III. A world where human nature is still unredeemed

We see that this millennial reign of Christ will be a world without a devil and world of justice and life. It will be paradise but it will also be a place in which the evil of human nature will yet surface. “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” It is hard to grasp one’s mind around this prophetic utterance. It has no parallel in the rest of the Scriptures. People speak about the mountain tops of prophecy that are seen in the Scriptures while the valleys are unseen. Before the first coming of Christ people looked at the prophecies of the suffering Messiah and the conquering Messiah and could not see the valley of time between the two mountain peaks. This another one of those unseen valleys between two mountain peaks of prophecy; the mountain peak of the millennial reign and the eternal award. This is the only look we have of that valley in the Scriptures. While the millennial reign is explicitly taught in both the Old and New Testament, the conclusion of that time is only taught here by John. Christ will reign on this earth. That reign will come to an end and there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Isa. 65:17, 66:22, II Pet. 3:13). The bridge between those two facts is found alone here in our text. The prophetic utterance is so hard because one would think that living under the perfect reign of Christ the world would not want to leave His rule. It is amazing how easily man is turned aside. Like the Garden of Eden man enjoyed Paradise. And like that Garden Paradise will be lost with the introduction of a serpent. God will allow Satan out of his chains an out of his prison. He will have free reign. I guess this is an example of the truism, the one thing that we learn from history is that man does not learn from history. Here the devil is loosed, apparently openly for all to see, and he goes about doing that which he is known to do (Rev. 12:9). “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). No doubt this serpent will tell mankind the same lie that he has always told them. Absent from 1,000 years of personal experience of the consequences of sin mankind will come again to think low thoughts of God, that God’s judgment is not real (thou shalt not surely die), that God is holding them back from greatness (the Lord doth know), and if they just listen to the serpent then then they can be as gods. The same new age lie will be propagated and received be rebellious mankind. It will be readily received by them. He will deceive all the nations, the four quarters of the earth (north, south, east, and west) will be swayed by his deception. Either those nations are known by the name Gog and Magog, or Gog and Magog will be their king and capital city. Gog is the name of the prince that invades the holy land. Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 speak of the battles of Gog and Magog but that is a description of Armageddon which we have already studied because it leads to the millennial reign. This is a repeat of that history and will end with the final judgment of mankind. The devil will deceive mankind with the purpose of gathering them to battle. And their numbers will be countless. Their numbers will be as the sand of the sea. Never in the history of man will such an army by gathered. Such is the fall of man. Man is without excuse. Even after regaining paradise, man will still sell it for sinful lusts and rebel against their God, Creator, and Redeemer.

Not much is shared about this final battle. It is not, like many believe, another description of the battle of Armageddon. It is something wholly other as seen in the language above. The description of the battle is limited to this single verse: “And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” We first see that there is a universal uprising of people against God and His Christ; Psalm 2 again is found to be the universal indictment of mankind. They, the ones that followed Satan and his lie, went up on the breadth of the earth. That phrase is used one other time in the Scripture by God when He spoke to Job saying: “Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth” (Job 38:18)? Every point of the habitable globe will have the mobilization of rebellious man against God seen in its quarter. The term indicates the entire measure of the earth. So vast will be this final rebellion of man against Paradise and the God of Paradise.

Secondly, we see the universal focus of their battle; “[they] compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city….” Two questions enter our mind here: what is the camp of the saints and what is the beloved city? The term camp is first used of the nation of Israel when they were brought out of Egypt (Ex. 14:19). It is a term meant to indicate a moving or mobile army, specifically here the army of the Lord of Hosts. It is made up only of the saints, and we are free to assume that they are the saints spoken of above who have been resurrected and glorified and have been reigning with Christ for one thousand years (and whoever else God in His mercy has bestowed salvation through Christ upon during that time though scripture gives no direct indication one way or another on that point). We are free to assume since they are referred to as a camp that they were on the move when they were finally compassed. In the rebellion of Satan they must have been moving toward the beloved city of our text. The term beloved city is only used here but we can safely assume that it is Jerusalem where Christ is to reign according to all the promises given; the city that God loved (Ps. 78:68 – see Zeph. 3:14-20, Zech. 9:9, Joel 3:17- “So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her anymore.”). Even in a glorified state the saints still rely wholly upon Christ in times of trouble. They began a migration back to where Christ was and when they finally arrived they were encompassed about by the world of the lost. It appears hopeless for the saints and their Savior, judging by natural eyes. We learn again to look at things with spiritual eyes in full reliance upon Christ. There was a day when the prophet of Israel was surrounded the armies of Syria. “and when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (II Kings 6:15-17). This is always the blessed experience of the saints who set their camp toward the blessed city.

Lastly, we see the final conquering of lost humanity: “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them….” That is description of utter destruction. Man’s hopes of godhood again are crushed to powder. This judgment has been seen in microcosm before. Fire fell from God and consumed the cities of Sodom for their wickedness. Fire fell from heaven to consume those that complained in camp of Israel for their mistrust of God (Num. 11:1). Fire fell from heaven to consume those that rebelled against God’s man Moses with Kore (Num. 16:35). Fire fell to consume the captains and their men that came to kill the prophet of God (II Kings 1:10, 12). Thus the little season for Satanic rebellion comes to an end; the last tantrum of humanity that wants a world in which they are their own gods.

So we see not only the end of rebellious mankind but also the end of Satan as well: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” The three fold fall of Satan: he was cast out of Heaven (Rev. 12:9), he was cast into the pit (Rev. 20:3), and now he is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone which will be his eternal home. He joined the beast and false prophet. He has gone to the place that was prepared for him and his angels. This is the “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). Don’t let anyone fool you with images of the devil reigning in hell for here he shall be tormented day and night (that is without rest) for ever and ever. This is that which the devils all feared. They knew that there was a time that they should be tormented (Matt. 8:29). Here the time becomes a reality. There will be a finality to the pride of him that rebelled against God. This serves again as a reminder that the place of everlasting fire is a place of conscious endless suffering. It will be final. The end of Satan serves as a warning to all to flee from that wrath to come.