The Binding of Satan
April 21st, 1963 @ 8:15 AM
THE BINDING OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-21-63 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Binding of Satan. In our preaching through the Bible these many, many years, we have come to the last and the climactic book, the Revelation. In our preaching through the Revelation, we have come to chapter 20. And the message this morning is on the first ten verses of the twentieth chapter of the Revelation. And if you would like to open your Bible and turn to the passage, you can easily follow the message in the Scriptures. This is the reading of the text, Revelation 20:1-10:
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 not deceive the nations till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed for a little season.
Then the millennium:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousands years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
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.
This is the ultimate doom and damnation of Satan.
In this twentieth chapter of the Revelation, there are four tremendous sections, actions, visions, revelations. The first one concerns the binding of Satan for a thousand years in the bottomless pit [Revelation 20:1-3]. The second action, the second section, is a description of the millennium, the thousand year period in which Christ shall reign with His saints in the earth [Revelation 20:4-6]. The third section is the loosing of Satan and his deception of the nations of the world, gathering together to that final rebellion against God, and his destruction in damnation for ever and ever [Revelation 20:7-10]. And the last section is the great white throne judgment, from the eleventh verse to the end of the chapter [Revelation 20:11-15], which we did not read this morning.
And as I study and prepare these sermons, there is a sermon that the pastor will deliver on the resurrection. There are several of them in the Word of God, and we shall share in one of them; all men everywhere shall share, at one time or the other, in one of those resurrections. One of the messages will be on the resurrection. In the passage just read, you heard the reference, "This is the first resurrection" [Revelation 20:5-6]. One of the messages will be on the resurrections. Another message will be on the millennium [Revelation 20:7-10]. Another message will be on the great final judgment of the wicked dead, the great white throne judgment [Revelation 20:11-15], and the sermon this morning is on The Binding of Satan [Revelation 20:1-3].
In the nineteenth chapter, in the previous chapter, of this Revelation, the chapter closes with the vast, tremendous battle of Armageddon that brings in the intervention of Christ in human history, and His presence open and visible in this earth [Revelation 19:11-16]. And in the battle of Armageddon, the kings, and the rebellious, and the rejecters of Christ, and the blasphemers, and the unbelievers, those at war with the Lord in heaven, these are all destroyed, and the false prophet and the beast who led them are taken and cast into the lake of fire burning with brimstone [Revelation 19:17-20].
The complete annihilation of the rebellious Christ-rejecting people and kings of the earth are described here, the complete annihilation of that vast host is described here in the nineteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation [Revelation 19:11-31]. But back of the beast and the false prophet, and back of the kings in rebellion against God in the earth, back of them is a sinister personality, is a diabolical intruder who has led those armies into the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God. What about him? Does he escape? No! For God has singled out that sinister, cruel, and ruthless enemy for a special and a particular judgment. And that judgment of Almighty God upon that diabolical intruder is described here in the twentieth chapter of the Revelation.
Back of the evil in this world and back of all the tears, and sorrow, and bloodshed, and heartache, and disappointment, and death, back of it all there is one great, tremendous, evil, diabolical personality. And God finally and ultimately deals with him face to face, individual to individual. God singles him out for a special judgment and a special damnation; and it comes about like this: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand" [Revelation 20:1]. There came an angel down from heaven in the ninth chapter of the Revelation, and he had a key to that bottomless pit, only his key was to open it when the indescribable plague of the locusts came out [Revelation 9:1-3].
This angel coming down from heaven, having a key of that bottomless pit, he has a key to close it, and he has in his hand a great chain [Revelation 20:1]. Now when we think of a chain, of course, there is the imagery back of it of a chain like a blacksmith would weld. Of course there’s no such a blacksmith chain in the hands of that angel. This is the kind of a chain that you will read of in the sixth [verse] of the Book of Jude: "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, God hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" [Jude 1:6].
I don’t know what the chain is made of, but it is a spiritual fashioning in the hands of Almighty God. And it holds and binds in prison, awaiting the great final day of judgment, these angels who fell from their first estate [Jude 1:6]. And it’s that kind of a chain that God has placed in the hand of this mighty and unnamed angel, whom He sends with an assignment in this universe. And that assignment is, with a key in his hand, and with the chain in the other hand, to lay hold on the dragon, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, and bind him in the abyss, and lock him up and seal him for a thousand years [Revelation 20:1-3].
