Will Christ Reign for a Thousand Years? (Part IV)
Revelation 20:3 speaks of Satan being “loosed a little season.” When does this occur and for what purpose? Revelation 20:10 also tells of Satan’s final doom. When exactly does this occur?
Revelation 20:1-10 is the only passage in the Bible which speaks of a thousand-year reign of Christ. Does it teach that Satan will be bound for a thousand years after the Second Coming, be loosed for “a little season,” and then be finally destroyed before the great white throne judgment and the end of the world?
Sadly, many people believe in a literal millennium, not because they have diligently searched the Word of God for themselves, but because they received this teaching from their church leaders and teachers, parents, or trusted friends—all of whom may have also received it in the same way. Then too, people often choose the view that is most popular, rather than to search the Scriptures.
The purpose of this message is not to create controversy but to encourage prayerful, diligent study of the Word of God and to establish what the Bible says about this important subject. It is given with the earnest prayer that it may be used by the Spirit of God to give better understanding to a difficult subject.
It is of utmost importance that believers thoroughly understand what Revelation 20:1-10 and related scriptures say about the binding, the loosing, and the final doom of Satan.
Concerning whether Satan has been bound in the past or will be bound in the future, we have considered five scriptural reasons to believe that Satan has already been bound:
1. Satan cannot possibly be bound in the future because, after the Second Coming, there won’t be any nations left for Satan to deceive and time will be no more. Thus, his being bound would be irrelevant.
2. Jesus Himself linked the binding of Satan to His first coming.
3. The apostles taught that Satan has already been defeated by Christ.
4. It was prophesied in the Old Testament that Satan would be bound at Christ’s first coming.
5. The overall teaching of the Bible demonstrates that Satan has already been bound and cast out.
We have also considered the significance of Satan’s being bound. His power is restrained or limited. He cannot deceive the nations of the world to the degree that he once did. He cannot prevent the gospel from being spread to all nations. He cannot hold men in his captivity when the truth is preached and obeyed. He cannot prevent salvation, strength, the kingdom of God, and the power of Christ from coming into the hearts of men when they believe. He cannot cause believers to sin as long as they abide in Christ and give no place to him. He cannot totally deceive and organize all the nations and kings of the earth to come against Christ and His Church until he is loosed.
Clearly, then, there is no scriptural support for the idea that Satan will be bound at the Second Coming.
At this time, let us consider what the Bible says about the loosing and the destruction of Satan.
Revelation 20 speaks of Satan being “loosed a little season” (v. 3). When does this occur and for what purpose?
According to Revelation 20:7-9, there are two main reasons why Satan will be loosed: “to deceive” and “to gather” the nations of the earth against the Church. When will this occur?
The apostle Paul wrote that Satan’s power to work through the Antichrist is restrained until a period of time before Christ’s coming (2 Thess. 2:1-3; 6-8). When this restraint will be lifted, Satan will perform miracles through the Antichrist and the false prophet. They will work as a trinity to deceive entire nations and to rally them in an all-out attack against God’s people (Rev. 13:4,7). Then believers will see Satan in all his fury. He will work through the Antichrist and have great sway upon the earth to deceive “with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:9,10). There will be total deception worldwide for all those who “received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” In fact, “for this cause God shall send strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:11,12).
The following passages of Scripture, in the light of their contexts and related scriptures, give definite proof that events concerning the loosing of Satan must unfold before Jesus returns. In other words, Satan will be loosed “a little season” before the Second Coming, not a thousand years later, as some teach.
Let us begin by reading Revelation 20:7-10:
“Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations [and] to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
When will this occur? Since this passage speaks of fire coming down from heaven to destroy the persecutors of the Church, we know the loosing of Satan occurs before the Second Coming.
According to 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10, we see that “fire” devours the persecutors of God’s people at the time of the rapture. Jesus is coming in “flaming fire” to take vengeance on His enemies when He comes “to be glorified in his saints.” See also 2 Pet. 3:4,7,10.
Now let us read Revelation 16:12-14, which occurs under the sixth vial:
“And the sixth angel poured out his vial . . . And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon [Satan] and out of the mouth of the beast [the Antichrist], and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles [to deceive] which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Once again, we see that Satan will be loosed to deceive the nations and to gather or to organize them to battle. We know these events will occur before Christ’s return because in the very next verse we read Jesus’ solemn warning to believers, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame” (v. 15).
