Revelation
1-3 Satan Thrown Into the Abyss 4-9 Thousand Years Peace and the Last Rebellion 10-15 The Great White Throne – the Lake of Fire
Satan Thrown Into the Abyss

1Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3and he threw him into the abyss, and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.

V11Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.. The great henchmen of satan – the beast and the false prophet – are caught and cast into hell. Their leader, who is satan, is still freely walking around but he also gets caught. That happens by an angel that comes down from heaven. Because satan has been cast to the earth since chapter 12:9, it is necessary that an angel “comes down from heaven” to bind him. This angel has “the key of the abyss” to lock up the bottomless pit. In chapter 9:1 the key was used to open abyss or the bottomless pit in order to release the demons from there. Then the beast also rises up from the bottomless pit (Rev 11:77When they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them and kill them.; 17:88“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.). The angel has also “a great chain in his hand”. What he will do with that chain is told in the next verse.

V22And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;. This is an historic moment. There have been several historic moments, but this one is indeed a specially memorable event. The angel catches him who is the cause of all misery of people because he has brought sin into the world. Then he binds him with the chain that he brought with him, so that satan will not be able to move for a thousand years. Every opportunity to deceive men with his craftiness and to drag them into destruction will be taken away from him. He will no longer be the prince of the world and the god of this age (Jn 12:3131Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.; 2Cor 4:44in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.). His control over man will be over.

That he as a person with his fourfold expression – “the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan” – will be bound and locked up, indicates that he in all his variations of wickedness will be locked up and in no way be able to manifest himself. With the judgment over satan the judgments that introduced the kingdom of peace of Christ will be finished. Now Christ can exercise His beneficial kingdom of peace and righteousness for man and creation. The number ‘thousand’ that appears six times in verses 2-72And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3and he threw him into the abyss, and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.4Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.7When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and which is nowhere else mentioned in the Scripture, indicates the duration of the Messianic empire of which we else would not have known the duration. That’s why the expression ‘millennial’ kingdom or ‘millennium’ (Latin) is used.

Here the four names for the great deceiver and enemy of God are used for the second time (Rev 12:99And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.). He is called “the dragon” because of his horribly violent and relentless performance. He is also called “the serpent of old”. That indicates the deadly crafty nature of this monster that winds itself around its prey, in order to suffocate it and devour it. As the “devil” he is the tempter, the deceiver of men. As “Satan” he is the adversary of God. Both these characteristics – violence and lie – are the main characteristics of sin.

V33and he threw him into the abyss, and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.. Satan is mighty, but not almighty. Nor is he mightier than the angel that approaches him with the authority of God, seizes him and casts him into the bottomless pit. There is no mention of a fight, like it was the case when he was cast out of heaven (Rev 12:77And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,).

The angel works in a thorough way. When he has thrown satan into the bottomless pit, he shuts him up. There is no connection for satan anymore with the world above him. As an extra security the angel puts a seal on the cover. Satan will in no way be able to exercise any destructive influence on people.

“The nations” here are the citizens, for the armies of these nations were killed in Armageddon. The sheep from these nations will enter into the millennial kingdom of peace (Mt 25:32-3432All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.34“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.).

It will be a time of unprecedented peace and safety, although the heart of man will not be changed, like it will become apparent when satan will be released for a little while. Righteousness will then rule on the earth, but not be dwelling there yet. That will only be in the everlasting condition (2Pet 3:1313But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.), when sin has been taken away (Jn 1:2929The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!). Men can and will still sin in the kingdom of peace, but at that time it will immediately be judged (Psa 101:88Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.
; Isa 65:11,2011“But you who forsake the LORD,
Who forget My holy mountain,
Who set a table for Fortune,
And who fill [cups] with mixed wine for Destiny,
20“No longer will there be in it an infant [who lives but a few] days,
Or an old man who does not live out his days;
For the youth will die at the age of one hundred
And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred
Will be [thought] accursed.
; Zep 3:55The LORD is righteous within her;
He will do no injustice.
Every morning He brings His justice to light;
He does not fail.
But the unjust knows no shame.
).

Those who will be born in the kingdom of peace and will not have been born again at the end of it, will come into rebellion against God. The wickedness of their heart will be exposed at the release of satan. With a view to that this release “must” take place. This ‘must’ represent a Divine necessity. This happens “after these things”, which is after the thousand years have come to an end and not a single day earlier. It is also “for a short time”, which means that he is allowed to operate as long as God determines it.

It is incomprehensible that people can think that satan is now already bound and doesn’t deceive the nations anymore. There are indeed angels now already bound with chains (2Pet 2:44For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;; Jude 1:66And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,), but that is a totally different category.

