Throughout the Bible, no promise is given of a second chance—a time after our earthly life during which we will be free of Satan’s temptations and will have another opportunity to give our loyalties to God if we have not already done so. No, this life is our only chance. “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2.
Ellen White describes what happens to the wicked when Christ comes and takes His people to heaven:
“A noise will come to the ends of the earth—for the Lord has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword.” Jeremiah 25:31. For six thousand years the great controversy has been in progress; the Son of God and His heavenly messengers have been in conflict with the power of the evil one, to warn, enlighten, and save the children of men. Now all have made their decisions; the wicked have fully united with Satan in his warfare against God. The time has come for God to vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. Now the controversy is not alone with Satan, but with men. “The Lord has a controversy with the nations;” “He will give those that are wicked to the sword.” . . .
At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth—consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. [See 2 Thessalonians 2:8.] Christ takes His people to the City of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants. “Behold, the Lord makes the earth empty and makes it waste, distorts its surface and scatters abroad its inhabitants.” “The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, for the Lord has spoken this word.” “Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned.” Isaiah 24:1, 3, 5, 6.
The whole earth appears like a desolate wilderness. The ruins of cities and villages destroyed by the earthquake, uprooted trees, ragged rocks thrown out by the sea or torn out of the earth itself, are scattered over its surface, while vast caverns mark the spot where the mountains have been rent from their foundations.
The Great Controversy, p. 656-657
For 1,000 years, Satan is now bound in the “bottomless pit,” as was prophesied in Revelation 20:1-3.
That the expression “bottomless pit” represents the earth in a state of confusion and darkness is evident from other scriptures. Concerning the condition of the earth “in the beginning,” the Bible record says that it “was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep.” Genesis 1:2. [The Hebrew word here translated “deep” is rendered in the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Hebrew Old Testament by the same word rendered “bottomless pit” in Revelation 20:1-3.] Prophecy teaches that it will be brought back, partially at least, to this condition. Looking forward to the great day of God, the prophet Jeremiah declares: “I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; and the heavens, they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, and all the hills moved back and forth. I beheld, and indeed there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens had fled. I beheld, and indeed the fruitful land was a wilderness, and all its cities were broken down.” Jeremiah 4:23-26.
Here is to be the home of Satan with his evil angels for a thousand years. Limited to the earth, he will not have access to other worlds to tempt and annoy those who have never fallen. It is in this sense that he is bound: there are none remaining, upon whom he can exercise his power. He is wholly cut off from the work of deception and ruin which for so many centuries has been his sole delight.
The Great Controversy, p. 658-659
What are God’s people doing in heaven during this time?
During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. The apostle Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Corinthians 4:5. Daniel declares that when the Ancient of Days came, “judgment was given to the saints of the Most High.” Daniel 7:22, KJV. At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. John in the Revelation says: “I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.” “They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4, 6. It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, “the saints will judge the world.” 1 Corinthians 6:2. In union with Christ they judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out, according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death.
Satan also and evil angels are judged by Christ and His people. Says Paul: “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” Verse 3. And Jude declares that “the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6.
The Great Controversy, p. 660-661
At the end of the 1,000 years, God performs his “strange act” (see Isaiah 28:21)—the destruction of the wicked.
All Scriptures are quoted from the New King James Version, including those originally quoted by Ellen White from the King James Version.—Editors