I. A world without a devil

So let us begin with a discussion of a devil-less world. Eden had a serpent but this world will not. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” The beast and the false prophet were removed once and for all at the end of the last chapter. Also, in the previous chapters we saw the end of the wicked Babylonian system. Now we see the removal of the dragon that gave power and direction to these things.

First, we see that there is a prepared servant to remove the dragon. “And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.” John saw an angel. There is no specific angel known here but we know that the angel had authority delegated to it. We know that because the angel came down from heaven, indicating that it was sent by the Father, and the angel had keys in his hands. It is Jesus who delegated this authority to this angel: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Rev. 1:18). By virtue of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ He now has authority over death and hell. No man or being can enter into hell without the authority of Christ. He is the one that is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). How we ought to fear Him! The key in the angels hand opened the bottomless pit. It was this abyss that is the fearful end of all demons to which they beg Christ not to send them (Luke 8:31). It is presumed that this is the same angel that had the key to open bottomless pit in the ninth chapter when the fifth trumpet sounded and the bottomless pit was opened to allow those demons held until such a time to be unleashed on the earth (Rev. 9:1). The idea now is that the pit was to be closed and Satan with it. The powers of hell are to be held at bay. The angel that was delegated to open it with the keys in his hand will now be delegated to close it. No more will any beast ascend from such to trouble this world yet to be (Rev. 11:7, 17:8). The gates of hell have again been shown to be unable to prevail in opposition to the eternal authority of Christ.

The angel comes therefore with the authority of the Son of God. The angel was also prepared with a chain in his hand (the angel took a masculine form based on the masculine personal pronoun ‘his’). It is an appropriate end for the being that was lifted up with pride to be bound with a chain. “Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain…” (Ps. 73:6). The chain indicates captivity or imprisonment (Lam. 3:7, Acts 12:6). The angel came with power and authority to bind Satan; an irresistible authority. The chain represents something new for Satan. He has up till this point been free. He has walked to and fro in the earth as it says the first two chapters of Job. Some angels, for purposes known only to God and for purposes of being released at the fifth and sixth trumpets that we have studied have been so reserved: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment” (II Pet. 2:4, see also Jude 1:6). Now Satan is being put into a reserve for judgment. The prepared servant had his chain ready as well as his key.

There is therefore a prepared time for the devil. “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years…, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” The angel will one day lay hold of the dragon. This is the same dragon who had received worship from this world with the beast. The same dragon that had the seven heads and ten horns and the crowns that when with them and had given that power to the beast. The same dragon that had had tried to devour the child that was to rule the world with a rod of iron in the 12th chapter is now taken by the authority of that same child. This is that old serpent, the liar and deceiver from the beginning who had deceived the nations of the world just like he did the first of humanity. This is the devil, the devourer who is a roaring lion seeking to devour whom he will. This is Satan, the adversary and accuser of the brethren, whom Christ said in His omniscience that He saw falling as lightening from Heaven. The four-fold name (dragon, old-serpent, Devil, Satan) has been studied already (see chapter 12). As such he is the tempter of sin. He is the deceiver that makes the forbidden fruit appear good. He will be held. He will be bound. And four 1,000 years his influence will not be present on this earth. There will be time of peace because the tongue that speaks of war will be gone. There will be time of righteousness for the one that dangles sin before the eyes of men will be gone. No more may mankind blame the outward influences for their sin. No more will wicked men stand and say, “The devil made me do it.” The man said it was the woman and the woman passed the buck to the serpent. That option will be gone. But God is not yet done with the devil. He cast the beast and false prophet into the lake of fire, the everlasting abode of the lost. This last distinct person of the unholy trinity does not yet share that fate. There will come a time when the Kingdom Age will end. There will come a time when the 1,000 years of perfect and righteous rule of our Savior will conclude. The doctrine of pre-millennialism is founded by this text. Either God meant for John to see and record this actual time or He did not. There is no reason to take this time as a picture. The devil will be bound for a time and then will be loosed once that time is elapsed. What happens between those times is the literal reign of Christ upon this earth. And the Bible, in two straight verses designates that time as 1,000 years. During that time there will be a literal fulfillment of all the promises given by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David. The final test for mankind is yet to occur. He “must” be loosed from his chains and for a “little season” must run to and fro in this earth in his restless rebellion. Many of mankind will receive some sort of reprieve and will be allowed to enter this kingdom age. But after such a long time of living in perfection they will yet again be seen to be evil and easily pulled aside after the things contrary to God. God will give man a space of time in a perfect environment and absent any influence toward evil and we will yet learn that mankind is evil and deserving of everlasting punishment. But we get ahead of ourselves. The question is this: why? Why would God allow wicked men to enjoy His grace for such a time absent the influence of the devil? The answer is simple. God is longsuffering and mankind is left without an excuse. God has promised that the wicked shall be turned to hell and all nations that forget God (Ps. 17). God will keep His promise. And God has said this when speaking through Peter about the coming of Christ: “the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Pet. 3:7-9). It is such a small time, 1,000 years, in the eyes of the eternal God. He was willing to withhold His final judgment 1,000 more years to give mankind space to repent. If mankind perishes it is not because of a lack of opportunity to come to God or even a lack of willingness on the part of God to allow them to turn. A millennium will pass and it will be found that mankind has not yet repented despite all the grace. Then man will find that God is not slack concerning His promise. The millennium will be one of the greatest examples of God’s mercy.

And then there is a prepared place for the devil. He will be bound “And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more….” The deception will be gone. The thing that was feared by the demons of being cast into the deep becomes a reality to Satan. Into the bottomless pit he goes to be shut up and sealed. These words indicate an impenetrable boundary which until removed cannot be passed (Job 41:15, Son 4:12, Dan. 12:4). Like the proud waves of the ocean, God has said to the devil this is your abode and you can go no further. The door will be shut that was opened in chapter 9. Satan himself will be sealed. Like Cain of old a seal or mark of the authority of God will be placed on him reserving him to the judgment of God alone. There is prison he will be kept. This is the spoiling of the enemy that is an evident token that the kingdom of God is one earth. “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house” (Matt. 12:28, 29). So, that is what this new world will be, a world without a devil. Satan is bound and Christ having spoiled all his goods reigns.