Revelation 20:1-15 Part 5

REVELATION 20:1-15 Part 5


1)        Then I saw a messenger holding the abyss key and a great chain in its hand coming down out of the heaven,

2)        and it laid hold on the dragon, (the old serpent that is diabolos and the satan) and bound it a thousand years

3)        and cast it into the abyss and locked and sealed over it so that it couldn’t further deceive the Gentiles until the thousand years is complete; afterward it is necessary to loose it a short time.

4)        Then I saw seats; and the lives of those who had been stricken because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God and who did not adore the beast or its image and did not take its mark on their forehead or on their hand, sat on them; and judgment was granted to them; and they did live; and they prevailed with The Christ a thousand years.

5)        The remaining dead did not live until the thousand years was completed.  This is the first resurrection.

6)        Blessed and hallowed is one having part in the first resurrection.  The second death has no authority over them!  They will be priests of God and The Christ and reign with Him a thousand years!

7)        And when the thousand years is completed, the satan will be loosed from its confinement.

8)        And it will come out to deceive the Gentiles in the four extremities of the earth (the gog and magog), the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

9)        And they arose over the breadth of the earth and encircled the fortress of the holy ones and the city of the beloved, and fire descended from the heaven and consumed them.

10)    And the devil (the one deceiving them) was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone (where also are the beast and the false prophet), and they will be tormented day and night into the ages of the ages.

11)    Then I saw a magnificent white seat, and One sitting on it at Whose appearance the earth and the heaven did vanish, for no place was found for them;

12)    and I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the seat, and books were opened.  Then the other book was opened which is of the living.  And the dead were judged from what was written in the books according to their works.

13)    And the sea did yield the dead in her; and death and hades did yield the dead in them, and they were judged according to their works;

14)    then death and hades were cast into the lake of fire.  This is the second death (the lake of fire).

15)    Anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.



At the medical center club where I work out every morning there’s a prominent Tyler lady that frequents the facilities there.  (She’s an “elder” at First Presbyterian Church.)  But for the grace of God there’s no way this lady would have put up with me for the last several years.

While being respectful of her position as a federal judge, I’ve accosted her “belief system” so many times.  She’s often “annoyed”; but she puts up with it…..even to the point of exchanges of friendly “back and forth”.  She doesn’t avoid those; and she even seems to enjoy them.

And she sometimes questions me.  The questions aren’t asked in order to receive information, though; they’re designed to gain the advantage!  Having occupied the bench as a judge for many years, she’s very good at doing that!

A couple of weeks ago she tried to put me on the defensive by asking this question: “why have so many said that Revelation shouldn’t be included in the Bible?”

Now, recognize the question for what it is.  She tried to divert my attention away from her own presuppositions about Scripture, and re-focus it all on what “so many others” have said.  The “so-many-others” contention was used in order to support her own position.  And, in effect, it put God’s Word “on trial” by human judge and jury!

But the “so many others” that she called up to support her own position “assumes” that those who deny inclusion of the Revelation are orthodox Christians whose opinions are equally valid to our forebears in the faith!

That’s a faulty assumption.

Not only was the Revelation received with great joy by the original Churches; and not only were the “first-fruits” of the resurrection aroused to great anticipation of the imminent Parousia of Jesus Christ, but our forebears recognized the Word of God for what it was.

It came directly from God in His holy tabernacle; it was specifically sent to the Churches by Jesus Christ; the messenger through whom it was sent was an apostle of Jesus Christ who was told that he was the last prophet and this was the last prophecy; and it was sent to the Churches before the promised Parousia/appearance of the King of Kings!

The Spirit of Christ opened the ears and minds and hearts of His people, and they understood the language, and they saw the perfections and continuity of the prophetic Word.  And, with all the rest of inspired Scripture, they received it as The Word of God.  And it was never at serious risk of being excluded.

Of course there were some who attempted to judge God’s Word (just as they do today!).  They say that it has to be some mythological tale that a person - a human being - (in this case, the apostle John) was actually taken up into the heaven to see and hear that which was soon to be. 

And how could that ever happen!  Somebody just had to have written an imaginative story rivaling epic Greek mythology; and it must have been passed down by tradition!

