Transformation class 04.01.2012


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Revelation 21

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  • The Removal of Satan Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. ( Rev_20:1-3 ) The first matter for the King’s attention as He sets up His kingdom is the confinement of the chief rebel. The removal of “the god of this world” ( 2Co_4:4 ), “the prince of the power of the air … the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” ( Eph_2:2 ), will dramatically change the world. By this time, God will have destroyed all human rebels. Those who survived the Tribulation judgments will have been executed at Armageddon ( Rev_19:11-21 ) or the goat judgment ( Mat_25:41-46 ). The ringleaders of the worldwide rebellion, the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet, will have been thrown into the lake of fire ( Rev_19:20 ). The final step in preparation for the kingdom will be the removal of Satan and his demon hosts, so that Christ reigns without the opposition of supernatural enemies. As it frequently does in Revelation (cf. Rev_20:4 , Rev_20:11 ; Rev_6:1 , Rev_6:2 , Rev_6:5 , Rev_6:8 , Rev_6:12 ; Rev_7:2 ; Rev_8:2 , Rev_8:13 ; Rev_9:1 ; Rev_10:1 ; Rev_13:1 , Rev_13:11 ; Rev_14:1 , Rev_14:6 , Rev_14:14 ; Rev_15:1 ; Rev_16:13 ; Rev_17:3 ; Rev_19:11 , Rev_19:17 , Rev_19:19 ; Rev_21:1 ), the phrase kai eidon ( And I saw ) indicates chronological progression. The location of this passage in the chronological flow of Revelation is consistent with a premillennial view of the kingdom. After the Tribulation (chaps. 6-19) Christ will return ( Rev_19:11-21 ) and set up His kingdom ( Rev_20:1-10 ), which will be followed by the new heavens and the new earth ( Rev_21:1 ). Thus the millennial kingdom comes after Christ’s second coming but before the establishing of the new heavens and the new earth. Amillennialist Anthony Hoekema has to acknowledge that, taken at face value, the chronology of Revelation supports premillennialism. He writes: Let us assume, for example, that the book of Revelation is to be interpreted in an exclusively futuristic sense…. Let us further assume that what is presented in Rev_20:1-15 must necessarily follow, in chronological order, what was described in chapter 19. We are then virtually compelled to believe that the thousand-year reign depicted in Rev_20:4 must come after the return of Christ described in Rev_19:11 . (“Amillennialism,” in The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views, ed. Clouse, 156) The passage clearly teaches that Christ’s return precedes the millennial kingdom — a scenario incompatible with postmillennialism and amillennialism, but exactly what premillennialism teaches. To get around the difficulty the chronology of Revelation poses for their views, postmillennialists and amillennialists must deny that Rev_20:1-15 follows chapter 19 chronologically. But such a denial ignores the chronological significance of the phrase kai eidon , as noted above. It also ignores the continuity of the context: Having dealt with Antichrist and the false prophet in chapter 19, Christ deals with their evil master, Satan, in Rev_20:1-15 . Why reject such an obvious chronology? It is apparently done for no other reason than to eliminate premillennialism, not because there is any justification in Scripture. The identity of the angel whom John saw coming down from heaven to bind Satan is not disclosed, but he may be Michael the archangel, the great adversary of Satan ( Rev_12:7 ; cf. Dan_10:13 , Dan_10:21 ; Dan_12:1 ; Jud_1:9 ). Whoever the angel is, he possesses great power. He is sent to earth with a specific agenda: to seize Satan for the thousand-year duration of the kingdom, bind him, cast him into the abyss and seal it, and then release him at the end of the thousand years. Abussos ( abyss ) appears seven times in Revelation (cf. Rev_9:1 , Rev_9:2 , Rev_9:11 ; Rev_11:7 ; Rev_17:8 ), always in reference to the temporary place of incarceration for certain demons. The abyss is not their final place of punishment; the lake of fire is ( Mat_25:41 ). Nevertheless it is a place of torment to which the demons fear to be sent ( Luk_8:31 ). The prisoners in the abyss are among the most vile and evil of all demons and include the “spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah” ( 1Pe_3:19-20 ). Those demons, who attempted to corrupt the human race by cohabiting with human women ( Gen_6:1-4 ), will never be released ( Jud_1:6 ). They will be transferred directly from their temporary incarceration in the abyss to their permanent place of punishment, the lake of fire (cf. Isa_24:21-22 ). Other demons sentenced to the abyss