THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Lesson Number 38
"Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released
from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of
the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand
of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints
and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The
devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and
the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I
saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven
fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great,
standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book
of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were
written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades
delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his
works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And
anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Rev
The passage with which we are
dealing is highly controversial. Because of this, many have chosen to ignore the passage,
supposing that diverse views indicate the text is extremely difficult. Should we choose to
follow this line of thinking, we will be deprived of a significant degree of comfort and
texts in which God speaks with principle in mind rather than specific details. The
perspective reflected in such texts is a high perspective-from the vantage of
"heavenly places." To impose upon such texts highly controversial detailed views
will not enhance faith or stabilize hope. Too, such a procedure thrusts us into the realm
of human opinion and controversy. For example, if a body of people were all walking down
fifth avenue in Manhattan, New York, they could come to some agreement on the height of
the buildings, names and location of the street, and focus of specialty shops. Unless,
however, they had personal knowledge of the infrastructure of the city, they would not be
able to agree on the general layout of the city, whether or not it was on an island, and
other general perspectives. Should that same group, however, view the city from an
airplane, about 20,000 feet in the air, the whole city would look differently. From that
higher perspective, they could see the general layout of the city. They might be able to
identify some unusual structures, like the Empire State Building and the the Twin Towers.
However, if they tried to identify the number of stories in each building, and the various
streets and shops of the city, they would not be able to agree among themselves. Such
details were not plain from that high perspective. It would be unwise to define all of the
details from that higher view.
of Revelation is, in my understanding, a high view of the working of the Lord. It is
intended to give us the layout, so to speak, of God's "eternal purpose," and not
all of the historical details. That is why both Jesus and His enemies are pictured
according to their character, and not according to appearance. They are viewed from a
higher and more general perspective-one that is required to properly understand the
details revealed elsewhere. Think, for example, of the many references to the Lord Jesus.
"Him which was, and is, and is to come" (1:4). The "first Begotten from the
dead, and prince of the kings of the earth" (1:5). The "Alpha and Omega, the
beginning and the ending" (1:8). "The Lion of the tribe of Judah" (5:5).
"A Lamb as it had been slain" (5:6). "The Word of God" with eyes
"as a flame of fire," and a sword proceeding "out of His mouth"
(19:13-15). The devil is depicted as "A great red dragon" (12:3), "Abaddon
and Apollyon" (9:11), and "the angel of the bottomless pit" (9:11). Those
who oppose the saints are portrayed as "The beast" (11:7; 13:2), "another
beast" (13:11), "great Babylon" (16:19), "the great whore"
(17:1), "the mother of harlots" (17:5), and "the false prophet"
(16:13; 19:20). All of these are lofty views-perspectives dealing with principle, not
not the end of the matter. Things that are specifically detailed elsewhere in Scripture
are portrayed symbolically in the Revelation. Take, for example, the nourishment of the
people of God. That is a subject of much Apostolic doctrine. They provide the details of
the procedure. Often, it comes through the body of Christ (1 Cor 14:3). Other times, it is
traced to the direct involvement of God Himself (2 Cor 1:3-4). Again, it is associated
with the working of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31). But when we come to this book, the very
same nourishment is seen from yet higher perspective. "Then the woman fled into the
wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one
thousand two hundred and sixty days . . . But the woman was given two wings of a great
eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a
time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent" (12:6,14).
FAITH GRASPS THE HIGHER VIEW
of the nature of faith, it must have the higher view. That does not obviate the necessity
or value of the detailed views. However, the details can only be correctly seen within the
context of the higher view.
world, learning takes place at the lowest, or detailed, level. Thus we first learn about
words, then use sentences, then express thoughts, etc. But this is not the manner of the
Kingdom. Learning takes place at the highest level. The Gospel, for example, is the
proclamation of what the Lord has done in Christ Jesus-the higher view. Once faith lays
hold of that, the details of obedience, following the Lamb, etc., are provided, and can be
comprehended. It is "in light" that we are able to "see light" (Psa
36:9): i.e., within the higher view, or Divine summation, the details of doctrine come
into sharper focus. If you can see that Christ has "destroyed" the devil (Heb
2:14), it makes sense that you can "resist" him (James 4:17).
major on the details of Christian living, even though they mean well, have greatly
handicapped the saints. Men dispatched by the Lord "preach Christ," not
obligations (Acts 8:5; 17:3; 2 Cor 4:5; Col 1:28). This does NOT mean they never declared
the responsibilities of men, or warned against the neglect of those responsibilities. It
DOES mean the focus of their preaching was the Lord Jesus Himself. The heart of their
proclamation was the Lord and what He had done. They consistently spoke of the duty of men
WITHIN the context of Christ Jesus and His great salvation. Their exposition was NOT of
duty, but of Christ and salvation.
COME UP HIGHER!
though John was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day," the heavenly summons was
"Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this"
(4:1). The Lord, in a sense, did not bring the Revelation down to John, but brought John
UP to it. He was being given a higher view of the Kingdom of our Lord and His Christ. The
higher view would allow for a glorious summation that would actually clarify what was
occurring on the earth.
lofty spiritual realms, the development of theological positions is not at all the point.
The definition of historical events is not the focus. That does not mean theological
positions are wrong, or that historical events cannot be, to some degree, identified-even
in this book. However, such things are not the intention of the Book. Should we pursue
that approach, we will not gain the benefit the Revelation was intended to bring. Too, we
will set ourselves against one another over matters of opinion.
be challenged to come up higher-to enter the realms where the consummation looms larger
than the means through which it is accomplished. Every believer, regardless of their level
of spiritual attainment, can grasp the conclusions affirmed in this book. We are told of
the destiny of the saints, the devil, political opposition, and religious corruption. We
are told of a lake of fire as well as a place where God and His people will be joined
together-and we are told who will occupy both places.
take for granted that these things are known by everyone. The best of saints can easily
forget them in the wake of persecution, frustration, and protracted warfare. They must be
reminded of them-having their "pure minds" stirred up with the recollection of
them. Persecution and hardship will be easier to endure if we can see "the end of all
things." Faithfulness and obedience will be more cheerfully and consistently rendered
if we are convinced our labor is not vain in the Lord.
up higher! Do your best not to impose upon this text a personal persuasion. Your
persuasion may be true-altogether true. But it is not to be imposed where it does not
belong, and it cannot be forced upon your brethren, or made a point of
contention-particularly in the study of Revelation. Our objective is to perceive the point
the Lord Jesus is making.
LOOSING OF SATAN
when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison
[loosed out of his prison,
KJV], 8and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of
the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand
of the sea."
The very idea of Satan being "released from his prison" should produce great
sobriety among the people of God. When speaking our "adversary the devil," the
Spirit admonishes us "Be sober, be vigilant" (1 Pet 5:8). No believer is ever
told to be casual about the devil. Rather, they are solemnly told, "do not give the
devil an opportunity" (Eph 4:27, NASB). Whenever and wherever he is given a place or
opportunity to work, he will do so! To be sure, he is under the government of God, but
that does not mean God never gives him leave to work. The single account of Job, the
"perfect man" from Uz, is enough to dispel such an imagination (Job 1-2).
affirms, "Satan will be released." He will be released AFTER he has been
"bound" for "a thousand years" (v 2). After a lengthy period of
seeming success, the devil is said to have been "bound." Again, after a period
during which "he should deceive the nations no more," he is said to be
"released for a little while" (v 3). Both the binding and the releasing were
dictated and facilitated by heaven.
principal mind, texts tending to be mysterious become more clear. " I form the light
and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these
things" (Isa 45:7, NKJV). " . . . If there is calamity in a city, will not the
LORD have done it?" (Amos 3:6). It is no wonder the Spirit says, "It is a
fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31).
