The Judgement of Satan and the Final Rebellion
E. J. Strange, Bridgwater
The end of the Millennium will be marked by a renewal of Satanic activity which will lead to the final great rebellion of the nations of the earth. Satan will then meet his doom, being cast into the lake of fire. In this paper we shall consider the stages in his judgment. There are four distinct stages recorded in the Scriptures:—Cursed in the Garden of Eden, ‘Destroyed’ at the Cross of Christ, Bound at the beginning of the Millennium, and Cast into the Lake of Fire.
The Garden of Eden. In Gen. 3 we have recorded the sad story of man’s fall. That ‘old serpent’ the devil (the accuser) and Satan (the adversary) appears on the scene to seduce the woman from the path of trust in God. He sows in the woman’s mind doubts about God’s goodness. “God doth know . . .,” and there was the implication that God was withholding from His creatures that which was for their good. He also sows the seeds of doubt as to God’s Truth. “Hath God said?” and then follows the direct lie, “Ye shall not surely die.”
The Lord said of the devil that he was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there is no truth in him (Jn. 8. 44). Anything that we can learn about Satan prior to this can be only by inference, and not by direct statement, but of this we can be certain:—the deception of mankind, with the resultant coming into the world of death, was the cause of the pronouncement of judgment on the evil one. “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed.” God’s curse fell upon the deceiver in Eden’s garden and the message of hope for fallen mankind was at the same time the assurance of final doom for the devil, in that his head should be bruised.
One aspect of the history of the Old Testament is the continued attempt on the part of Satan to foil the purpose of God, thereby averting his doom, either by the destruction or by the corruption of the line of faith through whom should come the promised seed. This process began with the murder of Abel by Cain, who “was of the wicked one” (1 Jn. 3. 12). It is a profitable study to trace these futile attempts of Satan through his various agents, to consider the sure outworking of the purposes of God until His Son was manifested to the end that He might destroy the works of the devil.
The Cross of Christ. The hatred of the evil one reached its climax at the Cross of Christ; yet what from the human standpoint seemed weakness and defeat was, in fact, a most glorious victory.
“In weakness like defeat,
He won the meed and crown;
Trod all our foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down.”
The bruising of the serpent’s head was accomplished by the death of Christ. “... that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil” (Heb. 2. 14).“The Death of Christ brought to nought the agency of the devil in death, because that Death of His being not the penalty of His own sin, but the atoning sacrifice for the sin of the world, all those who by faith are united to Him can now look on death no longer as the penalty of sin, but only as the passage for them, as it was for Him, to a new and glorious life of triumph and blessedness.” (Alford.)The Lord Jesus said in view of His cross, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” The casting out of the evil one is a process which began with the death of Christ and is still continuing through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Abyss. When an enemy is losing ground continually, he tends to become increasingly savage. The last days before the millennium will be especially terrible because the devil has “great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12. 12). We have already seen that this terrible time comes to an end with the manifestation of the all-conquering Lord. The arch-enemy is seized by an angel who binds him with a great chain and shuts him up in the bottomless pit—the abyss. In his second Epistle, Peter speaks of angels that sinned being cast into hell and delivered into chains of darkness. There, too, will the devil be imprisoned so that he may no longer deceive the nations. One of the blessed aspects of the Millennium will be the freedom that men shall know from the wiles of their former prince. They will be in subjection to Him whose right alone it is to reign.
The Lake of Fire. At the end of the thousand years the devil will be released from his dark prison and the final great act of human rebellion will take place. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” and this rebellion will show just how incurable is the heart of unregenerate man. For one thousand years the Blessings of Christ’s reign shall have been experienced, but, alas, when the devil is let loose, the nations of the earth will be once more deceived. “Gog and Magog” shall be gathered together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea (Rev. 20). Their insurrection will be the repetition of the cry, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” The mild yoke of God’s Christ will be thrown off and the evil one will be preferred to Him who is the Light.
Ezek. 38 and 39 should be read and studied in relation to this rebellion and compared with the short but graphic account in Rev. 20. Who are Gog and Magog? In Ezekiel “Gog” is a prince, the chief of Meshech and Tubal, while Magog is a geographical expression. Magog has been identified by some with the Scythian tribes to the north of the Caucasus, and by others with the Mongol tribes. They were at any rate regarded as a most dreaded foe of the people of God and they are spoken of as coming from the north upon the mountains of Israel, there to be overthrown by fire from heaven. “I will send a fire on Magog” (Ezek. 39. 6). It will take seven months to bury the dead. The symbolism of Ezekiel is used by John in the Revelation and it would be unwise to go beyond the statement that Gog and Magog are general names given for the rebellious nations who, deceived by Satan, rise up against the Lord and His Christ. Destruction will be swift and complete and the deceiver is taken and thrown into the lake of fire, the everlasting fire, prepared as the Lord has said, for him and his angels. “He shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” One should avoid the crude representations of the lake of fire that were common in the Middle Ages and even later. In view of our inability to understand eternal things, it is better to leave the solemn words of Scripture as they are. The devil is already defeated. His malice and power to work mischief are great, but “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.” “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4. 7).