Read with Me

 Revelation 20:1-6 (HCSB)
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.
Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years.

 Listen with Me

In the midst of strong persecution, it is very easy to grow discouraged and to give up hope. But that is precisely what this letter to the seven churches in Asia was designed to prevent.

Even though the devil can seem all-powerful to those who are being subjected to torture, death, and the torture and death of their loved ones, he is revealed here for what he truly is. The picture presented by God is of the angel descending from heaven with a chain and the key to the abyss picking him up by the scruff of his neck like an unruly kitten, and wrapping him up and throwing him into the abyss until God sees fit to release him for one final testing of humanity before He calls an end to all time.

Thus, satan is revealed as a created being whose strength cannot be compared even to a single angel. His carefully curated image of himself being equal and opposite to God is shattered in a single vision that reveals the truth.

The meaning of the thousand years mentioned in verses 2, 4, 5, and 6 has been hotly debated over the centuries. In apocalyptic literature many numbers have symbolic meaning instead of being meant literally. Here, the thousand years is not necessarily literal, but is simply a nice, round number that is best understood as simply a long period of time that will end when the time of complete fulfillment arrives.

Many people in John’s day worried that those who died in the persecution before Jesus returned would miss out on that return and the resurrection that goes along with it. But the vision God gave to John was specifically designed to assuage those fears. Those who died because of their unwavering faith in God are not going to miss out on anything. Instead, they will be raised to eternal life first and will reign with Jesus until the fullness of time is reached. Then the general resurrection will come.

Pray with Me

Father, so many are so concerned about constructing timetables based on these chapters so that they can know where we are in the process and what will come next. But You don’t seem to be providing a precise timetable at all. Instead, You are helping those reading this letter in the first century, as well as Christians all around the world and through the ages, to gain the clear reassurance that our enemy is doomed. As powerful as he might want to be seen, he is just a created spiritual being that You can and will take out when the time is right. That means that we can remain steadfast no matter what happens while we actively wait for the consummation of all things, faithfully doing Jesus’ work that He left for us to finish, without fearing satan or his demons in the least. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Amen, Lord!