Judgment of the Dragon

SYNOPSIS - The Dragon is released for a “short season” to launch a final attempt to destroy the saints, however, Satan is the one destroyed – Revelation 20:7-10

Pawn Triumpes - Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash
The point is now reached for the final downfall of the “Dragon.” The second literary division of the book introduced the cosmic enemies of the “Lamb” - The “Dragon,” the “Beast from the Sea” and the “False Prophet,” and “Babylon, the Great Whore.” In the third division, the destruction of each is presented in reverse order – “Babylon,” the “Beast” and the “False Prophet,” and now, Satan.

The “Dragon” was defeated once before when the messianic “son” was enthroned and the Devil was “cast down to the earth” – And no longer able to accuse the “brethren” before the heavenly Throne.  The saints overcame him by “the blood of the Lamb.” Although still able to cause trouble on the earth, since his expulsion, the Devil was prevented from launching a final all-out “war” to destroy the “seed of the Woman,” at least, not until a future “short season” - (Revelation 12:1-17).

Likewise, the “Dragon” was imprisoned in the “Abyss” for a “thousand years” until a final “short time.” Only then will he be released from his imprisonment to lead the nations into a final assault against the “camp of the saints.” In Chapter 20, the “season” has arrived.
  • (Revelation 20:7-10) – “And as soon as the thousand years shall be ended, the Accuser shall be loosed out of his prison, and will go forth to deceive the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, the Gog and Magog, to gather them together unto the battle — the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they came up over the breadth of the land, and surrounded the camp of the saints, and the beloved city. And there came down fire out of heaven and devoured them; and the Adversary that had been deceiving them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where [were] both the wild-beast and the false-prophet; and they shall be tormented day and night, unto the ages of ages.”
When the thousand years is completed.” The Greek term rendered “completed” is teleō - The same term applied in several preceding passages to this same climactic moment – Note well – The following parallels:
  • (Revelation 10:7) – “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be completed.”
  • (Revelation 11:7) – “And when they shall have completed their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the Abyss shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
  • (Revelation 15:1) – “And I saw another sign in heaven…seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is completed the wrath of God.”
  • (Revelation 15:8) – “And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”
  • (Revelation 17:7) – “For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be completed.”
Satan will be loosed out of his prison.” This “prison” is identical with the “Abyss” (verses 1-3), and the “loosing” of the Devil is synonymous with the “ascent” of the “Beast/Dragon” from the “Abyss/Sea.” The “Beast” that “ascended” from the Abyss/Sea had the characteristics and authority of the “Dragon” - It did the bidding of Satan by attacking the “saints” - (Compare - Revelation 9:14-15, 11:7, 13:1-7).

The previous image of the “Beast ascending from the Abyss” corresponds to the release of Satan from the very same “Abyss” at the end of the “thousand years.” Compare, carefully, the following passages:
  • (Revelation 9:1-2) – “And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the Abyss. And he opened the Abyss and there ascended a smoke out of the pit.”
  • (Revelation 11:7) – “And when they shall have completed their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the Abyss shall make war against them.”
  • (Revelation 13:7) – “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast ascending out of the sea.”
  • (Revelation 17:8) – “The beast that you saw was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the Abyss, and go into destruction.”
When released, the Devil will “go forth to deceive the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog.” Previously, the “Dragon” was described as the one who “deceives the whole habitable earth” – Enraged, he departed to destroy the “woman and her seed,” they  who had the “testimony of Jesus.” Fortunately, God protected the “Woman” and the “Dragon” has remained unable to prosecute his murderous plan until a final “short season” - (Revelation 12:9-17).

Similarly, after the opening of the sixth seal, John saw four angels standing at the “four corners of the earth restraining the four winds of the earth so that no wind should blow…until we have sealed the servants of our God.” The “four corners” of the earth represent the entire world. Once again, the followers of the “Lamb” were protected from persecuting forces, at least for now - (Revelation 7:1-3).

The reference to “Gog and Magog” identifies this global force with Ezekiel’s prophecy of an invasion of ancient Israel by “Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal.” But there is a difference - This army is transformed into a worldwide force comprised of all nations - It is not an alliance of regional nations from the Middle East and the ensuing “battle” covers the entire earth - (Ezekiel 38:1-2).

To gather them together to the war.” Previously, the same phrase was applied to a climactic future “battle.” The clause is derived from Daniel 7:21. In each case, earthly forces were gathered to the “war,” singular, against the “saints” or the “Lamb.” These several “battles” all point to the same event, the last attempt by the “Dragon” to destroy the followers of the Lamb. Note the following verbal parallels:
  • (Daniel 7:21) – “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them.”
  • (Revelation 11:7) – “The beast that ascends out of the Abyss shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.”
  • (Revelation 12:17) – “The dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed.”
  • (Revelation 13:7) – “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints.”
  • (Revelation 16:14-16) – “They are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole habitable earth to gather them to the war of that great day of God Almighty…and he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.”
  • (Revelation 19:19-20) – “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”
The number of whom is as the sand of the sea.” This description recalls the passage from Chapter 13 when John saw the Dragon “standing on the sands of the sea” as the “Beast was ascending” from it. And elsewhere, the “sea” is the functional equivalent of the “Abyss,” the place from which evil creatures “ascend” to persecute the “saints” - (Revelation 13:1-7, 15:1-4).

And they ascended over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints.” The sentence is another allusion to the prophecy from the book of Ezekiel in which the invading force “ascends and comes like a storm, like a cloud to cover the earth…You will ascend against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land” - (Ezekiel 38:9-16).

The camp of the saints and the beloved city.” John mixes his metaphors. Whereas, in Ezekiel’s prophecy, “Gog and Magog” invaded the land of Israel, here, the Devil leads his force to destroy a “camp” and a “city.” The “camp” recalls the image of Israel as a pilgrim people in the Wilderness. In Revelation, the term “saints” refers to the followers of the “Lamb” redeemed by him from every nation - (Revelation 5:8, 11:18, 13:7).

The “beloved city” corresponds to the “new Jerusalem” and the “bride of the Lamb,” in contrast to the “great city,” the “Great Whore, Babylon.” Humanity is divided between these two cities – “Babylon” and “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 3:12, 21:2).

Volcanic Eruption - Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash
Photo by Marc Szeglat on Unsplash

Fire came down from and consumed them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.” This is a further allusion to Ezekiel’s vision:
  • (Ezekiel 38:22) – “And I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.”
  • (Ezekiel 39:6) – “And I will send a fire on Magog, and among them that dwell carelessly in the isles: and they shall know that I am Yahweh.”
Where the beast and the false prophet are.” The “Beast” and the “False Prophet” were cast alive into the “Lake of Fire” at the end of their war against the Lamb. Thus, the narrative climaxes with the destruction of the final cosmic enemy of the “Lamb” – the “Dragon” - (Revelation 19:17-21).

The judgments of “Babylon,” the “Beast from the Sea,” the “False Prophet,” and the “Dragon” all occur at the climax of the same final “war.” This argues against any chronological sequence or passage of time between their respective judgments. Each opponent of the “Lamb” is judged and cast into the “Lake of Fire” at the end of the same final “battle.”

The application of “war” language to the Devil’s attempt to destroy the church suggests strongly that this “war” portrays his persecution of her by means of his earthly vassals and not battles fought between conventional armies and nation-states.

Finally, the following previous visions all ended in a climactic and final judgment scene:
  • The Seven Seal Openings
  • The Seven Trumpets
  • The Seven Bowls of Wrath
  • The announcements of the everlasting gospel and the downfall of Babylon
  • The battle against the “Rider on a White Horse


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