The Devil in Chains
by Pastor Lee Roberson, D.D. (1909-2007)
"And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which 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 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." — REVELATION20:1-3
When Christ returns to the earth, many important things will take place. He will leave heaven with the saints, riding upon a white horse and coming to the battle of Armageddon. He will quickly gain victory in this battle because of the sword which proceeds out of His mouth.
The beast, the Antichrist, and the false prophet, who will bring together the armies of the earth, will be captured and cast alive into a lake of fire, burning with brimstone. After a thousand years they are still found in that place suffering torment day and night.
After the battle of Armageddon comes a great supper --it is the supper of the flesh-eating birds. These fowls of the air are called together by the angel who stands in the sun. They come to devour the flesh of kings and captains and mighty men, and of all men, small and great, who are destroyed in the battle of Armageddon. Revelation 19 closes with this notation, "All the fowls were filled with their flesh."
We now come to a consideration of the first three verses in Revelation 20, which tells us of the chaining of Satan. There are three things I would have you to see about this enemy of God.
I. The Character of Satan
The Word clearly delineates the character of this evil one.
He is proud. Paul gives a warning unto preachers in 1st Timothy 3:6, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil."
Satan is presumptuous. In Job 1:6 we are told that "when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them." He had no business in the midst of the sons of God. He had lost his place in Heaven, but he returned to bring accusation against the saints of the Lord. The Devil has always inserted his presence into the midst of God's people for the purpose of stirring up strife.
The Devil is powerful.
"Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience." -Eph. 2:2.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." -Eph6:12.
With many other words the Bible describes the character of Satan. John speaks of him as the wicked one. Moses tells of his subtlety. Paul speaks of his deceitfulness. The Lord recognizes Satan as fierce and cruel, and was always willing to cast out demons from those who were sore beset.
II. The Career of Satan
The Word indicates that Satan was once in Heaven and doubtless in a place of great authority. His downfall came when he put his will against God's will. Let us notice Isaiah14:12-14:
"How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."
Remember this: The shortest definition of sin is " I will.
After Satan was cast out of Heaven, he made the scene of his action on earth and in the air above the earth. In the Garden of Eden he caused the downfall of the first man.
Throughout the Old Testament we find evidences of his work. He caused even the people of God to forsake the Lord and to engage in doubtful practices. He caused the people to murmur against God and to complain. He led them to worship false idols and gods.
In New Testament days Satan was still busy. He tempted the Lord Jesus Christ, but was defeated by the Word of God. Please notice that it is always the Word which brings about Satan's defeat. If we are to conquer Satan and cause him to flee from us, it will be through the use of the Word.
As we study the Bible, we are made aware of the Devil's devices. Paul says, 'We are not ignorant of Satan's devices.' The Bible will cause us to open our eyes and to discern the things that are right and wrong. In the days since the close of New Testament history, Satan has still carried on his work. Christians have always had a battle with him and the churches have often been torn asunder by his onslaughts.
One of these days the Lord Jesus is coming for His own. This we know as the rapture, when the dead in Christ shall be raised and the living shall be changed; when the church and the Holy Spirit have been taken out of the world, and the tribulation will rage upon the earth. In this period of time, Satan will have his heyday. It will be his last effort to gain control of the earth. In the tribulation period he will give power to the Antichrist who will take over the reins of human government, and will bring together the armies to the battle of Armageddon.
At the close of the tribulation will come this bloody battle in the valley of Megiddo. Satan will be present, working through the beast and the false prophet. To this battle will come Jesus who will quickly destroy all opposition. The beast and the false prophet will be cast into Hell. Disposition will be made of Satan for a thousand years.
The work of Satan through the centuries has been threefold:
First, to damn souls. This is the main objective of the wicked one. He desires to damn every soul in Hell that he possibly can. A saved soul is a testimony to God's power. A Christian is a reflector of God's glory; therefore, Satan hates Christians and desires to keep men from accepting Christ.
Second, his work is to destroy lives. If he cannot damn the soul, then he will content himself with destroying the life. If a person escapes his clutches and receives Christ, he does not give up the battle, but seeks to destroy the effectiveness of the life for God. How well Satan is succeeding is evidenced by the many indifferent, cold, worldly lives of Christians.
Third, his work is to disrupt every work of God. Take the book of Acts and notice how he began with the early church. When souls were being saved and the revival fires burning, he had Peter and the other apostles cast into prison. When this failed to stop the work, then he brought in trouble by the deception of Ananias and Sapphira. Every disruption of the work of God is Satan's program; therefore, let us be on our guard and allow him no place in our lives.
III. The Chains of Satan
Revelation 20:1-3 is a portion of Scripture that Satan hates. It tells of something which is to come upon him.. It has not taken place yet, but it will take place one day. Of course, there are some teachers who say that now we are in the kingdom of God and the Devil is now chained. If this be true, then the angel certainly placed a mighty long chain on Satan--a chain long enough to allow him to come from the bottomless pit to every place on earth. Satan is not bound now, but he shall be.
The world will be in an awful condition after the tribulation and the battle of Armageddon. But conditions will begin to improve when Revelation 20:1-3 is fulfilled. This earth will begin to blossom like a garden when he is no longer here to damn, destroy, and disrupt.
Satan is going to be bound like a common criminal and cast into the bottomless pit.
The world will no longer be his arena. He will be cast out of the earth. You remember the story of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John. The disciples were in the valley and a father brought to them a son possessed with a demon. They tried to cast him out, but could not. When Jesus came down from the mount, He reproved His disciples and cast out the demon.
It is not too farfetched to say that the Lord Jesus has been in the Mount of Transfiguration in Heaven for twenty centuries. Down upon the earth some of His followers have been trying to cast out Satan. They have tried reformation and education. They have tried every known means to cast out Satan and to bring in the fulness of the kingdom of God. They have failed utterly and completely. The Devil is still in power and even growing in power.
But, thank God, here in Revelation we read that Satan's reign and power will be broken and that he will be cast down. This will be accomplished, not by reformation, education, or legislation, but by the coming of Christ. Church work and preaching are good, but they will not accomplish the casting out of Satan from the earth. But the personal coming of our Lord will bring about this event.
Later we will see the final doom of Satan, but for the present it is enough to realize that there is coming a day when his power will be curtailed for a thousand years. Here is another reason why we should look eagerly for the coming of Christ. Let us give our wholehearted allegiance to the Lord Jesus and pray with John, "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
SOURCE: Chapter 10 from the excellent book, Some Golden Daybreak, by Dr. Lee Roberson, D.D. (copyright 1957)
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