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Millenial Judgment (Rev. 20)

Bible Passage:

Read about this prophecy in Revelation 20.


The judgment of the wicked dead.


After Jesus returns at His Second Coming and takes the righteous back to heaven with Him, a time period of 1000 years commences. This is a time when Satan and his evil angels are banished to the desolate, lifeless earth. During this time, the righteous are in heaven on thrones, judging the wicked, and getting answers to all their questions about God's dealings.


Revelation 20:1-3 "1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season."

Bound in bottomless pit = Satan banished to a lifeless place; the earth.

We saw previously in Revelation that the wicked who are alive at Jesus' Second Coming will be slain. There will then be no human left alive on earth.

"And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground" (Jer. 25:33).

This condition of the earth during the 1000 years, having no human life and desolated, is referred to as the bottomless pit. We studied the bottomless pit in several places already in Revelation. Recall that it means a lifeless or relatively uninhabited or undeveloped place (see the Bottomless Pit). The earth is now in a state of immeasurable desolation and darkness. Jeremiah also prophecied about the results of the Second Coming of the Lord, saying:

"I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down" (Jer. 4:23-27).
"That the expression "bottomless pit" represents the earth in a state of confusion and darkness is evident from other scriptures. Concerning the condition of the earth "in the beginning," the Bible record says that it "was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Genesis 1:2. Prophecy teaches that it will be brought back, partially at least, to this condition. Looking forward to the great day of God, the prophet Jeremiah declares: "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down." Jeremiah 4:23-26. Here is to be the home of Satan with his evil angels for a thousand years. Limited to the earth, he will not have access to other worlds to tempt and annoy those who have never fallen. It is in this sense that he is bound: there are none remaining, upon whom he can exercise his power. He is wholly cut off from the work of deception and ruin which for so many centuries has been his sole delight." (Maranatha, Ellen G. White, p.307.2-3)
Satan and his evil angels will be banished to the desolate, uninhabited earth for a thousand years. He is chained, or bound, to this earth, by his circumstances of having no one to tempt and nowhere to exercise his power. This must be a severe punishment for him. He will have a long time to think about the error of his ways.

Satan as the "scape-goat"

When the ministration in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary had been completed on the day of atonement, and the sins of Israel had been removed from the sanctuary, the high priest went out and the scape-goat was presented alive before the Lord. Then he would confess over it all the sins of the people, putting them on the head of the goat.

"And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness: And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness" (Lev. 16:21-22.
"In like manner, when the work of atonement in the heavenly sanctuary has been completed, then in the presence of God and heavenly angels, and the host of the redeemed, the sins of God's people will be placed upon Satan; he will be declared guilty of all the evil which he has caused them to commit. And as the scape-goat was sent away into a land not inhabited, so Satan will be banished to the desolate earth, an uninhabited and dreary wilderness" (The Great Controversy 658.1).
In the same way, the sins of God's people are placed upon Satan. Note that Satan does not provide an atonement for sin by having sins placed on him (there is no blood). This is rather symbolic of the responsibility for causing sin being placed upon Satan. Satan accuses God of mismanagement, unfairness, and causing all kinds of pain and disasters. However, during the judgement of the righteous that occurred before the millennium begins, God is declared good and just before the universe. All accusations that God is responsible for sin are vanquished. The true instigator of sin is revealed plainly for all to see, and he can no longer conceal his guilt.
"In the atonement the character of God is revealed. The mighty argument of the cross demonstrates to the whole universe that the course of sin which Lucifer had chosen was in no wise chargeable upon the government of God... Now the guilt of Satan stood forth without excuse. He had revealed his true character as a liar and a murderer. It was seen that the very same spirit with which he ruled the children of men, who were under his power, he would have manifested had he been permitted to control the inhabitants of heaven. He had claimed that the transgression of God's law would bring liberty and exaltation; but it was seen to result in bondage and degradation... In the final execution of the judgment it will be seen that no cause for sin exists. When the Judge of all the earth shall demand of Satan, "Why hast thou rebelled against Me, and robbed Me of the subjects of My kingdom?" the originator of evil can render no excuse. Every mouth will be stopped, and all the hosts of rebellion will be speechless" (The Great Controversy 500.4-503.2).
Revelation 20:1-3 foretells of the banishment of Satan, as symbolized by the scape-goat, and the condition of chaos and desolation of the earth after the Second Coming.

