Revelation 20 - THE DRAGON CHAINED DURING THE MILLENNIUM - Rev. G. VanDooren (bio)
THE DRAGON CHAINED DURING THE MILLENNIUM
When we enter this last stage of world history in chapter 20, before the new heaven and earth come by Him who makes all things new, it is good to remember that this history is described in Revelation in several stages or rounds. Every time it was the whole history summarized from a different point of view. At the same time, there was no vain repetition. Every round, like in a spiral, brought us closer to the end. That end has now come.
We also remember that the course of history was every time interrupted by a picture of the church as it is sealed and gathered, protected and preserved, even against all the wiles and ugly tricks of the devil.
This chapter gives us both the final chapter of satanic history and the final chapter of the history of the church in this dispensation. Yes, indeed, every time it looks as though we had come to the end. In chapter 6: people calling to the mountains, fall upon us, hide us. In chapter 11, the time has come for the dead to be judged. Similarly in chapter 20: I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne: vs. 12.
And, just to mention the last one, in the preceding chapter 19: the beast and the false prophet thrown into the lake of fire. The end!
Then comes chapter 20, really the end of ends, one would say. But, lo and behold, at the same time we are taken by the hand and led by the Holy Spirit to the very beginning of history. It is another, and now the last review and recapitulation of history.
Looking back, we remember that after the Lamb had taken the scroll, the opening of the seals gave way to wars and rumours of wars, hunger and pestilence. One would say it is "the normal thing".
Was there ever a time that there were no wars, no killing, no bloodshed, no hunger and misery? Then, starting with chapter 12, we are informed about what we could call "the background' of it all. There comes the dragon, the evil instigator of all the misery. In chapter 13 he launched the two monsters into the world, the beast and the false prophet. But now, as we just saw, those two have been thrown into the lake of fire that burns with sulphur, 19:20. The only one that is now left, is the dragon himself, who like in chapter 12, is called by all his names: the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and satan. He is all by himself again, just like in Genesis 3, when he deceived the woman. The ancient serpent, indeed. The good tiding of chapter 20 for the church is that the devil is bound, so that Jesus Christ may complete the mandate His Father gave Him: to gather all the elect.
It is difficult to cover this whole chapter by one theme, because there are really three chapters here. Yet we will try, in this way:
THE DRAGON BOUND BY A CHAIN
FOR A THOUSAND YEARS
And then, leaving out some details, we will listen to what the Holy Spirit teaches us about:
1. The millennium
2. Gog and Magog
3. The Dead before the Throne
1. The Millennium
Yes, that indeed catches the attention; Satan bound for a thousand years. We have had a lot of symbolical numbers in Revelation. Three, four, seven, 12, 144,000, 1260 and so on. Now, for the first time: thousand!
And thus, when we read these words in our days, millions
look over our shoulders and exclaim: Millennium! A kingdom of one thousand years! Those millions mean to say and
want us to believe that here we have the divine revelation of what they have always been saying about the arrival
of the Rapture. We need not repeat the details that have been mentioned before. By that Rapture the true believers
are taken off the earth in the twinkling of the eye before the great and terrible tribulation comes. Many of them
have even made bold to pin down the date of the rapture, notwithstanding the warning of Scripture that no one knows
the day or hour, and no one should try to find out. Most recently the date has been set at 1993 at the latest.
Then comes the great tribulation, which is supposed to last for seven years.
And then, indeed, comes the Millennium.
Combining this term thousand years with other elements from all over the Bible, this so- called Millennium is presented in the following manner.
The LORD never yet fulfilled all Old Testament promises to His old people, which then and now are the Jews. The Lord Jesus not yet completed His task to be the Messiah of Israel, and to set up the throne of David, again, here on earth, in the city of Jerusalem somewhere at the Mediterranean. Thus, in order to fulfil those unfulfilled promises, the Lord Christ has to come for a second time, this time not as a Saviour, to die for the sins of the world, but to establish an earthly kingdom, in Jerusalem. All the Jews from all over will then be gathered together in the old promised land, and a time of peace and prosperity will dawn, lasting for a thousand years.
While we must leave out many colourful details of this Millennium theory, every Bible believer should realize that those who understand the thousand years of Revelation 20 in this manner are convinced that they take and believe the Bible literally as God's inspired Word. In fact, they do not believe that Bible!
