The Last Battle

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The Bible does not teach that absolutely everyone in the world will be converted. The symbolism of Ezekiel's prophecy suggests that some areas of the world will remain unrenewed by the River of Life (Ezek. 47:11). And we know that both the wheat and the tares will grow together until the harvest at the end of the world (Matt. 13:37-43). At that point, as the potential of both groups comes to maturity, as each side becomes fully self-conscious in its determination to obey or rebel, there will be a final conflict. The Dragon will be released for a short time, to deceive the nations one more time in a last-ditch attempt to overthrow the Kingdom (Rev. 20:7-8).

In describing this, John uses the vivid imagery of Ezekiel 38-39, which prophetically depicts the Maccabees' defeat of the Syrians in the second century B. C.: the ungodly forces are called Gog and Magog. According to some popular writers, this expression refers to Russia, and foretells a war between the Soviets and Israel during the "Tribulation." Of the many problems with this hypothesis, I will mention just two. First, Revelation 20 says that the war of "Gog and Magog" takes place at the end of the Millennium; these prophecy writers are sneaking Gog and Magog all the way back to a point before the Millennium even begins! Second, the expression Gog and Magog does not, and never did, refer to Russia. That has been entirely made up from whole cloth, and simply repeated so many times that many have assumed it to be true.

To return to reality: Satan's final rebellion is shown to be a disaster. He is overthrown, his followers are devoured by fire falling from heaven, and he is cast into the Lake of Fire for eternal torment (Rev. 20:9-10). At this point, the end of the Millennium, the Resurrection takes place (Rev. 20:5), and all men are judged (Rev. 20:11-15).

The purpose of Revelation 20 is not to give a detailed outline of the end of the world, for that does not fall within the scope of the book. Revelation was written to tell first-century Christians about things which were to happen shortly, especially dealing with the Church's struggle against the Beast, the False Prophet, and the Harlot. These all meet their doom by the end of the prophecy. But, of course, behind all the evil conspiracies of the Church's enemies is the shadowy figure of the Dragon. So John gives a brief sketch of his fate, from Christ's definitive triumph over him until the Last Day, when the Dragon and his evil seed are destroyed and the people of God are fully and finally victorious; when Paradise, in the most complete sense, is restored and consummated.

The Saviour works mightily every day, drawing men to religion, persuading them to virtue, teaching them about immortality, quickening their thirst for heavenly things, revealing the knowledge of the Father, inspiring strength in the face of death, manifesting Himself to each, and displacing the irreligion of idols; while the gods and evil spirits of the unbelievers can do none of these things, but rather become dead at Christ's presence, all their ostentation barren and void. By the sign of the cross, on the contrary, all magic is stayed, all sorcery confounded, all the idols are abandoned and deserted, and all senseless pleasure ceases, as the eye of faith looks up from earth to heaven.

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