“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11).
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:7–10).
Just a few verses before, we were told that Satan was locked up in the Abyss such that he would no longer be able to “deceive the nations.” That this was the nature of his restriction is reinforced here—when he is released from his prison at the end of the thousand years, he goes out and resumes his lying activities. Once again, he deceives the nations.
So at the very end of the long period of Christian ascendancy, Satan is permitted to lead the nations astray again. The nations involved are described as being at the “four quarters of the earth,” meaning all the nations hither and yon. The name given to them is taken from Ezekiel 38 and 39. In Ezekiel, this referred to an unbelieving and savage nation from the north. The prophecy there is against Gog, the prince of that people, and Magog, the people themselves. When they attacked Israel (in overwhelming numbers), they were nevertheless defeated. Thus they serve as a fitting type for this international version of the same kind of thing. One time the old Israel was assaulted by Magog, and Magog was overthrown. And here, the new Israel is assaulted by an international Magogian confederacy, and they too are thrown down immediately.
Satan’s deception was initially successful, in that he was able to gather an army like the “sand of the sea.” One question might be why God allows for something like this after the world was successfully evangelized. The best explanation appears to be that He is showing us that salvation is all of grace. After centuries of gospel glory, it would be easy for men to start taking credit for what the gospel alone accomplished, and so God illustrates for us the fact that apart from grace, the human heart remains exactly what it has always been—by nature an object of wrath.
So after a long period of gospel glory, Satan is permitted one last attack on the object of his malice, which is the Christian church. This is pictured by two images—the “camp of the saints” and the “beloved city.” The camp of the saints brings the period of the wilderness to mind, and the beloved city is talking about the New Jerusalem, the Christian Church. Both descriptions are of God’s beloved people, the apple of His eye. Because the church of the faithful will at that point be located all over the earth, we see the enemies of God going up “on the breadth of the earth.” Christians will be attacked in the same way that the Jews were attacked by Haman in the Persian empire—attacked, that is, in every town, every city, every province, and every nation.
But the outcome of this attack is not in doubt. This is an attempted murder, not a murder. The faithful are surrounded, and so they have a full opportunity to trust the Lord. But the Lord will defend His people, and will rain down fire on the enemies of God. I don’t believe there is any reason to assume the fire here is merely figurative. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:8). I take this destruction of Satan, and of “Gog,” and of “Magog,” as the Second Coming of Christ.
The beast and the false prophet had been thrown into the lake of fire, the final death, sometime earlier. Now Satan is consigned there—no longer in the Abyss, he is now in final death. In that place, he is tormented day and night forever and ever. This is as good a place as any to mention that Satan is not the king of Hell. Jesus is the ruler of Hell, and Satan is in torment there.
“In that day the Lord with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea” (Is. 27:1).