They break the Bible into two bibles. They overlook that the name Jesus contains the name Jahweh, the God of the patriarchs (see the songs of Mary and Zachariah in Luke 1). They obviously do not believe the teachings of Paul, that Abraham's children today are those who have the same faith as Abraham. They do not take seriously that James and Peter addressed their letters to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, meaning the christian church of their days. And most of all, h looks as though the letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews, mind you!) was written in vain, as far as they are concerned. Because this letter, picking up the thread started by Paul, describes our Saviour as ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, in a better covenant, because of which the old covenant had to disappear.
Must we believe that Jesus Christ has to vacate his place in the heavenly sanctuary in the near future, and descend to an earthly sanctuary all over again? Do they want us to stop singing all those glorious Psalms about David, His crown, His throne, because these Psalms were not meant for the christian church, and are not fulfilled yet in the great Son of David? Do they belong to what is left of Old Israel, the remnants of one single tribe, the tribe of Judah?
But, instead of blowing off more steam in this direction, let us ask the question, 'Where can all this be found in Revelation 20?"
We read here, that an angel came down from heaven with the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. He seized the dragon. That's quite something. A single angel seizes that big dragon by the scruff of his neck, and binds him with the chain and throws him into the pit, and that for a thousand years!
Is this, indeed a basis upon which to build the theory of the Millennium as a gathering of the Jews in Palestine and a coming down of Christ as their earthly king?
- We have a lot of questions.
First, why take this number literally after all the symbolic numbers in Revelation? Only the Jehovah Witnesses take the number 144,000 literally, but no one else follows them on this foolish path. Why then take 1000 here literally? Why not take it as ten times ten times ten, thus indicating a full period of time, that is, as we by now have learned, the whole new dispensation from Christ's Ascension till His return on Judgment Day?
Another question. Leaving the dragon for a thousand years in the pit, we see with John thrones, and seated on them were those to whom judgment was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus and to the word of God . . ., v. 4. How do those who believe in the rapture understand these words? The rapture is seen as believers taken up with body and soul, most from behind the work- bench and the steering wheel of their cars, just as they are in the body. But here we read that John saw the souls. And not only that, but he saw the souls of those who had been beheaded. In that concept of the rapture, there is nothing about being beheaded. No, they are just taken away, even from their Florida sun rooms...
The idea of the Millennium includes, even as its centre, that the Messiah will return to the earthly Jerusalem, and sit there, finally, on the throne of David. But this is unwittingly dangerous talk. In Revelation there is spoken about 45 times about thrones, but they are always in heaven. There is only one exception, chapter 13:2. The dragon gives his throne to the beast. Throne is here, of course, the symbol of power. But that is the only throne on earth of which Revelation knows. All the other thrones are in heaven. Why try to convince people that Jesus Christ will put his throne on earth, again?
- But there is more.
Did you ever read in your Bible a single indication that the Lord our Saviour will descend to earth a long time before He comes again to judge the living and the dead? I could not find any.
- And more.
Is there in this chapter of Revelation a single mention of Jews, be it "all the nations of the Jews" whatever that means, or only those Jews who, as they say, "have returned to the promised land"? Palestine is no longer the "promised land'. The Lord meant it, when He said, Behold your house is forsaken and desolate. For the true children of Abraham there is another "promised land' in prospect.
No Millennium-theory can claim Revelation 20 for itself, and that is the only place in the Bible where is spoken of a thousand years!
The whole concept of the Millennium is in conflict with the history of revelation and redemption as it is given to us in the Scriptures from beginning to end.
But what then? How do we as reformed believers read and understand the divine Revelation in this first part of chapter 20?
"As reformed believers" I said. Some hear in this term a boast: we know it better than others. All boasting is vanity. But "reformed" simply means that we read the whole Bible in context, and in doing so we remain in the reformed tradition. Thus we rather stay in the line of Augustine, John Calvin and reformed theologians of the last century, when we see in the binding of the ancient serpent by the angel for a thousand years a summary, in one single picture, of the whole new dispensation. By using the name ancient serpent the Holy Spirit even wants us to remember what happened in Genesis 3!
The number 1000 stands for completeness, the gathering of the church; the execution of the divine plan will be completed. And during this dispensation satan is bound.
While we see this happening on earth, our attention is called to what is taking place on a higher level, in heaven. There, during the same period of a thousand years, v 4, those who have been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus reigning with Christ and (note the and) and those who had not worshipped the beast and did not get its mark on their foreheads.
- Two things should be kept in mind.
