Satan Released from Prison

When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison.”
Revelation‬ ‭20:7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The thousand years are up. Christ’s millennial reign has come to an end. And, presumably, the angel returns with the key, opens the door to the bottomless pit and releases satan from his chains. Why? 

The last one thousand years have been peaceful. No sin has been allowed to flourish. No financial frauds. No opportunities for gang warfare. No proliferation of drugs. No fighting and wars. Just a wonderful thousand years spent in Jesus’ presence. It can’t get much better than that! But not everyone will have thought so. There would still have been many who refused to bend the knee to Christ. But you would think that even living in such a peaceful time would have been preferable to how it was before.

Perhaps satan was released to show the contrast between his kingdom and God’s Kingdom. Between good and evil. He would have tried to reassert himself as the “god of this age”, once again waving his rebellious fist in God’s face. And encouraging those sinful and evil people on earth to join him once more. Perhaps, in his arrogance, he thought he had learnt enough this time to properly defeat God. After all, he’d had a thousand years to plot and scheme. Or perhaps the devil was released to test the population, who may have become complacent after a long period of stable and euphoric rule. Perhaps he had been released to stand trial before God on the day of judgement, and had been given one last opportunity to bow his knee before God, unlikely though that was. But in any case, deep in thought, in his incorrigible wickedness, the devil heard the scraping of the key in the lock. He rushed to the door as it opened, hurried the angel to undo the chains, and then burst into the sunlight. Desperate to wreak his evil mischief on mankind once again.

The devil would have struck fear into the hearts of many on earth at that time, as he does today. But Christians have nothing to fear from him. They have God on their side, and His instructions about how to deal with the devil were there in God’s Word, the Bible. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armour so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm“. (Ephesians‬ ‭6:13). But we have to be careful when the devil is around. He is the master of deceit, and his whisperings can sound so plausible sometimes. Peter wrote 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“.

We pilgrims might be thinking that this is all a bit academic. After all, we’re not going to be alive in a thousand years’ time. But hang on a minute – we will be, because we will have been resurrected at the start of the millennium and will be ruling and reigning with Christ for a thousand years, resplendent in our new bodies. So we have been forewarned. We’ll get to see what the devil is going to do in the next blog.

Father God, we praise and worship You today. We pray, as taught by Jesus, that You will deliver us from evil. Thank You Lord. Amen.

Authority to Judge

Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years.
Revelation‬ ‭20:4-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Have you ever been wronged by someone? Perhaps you have been badly or racially mistreated? Accused of something you hadn’t done? Our abilities to put the record straight can be limited in our societies, but sadly, many people, and particularly Christians, are persecuted for their beliefs, and without redress. And many have died because they have refused to renounce their faith in God. We read in the verse today, that when Christ’s rule for a thousand years commences, He will be joined by those resurrected martyrs who have suffered and died “for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God”. Their reward is that they will be resurrected and reign “with Christ for a thousand years“. And we’re told that they will be joined by all those who have refused to worship the beast and be branded with his mark. 

But who will these resurrected people be judging? During the millennium period, there will be a different type of society. No democracy any more. This will be a theocracy, ruled by Jesus, the Son of God, and righteousness, not sin, will prevail. And Jesus will delegate to His faithful servants the authority to judge all those who, through their sin, upset the theocratic societal order. We discovered in the last blog that, although the devil was consigned to the bottomless pit, sin and wickedness would still prevail. No joy then for the sinners. They will be judged by the very people that they wronged.

But what about those Christians who were not beheaded for their faith? The Apostle Paul wrote about this eventuality in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, “We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever“. This was the event many have referred to as the rapture. 

John was informed that this was the first resurrection, as described by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians. Notice that for us pilgrims, there is no fear of the first resurrection. Some ask about what sort of body we will have after the first resurrection. Paul write in 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” We also get a few clues from the sort of body that Jesus had after His resurrection. His new body was recognisable, but it also had some amazing qualities. 

John is told in his vision that those resurrected at the first resurrection will be blessed and holy. No more corruption. No more sin. No more sickness. No more death. But there is a second resurrection coming at the end of the millennium, when the rest of the dead, the unbelievers, will rise. This will not be a good place to be for those who have rejected the grace of God, but more of this later. So we pilgrims look forward to the day when we will enter into eternal life. The detail of this isn’t totally clear from Scripture, but through faith and our belief in God, we are assured of our future. 

Dear Father God. As we peer into the future, and dimly see Your grace and provision coming into fruition, we once again declare our love for You, grateful for Your grace. We worship You today. Amen. 

Satan in Chains

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.