A Study of Revelation 20:7-8

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out if his prison. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
(Revelation 20:7-8)

Satan is bound today by the power of Christ, through the preaching of the gospel (Luke 10:16-20). As we preach the gospel of the grace of God, when it is effectually applied to the hearts of men and women by the Holy Spirit, Satan is bound and his house is spoiled!

I do not say, by any means, that Satan is bound with reference to all men, but, in so far as God’s elect are concerned. Satan is bound everywhere. He cannot stop the progress of the gospel until the thousand years are finished, until the church of Christ is complete and all God’s elect are saved. But then he must be loosed for “a little season.”

The Loosing of Satan

There will be a little season of great deception at the close of this present gospel age. John tells us that Satan “must be loosed a little season.” (Revelation 20:3)

The Lord Jesus will once again allow Satan freedom to deceive the nations of the world, because they would not believe the gospel, nor receive the love of the truth (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12). In that little season, the world will be zealously religious, but utterly ignorant of the true and living God, deceived with false religion (2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation 16:12-14). But God’s elect will not be deceived (2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14). His people are safe. They shall not be moved away from the hope of the gospel (1st John 2:20-29). Child of God, rejoice! Satan is bound as far as you are concerned! He cannot harm you. He cannot accuse you before God. He cannot bring you into condemnation. He cannot prevent the success of Christ and His kingdom! Soon God will bruise Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20; Revelation 12:11-12).

“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out if his prison.” (Revelation 20:7)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His death upon the cross, defeated Satan and bound him with a great chain. The purpose of this binding was “that he should decive the nations no more.” As the result of Satan’s binding, the glorious gospel of Christ has been carried into the four corners of the earth. Our Lord Jesus Christ has been gathering His elect out of the four corners of the earth for two thousand years. Yet He told us that when the time apointed (symbolized by the thousand years) was fulfilled, Satan must be loosed for “a little season” (Revelation 20:3)

The Holy Spirit Teaches Us Four Things About This “Little Season”

First, at the end of this present gospel age, just before the coming of Christ, Satan will once again be turned loose upon the nations of the world (Revelation 20:7).

Second, he will be allowed to deceive the nations of the world with false religion once more (Revelation 20:8). Gog and Magog represent all the nations of the world set in opposition to Christ, His church and the gospel of His grace. The terms “Gog and Magog” are borrowed from Ezekiel 38, but John never expected anyone to take them to mean Russia, China, or any other literal nation! He tells us plainly that Gog and Magog represent the nations of the world under the influence of satanic deception (see Revelation 20:8!).

Third, under the satanic delusion of false religion, all the nations of the world will rise up in opposition to Christ, His gospel and His church (Revelation 20:9). Here again we are warned about the great battle of Armageddon. This is the same battle described in Revelation 16:12-16 and 19:19-21. It is the final assault of Satan against the Lord Jesus Christ. The meaning of the vision is clear: towards the close of this gospel age, before Christ comes in glory, Satan will deceive the wotld with a false gospel, a false christ, a false god, a false spirit and a false faith; and the world, in the name of Christ, will turn in violent persecution against Christ’s kingdom.

Fourth, Satan’s last assault, like all that have preceded it, will be foiled in the end (Revelation 20:10). The purpose of God will not be frustrated. The truth of God will not be overturned. The saints of God will not be deceived. The church of God will not be harmed. The Christ of God will thoroughly defeat His enemies. The punishment of the beast and the false prophet has already been described (Revelation 19:20). Here John assures us that Satan, the beast and the false prophet will all be cast into the lake of fire. In that horrible place of damnation they will be unceasingly tormented for ever. This battle will end in swift and decisive victory for us when Christ comes in power and great glory (2nd Thessalonians 2:8).

Here are seven things that need to be understood by all who seek to serve God in this generation.

1. We are living in an apostate religious world

The new testament teaches us plainly that before Christ comes, as this dispensation is drawn to a rapid conclusion, there will be a general, universal, wholesale departure from the faith of the gospel. It is true, this departure from the gospel began during the days of the apostles. Satan has been around from the beginning. Antichrists were abundant even in the apostolic age (1st John 4:1-3). Yet never before in history have almost all professedly ‘Christian churches’ of the world so openly denied the gospel of Christ and so unanimously accepted, promoted and preached the lies of Satan. Never before have the philosophy of the world and the religion of the world been so completely united. I am not referring to the apostasy of Rome. Romanism has always been apostate. Papacy was antichrist from the beginning. But in our day, the children of Rome are rapidly returning to their harlot mother, not in name, but in doctrine. The major tenets of virtually all organized ‘Christian’ religions are purely Roman doctrines. These are things held in common, throughout the world by Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Anglicans, Campbellites, Pentecostals, Mormons, Russellites, liberals, conservatives and fundamentalists, Catholics and non-Catholics, Protestants and Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. The universally embraced heresies of this apostate age are salvation by free will, justification by works, asceticism (the teaching that evil is in things, not in us!) and rewards, or loss of rewards, in heaven based on works.

