Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
An angel came down from heaven holding a key to the abyss as well as a great chain with shackles. He laid hold of Satan, the serpent of old from Genesis who had troubled mankind for so long, and bound him in the abyss for a thousand years. He was sealed up and unable to deceive the nations any longer. For Christ’s thousand year rule on earth, the devil will not be allowed to do his evil work. But at the end of the thousand years, he will be released for a short time. He will deceive the nations one last time (v. 7-8) and bring a massive army against Jerusalem where Christ reigns (Ezekiel 38-39). Fire will fall from the sky and devour them all (v. 9). Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire along with the beast and the false prophet where they will all be tormented forever and ever (Isaiah 27:1). Satan is not the boss of hell, but he will be tormented by God’s wrath forever.
4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
Believers are immediately pictured as being seated with Christ in heaven when they die (see notes on Revelation 4-5 and Ephesians 1:20, 2:6), and even the tribulation saints are also pictured in white robes in heaven in Revelation 7:9-17. So, it is not as though there is a period of waiting around in a holding place of the dead for believers, for they go right to be with God in paradise as soon as they die, just as Jesus told the thief on the cross who repented (Luke 23:43). All believers from all times and places converge at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-10) to celebrate the coming kingdom of Jesus and the fact that the bride of Christ has been gathered for eternal life and reigning with Jesus. Yet the Bible is also clear that there is an incident of transformation from the natural body to an eternal, immortal spiritual, glorified body (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). This change happens instantly as in the twinkling of an eye. Believers are caught up to be with Christ with the dead in Christ rising to meet Him first. Then the rest who are alive are also caught up with Him to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). It seems from the whole of Scripture that there is a rapture or taking up of the saints before the tribulation period. Those who died in Christ or who were still alive at His appearing in the clouds are taken up, glorified, and transformed for heaven in that instant. Then, it appears that there is another phase of that glorification at the first resurrection in which those who died in Christ during the tribulation also get changed and made immortal and ready for eternal life and reigning with Christ (v. 4). Those who take part in the rapture and the first resurrection are considered blessed and holy because the second death and has no power over them. They will be priests of God in the coming kingdom and enjoy Him throughout the eternal age. They will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). Their future is paradise to the max. Those who are not raptured or resurrected will suffer the fate of the second death in which the wicked dead are presented before the Great White Throne and sent to eternal judgment in hell. Everybody dies once and is appointed judgment after that (Hebrews 9:27). Only unbelievers suffer a second death (v. 14-15) of eternal torment in hell (Isaiah 26:14). Believers are resurrected to paradise and to being part of Christ’s eternal kingdom. The first resurrection is the one to want to be a part of (Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 26:19). The second resurrection is the resurrection of unbelievers for judgment, and this one does not end well (v. 11-15).
The millennial kingdom is not a period to underappreciate, for there is much in Scripture about it. The books of the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and more have much to say on the subject. While Christ will reign forever and establish a new heaven and earth with a New Jerusalem that is Christ’s promised eternal home for believers (John 14:1-3), the millennial period is also going to be a remarkable time. Believers will enjoy ruling with Christ as His priests during this time, perhaps helping in administration and teaching others the ways of God, including those from other nations as they traverse to Jerusalem. But it will be a special time for Israel because it will finally be a time when God opens their hearts as a nation to see and hear the truth of the Messiah. In the last days a remnant of Israel will be saved which will have a heart for God (Isaiah 1:24-31, Amos 9:9-10, Zechariah 13:1, Hosea 14:4, Joel 2:32, Ezekiel 36:26, Zechariah 13:8-9, Micah 2:12). Israel will regret its past sin and rejection of Jesus (Zechariah 12:10-14, Ezekiel 36:21-22, Hosea 3:5). There will be a temple and a priesthood during the millennial kingdom (Ezekiel 37:26, 40-48; Isaiah 60:13, 66:21) but not during the New Jerusalem and eternal age (Revelation 21:22). The sacrifices will not save anyone then as they didn’t in the Old Testament. It will be about obeying God and doing the things that He said were unique and special to His chosen nation. The Law of God always pointed to the need for Jesus to change the heart by faith, and this will be made clear once again during the millennial kingdom. Also during the millennial kingdom, remnant, redeemed Israel will be honored and a light to the nations (Isaiah 44:5, 45:17, 49:5-6, 49:22-23, 61:9; Zechariah 8:22-23; Zechariah 9:16-17; Hosea 14:5-7). Jerusalem will be lifted up spiritually and topographically (Isaiah 2:2-3, 25:8, 29:22-24; Joel 3:20; Amos 9:14-15; Ezekiel 47:1-2; Micah 4:1-2). Jesus will be King, Judge, and ruler (Isaiah 2:4a, 9:6-7, 11:1-5, 33:22; Zechariah 9:10; Micah 