will be released at the fifth trumpet judgment to torment sinners ( Rev_9:1-12 ). (For further information on the abyss, see Revelation 1-11, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1999], 257-58.) The key given to the angel by God signifies his delegated authority (cf. Rev_9:1 ); he has the power to open the abyss, and then to shut it after casting Satan inside. The metaphor of binding demons with a chain also appears in Jud_1:6 . This chain is a great one, because of Satan’s greatness and power as the highest created being (cf. Eze_28:14 ). The angel laid hold of Satan, who is unmistakably identified by the same four titles given him in 12:9. First, he is called the dragon, a title given him twelve times in Revelation (cf. Rev_12:3 , Rev_12:4 , Rev_12:7 , Rev_12:9 , Rev_12:13 , Rev_12:16 , Rev_12:17 ; Rev_13:1 , Rev_13:2 , Rev_13:4 ; Rev_16:13 ). It emphasizes his bestial nature, ferociousness, and oppressive cruelty. The title serpent of old hearkens back to the Garden of Eden and Satan’s temptation of Eve ( Gen_3:1-6 ; 2Co_11:3 ). Diabolos ( devil ) means “slanderer,” or “malicious gossip” ( 1Ti_3:11 ; 2Ti_3:3 ; Tit_2:3 ) — an appropriate title for the “accuser of our brethren” ( Rev_12:10 ). Satan is a malignant liar; in fact, he is “the father of lies” ( Joh_8:44 ). Satanas ( Satan ) and its Hebrew root satan are used fifty-three times in Scripture. Both words mean “adversary,” since Satan opposes God, Christ, and all believers. The length of the period for which Satan will be bound is defined as a thousand years, the first of six precise and important references to the duration of the Millennium (cf. Rev_20:3 , Rev_20:4 , Rev_20:5 , Rev_20:6 , Rev_20:7 ). Satan’s binding poses a serious difficulty for both postmillennialists and amillennialists. Amillennialists argue that Satan is already bound, since, as noted above, they believe we are in the Millennium now (though they do not view it as one thousand literal years in length). Many postmillennialists also believe that Satan is presently bound, because otherwise it is difficult to see how the church could usher in the Millennium. Yet the biblical description of Satan’s activity in this present age makes it impossible to believe he has already been bound. Satan plants lying hypocrites in the church ( Act_5:3 ), schemes against believers ( 2Co_2:11 ; Eph_6:11 ), disguises himself as an angel of light to deceive people ( 2Co_11:14 ), attacks believers ( 2Co_12:7 ; Eph_4:27 ) and must be resisted ( Jam_4:7 ), hinders those in the ministry ( 1Th_2:18 ), and leads believers astray ( 1Ti_5:15 ). Amillennialists and postmillennialists generally argue that Satan was bound at the Cross, and that his binding simply means that he can no longer deceive the nations and keep them from learning God’s truth (e.g., Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979], 228]. But Satan did not keep the Gentile nations from the knowledge of the truth before his alleged binding at the Cross. The Egyptians heard about the true God from Joseph, and from the Israelites during the four hundred years they lived in Egypt. The Assyrians of Nineveh not only heard the truth from Jonah, but also repented ( Mat_12:41 ). The Queen of Sheba heard about the true God from Solomon ( 1Ki_10:1-9 ); the Babylonians from Daniel and his Jewish friends; and the Persians from Esther, Mordecai, and Nehemiah. Further, in what sense is Satan restrained from deceiving the nations in the present age, since he blinds the minds of unbelievers ( 2Co_4:4 ), “is now working in the sons of disobedience” ( Eph_2:2 ), and holds unbelievers captive ( 2Ti_2:26 ) in his kingdom ( Col_1:13 )? The testimony of Scripture is that Satan is anything but bound in this present age, but will be during the coming earthly kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is only then that he will be incarcerated in the abyss, which will be shut … and sealed … so that he cannot deceive the nations any longer. His activity in the world will not be merely restricted or restrained, but totally curtailed; he will not be permitted to influence the world in any way. As will be explained later, that does not mean that the living people in the Millennium will be incapable of sinning. Amazingly, a vast part of the population, born of the believers who alone entered the kingdom, will in that perfect environment love their sin and reject the King. They will be judged with a rod of iron (2:27; Neh_12:5 ; Psa_2:9 ), and those who engage in open rebellion under Satan’s leadership when the thousand years are completed and Satan must be released for a short time will be utterly destroyed (see the discussion of Rev_20:8-10 below). The Reign