which in turn is calledl the righteousness of the saints, because they have done the right thing to come to Christ, to have their filthy garments washed in His blood and to accept Him as The Lord our Righteousness, Jer.23:6. By His righteousness we have become justified, Rom.3:26. From thereon the saints are not inactive but active. We read in 1John 3:7 he that does righteousness is righteous even as He is righteous. NASB reads for does the word practices. Eph.2:10 tells us we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Read also in 2Cor.5:17; Eph.4:24 and the parable of Matt.25:31-46 where the righteous deeds of the saints are mentioned, done or neglected. What about the keeping of God’s commandments? Jesus says in Matt.7:21-23 that He is not interested in lip-service. Such people will be rejected as having done the work of iniquity. Or according to NASB who have practiced lawlessness. They have not given up sin, because sin is the transgression of the law, 1John 3:4 or according to NASB lawlessness and the footnote in the NASB reads lawlessness is used here in its broadest sense – defection from any of God’s standards.
The person in the parable of Matt.22:1-13 was rejected and taken out because he was not dressed in the appropriate garment, Christ’s righteousness. Still we must hold on to the fact that these deeds of righteousness are not the reason for our salvation, Christ is and will always be praised throughout eternity for His saving grace and the reason for our salvation. Even good deeds not done out of faith in Christ is sin, Rom.14:23 whatsoever is not of faith is sin. The righteousness of the saints is that they have accepted the grace of God by faith which is the right thing to do, Rom.3:23-26
John becomes so overwhelmed because of what he sees and hears that he falls down as in an act of worship. We also may become overwhelmed by what we discover in this Revelation of Jesus Christ. Let it lead us to worship the Creator God as we are called to do in Revelation 14:6, 7 and accept God’s gift of love, John 3:16. In John’s case it is an angel showing him all these things, Rev.1:1 and the angel tells John immediately not to do this, to kneel down in worship, because he says I am thy fellow servant and of thy brethren. Angels are created beings as humans are. They are to minister to us, Hebr.1:13, 14. They do God’s biddings from heaven to earth, Dan.9:20, 21. The angel tells John worship God. That’s what angels do, Isa.6:2, 3; Rev.4:8; 5:11, 13. The angel speaking to John adds something more, he says I am of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus…..for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. This is a strong qualifying statement to clarify Revelation 12:17 where it reads that God’s last remnant of the seed of the woman, the church, have the testimony of Jesus. (For a study of this topic go to the Revelation section and read REMNANT OF THE LAST DAYS and TESTIMONY OF JESUS)
John is now shown the most beautiful of all, the glorious return of Jesus Christ our Lord. It is the third time in the Revelation that we see Christ coming in glory, 1:7; 14:14. That will be the time when the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place. It will be the time when He will send His angels to gather the saints from all the corners of the earth, Matt.24:31 and lead them to the Holy city, New Jerusalem. John sees heaven opened. This is in addition what he saw earlier in 6:14 and what will happen at the end of the seventh plague, 16:20, islands and mountains will depart. The coming of Christ in glory on the clouds of heaven has an immediate effect on planet earth. He is riding a white horse in victory as we saw in 6:2 the first seal in its initial victory of the gospel preaching around the world, Col.1:6, 23. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of Man riding this white horse, as in Rev. 14:14 He is called Faithful and True, the Faithful of 1:5 and the True of 3:7. He judges in righteousness, Psalms 50:4, 7. The Lord when He comes shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with His truth. Psalms 96:13; Rev.16:5.