Now read Revelation 20:1-3 again.

Reflection: Why will satan be bound for a thousand years?


Thousand Years Peace and the Last Rebellion

4Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. 7When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

V44Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.. In verses 4-64Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.5The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.6Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. the actual kingdom of peace is described, and reigning with the Lord is mentioned twice. That implies that Christ Himself is reigning. This is described here very briefly. From chapter 21:9 it is described more extensively. The Old Testament is full of characteristics about this kingdom. That it is about ruling, is to be derived from the end of the verse, but also from the thrones that John sees. He also sees that “they”, which are the twenty-four elders, are taking their seats on those thrones. Daniel has also seen thrones, but he saw no one sitting on them (Dan 7:99“I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took [His] seat;
His vesture [was] like white snow
And the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne [was] ablaze with flames,
Its wheels [were] a burning fire.
). John sees how judgment is given to those who sit on the throne, which means that authority is given to them to reign.

The thrones that John sees are on earth, for Christ reigns on earth, where His throne also is. Earlier you have already seen thrones on which twenty-four elders are seated, but then they are standing in heaven (Rev 4:44Around the throne [were] twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones [I saw] twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.). Here they stand on earth and are seated on their thrones in order to reign with Christ for a thousand years. He has promised that to His disciples in relation to the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt 19:2828And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.; Lk 22:3030that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.). And Paul says to the believers of the church that they will judge the world (1Cor 6:22Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent [to constitute] the smallest law courts?). The twenty-four elders represent the believers of the Old Testament and of the New Testament.

Then John sees yet two other groups of believers. These second and third group are believers that came to faith after the rapture of the church and died the martyr’s death for the sake of their faith. The second group consists of believers that were killed before the great tribulation, ‘the souls under the altar’ (Rev 6:99When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;). They were beheaded because of the testimony that they bore of the Lord Jesus and their faithfulness to the Word of God.

When they cry for revenge, they hear that they must wait until the other group, which is mentioned here, will also be killed (Rev 6:10-1110and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”11And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until [the number of] their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.). This third group was killed during the great tribulation. This group had to suffer because of the beast, but they have not bowed to him or to his image. It cost them their lives, but now they get the reward.

Both groups have been killed by their enemies who thought that by killing these witnesses they got rid of the Jesus they hated. In the same way the enemies of the Lord Jesus thought to have got rid of Him themselves when He hung dead on the cross. But as the Lord Jesus became alive, these martyrs become alive. To become alive means to rise physically. It is becoming alive from the dead. Only after this becoming alive there is mention of a reigning with Christ. This is all the more a proof that now in our days, there cannot possibly be a mention of a millennial kingdom of peace wherein Christ reigns and wherein everyone takes part who are related with Him.

“They came to life and reigned.” Man now finally gets his actual destination. In Genesis 1:26 he was already called to reign over creation and in Genesis 2:7 he received life from God. But man lost both because of his sin. Through Christ he gets back what he has lost and that in an even more glorious way. He actually reigns with Christ and indeed as a resurrected saint and certainly not as a subordinate. Faithfulness to God will never cause loss of any blessing, but in fact only a richer enjoyment of it, richer than we have ever been able to enjoy (Rom 8:1818For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.; 2Cor 4:1717For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,).

Here everyone who has ever been humiliated will be exalted in His time (1Pet 5:66Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,). They have all abstained themselves from their own throne and have bowed themselves before God and are now allowed to sit on their throne, a throne that has been given to them.

V55The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.. “The rest of the dead” are the unbelievers, for all believing dead have been raised. They will not rise at the beginning of the millennial kingdom of peace, but they will remain in the grave, in hades, the place of torment (Lk 16:2323In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.). From the moment that the Lord Jesus reigns, no believer will ever die anymore (cf. Isa 65:2222“They will not build and another inhabit,
They will not plant and another eat;
For as the lifetime of a tree, [so will be] the days of My people,
And My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands.
). With the becoming alive of the believers of the previous verse “the first resurrection” has been fulfilled.

The first resurrection will happen in phases:
1. Firstly, Christ rises (He has already risen);
2. then all who are of Christ will rise at His coming (1Cor 15:2323But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,).

Also the coming of Christ will happen in phases:
1. He will come first to take up the church and all Old Testament believers in the air to be with Him (1Thes 4:15-1815For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.16For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of [the] archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.17Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.18Therefore comfort one another with these words.). On this occasion the believers who are dead will be resurrected and the believers who are alive will be changed.
2. Then the wedding of the Lamb will take place, as you have seen in chapter 19 (Rev 19:77Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride [lit wife] has made herself ready.”).
3. Then the Lord Jesus will come from heaven for the second time, this time together with the church and the other believers, in order to defeat His enemies and to establish His kingdom. That is the moment that the martyrs of the previous verse will rise in order to participate also in the government of Christ.

