The First Resurrection Revelation 20
Revelation 20:1-3 NLTse (1) Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. (2) He seized the dragon–that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan–and bound him in chains for a thousand years. (3) 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.
After John was shown the last seven plagues and how they effected this world, an angel showed John why the world had to be destroyed. When that series of visions was over, John was shown what happens to this world after the wicked are wiped out.
Jesus leads an army to this world where Satan gathered all the armies for one final battle. Plans didn’t go well for Satan. His army was wiped out by Jesus, and his two top commanders, the beast and his false prophet were thrown into a lake of fire. An angel broke ranks, opened the bottomless pit, put Satan in chains, and threw him into the bottomless pit. Does a bottomless pit really exist, or is that another symbol? What is a pit without a bottom? People all over the world have borrowed that term to describe very deep holes, and to write science fiction movies. To say the least, our view of a bottomless pit has been distorted by the society we grew up in. Some people say the bottomless pit is hell. Others claim that lake of fire at the end of Revelation chapter 19 is hell. Neither one of those explanations deal with what John saw happening to Satan.
I’ve never heard anyone with an interpretation or description of hell showing Satan in chains, or one that lasts for only a thousand years. Many people describe hell as a place of eternal suffering. Would Heaven be rejoicing like John described if they saw people being handed over to the devil to be tormented for an eternity? That type of thinking is designed to draw attention away from the real plans and goals of the devil. It makes Satan appear as a jail keeper waiting for the next condemned prisoner. I fail to see that recorded in scripture. But I’m willing to bet we could dig up information on those types of beliefs in ancient pagan societies. Once again, where do you want to get your information from? Long dead pagan cultures, or God’s Word?
Based on what John wrote, Satan’s main goal was to deceive the nations. That includes all the nations over all this world’s generations. Satan had a lot of time and practice perfecting his black art. One of the things we have to remember about Satan is the symbols describing him. One is a snake, the other, or the beast he controls is a leopard. Both are experts in the art of camouflage. That didn’t stop that angel from finding Satan and throwing him in chains for a thousand years. Why a thousand years? John will get to that later.
A Thousand Years
Revelation 20:4-6 NLTse (4) 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 forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years. (5) This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) (6) 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.
It seems rather strange the way John described people involved in the first resurrection. John described that group as people who were beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for spreading God’s Word. Is that group really limited to people who lost their heads, or is that another symbol? How would angels view that symbol?
Many of Jesus’ followers have and will suffer. Every one of Jesus’ followers are persecuted by the devil. All of God’s followers learn to separate themselves from this world in one way or another. The most important part is learning to separate yourself from the world’s way of thinking. John explained that using symbols for the beast, his image, and mark as symbols showing what we need to separate ourselves from.
When Jesus comes, we will all finally become priests. According to John, we are supposed to be priests now. This letter is from John to the seven churches in the province of Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen. (Revelation 1:4-6 NLTse).
It wasn’t by mistake John introduced that concept at the beginning of his book. We can see how that priesthood referred to people in John’s time. What happened to that concept? Where did it go, what was it replaced with, and why was that concept replaced? John went through a large portion of earth’s history right up to its end. John never mentioned another concept. We are all supposed to be priests. But John told us to fear and be aware of Satan’s deceptions. Any other priesthood would fit into which category?
The thousand years the saints are in Heaven coincides with the thousand years Satan spends in the bottomless pit. There must be a connection. What happens over that thousand year period? Some people will be sitting on thrones. They are given the authority to judge. Judge what? We have to look at the big picture. God already judged everyone in the world. There won’t be any reason to judge anyone in Heaven for anything they’ve already done. What about those people who didn’t make it into Heaven? All of Heaven praised God for His judgments. Now it is time for the saints from this world to look at how God judged. It is like placing God on trial. But God doesn’t have anything to hide.
Let’s face it. When the saints get to Heaven, it will be like entering a totally foreign environment. Everything will seem rather strange. It will take some time to adjust, and some time to learn how things work in Heaven. God must have seen something in people to see they are up to learning Heaven’s ways, and willing to leave all the world behind.
