According to Bible prophecies, the coming of the Lord will be preceded by certain signs. One such sign clearly indicating the imminence of His return is that there will be a revival of paganism.
The book of Revelation reveals three major enemies to the church. The first, the dragon, is found in Revelation chapter 12. In rich symbolic language, we see the early morning church producing converts which the dragon sought to devour as soon as they were born. The New Testament, as well as secular history, bears out that paganism was an antagonistic, persecuting power against primitive Christianity. It is at war with Jesus and His angels (meaning messengers or ministers). Many were martyred in this war against the dragon, but Christianity prevailed.
Revelation 20:1-3 reiterates these same events, as this chapter reveals the history of the gospel day from the time of the early morning church right up to its close at the great white throne Judgment Day.
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.”
The dragon, not the devil himself, is being bound by an angel here. Paganism was a devilish system of false religion designed by Satan to destroy souls. The apostles preached the gospel with the Word and the Spirit (the key and great chain) to the Gentiles who had long been deceived by this dragon power. The light of the gospel penetrated the pagan darkness and multitudes were delivered from their idols to serve the true and living God. We see a practical example of this in Acts 19 where the makers of the idols saw their craft was in danger and were stirred against God’s ministers. Paganism lost its stronghold over the nations to deceive souls when the gospel came around, hence, it was bound or “shut up.” Truth bound the pagan lies. A thousand years simply represents a long period of time.
In Rev. 20:7-9 we learn of events to take place shortly before the return of Jesus Christ to call this world into final judgment. “And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison…” (Verse 7).
Many minds now immediately think of a 1000 year future, literal reign on earth. But this prophecy speaks of no such future event, neither here nor anywhere else in the Bible. It is the dragon being loosed out of prison–the same dragon, called Satan, of verse 2. Paganism is loosed after being restrained for so long.
One need not look far to see that this has already happened. Our world is becoming increasingly pagan. Look in the spiritual section of major bookstores. Books on the occult, new age movement, wicca, yoga, meditation, eastern religions (we could list much more), often outnumber Christian books.
Look in any city and see the new age stores and find their annual psychic fairs. Look at the textbooks in public schools. They are not teaching what was taught forty years ago. God has been kicked out of schools and increasingly out of government, while evolution and humanism are being embraced, with an antagonism to anything truly Christian.
Along with the rise of secular humanism and atheistical political powers, we clearly see a revival of fundamental Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Sikh and Muslim religions.
Over the past 100 years the dragon has by slow increments crept back on the scene, bursting forth particularly in the 1970’s and 1980’s, causing a paradigm shift in society as a whole.
The apostle Paul warned in 2 Tim. 3:1 that in the latter days perilous (dangerous) days would come. The peril is in the extreme deceptions rampant in this end time, not to mention the type of people it is producing.
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” Rev. 20:7-9.
Paganism “shall go out to deceive the nations,” and join itself to Gog and Magog. Here we have the other two major enemies to the church–Gog and Magog. Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 tell us of these literal enemies, who came “up against my people of Israel.” They represent the other two enemies of the church that Satan has used successively to deceive souls after paganism lost its stronghold–Catholicism (the beast of Revelation 13:1) and Protestantism (the beast with horns like a lamb in Rev. 13:11). False Christianity!
In this end time, all three entities have gathered together on the breadth of the earth. This is clearly evidenced in the ecumenical movement. Not only have Catholics and Protestants joined hands, but eastern religions have also found a place in this triad of error, creating a potent blend of unprecedented deception. They’ve all agreed not to judge and everyone can believe whatever they will. As the pagans of old picked the god(s) of their choice, there is now a new type of polytheism under the guise of Christianity–pick the church (or non-church) of your choice; all roads lead to heaven.
Their toleration stops, though, when it comes to the camp of the saints, the beloved city–the church of God. They now compass the true church about with their allied troops to battle together against her. It would seem evident God still has a church in the end of the gospel day, or the devil wouldn’t have one to encompass and fight!
True to other prophecies, God has been and still is gathering His people together back to His one fold, the visible church (Matt. 24:31; Jn. 10:16).
All of these events clearly mark the soon coming of our mighty Saviour. Rev. 20:3 states that when paganism is loosed, it will be but for “a little season.” Very little time is now left before the return of Jesus Christ.“When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”