The Thousand Years
"when the thousand years are expired" will the devil be "loosed." In
my understanding, this does not necessarily speak of a precise period of time. However,
neither does the language exclude such a season. Believing this is speaking in terms of
principle (which does not eliminate the possibility of precise duration), several things
may be seen.
This is a
period of sufficient length to vindicate the martyrs.
It is a
season that will bring the world into rest from the dominancy of evil.
This is a
time of Divine determination, both initiated and terminated by the Lord of glory.
If it is
not a period of 1,000 literal years, it will be one in which a thousand years (as
ordinarily conceived) of accomplishment will be realized.
times when Satan is powerless to deceive the nations.
times when the saints are powerless to restrain the devil.
and unrighteousness cannot dominate simultaneously. One must give way to the other.
also several other observations concerning this period of blessedness.
bound, the Word spreads rapidly.
thousand years is not a period of unmixed good. Evil will be restrained, and Satan's
delusional power bound, yet sinners will still remain.
be subdued without disappearing.
still be in the world.
still be reason for the people of God to be prepared for war-to arm themselves.
observations are prompted by the fact that when Satan is loosed, he does gather the wicked
together (verse 8). They have remained in the background, even though they could not
prevail as they did formerly.
One More Thing
thing should be observed. Satan cannot and will not be loosed until Divine objectives have
been realized: i.e., "until the thousand are expired." Jesus expressed this
succinctly in His words to those arresting Him in the Gethsemane. "When I was daily
with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and
the power of darkness" (Lk 22:53, NKJV). Just as the "power of darkness"
could not work until Christ's ministry was completed, so Satan will not be loosed
"until the thousand years are expired."
reason, we must, in our own measure, say with Jesus, "I must work the works of Him
who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4).
While we have the light, we are to walk in the light, aggressively throwing off the
shackles of slothfulness. As it is written, "Yet a little while is the light with
you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in
darkness knoweth not whither he goeth" (John 12:35).
THE DIVINE MANNER
It is the
Divine manner to subject His people to hardship after they have been delivered-to allow
evil to surface after it has been subdued. Thus Sarah remained barren after she had
received the promise. Joseph went into prison after he had been made "overseer"
over Potiphar's house (Gen 39:4-5,20). Israel faced the Red Sea after they came out of
Egypt (Ex 12:34-37; Ex 14:18). Daniel was thrown into the lion's den after he had been
made "the third ruler" of the kingdom (Dan 5:29; 6:16). The early church was
grievously persecuted after it had "favor with all of the people" (Acts 2:47;
8:1-4). Every believer experiences opposition to some measure after they have been
delivered. As it is written, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which,
after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions" (Heb 10:32).
therefore, we read of Satan being "loosed" AFTER he has been bound, it should
not sound strange to our ears.
"the bottomless pit" is a source of iniquity, it is also Satan's prison-the
place where HE is kept. It is not simply that Satan's plans failed, being overpowered, as
it were, by the Gospel of Christ. He is not simply restrained, he is imprisoned-and there
is a vast difference.
is in "prison," the saints will enjoy reigning with Jesus. Understanding there
are a variety of teachings on this matter, it should suffice to show such a thought should
not be difficult for us. The Lord is the "King of kings," ruling "in the
kingdom of men." Thrice it is affirmed of the kingdoms of this world, He "Gives
it to whomever He" (Dan 4:17,25,32). It is even declared that God "setteth up
over it the basest of men" (Dan 4:17b). Why, then, should it be thought incredible
that it could be given to the saints of the Most High God? Such is the result when Satan
THAT WE MAY KNOW
possible, because of a lengthy period of dominance, for men to overestimate their strength
and ability. Perhaps this is another reason why Satan will be "loosed for a little
season." Here again, it will be confirmed that the "excellency of the
power" is of God, and not of us (2 Cor 4:7). A theological view that leads one to
suppose all danger has been removed, and that Satan is impotent, is a delusion. There is a
vast difference between Satan being "bound" and him being impotent or powerless.
His destruction by Jesus (Heb 2:14) was not his annihilation, but his removal from the
heavenly realms. He is ONLY powerless in the heavenly places.
DECEIVE THE NATIONS
thought of Satan deceiving the nations should awaken the greatest degree of sobriety
within the saints! Thank God He is to be "released" for only "a little
while." However, what havoc he can wreck in but a brief period!
release, Satan "will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of
Those who are persuaded Satan was "bound" at the beginning of the Gospel age, or
the "day of salvation," must account for the universal delusion of the nations
existing in our day. As pervasive as the Gospel has been, I do not believe the truth of
God has ever been dominant in this world-at least not to date. The knowledge of the Lord
has not yet "covered the earth as the waters cover the sea" (Isa 11:9; Hab
2:14). Neither, indeed, has the "whole" of society yet been affected by the
Kingdom of God. Speaking of the nature of the Kingdom, Jesus said, "To what shall I
liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures
of meal till it was all leavened" (Lk 13:20-21).
THE DANGER OF DELUSION
points up the most dangerous aspect of Satan's activity. It is delusion! Satan once
attacked Job, causing all of his goods to be confiscated and his body to be covered with
boils (Job 1-2). Deception is worse than that! He once bound a woman with a spirit of
infirmity, so that she was "bowed together, and could in no wise lift herself
up" (Lk 13:11-16). Deception is worse than that!
do not regard deception as a great danger, because they overestimate their own
intellectual abilities. But they are foolish to do so. Satan has deceived, and even
blinded, the wisest men the world has ever produced. The Spirit said this of Satan's
universal impact: "We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is
under the control of the evil one" (1 John 5:19, NIV). ONLY in Christ are individuals
freed from Satan's control. The Gospel is "hidden," or veiled, to those deceived
by Satan. As it is written, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are
lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto
them" (2 Cor 4:3-4).
Satan was "bound," iniquity was subdued, but did not disappear. The knowledge of
the Lord covered the earth, and yet there remained marshy places throughout the world that
were not healed. People did not get smarter, thus enabling them to avoid the snares of the
devil. No one was so wise in themselves that they could no longer be deceived. The loosing
of Satan would again bring deception throughout the nations. We can learn much from this.
is not dependent upon people to be successful.
can appear to be dominant.
Satan's deceptions are stronger than man's power of analysis and intellectual prowess.
can start revivals of righteousness or loose surges of iniquity at will.
is only as powerful as the will of the Lord.
wicked men can be subdued. However, without a change of heart, they remain subject to
phrase "four quarters of the earth" denotes from every part of the world. The
emphasis in this expression is not quantity, but area. The idea is that every part of the
world will have people who have not embraced the truth, even though Satan was bound.
an important aspect of the situation that should be mentioned here. Men do not naturally
gravitate toward the Lord. When Adam sinned, the human nature was defiled, falling away
from any Divine inclination. Even if Satan is bound or severely restrained, men must hear
the Gospel of Christ and choose to believe it. Their hearts are corrupt by nature. In the
words of the Spirit, "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately
wicked; Who can know it?" (Jer 17:9).
