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Revelation 20:7–10

“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea” (vv. 7–8).

For one thousand years, Satan is bound “so that he might not deceive the nations” (Rev. 20:1–3). If, as we have argued, this binding coincides with the church age—the entire period between the first and second comings of Christ—then the number “thousand” clearly refers to a long, indeterminate (to us) era and not a literal span of one thousand years. Viewing the thousand years as a metaphor for a long period of time is in keeping with texts such as 2 Peter 3:8. It is also worth noting that in Revelation 12:14, the interadvental period of the church age is three and a half years. Again, we see the flexible use of symbolism and numbers in Revelation. These alternate numbers tell us on the one hand that the church age will be much longer than we might expect (a thousand years) but that it is also short (three and a half years)—that is, from God’s perspective.

Today’s passage tells us that at the end of this era between the first and second comings of Jesus, Satan will be released from his bondage to deceive the nations and to gather them one last time for battle against God and His people (20:7–10). John is taking us back to other scenes of the final conflict and judgment in texts such as 6:12–17; 17:11–18; and 19:11–21. Whether we take the amillennial, postmillennial, or even premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20, then, it seems that we should expect an increase of wickedness and attack on the church just before Jesus consummates His kingdom. As no one knows the day or hour of this return (Matt. 24:36), however, we cannot say for certain whether the present spread of evil means that Jesus is about to return. He could come today, tomorrow, or a thousand years from now. All we can do is be ready today. For all we know, His second coming in glory could be at hand.

Satan’s final act is to deceive the nations and lead them against the church of Christ (Rev. 20:7–10). The human enemies of God’s people are named “Gog and Magog” in Revelation 20:8, which recalls Ezekiel 38–39, where “Gog, of the land of Magog” leads one last assault on the people of Israel. We likely should not identify Gog and Magog as specific nations, for the language is symbolic. Instead, we see these nations as the counterfeit people of God; their number “is like the sand of the sea” (Rev. 20:8), just as Abraham’s descendants were to be that numerous (Gen. 22:17). But this evil army, which has Satan and not Christ at its head, will be defeated (Rev. 20:9–10).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

We do not want to take an increase in overt evil lightly, especially when societies approve of what they know to be sin. Still, we should not ultimately fear when evil increases, for if we are in Christ, the enemy cannot finally defeat us. Satan may gather an innumerable force to defeat the church, but even the mightiest army is no match for the Lord of hosts.

For Further Study
  • Joshua 11:1–20
  • 2 Timothy 3:1–9

The First Resurrection and the Second Death

It’s A Wonderful Life

Keep Reading The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus

From the December 2020 Issue
Dec 2020 Issue