Revelation #34 Revelation 20:7-15 (MSG) End Times: The Final Purge


Revelation #34 Revelation 20:7-15 (MSG) End Times: The Final Purge


We don’t have to concern ourselves with picking a position in our attempts to interpret the millennium. Forget Pre, Post, A, and Pan millenniums. The truth is that Jesus reigns right now (Ephesians 1:20-21). The Dragon and its henchmen are defeated right now (Revelation 12:11). That Jesus reigns right now is the reason believers refused to recant their faith on the penalty of death, they were not hoping for some future reign but bet their lives on a current spiritual reality. Jesus is Lord, now. “John [is] not drawing back a curtain to allow his readers to peer into the future, rather he [is] drawing back a curtain to show the spiritual realities behind the political and economic facades of [the] current age…

( Christ's Millennial Reign – Future Hope or Present Reality?, , April 13, 2024). The millennium is simply a way of communicating that now is the time of Christ’s reign.


The Dragon, that old Snake, the Devil Satan itself has been locked in the Abyss for 1000 years. John continues:


Revelation 20:7-10 (MSG)

7 When the thousand years are up, Satan will be let loose from his cell, and will launch again his old work of deceiving the nations, searching out victims in every nook and cranny of earth, even Gog and Magog! He'll talk them into going to war and will gather a huge army, millions strong. They'll stream across the earth, surround and lay siege to the camp of God's holy people, the Beloved City. They'll no sooner get there than fire will pour out of Heaven and burn them up. The Devil who deceived them will be hurled into Lake Fire and Brimstone, joining the Beast and False Prophet, the three in torment around the clock for ages without end.


This seems so weird.  Why let the villain out of its prison?  The answer lies in Satan’s original job description. God created angels to handle different tasks.  In the book of Job,  the angels are presenting themselves before God, reporting on their activities.  Satan is among them. It appears Satan’s job was to discover wrong behavior among humans and report it. Satan is the accuser, that brings charges up on people before God, kind of like a District Attorney. The job of the DA is to investigate charges, present a case against the suspected lawbreaker, and recommend a sentence, a punishment that fits the crime.  Allowing a little speculation, at some time, Satan quit the job, frustrated that God was not taking action against these wrongdoers.  So, it rebelled. Speculating further, imagine Satan saying “God won’t punish these criminals, I will.” “God is not doing His job in keeping the creation holy.” “So, I am going to take matters into my own hands.” Hear the pride? Moving out of speculation, Satan’s job is to roam the earth seeking out those not aligned with God’s will and accusing them of their crime before the throne of God.  Satan is very good at its job, with years of experience.  Anyway, after being shut away, it is now set loose once again, this time, unwittingly, to be the refining process that separates the faithful from the rest.  Satan’s deceptions will pull all those who can be pulled from their fidelity to Christ into one last attempt to overthrow the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God is allowing Satan to cull the flock of the blemished. The result is that no charges can be brought up against the faithful. After Satan’s work, it is clear that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, Wright, p. 131).

 Every nook and cranny, even Gog and Magog, Satan will tempt the nations to once more worship it.  The cycle of evil started all over again. In Ezekiel 38 Gog is the ruler of Magog and leads his army against the children of Israel.  John draws heavily from Ezekiel’s vision. Israel restored to the Promised Land and living in peace is the picture of God’s intervention in chapters 36-37.  Just when the people think everything is great, Gog shows up, God destroys this threat to His people and a new order begins symbolized in the building of a new Temple, in new Jerusalem.  If you exchange Ezekiel’s new Jerusalem with John’s Camp of God, you have almost identical visions. A purge has taken place at the end of the millennial reign of Christ. Everyone unfit for the Kingdom is removed from the Kingdom.


Ezekiel 38:21-23 (MSG)

I'll order all-out war against you, Gog—Decree of God, the Master—Gog killing Gog on all the mountains of Israel. I'll deluge Gog with judgment: disease and massacre, torrential rain and hail, volcanic lava pouring down on you and your mobs of troops and people. " 'I'll show you how great I am, how holy I am. I'll make myself known all over the world. Then you'll realize that I am God.'


As soon as its job is done, Satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire, the same place as the Beast and the False Prophet. Instead of fire and brimstone, those mental pictures we have of Hell thanks to Dante’s Inferno, we are better off thinking of this Lake of Fire as representing eternal separation from God and anything of God. What is eternal separation from God like, it’s like being thrown alive in a Lake of Fire.  Another speculation: God created in His image, and part of that image is His eternal being, if it were not for the Fall, then it is not beyond reason to imagine that human beings were designed not to experience physical death. If human beings are eternal beings, it’s not too great a leap to think of angels as eternal beings. God's creation in His image would also include a social aspect.  God exists in a beyond-comprehension Trinity, a social dimension.  In this great leap, we can assume the same with people and with angels.  We know that people thrive in social environments. This is one reason a sentence of solitary confinement is often considered cruel and unusual punishment. People need people.  The speculation is that the Lake of Fire represents eternal solitary confinement. You’ve been given a glimpse of the beauty of the Kingdom, you remember your previous freedom, and now it's gone, truly mental torment forever and ever (Luke 16:19-31).