First (and we have met this already at an earlier stage in Revelation) beheaded refers not only to those who were literally, beheaded as for example the apostle Paul. No, it points to all who became victims of persecution. Then this is already quite a crowd! One has only to think of the tens of thousands who were killed for the testimony of Jesus in the age of the Reformation. And the millions who were slaughtered for the Lamb all over the world, throughout the centuries.
And then, in addition, all those who had not worshipped the beast. That means all true believers who, as chapter 14 has it, remained virgins, untouched by the spirit of this age and the devil-worship of the world.
Of all these millions it is said that they came to life, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. Just like we learned from chapter 7, vs 14, Those are coming, keep on coming out of the great tribulation, so we must understand the little word and here. It is the universal church as it has been and is being gathered during the full time of the thousand years.
Believers, when they die, be it on the scaffold or in bed, surrounded by enemies or by those dear to them, come to life when they pass away. For them death is not a payment for sin, but it puts an end to sin and is an entrance into eternal life., H. Cat. answer 42. For them death is the great healing. They are immediately taken up to Christ, our Head, answer 57.
This is the first resurrection, v 5. And indeed, blessed is everyone who shares in the first resurrection.
We must repeat here the warning, given in chapter 7, that one should never say, or even think, as though only 144,000 believers (a special group) are "sealed", sealed with the Holy Spirit that is. Of course not! Would there be one single individual among the innumerable multitude on whom the LORD has not put the mark of His ownership? Then the same would have to happen, as in the parable of Matthew 22. The wedding hall was filled with guests, but when the king came to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment, and he said to him, "friend, how did you get in here?" But that happens in a parable; it will never happen when the bridal feast of the Lamb starts.
We stress this point, because now we read, the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended, vs. 5. What does this mean? It seems as though some read here, that not all believers will share in the first resurrection. That is only for those who were beheaded, they think. But that is unacceptable. It would mean that what we confess in Lord's Day 16, entrance into eternal life, and, Lord's Day 22, immediately would not be true for most of God's children. They as the rest of the dead would not come to life until the thousand years are ended, that is, with the return of Christ.
We have come to the conclusion that in Revelation 20 the distinction between those who came to life, and the rest of the dead is nothing else but the distinction between believers and unbelievers. All believers come to life With Christ. None of the rest of the dead will; they were dead in sin, and they remain dead when they die. Over the former the second death (that is eternal death) has no power. The latter will suffer second death.
This, we realize, has consequences for the understanding of the last part of this chapter. We save our remarks on this for later.
First we must face those who reject our interpretation of the devil being bound for a thousand years.
Ha! they say. How in the world can you want us to believe that the devil is bound, right now, and even during the whole new dispensation since Christ's ascension till his return? He is not bound; he is as free as can be. The Bible itself tells us so. Be watchful; your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, resist him! Sure, everyone must heed this warning of Peter. But everyone must also give good attention to what the testimony of the Holy Spirit tells us about this binding of the dragon. This binding has a purpose, even a single purpose, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were ended.
Here, again, we read this in the light of all the Scriptures, which testify about bindings of the devil. Already in the Old Testament when the devil accused Joshua, and in him God's people. The Lord said to satan, 'the LORD rebuke you, o Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Zech 3:2. He had to keep his mouth shut.
Then, when tempting the Lord Jesus, Matth. 4, Luke 4, the devil was the loser. In Luke 10: 17, we see the seventy, sent out to proclaim the kingdom, return and reporting, even the demons were subjected to us in your name! Then comes the reaction of the Lord Himself: I saw satan fall like lightning out of heaven. Just remember chapters 5, 7, 12, 13, 14 and you know that the devil does not win on all fronts; he is a loser. However much this roaring lion is running around, God's children may keep on confessing that our only comfort is that we belong, body and soul, to Jesus Christ who has delivered us from all the power of the devil.
Whatever the devil is able to do(and let us not under-estimate him!), he is chained, like a farm dog is chained. Every farm has such a dog, chained to a pole. The dog runs around in a circle, and if only you stay outside that circle, it cannot reach you or do you any harm.
