Jesus is a warrior king as He sits on a white horse (Rev. 19:11-16). He is described as Faithful and True, something inherent in His nature (cf. Rev. 13:9, 14). As He goes out, He “judges and makes war.” The “war” part shows us that this is not the end, because at the second coming Jesus will put down His rule, power, and authority (1 Cor. 15:22-28).
The Lord is identified as “The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13). This agrees with John 1:1-3, where He is the Word that was from the beginning with God and was God. The other designation applied to Him is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” He is above all and has the right to rule over all; none can overthrow Him.
The next scene described in Revelation 19:17-21 is that of the “supper of the great God.” There is an invitation to the birds to come and feast on the flesh of the Lord’s enemies (Rev. 19:17, 19). The beast, kings, and their armies gather for the battle, but are utterly defeated by Christ. The beast is Rome, as identified in Revelation 13:1. The false prophet is the second beast of Revelation 13:11, and was identified as false religion, namely emperor worship. The beast and false prophet were thrown into the “lake of fire burning with brimstone,” while their followers were killed by the sword (Rev. 19:20, 21).
In Revelation 20, we see the aftermath of the Lord’s victory.
Satan is bound and cast into a bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1-3). The pit, key, and chain are all symbolic. They represent the fact that God limited the sphere of authority of the devil. He lost his allies, the beast and false prophet; and suffered loss in the victory of the saints.
What is the 1,000 years? Remember, the book is filled with signs; things that are representative of something else. The numbers in this book are often symbolic. The 144,000 of chapter 7 is not a literal number of those who are Christ’s. Rather, it represents all of the redeemed. The 1,000 years is not a literal time frame, but symbolic of a fully complete era in which Satan is limited in his sphere of operation.
One thing that may be helpful is to go back on consider the treading of the Holy City for 42 months (Rev. 11:2), the two witnesses who prophesied for 1,260 days [42 months] (Rev. 11:3), the woman in the wilderness for 1,260 days [42 months] (Rev. 12:6), the blasphemy of the beast for 42 months (Rev. 13:5) and the fact that Satan had a “short time” (Rev. 12:12). This 1,260 days, 42 months, or “times, time, and half a time” (3 ½ years) is symbolic of a short, definite period of time. The events of these times relate to and coordinate well with the period of Imperial persecution under Rome beginning with Domitian. The 1,000 years best fits with the time beginning with Emperor Constantine, when Imperial persecution ended, to some point in the future. Again, it is not literal or that period would have ended centuries ago.
In Revelation 20:4-6, we read of the reign of Christ. It states that saints, namely martyrs for the cause, reign with Christ (Rev. 20:4). The section in Revelation 20:5 that says, “The rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished,” is really parenthetical and goes back to Revelation 19:21.
The “first resurrection” was a revival of Christ’ cause. It looked to be dead under heavy persecution, but revived when that ended. It is similar to the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37:10-14, when the Israelite nation is pictured as coming back to life.
The “second death” is death in hell as noted from Revelation 20:14.
The revelation quickly fast forwards from the downfall of Satan and his cohorts in Roman times to some point in the future when he is cast into eternal punishment.
We next see Satan released but rapidly defeated (Rev. 20:7-10). There is a concerted effort to destroy God’s people, including the enemies of God symbolized in God and Magog. Their attempt is thwarted by God with fire from heaven that devours them. It is at this point the devil is cast into the “lake of fire and brimstone,” where he will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” This is obviously pointing to some time in the future.
The final section of Revelation 20 is the judgment that pictures God sitting on a great white throne. All are judged by two books: the Book of Life and another book, which is God’s word. Our life will be compared to God’s word; our works compared to His commands (Rev. 20:12). None will escape or miss the judgment. The conclusion sees Death and Hades (the realm of the unseen) cast into hell along with anyone not found written in the Book of Life. May we ever strive to be in it.
Steven F. Deaton