OG AND MAGOG
the only place in all of Scripture where the exact expression "Gog and Magog" is
used. Once Ezekiel referred to "Gog, of the land of Magog" (Ezek 38:1). Nine
times Ezekiel refers to "Gog" (38:2,3,14,16,18; 39:1,11). Expressions used
include, "Gog, of the land of Magog" and "Gog, the chief prince of Meshech
and Tubal" (38:3; 39:1).
good is said about "Gog." Ezekiel was told to set his face "against
Gog" (38:2). God affirmed He Himself was "against" Gog (38:3). The Lord
told Ezekiel to prophesy to Gog, "In that day when my people of Israel dwelleth
safely, shalt thou not know it? And thou shalt come from thy place out of the north parts,
thou, and many people with thee, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a
mighty army: And thou shalt come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the
land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the
heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes"
(38:14-16). When, the Lord said, Gog came against the "land of Israel," "My
fury shall come up in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I
spoken" (38:18-19). Ezekiel also declared God would come against Gog, leaving only a
small remnant of them. They would fall upon "the mountains of Israel," never to
rise again. They would then be buried in Israel in a place that would be called "the
valley of Hamon Gog" (39:1-11).
the sum total of everything the Almighty has said about Gog in any language and at any
time. While a significant amount of teaching has been developed upon the foundation of
these few verses, I do not feel comfortable with much of it. It seems unnecessary to say
students of Scripture must take special care NOT to explain the Word of God within the
context of humanly-conceived theologies. Yet, it must be affirmed again and again, as men
continue to have this propensity.
meaning of "Gog" is "covering." Apart from this lexical definition,
little is known of it. The progeny of Reuben included one of the sons of Joel who was
named "Gog" (1 Chron 5:4). Nothing more is said of this person-he is simply
listed as one of Reuben's descendants. He is not related to the "Gog" of
Ezekiel, who wrote around 500 years later.
association we have with this name is that of an enemy of the people of God. Ezekiel's
prophecy is a particularly difficult, because the person and land to which he refers are
not specifically defined. Neither, indeed, are there meanings assigned to the words by
lexicons, as ordinarily given to names. The whole matter has been shrouded with a degree
of mystery, like Melchisedec, king of Salem. While something specific is no doubt encased
in this passage, it appears as though the Lord has shut men up to thinking in terms of
principle concerning Gog and Magog. That is the manner in which I will approach this
passage, not feeling comfortable with many of the popular interpretations created by
men-even honest and good men.
to Ezekiel, "Gog, the chief prince of Meschech and Tubal," would be joined by
Persia, Ethiopia, Libya (African continent, excluding Egypt), Gomer (Aryans, from Southern
Russia), and Togarmah (Armenia is considered most probable)-Ezek 38:5-6. Ezekiel's
prophecy foretold a massive invasion against Israel. After Israel had been gathered from
all nations and brought to dwell safely in their land, Gog and his horde would come over
them "like a storm," and "like a cloud to cover the land." This,
Ezekiel said, would take place "in the latter years" (38:8-9). These enemies
would think that because Israel dwelt in "unwalled villages", "all of them
dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates," they could override
remarkable parallel with our very text, the Lord informs this evil multitude He would be
"sanctified" in Gog before the eyes of all nations (38:17). At that very time,
when Gog comes up against God's people, His "fury" will come up in His face, and
the fire of His "jealously" will burn in fiery wrath. Surely, the Lord affirms,
"there will be a great shaking in the land of Israel" (38:19). The destruction
of the enemies would be so great, "seven months shall the house of Israel be burying
of them, that they may cleanse the land" (39:12). The grand conclusion, according to
the Prophet, is staggering. "So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD
their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel
went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid
I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the
It is not
clear if Ezekiel and the Revelation are referring to precisely the same event. However,
they are referring to exactly the same principle. The focus of Ezekiel was Israel. Some,
taking a historical view of the Ezekiel text, say the prophecy was fulfilled when the
Scythians came up against Israel early in the seventh century BC. That was, indeed, a
devastating time for Israel. However, the Lord's wrath did not burn against those
Scythians at that time, nor was He sanctified before the eyes of all nations according to
Ezekiel's prophecy. The historical view that text, in my judgment, is only a surface view,
to Ezekiel's prophecy, the Revelation refers to "the camp of the saints" and
"the beloved city" (20:9), both of which are much larger in scope than the
nation of Israel. Further, suddenly turning our attention to a consideration of the nation
of Israel alone does not blend when the tenor of the passage. We have been speaking of the
binding of Satan and "the nations" being deceived no more. Now Satan is to be
loosed to "deceive the nations." He will gather opponents, going "upon the
breadth of the earth" (20:9). Further, this book is written to "the
churches," not to the Jews. Its value is found in its relevancy to the reign of
Jesus, not a detailed disclosure of Israel's future. The ancient people of Israel ARE
included in the Revelation, but they are not its focus.
Spirit is borrowing the language from Ezekiel to describe the futility of Satan's effort
to remove the saints. The impression being made is not that of meticulous details, i.e.,
times and places. Rather, the Spirit is confirming to our hearts the absolute control
exercised by the heavenly realms. The nature of our adversary is also declared. The devil
himself is unchangeable. His purpose remains the same, together with his intent to fulfill
it-even though he is shut up for a thousand years! Too, those who do not receive the love
of the truth remain debased in their nature. As soon as Satan is given leave to work, they
will at once side with him in open opposition to the saints of God. The absolute
fallenness of men is not to be denied.
went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved
city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them." The language is awesome! You
get the picture of a multitude of inimical hosts covering the earth and surrounding the
saints of God. They are rallied by the devil himself. Those who are not in Christ ARE
aligned against the people of God. If they do not break forth against them, it is only
because they are restrained by the King of kings. However, given leave by God, they will
be mustered against believers.
THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS
the saints are encamped, thereby depicting their temporal residence in this world. Even
though Satan was bound, and his cause could not flourish, and although the knowledge of
the Lord covered the earth as the waters covered the sea, yet they remained
"strangers and pilgrims in the earth" (1 Pet 2:11; Heb 11:13). A professed
church that courts the friendship of the world will be destroyed by it. Further, a
religion that allows for close identity with the world is more from Satan than from God.
Believers do move in and out among the ungodly, but they do not "camp" with them.
They are "in the world," but they are not "of the world" (John 17:14).
Any comfort they enjoy in this world is but temporary. If their enemies are subdued, it is
only for a season. Until the heavens and the earth pass away, we live by faith and
maintain separateness from the course and fashion of this world, which is passing away (1 Cor 7:31).
message of the Revelation assumes the pilgrimship of believers in this world. They have
been chosen "out of the world" (John 15:19), and are being oriented for
"the world to come," over which they will preside (Heb 2:6; 6:5). If these
realities are ever forgotten, we will not be able to "hear what the spirit is saying
unto the churches."
THE BELOVED CITY
people of God are declared to be the objects of Divine affection. While it is true that
loved the world," this is never said of Jesus. When His love is declared, it is
pointedly said to be upon the church-his body. " . . . having loved his
own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end . . . we are more than conquerors
through Him who loved us . . . the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me . . .
Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us . . . Christ also loved the church and
gave Himself for her . . . To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own
blood" (John 13:1; Rom 8:35-38; Gal 2:20; Eph 5:2; Rev 1:5). There is such a
remarkable consistency on this matter one wonders how it could possibly be missed. The
love of God is only realized in Jesus Christ.
THE LOVE OF GOD
love of God the Father is declared, it also is said to be focused upon those in Christ
God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we
were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)
. . . Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and
given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace . . . In this is love, not that we
loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins . . .
We love Him because He first loved us" (Eph 2:4; 2 Thess 2:16; 1 John 4:10-11,19).
place in all of the Bible that God is said to have loved the world is John 3:16. It is a
marvelous expression, and is not to be in any way despised or minimized. Neither, indeed,
is it to be distorted. Notice, the expression is in the past tense: "loved." The MANNER
of the love is also highlighted: "SO loved." The love was provisionary, and not an
expression of preference or delight. That love was exhibited in the sending of the Son
into the world to provide a means through which God could be "just, and the justifier
of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3:26). That is a marvelous love, furnishing a
means to personally experience Divine love.
when it comes to those who are "beloved" of God-or who are BEING loved by God-the
privilege belongs only to those in the Son. They are a city that is loved by God and
Christ-a body of people residing in Divine favor. They are preferred by God, honored by
Him, and the focus of His attention. Presently, they are a city in encampment-on the move.
