Satan is currently bound from gathering the nations in kingly rebellion so that Jesus might gather them in priestly unity.
Everything which Scripture records for us, no matter how mundane or mysterious, exists as part of a process of growth to maturity. This transformation is achieved through relationships established by a Father who delights in His Son and rewards His faithfulness as “seed” with abundant fruit.
History is thus written in “harvest cycles,” and each of these ends with blessings and curses. As in Eden, after a period of silence which allows the righteous and the wicked to fulfill their potential, the Lord comes suddenly (Revelation 22:10-11). As in Eden, He inspects and collects the fruit and gives His trees a pruning. In history, each cycle lasts approximately 400 to 500 years, since that is the time it takes for a new Word to finish its work in a culture. From our beginning in Adam, these cycles also appear to come in pairs, a Forming and a Filling, resulting in “themed” millennia.
Western Culture has borne remarkable fruit in every sphere, and on the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses it is undergoing some timely trimming. From our perspective, this feels like the end of the world, but once again the ax is being laid to the root of the tree at the hand of a Carpenter.
I have no doubt that Jesus loved Christendom, but all of God’s darlings end up on the altar. The Reformation allowed the West to became a great tree which provided shelter to all nations in various ways. This culminated in the American experiment, a melting pot of all cultures which resulted in unimaginable benefits of every kind. Greece gave the world a universal language for the Gospel and Rome built roads for the Apostles. Today, global travel is commonplace and global communication instantaneous.
But now, as it was with the kingdom of Solomon, a slow decline indicates the withdrawal of the Spirit of God. This should not alarm us. The beauty of His work is rooted in its fractal structure, which means that clues to the nature of the next age are hidden like seeds in the current one. The West must decline for the sake of greater maturity and greater glory, but America is a sign of things to come.
This decline has actually been the goal of the globalists, those deliberately deconstructing Western culture but for the sake of their own glory. The end of great civilizations is always an inside job. Moreover, it is no surprise that the current major players, Islam, Secularism and Christianity, are acting out the same roles as the Jews, Rome and the Church in the first century, only on a larger scale. So we know how this ends. But we also know that the end of the old Temple follows the founding of fresh worship in new wine skins.
The Context of the Millennium
The New Testament is the record of a covenant lawsuit against the rulers of the day. It follows the pattern of all biblical covenants, and its final books constitute Succession arrangements. As the last word, the Revelation is not a warning to the Jewish and Roman kings, but concerns the imminent execution of judgment upon them. The very first verse of Revelation is a microcosm not only of the entire ministry of Jesus and the Apostles, but also of the shape of the book:
The revelation (Day 1: Sabbath – Initiation)
of Jesus Christ, (Day 2: Passover – Delegation)
which God gave him (Day 3: Firstfruits – Presentation)
to show (Day 4: Pentecost – Purification)
to his servants (Day 5: Trumpets – Transformation)
what must take place (Day 6: Atonement – Vindication)
without delay. (Day 7: Booths – Representation)
Paul and all the other first century saints were awaiting vindication in the face of the scoffers who mocked, persecuted and murdered them. History tells us that they were indeed vindicated, and their sacrifice served as the foundation for a new world order.
For the saints, the last days are only ever the last days of the old order. Since the Revelation itself follows the covenant pattern, the events in Revelation 20 are part of its Succession arrangements, a glimpse of the new age for those living at the end of the old. Our historical failure to identify the structure of the book is a large part of the reason we find it so mystifying.
The Rider on the White Horse
Each instance of the “harvest” process described above begins with an authoritative word from God which transforms Man into His willing legal representative. At the end of the process, Man speaks for God. This is what was intended for Adam, and what was fulfilled completely in Jesus. The Adamic era culminated in Noah qualifying to bear the sword on God’s behalf. The Old Testament era ended with Jesus coming in vengeance against its rulers with a sword in His mouth to divide and conquer.
Revelation begins with a single Adam, the ascended Christ, speaking as the mouth of God. After “trimming the wicks” and inspecting the fruit of His lampstand trees in the Sanctuary, He receives a legal document just as Moses received the tablets on Sinai. In this case it is a scroll pertaining to His inheritance, which is all nations.
The first seal sends out a lone white horse to initiate His work in the Land. Like Moses on Sinai at the first Pentecost, His Word comes as a sword, and the decree of the second horse polarizes and divides its hearers. The third word starves the unbelievers while it feeds the saints, and the fourth cuts off the wicked, giving the Land to those who were meek before God.