Then the first resurrection will be finished.

The unbelievers will become alive only after the kingdom of peace and will be judged before the great white throne where only unbelievers will stand. The body of the unbelievers will be made alive, but the spirit will remain spiritually dead. With this body they will be in hell forever and also be dead. They will stand as dead before the great white throne.

So there are two resurrections:
1. a resurrection of the righteous, or the first resurrection, and
2. a resurrection of the unrighteous (Lk 14:1414and you will be blessed, since they do not have [the means] to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”; Acts 24:1515having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.).

Between both resurrections lies a period of a thousand years. The two resurrections are mentioned by John in his gospel (Jn 5:2929and will come forth; those who did the good [deeds] to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil [deeds] to a resurrection of judgment.):
1. the resurrection of life and
2. the resurrection of judgment.

V66Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.. It is an extraordinary privilege to participate in the first resurrection. He who takes part of that is fully unreachable for the power of the second death, which is hell. The first death is physical and temporary; the second death is physical and eternal. Death and life are actually definitions that you should read in their context in order to understand their meaning. So you may find that it is said of the physically dead that they live (Mt 22:3232‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.”) and of the physically living is said that they are dead (Eph 2:11And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,).

Everyone who has part in the first resurrection, are priests “of God and of Christ” and not ‘for’ God and ‘for’ Christ. They in fact pour out the priestly blessing on behalf of God and on behalf of Christ on to creation over which they will reign with Christ. ‘Reigning’ literally means ‘ruling as kings’. They come from heaven to be priests on earth. They are not priests who represent people before God, but priests who represent God before men. In this view they also look like the Lord Jesus as the King-Priest (Zec 6:1313Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.”‘; Gen 14:1818And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High.).

V77When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison,. The word “completed” doesn’t only mean that the thousand years have passed and are ‘over’, but it also implies that they have been ‘fulfilled’, in the sense that a pre-determined goal has been achieved. The earth has had its sabbath’s rest.

Now before the peace of the kingdom of peace will lead into the peace of eternity, it is necessary for the human race to be subjected to a final test. For this purpose what was already announced at the end of verse 33and he threw him into the abyss, and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. will happen, namely that satan has to be “released” for a little while “from his prison”.

V88and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.. The nature of satan has not changed by his stay in the bottomless pit, nor has the nature of man. Satan is unchangeably wicked. When he is released he immediately acts just as he always did. He will go out over the whole earth, to all its corners (cf. Isa 11:1212And He will lift up a standard for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
; Eze 7:22“And you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD to the land of Israel, ‘An end! The end is coming on the four corners of the land.) with the purpose to deceive the nations. The corners of the earth literally means that these people find themselves far from the center of blessing, which is Jerusalem.

From the deception by satan it also appears that the sinful flesh of man has not changed under the greatest blessing. Many have pretended to be obedient to the Lord Jesus (Psa 18:4545Foreigners fade away,
And come trembling out of their fortresses.
; 66:33Say to God, “How awesome are Your works!
Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You.
; Mic 7:1717They will lick the dust like a serpent,
Like reptiles of the earth.
They will come trembling out of their fortresses;
To the LORD our God they will come in dread
And they will be afraid before You.
). They simulated that they acknowledged Him as their Lord, but they only did that because they were (justly) afraid for the judgment. But the flesh always remains enmity against God (Rom 8:77because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able [to do so],), even though it simulates to be submissive. In this way man loses the argument of always blaming satan to justify themselves (cf. Gen 3:1313Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”). That is absolutely out of order here. Also without the devil the heart of man will not change for the better.

The Gog and Magog which John mentions, are not to be confused with Gog in the land of Magog which Ezekiel mentions (Eze 38:1-61And the word of the LORD came to me saying,2“Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him3and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal.4I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company [with] buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords;5Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them [with] shield and helmet;6Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah [from] the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you.; 39:1-21“And you, son of man, prophesy against Gog and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal;2and I will turn you around, drive you on, take you up from the remotest parts of the north and bring you against the mountains of Israel.). The army that Ezekiel refers to comes from a certain area, the far north, and will wage war against Israel and be defeated when the Lord Jesus will already be ruling in Jerusalem. The Gog that John mentions comes from everywhere. John uses this name because of the great demonical similarities between both attacks.