But the day is coming when they will "go no more out" (Rev 3:12). Individual believers are
looking for that
with great anticipation (Heb 11:10; 13:14).
people of God are also called a "city" because they gravitate toward each other. The
means through which they become apparent to the world is not their love for the world, but
one another" (John 13:35). No person is commended in Scripture for having a love for
sinners. However, believers are consistently applauded for having love for the saints (Eph
1:15; Col 1:4; Phile 5,7; Heb 6:10). The love of the brethren is our personal evidence we
have "passed from death
unto life" (1 John 3:14). While this view conflicts sharply with contemporary
representations of Divine love and Christian love, it is the viewpoint of Scripture. There
is not a single deviation from it throughout God's word.
loosed, Satan wastes no time rallying the unregenerate. They have a single focus, having
embraced the cause of the devil. It is NOT to corrupt the government! It is NOT to defile
the educational system! It is NOT to contaminate the family structure. When Satan is given
leave to gather his hosts together, he does not set out to bring a nation down. His is
more focused than that! A destroying flood proceeds from him that is calculated to carry
woman"-the saints of God (Rev 12:15). A fallen nation is bad. A fallen church is
worse! The deterioration of the family structure is alarming. Disintegration within the
church is worse! When the education system becomes corrupted by distorted philosophies, it
is contemptible. When the church is contaminated by false teaching, it is worse!
SAINTS AT A DISADVANTAGE
vivid picture shows the church at an apparent disadvantage. From all human perspectives,
the situation appears hopeless. Frequently Scripture uses the word "compassed" to
depict the apparent advantage of the godless. The wicked men of Sodom "compassed" the
house of Lot (Gen 19:4). The wicked Syrians "compassed" the
house in which Elisha resided (2 Kgs 6:1). The 22nd Psalm presents
the coming Redeemer as being "compassed" with strong opposing forces (Psa 22:12,16).
The 118th Psalm presents
the need to trust the Lord, even when surrounded by seemingly insurmountable odds. In
language much like that of our text, the Psalmist cries out, "All nations compassed me
. . . they compassed me about, yea, they compassed me about . . . They compassed me about
like bees" (118:10-12). That is the situation described in our text. It is a
condition that has existed throughout history, but will particularly come to pass at the
close of time.
tactic of the devil is mentioned elsewhere in the Revelation. "For they are the spirits
of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole
world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty" (16:14). That
evil gathering was thwarted by the coming of the Lord (16:15-16). Again it is written,
"And I saw the beast, and
the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that
sat on the horse, and against his army" (19:19). The utter frustration of their
intent is again declared: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that
wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the
beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire
burning with brimstone" (19:20).
wicked will be taken at the height of their power. Satan will be brought down violently
and decisively when he appears to be invincible. That is the Lord's manner, for in so
doing He gains honor and glory for Himself. When our adversary seems to have the upper
hand, we must believe that he does not really have it!
AND FIRE CAME DOWN
under these seemingly impossible circumstances, "fire came down from God
out of heaven and devoured them." With an abruptness of which God alone is capable,
the intent of the devil is thwarted. The saints are not harmed. The "beloved city" is
not destroyed. The devil only gathered his forces together so they could be openly and
finally destroyed by the Lord God Almighty.
people of God are tempted to imagine they are at a disadvantage, they must bolster their
hearts by a recollection that the disadvantages all belong to Satan and his camp. His time
and his purpose destined to fail! It is not the possibility of his removal that is
affirmed, but the surety of it!
Pharaoh AND his armies were destroyed in the Red Sea (Ex 14:17; 15:19), so the wrath of
God will fall upon Satan and all those allied with him. This is not a matter of
conjecture. Hear the Word of the Lord. "When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his
mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey
not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting
destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thess
no difference how aggressive evil is, how numerous those who perpetrate it are, or how
successful their efforts appear-all wicked initiatives will be brought to an abrupt end.
It will be a God-glorifying, devil-debasing conclusion!
persuaded this passage is dealing with Northern nations flooding down against Israel, only
to be destroyed by Divine fire. I do not for one moment rule out the possibility of such a
thing happening. We must not allow godless academia to rob us of a sense of God's mighty
power. However, neither must we allow a cramped view of Scripture to rob us of the comfort
it is designed to bring. Your faith requires the rich consolation that comes from knowing
the Lord Jesus IS the King of kings-even of Satan. Your heart needs the confidence that
comes from being persuaded ALL of Satan's efforts will be frustrated by the lord-whether
they are against an individual, Israel, or the body of Christ in particular. Anything and
everything he purposes is temporal.
the finality of the Divine act, and let it strengthen your heart. The devil was loosed. He
quickly marshaled together enemies of the saints. Like an unconquerable horde, they went
upon the breadth of the whole earth. With malicious intent and seeming invincibility they
surround the saints. All appears hopeless. But do not let your vision end here. Scan the
horizon of eternal purpose! Lift up your eyes and see the baring of the Lord's arm.
"And fire came down from
God out of heaven, and devoured them!" A sudden end to an impossible circumstance! O,
the glory of the sight! How often the saints need to hear that evil can come to an abrupt
DEMISE OF THE DEVIL
"10The devil, who
deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false
prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." O, how we need to hear of the
end of the devil! In the very beginning, before the transgressing pair was expelled from
the Garden, God told the devil of his end. We must never tire of hearing of it.
"And I will put enmity
between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel" (Gen 3:15). To give us hope in the good fight of
faith, we are told the bruise has already been delivered to the devil. It was administered
in Christ's death, during which the "heel" of the Messiah was bruised. How glorious the
through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil"
(Heb 2:14). Now our adversary is powerless in the heavenly places. He will yet be
powerless in every place.
time of this text, two of Satan's wicked initiatives have already been absolutely
"beast and the false prophet" have already been removed, and their dominancy
brought to a grinding halt. Political tyranny against the saints, and religious corruption
will both be absent when the "knowledge of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover
the sea." Unregenerate hearts will still exist, but they will not be able to form
coalitions or launch a drive against the saints.
perspective is seen in the words, "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and
brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are." There is no battle
here, no resistence by the devil, and no retaliation by his forces. The devil is simply
removed from the scene, and cast into the place "prepared for the devil
and his angels" (Matt 25:41). The lake of fire, however, will also house all who have
by the devil. Just as all those who have embraced Jesus will be with Him, so those who
have espoused the cause of Satan will dwell with him.
The "lake of fire and
brimstone" does not denote annihilation but Divine cursing and removal from the arena
of influence. It is also a place of unutterable suffering. The devil and his confederation
tormented day and night forever and ever." Earlier, the future of those who were
deceived by the devil is described in similar terms. One additional perspective, however,
is added. Such
be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the
presence of the Lamb" (14:10). The lake of fire will afford those consigned to it the
vision of the holy angels and the Lamb of God, Whom they rejected. The emphasis is on the
condemned beholding the angels and Jesus, not on the angels and Jesus beholding them. It
is not that the sight will provoke a desire to be with the Lord-that will be an impossible
thing for the damned. The devil hated the sight of Jesus when He was upon the earth. He
will hate it even more from the lake of fire. His torment will be accentuated by his
inability to do anything about his foaming hatred. The same will be true of
"the beast and the false
prophet." Their utter frustration, as well as their surrounding, will contribute to
unspeakable suffering and torment.
imagining God is incapable of consigning people to such a state must consider the destiny
of the devil. It is exactly the same destiny to be shared by everyone who made a place for
the devil, embracing his delusion and ignoring the Lord's Christ. There is altogether too
little thought about these matters in the contemporary church. Enough must be said about
this to make the slothful ill at ease with their manners. Truly, "it is a fearful thing to
fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31).
TIME OF DIVINE VINDICATION
"11Then I saw a
great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled
away. And there was found no place for them." When referring to the place
of Divine rule, "throne" is never used in the plural. The use of the word
consistently refers to under-rulers, and never the Lord. The placed occupied by earthly
rulers are "thrones" destined to be cast down (Dan 7:9). Jesus said the twelve
Apostles would sit upon "twelve thrones" (Matt 19:28). All forms of authority,
seen and unseen, are included in the "thrones" created by our Lord and for Him (Col 1:16).
