What an incredible chapter! But do we see the amazing, hope-filled news of this chapter or do we , like too many Christians, miss the forest for the trees?
Too often people’s views on Revelation are grouped according to the position one takes on the thousand years (or millennium) mentioned in this passage. That is a shame, because this is the only passage in the entire Bible where a thousand-year period of spiritual significance is mentioned. We are doing great injustice to this great book to make a passage that is singular and unclear at best the keystone by which we interpret the entire book. I refuse to do that here. I will not deny that this passage is enigmatic (I suspect this is a symbolic period of time as numbers in Revelation are rarely literal, and a special “resurrection” of some sort for the martyrs killed under Roman persecution, not an historical period coming to all who are alive at the time), but we need to keep the main point in view.
This is the big scene in the whole drama. Everything has been building to this point. Last chapter, we saw the beast and the false prophet (the physical manifestations of evil in the life of the first recipients of this book) cast almost effortlessly into the lake of never-ending fire. Now all that stands in the way of God’s great kingdom is Satan and his henchmen Death and Hades. Satan is bound then loosed, then a military build-up takes place against God’s people almost as if to heighten the tension. But then, as quick as it started, judgment is over. God simply decrees the destruction of Evil and it is so.
Then fire came down and burned them up. (20:9)
Maybe that is the point. God is in control. There is sound and fury, but it signifies nothing. When God decides to bring all things to an end, it is over. This is God’s world.
I have to admit that much of the time that is not how I see it. And I would imagine the original readers of Revelation struggled to see it that way too. But that is the incredible good news of Revelation: Even when it is hard to believe it, God is truly in control of all things. We are on the winning side.