Once this initial Gospel harvest was accomplished, Jesus rode from the Land into the World. But now the rider on the white horse was accompanied by an army of saints on white horses. This one-and-many aspect of the “spirit horses” of the Gospel is also found in their mission. Having completed the redemption of the priestly nation, Jesus’ focus now moves to all nations. Thus, in the Revelation, it is no accident that the silencing of Satan follows the final word of Jesus against the rebellious rulers of the oikoumene in AD70. The Lamb, once silent before His accusers, has taken vengeance upon them as a Lion, and now moves to silence the Accuser of all men. To conquer a body one must cut off the head. There can be only one.
Jesus had become a fulfilled Covenant Oath on behalf of every believer, and His name on each loosed tongue now serves as a link in the chain which binds the lies of the evil one. Since every believer has access to the Sanctuary of God in prayer and worship, every believer has the power to curse and to bless, to bind and to loose, to the degree to which we have bound ourselves to Christ. Even Jesus only cast out demons after His own personal victory in the wilderness. Since the exalted Christ now rules the nations with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9) so do His people, who are His body:
And to the one who is victorious and continues in My work until the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter and shatter them — like pottery just as I have received authority from My Father. (Revelation 2:27)
The Apostles’ Succession
Just as the book of Revelation is ordered according to the covenant pattern established in Genesis, so too is each of its parts. As the final major pericope of the book, Revelation 20-22 describes the enthronement, authority and rule of the saints who had stood faithfully against the spiritual conspiracy which ended in AD70. The wicked were cut off and these received the kingdom as Jesus promised (Matthew 21:43; 19:28). He had indeed prepared a place for them (John 14:2-3).
In context, the prophetic (legal) authority held by Satan as an accuser in the court of God was now given to these blameless saints as Jesus’ heavenly courtiers. The justice is poetic. Those in chains were now enthroned, and the enthroned one was now in chains.
But that is only the first step in the pattern. Like the sevenfold covenant structure described above, this periscope sees the central “Ethics” split into three sections: Priestly, Kingly and Prophetic. Most interesting is the fact that it also recapitulates the structure of the entire book of Revelation.
1 – TRANSCENDENCE: “Who is in charge?”
John’s Vision of Christ
Satan is silenced and the faithful are enthroned as heavenly advisors. (Revelation 20:1-6)
2 – HIERARCHY: “To whom do we report?”
Letters to the Seven “Lampstand” Angel-Pastors
Satan is released, gathers the nations, and is destroyed by fire from heaven. (Revelation 20:7-10)
ETHICS: “What is the mission?”
3 – PRIESTHOOD: Covenant Head
The Lamb Worthy to Open the Scroll
Jesus, on the ivory throne of Solomon, opens the Book of Life. (Revelation 20:11-15)
4 – KINGDOM: Holy Fire
Judgment of the Holy City
Unlike the Herods, Jesus rules with justice and mercy. (Revelation 21:1-8)
5 – PROPHECY: Covenant Body
Testimony to the Nations
With Jerusalem below executed, Jerusalem above is revealed. (Revelation 21:9-27)
6 – OATH/SANCTIONS: “What will we get?”
Redeemer of the Nations
The Garden City is described as the source of healing (Revelation 21:1-5)
7 – SUCCESSION: “What’s next?”
Inheritance of the Righteous
Our share in the tree of life and the holy city. (Revelation 22:6-19)
Since Moses is the key to the Revelation, the information in this section is arranged theologically rather than strictly chronologically. The first thing to notice about this progression is that it is chiastic. It begins with the binding of Satan and ends with the testimony of Jesus. The final gathering of the nations at Step 2 matches the healing of the nations at Step 6. The throne of the Bridegroom at Step 3 matches the glorious Bride at Step 5. And at the center (which corresponds to Pentecost), the dwelling place of God is now with Man, thanks to the obedience of Christ.
Gog and Magog
As James Jordan has shown, the interpretation of Ezekiel 38-39 in context reveals it to be a prophecy of the events in the book of Esther. The Jews were dwelling throughout the Persian empire, and Haman was another serpent who attempted to gather all nations against the people of God.
This is why the final battle, which is yet future to us, uses names from the book of Ezekiel: Gog and Magog. This combination is a symbol for the “totus diabolus” which we have discussed, a demonic ruler and his gathered hosts, head and body, mouth and sword, serpent and dragon, one-and-many.
Jordan explains that Esther sets the scene for a rematch between King Saul and King Agag (1 Samuel 15). Agag was the king of Amalek, first the among nations (Numbers 24:20) and Saul the first king of God’s nation. They shared an affinity because both were an Edenic grasp of “kingdom before God’s time.” Their representatives in Esther are Mordecai (a son of Kish, like Saul) and Haman the Agagite.
