I must say at the beginning of today’s post that I feel somewhat inadequate to comment on this chapter. I have not been a diligent enough student of eschatology (the study of end times) to even summarize an intelligent explanation for the events described here. I can only rejoice in the generalities: Satan’s ultimate defeat, Christ’s ultimate victory, and judgment’s ultimate end. Bear with me, dear reader.
The chapter opens shortly after the Battle of Armageddon has been fought, on what must be the opening day of the Millennial (thousand-year) Reign of Christ on earth. During this glorious era we will meet our brothers and sisters in Christ who were saved and martyred during the Great Tribulation (as I understand it). They will be raised to life and will enjoy the reign of King Jesus along with the Church.
The Millennial Reign will be the first Satan-free period of human history, as he will be locked away, unable to deceive anyone (v.1-3). Imagine a world without Satan’s influence! John does not say why “that ancient serpent” will be released “for a little while”, but apparently he will be (v.3). After 1,000 years with no access to humanity, he will emerge to do what he has always done: deceive people and lead them into sin. I gather from verses 7-8 that the free will of mankind will be intact throughout the Millennial Reign of Christ. There will be a great many people — whole nations of them (v.8) — who will exercise their will by choosing to follow Satan’s deceit rather than Christ’s truth. Satan will lead them into battle against the Lord and His people. There will be no fighting, but there will be lots of fire: the deceived will be “consumed” with the fire of judgment and the deceiver will be thrown into hell-fire to burn forever. And just like that, Satan is over and done with, eternally silenced in hell.
Verses 11-15 describe the final judgment of sins and sinners. It is known as the “Great White Throne” judgment. There will be billions of people standing before that judgment, each one a person who has died in their sins. My understanding is that this judgment is only for the lost. As each person is judged individually, the record of their life will reveal their lost condition (v.12) and the absence of their name in the book of life will seal their doom (v.15). (Note: the only way to get your name written in Lamb’s the book of life is to repent of your sins and place your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior; see 21:27.) All of those present will be thrown into the “lake of fire”, or hell (v.15). Each of them will have already experience the first death (physical), and their entry into hell will begin an eternal “second death” (v.14). I praise the Lamb that since I am saved, the second death has “no power” over me (v.6)! A thousand years — or a million years, or a billion years — will not be enough time to adequately thank Him for His grace. Amen?