The Restraint Upon Evil
Revelation 20:1-10
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.…

Following most appropriately upon the foregoing description of a conflict, and the conquest by the truth and the power of righteousness, is a representation, in most significant imagery, of the restraint that is put upon evil by the prevalence of righteousness - the chaining back the clouds of night by the rising sun. The spirit of evil, "the dragon, the old serpent," "the devil and Satan," is "laid hold" by "an angel coming down out of heaven," and bound with "a great chain," and cast "into the abyss," which is shut and sealed. This is to be for "a thousand years;" after that "he must be loosed for a little season." With as great distinctness as could well be employed herein is set forth -

I. THE EFFECTUAL RESTRAINT OF THE POWER OF EVIL. It is here pictured as a single act. But we must read the history of the strife which is ever proceeding - the gradual leavening of the entire life of humanity by the principles and the power of the holy gospel. Whatever may be the oscillations between the probabilities of success and the danger of defeat, this picture must be held to declare the ultimate happy triumph of the true and good over the false and the evil. Satan is held in chains; his power is restricted. The heavenly holds back the earthly and the hellish. It is the comfortable encouragement to the patient, suffering toiler that the agency employed of God is effective. That binding and restraining every faithful servant must see to be now going on.

II. THE DURATION OF THIS RESTRAINT. The millennium - "a thousand years" - a long but definite period, now reigns; yet must we not forget the symbolical character even of the definite words of this book. No time must be affixed. It is a period of blessing, of rest, of rejoicing. The toils of the Church, and the patience of the suffering faithful ones, have, by Divine grace, become fruitful. Now in the world, permeated by the pure and lofty principles of Christianity, peace, truth, righteousness, reign; and by how much they prevail, by so much evil is restrained. In their supremacy is to be seen the complete chaining of the evil agents of an evil kingdom.

III. THIS PERIOD IS MARKED AS ONE OF TRIUMPH AND REJOICING on behalf of the faithful Church of Christ. Thrones are set, the faithful reign with Christ, and judgment over human conduct is given to them - a significant indication that principles of righteousness are predominant, and that by them human life is adjudged. These are "blessed and holy;" they have priestly functions, they approach, they mediate, they are channels of blessing, they live to reign; they escape that second death which is the penalty of sin, from which they have been raised - they partake in a first resurrection which presages another.

IV. To this happy period of the universal prevalence of Christian truth there succeeds A TEMPORARY RELAPSE. Like all human blessedness, even this has the signature of imperfectness upon it. It is historical, not imposed. But this is only temporary, "for a little time," and issues in a final destruction of all tempting and evil power - even "forever and ever." In this the Church is to find

(1) encouragement to faith;

(2) motive for diligent labour;

(3) the most cheering assurances in times of discouragement and fear.

The truth shall ultimately prevail; the false, the foul, the vile, shall be restrained. - R.G.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

WEB: I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand.

The Great Enemy of Humanity
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