It does seem that Satan is on a roll these days and that his string of victories is making him unstoppable. He seems to be winning everywhere. Those of us who believe the Scriptures know, of course, that this is temporary. But at times we get weary with his successes. Those successes are so evident in the deplorable conditions in the family unit; divisions within churches; and strife among and within nations. These satanically stimulated conditions appear to be worsening by the year as worldwide we see cruelty, arrogance, deception and violence of all kinds. We might conclude that the Enemy is going to prevail. In view of the momentous successes of Satan, “the god of this world”, it is good for us to remind ourselves of the clear, definitive declarations of the Scriptures on the future of this malevolent being. It is helpful to rehearse several crucial, biblical facts.
FACT #1- THOUGH APPEARING VICTORIOUS, SATAN HAS ALREADY BEEN SOUNDLY DEFEATED BY THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. Looking at His soon coming crucifixion, Jesus declared that “now the ruler of this world shall be cast out.” (John 12:31). Earlier the Lord Jesus had prophetically stated that “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightening.” (Luke 10:18). After the Lord’s death and resurrection, the Apostle Paul informed the Christians at Colossae that the resurrection of the Lord Jesus brought complete and utter defeat to Satan and his forces. In Colossians 2:15, he wrote, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” So while the “game” is still going on, there is no doubt whatsoever as to the outcome. It might be likened to a football game where, with 35 seconds to go in the game, one team leads the other 49 to 3. The outcome is settled even though the game is not completely done. And while this present life is no game, the outcome is settled. And this fact is an important one to remember.
FACT #2 – SATAN WILL BE FORCIBLY CAST OUT OF HEAVEN. In the future, there are three distinct moments which will define the “inglorious future” of Satan. Right now, (for reasons not completely clear to we mortal believers) Satan still has access to the heavenly places. But that will change at the midpoint of the Tribulation period. Half way through this 7 year period of time, God will employ the holy angels, led by Michael, to remove Satan and his forces “kicking and screaming” from the heavens. When they are thrown out of heaven, Satan and his forces will then be confined to the earth for the last 3½ years of the Tribulation. (Rev. 12:7-9). Apparently God, who could have just ordered them out, will give deserved satisfaction to the holy angels by allowing them to engage and defeat the demonic beings. So much for Satan’s string of successes.
It is interesting to observe the word the Apostle John used here in describing Satan’s exiting of heaven. The word “thrown down/cast out” (ballo) is often used in the New Testament in connection with judgment. It is a word which can emphasize the disgraceful, shamefulness of the situation. To Satan it will be a humiliating event which brings immense dishonor to him. John will employ the same word as he discusses the next two steps down in the judgment of Satan. (This word, ballo, often includes the idea of force being used with the implication of elimination).
FACT #3 – SATAN WILL BE INCARCERATED FOR 1,000 YEARS IN THE ABYSS. In connection with the very end of the Tribulation period, an angel from heaven descends to the earth (since that is where Satan now resides). The Apostle John, in Revelation 20:1-10, states that this angel from heaven will be given authority (the “key”) to open up the abyss and to “throw” (ballo) Satan into it. Satan’s activities on the earth are terminated for 1000 years. In the Bible, the “abyss” is a place. It is a place for the confinement of demonic beings. The demons who faced Jesus in Luke 8:31 were well aware of it and feared going there. When Jesus removed “legion” from the man who lived in the tombs, these demons “were entreating Him not to command them to depart into the abyss.” Their theology was correct on this subject, making it clear to us that the abyss is not a state of mind or simply some restricting of Satan’s activities. He is totally and completely taken off the scene of the earth and put into a place called “the abyss.” The abyss is later identified as a “prison” (Rev. 20:7) which again emphasizes that it is an actual place.
Now, sometimes a question is raised concerning “how can a spirit being be confined”? It is hard for us to imagine how Satan could be successfully locked up in San Quentin or any prison for that matter. We think in material terms. But the fact of scripture is that angelic beings can be “chained” or “bound.” As an example, in Revelation 9:14, four such beings are said to be “bound” at the Euphrates river. We already saw in Revelation 12 that Satan will be thrown down to the earth and that he is confined to the earth. How does God confine him to the earth? We aren’t told how, but are told that he is, in fact, confined to the earth. Jude 1:6 adds that the angels who fell in their rebellion against God, find themselves “in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” So apparently, it is no problem at all for God to imprison or bind spirit beings.
FACT #4 – SATAN’S FINAL END WILL BE IN THE LAKE OF FIRE. Jesus declared (Matt. 25:41) that the lake of fire was made for Satan: “the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” And this is where Satan will spend eternity. God, for His own purposes, will release Satan from the abyss. (I believe that God does this to show once and for all that man is a rebel at heart; and that man’s problem has never been his environment or circumstances. The issue has always been his sinful heart which will rebel against God whenever it can). When Satan’s “final rebellion” is quickly and easily defeated, it is then that Satan (who does not change at all during his 1000 years of incarceration) is thrown (ballo) ignominiously into the Lake of Fire. The last word on Satan is found in Revelation 20:10. “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” And such is the final, forever end of this Evil One who has challenge God and God’s people all throughout history. Although today Satan seems so very powerful, such will not be the case in the future.
However, we live in the present with the ongoing successes of Satan and his forces. We need to periodically look through the lens of scripture into the future and remind ourselves of his end. His end is an inglorious one while in stark contrast, the future of the believer in Jesus Christ is glorious. Persevere fellow believer.