Chain Gang From Hell

Title: Chain Gang From Hell

Bible Book: Revelation 20 : 1-3

Author: Johnny L. Sanders

Subject: Satan Judged; Satan Bound



I had been asked to teach a Bible study for the young people in a nearby church. I had known the pastor for a number of years, having gone through Mississippi College and New Orleans Seminary with him. Let me just call him Bill. Bill was an elderly man of, let’s say 28 - 30 when I met him. From the time I was a freshman at MC, I came to know a number of these older men (maybe even 35 or so), mostly veterans of World War II. They had gone into service to fight for their country immediately after high school - or as in many cases, dropped out of high school to fight for our freedom. I might add that until John Kerry came along I had never heard one brag about his heroism, his courage, or his sacrifices. Heroes simply do not brag.

I knew a number of men who had been saved, called into the ministry, finished their high school education and two years of college at Clarke Memorial College in Newton, MS, now a part of the Mississippi College system. There were several students at Mississippi College who seemed very conservative in their theology, but when they began seminary they came under the influence of a liberal professor and embraced his theology. My friend, I discovered to my dismay, was one of those men. I was scheduled to preach at the Sunday evening worship service and then teach young people Monday through Friday evenings. As we sat in his study before the Bible study before the service, Bill told me about the lady from his church who had come by his office and confided, “Brother Bill, I have begun to wonder if there really is a devil.” He said, “Shhhh, a lot of people have not discovered that yet.”

I recalled the time someone in our intensive in Revelation in seminary asked our professor, “Do you believe there really is a devil?” The professor, who had recently returned from London where he had studied under William Barclay for one year, explained that Satan was simply the personification of evil. I could hardly believe I was hearing that from a professor of New Testament in a seminary - but I will return to the professor in a moment.

I. SATAN IS BOUND, 20:1-2.

A. John Saw An Angel With a Chain in His Hand, 20:1.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand” (20:1).

It would be easy to miss something significant here. John received the Revelation while he was in exile on the Isle of Patmos for the cause of Jesus Christ, and while the last book in the Bible is usually called The Revelation of Saint John, it is in reality the revelation of Jesus Christ. It is also a revelation by Jesus Christ. We are introduced to his enemy, Satan, in the Garden of Eden as he tempts Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Unfortunately, many people who read this account miss the point and speculate about what kind of fruit it was rather than the significance and cost of disobedience to God. In Genesis Three, God announces that the serpent, Satan, would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, but her seed would crush his head. Satan, who was apparently one of a special rank of angels in heaven, led one-third of the angels in a revolt and was cast out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). He fell out of pride, the Scripture teaches. Satan hated God and everything God loves, but his main target has always been the one creation created in the image of God. He seeks to destroy man because he was not only created in the image of God, but because he is the object of God’s love, a love that motivated Him to send His only begotten Son to die on a cruel cross for our sins.

Genesis Three specifically tells us that the Seed of the woman, meaning Jesus, would crush the head of the serpent. At Calvary, Satan must have been convinced that he had crushed the head of the Son of God. Sunday morning had to have been a shock to him. The battle has raged ever since, as the old serpent writhes and strikes out against God and everything God loves. Throughout the Bible, and throughout the history of the church, the spiritual warfare between God and his bitter enemy. Satanic activity, I believe will increase as the time comes for the Lord to return for His church. Then during the Great Tribulation, he will be on a rampage of hate, deception, and destruction. He will use every tool at his disposal, including the beast and the false prophet. He takes over the world through the viciousness and cunning of the anti-Christ. Then Jesus will come, at the end of the seven years of tribulation, and defeat all enemies.

Now the time has come to deal with the devil. How will he do it? Will there be hand to hand combat between Jesus, the Lamb of God, and Satan, the old serpent? No. Jesus sends one of His angels to face the devil. Now, I ask you, how is that angel armed? With sword and shield? With bow and arrow? With a spear? No! Look again. He is armed with a chain with which he will chain Satan, and a key with which he will open the abyss, the bottomless pit. Jesus has won the war. All that remains for the angel is to chain the enemy, and that he will do with one hand tied behind him, the hand that holds the key to the abyss.

B. Satan Is Bound for One Thousand Years.

“He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years” (20:2).

1) The angel seized the dragon and bound him. The angel was given both the power and the authority to seize Satan and chain him. That old dragon, who has sought to destroy every person who has ever lived is bound by this angel. That old dragon is the bitter evil enemy of God, who in his pride rebelled against God, and in his arrogance met Jesus in the wilderness to try to derail God’s plan for our salvation. Now, he is helpless to do anything to prevent his being bound by one of the Lord’s angels.