Then we read and make war. In Matt.10:34, 35 we read that Jesus said He is not come to make peace but the sword and sat man at variance, which means discord or division. The gospel would divide people. There would be persecution, some would persecute in the name of God and others would be persecuted because of their faithfulness to God, Luke 21:16, 17; John 16:2; Rev.6:3, 4 this war is also called the battle of God when it enters its climax, 16:14. More in 19:19
We know it is Christ Jesus on the white horse, because His eyes are as a flame of fire the same as John saw in the beginning in 1:14;2:18, and similar in 10:1 face as the sun and feet as pillars of fire. On His head John saw many crowns, not of thorns as in His suffering, but of a King in royalty. His kingship is real and genuine. In 14:14 He is seen wearing a stephanos crown of victory. Putting the two together we conclude that when Christ returns in glory, He comes in royalty and majesty as a victorious king, who is master of the battlefield. In this instance His name is an unknown one. He knows that name and we will refrain from any speculation.
John sees Him sitting on a horse and dressed in a vesture dripped in blood and now His name is given being The Word of God. We have met this in 1:16 and we read about it also in Hebr.4:12 In the Great Controversy, the battle of God, the Word of God is used as a sword. Christ in His incarnation is introduced by John in his gospel as “The Word”, John 1:1-3, 14. Jesus Himself suffered in that battle, as foretold by God in the Garden of Eden, Gen.3:15. The price of victory He paid with His own blood on the cross. John saw Him as the Lamb slain in Rev.5:6 and a slain lamb is not without blood. John may also have had in mind Isa.63:1-4. By that blood we are redeemed and saved, Eph.1:7; Col.1:14; Rev.12:11. The sanctuary is being cleansed by blood, Hebr.9:22, 23. Jesus in His incarnation joined us on earth to be part of the battle Himself. He as our Creator who humbled Himself, Phil.2:5-8, He met His opponent, Satan, on the battle field, Matt.4:1-11 and defeated Satan by His word, it is written. Now John sees Him coming again to join us in the final stage of the battle, but in royal glory and absolutely sure of the victory.
This time He is not coming to be born in a manger and angels announcing His birth, Luke 2:8-14. There in Bethlehem the angels had to leave Him, returning to heaven.
Now His angels are seen with Him. They follow Him also on horses and clothed in fine linen, white and clean. The angels had no physical part in the battle of the Great Controversy. Angels have not shed blood as Christ did, but they have the privilege to share in His Victory journey to earth and have been assigned a very special work. They assist in bringing in the good harvest, Rev.14:14-16. Read also in Matt.13:39; 24:31; Mark 13:27; 1 Thess.4:13-17
This verse gives us a flash forward how the war will end. Christ will be victor on the battlefield and rule over the nations who rebelled and marched against Him, 17:14. Those who gained the victory with Him will rule with Him, 2:26, and 27 He also will tread the winepress, the second and bad harvest, 14:17-20 called the fierceness and wrath of God. The apostle Paul wrote about the same event in 2Thess.2:8 that the wicked, the one opposing Christ, sitting in the temple pretending to be God, as anti or in place of Christ, vicar of Christ, that one will be consumed with the spirit of His mouth. The sharp sword, Rev.19:15 and be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. 2Thess.2:8 read also Isa.1:28; 11:4
Here His real undisputed position is declared. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Deut.10:17. Nobody can pretend any more or any longer, He is the ONE. He is the One who has gained the victory at the cross. Christ is and will be the sole ruler throughout the universe. Rev.1:5. He is equal with God, 1Tim.6:15 because he is God, John 1:1-3; Phil.2:6 Col.2:8; Hebr.1:8
Now we are introduced to a second supper. The first one was in 19:9 the royal feast of the marriage between Christ as Bridegroom and His bride the city/saints unit as we have established here above. This is a gruesome supper, all who have followed the apostate system are dead and the fowls of the air are invited to eat their bodies. It is called the supper of the great God. As the battle, which they have lost, was called the battle of that great day of God Almighty, so is this feast or supper called the supper of the great God. It is called the sacrifice of the day of the Lord, Zeph.1:7. In first instance this applies to guilty Judah of the Old Testament. But Zephaniah’s “prophecies of impending judgment upon Judah apply with equal force to the judgments that are to fall upon an impenitent world at the time of the second advent of Christ.”(Prophet and Kings page 389)
Now is it the time to make sure we are on Christ’s side or with the apostasy, read Matt.6:24; 12:30; Josh.24:15.