So it is with the dragon. Chained, for the single purpose that he should deceive the nations no more. The seven churches in Asia, for whom Revelation was written in the first place, faced a combination of the Roman empire, and the false church, Jerusalem. You know how Paul was attacked everywhere by the Jews. The whole world seemed to unite against the young church. It looked as though the devil would succeed in deceiving all the nations, and combine them in a single attack on the church so as to destroy it, once for all and once for good. The comfort of chapter 20 is, that the devil would never be able to do this again, until the end of the age, the day of antichrist. As we read further on in this chapter, the devil will be loosed and come out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth. Yes, indeed, but since the destruction of the Roman empire, the devil has never again succeeded in uniting the whole world against the church. Since Jesus Christ spoke the majestic words of Matthew 28, unto Me has been given all power ... go ye therefore and bring the good tiding unto all the nations, there has been only one world-Wide kingdom, and that is the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Because the devil is chained, he has never been able to deceive all the nations to band together and prevent Jesus Christ from gathering His church.
It is tempting to illustrate this. Just two examples. When Pope and emperor had decided to unite, to smash the reformation to smithereens, the LORD in His providence destroyed their plan. The Moors invaded Spain and threatened the whole of Europe. The emperor needed the help of the protestant princes to throw them back. And thus the Reformation went ahead.
A German S.S. officer, billeted in our home during the war, declared unashamedly under our roof that the 'Third Reich", after having done away with the Jews, would start to do the same to the christians. But the tide turned in Russia. Operation Barbarossa failed. The second front opened in Normandy, and the church survived Hitter!
We would say, Come on, believers! Where is your faith in what the Spirit here in Revelation says to the churches?
2. Gog and Magog
The second part of Rev. 20 has in its centre Gog and Magog. When the thousand years are ended, satan will be loosed from his prison. vs. 7. Then he will be permitted to deceive the nations from the four corners of the earth, that is, Gog and Magog.
Before you read any farther, please note that, just like in chapter 13 and all over this last book, the devil and his beast are allowed, it is given to them, satan will be
loosed. He doesn't have the power to release himself from prison. Oh no! The same angel who bound him, will have to unchain him. Without the will of our heavenly Father he cannot so much as move.
The same goes for what is called here Gog and Magog.
The church must be prepared for a terrible time when all hell breaks loose once more, when the whole world will be united against ft. Then ft is no longer possible to flee from the one country to the other, as christian refugees have always been able to do till now. Not then any more. Gog and Magog; in the literature of those who expect the rapture, the great tribulation and the Millennium, one can find all kinds of scary details about what we must expect from Gog and Magog, whatever these two words stand for.
To begin with, we must read the signs of the times. It is possible that in our days all these things start to happen. One may be thankful that, as they say, the Cold War is over, but that may also mean that the whole world becomes united. We hear a lot about the new world order. A new age religion is in the making, a religion without God, because man becomes his own god, the master of his destination. A great apostasy is going on, especially in what was the World Council of Christian Churches (W.C.C.C.), but now has become a meeting place of all religions, true or false, around a round table, where no one is the chairman: all have equal rights. From the four corners of the earth, literally!
Although John, as the only one among the Bible-writers, uses the name antichrist four times in his letters, in Revelation this name is not used. But the name Gog and Magog may well be his pseudonym.
In the millennianist literature of today one may find all kinds of surprising details about God and Magog. Everyone knows by now that we find this name in Ezekiel 38 and 39, although there it is not Gog and Magog, but Gog of Magog. This then means that the name of this super king is Gog and that he comes from the country Magog. But what does this mean?
I have before me a booklet by radio pastor P.F. Rockwood. It's main message is, and I quote, Russia's place in prophecy is clearly outlined in Ezekiel 38-39. Here we read that Russia comes down out of the north, and according to these chapters, does her deadliest work by invading the land of Palestine ... Gog is the Prince of Russia, and Magog is the land of the Prince of Russia. And then he goes on to identify several Russian cities, like Moscow and Tobolsk, in biblical names of Mesheck and Tubal. Interesting, but true? No, not true.
We know that Ezekiel in the second part of his book describes the return of a remnant from exile. Having crept through these chapters, and read some commentaries about them, I find not a single indication that the Word of God here speaks about Russia. One may not be able to answer all questions related to some details in these chapters, but that is simply because we do not know everything about what happened in those days on the international scene. But the prophet knew, and so did his contemporaries.
But one thing stands out clearly and beyond doubt. It is Psalm 2 all over again. The nations conspire, the peoples plot, He who sits in heaven, laughs. So the LORD laughs in Ezekiel 38-39. One would be tempted to say that this is a divine joke about Gog of Magog.