2) Satan will be bound for one thousand years. Many people have wondered if this means a literal thousand years, or is it symbolic. Either way, it points to an extended, definite period, with a beginning point and an end. I will have more to say about this later.

3) Satan is called that “ancient serpent.” That brings back a lot of memories, beginning in Genesis Three. But, speaking of memories, do you remember that professor who denied the existence of Satan? He is the one I have mentioned earlier in this series. After hearing his statement I wrote to several well known pastors and asked them to comment on the existence of Satan. Let me now read you (for the second time in this series) one of the letters I received in response to my inquiry:

Dear Johnny,

I believe the Bible is the divinely inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God – without any taint of error, personal in application, regenerative in power, inspired in totality – the miracle Book of diversity in unity. of harmony in infinite complexity.

Therefore, I believe what it teaches about the devil, Satan, in Job 2.

I believe he was, and is, a Person – just as much as you are a person. I believe he has his wiles, his wisdom, his desires, his power, his angels, his ministers – as the Bible teaches.

I believe he is presumptuous (Job 1:6) and (Matt. 4:5-6) and proud (I Timothy 3:6) and powerful (Ephesians 2:2 and Ephesians 6:12) and wicked (I John 2:13). And malignant (Job 1:9 and Job 2:4), and subtle (Genesis 3:1 with 2 Cor. 3:11), and deceitful (II Cor. 11:4 and Ephesians 6:11), and fierce and cruel (Luke 8:29 and Luke 9:39-42 and I Peter 5:8).

I think the Devil is the one who started and keeps going the Modernist teaching and preaching and writing of our day – where some preachers and some teachers summon the Bible to appear at the bar of human reason and reduce the supernatural to ignorance and look upon the Bible miracles as legends and myths. Read II Thess. 2:9 and II Timothy 4:1)

I believe just what the Bible says in Jude – that the devil, Satan, will be condemned at the judgment along with the fallen angels. I believe that the doom of Satan is set forth just as Revelation 20:10 states.

I believe the temptations of Jesus were just as the Bible says – Jesus being assaulted by this fearful being who fell through pride (Isa. 14:12-14) – as even now the devil makes earth and air the scene of his tireless activity (Ephesians 2:2 and I Peter 5:8).

Just as Jesus was really the Son of God so Satan was really Satan – the Devil.

You can say this about the three temptations of Jesus:

1. The first temptation meant “SERVE yourself.”
2. The second temptation meant “Let GOD serve you.”
3. The third temptation means, “Let Me serve you.”

How glad we are that temptation never loosened a moral fiber in the being of Jesus.

I hope this will be of help to you.

Yours earnestly,

Robert G. Lee

I remember hearing both R. G. Lee and W. A. Criswell preach the same night in an evangelism conference in Clarksdale, Mississippi many years ago. I said a silent amen when Dr. Criswell said, “The best thing I can do for you is to stop and let the prince of preachers preach.” I had heard Dr. Lee many times and I knew what his position was - I just wanted to have it in black and white. By the way, Dr. Criswell wrote to me and said, “I have a busy schedule but I think it is sufficient to say that I believe what the Scripture says.” I am glad Dr. Lee took the time to write the letter I have just shared with you. Now, I would like to follow up on just a few things Dr. Lee wrote about Satan:

1) He is presumptuous (He came into the presence of God, Job 1:6 and tempted Jesus, Matt. 4:5-6.)
2) He is proud (I Timothy 3:6).
3) He is powerful (Ephesians 6:12: “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens).
4) He is wicked, or evil (I John 2:13).
5) He is malignant (Job 1:9 and Job 2:4).
6) He is subtle (Genesis 3:1 with 2 Cor. 3:11).
7) He is deceitful (II Cor. 11:4 and Ephesians 6:11).
8) He is fierce and cruel (Luke 8:29 and Luke 9:39-42 and I Peter 5:8: “Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour”).

As I mentioned earlier, my professor for the intensive in Revelation, who had earned two doctorates and studied under William Barclay for another year, denied the existence of a personal devil. Satan was simply the personification of evil. While seminary professors were denying his existence, Satan was getting traction on the streets of America. Anton LeVay was writing the Satanic Bible and founding the church of Satan. Witches covens were spreading across the country. More and more people were getting involved in various aspects of the occult - from fortune telling, to tarot cards, to Ouija boards, to horoscopes, America was turning more and more to satanic activities. There has been a shocking increase in satanic activity in the world in the last twenty five years. Some churches have entertained the devil and participated in occult practices, often without even being aware of it. Vicious terrorists blow themselves up in order to kill a Christian, a Jew, or simply a modernist. We have seen serial killers, pedophiles, and homosexual priests in the news, but that is not the only way Satan works. I would like to tell you about a young lady who caught up in Satan’s web of deceit and destruction. I will call her Janie. I never saw Janie, but her mother and sister told me about her.