One of the obvious reason is, we don’t all think alike on earth, and there are dozens of ways of looking at the same spiritual subject. Take any symbol used in Revelation and you’ll find and endless stream of interpretations for each. Someone has to be wrong, and maybe a few people will actually get a few symbols right. We will have to spend a little time with those angels to learn what is right. There will be a long reeducation process in Heaven.
On the other hand, every saint will be a priest. Who are they going to minister to? Each other? What about the angels in Heaven? Is the term priest a sort of symbol showing the close connection the saints will finally find with Jesus? When the saints are priests in Heaven, they will have one High Priest to take direction from.
We will be able to exchange information between angels and the saints from this world. The saints will have to see why the earth had to be destroyed. They may be shown visions of earth’s history, how Satan worked in the back ground, and what people actually did to one another. People will ask why some of their friends and family are not in Heaven. They may be shown scenes showing how those people led their lives, the chances they had to repent, and how the Holy Spirit kept trying to reach them. All of that will take quite some time. A thousand years seems just about right.
After the Thousand Years
Revelation 20:7-15 NLTse (7) When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. (8) He will go out to deceive the nations–called Gog and Magog–in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle–a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. (9) And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them. (10) Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (11) And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. (12) I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. (13) The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. (14) Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. (15) And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.
John saw two visions showing how Satan will gather all his armies at the end of this world before they are destroyed by an earthquake. The earth is shook to pieces. Babylon is broken into parts. All the cities fall into ruins. Birds are called to eat the flesh of the dead people. There are a number of prophecies in Isaiah that add a great amount of detail to those last plagues. I would suggest reading some of them.
The Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, will take away from Jerusalem and Judah everything they depend on: every bit of bread and every drop of water, all their heroes and soldiers, judges and prophets, fortune-tellers and elders, army officers and high officials, advisers, skilled craftsmen, and astrologers. I will make boys their leaders, and toddlers their rulers. People will oppress each other– man against man, neighbor against neighbor. Young people will insult their elders, and vulgar people will sneer at the honorable. In those days a man will say to his brother, “Since you have a coat, you be our leader! Take charge of this heap of ruins!” But he will reply, “No! I can’t help. I don’t have any extra food or clothes. Don’t put me in charge!” For Jerusalem will stumble, and Judah will fall, because they speak out against the LORD and refuse to obey him. They provoke him to his face. The very look on their faces gives them away. They display their sin like the people of Sodom and don’t even try to hide it. They are doomed! They have brought destruction upon themselves. Tell the godly that all will be well for them. They will enjoy the rich reward they have earned! But the wicked are doomed, for they will get exactly what they deserve. (Isaiah 3:1-11 NLTse).
The rest of Isaiah chapter 3 adds more detail than most people could imagine. The more information we gather on the subject, the better we will be prepared for those times. The thing that gets me is, we can easily see how and why Satan is destroyed, but he ignores all those warnings. There must be dozens of warnings throughout the Bible. That doesn’t seem to matter to a fallen angel bent on destruction. What view and understanding does that give to the angels in Heaven? What message is that supposed to bring to this world?
John is finally shown Satan’s demise. Satan is tossed into that lake of fire. Is it that same lake that the beast and false prophet were thrown into? If it is, that lake would be burning for a thousand years. Is that lake for real, or is it a symbol? Most of what John saw was in symbolic form. In any case, that burning lake marks the end of Satan, his reign, and all the influences he had over this planet. Jesus’ promises are fulfilled, and His judgments carried out. This is the last phase of the judgment process when the punishment is carried out.
At first Satan is tossed into what is called the bottomless pit for a thousand years. That happens just after Jesus’ return to this world to collect His saints and bring them to Heaven. The dead in Christ are raised, and together with the living saints, are taken into the clouds to meet Jesus. Most for the first time. What will that look like? We will all see the same sight, but people will have an array of feelings.
Christians look forward to seeing Jesus. Most have some idea of what that scene will look like. Most Christians imagine what Jesus will look like in His dazzling white. In Revelation chapter 19, John saw Jesus on a white horse. Some people picture Jesus on a horse, others on a throne. I guess we’ll all find out together when Jesus does return.
