Summary: At the end of the thousand years the Devil is to be loosed temporarily from the Abyss (20:7), but he has not learned his lesson; he begins where he has left off. He will assemble the nations for the final attack on God.
Book of Revelation Commentary
Lesson: V.B.2: Makes one last effort, but defeated once for all (Rev. 20:9-10)
Scripture (Rev. 20:9-10, KJV)
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
At the end of the thousand years the Devil is to be loosed temporarily from the Abyss (20:7), but he has not learned his lesson; he begins where he has left off. He will assemble the nations for the final attack on God. A final attack on Jerusalem by the hostile nations is one of the standard pictures of the last times in Jewish thought. But here we come upon a picture which etched itself deeply and mysteriously on Jewish thought, the picture of Gog and Magog. We find it first in Ezekiel 38 and 39. The Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and of Tubal, is to launch the great attack upon Israel, with the full intention of utterly destroying it?but any attack on God’s people is an attack upon God Himself.
It may be that originally Gog was connected with the Scythians whose invasions all men feared. As time went on, in Jewish thought Gog and Magog came to stand for everything that is against God. The rabbis taught that Gog and Magog would assemble themselves and their forces against Jerusalem, and would fall by the hand of the Messiah.
The hostile armies under the Devil’s leadership come up against the camp of God’s people and against the beloved city, that is Jerusalem; the hosts are consumed with fire from heaven, the Devil is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone to share the fate of the beast and of the false prophet, and the triumph of God is complete.
9 And they5 went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
At the end of the millennium, Satan will be released from his prison and he will immediately seek out dissidents who will join him as he makes one last attempt to unseat God from His throne. He will find many who are only too willing to listen to his lies. They will rejoice at his bold claims, flock to his standards, and follow him headlong into rebellion. The insurrection will spread like a prairie fire fanned by a high wind.
We are told of Satan’s daring approach to Jerusalem. John says, “And they went up on the breadth of the earth4, and surrounded the camp of the saints1, and the beloved city2.” Satan is coward. Like a daring gambler, he stakes everything on a single throw. He has nothing to lose, everything to gain.
The attack that takes place is against Jerusalem, called “2the beloved city.” God’s enemies are intent on destroying the place of God’s throne on the earth. When the city is completely cut off from all outside help and completely surrounded by teeming millions of soldiers that make up Gog and Magog, when it seems that the case is hopeless and the holy city will be wiped from the face of the earth, a tremendous miracle from Almighty God occurs: God sends “3fire and brimstone” (10) from heaven to devour them?“For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29)?which quickly ends the attack. By this same means Gog and Magog (names may be symbolic for the rebellious of earth) are destroyed in the first great conflict [“And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. (Ezekiel 38:22).]
The rebellion did not succeed. In fact it never had a ghost of a chance of succeeding. It is only permitted by God in order to bring to light the hidden works of darkness of the human heart. What happens is described in two stages. First, the fiery death of the rebels is described. John says “and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” The judgment is swift and sure. The invading armies, as numerous as the sands of the sea (20:8), as if blinded by Satan, are driven forward in the grand delusion, perhaps, that they can take possession of the tree of life. There is not a word about a conflict; not a shot is fired; not a saint is harmed. With a flash, the fire of God falls, and it is all over. Nothing remains but a heap of ashes. No carrion birds are summoned to bury these dead. They are cremated in the fires that slay them. In an instant they are shriveling on the other shore in site of the great white throne. There will not be one sinner left on the face of the earth. Only Satan will be left and God is about to deal with him. His doom was fixed in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:15, when God enlightened Lucifer that the seed of the woman would crush his head.