Apparently the sky dragon is not directly involved in the last fight. But having conferred upon the first beast "his power and rule, and great authority" (12:2)
it is to be punished as partner to the criminal plot, initiated yet after Satan's first fall from grace. In all likelihood that is “the mystery of lawlessness”
that the Apostle Paul mentions (2 Thes. 2:7).
Described after the battle ends and Satan is shut up in the abyss (20:1-2)
is the first, "minor" judgment:"Then I saw thrones and upon them sat those to whom judgment was committed" (20:4).
This is followed by an account of the Thousand-Year kingdom.
What does this judgment signify?
As Satan falls from grace by stages, his doings before he is thrown down onto the earth are not frankly criminal. Over this period he seeks to "compete" with Jesus in man's succor from Hades. Since the general human notion of evil is associated precisely with the Nether Regions, Satan here stands forth as a vehicle of good, but of a kind that can be exercised without the intervention of Jesus Christ. Today most on earth are sincerely convinced that the principle of doing good, to wit "the law inscribed on their hearts" (Rom. 2:15)
, though not conflicting with the Gospel, does not necessarily call for the obligatory presence of Jesus; though many believe in God they do not hold that Jesus represents the sole way to God.
No matter how one may construe such views, is anyone entitled to style them willfully criminal? Though we knew that doing good without Christ is inadequate to ransom the human being for eternal life, would not we ourselves be guilty of offense should we quality the doing of good, be it even of a deficient or faulty nature, an evil or all the more so persecute it as if it were evil?
A vast number reject the power of Hades yet do not follow Christ and it is these people whom Satan seeks to delude by means of his "spirituality". Exploiting their creative powers, he secures authority over the world and after they die their souls are constrained to the sphere of his influence. When the lord of this kingdom, succumbing to envy and pride enter into a nefarious complot with Hades and is subsequently defeated, its kingdom will be failing down. What is the lot then of the human souls inhabiting this kingdom? Those who were sincere in their desire to do good will become aware of their errors and realize the genuine and true significance of Jesus Christ. But those for whom the doing of good was merely a means of demonstrating their pride, will share in the envious fury of their inspirer, participate in his alliance with Hades and will, with him, be confined to the abyss.
The first, or "minor" Judgment will decide the lot of that heritage, of that kingdom
which the fallen and down-thrown angel leaves behind. The judges will determine where the souls of the dead will remain until the Resurrection and the second, major, last Judgment.
The Thousand-Year reign implies more than merely the arrangement of mundane affairs and the accomplishment of creative tasks on earth. It is likewise labor to prepare the multitude of the dead for Resurrection, as sermons will be needed not only on earth but also in Hades.
The second acquisition of a body, moreover cured and renovated, represents a major highlight in man's personal history. The soul retains the memory of the genetic structure of its fleshly body, all the details of its "biography" from inception till death, the history of its every cell. Resurrect is the jointed creative act of God and man, the new union of soul and body, an organic and henceforth indestructible bond. There is not the shadow of a doubt that the souls of the saints will embrace this long-awaited event with great joy.
But what will all this mean for the souls hitherto inhabiting Hades?
For some this will furnish a powerful incentive to repent and return to God, for others the excuse to gnash their teeth still more bitterly against the Creator. The renovated body, having within itself the Divine image, will become damnation for perverted souls and to avenge such a soul will inflict a never-ending torment on its own body. Our sinful mundane life often signals these impending torments, that proceed from the enmity between soul and body.
How come God who loves His creations, allows this?
God does not violate freedom, but He does foresee its outcome, although how is absolutely beyond the understanding of either man or angel.
Hence Judgment is the Divine revelation of God, a prevision and confirmation of the human being's choice. God does everything to save man, but when freedom is reality, God cannot deny him the right to perish, the right to abandon Him. For without freedom human being cannot be; however, to live without God is the fiery Gehenna. As the holy see it, our life on earth is full of torment in the flames of insatiable lust, which is the source of misery and beginning of Gehenna; however most of us do not at all rush to forego a life of that order for the sake of communion with God.
The second Judgment is enacted by the One Who sits on the throne:"Then I saw a great white throne, and the One Who sat upon it; from His presence earth and heaven vanished away, and no place was left for them. I could see the dead, great and small, standing before the throne; and books were opened. Then another book was opened, the roll of the living. From what was written in these books the dead were judged upon the record of their deeds. Then Death and Hades were flung into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death; and into
it were flung any whose names were not to be found in the roll of the living" 20:11-15.
Though this text does not directly speak of the bodily resurrection of sinners, the Gospel according to John bears witness when it is said:"Those who have done right will rise to life; those who have done wrong will rise to hear their doom." John. 5:29.
But is that the final judgment?
Here we again arrive at the boundary of cognition, which our nature grants us as created beings. Anyone capable of encompassing the infinity of human destiny would be by nature equal to God Himself. However, man can gain cognition of such things only from a Divine revelation, and even then to the extent to which he is capable of comprehension. The said extent will, of course, expand, and there is no limit to that. However, what the Holy Scriptures tells us about finite destinies exhausts our capability for comprehension as it is today.
The Scriptures reveal to us that up to the limitations accessible to our minds today, the tragedy of being still persists.
Though the saved no longer have within themselves reason for grief, as "there shall be an end to... mourning, crying and pain" (21:4)
, nevertheless they are all the more susceptible to the pangs of compassion.
As for those who will worship the beast it is said that they"shall be in sulphurous flames before the holy angels and before the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever..." 14:10-11.
The Revelation does not imply that the sainted are cruel and harsh; on the contrary it means that the dead will never be forgotten, and erased from the memory; for that matter the Lamb Himself has no desire to ever forget them. And in this lies a grain of hope.