“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.”
Revelation 20:1-3 NLT
The memories from Armageddon were just fading from John’s vision, when another angel appeared. He came down from Heaven carrying a key and a substantial chain. This angel was obviously no wimp, because he was able to overpower satan and chain him up. Satan was to be imprisoned for a thousand years – quite a few human life sentences there – and his jail was to be “the bottomless pit”. He wasn’t handled too gently either because he was thrown in there – no “would you mind”? on this occasion. And then the angel shut the door and locked it.
As a reminder, who was and is satan? Some scriptures describe him as Lucifer, the senior angel in charge of worship in Heaven, but he becomes proud and wanted to take over Heaven through a coup. Needless to say, it was unsuccessful and he was cast down to earth. In a conversation with the religious leaders of His day, Jesus described the devil as being a murderer and liar. we read in John 8:44, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies“. The Apostle Peter warned us about him. We read in 1 Peter 5:8, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour“. But we can resist him, as we read in James 4:7, “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
But what is, or was, the bottomless pit? The commentators and translators think it was a holding area for the extremely wicked, an abyss to hold them until their time of judgement could be scheduled. The best explanation comes from 2 Peter 2:4, “For God did not spare even the angels who sinned. He threw them into hell, in gloomy pits of darkness, where they are being held until the day of judgment”. The word Peter used in his epistle was “hell”, which may give some indication that it is a terrible place. In C S Lewis’s fictional book, The Great Divorce, hell was a dismal place that never ended, so “bottomless” might be a good description of where the devil ended up, at least for a millennia. And, of course, once there, the devil’s ability to deceive mankind ended.
It would be difficult to imagine what Planet Earth would be like without the devil. However, these verses in Revelation say nothing about sin and evil being locked up with satan, so we can only assume that mankind remained infected with sin during Jesus’s thousand year reign. But more of that in the next blog. One thing for sure – the excuse “the devil made me do it” wouldn’t be valid anymore!
Dear Lord. Our enemy, the devil, has caused terrible things to happen here on earth. I thank You that You have defeated the devil, and his power has been curtailed for all believers everywhere. I thank You that through You we can stand firm and resist his attacks. Amen.