Pastor David B. Curtis


Media #1076 MP3 Audio File Video File

The Millennium & The Second Exodus

Robert Cruickshank Jr

Delivered 8/08/21


Back in May, I shared a message wherein I attempted to make the case that Revelation twenty's enclosure, within the bookend time texts of Revelation, means that the "thousand years" cannot possibly be literal, let alone symbolic of an even longer period of time. This being so, I proposed that the phrase, "a thousand years," must be hyperbole for a much shorter period of time. Since numeric hyperbole is a common rhetorical device, used throughout the Bible to glorify Yahweh and magnify the accomplishments of His people, there would be nothing at all unusual about understanding the "thousand years" in this way. Thus, we can easily harmonize the "thousand years," of chapter 20, with the language used elsewhere in Revelation indicating the immediate future, terms such as: "near," "shortly," "quickly," "at hand," etc. There is no conflict if in fact john is simply doing what Biblical writers often do –using hyperbole.

Since the "thousand years" begins with the binding of Satan and ends with a "war," it would seem that the "thousand years" is hyperbole, specifically, for the 40-year period beginning with Yehsua's binding of the strongman, in AD 26, and extending to the outbreak of the Roman-Jewish war, in AD 66. This simple and straightforward approach accounts for, both, the time texts of Revelation and the endpoints of the Millennium, at the same time. It's derived from the text, and the text alone, and reaches out to find historical circumstances that fit the text, as well as biblically used literary devices, such as hyperbole, that make sense of the language of the text.

And this is how we should want to approach it. Our goal should not be to impose concepts and ideas upon Revelation 20, like a huge weight, that are just absent in the passage. For example, the popular idea today that animal sacrifices will be reinstituted during the Millennium.[1]  You won't find that in Revelation 20. That's the sort of thing we want to avoid.

That being said, if this 40-year idea really is a textually-driven approach, we should expect that there would be something, within the text of Revelation 20 itself, that would point the reader in the direction to think in terms a 40-year period. And that is the question I'd like to focus our attention on this morning. Is there anything, within the text itself, that would tip the reader off to the idea that the "thousand years" is, not only hyperbole, but hyperbole for a 40-year period specifically? In other words: does the idea of 40 years flow freely from the text itself?

Well, if I mentioned the word "Exodus," would that tend to get you thinking in terms of "40 years?" The answer is rather obvious, the Exodus lasted 40 years. So yes.

But you might say: "Isn't this also imposing a huge weight on the text with a concept that isn't there?" "We don't exactly see the word 'EXODUS' jumping off the pages when we read Revelation chapter 20!" While this is true enough in and of itself, the chapter is literally saturated with Exodus imagery that we don't see because we're reading it through modern lenses. We need to put our "ancient glasses" on, so to speak.

It's important to remember, there is a 2,000-year disconnect between us today, and John's original audience back then. Revelation 20 is loaded with words and phrases that are meant to get the readers' minds thinking in terms of the Exodus, and we need to place ourselves in the position of John's first-century, target audience if we're going see this.  

John footnotes several references to Egypt in general, and the Original Exodus in particular, in order to telegraph the idea that what he is describing, in this chapter, is nothing less than the Second Exodus – the New, Greater and Final Exodus inaugurated by Yeshua Himself.  And his first-century readers would have picked up on these footnotes immediately.

John's Footnotes

And I use the word "footnotes" intentionally here. Today, if a writer wants to call the reader's attention to another piece of literature, or a particular theme, idea or motif, what does he or she do? The writer will put it in a footnote. Or, if it's a particular passage of Scripture we want to reference, we typically put it in parentheses: title, chapter and verse." For example: I'm speaking this morning on "Revelation 20:1-10." That's how we reference it, and everyone knows exactly where to go in their Bible to find it.

The New Testament writers didn't have either of these luxuries. Chapter and verse divisions weren't added to the Bible until the 13th century, and footnotes weren't even invented until the 16th century. The only ways in which the New Testament writers could clue their readers in to the Old Testament passages they were drawing on was by either alluding to those passages, lifting phrases from them, or by direct quotation of small portions of those passages.

And just like us today, when the New Testament writers reference an Old Testament passage, they want their readers to go back to that passage, and the context of that passage, in order to illuminate what they are saying. Their methodology was different because they didn't have chapter and verse divisions to reference or the ability to insert a footnote. But their intent is the same – they're expecting their readers to connect the dots. And if we miss the dots that they want us to connect, we're not going to see the picture they're creating in its entirety.

As Barbara Isbell comments: There are certain "key texts upon which John relied heavily…If we are not familiar with the grand themes of books like Exodus," and the Prophets, "our ears will be deaf to the subtleties of John's masterful composition, and much of the book's message will be lost to us."[2] In other words, these are things that are just invisible to us in the text if we miss John's verbal clues.

Similarly, Elisabeth  Fiorenza comments: "Revelation, therefore, must be read and contemplated as a symphony of images if one wants to experience the book's full emotional impact."[3]  I think her symphony analogy is brilliant.  As many scholars point out, the book of Revelation was originally meant to be read aloud and heard by its audience.[4] And just like a symphony, the book of Revelation is a "work of art," a masterpiece in fact, and we need to "approach it" as such.[5]  "If one seeks to appreciate a symphony," writes Fiorenza, "one must listen to the whole work in order to grasp the full impact of its total composition – its tonal colors, musical forms, motifs, and relationships."[6]

Having said that, you can listen to Bach played only on a harmonica if you want. You'll certainly get the basic tune, but you'll miss pretty much everything else. And the way in which most today approach Revelation 20 is like listening to Bach being played only on a harmonica. Everyone gets the basic structure/the basic tune: Satan, the Dragon, is bound in the Abyss for a thousand years. The Saints reign with Christ during this time. After that, Satan is briefly released and then thrown into the Lake of Fire. That's the skeleton outline.

