It is not uncommon in the book of Revelation that actual battles are not described but that we only see outcomes. The angel is seen standing in the sun so that he can be seen and heard from anywhere on earth and in the heavens. The angel calls on all birds flying in midair, that is, eagles, vultures, and all birds feeding on carrion, to come and participate in a very macabre feast.
This feast is opposed to the wedding feast of the Lamb and finally destroys the hypocrisy and counterfeiting of Satan. For such a long time Satan has counterfeited the Christ, deceiving the church to stray from the gospel, and here their flesh will be stripped from their bodies, just as their hypocrisy and deceit will be exposed, just as the prophet Ezekiel prophesied.
Ezekiel 39:4-8, 17-21 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign LORD. 6I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORD. 7"I will make known my holy name among my people Israel. I will no longer let my holy name be profaned, and the nations will know that I the LORD am the Holy One in Israel. 8It is coming! It will surely take place, declares the Sovereign LORD. This is the day I have spoken of. 17Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Call out to every kind of bird and all the wild animals: 'Assemble and come together from all around to the sacrifice I am preparing for you, the great sacrifice on the mountains of Israel. There you will eat flesh and drink blood. 18You will eat the flesh of mighty men and drink the blood of the princes of the earth as if they were rams and lambs, goats and bulls--all of them fattened animals from Bashan. 19At the sacrifice I am preparing for you, you will eat fat till you are glutted and drink blood till you are drunk. 20At my table you will eat your fill of horses and riders, mighty men and soldiers of every kind,' declares the Sovereign LORD. 21I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them."
This angel resembles the angel in Revelation 18:1, who announced the fall of Babylon and whose glory illuminated the earth. The first angel announced that Babylon would become deserted inhabited by demons and unclean birds. This angel invites those birds to devour the corpses of the enemies of the Lamb, exposed and unburied on the battlefield. So, as their dead bodies lie exposed to the birds, so their misdeeds and deceptions lie exposed before the world, destroying them.
We have received numerous assurances of victory so far in this prophecy. This account of the exposure and punishment of our enemies’ deceit and vicious attacks on the church is a further comfort and an assurance that God will not abandon us. Our suffering at the hand of injustice and deceit should not cause us desperation, but we ought to always remember that God is with us.
Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Psalm 38:19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies; those who hate me without reason are numerous.
Psalm 69:4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.
Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Luke 6:32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them."
Matthew 28:20 And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
I Peter 2:19, 20 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
I Peter 3:14,17 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
This passage is a continuation of the invitation addressed to the birds of the heavens in verse 17 and here they are told on what they can feast. By spelling out the different classes of men as the vision here does, it encompasses all wicked people, whether they were kings, generals, mighty men, free or slave, small or great, they were all the objects of God’s wrath and destruction. At the end of this feast, all life on earth would have expired.
Deuteronomy 28:26 Your carcasses will be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
I Samuel 17:43-47 He said to David, "Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?" And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 "Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!" 45David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give all of you into our hands."
Psalm 110:5,6 The Lord is at your right hand; he will crush kings on the day of his wrath. 6He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
Jeremiah 7:33 Then the carcasses of this people will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.
Jeremiah 16:4 "They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried but will be like refuse lying on the ground. They will perish by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will become food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth."
The preceding describes to us the grisly aftermath of the battle in which all the wicked people are destroyed and, as prophesied, they are devoured by birds. The battle in Revelation 20:7 and further appears as a replay of this battle except that in this battle the false prophet and the antichrist are destroyed, while Satan is destroyed in the second take of the battle vision.
Earlier accounts of the destruction of the wicked army explicitly mentioned the rulers of the wicked nations who would be gathered by the demons for the battle. Here, however, all wicked men are the subject of destruction; all those who attempted to deceive the church; those who received the mark of the beast.
Having their deceit grow from kings to the population was prophesied by Daniel when he said that the rebels have become completely wicked, indicating that evil was abounding everywhere.