As we have noticed before, sometimes the Revelation moves forward and at times it goes backward. This verse takes us back to the time of the battle of the great day of God Almighty. The apostate system, the united nations with the beast to whom they have surrendered, 17:12, 13, 17 are making war against the “Him who sits on he horse”, 12:17; 16: 16:12-14; 17:14.It is also the same event what Daniel mentions in Dan.11:44,45. Why is it called the battle of God? Wars against God’s people are in essence wars against God Himself. Read Deut. 32:10 and Zech.2:8 who touches His people is touching the apple of His eye. In 2Chron.20 we have the story of king Jehoshaphat of Judah who found himself surrendered by a number of nations. He took the problem to the Lord, which is always the best thing to do. The prophet of God gave him the answer in 20:15 saying this battle is not yours but God’s. The king accepts this message and the next day encourages the people with the following words: believe in the Lord your God and ye shall be established, believe in His prophets and ye shall prosper. 20:20.Later the prophet Joel uses this experience to illustrate the last war mentioned here above, “the battle of God Almighty”. Read Joel 3:12-14. In the valley of Jehoshaphat the Lord will sit to judge. The sickle will be put in for the harvest is ripe, Rev.14:18-20. John is using Joel’s words. The last war may be on earth against humans, God’s faithful remnant people, but He will not leave them alone. He will come with His heavenly armies, 19:14. But as we have noticed before, the apostate system is on the loosing side, the next verse tells us all about it.
The whole apostate system is in revolt against God and His people, the sea beast of Rev.13:1-10, the papal system, the false prophet which we have identified as the earth beast of 13:11-18 apostate Christendom worshipping the image of the sea beast which is made by the earth beast, all of them will be cast into the lake of fire. That is what the apostle Paul calls in 2Thess.2:8 the destruction with the brightness of His coming. It is the same what we read in 2Pet.3:10 the melting away with fervent heat and all shall be burned up, and in Eze.28:18. They will not keep on burning and burning but be consumed into ashes. See also Daniel 7:11 what went out to destroy will be destroyed, as tares which are bundled together to be burned, Matt.13:30; Nahum 1:10 and Mal.4:3
Notice also that the devil is not mentioned. He will be added to the lake of fire after the millennium as we will read in Rev.20:10. The earthly apostate powers and their followers will suffer in fire at the beginning of the millennium, by the brightness of His coming. See here above.
There is a remnant which will suffer a different fate. It may seem that not all have been part of the apostate triumvirate of Rev.16:13, but still not belonging to God’s faithful people and followers of the Lamb, 17:14 they will be slain with the sword of Him that sat upon the horse. Rev.19:15. After this all are dead and the fowls can start their feast, 19:17 and fill themselves with their flesh. There is no life left on earth. The sleeping saints raised up and the living ones translated, are with Christ, 2Thess.4:15-17. Those who were in opposition to Christ are all dead, as we have learned from this chapter. Only Satan and his angels are still alive. We learn more about them in the next chapter.
At the end of chapter 19 we left the earth desolate and all humans, not with Christ, being dead. The apostate system is finished and its followers are dead, the remnant who were involved in another kind of apostasy are also dead, the faithful followers of the Lamb are in heaven, they have been resurrected or are translated and gathered together by the angels, Matt.24:31; Mark 13:31; 1Cor.15:51-54; 1Thess.4:13-18. Chapter 20 reveals what happened to Satan and what the saints are doing in heaven.
Again John sees an angel come down from heaven having a key and a chain in his hand. The key is of the bottomless pit. It is obvious we are dealing with symbolic language. A literal key and a pit do not fit together and a chain with these two items even less. Then we read that the angel takes hold of the dragon, which is Satan, according to 12:9. This also is symbolic language, Satan is not a beast which can be taken and put in a cage and bound by a chain, sounds very unreal to be literal. He can’t deceive the nations anymore because of what is supposed to have happened. This also needs some explanation of what happened in reality. The period of one thousand years, we take literal and not prophetic, a day for a year, because that would turn out to be an enormous length of time and also very unreal. After that period of time Satan will be loosed, but how will he be loosed, what is his situation during the one thousand years?
