Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Reasoning Through Revelation. Day 78, The Final Rebellion And The Judgment Of Satan

John has foreseen Christ and His saints reigning over the earth for a thousand years while Satan is imprisoned. The population of the world that was present at the second coming of Christ has not had to face temptation from Satan for all this time. Lifespans during the millennium reverted back to Old Testament lengths, so that everyone on earth has had hundreds of years in which to behold the power and glory and righteousness of Christ. And yet there are hearts that remain cold toward Him. We know this because as soon as Satan is set free, there are people who immediately begin to rebel against the rule of Christ. They've gone through the motions of serving Him during the thousand years, but at the first opportunity to throw off what they perceive as the "shackles" or "limitations" of holy living, their true colors shine through.

"When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the world---Gog and Magog---and to gather them for battle." (Revelation 20:7-8a) Christ returned to a world made up of a population of all levels of spiritual maturity and spiritual immaturity. When He returned, He returned to a world in which many had already accepted Him as Lord, a world in which many weren't particularly interested in Him as Lord, and a world in which many hadn't yet made up their minds. Children were still being born during the thousand years, according to the passage we studied from Isaiah earlier in the week. Of those born during the millennium, some have given their hearts to Christ, some haven't, and some are still struggling with this decision when Satan is released from prison. All have had to give Christ their outward obedience because He is King over the whole earth, but not all have given Him allegiance in their hearts. I can't imagine a true Christian renouncing Christ and following Satan, so I think we can safely assume that those who rebel are from among those who either despise Him in their hearts already or who haven't made up their minds. They will have a chance to make up their minds when Satan returns to the world scene, and some of them will make the wrong decision.

A thousand years in prison has done nothing to rehabilitate the character of Satan. I'm not saying his imprisonment was intended to accomplish this purpose or that the Lord was giving Satan an opportunity to repent of his wickedness. There is nothing in our text today or anywhere else in the Bible to indicate such a thing. But if anyone living on the earth in those days believes Satan might repent if God gave him time to think about his crimes and to think about his coming judgment, what he does upon his release puts that theory to rest for good. The instant he steps out of prison he begins to deceive. Why? Because that's who he is: a deceiver. The Lord Jesus Christ told us so when He called Satan "a liar and the father of lies". (John 8:44)

Earlier in Revelation we studied a portion of Scripture from the book of Ezekiel in which armies would come against Israel right before or during the end times, armies which Ezekiel referred to as "Gog and Magog". Here in Chapter 20 John is using the term "Gog and Magog" symbolically. This is not the same army as the army that tried to annihilate Israel, but John is simply making a comparison between them because both these armies are armies who hate the Lord and who hate those who serve Him. It's common in the Scriptures to use a name symbolically, and we've seen this happen time and again in Revelation. For example, the Antichrist's kingdom is referred to as "Babylon" in order to compare it to the idolatrous ancient Babylonian Empire. Another example is when the prophet Joel foresaw the battle of Armageddon and compared the Lord's winning of the battle of Armageddon to the Lord's winning of a battle on behalf of Judah during the reign of King Jehoshaphat. The prophet referred to the location of the battle of Armageddon as "the valley of Jehoshaphat", not because it takes place at the same site (it doesn't) but because in both cases the Lord supernaturally fights for His people and wins the battle on His own.

In Psalm 2, when predicting the millennial reign of Christ, the psalmist said that during those years the Lord would "rule with a rod of iron". Would the psalmist use such a term if everyone on earth loved the Lord and willingly served Him? No, and we won't see this term used when we move on into studying the eternal reign of Christ which takes place after the final judgment. Everyone in the eternal kingdom loves the Lord and wants to be with Him forever. But the Lord rules the millennial kingdom with a rod of iron because there are people on the earth during the millennium who are just waiting for an opportunity to rebel. When Satan is released, they seize their chance.

We don't know the world population during the millennium, but it must be quite substantial because John says this of those who rebel against the Lord: "In number they are like the sand on the seashore." (Revelation 20:8b) If the number of those who reject the Lord is this high, then the total population must be several times this number. The population is made up of the church who returned to earth with Christ and who are living in eternal sinless bodies, the Tribulation martyrs who have now been resurrected in eternal sinless bodies, all who were still living in regular human bodies at the return of Christ, and those who have been born during the millennium and are living in regular human bodies. Since those living in bodies like Christ's cannot sin and have no desire to sin, the rebels are from among the those who still inhabit natural human bodies. Their human bodies are now capable of living for hundreds of years, but their bodies are still capable of sin.

Satan's followers decide to march against the Lord's capital city, believing that when they arrive they will be able to overthrow Him. Do they intend to install Satan in His place? Or do they even care who reigns over the earth as long as it isn't Christ? We don't know what's in their minds or if they've even fully thought out what would happen if Christ were defeated. I suspect they don't realize what a hell on earth would result if Satan held the reigns of the world. He's done enough already, throughout the ages, to turn this world into a living hell by enticing men and women to sin against the Lord and to commit unspeakable acts of evil. I don't know what his followers believe the world will be like if Satan takes over, but they harbor such wickedness in their hearts that they'd rather have him on the throne than the Lord Jesus Christ, so they want the Lord removed from power. "They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city He loves." (Revelation 20:9a) The "city He loves" can be no other city than Jerusalem where the Lord Jesus Christ is seated on the throne of David.

We can't call what takes place next a "battle". When millions of people, with Satan in the lead, approach Jerusalem with war in their hearts, the Lord consumes them with fire. The Lord doesn't have to stand up from His throne or amass an army or even break a sweat when millions of people assemble outside the city. I don't know whether He speaks one word or points His finger or just thinks the thought, but fire falls from heaven and consumes the enemies at the gate. "But fire came down from heaven and devoured them." (Revelation 20:9b) Those who prefer hell on earth over heaven on earth receive the physical punishment for their sins by losing their lives. It's poetic justice that they are burned up by fire, considering they love the things of hell and darkness instead of the things of light and holiness.

"And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Revelation 20:10) Hallelujah! The one who has tormented mankind ever since God created human beings will be tormented himself forever and ever. I can't help imagining a great shout of "hallelujah" going up at this point from all the believers in the world. At last this enemy is defeated forever. Never again will a lie be told. Never again will a sin be committed. In Bible times it was common for the side that was victorious in battle to release great shouts of victory and to celebrate and to give praise to the Lord for His help. I wouldn't be at all surprised if that's what happens when Satan is thrown once and for all into the lake of fire where he will forever endure the painful penalty of his sins against God and man. I'm reminded of the words of Psalm 118 here. Psalm 118 is about trusting the Lord when faced with enemies and about giving thanks to the Lord when He gives deliverance. The psalmist talks about the celebration that takes place among the people of the Lord when the Lord gives them victory over their enemies, and we will close with a passage from this psalm because somehow I think the Lord's people may shout these same praises on the day they see Satan begin his eternal sentence of torment. "Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: 'The Lord's right hand has done mighty things! The Lord's right hand is lifted high; the Lord's right hand has done mighty things!'" (Psalm 118:15-16)

No comments:

Post a Comment