Daniel 8:23-26 "In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue, will arise. 24He will become very strong, but not by his own power. He will cause astounding devastation and will succeed in whatever he does. He will destroy the mighty men and the holy people. 25He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power. 26The vision of the evenings and mornings that has been given you is true, but seal up the vision, for it concerns the distant future.
As if in a replay, we get a glimpse of the battle that ended in the destruction of all wicked people. The same armies we have seen in Revelation 17:14, gather together to make war against the rider of the white horse. The antichrist commands the kings of the earth and their armies personally, leading the attack against the Lamb.
Ezekiel 38:14-18 "Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say to Gog: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In that day, when my people Israel are living in safety, will you not take notice of it. 15You will come from your place in the far north, you and many nations with you, all of them riding on horses, a great horde, a mighty army. 16You will advance against my people Israel like a cloud that covers the land. In days to come, O Gog, I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. 17This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Are you not the one I spoke of in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel? At that time they prophesied for years that I would bring you against them. 18This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD.
Daniel 7:21 As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, 22until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.
The Greek word for war or battle is polemos and it is used in general terms, such as in Revelation 9:7, “the locusts looked like horses prepared for battle” and verse 9, “… many horses and chariots rushing into battle,” and other verses in Revelation. In 19:19, however, polemos indicates that the kings of the earth and their armies are not gathered here to make war in the general sense, but that they are gathered here to wage a specific war against the rider.
Revelation 16:14 They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.
Some translations have the correct word “the” in the text in both 19:19 and 20:8 and some only in 20:8.
In Revelation 12:4 and further, we saw God’s saving work in action when the dragon attempted to devour the male child, the Messiah, and He was caught up in an instant to God’s throne. Here, too, there is no battle in which some of Christ’s army is felled down in order to overcome the enemy. No, the battle never takes place because, once again, when God acts, it happens at an instant. There is no give-and-take concerning evil and there is also no one of the righteous that perishes in the battle. This passage starts with the word, ‘but’ to indicate that the antichrist’s preparation did not result in a battle, but that he was captured alive with the false prophet. The false prophet, we are reminded, is the one who performed the miraculous signs on behalf of the antichrist and who deceived those who received the mark of the beast. There was no chance that he would deceive the elect, so those who already swore allegiance to Satan, were blinded to the truth and did not believe.
II Thessalonians 2:10, 13 And in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 13But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
The beast that came up from the sea, the antichrist, and the beast from the earth, the false prophet, were not killed so that their punishment would be ongoing and their torture suffered while alive.
Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens.
Psalm 11:6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot.
Isaiah 30:33 Topheth has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.
Matthew 7:22, 23 Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' 23Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
Matthew 13:42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The sword that came out of the rider’s mouth is the gospel of Christ and as it brings life to some it brings death to others.
As it binds the believers to Christ,
Romans 8:39 Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
it separates the wicked from Christ.
Isaiah 22:22 I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Matthew 13:49, 50 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 16:19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.
Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.
It separates us from the wicked.
Leviticus 15:31 You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place, which is among them.
Numbers 16:21 Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.
Matthew 25:32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
II Timothy 3:1-5 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-5having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
Titus 3:10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.
I Corinthians 5:12, 13 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."
As they are separated from the believers, they suffer with their masters; the antichrist and the false prophet, those beasts that counterfeited Jesus the Messiah and the Holy Spirit respectively. The birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
The almost instantaneous ending of the battle before it could start underscores a theme that we encounter throughout the book of Revelation: Satan’s attack on the church through persecution will escalate in intensity immediately before the end. His present restraints are a great source of frustration for him as we see in the following passages:
Revelation 12:13-17 When the dragon saw that he had been hurled to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent's reach. 15Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. 16But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. 17Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
In spite of the fact that this final period will be marked by a heightened persecution, it will not last long, or as we read in Revelation 11:11 it will be three and a half days or in 17:12 one hour or in 20:3 a short time.