But, you see, Moses spent forty days and nights in God’s glory cloud!  And if the Revelation is summarily dismissed, then, for the same reason, the five books of Moses are equally questionable!  They, too, have to be rejected as legitimate parts of the Bible!

And Ezekiel’s prophecy is another, because Ezekiel was shown exactly the same things John saw.  And he described it all in chapter one!  So the prophecy of Ezekiel would have to be rejected.

And over six hundred years before John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ was sent to the Churches, Daniel was shown the very things that Ezekiel had seen, and that John saw and heard.  So the prophecy of Daniel shouldn’t be in the Bible either!

In the Gospel accounts, over three hundred people saw the risen Christ bodily ascend into the glory cloud; so the Gospels would have to be reckoned as mythological. (That’s eleven books so far!)

The apostle Paul said that he, also, had been in God’s throne-room tabernacle. 

So, if a man’s claims to have seen God’s tabernacle in the heaven makes his prophecies and letters illegitimate, then all thirteen letters of Paul would have to be viewed as illegitimate.  (That’s twenty six!  And there are more!)

It’s true that there have been many attacks on John’s Revelation because it’s mysterious and fanciful, leading some to declare that it has no place in the Bible.  And it’s just as true that there have been  attacks on other portions of Scripture for the same reasons.

It’s common to hear that Moses’ creation account is a matter of religion rather than scientific “fact”.  The parting of a sea; and the parting of a rushing river?  Just cultic fantasy similar to the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology!  Those parts should certainly be excluded.

A man living to tell about it after being in the belly of a fish for three days?  No way that Jonah should be in the Bible!

The exclusion from the Bible of the Song of Solomon has been attempted many times.  The letter from James to the Churches has been excluded by some because it’s said to be in disagreement with Paul’s letters!  And that’s just a few.

So, as you can see, the argument that “so many” have proposed removing The Revelation of Jesus Christ from the Bible omits all the other books that have been under similar attack, and makes it seem as if it’s singularly offensive to human sensibilities!  But it’s not!  The whole Word of God is constantly being judged by men.

And it’s a method of putting Christians on the defensive regarding the one apostolic document – the one Word of God – that fills up the whole of the will and purpose of God in its continuity and completeness.

And I suppose that’s as good a reason as any that it’s a target for exclusion.

All of the books of the Bible are indispensable; and they’re all profitable to the Faith.  But I’m certain that this one is the “capstone” of the whole of Scripture; and it’s most worthy of our best efforts to defend the Faith.

We’re well into our sixth year of preaching through The Revelation now; and we’re in the concluding portions of it that began at verse eleven of chapter nineteen.  John was being shown that which was “imminent” – that which was shortly to take place.

And what was imminent was the Parousia/appearance of the Christ at the end of the age.  In advance of His appearance, John is shown what was near; and he writes it to the Churches scattered all through the Gentile nations for their comfort and assurance.

The last seven things he is shown in the heaven begin at that point in his letter – verse eleven of chapter nineteen; and they continue to the end; and they prophesy all of our Lord’s work as the reigning King of Kings.  The first three of them come at the end of chapter nineteen; three more come here in chapter twenty; and the last thing John is shown is written in chapter twenty one.

The first of the seven (then I saw) is, of course, the imminent Parousia of the Christ Himself at the end of the age.  And as John sees and hears (and writes), it is “near”.

The second “then I saw” (at the coming Parousia of the Christ) is the final judgment of the harlot – Israel – by the Sword.

The third is the awful spectacle of the prophesied judgment pronounced by Moses… the gathering of the vultures for the great feast.  There were two feasts, you see.  There had been a wedding feast for those who were called, as our Lord and His elect became “one flesh”.  But at His Parousia He would also call for all the vultures of the air; and all those remaining in the land would, themselves, be a feast; for the whole land would be a wilderness in which no one was left to bury the dead.

Then John says “then I saw”.  It was the fourth one, recorded here at the beginning of our chapter twenty.  The satan, diabolos, the serpent of old had been given free reign among the Gentiles until the fullness of the time.  But at the coming Parousia of the Christ, that would no longer be the case.