It comes down to this picture. The returned exiles still live in open villages and in cities without walls. They are open and defenceless to any attack. Then the LORD of Israel challenges Gog. He must have been some kind of super king indeed, able to get a whole coalition of people together under his iron fist.
Come on now, says the Lord of hosts; come on, Gog, give it a try. Attack my defenceless people in their open cities and towns! But you know what I will do with you, 0 Gog? You say, I will go up against the land of unwalled villages, I will fall upon the ~ people who are dwelling without walls, Ezek. 38:1 Off. Just like they were camping in the desert in the days of old. But I am the LORD their God, who led them out and in. I am still the same! I will summon every kind of terror against you, Gog. I will break all your weapons to pieces. It will take seven months to bury all your dead. And I will set my glory among the nations.
Therefore, this summary of Ezekiel's detailed description here in vs. 7-10 is not given to scare God's people, but to scare the nations and to comfort God's people. In chapter 20 the so-called Gog and Magog, now symbolic names, end up in the lake of fire.
Whether it is Gog of Magog, or Armageddon, as in chapter 16:16, it is all written to ensure all the elect that, chained or unchained, the devil will never be able to do what he would love to do: destroy God's holy and universal church! Tormented day and night, for ever and ever, that's what is waiting for the super-Gog of the last days, whoever he may be! Or, in other words, we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.
3. The dead before the throne
Verses 11-15 draw the picture of the final act of the drama of world-history. The curtain closes on this age and the curtains towards the new heaven and earth will be opened. Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it. And I saw the dead standing before the throne, and books were opened.
Obviously now that is in the vision which John saw; now is fulfilled what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. Up till today, during the 1000 years of world-government and church- gathering, the Lamb sat upon the throne, chapter 5. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subjected to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be everything to everyone, 1 Cor. 15:28. God Himself sits in the throne.
- The dead before the throne.
There are misunderstandings about who are those dead? I myself have long been the victim of such misunderstanding. Some see in this gathering of the dead before the throne all mankind of all ages, believers and unbelievers together: a mixed crowd to be sure.
But is that what the Holy Spirit says here to the churches? All catechetes have during the years been confronted with the question from their students, 'Will we, also when we have passed away as believers, again be judged?" And the answer was often, 'Yes, the Bible tells me so." But where does the Bible tell you so?
The reference is made, for example, to the great oration of the, LORD on judgment as we find it in Matthew 25. However, there we read, that He will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
But especially 11 Cor. 5:10 must serve to support the idea that here in Rev. 20 the dead are believers and unbelievers together in one crowd. Paul says there, For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body. Can it be said any clearer, that all, also we must be found among the dead before the throne in our text?
If that were true, we should throw out our Three Forms of Unity in a hurry! We are, however, convinced that the Catechism first of all but also the Confessions, the Canons are built upon the foundation of all the Scriptures. Permit me to repeat all those well-known fragments of the Catechism.
L.D. 11 - hereafter reigning with Him
L.D. 13 - freed us from all the power of
L.D. 15 - redeemed us from everlasting damnation and obtained for us eternal life. Freed us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall upon us., took away the curse that lay upon me.
L.D. 16 - our death is not a punishment
but entrance into eternal life.
L.D. 18 - we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He will also take us up to Himself
Especially in that beautiful answer 56 on the forgiveness of sins: God will no more remember my sins . . . that I may never come into condemnation. He treats me as if 1 had never had nor committed any sin. And so on . . . . Take Art. 37 of the Confession: Why may we look forward to that great day with a great longing? Because the wicked will be convicted; on the other hand the faithful and elect will be crowned with glory and honour.
It is all built upon the testimony of our Saviour Himself; in John 3, he who believes in Him is not condemned; he who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.
All this makes it impossible to see that crowd before the throne as a mixed crowd, that still have to be separated into two by what is written in the books. That separation takes place already in this life, and surely at the moment of death the believers are Immediately taken up to Christ. As little as we accept the teachings of the Millennium, as though Jesus Christ has to come down from His heavenly sanctuary to dwell here on earth in Palestine, as little can we believe that those of whom it is said in vs. 4 that they come to life and reigned with Christ, will have to come back from that heavenly glory, down before the great white throne in order to be judged, in the company of all the ungodly, from what is written in that one book of you, of me. What, then, about what we believe, that God will not remember our sins any more?