Now the names that are given to that diabolical, evil, contrary personality, the names here given are the same order and the same ones as you find when he’s described in the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, when he warred against God in heaven: "the dragon, the old serpent, the ancient serpent, the Devil, and Satan" [Revelation 12:9, 20:2]. Now those names all have a tremendous meaning. He’s called "the dragon"; he’s a dragon in the sense that he has mastered and deceived and led into judgment the governments and the nations of this world. The beast who came out of the abyss and the beast governments are all under the direction of this dragon. It refers to the terrible enmity and cruelty of this diabolical person. Then he’s called "the old serpent," ho ophis ho archaios" [Revelation 12:9, 20:2]. You have a word "archaic," "archaeology," all of those words are built on this Greek word archÃ©, "old, ancient." That serpent was seen in the beginning.
In the garden of Eden, when God made the man, there was that sinister, subtle, diabolical personality insinuating himself into the lives of our first parents, even in the garden of the Eden of God; that old serpent [Genesis 3:1-15]. Now those first two names are descriptive of his personality: a dragon, ruthless, merciless and cruel; a serpent, that ancient one, sinister and subtle and destructive [Revelation 12:9, 20:2].
Now the last two names are personal names. That’s what he’s called as a person. He’s called the devil, diabolos [Revelation 12:9, 20:2]. In the Authorized Version of the Bible, you have demons called devils. That’s not a good translation; it’s a bad translation, it’s not true. Demons are demons, and there are multitudes of them, many of them. There is one devil. In the Bible, he is always called in the singular. Diabolos never occurs in the plural; diabolos, devil, your English word "diabolical" comes from that Greek word diabolos, devil. That refers to his slandering; he is a calumniator. Jesus said he was a liar from the beginning [John 8:44]. That’s his name, diabolos. He’s a liar and a murderer, diabolos, devil. Now, Satan is a proper name, again, that is come from the Hebrew. "Satan" in Hebrew, "Satan" in Greek, "Satan" in English; it’s just a transliteration of the Hebrew word that names him, "Satan" [Revelation 12:9]. And Satan is an accuser [Revelation1 2:10], he is a slanderer; Satan opposed God from the beginning [Isaiah 14:13-14, John 8:44]. Satan is the one that afflicted Job [Job 1:6-19, 2:1-8], and Satan assailed Christ [Matthew 4:1-11]. Satan. You see, God in the Bible uniformly presents our archenemy as a great and subtle and murderous personality. And somebody said, "These people who deny the presence of Satan, what are they going to do about the work that he does? How do you deny that?"
There are no records in history and there are no stories on the pages of the chronicles of mankind, and there’s no day in your life when you do not confront, and that face to face, this diabolical character. Wherever God sows, he oversows [Matthew 13:25]. Wherever man walks, there does he seek to ensnare and to entrap. That is this personality that is at enmity against God, and who wars against the saints of the Lord [Ephesians 6:12]; the dragon, the old serpent, and his name is diabolos, devil, and his name is also Satan [Revelation 12:9, 20:2], the accuser of God’s people [Revelation 12:10], and the opponent of the Lord God Himself [Revelation 12:7].
Now, this angel comes down from heaven with an assignment from the Lord God, with that key in his hand and with that great chain in his hand, he seizes that old serpent, and he casts him into the bottomless pit and shuts him up and locks him and sets a seal upon him that he should not deceive the nations anymore, until the thousand years be fulfilled [Revelation 20:1-3]. Now where is Satan placed? And this gives me opportunity to discuss for a few minutes this netherworld. And oh, how much confusion, mostly caused by the mistranslations in the Authorized Version of the Bible; how much confusion there is regarding that netherworld, the world beyond the grave, the world beyond our mortal sight. Now, it says here that that angel took Satan, the devil, and bound him and cast him into, and the Greek word is abussos, and we took that word bodily into English, "abyss," abyss, "and cast him into the abyss, and bound him there for a thousand years" [Revelation 20:1-3]. Then after the thousand years he is loosed for a little season [Revelation 20:7], and finally he was cast into the burning lake of fire [Revelation 20:10], where the beast and the false prophet were cast at the last of the nineteenth chapter [Revelation 19:20], after the battle of Armageddon [Revelation 19:17-21].