Then too, the climactic events of the Second Coming immediately follow under the seventh vial. “And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air . . . And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found” ( 16:17-21). According to Matthew 24:29-31,35, heaven and earth will pass away when Jesus returns to rapture His Church. This truth is also found in the Epistles: compare 1 Thess. 4:16-5:2 with 2 Pet. 3:4,10.
I’m now reading Revelation 13:4,7,11-14:
“And they worshipped the dragon [Satan] which gave power unto the beast [the Antichrist]. . . . And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. . . . (v. 11) And I beheld another beast [the false prophet] coming up out of the earth. . . . And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast.”
How do we know that this occurs prior to the rapture? To begin with, the Antichrist received power “to make war with the saints.” Who are the saints? Throughout the New Testament, they are seen as true believers, both Jew and Gentile.
Also, in the very next chapter, we see yet another description of the Second Coming. This time it is described as “the harvest” (Rev. 14:14-20). According to the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares in Matthew 13, both the righteous and the wicked will “grow together until the harvest” (v. 30).
When is the harvest? Jesus Himself taught that “the harvest is the end of the world” (v. 39).
Therefore, since believers are present during the reign of the Antichrist, which is in accordance with 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, and since “the harvest” of believers and unbelievers occurs when Jesus returns at the end of the world, we know that Satan will be loosed to give power to the Antichrist and to make war with the saints before the Second Coming.
Let us also consider 2 Thessalonians 2:9:
“Even him [the man of sin, which is another term for the Antichrist], whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish: because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
According to verses 1-3, in unmistakable terms, Paul declared that two things must occur before “the coming of our Lord” and “our gathering together unto him”—the great apostasy (a departure from the true faith) and the revealing of the man of sin.
We see, then, that Satan will be loosed to work through the Antichrist with all power and lying wonders before the Second Coming and the rapture of the Church.
Now, consider the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:
According to verse 5, Jesus said to His followers, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ: and shall deceive many.” In verses 9-11, we read, “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” And now verse 21, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world.”
In this chapter, Jesus warned that there will be great deception. He foretold the deception of many false prophets (vv. 4,5,11,24); the deception of betraying brothers (vv. 9,10); the deception of sin (v. 12); the deception of false miracles (v. 24); and the deception of false teachings (vv. 23,26).
He also warned that there will be worldwide hatred and persecution against His Church just prior to His return. Undoubtedly, this will occur when Satan is released “to deceive” and “to gather” the nations against true Christians.
Then too, Jesus described the days of the Great Tribulation as being so severe that He will shorten them by His return for “the elect’s sake” (v. 22). In addition, He described His coming and the rapture as the climax to the Tribulation (vv. 29-31). Once again, then, we see that Satan is loosed before the Second Coming.
Lastly, consider Revelation 19:11-21:
“And I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True. . . . . And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. . . . And I saw the beast [the Antichrist] and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast [the Antichrist] was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” See also Rev. 17:13,14.
Here we see the kings of the earth and their armies, the Antichrist, and the false prophet coming against Christ right up until the time of His coming. Our Lord is triumphant over all His enemies, including the Antichrist, however.
The apostle Paul associated the destruction of all the wicked and the Antichrist with “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “our gathering together unto him” (2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:1-3,8). Just as the Lord will “slay the wicked” with “the breath of his lips” (Isa. 11:4), so He will slay the Antichrist “with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thess. 2:8).
Obviously, then, since the Antichrist will be destroyed when Jesus returns to gather His own, Satan will be loosed to empower the Antichrist prior to the Second Coming and the rapture.
We have considered six passages of Scripture which clearly demonstrate that Satan will be loosed “to deceive” and “to gather” the nations against Christ and His Church for a “little season” before the Second Coming and the rapture of true believers, not a thousand years after.
Knowing this truth reminds us that extensive demonic activity and apostasy will characterize the end time. It also gives definite warning that difficult days are ahead for true Christians throughout the world. God’s people need to be fully aware of two very important truths: (1) that the persecution of God’s people will be particularly intense just prior to the Lord’s return; (2) by His coming, the Lord will deliver His people from their enemies and gather to Himself all His elect from all the ages.
We have discussed Satan being bound and Satan being loosed. Now let us discuss Satan being destroyed.
Revelation 20:10 tells of Satan’s final doom. When exactly does this occur?