But the rich imagery John is using here is so much more than words filling up space on a page in a book. They are dots waiting to be connected to events deep in the past, in order create a picture of the present, for John and his readers. And that picture is a picture that is rich with images of Egypt and the first Exodus. All of these images: the Dragon, the binding, the abyss, the Saints reigning as priests, the Lake of Fire and, when we get to chapter 21, the phrase "no more sea," these are all intended to link back to Egypt and the first Exodus, in order to covey the idea that John and his readers were leaving spiritual Egypt and experiencing the Final Exodus.

The Biblical Writers were communicating things in a different way than we do today. They were communicating these things in the only way they could at the time. When we pick up the Bible, we are entering their world and their time. We must "look for their footnotes," so to speak. Every single world, every additional detail, and every subtle nuance was rich with images meant to ring bells in the mind of the reader.

Dragon Imagery in Revelation

With that in mind, John is "ringing bells" rather loudly here in Revelation 20, the sound of which is meant to echo the footsteps of the Israelites leaving Egypt in order to, again, signal that he has the New Exodus in mind in this chapter. And the first of these bells is his description of Satan as a "dragon" in verse 2.

In Revelation 20:2, John uses four terms in reference to the great adversary of God's people. He uses two animal names: dragon and serpent, and two titles: Satan and Devil. These aren't merely random terms meant to fill up space in a redundant manner. Each one is significant, and it is highly significant that he leads off with the term, "dragon."

The Dragon Introduced in Chapter 12

This word, "dragon," δράκων (drakōn), is used 13 times in the New Testament, with all the usages occurring exclusively, by John, in the book of Revelation. It is John's "most common" way of referring to the opponent of God's People in the book of Revelation."[7]

By the time we get to chapter 20, John has already introduced the dragon imagery back in Chapter 12 and used it extensively. Do you think John wants his readers to simply forget what he has previously said about the dragon and the way in which he introduces the imagery, or is it more reasonable to assume that he expects the reader to import this information into chapter 20? The answer seems rather obvious. But, again, he didn't have the ability to insert a footnote saying: "See chapter 12." Again, there were no footnotes, there were no chapter and verse divisions. If he wants his readers to import the information from chapter 12 into chapter 20, the only thing he can do is give them a dot to connect. In this case, that "dot" is the word "dragon."

With this in mind, it is widely recognized that "Revelation 12 is primarily understood through the exodus motif," as David S. Gifford puts it. [8] Or, as G.K Beale says: Revelation 12 is a "replay of the Exodus pattern." [9]  This is almost impossible to miss.

1. In that chapter, a great sign appears in the sky: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon at her feet, having a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1). The imagery pulls us all the way back to Genesis 37, where the sun, moon and eleven stars represent Jacob, his wife, and eleven of the 12 tribes of Israel, who bow down to Joseph, representing the twelfth tribe (Gen. 37:9).[10] Joseph's vision here was about his prominence in Egypt– he brings his family there, and these events precipitate what ultimately leads to the Israelites' Exodus from Egypt.

2. In verse 6, the woman flees to the wilderness, to a place prepared by God, where she is nourished for 1260 days. This calls to mind the Israelites being nourished by manna in their wilderness wanderings. As Barbara Isbell comments: "The Exodus imagery in this verse alone is striking—God's faithful people, the Israelites, fled the evil dragon Pharaoh into the wilderness, the place appointed by God (see Exod. 3:18; 13:17-18). While there, Yahweh provided for their every need, turning bitter water to sweet, bringing forth water from the rock, providing manna and even quail when bread alone did not satisfy, and of course, protecting them from their enemies. Similarly, the wilderness in Revelation 12 is a place of refuge, of dependence upon God. John is in harmony here with the OT prophets, who portrayed Israel's eschatological return from captivity in terms of a new Exodus (e.g., Isa 32:15; 35:1; 40:3; 41:18; 43:19-20; 51:3; Jer 31:2; Ezek 34:25; Hosea 2:14-15 [16-17 LXX]), a time when Yahweh would again protect and nourish them in the wilderness."[11]

3.  Verse 14 says that her flight to the wilderness was accomplished "on the two wings of the great eagle." This would have undoubtedly called his readers' minds to Exodus 19:1-4, when the fleeing Israelites "came into the wilderness of Saini" (verse 1), and Yahweh says to them: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself" (verse 4).[12]  

4. In Revelation 12:9-11, there is a "war in heaven" (vs. 7), and Satan is Satan is cast down to the earth (vs. 9), and a loud voice is heard in heaven celebrating this casting down. David S. Gifford notes how this "expressly echoes the Song of Moses and Miriam (Ex 15). After the Lord drowned Egypt's army in the Red Sea, dancing and tambourines spontaneously broke out: 'I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea'" (vv. 1, 20)."[13] 

5. Gifford also points out that, even the very idea of a "war in heaven" itself, takes us back to the Original Exodus. In Exodus 12:2, Yahweh's killing of the first born is said to be a "judgment" against "all the gods of Egypt." So, in both Revelation 12 and the First Exodus, there is interplay between the divine and earthly realm.[14]

Egyptian Imagery of The Dragon

So, the Exodus imagery that undergirds chapter 12 is just unmistakable, and it is within the context of this Exodus imagery that John introduces his readers to the dragon, calling him the "great dragon" (Rev. 12:3, 9).  As G.K. Beale points out, this title is meant to highlight the dragon's "Egyptian character."[15] "How so?" you might ask. How can Beale get the idea of "Egyptian character" out of the words, "the great dragon?" Well, Beale took the time to look up John's "footnote!" And that footnote would be Ezekiel 29:3.

Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his streams, that says, 'My Nile is my own; I made it for myself' (Ezekiel 29:3 ESV).

Now, that's the ESV translation, and the ESV is tracking on the Septuagint version of this verse.[16] The Septuagint is the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament, written during the intertestamental period, between Malachi and Matthew.  Beale notes that, "among all the Old Testament Sea monster texts," and there are a lot of them, it is only in the Septuagint of Ezekiel 29:3 that "this title is found."[17] And, in this passage, this title, "the great dragon," is a direct and unequivocal reference to the Egyptian Pharaoh.