of the Saints Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. ( Rev_20:4-6 ) With Satan, his demon hosts, and all God-rejecting sinners out of the way, the millennial kingdom of peace and righteousness will be established. The supreme ruler in that kingdom will, of course, be the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” ( Rev_19:16 ), and “the Lord God will give Him [alone] the throne of His father David” ( Luk_1:32 ). Yet He has graciously promised that His saints will reign with Him. They will rule subordinately over every aspect of life in the kingdom, and being glorified and perfected, they will perfectly carry out His will. In this vision, John sees the panorama of God’s people resurrected, rewarded, and reigning with Christ. He saw thrones, symbolizing both judicial and regal authority, and God’s people sat on them, and judgment was given to them. The glorified saints will both enforce God’s will and adjudicate disputes. Several suggestions have been offered concerning the identity of the saints who sat on the thrones, but they can best be identified by determining who God promised would reign. Dan_7:27 promises that the Old Testament saints will reign in the millennial kingdom: “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” Jesus promised the apostles that “you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” ( Mat_19:28 ). New Testament believers are also promised that they will reign with Christ. In 1Co_6:2 Paul wrote, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” while 2Ti_2:12 declares, “If we endure, we will also reign with Him.” In Rev_2:26 Jesus promises, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,” and in Rev_3:21 He adds, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Rev_5:10 makes it clear that the saints will reign on the earth, not in a spiritual sense or in the heavenly sphere: “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” The present passage introduces the last group of saints who will reign with Christ in His kingdom. As his vision continued, John saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand. These are the martyred believers from the Tribulation ( Rev_6:9 ; Rev_7:9-17 ; Rev_12:11 ). Pelekizō ( beheaded ) literally means, “to cut off with an axe,” and is a figure of speech meaning “to put to death,” or “to execute.” The empire of Antichrist exterminated Tribulation saints because of their testimony of Jesus (cf. Rev_1:9 ; Rev_12:17 ; Rev_19:10 ), because they faithfully proclaimed the word of God (cf. Rev_1:2 ; Rev_6:9 ), and because they had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand (cf. Rev_13:16-17 ; Rev_14:9-11 ; Rev_16:2 ; Rev_19:20 ). Because the Tribulation saints were faithful to the death, evidencing their true salvation (cf. Mat_24:13 ; Col_1:21-23 ; Heb_3:14 ), they too came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Ezēsan ( they came to life ) cannot refer to a spiritual resurrection (regeneration or the new birth), since the Tribulation martyrs were already spiritually alive. When used in connection with physical death, the root form of ezēsan ( zaō ) is used throughout the New Testament to describe physical, bodily resurrection (cf. Rev_1:18 ; Rev_2:8 ; Rev_13:14 ; Rev_20:5 ; Mat_9:18 ; Mat_27:63 ; Mar_5:23 ; Luk_24:23 ; Joh_11:25 ; Act_1:3 ; Act_9:41 ; Rom_14:9 ; 2Co_13:4 ). Then John adds the parenthetical footnote that the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. These are the unbelieving dead of all ages, whose resurrection to judgment and damnation is described in Rev_20:11-15 . John calls the resurrection of the saints from all ages the first resurrection. That resurrection is also called in Scripture the “resurrection of the righteous” ( Luk_14:14 ; Act_24:15 ), the “resurrection of life” ( Joh_5:29 ), the resurrection of “those who are Christ’s at His coming” ( 1Co_15:23 ), and the “better resurrection” ( Heb_11:35 ). The use of anastasis ( resurrection ) offers further evidence that the resurrection described in Rev_20:4 is a physical resurrection. The word is used forty-two times in the New Testament, always of a physical resurrection (except in Luk_2:34 , where the context clearly demands another meaning). The phrase blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection introduces the fifth of seven beatitudes in Revelation (cf. Rev_1:3 ; Rev_14:13 ; Rev_16:15 ; Rev_19:9 ; Rev_22:7 , Rev_22:14 ). Those who have a part in the first resurrection are blessed first of all because the second death has no power over them. The second death, defined in Rev_20:14 as “the lake of fire,” is eternal hell. The comforting truth is that no true child of God will ever face God’s eternal wrath. “Having now been justified by His blood,” Paul wrote, “we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” ( Rom_5:9 ). To the Thessalonians he added, “Jesus … rescues us from the wrath to come…. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” ( 1Th_1:10 ; 1Th_5:9 ). Those who participate in the first resurrection are also blessed because they will be priests of God and of Christ (cf. Rev_1:6 ; Rev_5:10 ). Believers are already “a royal priesthood,” called to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [them] out of darkness into His marvelous light” ( 1Pe_2:9 ). Believers now serve as priests by worshiping God and leading others to the knowledge of Him, and will also serve in that capacity during the millennial kingdom. A final blessing for the participants in the first resurrection is that they will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ for a thousand years, along with believers who survived the Tribulation. Politically and socially, the rule of Christ and His saints will be universal ( Psa_2:6-8 ; Dan_2:35 ), absolute ( Psa_2:9 ; Isa_11:4 ), and righteous ( Isa_11:3-5 ). Spiritually, their rule will be a time when the believing remnant of Israel is converted ( Jer_30:5-8 ; Rom_11:26 ) and the nation is restored to the land God promised to Abraham ( Gen_13:14-15 ; Gen_15:18 ). It will be a time when the Gentile nations also will worship the King ( Isa_11:9 ; Mic_4:2 ; Zec_14:16 ). The millennial rule of Christ and the saints will also be marked by the presence of righteousness and peace ( Isa_32:17 ) and joy ( Isa_12:3-4 ; Isa_61:3 , Isa_61:7 ). Physically, it will be a time when the curse is lifted ( Isa_11:7-9 ; Isa_30:23-24 ; Isa_35:1-2 , Isa_35:7 ), when food will be plentiful ( Joe_2:21-27 ), and when there will be physical health and well-being ( Isa_33:24 ; Isa_35:5-6 ), leading to long life ( Isa_65:20 ).
  • The Return of Satan When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, ( Rev_20:7 ) As previously noted, Satan and his demon hordes will be imprisoned in the abyss for the duration of the Millennium, in which the Lord Jesus Christ will rule with unopposed sovereignty. They will not be permitted to interfere in the affairs of the kingdom in any way. Satan’s binding will end, however, when the thousand years are completed and he is released from his prison to lead a final rebellion of sinners. To review briefly, Scripture teaches that no unsaved people will enter the kingdom. Only the redeemed from among the Jewish ( Rev_12:6 , Rev_12:13-17 ; Isa_60:21 ; Rom_11:26 ) and Gentile ( Rev_7:9-17 ) survivors of the Tribulation will go into the kingdom in their normal, physical bodies. The perfect environmental and social conditions of the Millennium, coupled with the lengthened life spans of those physically alive ( Isa_65:20 ), will cause their children to proliferate. Though the initial inhabitants of the millennial kingdom will all be redeemed, they will still possess a sinful human nature. And as all parents have done since the Fall, they will pass that sin nature on to their offspring. Each successive generation throughout the thousand years will be made up of sinners in need of salvation. Many will come to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But amazingly, despite the personal rule of Christ on earth, despite the most moral society the world will ever know, many others will love their sin and reject Him (cf. Rom_8:7 ). Even the utopian conditions of the Millennium will not change the sad reality of human depravity. As they did during His incarnational presence on earth, sinners will refuse the grace and reject the lordship of the King of all the earth. That is not surprising, since even the perfect conditions of the Garden of Eden were not sufficient to keep sinless Adam and Eve from rebelling against God. The issue regarding salvation is never lack of information (cf. Rom_1:18-20 ); it is love of sin ( Joh_3:19 ). Those who openly rebel will face swift judgment ( Rev_2:27 ; Rev_12:5 ; Rev_19:15 ; Psa_2:9 ), including the withholding of rain on their land ( Zec_14:16-19 ). But enough unrepentant sinners will be alive at the end of the Millennium for Satan to lead a worldwide rebellion. When Satan is loosed, he will provide the cohesive supernatural leadership needed to bring to the surface all the latent sin and rebellion left in the universe. He will pull together all the rebels, revealing the true character and intent of those Christ-rejecting sinners and making it evident that God’s judgment of them is just. Satan’s desperate wickedness and violent hatred of God and Christ will not be altered by his thousand years of imprisonment in the