We have ascertained that there is no basis in Scripture for a Pretribulation Rapture, a physical millennium, a system of Dispensational Premillennialism, or any other understanding of the end times other than that the thousand years are referring to the time between Christís First and Second Advents and that there is no other rapture than the one that will take place at the Second Advent together with the resurrection of all of mankind, some to eternal punishment and others to eternal bliss. We have also ascertained that Satanís binding occurred at the beginning of this period in which we are today and his release will occur at the very end of this period.
Let us now continue to read about Satanís mobilization of the worldís forces against Christ and the believers, trying one last time to achieve his goal, which is, at the very least, to get one of the elect to stumble and turn against God. We will see, however, that his entire mobilization against God is actually working in Godís plan to purify the church.
After the appointed time for Satanís captivity in the Abyss has ended, at the close of the millennium, he will be released. He will go out to deceive the nations of the earth to gather for himself an army, as plentiful as the sand of the sea, for the final battle against the Church.
This will be Satanís last stand and he hopes that if he could deceive, intimidate, blaspheme, threaten, torture, and even kill believers, to turn them away from believing in God, he could prove that Godís promises were false and that He is not the Almighty. The elect, whose names have been written up before creation, will be called by that roster to enter heaven with their Savior.
In chapter 19:20 we read that the antichrist was captured and has been thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, so it is only Satan, the first of the three tripartite devils, that remained.† From Johnís narrative of his visions it appears as if the false prophet and the antichrist have been thrown into the lake of fire before the millennium, Satan was bound during the millennium, and released after the millennium to mobilize against God. Does this mean that the antichrist and the false prophet were thrown into the lake of fire at Christís crucifixion? No, the battle in which the antichrist and the false prophet was captured and thrown into the lake of fire happened at the end of the millennium immediately before Satan was thrown into the lake of fire.
Although it appears as if there would be two battles Ė the one that the antichrist and the false prophet wage and the one that Satan wage Ė it is in reality two accounts of the same battle.† Actually, we saw another account of this battle in Revelation 17:14 but our focus is drawn to the two accounts of the battle surrounding the millennium. The first account relates to us the circumstances in which the antichrist and the false prophet would be destroyed and the second in which Satan would be destroyed.
How do we know this? We have dealt with this when we studied chapter 19 and 20 but it might be useful to revisit some of the reasons why these two accounts are telling us about the same battle.
There are other instances in Scripture connecting the two battles together as one battle, but the points above should suffice for our study.
John says here that the four corners of the earth refer to Gog and Magog. In Ezekiel 38:2 there is a reference to the ďland of MagogĒ and Ezekiel is commanded by God to ďset his face against GogĒ and ďprophesy against him [Gog]Ē meaning that we can safely assume that Johnís reference to Gog and Magog refers to Gog a king of the distant land of Magog. Ezekiel 39:6 says the following:† ďI will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the LORDĒ further illustrating that Magog is a place. These two names are used here to signify the entire world, as John said, ďÖ the four corners of the earth Ė Gog and MagogÖĒ It also illustrates the enormity of the army that Satan is mobilizing against God.
We do not know exactly who is referred to in this passage, but we can infer that it is not a particular nation or people. John has seen the anti-God institutions mobilizing against God and Christ.† They start with small, perhaps irrelevant matters but they will never be satisfied until they have rid the world of God, Christ, and all believers.
Ezekielís prophecy is fulfilled here.
Proverbs 27:20 Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.
Proverbs 30:15, 16 "The leech has two daughters. 'Give! Give!' they cry. "There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, 'Enough!'" 16The grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, 'Enough!'.
Habakkuk 2:1-5† I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. 2Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4"See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright--but the righteous will live by his faith-5indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.
Satanís army will be like the sand of the seashore, which means that nobody would be able to count the multitude.†
Genesis 32:12 But you have said, 'I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.'
There are many references to ďsand on the seashoreĒ implying countless people, but what is interesting is that the army of Satan is referred to in the context from where the antichrist rose.† The sea is also commonly referred to as a symbol of the people of the earth. Just as Christ came forth from lineage of the church, hence the woman and her male child symbolized the Messiah-child coming forth from the church, so the beast that came out of the sea is the antichrist rising from the people of the earth.
Joshua 11:4 They came out with all their troops and a large number of horses and chariots--a huge army, as numerous as the sand on the seashore. 5All these kings joined forces and made camp together at the Waters of Merom, to fight against Israel.
They were so numerous that they appeared to cover the earth, which means that there was not a country or nation who were not participating in Satanís army. As worldly institutions, they all joined Satan against the church, trying to destroy the church and deceive the elect.
They surrounded the camp of Godís people and the city he loves. With these two images it now becomes evident that Satan has mobilized against Christís church on earth. We see the one image, ďthe camp of Godís peopleĒ reflecting the time when Israel lived like nomads in the desert, and the other Jerusalem as the city that symbolizes the church, which was under siege many times and saved by God.† See how Isaiah foretells the role of the church in the New Testament.
Isaiah 26:1-4† In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; God makes salvation its walls and ramparts. 2Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter, the nation that keeps faith. 3You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. 4Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.
Satanís mobilization is not against the invisible, universal church, but the visible church on earth. Literally between the secular world and Christians.
