Chapter 12: The Thousand Years are Finished
At this point, the devil, symbolic of all evil, comes to an end. We read: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” (v. 10). The “lake of fire” is a symbolic term, defined in verse 14 as “the second death,” a death that is penalty for sin and from which there is no release. Satan has been bound a thousand years at this time, then loosed for a “little season”; now he is flung into the lake of fire; this is the end of evil.
Already in the lake of fire is “the beast” and the “false prophet” (v. 10). This indicates that all powers of darkness and all false systems are also at an end. The final hour has come.
How long will their fate continue? They “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (v. 10).
Does this mean they will writhe in agony and pain and misery through all eternity? Is such the end God has promised those who disobey Him? Never! Jesus said long ago that the “broad way,” the way of sin and self-indulgence, leads to “destruction,” not torment (Matt. 7:13-14). And the apostle Paul says the “wages of sin is death,” not eternal suffering and misery (Rom. 6:23).
But there will be torment—mental anguish—as Jesus revealed at the close of one of His parables. It will be torment enough to “see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God” and they themselves eternally outside (Luke 13:28). It will be mental torment as long as their life extends, but not beyond.
How is this, when “they shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever”? However long this verse sounds, it speaks only of the finality of their doom. The torment lasts only as long as “day and night,” and day and night does not last forever, for with the dawn of the eternal Day shall come the end of night: “There shall be no night there.” With the dawn of the Eternal Day, the punishment and consciousness of the wicked shall end, and night shall end, and all shall be bliss and glory, light and life forever!