Earlier in this chapter, John saw those living and reigning with Christ seated upon "thrones."
it comes to the residence of Divine authority, we never read of "thrones," only of
"throne." No less
than forty-one times, the Revelation refers to God's "throne" (1:4;
3:21; 4:2,3,4,5,6,9,10; 5:1,6,7,11,13; 6:16; 7:9,10,11,15,17; 8:3; 12:5; 14:3,5; 16:17;
19:4,5; 20:11; 21:5; 22:1,2,3). It is the place of determination and accountability. Here
is where both blessings and judgment are dispensed. Worship and praise are directed toward
this throne. The destiny and duration of men are determined at this throne. Here is where
the extent and length of Satan's influence have been set. From this throne saints are
nourished and protected. This is, in every sense of the word, "THE throne."
is used in the Revelation, it comes from the same word: "thronos" (). It will now be seen as the
place where every person will give an account, and from which their destiny will be
throne is seen from various perspectives in the Word of God. It is "the throne of
holiness" from which righteous decrees are executed (Psa 47:8). Because the reigning
Christ is made known from this throne, it is called "the throne of His
glory" (Matt 19:28; 25:31). The dispensing of needful grace comes from this throne.
Therefore it is called "the throne of grace" (Heb 4:16). But, it is a single
throne-a solitary place from which Divine determinations are executed, and before which
every created being shall stand.
A "Great Throne"
throne. It is
by nature, not only in appearance. It excels all other thrones, dominating in judicial
authority. It is
in sight, compelling the attention of everyone. When this throne is seen, no one will be
looking elsewhere. It is also "great" because of the judgment emitting from it.
A "White" throne
purity, righteousness, and justice are enforced. There will be no fault charged against
the Lord at His throne. Men find fault with God in this world, but it is only because they
are not aware of His presence. When all stand before the "white" throne,
every mouth will be "stopped." It will become clear that the Judge of all
the earth does
the place where absolute Sovereignty is expressed. God is truly "above all" (Eph
4:6). The Lord Jesus, to whom all judgment has been committed (John 5:22), is
"Head over all
things" (Eph 1:22). This is not a place of delegated authority, like that of earthly
views of the last time have been developed that employ the words "the great white throne
judgment," making it a unique judgment. As cherished as it may be, such phraseology
is not found in Scripture. In my judgment, this leaves us with no alternative but to view
both the throne and the judgment within the context of what the Spirit has elsewhere said
The Fleeing Earth and Heaven
beholding a glorious throne and a glorified Lord. It is precisely the same throne that has
governed all affairs from the beginning. It is also the same Lord that was exalted above
all things, and given a name that is above every name. God has promised to unveil the
exalted Son. As it is written, "He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and
only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (1 Tim 6:15). This is the point
to which we have come in the Revelation-the showing of the Son.
As it is
God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus" (Acts 3:13). That glory transcends
the natural order-so much so that it cannot be unveiled and the natural order remain. The
Lord repeatedly reminds us of the transitory nature of "the heavens and the
earth which are now" (2 Pet 3:7). They are "reserved for fire,"
away" (Matt 24:35). That passing is specifically associated with the coming of the
Lord. As it is written, "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,
in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with
fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Pet
suggested the fiery destruction of the heavens and the earth will be the result
nuclear warfare. This is an imagination. Not only the earth will be affected by the
declared end, but the heavens, or universe, as well. Man is not capable of removing what
God has put into place. The heavens and the earth came into existence "by the word of the
Lord" (2 Pet 3:5). Their destruction, we are told, will be accomplished
"by the same word"
(2 Pe 3:7). Novel views of Scripture often betray a lack of familiarity with the truth.
GLORY WILL BE THE MEANS
provided an expanded view of Peter's prophecy. It is the "face" of the
glorified Lord that will be the means of appointed destruction. Nothing that is natural
can survive exposure to the face of the Lord. What has been infected by sin cannot abide
the fulness of Divine glory. This is what the Lord meant when He apprized Moses,
"You cannot see My face;
for no man shall see Me, and live" (Ex 33:20). Indeed, when ONLY a portion of His
glory was revealed, the earth itself convulsed as though it was coming to an end (Ex
19:18; 20:18; Deut 4:11-12; 5:22; Judges 5:5; Psa 68:7-8; 104:32).
nature of the Lord is in sharp conflict with everything that is made. Thus it is written,
"A fire goes before Him,
And burns up His enemies round about. His lightnings light the world; The earth sees and
trembles. The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, At the presence of the
Lord of the whole earth" (Psa 97:3-5). In very vivid language, the Psalmist spoke of
the revelation of God. "Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; A fire shall
devour before Him, And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him" (Psa 50:3, NKJV).
Daniel alluded to the same thing when he wrote, "A fiery stream issued
and came forth from before Him" (Dan 7:10, NKJV). Nahum spoke of the same thing.
" The mountains
quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world,
and all that dwell therein" (Nah 1:5). Malachi adds his word to this matter of the
effect of the Lord's glorified presence. "For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and
all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh
shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor
branch" (Mal 4:1). Finally, the Spirit adds a confirming word in the book of Hebrews.
"For our God
is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29).
when the King of glory appears, nature will not be able to abide His presence-to say
nothing of His enemies! The heavens and earth themselves will flee from the face of their
Maker. Thus will come to an abrupt conclusion everything that is transient.
will be found for anything that defiles or has been defiled! As the result of man's sin,
"the heavens are not
clean in His sight" (Job 15:15). The shroud of mortality has been draped over the
entirety of creation. Because of that circumstance, the glory of the Lord will bring an
end to the era of defilement for nature. Unlike unredeemed humanity, "the whole creation
groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now," longing for deliverance
"from the bondage of
corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God" (Rom 8:22). That
deliverance will come when the face of the Lord is seen.
Lord's appearance (when we see "His face") will conclude the time when good and evil
are mingled. The stewardship of evil will be finished. Because the drama redemption shall
be complete, the stage upon which it was enacted (the earth) will be destroyed. The age of
resistence will be over. Temptation will no longer exist. God's people will no longer be
strangers and pilgrims in any sense. The fleeing of the heaven and the earth involves all
of this. There will be no evidence of temporality in any form. When the glory of the Lord
is unveiled, all of nature will flee away! The very notion of a glorified Christ reigning
upon a temporal stage is absurd. Glory and flesh cannot mix-that is why the glorified
Christ returned to heaven. As long as the world remained, He could not remain there in a
glorified state. Even so, when He returns, the earth will not be able to remain.
leave this section without exulting in the marvelous effects our Lord's coming will have
upon the saved. The revelation of the Lord will bring great joy to the redeemed. As Isaiah
it will be said in that day: Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will
save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His
salvation" (Isa 25:9).
coming that destroys the devil and his hosts will liberate the saints of God. The same
coming that will consume all of His adversaries will change all of His people. The heavens
and the earth will flee from before His face, but we will rejoice and be exceedingly glad.
