Summary: Returning finally to a chronological telling of the story, John ends with the return of Christ and His judgment, and the introduction of the New Heavens and the New Earth.
The Millennium Ends
Such is a brief look at God’s special day, the Millennium. Now this wonderful time ends, and there is a new beginning. Before we move on in chapter 20 it is important to note that, with all of the activities encountered so far, there is no mention of a new heaven and new earth . Peter seems to say that they will come immediately after Jesus comes (II Peter 3:10-13). Instead, the prophetic Scriptures I have shown point to a renewed/restored “old earth” and “old Jerusalem.”
The conflict is also pointed out in Isaiah (more on that later) who also seems to place the totally new creation right next to the coming of Jesus. We submit to you, because John does via angelic visitation, that this totally new heaven and earth will not come until the planet has had its full seven days, the seventh one being the 1000 years of rest we call the Millennium. As we approach and read verse 11 in this chapter, authorization for all of this will be clear.
The restrainer does his work for 1000 years (20:7-8). The earth takes its rest. Joy abounds. Jesus rules. A perfect government. Could anyone not love a world governed by Jesus? Yes. Many. As many cringe at the idea now. And when Satan is released from his pit prison, he immediately seeks out these malcontents.
Notice that there are still nations in the earth. They all belong to Jesus, but they are separate entities still, perhaps all having transferred over to the one pure language spoken of in Zephaniah 3:9 Satan seems to have a remnant of his own though in each nation. He deceives them, as is his wont. See his work in 12:9 as he deceived the whole world. Truths are once more twisted into his way of thinking and bitter resentful people who dared disobey Jesus during His reign and therefore suffered His rebuke, are ready for a new leader.
Nations mentioned by name are Gog and Magog, the focal points of Ezekiel’s prophecy (38-39) of end time matters. At first we want to re-interpret Ezekiel and allow that he is actually talking about a post-millennial war. Some of the phrases seem to fit. But no, the prophecy must be at the coming of Christ, for it is connected to the great earthquake (38:19), a “supper of flesh” (39:17), a time of setting up of God’s glory among the nations (39:21), after the captives of Jacob are brought back and mercy is shown to all Israel (39:25). These familiar images have long since passed by our present vision.
I believe Gog was formerly a mighty leader of a far northern nation (in relation to Israel). He must arrive on our own horizon if we are to be assuredly in the last days. He descends from his place for an all-out assault on Jesus and whatever Jesus wants. He is “the king of the north” of Daniel 11, the one whose stirrings bother the man of sin. It is quite possible that he is defeated at the hands of Jesus Himself in Israel. He is buried there and for seven months all the remains left by those birds will be buried with him (Ezekiel 39:12). But his name, as well as the land of Magog, his own land, lives on for the 1000 years. His people are humiliated and many of them carry the resentment throughout the Millennium. It is a most natural place for Satan to raise an army. Josephus, quoted earlier, often but not always a reliable source of history, comments on the Genesis 10:2 mention of Magog as the founder of the Scythian nation…. (Antiquities i, vi, 1)
So, Gog and Magog at the beginning of the 1000 years are, perhaps, a man and his nation. By the end, they are perhaps one name for the same land, in the farthest northern parts of inhabitable earth. This nation isolates itself from the main stream of the earth, especially from the Holy City, but now they are roused to action, a mighty uncountable assemblage of earth’s final rebels.
They descend again (20:9). Southward, coming at the Holy Land—and it truly is holy at this time, not a mere tourist attraction for the religious-minded— coming, I say, from different directions until they form a huge ring around the city of Jerusalem, called here with affection “the beloved city”, now situated high atop a mountain, “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Psalm 48:2).
As 1000 years before with antichrist’s pitiful attempt at attacking the descending Christ, Satan is not able to fire a shot before the wrathful fire of God falls on the whole company and devours them. Their purpose was to supplant. God’s was to expose the last vestiges of evil. Now the earth is purged. Satan himself is this time not only arrested and imprisoned but consigned to his final home of fire, accompanying beast and false prophet. He and they and all who have followed them shall be tormented day and night forever and ever (14:10).