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“And I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he would not deceive the nations any more, until the thousand years were fulfilled. And after that he must be loosed for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).

Satan will be personally directing the final events of the Battle of Armageddon by possessing a man who is called “the beast.” Along with the "false prophet," the beast will be “cast alive into the lake of fire,” but this is not the end of Satan, who, as a spirit being, can abandon the body of the beast and would still like to cause mayhem and destruction. But he will not be permitted to do this. He will be “bound [for] a thousand years” in “the bottomless pit.”

In 9:1,2 The Bottomless Pit we saw that the bottomless pit (translated “the abyss” in other versions) was first mentioned in Genesis 1 as the chaotic, formless condition of the earth before creation (Genesis 1:2 Greek Septuagint). It also refers to the place where demons can be confined when they are cast out of people. In Luke 8:31 the demons begged Jesus not to send them to the abyss. In the same story in Mark 5:10 the demons begged Jesus not to send them “out of the country” and in Matthew 8:31 they begged that they could go into a herd of swine. Comparing these texts, it is evident that the abyss is the place of confinement where demons are not permitted to possess and torment anyone. This goes along with Jesus’ description of demons who are cast out of a person: “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none” (Matthew 12:43). Peter described this “homeless” condition: “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [the Greek word tartarus is unique to this scripture] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4).

Considering all these scriptures together, we see that the “bottomless pit” where Satan (and undoubtedly his demons with him) will be chained is simply the earth in its chaotic condition following the catastrophic events associated with the Second Coming of Christ. Satan will be chained in the sense that he will not be permitted to leave the earth and there will be no one there to tempt—the rebellious will be dead and God's followers will be in Heaven.

The chaotic earth is described in Jeremiah 4:23-26. “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form and void;[1] and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down at the presence of the Lord, by His fierce anger.” Isaiah 24 gives a similar picture, “Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste…The inhabitants of the earth are burned…The earth is violently broken, the earth is split open, the earth is shaken exceedingly…It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished” (Isaiah 24:1,6,19,21,22). The “many days” which are mentioned are the thousand years that Satan will be bound. But during that time, while Satan is chained to a depopulated earth, the redeemed will be in Heaven as “priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

Continue to next section:    20:4,5  THE FIRST RESURRECTION

[1]  Jeremiah uses the identical language of Genesis 1:2 which described the chaotic state of the earth before creation when “darkness was over the face of the deep [abyss].”

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