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satan’s release & demise, revelation 20:7-15

Satan’s demise comes in three stages. The first stage begins at the cross. Satan, the binder, experiences the very thing he does to others (Rev 20:1-3; e.g., Luke 13:10-17). This ironic reversal of his ill-famed career specifically pertains to his ability to deceive the nations into wiping out the Church from the face of the earth (Rev 20:3-4). Just like “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son” at the opportune time (Gal 4:4), the thousand-year binding stage will come to an end at “the fullness of time” when God will “unite all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).

The second stage of Satan’s demise will be brief. At the end of the age, he will be released, but only so he can meet his final destruction. When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth … and to gather them for battle … And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city” (Rev 20:7-9). This final attack on God’s people parallels and intensifies the events of Revelation 11:7-10, 16:12-16, and 19:17-21 (cf. 2 Thess 2:6-12). The emphasis of all these passages is that the nations have been duped into participating.

John calls the coalition of deceived nations “Gog and Magog”—an obvious broadening of Ezekiel’s Gog prophecy (Ezek 38-39). Although some people today think Gog is Russia, “Gog and Magog” is truly a global alliance; it’s “number is like the sand of the sea” (Rev 20:8). The ancient dragon will deceive the “Gog” nations of the world to embrace his foolish last stand.

The third and final stage of Satan’s demise never ends. “But fire came down from heaven and consumed them” all (Rev 20:9-10). The dark alliance will be totally decimated by the power of Christ (cf. Ezek 38:19-22). It’s finally game over. Satan will be thrown “into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels,” the same place “where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Matt 25:41; Rev 20:10).

As startling as it may seem, it’s Jesus who talked about hell the most (11 times). Those whose names are not found in the “the book of life” will face their Maker. They will be “judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done … Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:12-13, 15). God “will render to each one according to his works” (Rom 2:6). “The answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question,” wrote CS Lewis in The Problem of Pain, “what are you asking God to do? To wipe out their past sins, and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary.”

Does this mean eternal torment or annihilation? Perhaps Rev 20:14 holds the key: “then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” The throwing metaphor implies the death of death and Hades. “And death shall be no more” (Rev 21:4). Praise the Lord!

King Jesus will complete what he started at Calvary and eradicate evil to prepare for a world filled with God’s righteousness (2 Pet 3:13).