In Ezekiel 32:2, the prophet again takes up this pharaoh/dragon connection:

Son of man, raise a lamentation over Pharaoh king of Egypt and say to him: "You consider yourself a lion of the nations, but you are like a dragon in the seas; you burst forth in your rivers, trouble the waters with your feet, and foul their rivers (Ezekiel 32:2 ESV).

And Ezekiel isn't the only Old Testament prophet John is tracking on. While Isaiah doesn't use the specific title, "the great dragon," he does pick up on this Egyptian Dragon idea. In Isaiah 30:7, the prophet says: "Egypt's help is worthless and empty; therefore I have called her Rahab…" (Isa. 30:7). Rahab is among the many terms in the Old Testament used to express the dragon imagery.[18] In Isaiah 51:9-10, Isaiah uses both terms, dragon and Rahab, in conjunction with the Exodus. This is a common theme in the prophets. As Meredith Kline stated: "Use of the dragon-conflict pattern for the Exodus history in poetic portions of the Bible is well known."[19]

So, John was very particular in his wording here. He's coloring his language in such a way that his target audience, first-century believers who are familiar with this stuff, can make the conceptual connection between the dragon imagery and the Egyptian Pharoah.

The Color Red in ancient Egypt

And he's quite literally "coloring" his language here. In Revelation 12:3, the verse John uses to introduce the dragon imagery in Revelation, he uses the wording, "a great red dragon." Beale notes that the dragon's very color itself, "red," was meant (in part) as further visual imagery drawing John's readers back to Egypt.[20] How so?

Well first, contrary to popular belief of our day, the Great Red Dragon is not the Corona virus, created in a lab, in Red China.[21]  This would have meant nothing to John's original audience, but the color red did mean something to them. Only it would have connected their thoughts, not to modern day China, but to ancient Egypt.

As David Aune notes, the evil Egyptian god Seth, known in Greek mythology as Typhon and represented variously as a snake, a crocodile and a dragon, was said have been red in color.[22]  "The negative 'Sethian' associations of the color red are well known,"[23] according to Egyptologist Robert K. Ritner.  He adds that red was also the "customary color" of other "demonic figures" as well, such as Apophis, the enemy of Egypt's supreme god, Ra.[24] According to Ritner, the color red had "hostile overtones"[25] and Egyptian "underworld demons" are even described as "the red ones."[26] In Egyptian literature, "red is the preferred color of ink used to write the names of such demons and enemies."[27]

Geraldine Pinch, another leading expert in ancient Egyptian studies concurs. Pinch writes: "The color red was associated with chaos and evil. Doing 'red things' meant to do evil" and "the names and images of chaotic forces such as Seth or Apophis are often drawn in red, while the rest of the text is in black…"[28]

This is because the color black, in contrast, had very positive associations,[29] and there is even ancient Egyptian artwork showing red snakes and serpents (symbols of chaos and evil) being pierced with black knives.[30]  Considering the negative connotations of the color "red" in the Egyptian mindset, it is ironically quite fitting then that Pharaoh and his armies should drown in a place called "the Red Sea."[31]  

Putting all of this together, Stephen Hre Koi notes how obvious the connection would have been to John's original audience. Koi writes: "When John introduced the appearance of the Dragon in heaven, he significantly added the word 'red'-it is the 'great red Dragon'" …. "Because of the long tradition in the Jewish community, readers would immediately understand God's impending overthrow of the Dragon as soon as John mentions the great red Dragon. This is a subtle way of using a symbol but clear enough for sensitive readers or listeners to understand."[32] Koi continues: "John is presenting images and symbols creating an 'Exodus' environment for the Asian Christians…similar to the time of Moses."[33] In other words, A nuance like this was not going to be lost on John's original audience, like it is on us today.

Thus, we can read terms like "the great dragon," and "a great red dragon" but, if we don't take the time to connect the dots that John expects his readers to connect, if we don't take the time to look up his footnotes, we're listening to Bach being played only on the harmonica. We get the basic tune, but we miss the full impact of what's going on in the passage. There are layers of meaning in this imagery that are just lost to us today.

And we made the point earlier that its rather obvious that John would expect his readers to import the information about "the dragon," from Revelation 12 where he introduces the imagery, into his final usage of the term in Revelation 20. It would seem somewhat absurd that to think otherwise. He's not rebooting the imagery everytime he mentions it.

That being said then, when John uses the word "dragon" to describe Satan, he's expecting lights to go off in his readers' heads – lights that will illuminate the fact that he has the Second Exodus in mind. He does this by drawing their thoughts back to Egypt, back to Pharoah and back to the First Exodus.

Now, that's not to say that Satan was Pharoah or Pharoah was Satan. But that is to say that Satan was the dark force (the "power of Chaos," if you will) behind Pharoah's actions.[34]And, just like Satan needed to be bound before God's People could make the Exodus the first time, so he needed to be bound once again before the Second Exodus could commence.

The Binding of Satan/Mastema

"Wait a minute," you say, "when was Satan bound before the First Exodus from Egypt?" A first-century reader would not have asked this question. Again, there is a 2,000 year disconnect between us today, and John's original audience back then. If you're a first-century Christian, Revelation 20 is not going to be the first time you've read about the "binding" and "imprisonment" of an evil being. You would have read about it before, in Jubilees 48:15-16:

"And on the fourteenth day and on the fifteenth and on the sixteenth and on the seventeenth and on the eighteenth the prince Mastêmâ was bound and imprisoned behind the children of Israel that he might not accuse them. And on the nineteenth we let them loose that they might help the Egyptians and pursue the children of Israel" (Jubilees 48:15-16).

So, in the Book of Jubilees, there is a "binding" of an evil being, "Prince Mastema," and it happens in conjunction with the First Exodus.

Book of Jubilees Utilized in the New Testament

Jubilees is part of the Pseudepigrapha. Books that were written during the 2nd Temple Period. Specifically, Jubilees was written during the intertestamental phase, the time span that bridges the gap between Malachi and Matthew. Jubilees is a retelling of the events in Genesis and Exodus, and it provides additional information not contained in those books, like the binding of Mastema at the time of the Exodus.