Some twenty-five hundred years previous, our Lord had made a covenant with Abraham that he would be the father of many nations.  And at the coming Parousia of the King of Kings, John sees Him filling up that promise; for, among the kings and nations and tribes and tongues of the Gentiles, our Lord had many who belonged to Him! 

They would be as many as the sands of the seashore and as many as the stars in the heaven.  They were the “seed” of Abraham in Christ.  And so He “bound” the dragon from deceiving them any longer.  And the “binding” of the dragon would be for all the years decreed for our Lord to complete this work.

“Then I saw”… the fifth one (beginning at verse four of our text), has to do with all of the decreed years during which the satan is bound from deceiving us who are the Gentile “seed of Abraham”.

This morning, since this is the time in which we live, I’ll just give you a quick overview.  And we’ll get to the specifics of the text next Lord’s Day.

But what John is shown here, along with the prophecies of the older Scripture, provide us with a wondrous account of the incredible work of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords among us Gentiles.  We’ll see that it is a complete work until the full light of the Christ shines upon every mountain, every hill and every valley of all the nations.  His glory will cover the earth as the water covers the sea!

Then, and only then, will the dragon be “loosed” for a short time.

Then the sixth “then I saw” is our Lord’s “judgment day” from His seat above the firmament of the heavens.

And the seventh is the glorious end of the Revelation to John as he’s shown the “paradise” creation of God – the new heavens and the new earth… its temple being the “Person” of Jesus Christ the Word of God, and all to the glory of the Father.

Now, there’s nothing mysterious about any of this!  It’s all God’s Word; and it’s all signified and prophesied from the beginning.  It’s all in the language of God.  It all fits together.  It’s all consistent.  And there’s nothing whatever to fear.  Rather, it’s for our comfort and assurance, for it is God’s purpose and will for all of us who belong to Him IN CHRIST.

There’s nothing here about a great “war” between two equals: God and satan; there’s nothing here about Jesus “occupying” Jerusalem and reigning over the world for a thousand years from that city; there’s nothing here about a “rapture” of people to be with the Lord in the sky; there’s nothing here about a terrible holocaust or a fiery destruction of this evil world; and there’s nothing here about our Lord’s kingdom being “delayed” because His Own people killed Him!

Apostolic doctrine and preaching is the keys of the kingdom.  And that’s what it is for a reason: our Lord Himself taught them.  And by letter and by preaching and by house to house teaching, the apostles taught the first fruits – the elect remnant of the house of Jacob.

Apostolic doctrine is orthodoxy.  Put another way: orthodoxy is defined by adherence to apostolic doctrine.  Right teaching and right praise descends from the apostles of Jesus Christ!  And one finds very little orthodoxy among those who attack the legitimacy of the inspired Word of God, for this letter was sent to the Churches by the apostle – John.

Infiltrating the Churches of the original first-fruits of the resurrection were false prophets and false teachers and those who wouldn’t keep our Lord’s commandments.  They were judaists intent on persecuting the Lord’s people. And “anathema” was pronounced on them by the apostles.  But the Lord used these “anathematized” judaists to “manifest” His Own.

Those who belonged to Him held the testimony of Jesus and kept His commandments.  They adhered to apostolic doctrine because Jesus taught His apostles, and because their preaching and teaching was the keys of the Kingdom.

And the Kingdom of Jesus Christ was “salt” and “light”.  It was like leaven that leavened the whole; it was like a tiny mustard seed that grew into a giant tree.  The “Daystar” would spring up as the first light of dawn, and over the course of the whole “Day of The Lord” bring light and life to all the earth.

Apostolic doctrine, regardless of the false teachers (then and now), was adhered to by our forebears in The Faith.  And I’m going to briefly outline for you what orthodox apostolic doctrine is with regard to our Lord’s Kingdom.

Our Lord had said to the pharisees; “if I command demons, then the Kingdom is upon you”.

At the birth, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus at the end of the age, and at His ascension to the Right of the Father, and at His sending of His Spirit, His Kingdom was established.  And by apostolic doctrine, during the following forty years, His Church was founded in all the Gentile nations.