First, her mother told me that she would like to talk with me about her daughter’s experience when she came under the influence of a witch they called Mammy. She proceeded to tell me a little bit about what they had gone through with Janie. She added that she wanted another daughter, I will call her Annie, to come to see me and tell me about their experience with Janie. Annie came to our home, and opened my eyes to a lifestyle of addiction to drugs, immorality. I had heard about orgies in California, but it would be a number of years before some of the things she described reached the Bible Belt.

I listened as this teen aged girl began spinning a tale of drugs and sex that I found all but unbelievable. As she talked and I listened, something was not adding up in my mind. Finally, I stopped her and said, “Wait a minute. Are you talking about your sister of yourself?” She said, “Myself. Mother doesn’t know about me.” She proceeded to tell me that she and a friend would get permission to spend the night with each other, and then go to the apartment of a young adult couple who supplied the drugs and the carburetor ignition spray which they sprayed into a paper bag and then inhaled to get high. What she described, I realized, were orgies. I will spare you the details, but it was really ugly.

She told me about other places they met and did drugs. Always, there were drugs and immorality. I asked, “How could you afford all those drugs?” She looked at me as though she couldn’t believe how naive I was, and said, “I’m a girl, I didn’t have to worry about money.” This young girl was living with a Christian mother. She was active in all the organizations of her church. She was controlled by the devil. She told me she ran away with a boy, got married, and then divorced. She added that she could help a lot of girls in our church, but their mothers did not want them to associate with her. She added, “And I don’t blame them. At the same time I could help them avoid some of the things I have done. A lot of them talk with me when they think they may be in trouble and I try to help them.”

As she talked, she mentioned several girls in the church, and a time or two she added, “She’s still a virgin.” I asked her how she knew that. She said, “the ones who are opening their Bibles and following you, and looking at you when you preach are virgins. The ones who are passing notes and showing pictures are not.”

I could hardly believe that Janie’s situation could have been any worse than Annie’s, but I was in an education that day. Janie was one of a number of girls Mammy controlled. She would bring these girls together with a number of boys in parties that involved sex for drugs. I never asked how the boys got the money or how Mammy got the money from them, but I am sure she was profiting from her parties. Janie’s family prayed, begged her to commit herself to the Lord, tried to get help from the church, and did everything they could think of to reach her. She would go into violent tirades against Annie, her mother, and others.

Finally, they persuaded her to go home with her mother’s nephew and his wife. He was a student in a Pentecostal college somewhere in Minnesota. During the months she was away, Mammy called regularly to check on Janie. She really wanted to know where she was. After several months, Janie called home and asked her mother to go into her room and take down all the occult paraphernalia, her Ouija board, black lights, and anything else that was associated with the devil. He mother told me that they took all the paper and cardboard pictures and symbols out to the burn barrel and began burning them. Everything burned except the Ouija board and it would not burn. They tried repeatedly, and finally she stopped and got her younger daughters to get on their knees and pray that God would destroy the Ouija board. The next time the tried it ignited and burned.

Janie came home after months, believing she was finally free from drugs and from Mammy. A few days later, they went to a neighboring city and while there they went to a well known cafeteria - I visited with Vance Havner and heard him as he spoke to pastors in the same cafeteria, so I knew the layout. Mid-way through their meal, Janie suddenly jerked, and looked around. He mother asked, what’s wrong?” Janie said, “Mammy is here!!!” She looked again, and knowing where they were sitting I realized that if Mammy had been in the cafeteria they could have seen her. She tried to reassure her daughter that Mammy was no were in sight, but Janie said, “Yes! She is. She’s here!” They went through this same exchange several time as the mother tried to reassure her daughter that she was safe and the daughter continued to tremble, almost in a state of panic.

The mother said, “I finally turned an looked toward the glass window at the front of the cafeteria just as Mammy walked along the sidewalk, coming from behind the brick wall into view. Janie could not have seen her but she knew she was there.” The mother prayed silently as Mammy came into the cafeteria, walked to the end of the line, chose her food, came to the front and paid. The mother then said, “She walked straight toward us and looked at us before passing right behind me - and she did not even recognize Janie. She had called over an over to try to find her, but now she did not even know her!” She had been delivered by the One who crushed the head of the serpent at Calvary.