Let’s first look at the picture that Satan cannot deceive the nations any more. Why not? We have learned from chapter 19 that the nations of earth are all dead and served as supper for the fowls of the air, 19:17.We have learned that God’s people are in heaven. That leaves no living human being on earth for Satan to deceive. Because of the great earthquake which took place at the time of the seventh plague you can well imagine that the surface of the earth is in quite a chaotic ruinous situation, 16:18 and 20.
The following scripture references may illustrate the earth’s situation at that time: Isa.13:13; 24:21, 22; Jer.4:23-26. This is called here in Revelation 20:2 the bottomless pit. This name in itself creates a problem because it seems very difficult to lock someone up in what has no bottom. The word comes from the Greek abussos or in English abyss which has the meaning of a chaotic situation, a chaos, something similar to what the earth was before creation, Gen.1:1. Checking with Oxford dictionary it can be understood as a situation of loneliness. Oxford also uses the word void which means empty. This brings us closer to understand in what situation Satan will find himself after what happened to planet earth as we have learned from chapter 19. The earth is void or empty of all living humans, and turned into an utter chaos. Satan has nothing to do anymore; he is deprived from his activity he has been engaged in for about 6000 years deceiving the human race.
It reads in 20:1 that an angel comes down from heaven with a key in his hand. That sounds like what we read in 9:1 a star fall from heaven and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. I like to use this wording to illustrate what happened to Satan and this earth. Star is a symbol for angel, Rev.1:20.
Satan was in heaven Lucifer or son of the morning – day star – Isa.14:12. He fell from heaven. He was cast out, Rev.12:9 and out into the earth. A rebellious angel coming to earth can only result in a rebellious chaotic situation for planet earth under the symbol of bottomless pit. In the wording of Rev.9:1 which we are using, it reads that the star or angel was given the key of the bottomless pit. A person who is the key-holder has the power. A prison warden has the key of the prison and those in the prison are under his power and control. When Satan fell on earth he entered the Garden of Eden. There he found Adam and Eve. Adam was given dominion of the earth, the key as it were, Gen.1:26. But Satan by his deception subjected Adam and Eve to him and took the key away to himself. Thus he became the ruler of the nations. Even Jesus called him Prince of this world, John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11. That’s why when Satan tried to get Jesus to worship him. He promised all the kingdoms to Jesus because he said that is delivered unto me, Luke 4:6, 7, clearly referring to what he got by deception in the Garden of Eden
Through the act of Adam the human race was placed under the dominion of sin of which Satan is the originator, Rom.3:11-14; John 8:44. Romans 6:16 teaches us that to whom we yield ourselves, his servants we are. But on the cross Christ gained the victory over Satan and wrestled the key, the power away from Satan, Hebr.2:14, 15. Christ is now the real Prince of the kings of this world, Rev.1:5. However Satan has been allowed to exercise his power a little longer but in great fury, as a roaring lion knowing he has only a little time, 1Pet.5:8. He is not only a roaring hungry lion looking for prey but he is also an extremely angry lion because he has lost the battle. For some time, 4000 years he had even excess to heaven to represent earth, see Job 1:6, 7; 2:1, 2, but that privilege has been taken away from him because of Christ who is our representative in heaven, our high priest, Hebr.8:1-3; 1Tim.2:5..
Now back to Rev.20:1 Satan has lost everything he exercised power over. He has lost the key and is now placed under heaven’s key of power, in utter loneliness for one thousand years. There is nowhere to go, no one to deceive, all kingdoms gone with all their pride, in chaos and ruin. This must feel like an unbreakable chain of iron over which Satan has no power. A literal chain of iron he could break, Mark 5:3, 4 but this chain he is “bound with” is beyond his power and might. For the saints its time to sing the doxology and give all praise and honour to God Almighty.
