Whatever the 1,000 years truly represents John sees that that at the end the dragon is released from the abyss where he has been bound. That 1,000 years restricted Satan’s ability to deceive the nations. What did Jesus say about his own ministry of being able to deliver, heal, save and transform lives? “No one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house” (Mark 3:27). Every soul saved this Christmas at one of the many services around the world is because the dragon is bound! We are in this window of opportunity right now as we see the gospel going out across the world, every tribe and tongue are receiving Jesus as their Saviour. But the window will close and the time to wrap it all up will come as Satan is unbound, the beast of the sea (deceptive political power) and the beast of the earth (deceptive religious power) will attack God’s people, the Church with increasing power. This is a spiritual battle that intensifies as the end draws near.
“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 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 for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20: 7-10)
He is released so that he can be consumed with his own evil and he will be thrown into the lake of sulphur. He is given a final fling of the powers of evil against God’s people. In what appears to be a reference to Ezekiel 34-37 where the northern King of Magog, Gog, attacks God’s people after a description of the work of the Good Shepherd. Again Gog and Magog are probably symbolic of the enemies of God’s people rather than specific nations, e.g. Russia! They marched across the earth so it isn’t one particular nation.
We have seen this battle emerging already. Again this is not a timeline John is not seeing what happens next but what he saw next. In fact these verses are another description of Armageddon in chapter 16 where Satan is doing his best to create a heaven on earth without Christ and without the Church as Christ built it. How does he attempt that? Through the counterfeit gospel and deceived church and we are right back in chapter 11. The sign of the end-time is that there will seem to be an escalation of this as we move towards Judgment Day. These verses are also what happens in chapter 19 when the manifestations of Satan are thrown into the lake of sulphur. The beasts of Satan, his manifestations of deception and he himself are thrown into the lake of fire. There isn’t any end-time battle. Fire comes down and consumes the vast army and the dragon is no more.
What does this mean for us? Let’s go! In this window of opportunity as Satan is bound we must go with the gospel mission. At the same time each generation needs to keep an eye out for the deceptive generation where within the pews and from the pulpit the counterfeit will begin to emerge that removes Christ and changes His Church into something it was never meant to be.