According to verses 8 and 9 and related scriptures, Satan will meet his final doom at the Second Coming. Consider four undeniable scriptural proofs. They are as follows:
1. According to Revelation 20:9,10, fire from heaven will destroy Satan’s forces, that is, the wicked, at the same time that Satan will be taken and cast into the lake of fire.
When will fire from heaven destroy the wicked? According to 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, Jesus will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel. . . . When he shall come to be glorified in his saints.”
Since all the wicked can only be destroyed by fire on one occasion, we know that Revelation 20:9,10 is clearly describing the Second Coming. On that climactic day, not only will the wicked be destroyed with fire from heaven, but “the devil that deceived them” will be cast into the lake of fire (2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2 Pet. 3:7,10-12; Rev. 20:9,10).
2. Satan will be destroyed at the Second Coming because that day is truly Judgment Day.
Jesus Himself said that “everlasting fire” is “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). In the Epistles, we see that fallen angels are in chains awaiting Judgment Day (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). Since the Second Coming is truly Judgment Day (Matt. 16:27; John 5:27-29; 12:48; Rom. 2:4-11; 2 Peter 3:7; Rev. 20:11,12), we know that the devil and his angels will meet their eternal doom then.
3. Satan will be destroyed when the beast and the false prophet are destroyed, which is at the Second Coming.
There is not a thousand years between the destruction of the beast and Satan, as many assume when reading Revelation 20:7 and 10. The apostles taught that the Antichrist and the wicked are destroyed at the coming of Jesus (2 Thess. 1:7-10; 2:8; Rev. 19:18-21). Similarly, John saw that Satan and the wicked are destroyed at the same time (Rev. 20:9,10). Thus, there is not a thousand-year lapse between the destruction of the beast and Satan. They are both destroyed when the wicked are destroyed, that is, at the coming of Jesus, at the end of the world.
4. Satan’s final destruction is manifested in Paul’s great discourse on the resurrection. He stated that Christ “must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” and associated this final event with “the end” and the resurrection and glorification of believers (1 Cor. 15:23-26; 51-54). Then “death will be swallowed up in victory” and believers will experience “no more death” (compare 1 Cor. 15:54 with Isa. 25:8; Luke 20:35,36; Rev. 21:4).
Similarly, Revelation 20 also associates the destruction of death, the Last Enemy, with Christ’s coming, a description of the end of the world, the resurrection of “the dead, small and great” and every man being judged “according to their works” (compare v. 14 with vv. 11-13).
Therefore, since the very “last enemy” will be destroyed when Jesus comes to resurrect and judge all mankind; and since there can be no more enemies to conquer after the last, we can be absolutely certain that Satan, Christ’s arch-enemy, will be cast into the lake of fire at the Second Coming.
In summary, Revelation 20:1-10 and related scriptures tell us three vital truths concerning our enemy:
• Satan was bound and cast down at Christ’s first coming.
• Satan will be loosed “a little season” before the Second Coming.
• Satan will be eternally destroyed at the Second Coming.
In other words, at Christ’s first coming, Satan was bound and cast down so that the gospel of the kingdom might be preached in all the world. Then, a short time before the Second Coming, Satan will be loosed and will work through the Antichrist and false prophet to deceive the nations with false miracles in order to organize them against Christ and His people. As a result, the Church will suffer great persecution and, in answer to their prayers, Jesus will return in flaming fire to take vengeance on all His enemies and to rapture His Church. That will be Judgment Day and the end of the world—the day when history will end and eternity will begin.
The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to defeat Satan and to set us free completely from his captivity. Satan has already been bound; he is a defeated foe. May this blessed truth mightily help us in our spiritual warfare against Satan, in our soul-winning efforts, in our understanding of end-time events, and in our preparation for the Lord’s return.
If you are yet in your sins, turn to Jesus Christ today in repentance and faith. He will deliver you “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” that you “may receive forgiveness of sins, an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18). Receive Him and He will save you now: “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). Do not delay. Come to Jesus today!
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Be sure to tune in tomorrow evening at this same time. Hear more scriptural answers to timely questions. Does the great white throne judgment occur at the Second Coming or a thousand years later? Will Old Jerusalem ever again be the center of true worship? Don’t miss these and other all important subjects. Invite a friend to listen with you. Until tomorrow, may God bless you and be with you.