abyss. When he is released, he will immediately set about fomenting his final act of rebellion. The Revolt of Society [Satan] will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ( Rev_20:8-10 ) At the end of his thousand-year imprisonment, Satan will come out to deceive the nations (cf. Rev_20:3 , Rev_20:10 ; Rev_12:9 ). As noted above, Satan’s imprisonment cannot alter his God-hating nature. In fact, he will hate Christ more than ever. And as also noted above, Satan will find fertile soil in which to sow his seeds of rebellion. Many unsaved descendants of those who entered the millennial kingdom in their physical bodies (all of whom will be redeemed) will love their sin and reject Christ. They will be as unmoved by the peace, joy, and righteousness of the Millennium as sinners were by the devastating judgments of the Tribulation (cf. Rev_9:20-21 ; Rev_16:9 , Rev_16:11 , Rev_16:21 ). The actual strategy and method of Satan’s deception is not revealed, but it will succeed in duping the unregenerate people of the world into revolting against the Lord Jesus Christ. His deception, however, will fit within God’s purpose, which, as noted above, is to manifest His justice when He destroys the rebels. Satan’s actions are always under God’s sovereign control (cf. Job_1:12 ; Job_2:6 ), and his gathering together of these wicked rebels will be no exception. Satan will collect the deceived nations from the four corners of the earth (cf. Rev_7:1 ; Isa_11:12 ), an expression referring, not to a flat earth, but to the four main points of the compass: north, south, east, and west. In other words, the rebels will come from all over the globe. John gives these enemies of the King of Kings the symbolic title Gog and Magog, naming them after the invasion force that will assault Israel during the Tribulation (Ezek. 38-39). Some believe that Ezekiel 38 and 39 describe this battle at the end of the Millennium. There are, however, significant differences that argue against equating the two events. Eze_39:4 and Eze_39:17 describe the invaders perishing on the mountains of Israel, but according to Rev_20:9 the rebels at the end of the Millennium will be destroyed on a “broad plain.” Also, the language of Eze_39:17-20 seems to be describing the same event depicted in Rev_19:17-18 . Finally, the events of Ezekiel 38-39 fit chronologically before the description of the millennial temple given in chapters 40-48, while the battle depicted in Rev_20:7-10 takes place after the Millennium. The name Gog appears to be used in Scripture as a general title for an enemy of God’s people (the Septuagint uses it to translate “Agag” in Num_24:7 ). In Ezekiel 38-39, the name Gog describes the final Antichrist of the Tribulation. Most likely, then, Gog is used in Rev_20:8 to describe the human leader of Satan’s forces. Some believe the people known as Magog to be the descendents of Noah’s grandson of that same name ( Gen_10:2 ). They later became known as the Scythians and inhabited the region north of the Black and Caspian Seas. Others identify them with a people who lived farther south in Asia Minor. Whoever the historical people known as Magog may have been, the term is used in this passage to describe the sinful rebels from all the nations who will gather together for the final war in human history. Amazingly, John saw that the number of the rebels will be like the sand of the seashore — a figure of speech used in Scripture to describe a vast, uncountable multitude ( Gen_22:17 ; Jos_11:4 ; Jdg_7:12 ; 1Sa_13:5 ; 1Ki_4:20 ; Heb_11:12 ). As previously noted, the ideal conditions of health, prosperity, safety, and peace that will prevail during the Millennium, coupled with the long life spans of its inhabitants, will lead to a massive population explosion. Incredibly, vast numbers of those people will join Satan in his final act of rebellion against God. The earth’s topography will have been drastically reshaped by the catastrophic events of the Tribulation (cf. Rev_16:20 ; Zec_14:4 , Zec_14:9-11 ). That will allow the rebel forces to come up on the broad plain of the earth and surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city. Parembolē ( camp ) is used six times in Acts to describe a Roman military barracks ( Act_21:34 , Act_21:37 ; Act_22:24 ; Act_23:10 , Act_23:16 , Act_23:32 ). The saints will be encamped around the beloved city of Jerusalem (cf. Psa_78:68 ; Psa_87:2 ), which is the place of Messiah’s throne and the center of the millennial world (cf. Isa_24:23 ; Eze_38:12 ; Eze_43:7 ; Mic_4:7 ; Zec_14:9-11 ), enjoying the glorious presence of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Isa_24:23 ; Jer_3:17 ) when the attack comes. Like Armageddon