Our first instinct is probably to discount this additional material as fictitious and assume the New Testament writers would have done so as well. But we shouldn't be so quick in this assumption.

Take for example, Stephen in Acts chapter 7. In this chapter, Stephen is recounting Israel's history, and he makes this statement in verses 13-17: 

"On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph's family was disclosed to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem" (Acts 7:13-16).

We know, from Genesis 50:13, that Jacob was buried in the cave purchased by Abraham, but that's all it says.  Genesis 50 doesn't mention anything about any of his relatives being buried there also. And you'll search the book of Genesis in vain, trying to find out where Stephen got his information.  That's because Stephen wasn't using the traditional Genesis text here, he's using the book of Jubilees. Jubilees 46:9 states:

"And the king of Egypt went forth to war with the king of Canaan in the forty-seventh jubilee, in the second week in the second year, and the children of Israel brought forth all the bones of the children of Jacob, except the bones of Joseph, and they buried them in the field in the double cave in the mountain" (Jub. 46:9).

This is just one example among many, but it makes the point. Stephen, who was "full of the Holy Spirit" at this time (according to Acts 7:55) was not only familiar with the Book of Jubilees, but he accepted it and utilized material from it.

Father Stephen De Young, of Ancient Faith Ministries, has an excellent online article, simply titled, "The Book of Jubilees," on The Whole Council Blog.[35] De Young demonstrates how Jubilees is referenced in some of the writings of Peter and Paul, and even by Jesus Himself in the Gospels. And he shows how far-removed we are from the first generation of Christians who allowed Second Temple literature, like the book of Jubilees, to shape their thinking and inform their understanding.  As Kristofer Carlson says: "…this does not mean that Jubilees is scripture, but it does indicate that early Christians found it useful enough to use as source material for their writings."[36]

With this in mind, the Similarities between Jubilees 48:15-16 and Revelation, 20 are just unmistakable.  In both places, there is the binding and loosing of an evil being, followed by an attack on God's People. In Jubilees, the name of this evil being is "Prince Mastema."

Identifying Mastema

According to DDD, The Dictionary of Demons and Deities in the Bible, "Mastema" is "a noun meaning 'hostility'," and it's used that way in Hosea 9:7-8.[37] In later literature, the word takes on the meaning of the "Angel of Hostility" and, in the Qumran scrolls, the word is mostly connected with the evil angel, Belial.[38] In Jubilees, Mastema is always used as the proper name for the leader of the evil angels.[39]  

According to Michael Heiser, the word "Mastema" itself is even "linguistically related" to the Hebrew "ha-satan,"[40] or Satan.  Mastema is the "prince of the demons"[41] and, in the context of Jubilees 10:11, he is implicitly "identified with Satan."[42] In Jubilees, "The demons do everything Mastema tells them, so that he is able to exercise the authority of his will among mankind to punish them…"[43] In short, Mastema is the figure we know, in the New Testament, as Satan.

These things being the case, John's mention of Satan being bound (Rev. 20:2) would have certainly taken his readers back to Jubilees 48 and the binding of Mastema, or Satan, at the time of the original Exodus. If Mastema, or Satan is going to be "bound" again, this would undoubtedly signal to John's readers that a New Exodus was taking place. And this is the key takeaway here.

Biblical scholar Laurie Guy unpacks all of this for us and makes the connection between the Millennium and the new Exodus: "Exodus-Satan type connections predated Revelation by a couple of centuries at least. This is evident in the Book of Jubilees, within which the exodus story is 'thickened' by the story of a Satan-type figure, 'Prince Mastema,' who is the shadowy force behind the Egyptian actions. Mastema is both 'bound' for several days so that the Israelites can successfully despoil the Egyptians of their goods, and then 'released' to assist the Egyptians to pursue the Israelites, prior to the Egyptians (and apparently also Mastema – the language is ambiguous) being thrown 'into the middle of the sea into the depths of the abyss.'"[44] Guy continues: "…the millennium has a deep connection with events that have already taken place," and concludes by stating, "the Exodus thus seems to be a template for the Revelation 20 storyline…"[45]

Guy's observations are spot on, and John's readers would have picked up on the fact that Satan's binding inaugurated the New and Final Exodus. And this binding, or overpowering of Satan, in conjunction with the New Exodus, is in perfect keeping with what other New Testament writers were telegraphing to their readers.

The Finger of God

For example, the connection between the New Exodus, and Yeshua's overpowering of Satan, is made abundantly clear when the Pharisees accuse him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons. We're all familiar with the story, Yeshua responds to the charge, by stating: "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself, how then shall his kingdom stand?" (Matt. 12:26 and Luke 11:18).

Matthew says Yehsua must "bind" the strongman first (Matt. 12:29), and Luke says He must "overpower" him (Luke 11:22), so the terms are interchangeable. Matthew's language about "binding" would take the readers' minds back to Jubilees 48 and the binding of Mastema, so the Exodus connection is made there. But how does Luke do it? Does he make the connection?

Indeed, he does.

In Matthew's version of the account, Yeshua says: "But if I cast out demons by the spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Matthew 12:28).

Luke's wording is exactly the same, with one minor, or perhaps major, difference.  In Luke's version, Yeshua says: "But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you" (Luke 11:20).  Luke replaces the word "spirit" with the word "finger," and this seemingly subtle change is his explicit own way of linking Yeshua's overpowering of Satan with the Exodus idea.

The "finger of God" is an idiom meant to take his readers' minds all the way back to Egypt and the Original Exodus. In Exodus 8:19, after Pharoah's magicians couldn't duplicate the miracles performed by Aaron, "the magicians said to Pharaoh, 'This is the finger of God.'"

