When I was younger I played a lot of rugby and the team I follow, Castleford Tigers, were a bit of a yo-yo team for a few seasons. By this I mean that one year they were promoted, the next year relegated. This carried on for much of the mid-2000s and in 2007 they were cruising towards promotion as the season ended. The last game was away at Rochdale who, incidentally, had already been relegated.
So we had the league champions visiting the basement dwellers, both leaving the league next year; one via promotion and one via relegation. In rugby, unlike football (soccer), an unlikely result or upset is far less likely due to the physical nature of the game, and, as you may have guessed, the Tigers cantered to a 106-0 victory that day with my Dad and brother in attendance…can’t remember where I was. The point is, basically, the game was a foregone conclusion, over before it started as a contest.
Picture from the Manchester Evening News
Did that stop Rochdale turning up that day? No.
Did they approach the game with hope for a victory? Possibly.
Did the Rochdale fans still believe in their team and leaders? Yes.
Was the result ever in doubt? No.
We see the same here in Revelation 20.7-10,
7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
After a thousand years of a near-perfect environment, fallen mankind still rebels against God and His ways, and this is really a final demonstration of man’s rebellion and depravity. Satan is released and gathers a huge number of people (their number is like the sand of the sea), who go to surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city.
Then, it’s over before it starts, they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The fight never even gets going and the enemies of God are defeated (again), and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Again, no annihilation, in the original language forever and ever is literal…the torment and punishment is forever and ever.
So, if we listen to the deception of the devil, the slander of Satan, we will find ourselves on a team that may well believe it is heading for victory but that in reality has no chance of victory.
This won’t be like a game of rugby; over after 80 minutes and everybody is friends and shares a meal together to chat…the consequences of being on the wrong team here are egregious and eternal.
Which team do we want to be on?