As it is written,
we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He
is" (1 John 3:2, NKJV). The very same appearance shall affect all of these thing
BOOK AND THE BOOKS
"12And I saw the
dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was
opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by
the things which were written in the books." What an awesome sight is
before us! From one perspective, we are seeing "the end of all
things" (1 Pet 4:7; 1 Cor 15:24). From another view, however, the coming of the Lord
will be the beginning of things. For the enemies of God, it will be the beginning of
accountability, punishment, and retribution. For the saints, it will be the beginning of
an eternal reign, complete conformity to the likeness of their Lord, and a life without
hostility or disruption. For creation, it will be the beginning of the freedom from the
curse and mortality. In fact, life is to be viewed with this verse in mind.
not the first time John has been shown "the dead." At the very beginning of the book, the
churches are alerted to the return of Jesus and the inevitable confrontation that will
take place as
eye" sees Him (1:7). In the eleventh chapter John was exposed to "the time of the
dead," when saints will be rewarded and sinners will be destroyed (11:18).
dead, small and great, stand before God"-the ultimate confrontation. The word
"dead" can be seen
from two perspectives. First, it is all who were slain in the fall of mankind-those
"dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph 2:1,5; Col 2:13)-in other words, the entire
human race. Second, and more specifically here, it is all who were subject to the Divine
appointment of death (Heb 9:27). By saying "small and great," the Spirit is again emphasizing that
all men will be there. "Small and great" is a Divine synonym for everyone (Gen
19:11; 1 Sam 5:9; 2 Kgs 23:2; Acts 26:22; Psa 115:13; Rev 11:18).
will take place after every word of God has been fulfilled. With great power Peter spoke
of Jesus being retained, or remaining, in heaven until everything the prophets declared
has come to pass.
he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must
receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth
of all his holy prophets since the world began" (Acts 3:20-21). Now, in a gigantic
dead" stand before God. He does not say "the rest of the
dead." He does not say "the dead in Christ," but "the dead." This is
"the time of
the dead," and is precisely described in the eleventh chapter. "Thy wrath is come, and
the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto
thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and
great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth" (11:18). All of them, will
know why they are there. The saved of the nations will be rejoicing and the lost
lamenting-but they will all be there. Judgmental believers are reminded of this occasion.
"But why do you judge
your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before
the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10).
have concluded this is a different judgment because of the term "judgment seat."
This expression is taken from a different word than "throne." The word
bh,mati (ba-ma-ti). Fastening upon
this expression, the doctrine of the "bema-seat" judgment has been developed.
This teaches that sinners will be judged at a different judgment and time. The saints are
said to be rewarded rather than judged, at a previous time. This simply does not blend
with the rest of Scripture. Believers are told what will occur at the "judgment seat of
it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue
shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God"
spoke of the separation of the sheep from the goats as taking place when the nations are
gathered before Him (Matt 25:32). At THAT time, the "sheep" will enter
into their inheritance, and the "goats" will be thrust from the presence of the Lord
fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt 25:3-41).
"The books" that
will be opened are the works of men. With remarkable consistency, judgment is always said
to" our works (Rom 2:6; 1 Cor 3:8; 2 Cor 11:15; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Tim 4:14; 1 Pet 1:17;
Rev 2:23; 10:12-13). Our Lord went so far as to say, "But I say to you that
for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of
judgment" (Matt 12:36). On the positive side, Malachi speaks of the heavenly
recording of gatherings of those fearing the Lord. "Then they that feared
the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of
remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon
His name" (Mal 3:16).
also spoke of these books, looking forward to the time when judgment would be take place.
"A river of fire was
flowing And coming out from before Him; Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, And
myriads upon myriads were standing before Him; The court sat, And the books were opened" (Dan 7:10). What far reaching
vision was given to this holy prophet!
A day of
accountability is coming! O, that more professed believers were convinced of this! Those
having rule over the house of God, who speak to them the Word of the Lord, will also give
an account for the flock. "They watch out for your souls, as those who must
give account" (Heb 13:17). Due
consideration of this accounting will have a favorable effect on our labors for the Lord.
A failure to recall the time when we stand before the Lord will contribute to slothfulness
and spiritual sleep.
WHY ARE THE BOOKS OPENED?
The "books" are not
opened to determine who is saved and who is lost. That is determined while men live in the
world. Jesus once said, "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not
believe is condemned already" (John 3:18). He does not say the believer WILL not be
condemned, but that such "IS not condemned." Nor, indeed, does our Lord say the
unbeliever WILL be condemned, but that he is "condemned already."
A TIME OF DIVINE VINDICATION
of judgment (and it is always in the singular) is a time of Divine vindication. Here the
reasonableness of both condemnation and salvation will be openly displayed. The worthiness
of the redeemed will be displayed, as well as the unworthiness of the wicked. For some,
this is too difficult to receive, for they imagine the saints possess no worthiness. But
this is not the case. Their worthiness is not owing to their own goodness, to be sure, but
nevertheless, it is very real. Of the faithful few in dead Sardius, the Lord said,
"they shall walk with Me
in white, for they are worthy" (Rev 3:4). Christ has
"made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance
of the saints in light" (Col 1:12). The spirit says of those who refused to thrust the Word of the
Lord from themselves, "Blessed are those who do His commandments,
that they may have the right to the tree of
life, and may enter through the gates into the city" (Rev 22:14). The day of
judgment will declare the rightness of believing in Christ, abandoning the world, and
resisting the devil. The worth of denying oneself, crucifying the flesh, and being a
stranger in this world will be shown.
uprightness of the condemnation of the wicked will be apparent. God will be found
absolutely true in all of His sayings. As it is written, "let God be true, but
every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and
mightest overcome when thou art judged" (Rom 3:4). Every person refusing to yield to
the Lord has judged the Lord unworthy of their obedience. They have pitted themselves
against the Lord, choosing their own way over that of their Creator.
has told us our thoughts, words, and deeds will some day confront us. (Matt 12:36; 16:27;
Mk 4:22; Lk 12:2-3; Rom 14:10; 1 Cor 3:13; 4:5). The books WILL be opened!
greatness of salvation will be seen, as well as the absurdity of sin and transgression.
While men are upon the earth, the books are not opened. There are secret things that are
written in the books that are known now by no one but God. But that will not always be the
case. God will
the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Rom 2:5). Things that were "hidden" in this
world, will be
in the day of judgment. Our Lord declared, "For there is nothing
hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should
come abroad" (Mark 4:22). Some who appeared good and upright will be seen as corrupt
and depraved. Others, appearing to men to be naive and foolish will be seen as God's kings
The "books," we will
find, are perfectly coordinated with "another book." This is "the Book of Life,"
or the record of those who are "alive unto God" (Rom 6:11). This book is mentioned by
name eight times in Scripture. Paul spoke of fellow workers "whose names are in
the Book of Life" (Phil 4:3). Jesus promised
"I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life" (Rev 3:5). In a description
of those who were ultimately deceived by Satan and his evil confederacy, the Spirit
identifies them by where their names were NOT recorded. "All who dwell on the
earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the
foundation of the world" (Rev 13:8). Those enamored of Satan's representative are also
described as those "whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the
foundation of the world"(Rev 17:8). Later, those dwelling forever with the Lord are
who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life" (Rev 21:27).
relevancy of this
is made known in a telling remark about those who dare to tamper with the words of
Revelation. Those taking away from these words are told "God shall take away his
part from the Book of Life" (Rev 22:19). A solemn warning, indeed.
for those who do not believe such a thing is possible! This was spoken by the Lord of
glory Himself. Further, the removal of the names of offenders will be accomplished by God
Himself. Men do well to abandon doctrines that cause them to deny the affirmations of
Another Way of Saying "Eternal Life"
Life" is another way of saying eternal life. Not only do the saved know God, God also
knows them! Thus, when speaking of our identity with God, the Spirit says,
"But now after you have
known God, or rather are known by God . . . " (Gal 4:9). This kind of knowledge was
prefigured in faithful Moses. Of him the Lord said, "for you have found grace
in My sight, and I know you by name" (Ex 33:17). Jesus also said,
"I am the good shepherd;
and I know My sheep"
(John 10:14). And again,
"My sheep hear My voice,
and I know them" (John 10:27). The Spirit
declares in First Corinthians, "But if anyone loves God, this one is known by Him" (1
Cor 8:3). We are told the day is coming when we will "know" even as also
(1 Cor 13:12). And who can forget the marvelous affirmation of Second Timothy 2:19:
"Nevertheless the solid
foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His."
are all references to "the Book of Life"-the recognition of those in Christ
Jesus by both the Father and the Son. In this world, not even the most godly of all people
have been shown this book. Each person does well to know whether they are written in it.
