Satan’s Thousand-Year Prison Term

When we read of the binding of Satan by one angel in Revelation 20, there is no mention of Adam’s lease expiring. The reason given for his incarceration is simply “that he should not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev. 20:3).

Interestingly, after Satan is imprisoned for 1,000 years, he will be released and “will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth” (Rev. 20:8). Those deceived nations will then muster their armies to attack Jerusalem, where Jesus will be ruling. When they have surrounded the city, fire will come down from heaven and “devour them” (Rev. 20:9).

Would anyone be so foolish as to say that Adam’s lease included one final short period of time after those 1,000 years, and so God was obligated to release Satan for that reason? Such an idea is absurd.

No, what we learn once more from this section of Scripture is that God has complete control of the devil and permits him to work his deception only to fulfill His own divine purposes.

During the future thousand-year rule of Jesus, Satan will be out of operation, unable to deceive anyone. There will be, however, people on the earth who are only outwardly obedient to Christ’s rule, but who inwardly would love to see Him overthrown. Yet they will not attempt a coup knowing that they have no chance to overthrow the one who will “rule with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:15).

But when Satan is released, he will be able to deceive those who, in their hearts, hate Christ, and they will foolishly attempt the impossible. As Satan is permitted to deceive potential rebels, the condition of people’s hearts will be revealed, and then God will righteously judge those who are unfit to live in His kingdom.

That, of course, is one of the reasons God permits Satan to deceive people today. We will later investigate God’s fuller purposes for Satan, but suffice it for now to say that God does not want anyone to remain deceived. He does, however, want to know what is in people’s hearts. Satan can’t deceive those who know and believe the truth. But God allows the devil to deceive those who, because of their callous hearts, reject the truth.

Speaking of the time of the antichrist, Paul wrote;

And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness (2 Thes. 2:8-12, emphasis added).

Notice that God is the one given the credit for sending a “deluding influence so that they might believe what is false.” But also notice that these people who will be deluded are people who “did not believe the truth,” indicating they had an opportunity, but still rejected the gospel. God will allow Satan to empower the antichrist with false signs and wonders so that Christ-rejecters will be deceived, and God’s ultimate purpose is that “they may all be judged.” For that same reason, God permits Satan to deceive people today.

If God had no reason to permit Satan to operate on the earth, He could have easily banished him to some other place in the universe when he fell. We are told in 2 Peter 2:4 that there are certain sinful angels whom God has already cast into hell and committed “to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” Our omnipotent God could have done the same thing to Satan and to any of his angels if it suited His divine purposes. But for a while longer, God has good reasons to permit Satan and his angels to operate on the earth.