Those Churches were composed (almost entirely) of the ones He came to seek and to save from the tribes of Jacob.  And they were all taught by the preaching and letters of the apostles of Jesus Christ.

And at the last day, and at His Parousia/appearance, and by the Sword of His mouth, came the prophesied destruction of the harlot nation.  Also by the Sword of His mouth the satan was bound from deceiving the Gentiles any longer.  Never would they be deceived by this creature again!

Jesus is the “Second Adam” Who overcomes the world and rules it, thereby fulfilling the dominion mandate decreed by God to the first Adam.  By the Sword of His mouth and by His Spirit, He will overcome the nations and tribes and tongues of the earth until the glory of God covers the earth as the water covers the sea (Isaiah 11:9).  Diabolos – the satan – can do nothing about it.  The King will accept nothing less than sweeping this creature’s abode clean!

For all the years decreed for the binding of the dragon, Jesus’ reign and rule over the Gentile nations will bring abundant, and ever increasing, light and blessing in every area of life.  Through the faithfulness of His redeemed people and the submission of the nations to His authority, the whole earth will shine with His glory!  And God the Father will be glorified by the work of the Son!

Then, when all the years of the decree are complete, He will judge the living and the dead from His Kingdom seat above the firmament.  And when the dead and the satan, and death itself are assigned to their final destruction, all the earth will be a sinless paradise paid for by the blood of the Lamb.

That’s the orthodox position, you see.  It is the Gospel of God concerning His Son Jesus, The Christ!  It is the Gospel preached by the apostles.  It is apostolic doctrine held by the firstfruits.

It is the Sword of the King that will overcome and bring glory to His Father.


At verse four of our text John writes “then I saw….”  It is the fifth of seven.  And one of the first things we notice is that the “thousand years” is written four more times… for a total of six.  It was written twice in the first three verses having to do with the binding of the satan from deceiving the Gentiles; and here in the fifth thing John is shown, it occurs four more times.

And as we’ve seen so many times while preaching through the Revelation, the number six has to do with accursed and depraved humanity… the “sea of humanity” that is the nations and tribes and tongues of Gentiles.

And remember; the covenant that God made with Abraham was that he would be the father of many nations.  His seed would be The Christ and all who were IN HIM among all the nations.  Apostolic doctrine concerning the salvation of the world is built around that covenant!  Our Lord has as many Gentiles who belong to Him as there are grains of sand on the seashore!  And Abraham is their father; so they are true Jews IN CHRIST – Abraham’s seed!!

So… the “thousand years” is written four more times here (total of six).  And the thousand years, as we’ve already seen, is “all of them”.

What John is shown here, then, has to do with the Gentiles who belong to the Christ during all the years decreed!  The satan is bound from deceiving them; and the Spirit of Christ would rebirth such a number of them that the entire earth itself would be blessed, and would blossom with great abundance!

The Dayspring from on high had dawned; and all the earth would be enlightened with His glory.  And the water of life would flow – ever deeper and ever wider – into all the tribes and tongues of the world.

And as more and more of the Gentiles are added to the Christ, more and more blessings and light and abundance of life will reflect the glory of God.

There’s nothing strange at all about this!  The hope, the anticipation of the dominion of the Christ, is an absolutely fundamental characteristic of Christianity!  The fact that the satan is bound, and that the Christ shall reign over all… to the ends of the earth is “basic” Gospel!

Listen to the prophetic Word of Zechariah from chapter nine:


9) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem (that’s the remnant): behold, your king comes unto you; he is just, and having salvation; (He comes) lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.

10) And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off; then he shall speak peace unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.

11) As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant I have set free your prisoners from the pit wherein is no water.

12) Turn you to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope: even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto you.

13) For I have bent Judah for me, I have filled the bow with Ephraim; and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and will make you as the sword of a mighty man.

14) And YAHVEH shall be seen over them; and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning; and YAHVEH will blow the trumpet, and will go with whirlwinds of the south.

15) YAHVEH of hosts will defend them; and they shall devour, and shall tread down the sling-stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as from wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, drenched as the corners of the altar.