From the earthly scene we move to the heavenly. It is very difficult when dealing with two complete different situations to deal with them at the same time. It is also difficult to deal with two groups of people at the same time. The Revelation moves from one to the other, back and forth throughout the whole book. The reader must have noticed this along the way of our journey through this Bible book. From the earthly bottomless pit situation we are now taken up into heaven and what is taken place there. We have learned that God’s people have been taken up into heaven with Jesus at the time of His second coming in glory with all His angels. Now we are told what is being done there at the time of their arrival in heaven.
John sees thrones and people sitting on these thrones for the purpose of exercising judgment or issuing a verdict. The they and the them are no doubt the people of God, called souls of those who have been martyred for not going along with the last day apostasy. Souls are living beings, not disembodied spirits. They will live and reign with Christ for a thousand years. Reign means they have authority with Christ. They have authority to pass judgment or a verdict over those who did not make it into heaven.
The apostle Paul refers to this activity in 1Cor.6:2, 3 “the saints shall judge the world and even angels”. John says judgment was given unto them. This fits Daniel 7:22 where the KJV reads judgment was given to the saints. We have to understand this in its proper order. Before somebody can judge other people that person, he or she, has to be judged first in order to be found qualified to pass judgment. God does not take persons at random to sit on thrones with Him for judgment. That’s why the NKJV reads in Daniel 7:22 that judgment was made in favour of the saints. The saints are being judged first before they can judge the unsaved and. angels.
This also is in harmony with God’s plan, read Hebr.10:30 which is a quote from Deut. 32:36. But for the saints there is no verdict in condemnation, Rom.5:1; 8:1.We read in Rev.20:5 that what is described in verse 4 is part and parcel of the first resurrection. The rest of the dead, the ones described in 19:20, 21 will not come to life until the one thousand years are finished. Now follows the statement this is the first resurrection, 20:5.In the first resurrection the saints, those who are found being in Christ, will be resurrected or translated, go with Christ into heaven and will occupy thrones for the purpose of judging the unsaved who are still dead and will come back to life after the thousand years. Jesus also taught two resurrections in John 5:28, 29
Now it can be stated that “blessed are those who have part in the first resurrection”. They have been born twice, first out of Adam who failed in Eden then out of Christ the second Adam who gained the victory at the cross. ! Cor.15:45, 47; Rev.5:13. They will not die a second time or suffer second death. They sit with Christ on thrones to judge those who did not come up in the first resurrection but who are in death confined to the bottomless pit where also the devil is chained with loneliness which is stronger than steel because he cannot break this situation whatsoever he may try to do..
After the one thousand years Satan will be loosed out of his prison. How will this be? It will be because the second resurrection takes place. John 5:29 the resurrection of damnation, as Jesus said. Also according to what we read in Rev.20:5 the rest of the dead, the ones who did not come up in the first resurrection, lived not again until the thousand years were finished. Now the thousand years are finished and Satan loosed out of his loneliness. They are resurrected to receive their verdict or punishment. Many of the wicked have fallen in the sleep of death without any guilt or receiving any just punishment. The saints sitting on the thrones with Christ have decided on their verdict and what punishment they will receive. Luke 12:47, 48
When Satan sees all those people alive he gets into action again and starts deceiving them as he has done before. Again he leads them into battle. John uses OT names for this battle, God and Magog. Go to our Ezekiel 38 and 39 study and you will find they were names of OT Israel’s enemies. Here in 20:8 they are numbered as the sand of the sea. All the wicked from the time of Cain who killed Abel till the last one, must be a number as the sand of the sea.
In which way is Satan deceiving them? The city of God with the saints has come down from heaven (more about this in chapter 21) and Satan makes them believe that they can conquer this city and capture it. We do not know how long it will take to organise this attack and we refrain from speculating. It’s enough to know and to accept what John writes and that it will take place. Satan and his army will utterly fail because God will send fire from heaven which will devour them. Notice again not a fire that will burn continuously, but a fire which will devour, consume and destroy them for ever and ever.
