The Dragon's Demise

Satan is released from the Abyss and launches his final attack on the saints, but he is the one who is defeated and judged. The time has come for his final demise. The book’s second literary division introduced the enemies of the “Lamb” - The “Dragon,” Beast,” “False Prophet,” and “Babylon.” In the third division, their destruction occurs in reverse order – “Babylon,” the “Beast” and the “False Prophet” together, and now, the “Dragon.”

The Devil was defeated previously when the messianic “son” was enthroned, and the “Ancient Serpent” was “cast to the earth.” No longer was he able to accuse the “brethren” before the throne.

Dragon in Desert - Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash
[Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash]

Although still able to cause trouble after his expulsion, Satan was prevented from launching his all-out “
war” to annihilate the “seed of the Woman,” that is, until the final “short season” allotted to him - (Revelation 12:1-17).

So, also, Satan was imprisoned in the “Abyss” for the “thousand years” UNTIL the “short time.” Only then would he be released to lead the nations against the “camp of the saints.”

Thus, in chapter 20, the long-awaited “short season” begins, the time for the dreaded satanic assault against the “saints.” - (Revelation 20:7-10).

THE THOUSAND YEARS


And the passage begins by stating that the final downfall of the Dragon begins “when the thousand years are completed.” The Greek term rendered “completed” is teleĊ, the same term applied in several preceding passages to this same climactic moment – (Revelation 10:7, 11:7, 15:1, 15:8, 17:7).

At that time, “he will be loosed out of his prison.” The “prison” is identical to the “Abyss,” and the “loosing” of the Devil from it is parallel to the “ascent” of the “Beast” from the “Abyss” and “sea.”

The “Beast” that “ascended” from the Abyss/Sea had the characteristics and authority of the “Dragon”; it did Satan's bidding by attacking the “saints” - (Revelation 11:7, 13:1-7, 17:8).

When released, the Devil “deceives the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog.” The earth’s “four corners” represent the entire world. “Gog and Magog” links this force to Ezekiel’s prophecy of an invasion of Israel by “Gog, of the land of Magog.”

But there is a difference. In Revelation, this army is transformed into a worldwide force composed of all nations. The ensuing “battle” is global, not regional. Moreover, the target of the attacking force is not Israel in Palestine, but the “camp of the saints” - (Ezekiel 38:1-2).

Satan “gathers them together to the war.” This clause is from Daniel 7:21 and was applied previously to the “war” against the “Two Witnesses” by the “Beast from the Abyss,” to the “war against those who have the testimony of Jesus” by the “Dragon,” and to the “war” against the “saints” by the “Beast from the sea.”

The same language from Ezekiel was used to describe the battle of “Armageddon” in the “sixth bowl of wrath,” and the “war” against the “rider on the white horse” by the “Beast and the False Prophet.” These several “battle” scenes portray the same event, the final attempt by Satan to destroy the followers of the “Lamb” - (Daniel 7:21, Revelation 11:7, 12:17, 13:7, 16:14-16, 19:19-20).

And their “number is as the sand of the sea.” This recalls the passage from chapter 13 where John saw the “Dragon standing on the sands of the sea” as the “Beast ascended” from it. Elsewhere, the “sea” is the functional equivalent of the “Abyss,” the place from which evil creatures “ascend” to persecute the “saints” - (Revelation 13:1-7, 15:1-4).

GLOBAL SCALE


The Dragon’s army “ascended over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints.” This is another allusion to the prophecy in Ezekiel where Gog and Magog “ascended and came like a storm, like a cloud to cover the earth… You will ascend against my people as a cloud to cover the land” - (Ezekiel 38:9-16).

This force attacks the “camp of the saints and the beloved city.” John mixes his metaphors. Whereas in Ezekiel’s prophecy “Gog and Magog” invade Israel, here, the Devil leads his force to destroy a “camp” and a “city.”

The term “camp” recalls the image of Israel as the pilgrim people in the wilderness. In Revelation, the word “saints” refers to the followers of the “Lamb” redeemed by him from every nation - (Revelation 5:8, 11:18, 13:7).

The “beloved city” corresponds to the city of “New Jerusalem” and the “bride of the Lamb” in contrast to the “Great City,” the “Great Harlot, Babylon.” Humanity is divided between them – “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 3:12, 21:2).

Then “fire came down from and consumed them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.” This is a further allusion to Ezekiel’s vision - (Ezekiel 38:22, 39:6).

The “Beast” and the “False Prophet” are already in the “lake of fire.” They were cast alive into it in chapter 19. Thus, the narrative climaxes with the destruction of the final cosmic enemy of the “Lamb,” the “Dragon” - (Revelation 19:17-21).

The judgments of “Babylon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” the “False Prophet,” and the “Dragon” all occur at the conclusion of the same final “war.” This argues against any chronological sequence or passage of time between their respective judgments. Each opponent of the “Lamb” is cast into the “lake of fire” at the end of the same “battle.”

The application of “war” language to Satan’s attempt to destroy the church suggests this “war” portrays his persecution of the “saints” through his earthly vassals, not battles fought between conventional armies and nation-states.

Finally, all three of the sevenfold series of seals, trumpets, and “bowls of wrath” ended in a final judgment scene. And now, Satan himself is cast into the “lake of fire,” and we have arrived at the “Great White Throne of Judgment.”


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