Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

Proverbs 3:5

The Word
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:1-5

Soli Deo gloria
"glory to God alone"

1 Peter 4:11

Cambridge Declaration

Christian Institute



Study in Revelation 20:2

2 He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; Revelation 20:2 (NKJV)

In the previous study I pointed out that the Book of Revelation is a series of visions given to John that look at the church age from differing perspectives, focussing on different characters and events through the use of symbolism, which is in common with Old Testament apocalyptic writings also. To simply read through the whole book in a straightforward chronological fashion, ignoring all the symbolism applied in the text can lead to much confusion. The progression from chapter 19 to chapter 20 highlights this clearly, and simple logic shows the error of using this approach.

In chapter 19 the glorious return of Jesus Christ is portrayed, where He is returning to “tread the winepress of the fierceness and the wrath of Almighty God” [Rev 19:15]. The birds of the air are invited to feast upon the flesh of the slain, which includes “all people, both free and slave, both small and great.” [Rev 19:18]. In verses 19-21, the Beast and False Prophet are captured and cast into the Lake of Fire, and the rest were killed by the sword that proceeded from the mouth of Jesus, so that all the birds were filled with their flesh. The picture being that all are completely slain with no survivors, and no-one left to bury the dead. If we simply read chronologically through to the next chapter, who are the nations left to be deceived, that it should be necessary for Satan to be bound in order not to deceive them any longer? [Rev 20:3]. This same sort of confusion does not occur when the style of writing is taken into account, but rather the preceding visions cast much light upon the following visions of the book. Not only that, but clear connections can begin being made to the clear writings elsewhere in the Bible.

He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old,

In this vision, what John is being shown is the true author of sin, namely Satan. He is the “serpent of old” who caused Adam to sin in the first place.

1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 (NKJV)

who is the Devil and Satan

“The Devil” in the Greek {diabolos} means false accuser/slanderer. And “Satan” comes from the Hebrew {śāṭān} meaning adversary/opponent.

A brief analogy I would use to describe the focus of this particular vision, is to be taken behind the scenes of a puppet show, and seeing the actual person who had orchestrated the scenes that had been witnessed by the audience. What we begin to see is that Babylon that had fallen, the Beast, and the False Prophet of the preceding visions, were merely puppets under the direct control of Satan.

In a previous vision in chapter 12, we see portrayed the devil seeking to destroy Jesus Christ, but was unable to because the Child was caught up to God and His Throne [Rev 12:5], through His death, resurrection and ascension. This is the same dragon mentioned in Rev 20:2, and was shown in this vision to be cast out of Heaven, losing his right to be the accuser before God any longer [Rev 12:10]. This is also in agreement with the testimony of Jesus to His disciples.

9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:9 (NKJV)

18 And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Luke 10:18 (NKJV)

The conclusion of this vision is that following his defeat and casting down, the Devil then proceeds to make war against the church [Rev 12:17]. The first way in which he did this was by the Beast, which represents human powers and authorities he manipulates to persecute the church of Christ. This can be seen in chapter 13 where the Devil gives his power and authority to the Beast [Rev 13:2], and as people marvel and worship the various nations as they rise in power, in actual fact they are worshipping the Devil who empowers and manipulates them.

4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” Revelation 13:4 (NKJV)

When Jesus was asked by the disciples concerning the signs that would follow, this manipulation of the nations against the church was described by Him.

6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9 Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. Matthew 24:6-9 (NKJV)

The second way in which the Devil wars against the church is by way of deception, and can be seen also in chapter 13 as the second beast rises who “had two horns like a lamb, and spoke like a dragon” [Rev 13:11]. This second beast has great powers of deception, complete with miraculous signs and miracles [Rev 13:12-13], in order to cause all whose name is not written in the Book of Life to worship the Beast, namely Satan, who is the orchestrator of it all.

This also fits in perfectly with how Jesus described to His disciples the signs of the end of the age:

11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. Matthew 24:11-12 (NKJV)

We are also warned of this deception by the apostle Paul, who describes the way in which many who do not love the Truth shall be deceived into worshipping the Devil. Talking of what must happen before the return of Christ, Paul writes:

3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,

10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,

12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, 9-12 (NKJV)

We know from the apostle Paul that the visible church is recognised as the Temple of God under the New Covenant, and God will destroy whoever defiles this Temple.

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NKJV)

Therefore the one who “sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God“, accompanied with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish“, is none other than Satan defiling the Temple of God through false teachers within the visible church. Which according to Jesus Christ Himself, is the last thing that shall come to pass before the preaching of the Gospel is complete, and the end coming.

11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:11-14 (NKJV)

This final stage of being utterly deceived by the Devil, is equated by Jesus as the”abomination of desolation”,when suddenly all manner of false teachers accompanied with miraculous signs and wonders shall appear, triggering His return in glory spoken of in Revelation 19, even down to the same descriptive language being used.

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

28 For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.

Matthew 24:27-28 (NKJV)

and bound him for a thousand years;

Although I am fully aware of the way this verse is most popularly interpreted today as being a future 1000 year earthly reign of Christ before the final judgement, everything that has been written previously in this study should serve to show why I believe this interpretation should be utterly rejected. With that being said however, I don’t feel the necessity to attempt to forcefully justify my own interpretation, for I believe the Scripture itself does that far better than I ever could. Instead my aim is to offer a reasoned explanation of the text, using the same form of symbolism that I have offered in the rest of the study, in keeping with the writing style of the original author.

In the following study I will draw attention to that which is far more important with regards to this text, and that is the purpose for this period of history being necessary, and what will be achieved by it in the overall redemption plan of God. This I believe is clearly spoken of throughout the New Testament, and so as a conclusion to this study, I simply want to show how this thousand year period is used as a means of symbolism in this book.

I have previously linked to an article explaining the use of numeric symbolism in the Bible, which may be helpful in understanding my explanation here. But throughout the Bible, the number 10 and it’s multiples are most often used to signify the fullness of what is in view, without it necessarily being the complete totality of that thing, which would be represented by the number 7 instead. Jesus uses this symbolism in His parables in Luke 15:4-10, where He shows us that God will continue to seek out all who are His until all are found. The number being used not in a literal sense, but to symbolize the fullness of the elect throughout the ages.

3 So He spoke this parable to them, saying:

4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.

6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

7 I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

8 “Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?

9 And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’

10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:3-10 (NKJV)

The number 3 is often used in Scripture to signify the will and purpose of God being at work in something. There are many examples of this throughout the Bible, the most significant being the three days that Jesus Christ spent in death, which ultimately speaks of it being God’s will and purpose that this should be so, even though men ultimately considered Him stricken by God [Isaiah 53:4, 10]. Therefore with the number 1000, which is the number 10 (completeness of that which is in view), to the power of 3 (denoting the will and purpose of God), we can begin to see the way it is used symbolically throughout the Bible.

10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, And the cattle on a thousand hills.

Psalm 50:10 (NKJV)

9 Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; Deuteronomy 7:9 (NKJV)

11 May the LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you! Deuteronomy 1:11 (NKJV)

In the verses above, this symbolism can be seen clearly in use, rather than us reading the number in a literal sense. And in precisely the same manner, we see the number being used in Rev 20:2. It is used to symbolize Satan being bound for a specific period of time, according to the sovereign will and power of God, and for His purposes. It is these things that will be fleshed out in the following study.

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