Jesus delivered the death blow to Satan when He arose from the dead on that great Easter morning two thousands years ago. He is a defeated foe, but like the serpent with which he is identified, he is writhing and striking everything in sight. He is seeking to destroy every person created in the image of God. Satan is indeed alive and well on planet earth, and his evil attacks will intensify as the end draws near.


“He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time.”

A. The Angel Throws Satan into the Abyss.

As we have already seen, it was not Jesus Himself Who came and captured the devil and bound him. It is not Jesus Who will cast Satan into the great abyss, the bottomless pit. This is especially interesting because of a verse we find in Jude (vs. 9): “Yet Michael the archangel, when he was disputing with the Devil in a debate about Moses’ body, did not dare bring an abusive condemnation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” You had better believe that Satan is no one to trifle with now, but at that time, Jesus will send an angle to bind Satan and cast him into the abyss.

B. Satan Will No Longer Deceive the Nations for One Thousand Years.

According to this chapter, Jesus will send an angel to bind Satan and cast him into the abyss for one thousand years, during which time He will reign with the saint. The Scripture here say that He will reign for one thousand years on earth. Some accept this literally, others reject it in favor of one of two other positions.

There are three general approaches to this. Post-millennialists believe the thousand years represents the triumph of the Gospel during the period leading up to the return of Christ. A-millennialists, as their name would suggest, do not believe in a literal thousand year reign on earth. In general, A-millenialists believe the reign mentioned here is the reign of Jesus Christ in the hearts of believers. This is an oversimplification of the beliefs of both groups, but it gets us into the right ball park. We might also remind ourselves that all A-millennialists do not agree on every detail, any more than all Post-millenialists will agree on all details.

There is a third position, that of the Pre-millennialists, who simply interpret this chapter literally. Now, I would add here that some of the biggest nuts I have ever seen have been Pre-millennialists. However, if we interpret this literally, Jesus will send His angel to bind Satan and cast him into the abyss for one thousand years, during which time He will reign on earth with His saints. My purpose here is not to debate issues that have not been settled to everyone’s satisfaction since AD 96 when this was written. There is one thing I would add here. I know this book is filled with symbolism, metaphors, and imagery, and we do not interpret each image in a literal sense. For example, Jesus is represented as the Lamb of God, but we do not picture of tiny little four legged lamb when we think of Jesus. One scholar, the late Dr. Leo Eddleman, a brilliant biblical scholar and past president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, told me he would subscribed to the Pre-millennial position if you did not force him to accept a literal thousand year reign. He explained that it may well mean one thousand years, but if it refers simply to a long, definite period of time that would not disturb him.

We read here that at the end of the thousand year reign of Christ and confinement of Satan, the devil will be “released for a short time.” By this time, it would seem that Satan would have read the handwriting on the wall!

There is one more thing I would like for you to consider while we are on this verse. Did you pay close attention when I read that Satan “would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed.” Am I not justified in inferring from this statement that Satan has made a practice of deceiving nations? You may say, “But that refers to the seven year period we know as the Great Tribulation.” Let me assure you that whatever Satan will be doing during the Great Tribulation he is doing today, even if it is with less intensity - and a little less success. Satan is the great deceiver, he is the father of liars, he is murderer from the beginning, he is the bitter enemy of God and all God loves.

If Satan dominates nations today, he will most certainly dominate nations during the Great Tribulation. He, as prince of the world, dominated ancient nations and empires - Egypt, Syria, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. He has dominated more recent nations - Japan, Germany, and Italy of the WW II era, the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cambodia, Cuba, and various other Communist regimes. He dominated Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, as he dominated Afghanistan before the country was liberated from the oppressors. He dominates Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and North Korea, just to name a few. He has designs on western civilization. France boasts of its secular government, Germany has rejected God, and Great Briton sat by and watched as their country slipped into the post-Christian period in their nation’s history in 1895 (according to Francis Shaeffer). That happened in America in 1935, ten years after the famous, or infamous Scopes Trial in Dayton, TN in 1925.