As Samuel (Shmuel) Rausnitz writes:  "When Jesus describes his power over the δαιμόνια as ἐν δακτύλῳ θεοῦ, he recalls, like the Legion pericope, imagery from the Exodus narrative."[46]

As Craig A. Evans points out: "By declaring that his ability to cast out evil spirits is 'by the finger of God,' Jesus has alluded to the confession of Pharaoh's magicians: 'This is the finger of God' (Exod. 8:19)… Jesus' use of the words, 'finger of God,' rather than some other equivalent, such as 'power of God'… in the context of being accused of being in league with Satan, leads me to believe that Jesus intentionally alluded to the story of Moses and the magicians in Exodus 7–8…If his power is 'by the finger of God,' then Jesus stands in the company of Moses and Aaron…"[47] 

Darrell Bock concurs. He writes: "The allusion to the finger of God points to a formative era like the exodus, since the allusion is to Exodus 8:19."[48] The "formative era like the Exodus" would be the New and Greater Exodus that Yeshua was inaugurating.

Similarly, Graham H. Twelftree writes: "…in using 'finger of God,' Luke wanted to bring out a parallel between the miracles by which God released Israel from bondage and the miracle by which God, in Jesus, also released people from the bondage of Satan."[49]

Yeshua's casting out of Demons, by "the finger of God," means He has in fact bound the strongman, just as Mastema was bound before the First Exodus, and the long-awaited New Exodus had finally begun! The binding and overpowering of Satan has its roots in the book of Jubilees, and this links John's language to the Exodus traditions, in company with both Matthew and Luke.

The Abyss

So, two of the terms John uses so far, "dragon" and "bound," can be linked back to Egypt and/or the Exodus. What about the place or realm where Satan is bound, "the Abyss," is there an Exodus connection there? According to Laurie Guy, there definitely is.

"Further Exodus–Revelation 20 linkage occurs," writes Guy, "with Satan being cast into the 'abyss.'"[50]  Many people miss the connection that Guy so astutely makes here. The very place where Pharaoh and his armies drowned is conceptually connected to the realm where Satan is bound.  We've already looked at Isaiah 51:9-10, but let's look at it once more:

Was it not You who cut Rahab in pieces,
Who pierced the dragon? (Again, notice the dragon language  in conjunction with the Exodus, then Isaiah says)
Was it not You who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep (Heb. – Tehom;  Gk (LXX) – Abyss).
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?  (Isa. 51:9b-10).

The word translated "great deep," in the ESV, is "Abyss." The same word John uses in Revelation 20.

We see the same thing going on in Psalm 77:

You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16 When the waters saw you, O God,
when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
indeed, the deep (Abyss) trembled…

…19 Your way was through the sea,
your path through the great waters;
yet your footprints were unseen.
20 You led your people like a flock
by the hand of Moses and Aaron (Psalm 77:15-16, 19-20).

Commenting on this, Laurie Guy says: "Clearly Psalm 77 connects the 'abyss' with the Exodus and…the Red Sea deliverance." And "this linkage is patent" and self-evident "in Psalm 106:9,"[51] which reads:

He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry,
and he led them through the deep (the Abyss) as through a desert (Psalm 106:9).

"Hence," continues guy, "references in Revelation 20 to the 'dragon' and to the 'abyss' significantly call the Exodus event to mind."[52] As the dragon Pharaoh drown in the Abyss, allowing the Israelites to make the First Exodus, the dragon Satan is trapped in the Abyss, enabling the New Israel (God's People from all nations) to make the Final Exodus.

Reign of the Saints (Revelation 20:6)

The next dot to connect is almost impossible to miss. Just as those who made the First Exodus where to be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6), and so those Saints who rule and reign with Christ during the Millennium are called "priests of God" (Rev. 20:6). This connection to the Exodus is less subtle to our eyes than the previous ones, and almost everyone gets it.

For example, in his dissertation, EXODUS TYPOLOGY IN THE BOOK OF REVLEATION, …Jay Smith Casey doesn't make the connections that Laurie Guy does regarding everything we've previously discussed, but sees this as "the first use of Exodus typology" in the "final sequence of visions" in the book of Revelation.[53] According to Casey, the "priestly vocation" of believers, in Revelation 20:6, "is the fulfillment of Exodus 19:5-6."[54]  Later he writes: "…the priestly character of the millennial participants is based on their redemption by the lamb in fulfillment of Exodus 19:5-6."[55]

My point here is that this connection to the Exodus is so obvious it hardly requires proof. Even someone who misses all the previous Exodus connections in Revelation 20 up to this point, can't miss it here. For us, it simply builds on what we've already observed: John is constantly and continually taking his readers back to Egypt and the Original Exodus event.

The Lake of Fire

So the terms "dragon" and "Abyss," and the priestly reign of believers, all connect back to Egypt and the Exodus, and next, the place of Satan's final demise is cast in distinctly Egyptian terminology, so that his readers can't possibly miss the connection. In Revelation 20:10, the Devil is "thrown into the Lake of Fire," which is later called, "the Second Death" (Rev. 20:14). As many scholars note, this terminology "…is found nowhere else in either the NT or the Hebrew Bible…"[56] And this tends to baffle them.

For example, in his excellent book, The Battle for the Keys, Justin Bass surveys the history of Various New Testament terms such as "paradise," "Abraham's Bosom," "the Abyss," "Tartarus," "Hades" and "Gehenna," but then makes this interesting comment: "It is more difficult to track down the origin of the imagery behind the Lake of Fire in Revelation."[57]

David Woodington, notes that the phrase, "the Lake of Fire," is "unique to John himself" with the lone exception of "a few temporally distant Egyptian sources."[58] "… besides a handful of extremely old Egyptian sources," writes Woodington,  "the precise conception of a lake of fire remains unique to John."[59]

David Aune concurs, noting that "The 'lake of fire,'" is "mentioned six times in Rev 20–21," but it "has no exact parallels in Jewish eschatology…"[60] Aune writes:

The phrase "the lake of fire burning with sulphur" occurs with variations six times in Revelation (here; 20:10, 14–15[3x]; 21:8). The image is problematical for there are no close parallels in the OT, in Jewish literature, or in Greco-Roman literature, particularly when the place of eternal punishment is conceived of as a λίμνη, "lake." Surprisingly, the image of a "lake of fire" occurs in ancient Egyptian texts (Book of the Dead 17.40–42; 24.4; 175.15, 20; see Zandee, Death as an Enemy, 133–42; "Flammensee," Lexikon der Aegyptologie [Wiesbaden: Harrasowitz, 1977] 2:259–60; H. Kees, Totenglauben und Jenseitsvorstellungen der alten Aegypter [Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1926] 294–95), where it is located in the underworld. Though the channel of transmission from Egypt to Revelation is unknown, it is instructive to note that another Egyptian underworld myth, "the second death" (see Comment on 20:6), is not only is associated with the "lake of fire" in Rev 20:14 and 21:8 but is also found closely connected with the "lake of fire" in the Book of the Dead (see Comment on 20:6). This reinforces the probability that traditional Egyptian underworld mythology has somehow contributed to John's conception of the underworld.[61]

The ultimate Egyptian origin of this concept in Greek, Christian, and Jewish literature is supported by the pairing of the notions of the second death and the lake of fire in Rev 20:14 and 21:8, which also occurs in Egyptian texts.[62]

According to Aune, for the Egyptians, this "Second Death," in the "Lake of Fire," was "a fate to be avoided at all costs."[63]

Again, the Book of Revelation is a work of art and, what John's doing here, in Revelation 20, is artistically brilliant. To cast Satan's final demise in noticeably Egyptian terminology makes perfect sense if, in fact, John is seeking to draw the readers' mind all the way back to Egypt. Just as Mastema attempted to prevent the Israelites from making the First Exodus, Satan sought to prevent people from all nations from making the New and Greater Exodus, out of his kingdom of darkness and deception and into Christ's kingdom of light and truth.  

As Robert Mata writes, in the book of Revelation, "John seeks to persuade members of his audience to see themselves as participants in a new and eschatological migration journey from a new type of Egypt (Rome) [or the Roman imperial power and the demonic forces undergirding it – p. 172] to a new type of promised place (the New Jerusalem)."[64] As the Dragon figure in Revelation, Satan takes on the role of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh who would seek to prevent this "eschatological migration," this Final Exodus. Thus, it's only fitting that his ultimate downfall is cast in terms of the worst fate possible in the Egyptian mind: an eternity in the Lake of Fire. To miss, what David Aune calls, "The ultimate Egyptian origin of this concept," is to miss the brilliant irony of what John is attempting to telegraph to his readers in this passage.

It is, once again, to hear only the basic tune, but to miss the full symphony of instruments being played.

No More Sea

And the grand finale of John's Second Exodus Symphony comes in the next chapter where describes "a new heaven and a new earth" wherein there is "no more sea" (Rev. 21:1).  Now, if you're an extreme literalist, like Michael Houdmann, of, this means that "the new earth will have a different geography and therefore a different climate," which he says, "may be disturbing to some who love the sea."[65] But, according to Houdmann: "There is no reason not to take this literally…God's new earth will not contain vast areas of salt water spanning the globe… the new earth will have a different geography and therefore a different climate."[66]

Actually, there is every reason "not to take this literally." As Ken Gentry writes:

But if we understand this literally, it makes no theological sense: Why would the sea not be a part of the eternal new creation order? Did not God re-create the "new earth"? Why would he not also re-create the sea? Did not God create and bound the sea at the original creation (thalassas, Ge 1:10; Exo 20:11; Ps 33:6–7; 95:5; 104:24–25; 146:6; Pr 8:29; Jer 5:22; Am 9:6; Ac 4:24; 14:15; Rev 5:13; 10:6; 14:7). And is it not a feature of God's creative work which is "very good" (1:31; cp. Ps 104:24, 28)?

Nor does it make contextual sense, for what becomes of the "river" that flows through the city (22:1–2)? Does it evaporate? Does it make a complete, endless circle around the globe? Rivers naturally and necessarily end — into a pool of some sort, such as a lake, sea, or ocean (Ecc 1:7; cp. Eze 47:8; Zec 14:8). Besides, Scripture can speak metaphorically by employing the drying up of a sea, as when God judges OT Babylon (Jer 51:36; cp. 50:38). Why could not this sea absence be metaphorical? The literalistic approach is unworkable — and unnecessary.[67]

Gentry makes an excellent point about the drying of the sea being used metaphorically. As he says, Jeremiah describes the judgment of Babylon in these terms: "And I will dry up her sea and make her fountains dry" (Jer. 51:36). Isaiah picks up on this same idea, where the metaphorical drying up of the sea is parallel to Cyrus calling the exiled Israelites out of Babylon and back home to Jerusalem: "It is I who says to the depths of the sea, 'Be dried up!' And I will make your rivers dry. It is I who says of Cyrus, 'He is My Shepherd! And he will perform all my desire.' And he declares of Jerusalem, 'She will be built.' And of the temple, 'Your foundation will be laid'" (Isa. 44:27-28).[68]

 As John Goldingay and David Payne point out, in their commentary on Isaiah: "The poetic words and the prosaic words are commonly used in parallelism, as here,…"[69] "… in verse 27"… "there is no presupposition" they continue, "that the deep and its rivers have any literal connection with water…"[70]

For the Israelite, the past gives shape and meaning to the present and the future, and the sea becomes a metaphor for hostile and evil powers which oppose God's people. It's drying up recalls the Original Exodus event and symbolically represents the defeat or downfall of those powers. This is most clearly seen in Psalm 18, a Psalm of David about his deliverance from the hand of Saul. David describes his deliverance in the following manner:

15 Then the channels of water appeared,
And the foundations of the world were exposed
By Your rebuke, Lord,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16 He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
17 He saved me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me (Ps. 18:15-17).

