Satan is released for a “short season” to launch his attack on the saints, but he is the one destroyed – Revelation 20:7-10.
The time has come for Satan’s final demise. The book’s second literary division introduced the enemies of the “Lamb” – The “Dragon,” Beast,” “False Prophet,” and “Babylon.” In the third division, their destruction occurs in reverse order – “Babylon,” “Beast” and “False Prophet” together, and finally, the “Dragon.”
The “Dragon” was defeated previously when the messianic “son” was enthroned, and the “ancient serpent” was “cast to the earth,” no longer able to accuse the “brethren” before the throne. Although still able to cause trouble, Satan was prevented from launching his all-out “war” to annihilate the “seed of the Woman,” that is, until the “short season” – (Revelation 12:1-17).
Likewise, Satan was imprisoned in the “Abyss” for the “thousand years” until the “short time.” Only then would he be released to lead the nations against the “camp of the saints.” Thus, in chapter 20, the “short season” has arrived.
- (Revelation 20:7-10) – “And as soon as the thousand years are ended, Satan will be loosed out of his prison and go forth to deceive the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them to the battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they came up over the breadth of the land and surrounded the camp of the saints, the beloved city. And there came down fire out of heaven and devoured them. And the Devil that had been deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where both the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night for the ages of ages.”
“When the thousand years is completed.” The Greek term rendered “completed” is teleō, the same term applied in several preceding passages to this same climactic moment – (Revelation 10:7, 11:7, 15:1, 15:8, 17:7).
“He will be loosed out of his prison.” The “prison” is identical to the “Abyss,” and the “loosing” of the Devil from it is parallel to the “ascent” of the “Beast” from the “Abyss” and “sea.” The “Beast” that “ascended” from the Abyss/Sea had the characteristics and authority of the “Dragon”; it did his bidding by attacking the “saints” – (Revelation 11:7, 13:1-7, 17:8).
When released, the Devil went “to deceive the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog.” The “four corners” of the earth represent the entire world. “Gog and Magog” links this force to Ezekiel’s prophecy of an invasion of ancient Israel by “Gog, of the land of Magog.” But there is a difference. In Revelation, this army is transformed into a worldwide force comprised of all nations. No longer is it an alliance of regional nations from the Middle East, and the ensuing “battle” is global, not regional. Moreover, the target of its attack is not Ancient Israel in Palestine, but the “camp of the saints” – (Ezekiel 38:1-2).
“To gather them together to the war.” The clause is derived from Daniel 7:21 and was applied previously to the “war” against the “two witnesses” by the “Beast from the Abyss,” to the “war against those who have the testimony of Jesus” by the “Dragon,” and to the “war” against the “saints” by the “beast from the sea.” And the same language from Ezekiel was used to describe the battle of “Armageddon” in the “sixth bowl of wrath,” and the “war” against the “rider on the white horse” by the “beast and the false prophet.” These several “battles” all point to the same event, the final attempt by Satan to destroy the followers of the Lamb – (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 11:7, 12:17, 13:7, 16:14-16, 19:19-20).
“The number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” This recalls the passage from chapter 13 when John saw the “Dragon standing on the sands of the sea” as the “Beast ascended from the sea.” And elsewhere, the “sea” is the functional equivalent of the “Abyss,” the place from which evil creatures “ascend” to persecute the “saints” – (Revelation 13:1-7, 15:1-4).
- “And they ascended over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints.” This is another allusion to the prophecy from Ezekiel when Gog and Magog “ascended and came like a storm, like a cloud to cover the earth… You will ascend against my people as a cloud to cover the land” – (Ezekiel 38:9-16).
“The camp of the saints and the beloved city.” John mixes his metaphors. Whereas, in Ezekiel’s prophecy, “Gog and Magog” invaded Israel, now, the Devil leads his force to destroy a “camp” and a “city.” The “camp” recalls the image of Israel as the pilgrim people in the wilderness. In Revelation, the term “saints” refers to the followers of the “Lamb” redeemed by him from every nation – (Revelation 5:8, 11:18, 13:7).
The “beloved city” corresponds to the “New Jerusalem” and the “bride of the Lamb,” in contrast to the “Great City,” the “Great Harlot, Babylon.” Humanity is divided between these two cities – “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem” – (Revelation 3:12, 21:2).
“Fire came down from and consumed them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.” This is a further allusion to Ezekiel’s vision:
- (Ezekiel 38:22) – “And I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.”
- (Ezekiel 39:6) – “And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am Yahweh.”
“Where the beast and the false prophet are.” The “Beast” and the “False Prophet” were cast alive into the “Lake of Fire” in chapter 19. Thus, the narrative climaxes with the destruction of the final cosmic enemy of the “Lamb,” the “Dragon” – (Revelation 19:17-21).
The judgments of “Babylon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” the “False Prophet,” and the “Dragon” all occur at the climax of the same final “war.” This argues against any chronological sequence or passage of time between their respective judgments. Each opponent of the “Lamb” is judged and cast into the “Lake of Fire” at the end of the same final “battle.”
The application of “war” language to the Devil’s attempt to destroy the church suggests that this “war” portrays his persecution of her by means of his earthly vassals, and not battles fought between conventional armies and nation-states.
Finally, all three of the sevenfold series of seals, trumpets, and “bowls of wrath” ended in the final judgment. And now Satan will be cast into the “lake of fire,” for we have arrived at the “Great White Throne of Judgment.”