Now, "the abyss" is a word that is used in the Greek New Testament nine times. Seven times it occurs in the Revelation; one time it occurs in Luke 8:31; and the other time, the ninth time it occurs in Romans 10:7. Now I can give you a good idea of how that word "abyss" is used by referring to the passage in Luke 8:31. When that man afflicted, the Gadarene demoniac, afflicted with a legion of evil spirits, he cried to Jesus, and he said, "Before the time, do not send us into the abyss; but let us go, we pray, into these swine" [Matthew 8:31]. In the tenth chapter of Romans and the seventh verse, Paul says, "You are not to think of the Lord Jesus as though He was a greater demon to ascend up from the abyss" [Romans 10:7]. Now that abyss is a prison hold of demons.
Somewhere in God’s universe, there is a prison in which God has placed the foul, and unclean, and filthy, and rebellious demons in this earth. Not all of them, some of them; and why the Lord makes a demarcation that some are free, like that legion in the Gadarene demoniac, and some are here, and some are,God has made a demarcation: some of them are free in this earth, as in that Gadarene demoniac [Luke 8:31-32], some of them are in that prison now waiting the day of judgment [1 Peter 3:19], we do not know, we do not understand. Just this: that in the Bible the word "abyss" refers to that bottomless pit of hole and darkness in which He has imprisoned the demons who are foul and filthy [Revelation 20:1]. Now that’s the abyss.
Now, there are two other words that are used in the Bible referring to that unseen world beyond, and they are Sheol and Hades. Sheol is used in the Old Testament sixty-five times. Thirty-one times it is translated "hell"; thirty-one times it is translated "the grave"; and three times it is translated "the pit," the Hebrew word Sheol.
The Greek word Hades is an exact equivalent of the Hebrew word Sheol. The Greek word Hades is used eleven times in the New Testament. Ten times it is translated hell and one time it is translated grave. "O sin, where is thy victory? O Hades, where is thy victory?" [1 Corinthians 15:55]. Ah, we are not to understand by sheol and by Hades any other thing except the unseen world into which we go when we die [Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27].
And to translate that word hell, like it is translated thirty-one times in the Old Testament, like it is translated ten times in the New Testament, has shown such an amount of confusion among us, until it is hardly to be found anywhere any Christian who has any conception of an idea how the Bible presents the world into which we go when we die. The abyss is one thing. That’s where the demons are imprisoned by the Almighty God. Sheol and Hades are nothing other than the unseen world into which we go when we die [Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27].
For the most part, most of your scholars will believe that there are two parts in that unseen world: one of them is called torment [Luke 16:22-24], and the other is called Paradise. The damned go into torment, and the regenerated, the saved go into Paradise. And there are also those that believe that when Jesus died He went into that Hades of Paradise, and He brought them into heaven. Oh, there are many things that can be thought and said, but the idea must always be remembered that sheol and Hades are equivalent terms, exact equivalents, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, and they refer to nothing but the world that’s unseen, beyond the grave, into which we enter when we die.
Now, hell is the lake of fire. "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" [Revelation 20:10]. Then again in 21:8, "The fearful, and the unbelieving, and the abominable, and the murderers, and the whoremongers, and the sorcerers, and the idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake of fire, which burneth with brimstone: which is the second death" [Revelation 21:8]. And again, the nineteenth, "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with whom he deceived them, they both were cast into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" [Revelation 19:20]. That is the only and true hell; that is hell. In the Old Testament it is called Tophet [Jeremiah 7:31-32]. And here again is an exact translation and equivalent: in the New Testament it is called Gehenna [Matthew 5:22].
The word Gehenna is used twelve times in the New Testament, and each time it is translated properly, it is translated hell. "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into everlasting life with one hand that having two hands to be cast into Gehenna, to be cast into hell" [Luke 9:43]. The abyss is not hell. The abyss is a pit, a bottomless hole where God has chained the demons [2 Peter 2:4]. Sheol and Hades are not hell. They are that unseen world into which we go when we die [Psalm 16:10, Acts 2:27]. The true hell is Tophet in the Old Testament [Jeremiah 7:31-32], Gehenna in the New Testament [Matthew 5:22]. Gehenna is a Greek word, "the Valley of Hinnom."
