Revelation 20:1
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the Abyss, holding in his hand a great chain.
Sermons
The First Scene in the Moral History of Redeemed HumanityD. Thomas Revelation 20:1, 2
SatanWm. Guild, D. D.Revelation 20:1-3
Satan Bound for a Thousand YearsC. Clemance, D. D.Revelation 20:1-3
The Great Enemy of HumanityHomilistRevelation 20:1-3
The Scene of Mural StruggleD. Thomas, D. D.Revelation 20:1-3
The Restraint Upon EvilR. Green Revelation 20:1-10


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.









An angel... having the key of the bottomless pit.
1. Whereas it is said that this Angel that came down from heaven had the key of the bottomless pit, we see that our Saviour has all power given to Him in heaven, the earth, and hell itself.

2. That He had a great chain in His hand, shows us that how mighty and malicious soever Satan may be, yet for our comfort Christ has him in a chain, without whose permission he can do nothing.

3. Whereas Satan is called an old serpent, we see to whom they are like who are habituated in wickedness and crafty to do evil.

4. Whereas he is called the devil, or an accuser, we see whose brood they are who in like manner are false accusers of their brethren, slanderers, etc.

5. He is also called Satan, that is, an enemy to God's glory and man's good of salvation, therefore whoever by doctrine or practice impairs the one, or opposes the means of the other, they are satanical, and like him.

6. Whereas it is said that Satan was shut up, that he should deceive the nations no more, we see that his task from the beginning hath been deceiving, using fraud where he cannot prevail by force; wherefore we should beware of his deceiving in his subtle instruments, and acknowledge whose brood they are.

7. Whereas it is said that he was bound up so long that he should deceive no more, this shows that on the contrary, therefore, when we see seducers arise and abound, that then Satan in his instruments for the punishment of a nation or Church is set loose to be a lying spirit in the mouth of false prophets.

8. Whereas it is said that after the time of his binding or shutting up he is to be loosed a little season, this is greatly for the comfort of the godly, that Satan's prevailing in his instruments is determined by God, and shall be but for a little season; therefore with patience let them possess their souls.

(Wm. Guild, D. D.)

He laid hold on the dragon
Homilist.
I. THE GREAT ENEMY OF HUMANITY DESCRIBED. "Dragon" stands as an emblem of power. His power is seen in the vast authority which he wields.

1. Over fallen angels (Ephesians 6:11, 12). He is the leader of those myriads.

2. The authority he exercises over men. He leadeth the world captive at his will. He worketh in the "children of disobedience." He opposes God, Christ, the universe. The existence of such a being in the universe as this impresses us with —

(1)The fallibility of the holiest creature.

(2)The independent force of moral mind.

(3)The mysteriousness of the Divine government.

II. THE GREAT ENEMY OF HUMANITY IMPRISONED.

1. His imprisonment is effected by a Divine messenger.

2. His imprisonment is effected by Divine authority.

3. His imprisonment is effected by a Divine instrument.What is the chain? Gospel truth. What is meant by imprisoning Satan? Limiting the sphere of his agency. Every man who expels him from his own heart helps to imprison him, and every man who seeks to expel him from the heart of others helps to imprison him. As liberty binds the influence of slavery, intelligence the influence of ignorance, religion the influence of infidelity, so Divine truth will bind the influence of the devil. Lesson:

1. The true sphere of heroic action. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Resist him as he is on the arena of. your own soul; resist him as you find him on the arena of society in everyday life.

2. The grandeur of the Christian character. "Put on the whole armour of God," etc.

(Homilist.)

I. REDEEMED HUMANITY HAS A FEARFUL ANTAGONIST TO CONTEND WITH.

1. The actual existence of such an enemy.

(1)Universal belief of humanity.

(2)The opposite classes of moral phenomena. In the world we have error, selfishness, infidelity, misery, and truth, benevolence, religion, happiness. Can these be branches from the same root?

(3)The general teaching of the Bible.

2. The personality of such an enemy. An evil principle implies an evil person.

3. The characteristics of such an enemy.

(1)Mighty.

(2)Crafty.

(3)Virulent.

II. HEAVEN HAS VOUCHSAFED AN AGENCY WHICH IS DESTINED TO MASTER THE ADVERSARY. Let the word "angel" here stand for every true religious teacher.

1. His authority. Every man who has the spirit and power of a teacher has the "key" or the authority to teach. He has a right to do battle with the enemy wherever he is found; whether in literature or commerce, churches or governments, theories or practices.

2. His instrumentality. "A chain." Iron, brass, adamant? No. These cannot fetter intellect or manacle soul. Nothing can curb or restrain the influence of Satan but Christian truth. What is meant by binding Satan? It does not mean the binding of his being or faculties, but the binding of his influence. He is to be bound, in the sense of limiting his sway, by closing up human hearts against him.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Bound him a thousand years
I. THERE IS IN THE WORLD A MIGHTY FORCE OF EVIL.

II. MIGHTIER FORCES OF GOOD, ALTHOUGH UNSEEN, ARE IN THE BACKGROUND.

III. THE EMPLOYMENT OF THE MIGHTIER AGAINST THE MIGHTY HAS BEEN MATTER OF ANCIENT PROMISE (Genesis 3:5).

IV. THE STRONGER FORCE OF GOOD HAS EVER BEEN AT WORK. This world has never been given up to the evil one.

V. WHEREVER THE GOSPEL HAS BEEN PREACHED THERE A BINDING OF SATAN HAS BEEN AND IS BEING EFFECTED.

VI. NEVERTHELESS, THE PASSAGE BEFORE US LEADS US TO EXPECT A MUCH GREATER RESTRAINT ON SATAN'S ACTIVITY THAN HAS AS YET BEEN KNOWN.

VII. WHEN THE BINDING OF SATAN IS COMPLETELY EFFECTED, THERE MUST NEEDS BE A PERIOD OF REST, SUCH AS NEITHER THE WORLD NOR THE CHURCH HAS ENJOYED SINCE "SIN ENTERED INTO THE WORLD, AND DEATH BY SIN." Note —

1. Let our faith embrace all that is in the Word, and we shall then find nothing in the fiercest conflicts of the age to shock or disturb it.

2. Let us thank God for the restraint which we know is even now put upon Satan. He worries, but he cannot devour.

3. Let us be stimulated by the fact that, through the energy of the Spirit of God, the power of evil is being subdued within us and around us.

4. Let us, with renewed faith, energy, prayer, and hope, be found doing our part towards bringing about earth's time of rest.

(C. Clemance, D. D.)

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