Read with Me

 Revelation 20:7-10 (HCSB)
When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The Devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

 Listen with Me

John was shown a time when satan is released from his prison, but only for a short time and for a specific purpose: to stir up the pagan nations against God’s kingdom people. Far from showing that satan has any power of his own, this further demonstrates God’s own sovereignty, even over the accuser of mankind.

This battle was foreseen by Ezekiel and was more fully described in his writings (Ezekiel 38:1-39:20). The key takeaways for God’s people are that even though they are vastly outnumbered by these enemies of the kingdom, they are not truly outnumbered because God is with them. And any number plus God is always a majority.

In any case, the number of warriors is immaterial because the people of the kingdom will not have to fight this battle at all. God will fight it on their behalf, just as He has done in many cases over the millennia when His people have been in a hopeless situation.

At the end of the battle, it will be clearly seen by everyone that all these events have been the physical manifestation of a spiritual war being fought for the hearts and souls of people. The devil will be thrown into the lake of fire to join the beast and the false prophet in eternal torment, setting the stage for the final judgment.

By the way, many believe that satan is the king of hell, his base of operation from whence he sends out his armies of demons to attack and overcome helpless humanity. This image was fostered by scenes in Dante’s Inferno showing demons perfectly at home in the pits of hell, and even participating in the torture of the condemned souls. And it has been fed and amplified by television shows and movies showing satan perfectly at home in the flames, even calling out loudly for the heat to be turned up because he is cold.

But these scenes presented to John show that satan’s only real power is to deceive. When he is at last consigned to hell, it is not as any kind of boss or authority figure. He will suffer eternally in the fires right alongside those who are condemned at the final judgment (Matthew 25:41, Revelation 20:15).

Pray with Me

Father, it has always amazed me how few words John used to describe this final battle – just a couple verses! But that’s because ultimately there is nothing to see there. You will be taking an active role in that last battle, it will be over almost immediately, something that Ezekiel communicated too, but using more words. And it is wonderful to be reminded that in satan we do not face a powerful, almost almighty foe. Instead, he is a created being who will ultimately be defeated and completely helpless. Thank you, Lord, for these great truths. Amen.