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A BRIEF EXPOSITION OF REVELATION 20:1-3

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is regarded by many as a mysterious book which is hard to understand. They see its unfamiliar language of beasts, locusts, dragons, etc. and think they cannot make “heads or tails” out of it. But, if the Lord opens our eyes and gives us to consider the showing by signs (signified, 1:1) as it is in other places in Scripture, we will have little trouble with it. However, our ideas on prophecy in general will have to be correct, as well. Some people think of prophecy as a “crystal ball” which they can gaze into and see the future, knowing what events will take place when and where. All prophecy is given, though, so we may know the certainty of an event after the event comes to pass, not before. Viewing the book in this light, it becomes as plain as any in the Bible, needing only the light of the Holy Spirit for illumination.

The Book of Revelation shows us events from different perspectives. Some things are viewed from the natural in one place and in another place the same things are viewed from a spiritual perspective. We have in the twentieth chapter a look on the spiritual side. We recognize this from the participants in it, “an angel” and “the dragon”. (Please keep in mind, especially when reading the book of Revelation, that “angel” simply means “messenger”.) Here we have a heavenly messenger “having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.” In chapter one, verse eighteen of this book we find the Lord Jesus telling the Apostle John He alone has “the keys of hell and death”. Therefore, the one who comes down from heaven is the possessor of the authority of Jesus Christ, for if this messenger is not Christ Himself (as we personally believe), his having the key of the bottomless pit shows that his authority comes directly from Christ.

This messenger is on a special mission. He has a chain with which to bind “the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan” for a thousand years. Keep in mind we are dealing with Spiritual realities here, for Satan, being a spirit, cannot be bound with chains of iron or brass. Satan is bound by the everlasting decree of Almighty God, and his bounds are set and he cannot pass over them. His binding, casting and shutting up here are in regard to one specific thing. “that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” There is no mention here of one thousand years of universal peace and prosperity for the world, but rather a promise that the nations should not be deceived by Satan for a definite period of time.

Who are the “nations”? This term is used for the Gentile peoples, in distinction to the nation of Israel. The Gentile people had been deceived and blinded by the Prince of the Power of the Air as Paul says they were aliens and strangers, having no hope, without God in the world. The revelation of the laws of sacrifice and atonement were given to the nation of Israel only; the Gentile people had no share in them. When atonement was made for the sins of the nation, it was not Edom or Assyria for which it was made, but Israel only. The Gentiles, as a whole, were under the deception of Satan, since the time of his binding had not yet come. Indeed, when the cross was first preached to the Gentiles, they, unlike the rebellious Jews, rejoiced that salvation had come unto them and the deception of Satan had ended. Satan’s blinding deception could not last when the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ was proclaimed, and that not based on any racial distinction but rather based on the seed of Jesus Christ.

The length of time of his binding should cause us no great difficulty either. II Peter 3:8 tells us, “that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. If we were dealing with things in the natural realm here, we might be justified in thinking the thousand years was a literal time measurement. But we are dealing with things in the Spiritual realm, and it would be inconceivable to think that John, in the middle of a sentence, would change to things natural. The thousand years represent a set period of time in which Satan can no longer practice his deceptions on the Gentiles. Be it only one day or ten thousand natural years it is the time God has set. To limit it to one thousand earthly years is without scriptural warrant since no where else in the Scripture do we read of this limited time period.

Some would try to tell us this one thousand year period ushers in the kingdom of God upon the Earth. If this is the case then the kingdom of God will come with observation, unlike our Lord told the Pharisees (Luke 17:20) The Kingdom has come, and Jesus now sits enthroned as King on the throne of David at the right hand of the Father, waiting, ‘til His enemies be made His footstool. If a coming of Christ and the resurrection of the Saints precedes this binding of Satan, what do we make of Paul’s statement about the time of His coming, “Then cometh the end”? When our Lord returns and the dead are raised there is nothing left but “the end.” So, Revelation 20 is not talking about that in this place. No, the binding of Satan is in regard to nothing but his deception of the nations. The Kingdom of God is spread among the Gentiles and is no longer of the Jews. It was taken from them and given to the Holy Nation who would, by the Spirit of Grace, bring forth the fruits thereof.

But this is not be the final state of the old dragon. After the end of God’s appointed time, “he must be loosed for a little season”. When this “little season” begins we are not told, but at that time Satan will once again be given to deceive the nations. The special bonds of God will be loosed from him and he will go forth in rage, knowing that his time is short. Many of the saints in days of old thought they were living in that “little season”. We have reason to believe we may be in that period now. Whether we are or not, time alone will tell.

The “littleness” of this latter season is comparative to the “thousand years” he is bound. Looking around us today and seeing the great deceptions people swallow without question, we have to ask if this is not the time mentioned here. The unquestioning faithfulness of many (especially our leaders) to those who say they are Jews but are not (the government called Israel in Palestine today) but who are the synagogue of Satan is surely a mark of deception. The awe in which the Pope of the Roman harlot is held is also evidence of a deception on the minds of the Gentiles today. The principles of morality held by the founding fathers of this country are trampled in the streets (and many of the founders of this country were not Christians despite what Jerry Falwell and others would have us believe). Perilous times have indeed come upon us just as the Apostle-Paul said would come. If there is worse deception than this to come, may the Lord spare us.

The wording of John is quite positive here, “he must be loosed a little season”. Satan does not escape from the pit by his great cunning or some stroke of luck. No, he is released by God from his binding because it must be. It is the eternal purpose of God that once again the nations would be deceived before the end. We know He has His own reason for doing thus and we cannot question Him about it. We also know that our Lord said if it were possible he (Satan) would deceive the very elect. Praise be to His holy name, He will protect His saints and keep them so they cannot be deceived ever after Satan’s loosing.

I will close this subject with the hope an abler pen than mine will take up these subjects and share what light the Lord has given them.

R.N.L.
The Remnant
August - September 1987