4:2-3). Jesus will put an end to war and establish eternal peace (Isaiah 42:1-4, 2:4b; Micah 4:3-4). Jerusalem will be a refuge because of God’s supernatural protection and blessing (Isaiah 2:4-6, 11:10, 32:15-18, 62:5; Zechariah 8:3). There will be no divided territory in Israel, but Israel will get all of what had been promised to her (Isaiah 9:1, 26:15). The creation will be at peace with one another and with man (Isaiah 11:6-9, 65:25) so that it will be safe for children to play with snakes and for lions to lie down with lambs. Thorns will stop coming up as the curse is reversed (Isaiah 55:12-13). Sadly, some outside of Israel and Jerusalem will remain fools and refuse to believe (Isaiah 26:9-11, 35:8; Zechariah 14:16-20), but it will also be true that many from other nations will come and believe (Isaiah 18:7, Isaiah 19:18-25). God will wipe away Israel’s tears and they will worship Him along with the redeemed (Isaiah 30:19-22, 35:9b-10, 65:19). God will optimize growing conditions for abundant and fruitful harvests (Isaiah 30:23-26, 35:7, 41:18-20, 51:3; Joel 3:18; Ezekiel 36:29-30). Those who dwell in Zion will experience physical and spiritual healing and wholeness (Isaiah 33:24, 35:5-6). Only the redeemed will dwell in Zion during the millennium, for no sin will enter there (Isaiah 52:1, Joel 3:17). The redeemed will be so numerous that they will spread out and resettle some of the desolated cities (Isaiah 54:3, Ezekiel 36:38). In Jesus’ eternal kingdom reign, there is no possibility of Israel falling away yet again (Isaiah 59:21). The nations of the earth will bring treasures to Zion (Isaiah 60:10-11, Haggai 2:6-9), and any who resist will perish (Isaiah 60:12, 66:24). Thus, all who enter there will be clean and of those who delightfully bow down to Jesus (Isaiah 66:23). All of Israel who lives during this time will have hearts for God, and they will have many offspring who will also love King Jesus (Isaiah 60:21-22). Jesus will be the light (Isaiah 60:19-20). Israel will be given a new name, and so will any Gentiles who repent (Isaiah 56:4-5, 62:2). Lifespans will be longer (Isaiah 65:20, 22b), and the presence of God will be immediate and intimate with His people (Isaiah 65:24). As good as the millennial kingdom will be, the best part is yet to come when God creates a new heaven and earth and a New Jerusalem descends from heaven where God’s people will dwell forever (Revelation 21-22).
7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be allowed to deceive the nations one last time. He will gather an army against Jerusalem (Ezekiel 38-39) made up of unbelieving people, and God will rain fire down from heaven to devour them (Isaiah 26:11). Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire along with his demons (Isaiah 24:21-22) where the beast and the false prophet already are. Their torment is eternal, and they have already been suffering for a thousand years. Satan will also be joined by many lost souls once the second resurrection is complete. Satan will not be ruler of hell or immune to its effects, but he will suffer severely in the torment of God’s wrath day and night.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
This should be the most fearful passage in the Bible for unbelievers. Jesus told them to fear God because He has the power and authority to cast into hell (Luke 12:5). He will do it in the future, and this is the account of that day as John saw it. There was a great white throne which Jesus sat upon, signifying power, dominion, authority, kingship, holiness, purity, and justice. It is the ultimate in intimidation to the extent that in John’s vision even heaven and earth fled away. It was the throne and Jesus and nothing else. There is no way to bypass this event, and every unbeliever will have to face Him. They will have no choice but to bow and confess Him as Lord even though they will not make Him Lord of their hearts (Philippians 2:5-10). They will not bow in reverence and praise but because they will have to and likely be cowering in fear. Both rich and poor and small and great will face this judgment if they have not repented and trusted in Christ for salvation. Nobody can evade this or buy their way around it. Each person will stand before the throne. There will be books opened that demonstrate a record of the wrongs that have been committed against Christ. The book of life will be opened to show that no record of the person is in the book. Their deeds will condemn them, and by their deeds they will be judged. God sees all and promises to render to each according to their deeds. They will reap according to how they have sown, and all these who rejected Christ or trusted in their own works to save them will come up short (Romans 3:23). The throne is perfection, and God’s command is to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Since no man outside of Christ can meet this standard, they all will be cast into the lake of fire. Death and Hades are also thrown into the lake of fire. In heaven, there is no longer any death, but, more importantly, this emphasizes that not even death can save a person from eternal torment in the lake of fire. Death, too, which is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), is powerless to the judgment of the One Who is victor over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55). The believer’s hope is the first resurrection, and the unbeliever’s fear should be the second resurrection. Hell is real, it is torment, it is eternal, and not even death can save a person from it (Luke 16:19-31; Matthew 13:42; Revelation 14:11, 20:10). That the antichrist and the false prophet are still in the lake of fire a thousand years after they were first cast in adds further credence to this fearful but true reality.