This is a further description of what is written in the last part of 20:9. At that time, before the millennium the beast and the false prophet were taken into the lake of fire, Rev.19:20. Now it is the turn of the devil to be added and suffer the same with the beast and the false prophet after the millennium. The fire will be like a lake of which we read in 19:20, which was caused by the brightness of His coming in this (the) lake of fire they will be tormented till all is burned up and devoured which is expressed in terms of day and night for ever and ever. When the devouring process by way of fire is terminated, there will be no return any more. They have become ashes, Mal.4:1. They will be like Sodom and Gomorrah, Jude 6, 7. Read also Isa.13:9; Zeph.2:9; 2Pet. 2:6.
Again we are introduced to the One who sits on a great white throne. We have met this before in 4:2, 8, and 9; 5:1, 7, 13; 6:16; 7:10, 15; 19:4 and 21:5. When He appears in glory, earth, and heaven the atmosphere surrounding the earth, cannot exist and remain before Him in its present sinful condition, it all disappears. This does not mean there will be no more earth and heaven, because we will learn from chapter 21 and other scripture passages that He will make a new earth and a new heaven.
John sees the dead, not as being dead, but those who were dead and have been resurrected, 20:5, 8, and are now standing before God. It is good to remember that all of us have to appear before the throne of God and Christ. Rom.14:10 before God (RSV and in Greek) and in 2Cor.5:10 before Christ. Read also in Matt.25:31, 32. God is judge but Christ also acts as judge, John 5:22. The judgment will be according to what is written in the heavenly books. Two books are being named in the scriptures. Book of remembrance or memory, Mal.3:16 and the book of life, Phil.4:13; Luke 10:20; Rev.3:5; 13:8 and 22:19.We are saved by grace through faith, John 3:15-17; Rom.3:26; Eph.2:8-10, but that does not exempt us from being judged. The Lord will judge His people, Hebr.10:30 as stated before, all including God’s people will stand before the throne of God in judgment. That judgment will be according to works. Read the entire parable of Matt.25:31-46 and also Matt.7:16-23. In James 2:14, 17, and 26 we read that faith without works is dead. Daniel 7:22(NKJV) does encourage us that for the saints, those who are real and genuinely in Christ, Rom.8:1, for them the judgment will be in their favour
Here we have the resurrection confirmed that wherever the dead will be, in the earth or the depth of the sea, all will be raised. Death will loose its grip on them and hell or Hades (grave) will be opened and again we read that they will be judged according to their works. After we have quoted so many times that works of faith have no place in our salvation experience towards heaven, at the same time it is impossible to preach or accept a Gospel that excludes judgment. Saints also will be judged as we have stated so often.
Works of faith are done because of grace and salvation received, not to gain heaven or grace and salvation. It is from grace and salvation received as a gift by faith in Christ not to earn grace and salvation. We are not saved by works but judged according to work. Rev.22:12. Works of faith are the evidence of faith. Saved by grace through faith in Christ and judged according to our works.
The chapter and this section of our journey through the Revelation ends in telling us what will happen to death and hell or Hades (grave) they will be thrown in the last fire. This last fire is called the second death of which we read in 20:6 and of which the ones who experience the first resurrection will not suffer. In that same fire all will be consumed whose names are not written in the book of life. It is the fire which comes down from heaven when Satan is trying to capture the city or camp with the saints, 20:9.
The saints are now safe in the Holy City and earth is cleansed from sin, sinners, death and its grave (Hades). Thanks be to God. The Lamb has conquered in great victory. Dear reader be assured that you have accepted the Lamb of Isa 53; John 1:29, 36; that your sin soiled robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb, Isa.1:18; Rev.7:14; that you are a follower of the Lamb, Rev.14:4; 17:14, and have your name written in the Lamb’s book of life,
Pastor Jan T Knopper
Edited September 2010
Revisited September 2013