The Heavenly Women, the Bride of Christ is victorious over Babylon

The Arnion, the Lambkin is victorious over the Beast

The Holy Spirit, the 7 Spirits of God, is victorious over the False Prophet

The One Who Sits Upon the Throne is victorious over the Dragon.

The instigators of rebellion have been permanently removed from harassing those who have bent their knee to the Lordship of Christ ever again.


The major players on “side evil” have been dealt with.  Now John sees the judgment of God upon those who aligned themselves with the Beast.



 20:11-15 (MSG)

I saw a Great White Throne and the One Enthroned. Nothing could stand before or against the Presence, nothing in Heaven, nothing on earth. And then I saw all the dead, great and small, standing there—before the Throne! And books were opened. Then another book was opened: the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what was written in the books, and by the way they had lived. 13 Sea released its dead, Death and Hell turned in their dead. Each man and woman was judged by the way he or she had lived. 14 Then Death and Hell were hurled into Lake Fire. This is the second death—Lake Fire. 15 Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire.


The final judgment begins with the heaven and earth being swept away.  The Message paraphrase seems to indicate that God has no opposition in executing His judgment in Heaven or Earth.  I’m fine with that understanding but the idea of heaven and earth being swept away hints at something more. Heaven and Earth represent the old order of existence tainted by humanity’s sin (Romans 8:19-22). In God’s final judgment, the old is swept away to make room for a new Heaven and Earth not tarnished by sin.  Everything is made new like Eden before the Fall. There is always a great apocalyptic cataclysm that comes with this, Peter states that the old will go in fire, but then he adds “but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness” (2 Peter 3:11-13 (MSG).  More on this making all things new starting with Chapter 21


Death, Hades, and the Sea give up their dead. Many scholars teach a two-tiered resurrection, the first one for martyrs and the second one in what we just read. We have suggested that when Jesus returns there is one resurrection of the righteous and a transformation of living believers. If our single resurrection assumption for those who have bent the knee to Jesus is correct, then what John reports is a resurrection of the rest of humanity. It just doesn’t seem right that John would call those alive in Christ “the dead.” We can be comfortable with the notion that what John is seeing is the judgment of those who rejected God’s invitation to enter into a right relationship with Him.


Earlier in our teaching we learned that what you do matters.  Here we are seeing that truth played out.  The idea of the books is that your every deed, both evil and good is written down.  Paul wrote to the Romans that God would judge according to what each person has done (Romans 2:6). Those books contain all that you have done.  For some people, the ledger will be full of good deeds, with few acts of selfishness recorded.  For some just the opposite, for most a mixture of entries on both sides of the ledger. Certainly, if the good you’ve done outweighs the bad you’ve done salvation will be granted.  But not so.  No one is saved by their works.  Works are important, what you do matters, but there is another book, the Book of Life. The Book of Life contains the names of everyone who bent their knee to Christ and remained faithful, they didn’t recant and get their names blotted out (Revelation 3:5). Symbolically the presence or absence of your name in the Book of Life determines your eternal destiny.


Revelation 20:15 (MSG)

Anyone whose name was not found inscribed in the Book of Life was hurled into Lake Fire.


Death and Hell lead the way.  Our word Hell is often confused with the Lake of Fire. Hell is a poor translation.  The word Hades is more fitting. Hades is understood to be an intermediate state between death and the final judgment. Hades is the grave or Sheol.  Death of course is the grim reaper, the killer of the physical body.  Recall Revelation 6:8 “I looked. A colorless horse, sickly pale. Its rider was Death, and Hell was close on its heels.”  It’s these two that lead the nameless into the second death. 

 For humanity, the first death is the death of the physical body.  The second death is eternal separation from God.

 At the end of Chapter 20, nothing that would oppose the rule of God exists.  Babylon, the Beast, the False Prophet, the Dragon, people who rejected the Lordship of Jesus, and even the sin-tainted creation have all been judged and dealt with.  Their seductions and rebellions cease. Now is the time for the consummation of the Kingdom.

 One of the interesting thoughts from Chapter 20 is that God uses Satan as a sifter that separates the heart loyal from the traitors. God is the sovereign One.

 We’ve wondered why the rough, intense, and catastrophic times that those who are walking with Jesus suffered are suffering.  From John’s heavenly perspective, all that turmoil and tragedy was a refining fire removing everything from within that was not worthy of citizenship in the Kingdom.  Even those executed for their testimony, tortured, and beheaded for their faith, are rescued and honored.

 Once again we have been reminded that what we do matters.  To enter into salvation your name has to be written in the Book of Life.  You must identify with Jesus for your name to be entered.  You must live the no-compromise lifestyle of a disciple of Christ.  In doing so we will log into the books many good works while knowing that good works are not good enough, only living the gospel is sufficient to escape judgment. 

 Now is the time for you to decide your eternal destiny.  Grab ahold of God’s invitation to enter into a right relationship with Him.  It is in and through Jesus that we believe and commit.  If you have refused, your name will not be found in the Book of Life.  If you have tasted the forgiveness and glory and the power of being a new creation in Christ, never stop partnering with the Holy Spirit, never, never, in thought, in words, or in deeds, recant your faith.  No Lake of Fire for you.  No. We are going to read John’s vision of the inheritance that awaits you.


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