Revelation 20:3

Thursday, 22 July 2021

and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. Revelation 20:3

John just noted in the previous verse that the devil was to be bound for a thousand years. With that thought in mind, the narrative continues, saying, “and he cast him into the bottomless pit.”

The bottomless pit is not the final place of punishment, meaning the Lake of Fire. Rather, it is a holding place where the demons are sent as they await judgment. When Jesus encountered the demon-possessed man in the Gaderenes (also known as the Gerasenes), the demon begged to not be sent to this place –

“Jesus asked him, saying, ‘What is your name?’
And he said, ‘Legion,’ because many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.” Luke 8:30, 31

Satan is currently the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). He has the ability to affect humanity as he prowls through this realm. However, this will not be the case during the thousand years (the millennium) referred to now in Revelation. Instead, he will be bound and cast into this place where he cannot deceive man as he now does. John continues by showing that this will be without possibility of escape, saying, “and shut him up.”

Not only will he be cast into the Abyss, but he will be shut up in there. Whatever manner of containment this is, it is something prepared by God, and it will be inescapable. And further, it then says, “and set a seal on him.” The Greek reads, “and sealed over him.”

The seal isn’t on the devil. This is evident because the previous clause says he is shut up. After he is shut up, a seal has been placed on whatever has shut him in. The authority of the seal is evident and is not to be disturbed. This is “so that he should deceive the nations no more.”

The holding of the devil has a specific purpose. He will not be allowed to exercise his authority as the prince of the power of the air. The reason, when thought through, seems obvious. Man has rebelled against God from the beginning. He was deceived in the Garden of Eden by the serpent.

Since then, he has been influenced by the devil throughout each dispensation and wickedness has abounded. In sealing him, there will be a thousand-year reign without his influence, granting man such ideal conditions that it would be incredible to think that he would be willing to turn away from the Lord. At least, this is what one might think. Will such be the case? The Bible indicates otherwise. Satan will be bound “till the thousand years were finished.”

This is now the second of six times that the thousand years are mentioned. By repeating the thought, it is telling us that this is not merely a symbolic timeframe, but a literal timeframe.

To deny the millennial reign of Christ is to deny a literal reading of the Bible. From that, anyone can make the Bible say anything. But we are being shown, in advance, that this reign is coming, and we are to accept it at face value.

After this period, and with the unbinding of the devil, he will be allowed to work his evil once again. This is evidenced by the final words of the verse, “But after these things he must be released for a little while.” This is a necessity for man to see and understand his complete need for God’s provision in Christ. Man did not have the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. As such, maybe he just couldn’t process what it meant to reject the word of the Lord.

However, man will be on earth in ideal conditions and while possessing the knowledge of good and evil. What will be the outcome of his temptations when the devil is set free to work his evil once again? Scripture will reveal the answer as we continue.

Life application: As already noted, the term “thousand years” is mentioned for the second of six times in this verse. Only the poorest interpretation possible can come to any other conclusion than that this is a literal thousand years.

The term “millennium” comes from two Latin words mille meaning “thousand” and ennium meaning “years.” This in turn comes from the Greek, which the New Testament is written in, and which says the same thing – chilias means “thousand” and ete means “years.” The reason for citing this is to make clear that what is stated is to be taken literally, especially when the term is used not just once or twice, but six times.

As has been noted, and as we will see again, this thousand-year period is given based on the pattern of creation – of which the menorah of the temple is a symbol. Each branch of the menorah represents a thousand-year period. Christ came at the year 4000. The middle candle of the menorah, which represents the time of His coming, is known as the Shamash, which means “servant.” Christ, coming at this central point of human history, lights up the ages, just as the Shamash is the first candle lit and then which is used to light the other six. At His first advent, He fulfilled the role as the servant. The pattern has been given and it points directly to His work.

The final 1000-year period, the millennium, is being described in these verses of chapter 20. The entire cycle of man on earth, centering on the Person of Jesus Christ, was prefigured based on this seven-day pattern. Jesus Christ will rule on earth in a period of peace and restoration which is spoken of in great detail in the books of the prophets in the Old Testament, particularly Isaiah. It is during this period that the devil will be shut up and the pit will be sealed.

The devil won’t be able to deceive, and the people will live in a state of wonder and beauty. Man failed in Eden at a time when he didn’t have the knowledge of good and evil. He failed when there was no law, and he could live for hundreds of years. In fact, he failed so badly that the world was filled with wickedness and needed to be completely swept clean by a flood.

Man continued to fail after the flood and prior to the Law of Moses. The Law of Moses was introduced and man…. yes, he continued to fail. Then came Christ to fulfill the law on our behalf and His people nailed Him to a tree. He gave His Holy Spirit and filled His people with wisdom and knowledge and the complete revelation of Himself now recorded in Scripture. And yes… the world at large continues to fail and reject Him.

The world will be destroyed again by fire and tribulation and then Christ will rule, physically, from Jerusalem. But even when this occurs, when men live hundreds of years under ideal conditions and in the presence of God incarnate, man will be tested and will …. he will… he will fail again as we will see in the coming verses.

These different dispensations have been given to us to show us our fallen and depraved state, but also to show us the immense grace and mercy of God as is displayed in Jesus Christ. Under every possible condition and in every way possible, man desperately needs Him. To demonstrate this, the devil will be released for a little while. In understanding what is going on, each of us should gladly call out, “THANK GOD FOR JESUS!”

How desperately we need you Lord Jesus! Throughout the ages, You have been with Your people, calling us to Yourself and revealing Yourself to us. And yet, we turn our backs to You and say we want to do it our own way. Such is our fallen state, but such is Your wondrous grace and mercy. Great are you, O God. Thank you for our wonderful Savior! Hallelujah and Amen.