This part of Revelation deals with the return to earth after that thousand years. Satan is let out of his prison. A thousand years of reflection does nothing for Satan. He picks up right where he left off. Satan battled Christ and His angels in Heaven. Satan battled Christ throughout His ministry on this planet. Satan gathered all the armies of the world together to send Jesus home when He returns to this world. Satan lost all those battles, but wants to continue down that same path. This will be the last battle for Satan. He can read about the outcome, but something inside the devil tells him, he can change the future.
That pretty much sums up Satan’s army and followers. Satan has a way of convincing people, he can change the future. Satan wants God to be wrong at least once. That’s Satan’s goal in life. And he is willing to die trying.
Satan takes that vendetta to all new levels in this world. Satan has tried to change prophetic time, and continues to try to change the present. How many people has Satan convinced, they can change God’s timing? How many guesses about Jesus’ return have been wrong? How many times have prophets told the world, this is Armageddon, and been wrong? Who do you think those people are following, God, Satan, their own imaginations, or some secret society? What is Satan trying to do with all that guess work?
The more times Satan can get people to announce foolish guesses at prophecy, the more people he can convince, God was wrong. The prophecy didn’t come true as it should, in human terms. So who do people have to blame? They don’t blame the devil. The devil never wrote anything about prophecy. Oh but he does. The devil works in a hidden world behind the scenes, where no one notices him. Satan plants thoughts in people’s minds, then calls it, freedom of choice. What kind of freedom is Satan really offering? The right to make the wrong choices?
Satan has been offering that freedom of choice long before Adam and Eve in Eden. Satan introduced that freedom of choice to angles in Heaven. One third of those angels decided to take the chance and follow Satan. Since that time Satan has been leading his army of angels from one loosing battle to the next. Satan underestimated Jesus and God. Now that Satan has learned his lesson, he wants this world to underestimate him, the devil.
How could the devil gather all those armies together, see them defeated, then after a thousand years, get them to do it all over again? Did those armies forget what happened the last time they stood up against Jesus? They may have forgotten, or for some reason don’t remember. The fact remains, they are ready, willing, and able to make the same mistake. Not only the armies who saw Jesus return, but a vast number of armies raised from the dead.
I appears that evil people lost for eternity have a sort of one track mind. They want the world, and will stop at nothing to reach their goals. For some reason, Satan is able to identify a threat, and unite all those armies against Jesus. Jesus stands as a threat against their way of life. But what would happen if Jesus decided to leave this world? What would those armies do? Would they remain united under Satan’s command, or would they turn on each other? Would kings and generals form their own alliances? How long would those last? What would happen if Jesus allowed this world with all the dead raised to life, try to make a new world?
We can read about what happened in the Old Testament. Kings formed alliances, than their allies turned against them a few chapters later. Kings paid tribute to stronger nations, who were no where to be found when needed. A stronger nation always came from somewhere, and the weaker nations dissolved. History repeated itself too many times, and too many people have already suffered to show what will happen when Satan carries out his plans. It has to stop some place, and God chose a time and place.
During the second return, Jesus is seen on His throne. The saints have been in Heaven a thousand years. What happens there during that time is anyone’s guess. Are we reeducated? Will we remember what happened on earth and tell angels what it was like to live on a planet run my Satan and his angels? Will be be able to see the past, and what happened behind the scenes? I’d like to find out what happened behind the scenes in a lot of earth’s history and find out why people made the decisions they did. This is another detail we’ll have to wait to find out.
This time the dead who are raised are those who will not be seeing eternity. They are raised from the dead, shown the results of the judgment process, and that is about it. From there they join the devil in the great lake of fire.
People may speculate on that lake of fire. Some insist it is a description of hell, a rather symbolic description. But those people usually preach hell as a place the devil is now, and has been for a long time. Why would John see the devil thrown into the lake of fire if Satan could easily come and go as he pleased?
Some people look at that lake of fire as the final punishment for sin. Satan, his beast, the false prophet, and all their followers are thrown into that lake of fire. To John it looked like that lake would burn forever. Was that another sort of symbol? John looked at that lake and didn’t describe much else about it. How wide it was, how high the flames rose, or any other details other than, it is the second death.