Scripture Reading: Revelation 20:1-6
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.” (Revelation 20:1-3)
What is being revealed to John in this section of Revelation is the destruction of the kingdom of darkness. Satan is bound by an angel and the effects of this act are felt in the spiritual world. The imagery in the passage is symbolic. An angel with the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain bound Satan and threw him into the pit and locked him up.
What is the meaning of the symbolism in this vision? Satan is bound from one specific activity — that he should not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years are completed (v. 3). Before the coming of Jesus the Messiah, the only people on the face of the earth who had open and full access to God were the Israelites. There were a few individuals who were the exception to this, such as Ruth and Rahab, who were Gentiles. But overall God dealt with one nation. Satan deceived all the other nations on the whole. He had power over them throughout the period of the Old Testament. The prophets saw a day when the Gentiles (the nations) would be ingrafted into God’s kingdom — “The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine upon them… For a child will be born to us, a Son will be given; and the government will rest on His shoulders” (Isaiah 9:2,6).
What bound Satan? Satan was bound by the saving work of Jesus Christ — “And you who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross, He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him” (Colossians 2:13-15).
Jesus commanded His disciples to take the gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). The binding of Satan means that the devil’s influence on earth is curtailed so that he is unable to prevent the extension of the church among the nations. The thousand years represents the wholeness or completeness of the time that God is using to carry out His plan in the world. (In Revelation the use of numbers is symbolic not statistical. One thousand is used to express wholeness or completeness.) Here the thousand years refers to God’s entire plan as it is unfolded in history from the first coming of Christ until He comes again.
We have a task to do — “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And, behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20)
Lord Jesus, You have called me to be Your witness to the people of all nations. You have bound Satan from deceiving the nations and now we have the responsibility to be faithful in taking the glorious message of the gospel to all peoples. Enable me to be bold in my witness and give me opportunities today to share the gospel with others.