The World will never be the same when Jesus returns. Everything will change.
The Tribulation will be over; Antichrist’s rule will end, Satan’s reign will be over. The darkness will pass and the light will break forth over the whole earth.
1: The Lamb Attacks (19:17-21)
Jesus’ first order of business when returning to the earth will be to attack and annihilate His enemies. Follow along in 19:17-21 as I read.
You may be wondering who Jesus is going to war against when He comes back. Well remember that Antichrist has convinced nations around the world to align with him and assemble in the Holy Land for war. Not against each other though. Together they form the largest military alliance in human history and the enemy they are waiting to engage is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. In chapter 16:13-14 we saw the sixth bowl judgment where 3 demon frogs came out of the mouths of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet. Performing miracles with their supernatural powers those demon spirits went “out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” What day is that great day? The day Jesus comes back.
Explaining more details about this alliance is chapter 17. Here we learned that Antichrist would form a 10 Kingdom federation by giving kingdoms to 10 kings. These 10 kings would take their kingdoms and then turn around and support Antichrist in a war. What war is that? Verses 13 and 14 tell us, “They [the 10 kings] have one purpose and will give their power and authority to the beast [Antichrist]. They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings…” Psalm 2 describes this very scene, “….”
Despite Antichrist’s brilliant construction of the most formidable military in history Jesus will destroy it like blowing away a dandelion, and every last soldier will become food for the birds.
The only ones who will not die will be Antichrist and the false prophet. Several holy angels from the heavenly army will go out, seize them, and throw them alive into the lake of fire. Originally created for Satan and his devils, the lake of fire is the 2nd death, the ultimate, final, forever death. It is currently unoccupied. The dead who will not go to heaven in the meantime are sent to a place called Hades, a prison that will actually itself be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which we will learn about in the next few weeks. But the first occupants of the Lake of Fire are going to be the two most evil men in all of human history: Antichrist and the False Prophet.
2: To the Abyss! (20:1-3)
After feeding the birds with the flesh of all the soldiers in the valley of Meggido, and after tossing the Antichrist and False Prophet like human trash into the Lake of Fire, the third and greatest of this Evil Trinity will be dealt with: Satan. The author of evil himself, the personal force behind all the wreckage of both human and angelic history, will be arrested and locked up. Follow along in 20:1-3 with me.
An angel descends from heaven, grabs Satan, drags him over to the entrance of the Abyss, powerfully shoves him down into it, and closes and locks it shut. Now, that is going to be one powerful angel. But I want you to notice that Satan does not go to the Lake of Fire right away like the Antichrist and False Prophet. His future, for the next 1,000 years, is the Abyss.
Two questions: First, what is the Abyss? And second, why is Satan going there instead of the Lake of Fire, if God created it for him in the first place (Mt. 25:41)? First, the Abyss is the Alcatraz for fallen angels who revolted with Satan against God. Not all demons are there, many are loose and free to roam the earth and heaven right now (Job 1:6). On one hand the Abyss terrifies demons (Luke 8:30-31) while on the other hand some of the most terrifying demons languish there (Rev. 9:1-11). The Abyss is temporal, and with Hades it will be forced to belch its prisoners out to their permanent place for all eternity: the Lake of Fire.
The second question: why is Satan going to the Abyss at this point in the timeline, is answered in verse 3, “to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the 1,000 years were ended.” Satan is a liar and since the Garden he has hampered man’s relationship to God with his constant deceiving. For the first time in all of human history the Deceiver will be removed from the picture. Man will have 1,000 years of communion with God without the interruption of Satan’s mendacity.
But, we could press the question still, “Why not just throw Satan in the Lake of Fire, be done with it, and start the eternal program? Why go through one last epoch of 1,000 years?” I’ll suggest an answer with multiple parts.
First the world in its still cursed state needs to see Israel put first and have all her promises from God fulfilled. Many boxes are left unchecked in the OT pertaining to Israel’s promised glorious future. The 1,000 year earthly kingdom of Jesus are the designated time when God will check all those boxes.
Second, this will be the time when earth is put back into the hands of man. Specifically, the God-Man, Jesus. Adam was given dominion over the earth and responsible for cultivating and prospering it. He was responsible for subduing it, and, with Eve, populating it. But, when Satan led the First Adam to sin he effectively took dominion over the earth away from him. Since the Garden, Scripture has taught that Satan has control of the world:
- Ephesians 2:2, “[Satan] is the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the prince who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
- Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world” in John 14:30
- The Apostle John says, “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19)
- In Matthew 4:8-9, when Satan was tempting Jesus in the wilderness, he offered our Lord the kingdoms of the world if he would bow down to him. He could offer those kingdoms of the world because the whole world is legally his because of the sin of man.
- His control of the world will reach its apogee during the Tribulation under Antichrist.
But Jesus is the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45). The First Adam, the Head of fallen humanity, plunged the human race into sin and death and forfeited the world to Satan. But the Last Adam is the author of a new human race – a redeemed, reconciled and regenerated race. When He returns to the earth He will return with legal rights to take it back for Himself. This is how this Last Adam, Jesus Christ, the God-Man can and will take back for mankind the world that was lost to Satan by the First Adam.
3: Beheaded Saints Head-Up New Kingdom (20:4, 6b)
Thirdly, we see that Beheaded Saints from teh Tribulation will Head-Up the New Kingdom. Follow in verse 4 with me.
So far Jesus broke upon the earth on His white charger, descended in power and glory with all the angels of heaven, defeated the international alliance of militaries in the battle of Armageddon, threw the Antichrist and False Prophet into the Lake of Fire, and Locked Satan into the Abyss.
More is to come, such as the judgment of the nations, the homecoming of scattered Jews from around the world, and the resurrection of OT saints. But here in our text we come to the particular resurrection of those saints in the Tribulation who were decapitated for their faith. While the bodies of their murderers lie as food for birds in the fields they will be getting raised up with resurrected bodies. Their faithfulness that earned them death from the Antichrist is the same faithfulness that earns them thrones from Jesus Christ.
I love the irony: those beheaded saints are resurrected to head-up the Millennial Kingdom. They were killed by Antichrist but raised to life by Jesus Christ. They were unworthy to live in Antichrist’s world but Jesus says they are worthy to rule in His. The world that put a sword to their necks will now be the stool beneath their feet. Through injustice they were eliminated but now by their rule they will ensure justice.
Their destiny is a reminder to us that justice is not guaranteed in this life but God ensures it in the next. Even while they were unjustly murdered in this life these saints knew that God is in heaven and would avenge their death in the next. Their company is the souls under the altar in Revelation 6 crying out that God would bring vengeance on those who killed them. Their company is that great throng in Hebrews 11, the Great Hall of Faith, naming the greats of the faith and saying that their view was on the next life – not this one.