But in the day of judgment, the full contents of the book will be disclosed.
Names Written in Heaven
way the Scriptures speak of this book is found in Hebrews 12:23. There the saints are
referred to as
general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven." As
citizens of heaven, their names are recorded in the appropriate register. To have your
name written in this book is a cause for great rejoicing. When confronting a rejoicing
number of disciples, returning from remarkable victories over the powers of darkness,
Jesus spoke of a greater cause for rejoicing. "Notwithstanding in this
rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names
are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20).
the day when
"the Book of Life" will be opened-the register of every one who is alive and
sensitive to God. This is the roll of those "acceptable to God"
(Rom 14:18) and
in Christ" (Rom 16:10). It is the listing of those whom "Christ has received to
the glory of God" (Rom 15:7).
people are not alike! There is a group of individuals who are loved and honored by God. He
knows them by name, and His Son intercedes for them. His Holy Spirit helps their
weaknesses, and strengthens them within. His holy angels are dispatched to serve them,
assisting them in their journey to glory. Their names are in the Book of Life.
is coming when these people will be disclosed to the assembled universe. The angels know
who they are now, and will know who they are when they gather them from every quarter of
heaven and earth. But some day everyone will know! The Son of God will step forward, as it
were, and acknowledge them before the Father and the angels. As it is written,
confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven"
I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before
the angels of God" (Lk 12:8). That is another way of saying the Book of Life will be
opened. Make every effort to be sure your name is written there. The day of judgment is
coming, and you have an appointment to be there (Heb 9:27). You have nothing to fear if
your name is in
Book of Life," and everything to fear if it is not. Give diligence to make your
calling and election sure (2 Pet 1:10), so that when the Book of opened, you will be glad.
EVERYONE IS THERE
"13The sea gave up
the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And
they were judged, each one according to his works."
Spirit now underscores the thoroughness of the day of judgment. Everyone will be there!
Everyone affected by sin will be affected by Divine judgment. A large percentage of graves
sea." For the most part, these are lost from both view and mind. Think of mass of
people who died in the flood. Who can estimate the vastness of the number? They will ALL
stand before the
white throne." Since the flood, there have been localized floods, and sea disasters
in which untold millions have died. They will all be brought back to stand before
"the great white
"Death and Hades"
will yield the dead that are in them. "Death," in this case, is the grave, or abode of the
("Hell" in the KJV), is the abode of spirits. Upon death, the spirit and the
body are separated. That is what death means, separation. Each part of man, the seen body
and the unseen spirit, are consigned to separate places until the time of resurrection.
Scriptures have much to say about the grave, i.e., "death," or the
place where the body is interred. Presently, it has swallowed up humanity, appearing to be
victorious. Through Hosea, God has spoken to the grave, "I will ransom them from
the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O
grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes" (Hosea
13:14). The word "death" refers to the general residence of dead bodies-the
earth-and not to particular graves, like "the grave of Abner" (2 Sam 3:32), the
"grave of Lazarus"
(John 12:17), etc.
is a prison house for the bodies of the deceased. Jesus, however, has the "keys of death," and
will open this prison when He returns in all of His glory.
coming a day when we will mock the grave. Even now, we do it by faith, looking forward to
death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Cor 15:55). In
obedience to God, the time is coming when death will deliver up the dead who are in it.
The earth will
out her dead" (Isa 26:19). And when will that occur? When the Lord is revealed. When
He face is seen. Even the grave will not be able to survive the coming of the Lord!
"Hades" is mentioned
eleven times in Scripture (Matt 11:23; 16:18; Lk 10:15; 16:23; Acts 2:27,31; 1 Cor 15:55;
Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13,14). In all of these texts, the KJV translates the word
"hell." The word
"hades" is a general
word denoting an unseen place for departed spirits.
who have departed from this life are not unconscious. Their bodies "sleep," but they do
not. They are, however, confined to an unseen realm. There is such a sparse amount of
information revealed about this abode that we do not well to develop a rigid view of it.
We do know that Jesus was not able to be confined there, as Peter affirmed.
"For You will not leave
my soul in Hades, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption . . . he, foreseeing
this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in
Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption" (Acts 2:27,31). There you have both realms,
death and Hades, visited by the Lord Himself. Neither realm could contain Him. As Peter
God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He
should be held by it" (Acts 2:24).
also referred to
gates of Hades" (Hell, KJV). He was not referring to the realm of the damned, but the
realm of the dead. Of His Deity He said, "on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades
shall not prevail against it" (Matt 16:18). The thing against which the gates would
not prevail was preeminently His person, and secondarily His church. What He was saying is
both Himself and His church could not be confined by death. He would come back from the
region of the dead, and so will His church.
person will stand before the Lord in a complete state-spirit, soul, and body. Consider the
account of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16:19-31). Both of their bodies will be raised,
and both of their spirits will come from the realm where they were consigned. Spirit and
body will be rejoined in the resurrection to stand before the "great white
THE EXTENT OF THE SITUATION
extent of the judgment is challenging to consider. Not Only will all men confront the Lord
Himself, they will also confront one another. Those whose records have been provided in
Scripture, and from whom we should have learned, will be at the judgment. We will be
acutely aware of them, and they of us.
spoke of this matter. For those who refuse to repent, even when they are confronted with
the truth of their condition and the glory of the Gospel, Jesus gave this word.
"The men of Nineveh
will rise up in the judgment with this
generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a
greater than Jonah is here" (Matt 12:41). And what will an impenitent generation have to say
up?" How will people, for example, in Joplin, Missouri explain their obstinance
before the likes of Nineveh. Nineveh heard no Gospel, yet did repent.
those who do not extend themselves to appropriate available truth, Jesus said these words.
of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she
came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than
Solomon is here" (Matt 12:42). Knowing that Solomon had greater wisdom than she did,
the queen of Sheba "came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue" (1 Kgs
10:1-13). She asked him hard questions-questions no one else could answer. What will those
who have not inquired of Jesus-who have not sought His mind-say when she rises up in the
day of judgment. She will not remain seated when she beholds people who had access to the
"treasures of wisdom and
knowledge" in Christ Jesus, yet did not take advantage of them. People who have
remained fundamentally ignorant of the Scriptures, God, Christ, and salvation, will surely
confront the Queen of Sheba, as well as the Lord of glory. How will they account for their
spiritual obtuseness before her?
also spoke of the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how they will appear on the day
whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city,
shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for
the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" (Matt
10:14-15). As wicked as those cities were, they did not have the advantage of Moses, the
Prophets, John the Baptist, the ministry of Jesus, the Apostles, or the Scriptures. Their
sin, as wicked as it was, is not as bad as that of those rejecting the Lord's Christ and
His great salvation. The righteous judgment of God will find it "more tolerable" for
Sodom and Gomorrah than for such people. Adding to this, Jesus said to Capernaum,
"for if the mighty works,
which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this
day" (Matt 11:23-24).
Chorazin and Bethsaida, where Jesus did "most of His mighty works" (Matt 11:20), the Lord spoke
of confronting Tyre and Sidon. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the
mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have
repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre
and Sidon at the judgment than for you" (Lk 10:13-14). The curse of the Lord against
Tyre is recorded in Isaiah 23:1-18. It is mild when compared to those who have been
exposed to the working and word of Christ, yet have remained in unbelief!