Satan has great success in the recruitment of men for the sake of his army. An enormous, uncountable army rises up.

V99And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.. Under the influence of satan this enormous army passes across the breadth of the earth. The goal is the camp of the saints and Jerusalem, which is here called “the beloved city” (Psa 78:6868But chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion which He loved.
; 87:22The LORD loves the gates of Zion
More than all the [other] dwelling places of Jacob.
), the center of the earth. The beloved city is also the place where the saints encamp, where they have rest. They are separated from the pagans that find themselves in the corners of the earth.

This enormous army is as blind for the power of the Lord Jesus as the armies were, that went to Jerusalem before the kingdom of peace (Rev 19:19-2019And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.20And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.). God sends His consuming fire from heaven and there are no more enemies left. The description of this war is even briefer than the one in the previous chapter.

Now read Revelation 20:4-9 again.

Reflection: Which groups of people are allowed to reign with the Lord Jesus?


The Great White Throne – the Lake of Fire

10And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

V1010And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.. The devil gets a special treatment. He is the instigator of the mass rebellion, but this is the last time that he was allowed to do his diabolic work. His eternal destiny is “the lake of fire and brimstone” into which he is “thrown”. In that way he receives the absolute, unchangeable lowest point of his fall which has been executed in four phases.

1. First he has fallen into sin by his pride (1Tim 3:66[and] not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.). As the liar and the father of lies (Jn 8:4444You are of [your] father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own [nature], for he is a liar and the father of lies.) he has spread deceptions and committed his murderer’s work from the beginning of creation. This is how he has been occupied for thousands of years.
2. But you have noticed that at a certain moment he is cast to the earth (Rev 12:99And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.), where he with the greatest wrath causes death and destruction because he knows that he has got only a little while.
3. After a course of three and a half years God makes an end to his rage and has him thrown into the bottomless pit in order to be locked up there for one thousand years (Rev 20:1-31Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.2And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;3and he threw him into the abyss, and shut [it] and sealed [it] over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.). From there he will be released
4. in order to make his definite fall and make him end up in hell, that has been prepared for him and his angels (Mt 25:4141“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;).

There he meets two vassals who were thrown down there before him (Rev 19:2020And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.). They will not be able to help one another, for their own torments and tortures will be sufficient for themselves, which they will endlessly suffer.

V1111Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.. The defeated rebels will be spending their lives for only a little while in hades, because immediately after them being consumed by God’s fire, the judgment follows before the “great white throne”. That they have been consumed by God’s fire therefore does not mean that they have stopped to exist.

John saw a great white throne. It is a ‘great’ throne, because He Who sits on it is great in majesty and great in authority. It is a ‘white’ throne, because He Who sits on it is perfect and pure. His throne as a symbol of His kingdom and His Person are perfectly in agreement with one another. The Judge is perfectly pure in His judgment. He judges perfectly righteous. In His judgment there is not a single impure element. He is incorruptible. Every examination in His faithfulness has ended up on earth in a testimony of His perfect honesty.

No one can oppose the judgment that He sentences and executes. He will convince everyone who appears before His throne of the righteousness of His sentence and everybody will agree to that. Every mouth that is still braggingly opened to heaven will then be stopped. The pure whiteness of the throne is the reflection of the glory of God Who is light and in Whom is no darkness at all (1Jn 1:55This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.).

In the Scripture there is mention of three sittings of court held by the Lord Jesus:
1. The first one takes place in heaven, right after the rapture of the believers. When the believers are in heaven, they will first appear before “the judgment seat of Christ” or “the judgment seat of God” (2Cor 5:1010For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.; Rom 14:1010But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.). Every believer will get to see there what he has done in the body during his life on earth and see whether he has done that for the Lord’s sake or for his own sake. He will be rewarded for the good.
2. The second sitting of court will take place when the Lord Jesus will return to earth with the believers, in order to judge the evil and establish the kingdom of peace on earth (Mt 25:3131“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.). Before that judgment seat, the “throne of His glory”, the nations that will be living on earth will appear. They will be judged according to the attitude that they adopted towards the messengers of the Lord Jesus during the great tribulation.
3. The third sitting of court will take place at the border between time and eternity. Only unbelievers will appear before the “great white throne”. They will be judged by what is written of them in the books.

When the moment of this third sitting of court has come, “earth and heaven” will flee away. That concerns the old earth and heaven. With the sitting of court and the judgment attached to it, the entire old state of affairs has come to an end. The old heaven and the old earth flee away, in order to make room for the new heaven and the new earth. They flee away, not so much for the throne, but for the face of Him Who sits on it. The Lord Jesus, Who as the Son of Man has received all the judgment from the Father, sits on the throne (Jn 5:22,2722For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,27and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is [the] Son of Man.; see also 2Tim 4:11I solemnly charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:).

