End of Millennium
“7) When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore.” (Rev 20:7-8 – NAS)
Once the millennium comes to a close, John said Satan“… must be released for a little while” (Rev 20:3 – NKJV). Satan had been tightly bound in his prison for 1,000 years, but God allows him to be released for a short period of time. The reason for his parole is not given, however commentators speculate various motives. Maybe God gave this once great leader of all the angels (cf. Isa 14:12 and Eze 28:14) one last chance to repent. Or perhaps God wanted to see how men who had lived for 1,000 years under Christ’s reign would react when Satan emerged from his prison; to discover if mankind will follow Him or succumb to the deception of the Devil. Unfortunately, people from “the four corners of the earth” join Satan in the last war on planet Earth known as the battle of Gog and Magog. The term “the four corners of the earth” simply means that people from all around the world unite together with Satan in their opposition against God (Hendriksen, Mounce).
Many modern prophecy teachers believe the battle described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 is a war that takes place either before or during the tribulation period (Bullinger, Feinberg, Lee, Mize and Morris). This author once held this view where Russia invades Israel during the end times. Upon a thorough investigation and study, it becomes apparent that the Gog and Magog war in Revelation is the same war – with Ezekiel furnishing all the details (Beal, Beasley-Murray, Dahl, Hendriksen, Ladd, Mounce, Osborne and Thomas). James Matheny warned: “While much of the Christian world is awaiting a Russian invasion of Israel, Satan is busily conforming men, governments and religions to his standards, the level of which will usher in the Tribulation. Russia is merely a straw man, set up by Satan to confuse the world in the last days, to draw attention from his real activity.”2
The more important teaching from this war relates to Satan’s army. We should not lose sight of the fact that the people living on the Earth at the end of the millennium live during the most wonderful times the world will ever know. Jesus, along with his overcoming followers, rule with a rod of iron, guaranteeing peace on Earth. People were free from the devil’s deception and yet a great multitude did not really recognize Jesus Christ as King and never truly made Him the King of their hearts. They were all born with the flesh nature they had inherited from Adam; and even though Christ was present on the Earth, they did not really accept him and were easily won over by Satan. The Prophet Jeremiah taught: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer 17:9) Without placing Jesus on the throne, man’s heart remains desperately wicked. Their feigned obedience during Christ’s reign is revealed when Satan is released and they join him in one last rebellion against God’s Kingdom.
Christ came to conquer their hearts and allow Him to be the King of their hearts. Because they failed to do this, they were unable to resist the devil and defeat him. This presents us with an important lesson for today. Have we allowed Jesus to be the King of our hearts? If the answer is yes, then when the devil comes to tempt or test us we can be: “…more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Rom 8:37) We can do this by following the advice given to us by James: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (Jas 4:7)
Had those individuals living at the end of the millennium made Jesus the King of their hearts, they would have been able to resist Satan. Because they failed to make Jesus their Lord, they were destroyed by fire in an instant as they attacked Jerusalem:
“And they…surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” (Rev 20:9 – NAS)
2) Matheny, James F. – Is There a Russian Connection? An Exposition of Ezekiel 37-39, Jay & Associates © 1987, p. 72. In his 80-page booklet he explains how Eze 37 parallels Rev 20:4-6 as the reign of Jesus immediately before the Gog and Magog war in Eze 38 and 39. Osborne and Ladd offer similar views:
Millennium Eze 36-37 Rev 20:4-6
Gog-Magog Eze 38-39 Rev 20:7-14
Eternal Kingdom Eze 40-48 Rev 21:1 to 22:5
Matheny concludes his study advising believers: “Christians are to look for…the blessed hope…not watching for…a revival of the Roman Empire, a Russian invasion of Israel…and so on. These are red herrings designed to distract the Church from its position of watchfulness and readiness.” p. 71.
Perhaps this great Gog-Magog war will find its fulfillment in two mighty battles, both before and after the 1000 year Messianic Era. Instead of arguing over which position is correct, let’s not lose sight of the more essential lesson God is teaching us.
Matheny also reminded us: “Christians are exhorted to look for one and only one event – the blessed hope of the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That doctrine has a purifying purpose in the church of Jesus Christ, for if we confidently believe in His “coming at any moment…” we are more likely to keep ourselves ready for that moment – not watching for the establishment of a Common Market, a revival of the Roman Empire, a Russian invasion of Israel…Instead of preparing to meet our God, we have become like children – playing games of ‘One for the money, two for the show, three to make ready, and four to go!’ Our purpose (in this writing) is to inspire students to abandon the headlines of secular history and return to the Bible for interpretation…for those who profess the Bible as their final authority in their handling of the eternal Word of God.” James Matheny’s booklet: Is There a Russian Connection? can be read under the Supplemental Articles section of the tab for Calling All Overcomers.
Serious students of Bible prophecy will want to consider Matheny’s writing as well as some of the other highly respected biblical scholars mentioned above: Beal, Beasley-Murray, Dahl, Hendriksen, Ladd, Mounce, Osborne and Thomas. The titles of their commentaries on Revelation can be found in the Bibliography section of our book: Calling All Overcomers.
One of the main points of studying prophecy should be to prepare us to be ready for when the Lord returns. As pointed out by James Matheny, believers should be spending more time preparing their hearts than watching all the news surrounding world events. As the five wise virgins, we should be more concerned about “trimming our wicks” and making sure we have that “extra measure” of oil by repenting of our sins and asking the Holy Spirit to direct our daily lives.
Now is the time to make sure we are prepared and watching for our Lord as we long to be with Him. Our true citizenship is not of this world and we are merely sojourners simply passing through. Our hearts are longing for His righteousness and His coming Kingdom. The message in this book is to be the overcomer Jesus is calling us to be and to be ready for when our Lord returns.
“Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:12-13)
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34-36).
Dear Lord Jesus,
I cry out to you today to help me be ready when you return. Please count me worthy to escape all the things that shall come to pass, and to stand before you. Please help me be the overcomer that you are calling me to be. May my life be pleasing to you. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
The above excerpts were taken from Jim Harman’s latest book Calling All Overcomers, which may be freely downloaded on our website: ProphecyCountdown