Yes, one says, but what about that word of Paul, that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ? Does the Bible contradict itself? Of course not. Let us stick to the rule. Every word of Scripture is to be understood within its context. The apostle has in 11 Cor. 5 been writing about being at home with the Lord or still being at home in the body. He speaks about individual believers (or unbelievers!). What happens when they die? He speaks to a congregation with many sins and shortcomings. A congregation where some even deny the resurrection of the body, or live in public sin. In such a church, as in all churches, the warning must be given to hypocrites, name- christians, hangers-on, and everyone that when a person dies, he will receive either good or bad according to what he has done, right after death.
But here in Revelation 20, we see the picture of Judgment Day. There should really not be any doubt, that the dead of vs 12 are the same as the dead of whom it is said in vs 5 that they did not come to life before the end of the 1000 years, that is the end of this age.
The great contrast in this chapter is between those who came to life and thus are living, and never again will be counted among the dead, at the one hand, and at the other the dead who did not come to life. It is these dead that will all stand before the great white throne, in order to be judged from the books. That will not happen to the elect any more.
"Judged from the books", certainly. Our God is fair and just. The Saviour has taught us clearly, and repeatedly, that there will be rewards, (see Matthew 6:4,5,6,16,18; 16:27), He will repay every man for what he has done. There will be differences according to what is written in the books (and books in Revelation is, as everything else, to be understood symbolically).
But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you, (see Matthew 11:20-24) even more tolerable for Sodom than for you ... Thus being judged according to what is written in the books does not mean that all the ungodly will receive the same retribution. That would make the whole picture of this judgment meaningless.
But one thing be sure: the elect will see the retribution of the ungodly. They will not stand among them, and be "judged" in an equal manner, and everyone according to the degree of holiness or unholiness in their previous fives. They do not belong there, among the dead, although from themselves they were never any better. But, as it sounds all through this book-of-comfort: they have been washed by the blood of the Lamb.
That is the reason why their names are in a different book. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life, vs 12. All their names are written in that book of life. It is repeated at the end of chapter 21: But nothing unclean shall enter the city with the twelve gates, nor anyone who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Yes, around them who have been bought by the blood of Christ, it is all destruction and everlasting doom. Our God is a devouring fire, Heb. 12:28. This may not agree with the picture of God that many seem to have, that of an old, harmless man. But it is the biblical picture.
And we sure tremble when we read it all. The beast and the false prophet and all who received the mark of the beast were thrown alive into the lake of fire, chapter 19:20f. Fire came down from heaven (from heaven!) and consumed all who with Gog and Magog had surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. Hear that? Once more a reminder of the past.
In the desert Israel lived in the camp. Then in the promised land they dwelt in cities, later in the holy city. In both camp and city they were safe as long as they trusted in the Lord their God, although enemies were always around. And, as we heard from Ezekiel, after the return from exile the remnant of Israel lived in open villages and cities without walls, but Gog of Magog could not touch them. He perished in the attempt.
And so again in the end of days. All through the 1000 years the church, the real living church has lived in open camps and open cities. They were always surrounded by the dragon and his two monsters. The one time the threat was more acute, the other time it was satanic cunning, but their only protection was the Lord. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about His people, from this time forth and for evermore. Psalm 125:2, This could have been the title of the book of Revelation. This was and is for the true believers, for the elect, whose names are written in that other book, the book of life, the only comfort in life and death.
It is also the comfort of this last section of chapter 20. The books opened, yes, but I saw another book.
And thus even death is killed; the last enemy of 1 Cor. 15 is together with Hades, thrown into the lake of fire. Even death is destroyed for God's own. That is the second death, the lake of fire.
The last verse repeats: if any one's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, vs. 15.
- It sounds like a last warning.
Let everyone who needs it, heed it!
But Revelation, with all those gruesome pictures, the book of woes and calamities, of wars and rumours of war, of Tribulation and antichrist, of Gog and Magog and Armageddon was not written to scare us, and to make us tremble. We often have no idea how great the love of God is for those who have been made Christ's own. He wrote this book because He loved us, for God so loved the world.
May the meditation on this book cause us to fight against sin and the devil in this life. Then we have nothing to fear from devil, death and antichrist. The best singers in church history have always been the martyrs, those beheaded for the testimony of Jesus. We do not know to what extent we will become like them. In any case we should be true martyrs, that is true witnesses on the streets of the great city.
Christ will blow all enemies away by the breath of his mouth, including the antichrist. That's how weak they are, or rather, that is how strong He is. Praise to His Name!