Time Sequences in Revelation 20 and 21
And an explanation of the three judgments
Chart below

    On this page, we look first at the sequence of the thousand years. Then, below on the chart, we take a broader view and trace from the end of the evil coalition of dragon, beast and false prophet in chapter 19 on through the end of the thousand years. We also discuss the three judgments jump.

    Most commentaries on chapter 20 tend to accommodate ideas that have been superimposed on the millennium (or "thousand years"). To see what is to happen based on the scriptures, we must first note that the passage is not in simple time sequence from beginning to end. In fact it retraces several times repeating some points and adding others. Each row in the table below represents a progression of time in the narrative. The blue row shows the thousand-year period, so you can see what comes before and after. Other rows, in the same way, represent descriptions of the same events or what will happen at the same time. At two points I have inserted brackets to show what the text implies.
   The natural flow of events relating to the thousand years carries into chapter 21. The descent of the New Jerusalem in chapter 21 explains the chapter 20 passage about the holy city or "camp of the saints." It tells how it came to be on the earth for Satan to attack. This means that the righteous who reign with Christ will be in heaven during the thousand years. Jesus promised to take the faithful away from the earth, to heaven (John 14:1-3, jn1401). The promises about the new earth will be fulfilled after the thousand years. All this is discussed in the detailed commentary for these passages.
    When discussing the surrounding of the city by the wicked, we explained a sequence of events 2009be.

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20:1, 2a  Angel with key grasps Satan - 5b  This (verse 4) is the 1st resurrection - - -
2b  Satan bound for 1000 yrs.
3a  Cast into pit barred from nations for 1000 yrs.
4  Judgment by witnesses reigning with christ for 1000 yrs.
5a  Rest of dead [wicked] stay dead during 1000 yrs.
6  Those from 1st resurrection (holy ones) reign with Christ 1000 yrs.
3b  Satan then released for a short time. 5a  [Rest of dead live again after 1000 yrs.; 2nd resurrection] 7  Satan released after 1000 yrs. - 13a  Sea, death, and hades deliver dead for judgment. -
- - - 11  White throne; heaven and earth disappear - 21:1  New heaven and earth. First ones gone. No more sea
- - - - - 2  New Jerusalem comes down as bride
- - 8  Satan deceives and gathers nations
9a  They surround saints and city
- - -
- - - 12  Dead standing before God; books open; judged [again] 13b  Each judged by works 6  it is done. [Satan's claims seen to be false]
3b [end of Satan's short time] - 9b  Fire comes and devours them
10  Devil cast into lake of fire where beast & prophet are
- 14  Death and hades into lake of fire
15  anyone not found in the book cast into fire
8  Wicked in lake of fire; second death