V1212And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.. John sees the dead. It is the ‘the rest of the dead’ from verse 55The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.. They do not stand on the earth, for that has passed away. But even though the earth has passed away, man will remain to account himself towards God for all his rebellious deeds and to receive the deserved wages. Through the power of the Almighty they stand before the throne.

John sees great and small dead people. That is not so much about the size of the body, but more the extent of the crimes that they have committed. There are the mass murderers, but also the petty criminals. There are the bragging politicians that have spoken great words, but also the unremarkable housefather that has diligently taken care of his family. They have one thing in common: they have never condemned themselves as sinners in the light of God and have all died in their sins. To whatever extent they have been sinners, the judgment will be justified.

The proofs that form the ground for the judgment come from the books. All of their deeds are presented to them again. The gravity of their judgment is determined according to the severity of their crimes and the extent of their responsibility (Lk 12:4747And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes,). Nobody will have a reply. Everybody will be convinced that God is righteous in His judgments. Another convincing evidence of their judgment is the missing of their names in the book of life. This means it is absolutely right that they will be cast into hell.

V1313And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one [of them] according to their deeds.. The dead will be called to come out of the places where they have ended up after their death. In the first place the sea is mentioned. The sea will have to return all the dead that it has swallowed like a great monster. The sea is put in the same line like “death and Hades” of which is also said that they “gave up the dead which were in them”.

A person who has died is physically dead. For that state of physical death it doesn’t matter whether the dead body is on the earth or in the sea. That the sea is mentioned as a residence of dead, will have to do with the untraceable state of a body that has had a seaman’s grave. It can also be said of people who have been torn to pieces by for example wild animals, that their bodies are untraceable. But the point is the general thought.

The dead come from the death and the hades. You may say that the death is the condition in which man finds himself and hades is the place where man finds himself. The body that has been in the death is united with the soul, that has found himself in hades (which is the realm of the dead) and the spirit. God is able to make each dead alive and to bring him to court. Each call to come out will be answered by His mighty arm.

Although it is said that they have been made alive (Rev 20:55The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.), they are still called “the dead”. They have no life from God; there is no connection at all with the living God. When they were born they received their lives from God. However, they chose to live their owns lives, without considering God Who gave it to them. That caused them to be already dead when they were still living on earth, because they lived in trespasses and sins, without any connection with the living God (Eph 2:11And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,; Col 2:1313When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,; Jn 5:2525Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.). Now they have been made alive again, nothing has changed in their spiritual condition. They stand as dead before the great white throne, in order for them to be judged, “every one [of them] according to their deeds”.

That each dead is judged according to his deeds implies that babies that die and children that die in the womb or are murdered, will not appear before the great white throne as dead. They have after all, not been able to do deeds yet according to which they should be judged. All who die in the womb or as a baby will be forever with Him in heaven, on the basis to the work of the Lord Jesus.

V1414Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.. Then you see the final result of the work of Christ and His resurrection, through which He has conquered the death. Now the last enemy is destroyed (1Cor 15:2626The last enemy that will be abolished is death.; Rev 21:44and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be [any] death; there will no longer be [any] mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”). Death finds its end here; this is the end of death, as it was foretold in the Old Testament (Isa 25:88He will swallow up death for all time,
And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken.
; Hos 13:1414Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from death?
O Death, where are your thorns?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion will be hidden from My sight.
). After this ultimate judgment there will be no more physical death and therefore the residence of souls of the dead will no longer exist.

Death and hades are presented here as persons that are cast into hell. All evil and all who have served evil will be locked up forever in hell. This is “the second death”. The first death was the physical death and the residence in the realm of the dead. The second death is the physical existence of man without life from God in the place where the judgment of God prevails forever.

V1515And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.. Now it appears why in verse 1212And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. the book of life had to be opened. Their evil deeds have been written down in the other book (verse 12b12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.). That’s according to which they have been judged. Those deeds have never been removed from it, because they have refused the sacrifice of Christ. This is why their names have never been added “in the book of life”. The convincing evidence has been delivered. The fate which is their part is terrible and horrifying. That should stimulate us, because we know the fear of the Lord, to persuade people to accept the gospel (2Cor 5:1111Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.)!

Now read Revelation 20:10-15 again.

Reflection: Where does the great white throne stand? Who sits on it as Judge? Who are standing before the throne? What is their judgment?


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