16) And YAHVEH their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they shall be as the jewels of a crown shining over his land.

17) For how great is his goodness, and how great is his glory!  Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the young women.


These are the things that the prophets were told to go and prophesy… a flourishing world under the dominion of the Christ!  Light and life and freedom from the darkness, and justice and peace and health and great prosperity.

The prophets were sent to speak these things.  And they hated it!  They didn’t want to go and prophesy the destruction of Israel and the salvation of the pagan nations!  It made Daniel so sick he couldn’t get out of bed.  And it took a three-day death and resurrection experience for Jonah to go and preach to Gentiles!  And even after that, he was still angry about having to do it!

Jesus’ disciples didn’t even understand these things until the resurrection and Pentecost.

But there’s nothing unusual about the language here.  It’s all language that John had heard before.  It’s all the language that the other apostles had heard and spoken and written.  And it’s all the language that the former prophets prophesied – having heard it directly from God!

For all the years decreed, the satan is bound from deceiving the Gentiles; for all the years decreed, our Lord will submit the nations to Himself; for all the years decreed, every last one of His people will be loosed from the pit of pagan darkness; for all the years decreed there will be increasing light and plenty and blessings.  And His people will be jewels in the crown – lighting the world with the glory of God!

It’s faithlessness for the Churches to allow that hope and anticipation to be extinguished by false prophets and teachers, or by events and times of trouble.  Jesus has many who belong to Him; and the shining glory of God will cover the earth as the water covers the sea!  He made that covenant with Abraham; and His faithful Word will accomplish all that is prophesied.

We mustn’t be confused by false teachers and by pseudoprophets.  We must stand on the Word of God and hold fast to orthodox Christianity, for it is the testimony of Jesus.

There’s a story written in the historical literature that’s interesting (and maybe even instructive).  It was said that the apostle John was, on one occasion, in a bath-house in the city of Ephesus.  If you remember, John was the pastor there.  And the city was within traveling distance of the other six Churches to which the Revelation was originally sent.  (This was all before The Revelation was written, of course.)

There was a judaist false prophet in the synagogue of Jews in Ephesus; and apparently he refuted apostolic doctrine concerning the Christ.  And he persecuted the congregation of Jewish believers.

His name was Cerinthus; and he is said to have been of the same mind as today’s premillennialists… trying to convince those in the Church that there would, one day, be a Jewish messiah ruling the world from Jerusalem.

Well, as the story goes, one day when John was in the bath-house, Cerinthus came in to bathe.  And when John saw him, he said “there’s a false prophet in here!”  And he got up and left.

Cerinthus had been confronted time and time again; yet he continued to persecute the Church of Jesus Christ.  He continued to rail against apostolic doctrine.  He continued to deny the coming Parousia of the Christ and His Kingdom over all the pagan Gentile nations….

And the apostle wasn’t one who shied away from confrontation.  And if the story is true, he certainly didn’t resist the opportunity to ridicule false prophets and their follies!

One of the many early proponents of the finished work of the Christ was Athanasius.  We rarely read the Athanasian Creed due to its length, but suffice it to say that he was a staunch defender of orthodoxy.  In fact, in the early councils of the Church he literally through false teachers out of the meetings!  False teachers are never to speak in the councils and congregations of the Church of Jesus Christ!

Orthodox, apostolic preaching and teaching is the Sword of the King!  It teaches the birth, death, resurrection, ascension and parousia of God’s King (all prophesied).  It teaches the destruction of the harlot nation by the Sword of His mouth.  It teaches the binding of the satan so that in all the years decreed, it can’t deceive the Lord’s people in the Gentile nations.  It teaches the complete work of the Christ over all the kingdoms and nations of the earth, bringing light and life and peace and bounty and fruitfulness (all prophesied).  It teaches the judgment of the dead (those not alive in Him), and the judgment of the devil and of death itself.

And, finally, it teaches a new heavens and a new earth for the glory of the Father.

Next Lord’s Day we’ll look more closely at the text of what John was shown, as he says “then I saw”… the fifth of seven.  I’ve had to reconsider the punctuation of a couple of the verses; but I’ll have that for you next time.