A broad picture of the flow of final events leading to the thousand-year judgment and climaxing at its end
   A friend wrote with the idea that the view of Christ on the white horse showed the same event as the punishment of the wicked at the end of the thousand years. My response here helps pull all this together. It's important to stand back and see the broad strokes of how God will end the evil. I express ideas here without demonstrating them solidly in Scripture. That was done earlier. Our purpose is to trace across the tableau fast enough to get the larger picture.
    As we move from chapter 19 into chapter 20 we find ourselves at the beginning of the millennium. The judgment of the prostitute (chapter 18)  1701, 1824  is also the judgment of the bride (19:7, 8). They are, in a sense, the same group going into the judgment. The ten virgins decide which group they will be part of. The judged ones are those who claim to believe in their Saviour for salvation. The prostitute claimed to be the true bride. She was adorned, too 17:4, but had been unfaithful to her lover by committing adultery with the kings and having drunk the blood of the saints. (17:1-5). Her claim to be married to Christ while corrupt is seen in 18:7. At the beginning of 19, we find the joy of the righteous because the prostitute was found guilty and the true bride was found innocent having made herself ready (19:7). She was prepared during the same preadvent judgment time. Verse 9 is the marriage supper of the Lamb, in heaven. It is clear who will have (collectively) become the bride. In Jesus' story of the marriage of the king's son (Matt. 22) 10:7b, the guests have been inspected and those without the garment have been thrown out. The rest of the story is only implied: The marriage would be completed at the end of the inspection and the guests, untroubled by any who refused the garment of righteousness, would be ready to dine.
   After the judgment comes the punishment of the end-time wicked. This is the time of trouble of Dan. 12:1. Michael stands up from having been seated in judgment da1201. This punishment is pictured in Rev. 19:2. The symbols change at 19:11 and we see the punishment from a different angle 19:11. The wicked are slain by the sword in the mouth of Christ, the true witness. They have been unfaithful to God's requirements as expressed in His word. He is King of kings the kings the prostitute committed adultery with.
   Then beast and false prophet are thrown into the fire. 19:20. These are the religious systems. All the wicked people here are slain. The systems end at the time of the brightness of his coming (2 Thess. 2:8). They are cast into the lake of fire. This is the beginning of the millennium or thousand years. They stay there waiting to be judged at the end when their wicked supporters try to storm the holy city. No wicked people remain alive. The systems "death and Hades" go into the fire at the end when their work is done. Of course the wicked people go in, too.
   Back to Rev. 19: beast and prophet go to the flames and at the same time, in the flow of the text, the dragon gets chained up (alive) for a thousand years. These three were the coalition of evil working against God in the final struggle of evil 16:12-16. Of course one is the real dragon/devil and the other two are his puppet systems. All need to be understood as God reveals His justice. The dragon goes into the fire to join them in 20:10. Finally the originator of evil with his angels, the evil systems they have set up, and the evil people who have supported them are burned up. God creates a new heaven and a new earth.

Three judgments and their purpose
    Someone asked me to explain the difference between the preadvent judgment and the one around the great white throne. I pulled together the theme of all three for him and I'd like to share an edited version of it with you. In this we see a grand picture of our loving God.

   The judgment periods are not, at first, clear. Let's look at the broad picture to see what is happening.
   Since the time of war in heaven 1207a, Satan has claimed his way was better. God loves us and wants our lives to be in harmony with His marvelous plan of happiness expressed in His law. True love is free. He wants our faithfulness because we have chosen to give it. He could have destroyed Satan long ago but then someone could still wonder if God was right and the whole problem of sin could erupt again. By letting sin run its course and promising eternal life for those faithful unto death 0210, He is fair with everyone.
   The judgments are a process of examining people (and evil angels) so that all can know that God makes the right choices.
   Before He comes in glory, Christ will judge those who claim a place in heaven. Many will be found unfaithful and will be lost. When He comes, He will have his reward based on a fair judgment (Rev. 22:11,12 2211). The righteous angels and others in the universe will have opportunity during this judgment to see that His decisions are right. They will know that those who come with Christ are safe to bring into the purity of heaven ps02403.
   Then we who have been saved will become judges with Christ to examine the cases of the wicked, all of whom will then be dead on the earth, during the 1000 years. As a result, we will know that God is doing the right thing with the wicked. We will never look back and wonder why pastor x or friend y is not there.
   At the end of the 1000 years, is the judgment around the great white throne. At that point the wicked will have been raised and will try to take the New Jerusalem (holy city). Then before God almighty, they will see why they are not inside that city. They will see just how and why they are lost. Having made their hearts hard permanently, they will not repent but will bow to acknowledge the justice of God. Then they will be punished and destroyed.
   God will have achieved the great goal of restoring peace and happiness to the universe. None who would be unhappy in the holy atmosphere of heaven will be there. Those who have learned to love holiness will ever enjoy that beauty.
   This has been quick and I haven't shown verses at each point, but it's a picture you can take a closer look at. We serve a marvelous God and have a Saviour who died in our place to allow us to choose eternal happiness!

Your brother

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