Outside the ancient city of Jerusalem, and for the centuries and the centuries in that place where once they sacrificed their children unto the fiery god Molech, it was cursed of God, and there they poured the refuse of the city. And the fires burned in that refuse day and night for the centuries; and there the filth and the carcasses of animals were cast, and the jackals fought over the filth and the carcasses, and they gnashed their teeth, and they fought one another. That’s Gehenna. Now they took that word gehenna and applied it to the everlasting fires of damnation where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. That is hell [Matthew 13:-50].
Thus far, to this present moment, there is nobody in hell. It is prepared for the devil and his angels [Matthew 25:41]. The first one who will be sent into that hell of fire are the beast and the false prophet [Revelation 19:20]. The second one that will be sent into that hell is Satan [Revelation 20:10]. And then shall be sent into that hell all whose names are not found written in the Book of Life [Revelation 20:14-15]. All those things, these things, that God hath revealed to us in His Word; you tremble before them.
Now, in the little moment that remains, let us speak of this loosing of Satan for a season [Revelation 20:2-3, 7]. The abyss is not hell. The abyss is that dark hole where Satan was chained is to be chained, for a thousand years. And after that, he must be loosed for a little season. Verse 7:
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, out of the abyss, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth . . . to gather them together to battle: the number is as the sand of the sea. And that great army went up, and compassed the camp of the saints, and the beloved city: and God destroyed them, and took the devil and cast him into hell, the hell of damnation and fire, for ever and ever.
Well, that is the most unusual revelation, and to me, the most inexplicable that I could imagine. And I cannot understand it, and I can’t find anybody that can understand it, so we just leave it like it is. I don’t understand that. The thing that separates the millennium from the eternity of God is this loosing of Satan [Revelation 20:7].
After a thousand years in which this earth – and I shall preach on that – shall be blessed of God, the blessings of the millennium, after that thousand years, Satan is loosed out of that prison, and he goes forward to deceive the nations of the earth again, and gathers them to battle against God [Revelation 20:7-9]. Why should Satan be loosed out of his prison to deceive the nations and to gather them to battle against God? Why? I don’t know.
There is some reason in the government of the Almighty. There is some reason known to infinitude, into which I cannot enter. The only guess that anybody can make is this: that in the millennium, when these generations continue, and people are born, they are going to have an opportunity to choose whether they serve God or whether they serve the devil. And the great multitude of them choose to serve the devil. That every man that is ever born shall have the opportunity to choose; and these that are born in the thousand years of that millennium shall have an opportunity whether to serve God or whether to serve the devil. And that’s the only explanation that is ever offered.
The one thing I learn from it is this: no matter how or where in the garden of Eden, in the millennium, under law or under grace, yesterday or today, man is always depraved, and Satan is always evil and vile. And Satan loosed goes out after the millennium, and he deceives the nations of the earth [Revelation 20:7-10], these who have known a thousand years of the holiness and goodness and glory of God [Revelation 20:4-6]. He deceives the people of the earth. They open their hearts to him, they are glad to accept him. Ah, the depravity of man! It is indescribable. It is unbelievable, following after Satan!
That’s why we have to cry unto God day and night, "O Lord, lest I be deceived, lest I be led astray, lest I be cut down by the machinations of that evil and subtle serpent, O God, we need Thy help and Thy kind arm."
Well, after Satan is loosed, and after he deceives the nations and gathers them together, Gog and Magog and terms you will find in the thirty-eighth and thirty-ninth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel, referring to those vast barbarian violent nations to the north, here it may be typical of all of the vast populations of the earth, the nations of the earth; he gathers them together, their number is as the sand of the sea [Revelation 20:7-8]. And they are in violent opposition to God [Revelation 20:9]. Just like somebody says today, "If Jesus were to come into this world today, the world would crucify Him again. Any day that He appeared, there would He be crucified."
How Satan blinds and entraps the people, the souls of this world, and he does it here, and he leads them into that violent opposition to God, and he leads them into that fire from heaven that devours and destroys them every one. And finally the Lord God says, "And it is enough. And it is enough. This is the last rebellion. This is the last deception. This is the last death. This is the end and the doom of that deceiver." God took him, and this time he cast him into sheol? No. Into Hades? No. Into the abyss? No. He took the devil and he cast him into the hellfire of damnation for ever and for ever, where the beast and the false prophet are [Revelation 20:10].
Do you notice the beast and the false prophet were cast into that damnation a thousand years before, and a thousand years after they are still there, alive, in torment? [Revelation 19:20; 20:2, 10]. Oh, those conceptions sometimes drive you out of your mind! O Lord, these whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, cast forever and forever and forever in that torment of brimstone and burning fire [Revelation 20:14-15].