How has Satan deceived the nations? We could list many methods and various factors, but may I just mention one: Religion. Satan is the master and designer of all the religions of the world. His approach in ancient Judah was two-fold: worship of false gods, and false worship of the true God. Worship of false gods is going on in the world today, with Islam being the most notable example. False worship of the true God is seen everywhere - churches ordaining homosexuals to the ministry, refusing to take a stand on moral issues like homosexuality and abortion, and compromising with the world in other areas. There can be no better example that evolution. Charles Krauthammer stated emphatically on Fox this past week (2005) that evolution is science, creation is faith. Evolution would be hard pressed to find a more articulate spokesman, but he is dead wrong. He said that you can prove evolution in the lab, through experiments but you must accept creation through faith. The simple fact is that you can prove neither evolution nor creation in a test tube, under a microscope, or in a cage. You cannot “recreate” creation in order to observe it. You must examine the evidence and see which position the evidence supports. The first and second laws of Thermodynamics illustrate the absurdity of evolution. Duane Gish, a Paleontologist, has often debated evolutionists, stressing that the fossil record destroys the theory, and theory is all it is. In spite of all that, Satan is still deceiving America. Let me stress this: if you want to sell a nation on homosexuality, embryonic stem cell research, or abortion, sell them first on evolution. Why? It is as simple as this: If you do not have God at the beginning you do not have God at the end. If He is not the Creator, there is no need for a Savior, and there will be not Judge at the end. I thank God for the assurance that Satan’s mastery of nations will come to an abrupt end!


Let me encourage you to remember the purpose I stated for this series from the beginning. In 1:3 we are promised a blessing if we read this prophecy (or hear it read). Where is our blessing? Is it in winning a debate over end-time events? Is it in believing we have inside information as end-time events unfold? I believe it goes beyond that.

What we learn here is that Satan is the bitter enemy of God, and because of his hatred for God he will seek to destroy everything God loves. If we need proof, and I don’t believe you will demand it, look at the Garden of Eden, the Flood of Noah’s day, the Egyptian blessing that became a curse, the blessing of the Exodus that became the curse of the Wilderness. Look at the blessings of Canaan that became a curse of defeat and misery every time the people rejected God and turned to idolatry Look at Chosen People at the time Jesus came the first time. Sophisticated, scholarly reprobates led the people in worship in the most splendid temple in the world. Satan controlled religious leaders had converted God’s holy temple into a den of thieves.

Satan is still the prince of this world. Individuals and world powers bow before him and do his bidding. Anyone who is a slave to Satan is totally helpless. Escape from Satan’s snare is no more possible than escape from Egypt by the enslaved Israelites. Satan wants us to believe that escape is impossible. Of course, what he wants more than that is to have people believe that he either does not exist, or that his existence has nothing to do with them.

I have good news. Satan’s doom was fixed over six thousand years ago in the Garden of Eden. His defeat was accomplished two thousand years ago at Calvary. Some time in what I believe will be the near future, he will be captured, bound, and cast into the bottomless pit for one thousand years, only to be released to face a worse fate.

All those who reject Jesus Christ are servants of Satan and will share in his fate. They are as helpless to escape as those ancient Israelites in Egypt, but, as God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel, He has sent His Son to deliver us from the clutches of Satan, sin, and death. The Israelites were delivered from slavery in Egypt by the mighty hand of God. If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, you and I were delivered from slavery to sin and death when we placed our trust in Jesus Christ. If you have never been born again, let me stress the fact that there is an urgency about this matter. Today is the day of salvation, this is the accepted time.

For 40 years I have tried to be a witness to a man who has been my friend most of that time. I was his mother’s pastor for 13 years and she loved her pastor, and because she loved her pastor all her children and grandchildren respected me and many of them loved me. I have seen many members of that family come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord. There has been one exception. My friend. I have preached to him many times. I have seen him at funerals for family members, including services for his godly mother. My friend has always conducted himself with dignity and respect, but sadly, though a number of family members who lived very ungodly lives came to repent and call on the Lord for salvation, my friend has never placed his faith in Jesus Christ. I talk with him with all the love and compassion within me and he smiles and thanks me for my concern, “I know I ought to do it but I just never have. I might do it some day.” This very day, he thanked me, smiled and assured me that he appreciates my interest and suggests that he still may do it. He hugged me and thanked me. I urged him not to wait too long. Sadly, he may have waited too long! He may actually be one of those of whom Jesus spoke - those who having ears cannot hear and having eyes cannot see. He may be spiritually blind. There is something else that breaks my heart: When he stands before the Lord and hears Him say, “Depart from me, you worker of iniquity, for I never knew you,” His mother is going to say Amen. His sister who served the Lord all her life, will say, Amen. And I will agree. Amen! There is no place in heaven for one who rejects Jesus Christ. There is no place in heaven for one who looks the Creator in the face and says I don’t want you or your son. That leaves me sad today, but we will only praise our Lord when we are glorified.

God is in control. In His love He offers His great salvation. Those who reject His love will stand before a holy and righteous Judge and hear him pronounce, “Depart from me, for I have never known you.” Which is it going to be? Slavery to sin and death, or deliverance and life? God has given His only begotten Son to suffer and die for you. Don’t take that lightly. He doesn’t.

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