Read This Week: Revelation 20
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations and gather them for battle. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:1-3 and 7-10 NIV
There is something so satisfying and fulfilling about the moment at the end of a novel, short story, long-running show, or movie when the villain is defeated. We all feel a sense of relief and atonement when the antagonist finally meets their end and when they collide with their inevitable and permanent failure. Throughout a narrative, we can develop more of a vested interest in seeing how the enemy goes down than how the hero comes out on top.
Revelation 20 describes the end of Satan, the ultimate villain, in great detail. He is the adversary at the top of the heap of sinister, menacing, and horrifying opponents, the bad guy from which all other bad guys spawn. And we learn in this chapter how his seemingly endless regime of terror finally concludes for all time. John shows us the end game, the two final stages of the devil’s fate, and we anticipate it more than any other evildoer in the annals of history or literature.
The first stage involves Satan being bound and chained in a bottomless pit or abyss. This chasm is not hell but a place of outer darkness where the devil is banished for a thousand years. It is something of a cosmic prison or holding place that God has reserved for him while Jesus enacts his thousand-year reign on earth. The Lord establishes His righteous and glorious kingdom for a millennium with the enemy and his cohorts exiled and neutralized. Verse 3 tells us:
He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
The second stage is akin to the sequence in a movie where we think the villain is dead but inexplicably rises back up to pose one final threat to the protagonist. God will release Satan from the darkness of the pit to have one last go at Him and mankind. Verses 7-8 explain this dreadful moment: When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth and gather them for battle.
But just like the bad guy in a film, the devil is quickly put down, never to get up again. The Bible goes on to say that fire comes down and consumes the enemy and his dark armies. And he is thrown into a lake of fire, where he will experience the torment he inflicted on all men and embodied forever. This is God’s end game for the devil. This awful demise is the culmination of his evil rebellion in heaven from ages past that resulted in unfathomable chaos, pain, and destruction on earth by his hands.
Yet, Christ prevails once again and for all eternity. He is the hero. He is the conquering champion, redeemer, and savior that we are more interested in rooting for than we are in rooting against his enemies. All eyes are on Him and his power and authority to execute his perfect end game for us.