That’s why Christ came into this world [1 Timothy 1:15; Hebrews 10:5-14]. There was a reason for His incarnation [Matthew 1:21-23], there was a reason for His atonement: to save us from the judgment and the penalty of our sins [1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21]. Oh, that God in His mercy may remember us, and be good to us, and forgive us, and save us! Lord, bless and keep Thy believing children.
Now in this moment that remains, let us sing our song of appeal. And somebody you, give his heart to Jesus, come and stand by me. A family you, put your life in the fellowship of the church, come and stand by me. On the first note of that first stanza, somebody this morning to give his life, his whole life to the blessed Lord Jesus, maybe to preach the gospel of the Son of God, however the Lord shall say the word and open the way, while we sing this hymn of appeal, come and stand by me. While all of us stand and sing together.
THE BINDING OF SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10
A. Four tremendous revelations in the chapter
1. The binding of Satan (Revelation 20:1-3)
2. The millennium (Revelation 20:4-6)
3. The loosing of Satan and his final perdition (Revelation 20:7-10)
4. The great white throne judgment of the wicked dead (Revelation 20:11-15)
B. Chapter 19 closed with battle of Armageddon, at which the Lord intervenes openly in human history
1. The beast and false prophet, kings, nations and armies of the earth are destroyed
2. Beyond these there is a sinister personality who has led them into the winepress of wrath and judgment of God
a. God has singled him out for a special and unusual judgment and damnation
II. God’s angel comes down with the key of the abyss and a chain
A. He comes in power of God’s assignment, with a key to lock the pit as the fallen angel in Revelation 9:1-3 had the key to open it
B. He has a chain of divine making(Jude 6)
III. The four names of Satan
A. Described by four names, in same order as in twelfth chapter
B. Two describe his personality
1. Dragon – refers to his leadership of the beast governments of the world
2. Serpent – ho ophis ho archaios, "ancient serpent"; refers to his appearance in Eden(Genesis 3:1-6)
C. Two are personal names
1. Devil – diabolos; refers to his character as a liar, murderer (John 8:44)
2. Satan – same in Hebrew, Greek, English; means "the accuser"
IV. The abyss and the lake of fire
A. Devil cast into the abyss, bound for a thousand years; then loosed for a season, and then cast in judgment into lake of fire (Revelation 20:10)
1. Beast and false prophet are in lake of fire (Revelation 19:20)
B. Abyss – "bottomless pit"
1. Used nine times in New Testament, seven of those in Revelation (Luke 8:31, Romans 10:7)
2. Legion of demons in the Gadarene demoniac did not want to be sent to the abyss (Luke 8:31)
C. Lake of fire – only actual hell, final place of eternal punishment of the damned(Revelation 19:20, 20:10)
D. Our confusion lies in translation
1. Abyss is a prison in which fallen angels, evil spirits and demons are detained prior to their final judgment(Revelation 20:3)
2. Sheol and hades are translated "hell, grave, pit"
a. Sheol and hades are the identical words in Hebrew and Greek
b. Refer to nothing other but the unseen world beyond this life
3. Hell – Old Testament tophet, New Testament gehenna(Matthew 5:29-30)
a. Gehenna is the Valley of Hinnom, where children were burned to Molech, and was used for refuse of the city(Mark 9:44-48)
b. First to be cast into hell are the beast and false prophet; second is the Devil; third are those whose names are not written in Book of Life(Revelation 19:20, 20:10, 15)
E. The urgency and immediacy of preaching the gospel(Luke 10:20, Proverbs 9:10, Matthew 10:28)
V. The loosing of Satan(Revelation 20:7-10)
A. Marks end of millennium – Satan loosed for a season; deceives nations into rebellion
B. Why must he be loosed?
1. Those who grew up in the millennium have never had the chance to choose between good and evil – they have never been tried
2. Satan does not change – stilldiabolical, merciless
3. Man does not change – at first opportunity to rebel he does so
a. Three unclean spirits deceived the rulers and armies into Armageddon (Revelation 16:13-16)
b. Here the last human confederacy is deceived
C. God seizes Satan and casts him into hell, the lake of fire and brimstone(Revelation 20:10)
1. This place of hell and burning not made for human soul – man goes there by choice(Matthew 25:44)