LAWTON CHURCH OF GOD, LAWTON OKLAHOMA

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SATAN IS LOOSED

 

 

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Revelation 20:7–10

 

At first impression verse seven appears to say that in year 1001 Satan is going to be loosed to do some harm. The Greek word expired means to end, or to be complete. Since we understand the thousand years to be an attribute of the end-time revival, we must also understand that this expiring or completion does not indicate a point in time. With that understanding we find that as people realize the blessing of the first resurrection, or spiritual life through salvation preaching under the everlasting gospel, that experience is complete. The purpose of the end-time revival has been realized or accomplished in their lives.

In Satan being loosed we see the opposition of the spirit of false religion that will challenge those who have left sin and false religion to follow Christ during the end-time revival. Satan, the spirit of false religion, will reach across the face of the earth to challenge the redeemed in an attempt to draw them away from Christ and the experience of salvation back into some form of false or apostate religion. In this we see that the end-time revival will be challenged by an end-time apostasy.

Gog and Magog will gather together to make war against God’s people. We learned that Gog and Magog are not literal historical entities. Gog represents the leader of the movement, which is none other than the spirit of false religion as we find in Satan released from his prison. Magog is the mass of religious Babylon and includes all false religion and apostate Christianity. Barnes makes an interesting comment on the meaning of God and Magog in this context:

 

It is not necessary to suppose that any particular country is referred to, or that there would be any one portion of the earth which the gospel would not reach, and which would be still barbarous, heathen, and savage; all that is necessary to be supposed is, that though religion would generally prevail, human nature would remain essentially corrupt and unchanged; and that, therefore, from causes which are not stated, there might yet be a fearful apostasy, and a somewhat general prevalence of iniquity. This would be nothing more than has occurred after the most favoured times in the church, and nothing more than human nature would exhibit at any time, if all restraints were withdrawn, and men were suffered to act out their native feelings.

 

This appears to be a united effort among all false and apostate religion in the end-time to attack the truth of God’s salvation and to destroy the church. The multitudes of people in religious Babylon are like the sand of the sea. In this we see the extent and popularity of false religion as opposed to those who actually submit to and follow Christ.

The influence of religious Babylon will grow so strong that it will surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city. This suggests that false religions may have government support as they oppose God’s people. That opposition could be in the form of public ridicule and misinformation. It could escalate to violence and political persecution. Whatever form the opposition will take, the issue will be that the everlasting gospel violates and discriminates against the teachings of all other religions.

While there could be physical persecution, the substance of the opposition will be manmade religious beliefs against God’s revelation. All the religions man has devised will unite to put down and eliminate the everlasting gospel.

The beloved city is none other than the church as built by Jesus as described in Hebrews 12:22–24.

 

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.

 

What religious Babylon does not realize is that it will not be fighting against people; it will be taking on God the Judge of all as well as those who are standing with Him. Religious Babylon may be as numerous as the sands of the sea but God’s people will be an innumerable company of angels by comparison.

Religious Babylon will be defeated in this final end-time battle because fire comes down from God out of heaven and will devour them. Fire coming down from God out of heaven always symbolizes the unadulterated word of God as we find in Exodus 19:18–19, “Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.” The fire coming down from heaven is the power of the unadulterated everlasting gospel being preached during the end-time revival.

While there may be physical conflict during this time, the actual conflict is found in the battle of religious beliefs and teachings. The unregenerate world and apostate religion always falls back on man’s understanding and comprehension of what he wants truth to be. In opposition to this, God negates and defeats human religion and philosophy with the truth of His word.

In this final conflict between truth and false religion God will remain victorious and the very spirit of false religion will be defeated. Verse 10 says, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” The truth will expose all false and apostate religion for what it really is. The clear teaching of the everlasting gospel will expose all forms of false and apostate religion as the spawn of the devil.

The truth will prevail and all who obey it will be blessed by God. However, error will not go away, it will be exposed for what it is and those that hold to error will be “tormented day and night forever and ever.” They will not give up their error, but even though they continue in their deception they will not experience any real spiritual peace. Even though false religion will become increasingly futile in the hearts and lives of its followers during the end-time revival they will stubbornly hold to those beliefs in defiance of God.

Verses 11–12 depict the end-time revival as the act of God’s judgment. “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” It is easy to think that this is the final judgement but we must remember that the Book of Revelation is a book of symbols, so this judgment must be symbolical. It represents God’s judgment during the end-time revival. In a sense, this judgment is a preparation for the final judgment. The truth of the everlasting gospel exposes once-for-all all the error of false and apostate religion and clearly reveals the infallibility of God’s word and rule over mankind.

John sees a great white throne. We first encountered this throne at the beginning of the Revelation in chapter 4:2, “Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.” In chapter twenty it is called a white throne. The Greek word white comes from the root word meaning light. And what is the source of this light? Remember that the glorified Christ is revealed in chapter one with “eyes like a flame of fire and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.” John sees that the earth and the heaven fled away from the glory of His face. This pictures Christ as the word of God in the glorious truth of the atonement for the sin of all humanity, the only possible agent of salvation from sin. Earth, all the philosophies devised by mankind, and heaven, all the religions devised by mankind, are exposed for the total failures they have always been in human history. The truth of John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” is incontrovertibly pronounced and holds every member of the human race accountable to Christ alone for their acceptance or rejection of that truth.

John sees some books being opened in front of this great white throne, the presence of the gloried Christ revealed in the everlasting gospel. The gospel judges the works written by each person’s life. There can be no escaping or explaining away what has been done. All are “judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.”

We also find some of God’s mercy in the form of another book called the Book of Life. Verses 13–14 speak of the second death. This again is a symbol and is not eternal death. Here we see that in the realm of spiritual reality there are two deaths. The first death is the spiritual death into which humans are born. This is the absence of the Holy Spirit and the resulting presence of native depravity, which leads to committed sin. The second death referred to here is the consequence of rejecting God’s salvation as made possible through the very Christ who stands as our judge. Without salvation in Christ we are accountable to God for every sin we have ever committed and stand separated from God because of those sins. Judgment greater than the committed sins is the fact that we have rejected the only provision God made possible to be saved from those sins and be brought into a right relationship with God.

The mercy seen in this picture of judgment is the Book of Life. Notice the language of verse twelve where we see books opened and we see another book opened, which is the Book of Life. That first set of books is the record of all human sins. The second is the Book of Life, which represents the record of all who have repented sin and placed their faith in the glorified Christ for salvation from sin. The mercy is that when our names are placed in the Book of Life the record of our past sins is removed from those other books and will not be held against us in the final judgment.

The chapter closes with the final outcome of the end-time revival. Verses 13–14, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”

The everlasting gospel makes it definitely and finally clear in human history that God has given His offer of salvation from sin and all other philosophies and forms of religion are debunked and discredited through the truth of His word.