What Does Revelation 20:1 Mean?

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

Revelation 20:1(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

There are many diverse interpretations of this passage by those who reject the 1000-year long reign of Christ on earth, but for those who interpret the Bible literally, historically, and grammatically, there is no conflict. Chapter 19 tells of the events surrounding the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the 7-year Tribulation period, while chapter 20 gives a panoramic overview of the glorious Millennial reign of Christ on earth, from the binding of Satan at the beginning of Christ's Millennial rule, to his final eternal incarceration in the lake of fire, at the end.

The first few verses describe Satan, that old dragon and the arch-enemy of our soul, being captured by a holy angel, chained, and thrown into the abyss for 1000 years, preventing him from deceiving the nations and accusing the saints of God during Christ's Millennial rule on earth. We are met, in the first verse, with an astonishing yet sobering sight: "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand."

The 'abyss' is described in Scripture as 'a bottomless pit' in the bowels of the earth, and for Christ's entire 1000-year kingdom rule during which Israel is restored, Christians reign with Christ, creation is redeemed, and Jesus is installed as God's King on His holy hill of Zion... Satan is incarcerated in the bottomless pit waiting to be released for a very brief time before being fully and finally destroyed in the lake of fire.

Although Christ won the victory over Satan at the Cross, his full, final, and forever defeat, takes place at the end of the Millennial Kingdom when he will be flung into the eternal lake of fire. Just as a Christian's salvation is sealed the moment we are born again, so Satan's defeat was sealed by the shed blood of Christ at the Cross. Just as our salvation consists of justification (past) sanctification (ongoing) and glorification (future) so there are identifiable points in Satan's defeat until his sentence is taken to its final completion.

In chapter 11, Satan is thrown out of heaven and here in chapter 20, he is removed from the earth and confined in the bottomless pit. Earlier in Revelation we read that the key to open this horrid abyss is used by a fallen angel (possibly Satan himself) when the fifth angel sounded his trumpet-call. 

The opening of the abyss in the Tribulation, releases the most terrible plagues onto the earth, causing smoke to pour out of the pit like the smoke from a great furnace. The sun and the air are darkened by it, and out of the smoke emerge locusts with power to harm people, but not to kill them. It is into the same steamy, sulphurous pit, that Satan will be cast for 1000 years.

The satanic evil and judgements which will fall on the earth when the abyss is opened by demonic forces, will bring utter devastation and terrible torment on the land and sea, rivers and air, animals and vegetation, and the whole human race for a pre-ordained length of time. It is into this same bottomless pit that Satan is cast by a mighty angel from heaven who holds the key of the abyss in his hand together with a great chain.

Whether this angel is the Lord Jesus Himself, the archangel Michael, or another mighty messenger from the Lord is not revealed, but Satan is no match against the power of the Almighty God. Satan's attempts to thwart God's redemptive plans and purposes from the beginning can never succeed, and by His grace the "book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ" which God gave to His servant John, tells us the end from the beginning so that we may KNOW that what God has purposed to do, will indeed take place. 

We live in times fast approaching the opening of the abyss, when God will allow the satanic evils that are contained in the bottomless pit to be opened up and poured out on a God-hating, Christ-rejecting, sinful world. As Church-age believers, we are not present during this terrible 'Time of Jacob's Trouble', for we read that Christians will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before the man of sin is revealed and the wrath of God is unleashed upon the whole earth.

We are not appointed to wrath, but we are surrounded by those who have not trusted Christ as Saviour who will one day have to face this time of unprecedented evil, when the full force of satanic hatred will seek to destroy Tribulation believers - a multitude of Jews and Gentiles without number who come to faith in Christ during this 70th week of Daniel.

Though many will be brutally killed, they will overcome him by trusting in the blood of the Lamb and will be rewarded by serving in the Temple of God during the Millennial reign of Christ. Until that time, let us be vigilant to tell the good news of the gospel of grace to those who are dead in their sin and pluck many from the fiery days that are to come upon the whole earth.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You that You have told us the end from the beginning and that the enemy of our souls has already been defeated by the blood of Christ at Calvary's Cross and that his full and final sentence has already been written, ahead of time. Thank You that we are not appointed to wrath, and I pray for many today who face that terrible time of trouble in the Tribulation if they do not trust in Christ's sacrificial work on Calvary, for the forgiveness of their sin. Give me the opportunity to share the good news of the gospel of grace with those that are lost, and bring many more to glory. I pray in Jesus' name and for His dear sake, AMEN.

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