7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:7-10 ESV
Ever since his attempt to overthrow God and take His place in heaven, Satan has stood opposed to God. His entire existence has been one dedicated to tempting others to rebel against their Creator. It began with Adam and Eve, and it has continued to this day. And even when Christ returns and defeats Satan and his forces, captures him and confines him to the Abyss, where he will remain for 1,000 years, his attitude toward God will not soften and his rebellious heart will not repent. Immediately upon his release, he will instigate yet another rebellion against God, His Son and His people. And the sad reality is that he will have no shortage of volunteers to join his insurrection. So, in this passage, we see Satan’s unwavering commitment to be god by eliminating the one true God. And we also see that humanity, even after having lived under the righteous and just rule of Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will choose to side with the enemy, rather than remain under the rightful rule of Christ.
Just as Satan deceived Eve in the Garden, and just as he attempted to deceive Christ in the wilderness, he will, immediately upon his release, set out to deceive the nations. The Greek word John uses is planaō, and it means “to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way” (“G4105 – planaō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).”), And the nations of the earth will eagerly follow him, and buy into his offer to lead them into battle against Jesus Christ and the people of God. Once again, it is important to note that this rebellion against Christ will take place after 1,000 years of peace and calm on the earth. Jesus will have ruled with a rod of iron, meting out swift and righteous justice. It will be a period of law because Christ will be ruling over a world that still contains unbelievers. There will be millions on the earth at that time who are not His followers and they will still have their sin natures. But their sins will be dealt with immediately. Jesus, the King, will not tolerate insurrection or allow sin to go unpunished. During that time, believers will play some kind of role in the judgment of the unbelieving. Paul seems to allude to this fact in his first letter to the Corinthians:
Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves? – 1 Corinthians 6:2 NLT
So, when these unbelievers choose to align themselves with Satan, they will, by their actions, demonstrate the unrelenting depravity of man. They will have experienced an entire millennium marked by justice, equity, mercy, grace, and the blessings that come from sitting under the rule of a truly righteous King. And Psalm 72 provides us with a vivid picture of just how remarkable that day will be.
1 Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor! – Psalm 72:1-4 ESV
12 For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight. – Psalm 71:12-14 ESV
But, in spite of all this, they will reject their King and choose to rebel against Him, disregarding His law, and hoping to replace His dominion by that of Satan.
John tells us that Satan will gather forces from the four corners of the earth, and he uses the phrase “Gog and Magog.” We are not told who or what this refers to, but we get some insight in the prophecy of Ezekiel.
1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him 3 and say, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. 4 And I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords. 5 Persia, Cush, and Put are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; 6 Gomer and all his hordes; Beth-togarmah from the uttermost parts of the north with all his hordes—many peoples are with you.
7 “Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them. 8 After many days you will be mustered. In the latter years you will go against the land that is restored from war, the land whose people were gathered from many peoples upon the mountains of Israel, which had been a continual waste. Its people were brought out from the peoples and now dwell securely, all of them. 9 You will advance, coming on like a storm. You will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many peoples with you. – Ezekiel 38:1-9 ESV
Because of key differences found in the scene that is described in Ezekiel’s account, he is most likely dealing with a battle that appears before the millennial reign of Christ. But John’s borrowing of the designation, “Gog and Magog” reveals that there will be similarities. It appears from Ezekiel’s prophecy, that Gog is a reference to a ruler and Magog is the land or the people over which he reigns. So, when John mentions that Satan gathered the nations of the earth, “Gog and Magog”, he is saying that Satan was able to entice and recruit all the rulers and their people, from the four corners of the earth. And they gathered together outside the “the camp of the saints and the beloved city” – the city of Jerusalem. They set up a siege against the capital city of Jesus Christ, the King. Satan and his forces intend to storm the city, remove Christ as King and destroy all those who follow Him. This includes all those who are part of the church, as well as the tribulation saints, the 144,000 witnesses, all those martyred during the tribulation who were resurrected at the beginning of the millennium, and the Jewish people. But they will fail. John tells us that “fire came down from heaven and consumed them” (Revelation 20:9 ESV). This appears to be the work of God the Father. He steps into the scene and brings the final judgment against rebellious mankind, destroying each and every one of them. Except for Satan.
…and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. – Revelation 20:10 ESV
Satan is finally removed from the earth, never to deceive the world again. He joins the other two members of his false trinity, Antichrist and the false prophet, in the lake of fire or hell, where he will remain forever. In essence, Satan will get what he has always wanted: Complete independence from God. He will never enter the presence of God again. He will be completely and utterly removed from any further interaction with God. But it will be a period marked by perpetual torment. He will discover the painful reality that life apart from God is anything but freedom and joy. It is misery and pain. It is the daily, ongoing reality that all you had placed your hope and trust in is incapable of meeting your needs. The false gods you have erected in this life will become your permanent gods throughout eternal life. And they will continue to fail you and let you down as you spend eternity trying to satisfy your longings with that which cannot deliver. Hell will be a real place filled with real people. It will be marked by great pain and suffering. But perhaps the greatest suffering will be man’s inability to find satisfaction or fulfillment of any kind. Hunger will go unmet. Thirst will never be quenched. Joy will be perpetually illusive. There will be no source of happiness. Contentment will be unattainable. Love will be unavailable – either to receive or give. And the pain of loss will be unbearable. And yet, our God calls out to us, pleading with us to accept what He offers and to turn to the One who makes satisfaction, joy, contentment and a life filled with love possible.
1 “Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.” – Isaiah 55:1-2 NLT
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.