One might legitimately ask why would God allow his church to be persecuted to the point where the time of this persecution had to be shortened for the sake of the elect.† The two characters at play here are the visible church and the elect. Alternatively, one might say the visible and the invisible church.† We see on the one hand the visible church under Satanís siege and on the other hand Godís protection for the elect in shortening the time so that they might be preserved Ė so that not a single member of the elect should be lost.
The visible church is pressured to the point where all hypocrites, false prophets, masquerading angels of light, and all other henchmen of Satan have been squeezed out with only the elect remaining, making the visible and the invisible church the same. The visible church will suffer the exact amount of Satanís attack necessary to rid her of hypocrites. God is in control, measuring exactly the amount of fire to be poured out onto the church and not harm a single believer, but making the church an unbearable place for all others. That is why believers have to remain faithful trusting God till the end regardless of the circumstances.
Here are some passages that reflect this.
Matthew 10:22 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Luke 21:12, 16 - 19† "But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 16You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17All men will hate you because of me. 18But not a hair of your head will perish. 19By standing firm you will gain life.
Matthew 24:13, 21, 22, 24 But he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now--and never to be equaled again. 22If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible.
Matthew 25:32, 33 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. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Romans 5:3 - 5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance. 4perseverance, character; and character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
Romans 12:11, 12 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 15:5, 13† May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus. 13May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
II Thessalonians 2:16, 17† May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope. 17Encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Hebrews 3:14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.
Hebrews 6:11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.
James 1:12† Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him
Revelation 2:10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life
Revelation 2:26† To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.
Christians ought not be terrified by the evil that rises up against the church, as the martyrs that have gone before us have left us with a rich, and bloody, testimony of the power of the faith we received from Jesus Christ.
Then, at the appointed time, at exactly the right moment, God devoured them with fire from above. Thus the people of the world have been destroyed because of their unbelief in spite of all the testimony they received.
Genesis 19:24 Then the LORD rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah--from the LORD out of the heavens.
All throughout Scripture we have seen Godís judgment on his enemies, but it has always been executed partially, so as not to destroy them altogether.† Godís plan to destroy all wicked men and angels at the end becomes quite evident when one looks back on history.† Godís overall purpose, to gather for himself a people who freely desire to glorify him, is even evident at the end of time, where Satanís evil is unleashed yet controlled not to harm the elect. This time, however, Godís judgment is complete and final. There is no other judgment that occurs after this. Godís wrath is satisfied.
By persecuting the church, the hypocrites have all left the church leaving only the true believers standing and rejoicing, having never faltered in their faithfulness and joy of their eternal heritage in Christ.
The tripartite devil Ė the dragon, Satan, and the beast from the sea, the antichrist, and the beast from the earth, the false prophet Ė has been destroyed forever.
The following five verses in chapter 20 deals with the last judgment.† It is the time in which Christís court is in session and all of mankind who ever lived would rise from the dead in new bodies and appear before the white throne of Christ.
Before we continue our study, let us briefly pause on the court of Christ and reflect upon its origin and meaning in salvation history.
Let us first examine whether there will be a final judgment.
In II Peter 3:4 we read,
II Peter 3:4 They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."
We may apply this verse exactly to our lives today. So, how will we know that there is a last judgment? The answer is found in the verses in 2nd Peter chapter 3 following verse four.
II Peter 3:5-13 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
So, by the same Word that the heavens and the earth were created; they will be destroyed and replaced by a new heaven and earth in which the righteous would live.
The certainty that the last judgment would occur depends solely on the teaching of Scripture as embodied in the promises of God. What is the testimony of Scripture upon which this doctrine rests? It is the following:
The Old and New Testaments, clearly and explicitly teach the doctrine of a future judgment.† Daniel prophesied as follows:
Daniel 7:9- 14† "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. 11"Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. 12(The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time. 13"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
The apostle Jude quoted Enoch:
Jude 1:14, 15† Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy one 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Jesus Christ, never to speak outside from what has been foretold by the prophets, the law, and the psalms, lest he be shown to be at variance with the will of the Father; and confirming the unity of the Scriptures, spoke on many occasions about a last judgment. Although one ought to read chapters 24 and 25 of the gospel of Matthew, these are excerpts that supports this point:
Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All 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. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.' 41Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.' 46Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Other Scripture passages declare the same thing:
Acts 17:31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
I Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Hebrews 9:27, 28 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
God ordained and determined with himself, from everlasting to raise the dead. He had the prophet Ezekiel prophesy about it so that we might know that it is not an invention of human imaginations, but it is in the eternal plan of God from the beginning.
Ezekiel 37:1-14† The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 2He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. 3He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." 4Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" 7So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. 9Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.'" 10So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet--a vast army. 11Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' 12Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'"
God is able to accomplish things, which are impossible for us to comprehend. Christ uses this argument in refuting the Sadducees:
Matthew 22:29† Jesus replied, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God."
The Old Testament spoke about it, too, so that we may not imagine that it is an invention of the New Testament.
Genesis 18:14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.
Isaiah 57:1, 2† The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. 2Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
Daniel 12:2, 3 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Luke 1:37 For nothing is impossible with God.
Acts 26:8 Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead?
Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Philippians 3:21 Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
 Studying the book of Revelation might cause verb tenses to be confusing in some instances and this author suffers under the phenomenon.† Depending from which perspective one views Johnís testimony the tenses might change. If one views Johnís visions from his perspective, the past tense might seem appropriate while viewing his visions from the historic, worldly perspective, the present and future tense might seem more appropriate.