The literal, historical narrative of David's deliverance from Saul is recorded in 1 Samuel 19. You can read that chapter over and over again, and you'll not find one reference to any of this literally happening. This is poetry. David is recalling Moses' deliverance out of the waters and likening it to his own deliverance from the hand of Saul.[71] It's an image from the past, meant to give shape and meaning to the present and the near future.  John is doing the same thing here in Revelation.

John's usage of "the sea," writes Dave Matthewson, "functions within Revelation's discourse to contribute an additional element in the new Exodus motif."[72]  "The removal of the sea in 21:1c," writes Mathewson, "functions as the climax of an important canonical theme. The sea of chaos and affliction which opposed God and threatens his people, which God has repeatedly subdued, is now judged in a new creative act at the climax of God's prophetic revelation in 21:1c. But this time it is eliminated forever! All that is left is for the people of God to enjoy God's presence in unending security. More than signifying some change in the cosmological landscape, the removal of the sea expresses the hope of God's people in the final removal of all things that threaten and hinder them from the full experience of salvation.[73]"

Marilyn Harris puts it this way: "Unlike the first creation, unlike the world after the flood, and unlike Israel in the Promised Land, this new world is eternally secure to the extent that chaos and evil are utterly powerless, non-existent, and unable to even threaten the communion of God and his people."[74]

Michael Morales concurs, writing: "Indeed, when the Bible story closes with the declaration that in the new earth 'there was no more sea' (Revelation 21:1), the point is theological, poetically referring to the absence of evil powers, rather than topographical,"[75] or geological.

In the Second Exodus context, these "evil powers" were the false gods of the other nations. They were the chaotic forces that enslaved the people of those nations. Remember:  Paul told the Ephesians, their struggle was not against flesh and blood, but against the powers and principalities in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12). Yeshua came to liberate the people and eliminate the evil powers. That's what the New Exodus was all about.


In light of all of this, I would maintain that the Second Exodus theme permeates Revelation chapter 20, beginning with the dragon language verse 2, and culminating in Revelation 21:1, where we are told there is "no more sea." Having said that, if the First Exodus lasted 40 years, do we really believe it's taken 50 times as long, 2000 years, and we're still in a state of Exodus? Do we really believe that Yeshua, the New and Greater Moses has not taken us to the Promised Land of the New Heavens and New Earth?

He has, and we're not in the Millennium now. We're not waiting for the Millennium to start. The Exodus is over. Yeshua and His first-century followers did their job. They got us there. And we need to stop living and thinking like we're still in a state of Exodus and realize this is Yahweh's world now. And this is why this is so important. With a proper understanding of what the Millennium was all about, the Final Exodus, we can have a proper understanding of what we're supposed to be all about. Namely, Impacting this world for Christ on the earthly side of the New Heavens and New Earth. Just as Adam and Eve were His image bearers in the original creation, we are His imager bearers in the new creation. We need to know who we are, and where we are, on God's timetable. It affects how we live, and how we view our mission in this world.

[2] Barbara Ann Isbell, The Past is Yet to Come: Exodus Typology in the Apocalypse, pp. 1-2.

[3] Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. Revelation: Vision of a Just World (Proclamation Commentaries) (Kindle Locations 489-490). Kindle Edition.

[4] See: Dr. U-Wen Low, "Revelation as Drama: Reading and Interpreting Revelation through the lens of Greco-Roman Performance" (unpublished thesis paper, p. 271) ; Allen Dwight Callahan, "The Language of the Apocalypse" (Harvard Theological Review, Volume 88, Issue 04, October 1995), p. 460.  

[5] Fiorenza, Ibid., Kindle Location 506.

[6] Ibid., Kindle Location 507-508.

[10] Beale, Revelation, p. 625; cf. The Testament of Naphthali 5:3ff

[11] Barbara Isbell, The Past is Yet to Come, pp. 183-184.

[12] Sigve K. Tonstad, Revelation: Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament, p. 185.

[13] David S. Gifford, THE EXODUS MOTIF IN REVELATION 12, p. 14.

[14] "The war against Egypt was not only a 'war on earth' that polluted the Nile, sacked Egypt, and killed its firstborn. It was also a 'war in heaven:' the Lord executed judgment "against all the gods of Egypt" (Ex 12:12). Inter alia, the Lord judged the Nile-god, the cattle-god, and Pharaoh's firstborn-son-god (cf. Deut 32:17; 1 Cor 10:20).36 Pharaoh had become the accuser of Moses's brethren, saying, "You are lazy, very lazy; therefore, you say, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD'" (Ex 5:17). Satan is the transliteration of the Hebrew word for "the accuser;" thus, Pharaoh's accusatory words reveal his spiritual role in the Lord's ubiquitous war against Egypt (cf. Job 1:6–8, 12; 2:1–7; Zech 3:1–2)" (David S. Gifford, THE EXODUS MOTIF IN REVELATION 12, pp. 13-14).

[15] NIGTC: The Book of Revelation, p. 633.

[16] "…Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am against Pharaoh, the great dragon that lies in the midst of his rivers, that says, The rivers are mine, and I made them" (Ez. 29:3 LXX). Ezekiel 29 Brenton's Septuagint Translation (

[17] NIGTC: The Book of Revelation, p. 633.

[18] Michael Fishbane, Biblical Text and Texture: A literary reading of selected texts (Oxford, England: One World Publication, 1998), p. 135.

[20] Beale, Revelation, p. 634.

[22] David E. Aune, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 52B: Revelation 6-16, p. 683.  In fact, a number of scholars note that the Seth-Typhon myths closely resemble what is going on in Revelation 12 with regard to the pursuit of the woman (Jan Willem van Henten, "Dragon Myth and Imperial Ideology in Revelation 12-13," Seth-Typhon was known as a "brutal monster" and "dragon-type figure" who pursued the Egyptian goddess Isis, or Leto in Greek Mythology, and her son Horus (Egyptian Mythology), or Apollo (Greek Mythology). A.Y. Collins, in her book, The Combat Myth in Revelation, "If we ask which example of this form of the combat myth most closely resembles Revelation 12, the answer is clearly the Leto myth… Revelation 12, at least in part, is an adaptation of the myth of the birth of Apollo (Yarbro Collins, Combat Myth, 67; cf. 83). She considers the fact that this myth circulated in Asia Minor in the time when Revelation was composed important support for her conclusion (Combat Myth, 70–71, 245–52).

