Previously: Satan will be released – Revelation 20:7-8
Rev. 20:9 – They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. (HCSB)
Then fire came down from heaven
“They” in verse 9 are the armies of Satan, which surround Jerusalem. But fire descends from heaven and consumes them. We have seen references to heavenly fire in other passages:
- The Lord sends burning sulfur to destroy the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19).
- Fire comes down from heaven to consume a burnt offering, its wood and stones, and even a trench of water around it in the days of Elijah as he squares off against the false prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18).
- Fire again rains down from heaven on several occasions to destroy the messengers sent to Elijah by King Ahaziah (2 Kings 1).
- James and John ask Jesus for permission to call down fire from heaven on a Samaritan village that rejects the Messiah, but He rebukes His followers and leads them to another place (Luke 9:51-55).
- The two witnesses in Revelation 13 are able to call down fire from heaven.
- And here in Revelation 20 fire destroys the enemies of God.
Fire often is a sign of the presence of God and highlights His purity, holiness, and wrath.
Rev. 13:13 – He also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of people. 14 He deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that he is permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who had the sword wound and yet lived.
He also performs great signs
In verses 13-14 we read of the second beast: “He also performs great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in front of people. He deceives those who live on the earth because of the signs that he is permitted to perform on behalf of the beast, telling those who live on the earth to make an image of the beast who had the sword wound and yet lived.”
The beast from the earth is a miracle worker, but his purpose is deceitful. His goal is to cause all people to turn away from the one true and living God to a false god, and even to his image. What a contrast to Jesus, whose miracles confirm His deity, and to the apostles, whose signs and wonders establish them as Christ’s anointed representatives. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “The signs of an apostle were performed with great endurance among you – not only signs but also wonders and miracles” (2 Cor. 12:12).
Further, the writer of Hebrews tells us, “[H]ow will we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him. At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will” (Heb. 2:3-4).