Gog refers to Agag (originally a title similar to “Pharaoh”), a serpentine “head” at the right hand of the power who exalted himself and would ultimately be humbled. Of course, Mordecai finally humbled himself and was exalted.
Magog was a grandson of Noah and his name is a symbol for the Japhethite nations scattered across the globe. Esther tells us that the Persian empire stretched from India to Ethiopia. The entire world was gathered against the people of God, which is why “Gog and Magog” is used as symbolic language to describe the final gathering of nations – “their number like the sand of the sea” – against the Church once Satan is released from his chain.
This battle is placed at the “Exodus” step in the pattern as an allusion to Pharaoh and his chariots, who pursued Israel but were annihilated by God. In the final battle, as it was in both Egypt and Persia, the people of God will serve as the bait in a trap, their sudden weakness an irresistible temptation to the godless.
But why does Revelation describe the Church as both “the camp of the saints” and “the beloved city”? We must remember that the entire biblical history is a conflict between Priesthood and Kingdom, between those who are willing to submit to heaven and wait patiently for dominion on the earth, and those who seize it as Adam, Cain and Lamech did. The Church is at once the priestly camp of Israel, humbled in the wilderness and the glorious city of David, “the beloved.” Even here, in veiled language, the Bible’s heartbeat of humility before exaltation is pounding for those with ears to hear.
As Jesus says in Matthew 12:31, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” But Satan’s attempts continue, and their subtlety increases. The Sanctuary of God is the source of life and authority, so the serpent’s first target is always the Word and the worship. Is there a more effective way of disguising false worship than clothing it in the garb of the true? This explains why the harlot of Babylon, first century Jerusalem, was clothed in priestly garments (Revelation 17:4).
The Church eventually conquered Rome, but over the centuries the reestablishment of a worship centralized on earth – a priesthood focused on access rather than testimony, and a Christian identity based upon blood and soil rather than confession – reintroduced the Old Covenant vulnerability to satanic expropriation. Eventually, Rome became another Babel, just as Israel had become under the Herods, but this time the false worship was clothed in the garb of Jesus Himself. God sent reformers to judge the church, and through their witness and in their deaths they exposed and brought down the principalities and powers. Their interpretation of Revelation was incorrect but their application was inspired.
With the demise of a united Christian confession in the West and the evident impotence of secular values as a replacement, the old walls of enmity, the divisions of blood and soil, are rising again. This signifies a return to the rules and regulations of childhood, the barriers and quarantines established for our protection. Of course, the globalists are appalled.
That many of the keenest proponents of the European Union are well-meaning should not be doubted, but the fact that they are aiming for what is fundamentally another “reich,” albeit via economics and legislation rather than military conquest, is a deep irony. It is also an expression of something deep in the hearts of men: a desire for unity of mind and purpose, for achievement and glory. Beginning with Adam, these things were always intended to be given to us as gifts by God. As it was with Adam, if we seek these things outside of the ways of God, our claim to divinity eventually leads to the destruction of the world. Despite our best intentions, especially the ones borrowed from God, every attempt to “make the world a better place” results in corruption and robbery, violence and slavery. The world can only be united if it is first united in true worship. My friend Jerry Bowyer writes:
The problem with empires is that they are a counterfeit of the Kingdom of God. In the Kingdom, all the nations stream to the mountain of the Lord and offer their gifts and receive wisdom. God binds them together. He alone is “King of kings, Lord of lords.” Empires are fake versions of that with Caesar (Czar, Kaiser) or the Han dynasty or Brussels occupying the seat reserved for Yahweh. Only God can be the true “Emperor over the sea.”
Until Satan is released, any attempt at global government, such as the United Nations, or the European Union, or the pretensions of superpowers in Washington DC or Moscow or Beijing, will be shattered by Jesus’ rod of iron. While the Church abides as a city of crystal, the false bride will always encounter the “glass ceiling” between heaven and earth.
Then, Satan will be given one last opportunity to grasp equality with God. This will be in order to expose his impotence on a global scale. He will be rendered naked, then cut off, just as he had intended for Adam. The final fire will finish what Pentecost began. This will be the end of all flesh.
The markets might be volatile, the world might be at war, but Jesus is in control and He knows exactly what He is doing. Even today, we can see that as He scatters His enemies He is gathering His people. If we fear Him we have nothing else to fear. If we know the Bible, we will perceive Brexit and its subsequent tremors as evidence of the steady-handed reign of Jesus Christ, whose march through history will continue until every enemy – and indeed every utopian ideology – is under His feet.
Mike Bull is a graphic designer in the Blue Mountains of Australia, and author, most recently, of Inquiétude.