Revelation 20:4 "4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

Judgment = The saints judge the wicked.

Between the first resurrection (of the righteous) and second resurrection (of the wicked) there are a thousand years, during which the righteous judge the wicked. This is a time to examine the facts, compare acts and laws, and verify for yourself, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that God is right in all His dealings. That the righteous will judge, and that they will do it after the second coming, is pointed out throughout scripture:

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come..." (I Cor. 4:5).

"Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life" (I Cor. 6:2-3)?

"And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6).

Amazingly, the righteous will judge not only humans, but the evil angels as well. At the end of the one thousand years, all will be satisfied that the best course of action is exactly what God has been doing and will do to complete the eradication of evil.

Revelation 20:5-6 "5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

First Resurrection = At Jesus' Second Coming, He raises those of the dead who are saved.

We saw previously in Revelation that the righteous dead are raised to life at Jesus' Second Coming. That event is referred to as the "first resurrection".

Second Resurrection = 1000 years after Jesus' Second Coming, He raises the wicked from the dead.

The living wicked were slain at the Second Coming and remain dead during the 1000 years. At the end of the 1000 years, when the final judgment is ready to be executed, the wicked from all ages are raised to life. That is called the "second resurrection", of which you do not want part. They will then be faced with the execution of the judgments written against them.

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited" (Is. 24:21-22).

Revelation 20:7-15 "7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 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. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

Satan loosed = After the wicked are raised to life, Satan and evil angels are no longer isolated and can again deceive people. The fact that the wicked are raised to life after the 1000 years, which makes people alive again on the earth, looses Satan from his chains. He is no longer in a land uninhabited ("bottomless pit"), but can now practice his deceit once again. He gathers the vast multitudes together for the largest battle of history.

Great white throne = The ruling seat of the all-powerful God who is pure and right. Prior to Jesus raising the wicked, the new Jerusalem descended from heaven to earth, and now the righteous are safe within. The wicked hosts assemble around the city in an attempt to take it over. At that time, everyone who has ever lived on this earth, wicked and righteous, will be assembled before God. It is then that the truth of God's justice and Satan's evil, will be made clear to all. This is the time of the "white throne judgment" (v. 11-12), when all people kneel before God (Rom. 14:11). They all recognize that God is pure, just and right. However, even though the wicked admit they are wrong, they are not sorry for their sins (Rev. 9:20-21), but are only sorry that they cannot continue in them. If allowed to go on, they would never change their mind. Without the Holy Spirit, whom they had persistenly rejected, they are not capable of being sorry or wanting right.

Note: The word judgment in the Bible can refer to different elements of the judicial process, including the investigative phase, the pronouncement of the verdict or the execution of the penalty or reward.

Lake of fire = The destruction of the wicked that produces eternal results. Satan and the wicked's last desperate attempt to overthrow God is futile. All evil will then be destroyed. They will be burned up completely, leaving only ashes.

"Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee...therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more" (Ez. 28:17).

"...and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 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" (Rev. 20:9-10).

"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the lord of hosts" (Mal. 4:1-2).

This fire that destroys the wicked at the end of time is referred to as the Lake of Fire in Revelation. This is also what many refer to as hell. However, it is not a place of eternal burning and torment of the wicked, but rather a one-time final destruction of the wicked by fire. The results of the destruction/punishment are forever, not the act of punishing. The Lake of Fire is what causes something to cease to exist, and that is why it is eternal. The Bible is clear that the wicked, sin, sinners, death and hell itself will be burned up and completely destroyed. Nothing bad can remain in a perfect universe.

"For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been" (Obadiah 1:15).

"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:14-15).

Note that by casting death and hell into the lake of fire, it means that destruction and death will also cease to exist. "Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thes. 1:10).

The opposite of eternal life (the reward of the righteous) is not eternal punishment, but rather eternal death (the punishment of the wicked).

The word "hell" used to mean "hidden, hollow or covering." Most places in the Bible that use the word hell, simply refer to the grave. The places it means a "place of burning" is when it is translated from the word "Gehenna" in the New Testament, referring to the final destruction of the wicked. If you have a NIV Bible, you will notice that "Sheol" in the Old Testament is never translated to the word hell like in the KJV, but rather is consistently translated to the word "Grave".

Study more about death and hell.

Time Line

Prophecy timeline of the millenial judgment of the wicked.
(click on image to enlarge)

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