The fact that the beast and false prophet are thrown alive into the fiery lake, while their followers are slain by the sword coming from Christ’s mouth, the gospel, confirms that the beast and false prophet, like the harlot of Babylon, symbolize not particular human individuals but rather institutional structures. Here we ought not to seek for a single, eschatological world ruler as the antichrist, for example. While there might be a ruler or king that represents the institutional structures that oppose God, his truth, and his church, it would be a mistake to characterize that single person as the antichrist while ignoring the secular world’s role in the persecution of the church and the unbelievers as antichrists in their own right.
This part of the battle has dealt with the two beasts counterfeiting Jesus the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. Satan himself will be dealt with in the following passages.
In Revelation 9 we read about the star that fell from the sky to the earth and to whom the key of the Abyss had been given. When he opened the Abyss smoke rose from it like a gigantic furnace.
In this verse, however, an angel comes down out of heaven also with a key to the Abyss. He has a great chain in his hand ready to bind the dragon, Satan. The first vision in Revelation 9 showed Satan fall from the sky to earth, as Jesus told his disciples in Luke 10:18, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”
It is interesting to note that it is not God nor Jesus that comes down to bind Satan, as Jesus confirms when he said, “I saw Satan…” It is an unnamed angel who comes down to do the job, certainly on behalf and under direct command of Jesus Christ, which confirms that Satan is not at all God’s equal.
Furthermore, if God chose to kill Satan He could do so by merely saying that it should happen. As God spoke creation into existence, so he could speak Satan and all his henchmen out of existence. God, however, chooses to delay the inevitable and allows Satan to be publicly destroyed at a predetermined time, all for his glory. We saw the same thing happen when the false prophet and the antichrist were captured before the battle began. Satan also, will not have an opportunity to engage God in a battle, as we will see a bit later.
Does God actually speak a command to make things happen, such as the capture of the false prophet and the antichrist? We do not know, but what we do know is that solely by God’s preordination of an event, the command necessary to make that happen at it’s appropriate time, has already been given, and by reasonable inference we may conclude that God would not issue a command for something that He already commanded that it should happen.
This verse speaks about the binding of Satan for a thousand years, which has caused many different interpretations whether the thousand years are literal or symbolic.
Since the paths of the proponents of each doctrine are so far apart, and yet seemingly based on the same Scripture passages, it behooves us to spend more time on the concept of the 1,000 years (or a millennium) during which Satan would be bound.
In spite of the many interpretations that one can find, there are three basic differences that we will focus on and while carefully examining each one we will make references to the minor variations as their particular positions are discussed.
The three major positions are premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism.
Premillennialists hold that the return of Christ will be preceded by certain signs, then followed by a period of peace and righteousness in which Christ will reign on earth in person as King. Historic premillennialists understand the return of Christ and the Rapture as one and the same event. They see unity. Therefore they stand apart from the dispensational premillennialists who sees these as two events separated by the seven-year Tribulation. Premillennialism was the dominant eschatological interpretation in the first three centuries of the Christian church. Early fathers Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others held to this view.
Postmillennialists believe that the kingdom of God is now extended through teaching, preaching, evangelization, and missionary activities. The world is to be Christianized, and the result will be a long period of peace and prosperity called the Millennium. This will be followed by Christ’s return. This position is seemingly gaining more adherents in contemporary circles, such as the Christian Reconstruction Institute for Christian Studies. The leading proponent of traditional postmillennium was Loraine Boettner. See his book The Millennium,(Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1957).
Amillennialists believe the Bible predicts a continuous parallel growth of good and evil in the world between the first coming of Christ and the second coming of Christ. The kingdom of God is now present in the world through his Word, his Spirit, and his church. The position has also been called “realized millennialism.”
We will prove that Scripture nowhere intends the thousand years to be a literal period and that Scripture teaches clearly that the millennium commenced when Christ rose from the dead, having conquered death and all believers have also died to sin.