[23] Robert K. Ritner, The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, 1993) P. 147

[24] Ibid., p. 147

[25] Ibid., pp. 147, 148.

[26] Ibid, p. 147, fn. 662

[27] Ritner, Ibid., p. 147

[28] Geraldine Pinch, Magic in ancient Egypt (London, England: British Museum Press, 1994), p. 81.

[29] "…the names of 'Apep and other evil beings are written in red because that is a malefic and unlucky colour,' while conversely the name of Re' is written always in black" (R. O. Faulkner, The Bremner-Rhind Papyrus: III: D. The Book of Overthrowing 'Apep, The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 23, No. 2 [Dec., 1937], p. 167).

[30] Ritner, p. 147, fn. 663.

[31] Regarding the idea that the sea, through which the Israelites passed, was not the larger Red Sea but a smaller body of water called the Reed Sea, see: BERNARD F. BATTO, "THE REED SEA: REQUIESCAT IN PACE" (JBL 102/1 [1983]) 27-35.

[32] Kio, Stephen Hre. "The Exodus symbol of liberation in the Apocalypse and its relevance for some aspects of translation" (The Bible Translator 40.1 [1989]), pp. 131-132.

[33] Ibid., p. 132.

[34] As Susan R. Garret points out, "triumphs" over "the historical enemy" and "the cosmic enemy" often converge ("Exodus from Bondage: Luke 9:31 and Acts 12:1-24," The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Vol. 52, No. 4 [October, 1990], p. 664).

[36] Kristofer Carlson, Second Temple Writings and the Bible, p. 44

[37] DDD, p. 553

[38] Ibid., p. 553

[39] Ibid., p. 553

[40] Heiser, Michael S.. Demons: What the Bible Really Says About the Powers of Darkness (Kindle Locations 1880-1899). Lexham Press. Kindle Edition.

[41] DDD, p. 553

[42] Ruiten, J. V. (2007). Angels and Demons in the Book of Jubilees. In F. V. Reiterer, T. Nicklas, & K.

Schöpflin (Eds.), Angels: The Concept of Celestial Beings – Origins, Development and Reception (Vol.

2007, pp. 585-609). (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook (DCLY)). Berlin / New York: De

Gruyter Mouton, p. 600.

[43] Ibid., p. 600

[44]  Laurie Guy, "Back to the Future: The Millennium and the Exodus in Revelation 20," Evangelical Quarterly

An International Review of Bible and Theology, Vol. LXXXVI No. 3 July 2014, pp. 236-237.

[45] Ibid., p. 238.

[46]Samuel (Shmuel) Rausnitz, Expelling Demons from the Gospel of Luke, p. 184.

[47] "Exodus in the New Testament: Patterns of Revelation and Redemption," in Thomas B. Dozeman, Craig A. Evans, Joel N. Lohr, Ed., The Book of Exodus: Composition, Reception and Interpretation (Lieden/Boston: Brill) Pp. 443-444.

[48] Darrell Bock, A Theology of Luke and Acts, p. 141.

[49] Graham H. Twelftree, In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among Early Christians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), p. 135.

[50] Guy,Laurie. Unlocking Revelation: 10 Keys to Unlocking the Bible's Final Words (Paternoster: Kindle Edition, Location 1932).

[51] Ibid., Kindle Location 1932

[52] Ibid., Kindle Location 1946

[53] Jay Casey Smith, EXODUS TYPOLOGY IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (A Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, December, 1981), p. 194.

[54] Ibid., p. 196.

[55] Ibid., p. 197.

[56] J. David Woodington, "Crafting the Eschaton: The Second Death and the Lake of Fire in Revelation" (Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2019, Vol. 41), p. 501.

[57] Bass, Justin. The Battle for the Keys: Revelation 1:18 and Christ's Descent into the Underworld (Paternoster Biblical Monographs) . Paternoster. Kindle Edition. Location 1921.

[58] Ibid., p. 501. Woodington, however, ultimately dismisses any connection, writing: "Most commentators, however, have either ignored or dismissed this evidence because of the massive time gap between the Egyptian sources and Revelation. I concur with the majority viewpoint and find it extremely doubtful that John had

these Egyptian texts in mind when he wrote the Apocalypse" (p. 502).

[59] Ibid., p. 509.

[60] Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 1104). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

[61] Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C (Word Biblical Commentary) (pp. 1065-1066). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition. Later, Aune writes: "The ultimate Egyptian origin of this concept in Greek, Christian, and Jewish literature is supported by the pairing of the notions of the second death and the lake of fire in Rev 20:14 and 21:8, which also occurs in Egyptian texts (e.g., Book of the Dead 175.1, 15, 20; Budge, Book of the Dead, 184, 186–87) and once in the relatively late Tg. Isa. 65.6" (p. 1092).

[62] Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 1092). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

[63] Aune, Dr. David. Revelation 17-22, Volume 52C (Word Biblical Commentary) (p. 1092). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

[64] Robert Mata, "Border Crossing into the Promised Land: The Eschatological Migration of God's People in Revelation 2:1–3:22," in Efraín Agosto and Jacqueline M. Hidalgo, ed., Latinxs, the Bible, and Migration (New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018), p. 173.

[66] Ibid.

[68] On the parallelism and metaphorical usage of the phrase, see: John Goldingay and David Payne, A CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY ON ISAIAH 40-55, vol. 2 (New York, NY: T&T Clark, 2006), pp. 13-14.

[69] Ibid., p. 14

[70] Ibid., p. 15

[72]  Dave Mathewson, "New Exodus as a Background for 'The Sea was No More' in Revelation 21:1C"

 Trinity Journal 24 (2003), p. 258.

[73] Ibid., pg. 258.

[75] Morales, Exodus Old and New, p. 112.

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