THE SAINTS WILL JUDGE
saints will not only stand before the throne themselves, they will participate in the
ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? . . . Know ye not that we shall judge
angels?" (1 Cor 6:2-3). It is in this sense that we will be given "power over the
nations" (Rev 2:26-27). The tables will be reversed! Those who judged the saints in
this world will be judged by them on the day of judgment. This is involved in the promise
of our Lord to those in Philadelphia. "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which
say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know
that I have loved thee" (Rev 3:9).
of judgment will not be a simplistic occasion. The gathering of every created personality
together before the holy God is certainly not to be taken lightly. The affair will not be
for merely making announcements. It is a time of Divine vindication and justification.
Every single word the Lord said will be shown to be true. Every single person who
contradicted His word will be shown to be foolish. Every individual who embraced the Lord
and His word will be shown to be right. To fail to prepare for this inevitable day is
foolish, indeed! We have not only been apprized this day will surely come, but have been
given everything necessary to prepare for it.
JUDGED ACCORDING TO WORKS
have stumbled over the statement that men are judged "according to their
works," even though this is the ONLY way judgment is presented in Scripture. How is
it possible to be
by grace," yet be "judged according to our works." First, the question is
really out of order. God has affirmed both to be true, which should be an end of all
grace" we are "saved" (Eph 2:5,8). Too, we will be judged
"according to" our
is not something theoretical or psychological. It is very real and effectual. A new heart
is really granted, together with a purged conscience and a clean moral slate. The person
in Christ is
"a new creation" (2 Cor 5:17). That salvation, duly heeded, results in
"good works." Even
though we are NOT justified by works (Rom 4:2; Gal 2:16; Tit 3:4,5), salvation does not
exclude them. The Word of the Lord is very clear on this matter. "By grace you have been
saved . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it
is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk
in them" (Eph 2:5-10).
who are not characterized by "good works" are outside of the realm of salvation.
Their life is a contradiction of salvation, and not evidence of it. Christians must stop
explaining the absence of "goods works." These "good works" are not
defined by men, but appointed by God. It is another way of saying living by faith, walking
in the Spirit, or living unto God (Heb 10:38; Gal 5:17; Gal 2:19).
a perfect coordination between the works of believers and their salvation. New life in
Christ does not erupt in devilish activity. The absence of good works indicates the
absence of spiritual life. Thus, when they are judged according to their works, the effect
of salvation will be publically displayed to the glory of God and the honor of the Lord
Jesus Christ. Salvation is gloriously effective, as the judgment will confirm.
"14Then Death and
Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15And anyone not
found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." The extent of
"the end of all
things" challenges our souls. We have already been told the "beast and the false
prophet" were "cast into the lake of fire" (19:20). The devil will
also be cast there (20:10). Whoever was not found written in the Book of life will be
thrown there (20:15). Here, however, we read of something impersonal that will be cast
into the lake of fire. "Death and Hades" (Hell, KJV).
are both temporary residences. They depict the place where bodies are held and spirits
reserved until the resurrection. The final destiny of the damned will, in fact, be the
"lake of fire"-not
the grave, and not Hades, or Hell. The final destiny of the saved is to "ever be with the
Lord." There will be no release of the condemned from their final destination. Nor,
indeed, will the saved ever again leave their final abode.
earth will no longer be in a temporal state, condemned to the "bondage of
corruption" by the curse. Flesh and blood will no longer exist as we know it. There
will be no more births, initial or spiritual. No one will ever again die. Thus, there will
be no need for death, or the grave. There will also be no further requirement for Hades,
or the place of departed spirits. Having no further utility, both "death and Hades"
will be cast into the "lake of fire."
will be no more comfort in Abraham's bosom, for the saved will be "with the Lord."
There will be no more souls "under the altar," crying out for the avenging of their
blood. They will ever be with the Lord. There will be no more souls in hell, like the rich
man of Luke 16. He will be in the lake of fire. Thus, both "death and Hades"
into the lake of fire," together with the damned. I do not know all of the
and Hades" being where the condemned are. Perhaps the fear and dread of these places
will be part of the reward of the wicked.
The Lake of Fire
The "lake of fire" is a
place of absolute separation from God. Divine wrath will not be mingled with mercy, as it
is now. Not a shred of goodness, consideration, relief, or hope will be found in
"the lake of fire."
The eternal lament will rise from this awful realm, "The harvest is past, The
summer is ended, And we are not saved!" (Jer 8:20).
condition is described in the words of Second Thessalonians 1:9. "They will be punished
with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the
majesty of his power" (NIV). This is a very real situation about which speculation is
completely out of order.
ANYONE NOT FOUND WRITTEN
thought of not being found written in the Book of Life should awaken a resolute spirit in
every person. Remember, "there is no respect of persons with God" (Rom 2:11).
There is no hope for anyone whose name is not found in "the Book of Life."
ramifications of this are significant. The "Book of Life" is
the Divine record of those "alive unto God"-who are "known" by Him. It
is the record of those in fellowship with God's Son, whose lives are "hid with Christ in
God" (Col 3:3). Here are the names of those who KNOW the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, Whom He has sent (John 17:3).
and everyone that are not in this category do not have their names in the Book of Life!
The outcome of that circumstance is succinctly stated. "And anyone not found
written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." They will be eternally
consigned to the same place as the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. They will
occupy the same realm as everyone who was deceived by the devil. The villains and despots
of the world will be their associates-and yet they will not be able to join hand in hand.
bold enough to give due thought to this matter will find it influencing the way they live.
They will be provoked to view the Lord Jesus more intently, and expose themselves to the
Word of God more consistently. This message is written "to the churches."
They are to give heed to it, working out their own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil
2:12-12). Their efforts will be undergirded by Omnipotence, and cannot be in vain.CONCLUSION
dealt with an unusually controversial passage of Scripture. The controversy, however, has
not been caused by the passage itself, but by what men have said about the passage. If we
will rise high enough, great benefit can be derived from this text. If we remain on a
lower and more fleshly plain, the text will generate more questions than answers, and we
will find ourselves in conflict with other believers. A proper view of the text will
promote unity, not disunity. It will also tend to strengthen and enlighten believers,
emphasizing the glory of redemption and the danger of rejecting or neglecting it.
recollection of the broad perspective of this text will serve to confirm these things.
will be contained for a significant period of time, during which he will not be able to
deceive the nations.
time of binding Satan will be loosed to deceive the nations throughout the world.
gather those deceived by him in a confederacy to do battle against the people of God.
of the saints will be surrounded by this wicked host.
are surrounded are loved by God.
aggression is abruptly terminated when fire comes down from heaven and devours them all.
is summarily cast into the lake of fire, where he and his cohorts will be tormented day
and night forever.
a great white throne, and One upon it, before whom the heaven and earth cannot remain.
removed from the Lord's face, there will be no place for the fleeing heaven and earth.
the dead will stand before God.
of human deeds will all be opened.
of Life will also be opened.
be judged out of the books, in strict accordance with their works.
will give up all of it's dead.
the abode of interred bodies, will give of the dead in it.
the abode of departed spirits, will yield up the dead in it.
will be judged according to their works.
Hades will be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
is not found written in the Book of Life, will be cast into the lake of fire.
CAN take hold of those affirmations. They must be taken into the heart as they are stated.
If done so, the Spirit will expand them to us, showing their relevancy to the life of
general conclusions are in order. These are supported by all of Scripture, and have no
affect upon the text itself.
heaven can bind Satan.
heaven can release Satan.
gravitate to sin by nature.
chief work is deception.
men can be rallied against the church.
It is not
possible to side with Satan, or yield to his deception, and yet be saved.
It is not
possible to identify with Jesus and cleave to Him, and be lost.
do not live unto God cannot be saved.
live to the Lord cannot be lost.
cannot survive the confrontation of the full glory of Christ.
will eventually confront God. Better to come to know Him now, in preparation for that
As you can see, there is good
Christ, and walk in Him. As it is written, "As ye have therefore
received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Col 2:6). Be encouraged to do