No one can know for certain, but it may be that we are now living in the day of Satan’s “little season”. Professing Christianity is in a state of almost total apostasy. There is a remnant according to the election of grace. There are a few individuals and churches scattered throughout the world who believe and preach the truth of God. However, by comparison, they are a very small remnant. The nations of the world have been deceived with the satanic lie of free-will, works religion. This is precisely what God told us would happen in these last days. These are perilous times for the souls of men (1st Timothy 4:1-5; 2nd Timothy 3:1-13; 2nd Timothy 4:1-4; 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-8). Our Lord said, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43). It has come to pass. False prophets come in their own name, and men and women flock to hear them, while angrily rejecting the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ.

2. The apostate religion of this world is the result of God’s Judicial Reprobation

Rolfe Barnard once said, “This is a reprobate age, an age that cannot be explained apart from the judgement of God.” Here is one of the most solemn things set forth in all the Word of God. When God gives men the light of the gospel and they refuse to walk in it, they are in danger of being reprobate, cast off and deceived by Satan. And this is the work of God! (See Hosea 4:17; Matthew 23:37-38)

3. Reprobation is the work of God

It is the work of God, fixing it so that those who will not receive the truth cannot receive it (Proverbs 1:23-33). It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who turns Satan loose upon the nations for “a little season” (Revelation 20:3; Revelation 20:7). It is God the Holy Spirit who ceases to restrain the powers of darkness (2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8). It is God the Father who sends men a strong delusion, that they might be damned (2nd Thessalonians 2:9-12).

I cannot imagine anything more solemn. The Scriptures tell us that God Almighty employs Satan and his hellish religion to secure the damnation of those who hear, but will not receive, the love of the truth! God will not trifle with those who trifle with His Son and the gospel of His grace.

4. How we may identify the messengers of Satan

There are three marks by which the messengers of Satan, by whom the nations of the world are deceived, may be identified.

  • 1. Their enchanting miracles (2nd Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 16: 13-14).
  • 2. Their evident motives (2nd Peter 2:3).
  • 3. Their enticing message.

Some of these false prophets have all three marks, some have two, some only one. But every false prophet can be identified by these three marks. He may, or may not, pretend to have apostolic gifts. He may, or may not, be an evidently covetous man. But every false prophet in the world has the same message. He will always mix something, somewhere, with the work of Christ (2nd Corinthians 11:1-3; 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15). Every false prophet and every false religion, every satanic delusion, makes salvation, acceptance with God and eternal life, to one degree or another, dependent upon man. Somewhere or another, by one means or another, at one point or another, all false religion makes salvation conditional upon something done by the sinner. Any man who preaches conditional grace is a deceiver of men, an instrument of Satan for the damning of men’s souls. Salvation is conditioned upon the work of Christ alone! Christ alone is our Saviour (1st Corinthians 1:30). And salvation in Christ is by the free grace of God alone (Ephesians 2:8-9).

5. God’s saints in these dark days have great cause for thanksgiving.

If you are one of God’s elect, a trophy of His Almighty grace, snatched out of this apostate religious world, you have something for which to be thankful (2nd Thessalonians 2:13-14). What an outpouring of praise and thanksgiving must have erupted in the hearts of the Thessalonian believers when they read these verses! Rejoice and give thanks to God for His unspeakable grace and abundant mercy. He has chosen us as the objects of His love. He has redeemed us by the blood of His dear Son (2nd Corinthians 5:21). He has caused us to hear the gospel (Romans 10:17; Amos 8:11-12). He has called us by the power of His spirit (Psalm 65:4). He has given us faith in Christ and saved us from eternal ruin by His omnipotent grace (Ephesians 2:1-5; Ephesians 2:8-9). And He has kept, and will keep, us from the apostasy of this age (1st John 2:19-28).

6. These days of darkness place us in a position of great responsibility

We must hold fast the form of sound words that we have received (2nd Timothy 1:13) and earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3). We must in these dark days, as never before, make known to men and women who are bound for eternity the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ (2nd Timothy 4:1-5). There is no hope for any apart from the knowledge of Christ in the gospel.

7. There is no cause for despair (Revelation 20:10)

Satan will certainly fall. The truth of God will prevail. The church of God is safe. God’s elect cannot be deceived by Satan’s lie (Matthew 24:22-24; Mark 13:20-22). The day of victory is at hand. When God our Saviour has finished with our adversary, the devil, He will cast him into the lake of fire, where he can do no more harm.

D. Fortner

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