a thousand years earlier ( Rev_19:11-21 ), the “battle” will in reality be an execution. As the rebel forces moved in for the attack, fire came down from heaven and devoured them. They will be swiftly, instantly, and totally exterminated. Sending fire … down from heaven is often the way God judges sinners (cf. Gen_19:24 ; Lev_10:2 ; 2Ki_1:10 , 2Ki_1:12 ; Luk_9:54 ). Satan’s forces will be physically killed, and their souls will go into the realm of punishment, awaiting their final sentencing to eternal hell, which will take place shortly ( Rev_20:11-15 ). Nor will their evil leader escape his fate: the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone. There he will join his cronies the beast and the false prophet, who by that time will have been in that place of torment for a thousand years ( Rev_19:20 ). That those two humans are still there after that time refutes the false doctrine of annihilationism. Hell is a place of both mental ( Dan_12:2 ; Mat_8:12 ; Mat_13:42 , Mat_13:50 ; Mat_22:13 ; Mat_24:51 ; Mat_25:30 ; Luk_13:28 ) and physical torment ( Rev_14:10-11 ; Mat_25:41 ; Mar_9:43-44 ; Luk_16:23-24 ). Those sentenced to that terrible place will be tormented day and night. There will not be a moment’s relief forever and ever. Scripture explicitly teaches that hell is eternal. The same Greek phrase translated forever and ever is used in Rev_1:18 to speak of Christ’s eternity; in Rev_4:9-10 , Rev_10:6 , and Rev_15:7 of God’s eternity; and in Rev_11:15 of the duration of Christ’s reign. Unbelievers will “be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night” ( Rev_14:10-11 ). Jesus taught that the punishment of the wicked is as eternal as the eternal life of the righteous ( Mat_25:46 ). He also taught that hell is a place of “unquenchable fire” ( Mar_9:43 ), “where their worm does not die” ( Mar_9:48 ). 2Th_1:9 teaches that the destruction of the wicked in hell stretches throughout all eternity. (For a summary of the arguments that the punishment in hell is eternal, see Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal 9 [Fall 1998]: 129-45. This entire issue of The Master’s Seminary Journal is devoted to the topic of the eternality of hell.) Believers are already citizens of God’s kingdom ( Phi_3:20 ; Col_1:13 ; 1Th_2:12 ), blessed to be in fellowship with the King. But a glorious future inheritance awaits them, “imperishable and undefiled [which] will not fade away” ( 1Pe_1:4 ).
  • This passage describes the final sentencing of the lost and is the most serious, sobering, and tragic passage in the entire Bible. Commonly known as the Great White Throne judgment, it is the last courtroom scene that will ever take place. After this there will never again be a trial, and God will never again need to act as judge. The accused, all the unsaved who have ever lived, will be resurrected to experience a trial like no other that has ever been. There will be no debate over their guilt or innocence. There will be a prosecutor, but no defender; an accuser, but no advocate. There will be an indictment, but no defense mounted by the accused; the convicting evidence will be presented with no rebuttal or cross-examination. There will be an utterly unsympathetic Judge and no jury, and there will be no appeal of the sentence He pronounces. The guilty will be punished eternally with no possibility of parole in a prison from which there is no escape. The language of this passage is plain, stark, and unembellished. Few details are given, and the description is utterly lacking in the vivid, eloquent modifiers that might be expected. But the scene is frightening enough in its own right that such language would be superfluous. The beloved apostle John, recording this vision in a cave or on a hillside on the island of Patmos, no doubt was shaken as he wrote of the eternal damnation of the wicked. Ever since the Fall, Satan, the father of lies ( Joh_8:44 ), has attempted to deceive people about the reality of the coming judgment. He has done his best to convince people that there will be no final tribunal. Satan has deceived sinners into believing that they can live as they please without fear of ultimate accountability or future punishment. Satan said to Eve, “You surely will not die!” ( Gen_3:4 ), thus voicing his denial of judgment on sin. The primary means the devil uses in his deception are atheism (particularly the godless theory of evolution) and false religion. Atheism’s denial of God’s existence means there is no moral Judge to whom people are accountable after they die. They wrongly believe that they are free to sin as they please and then simply pass out of existence. The gods of most false religions are not holy, requiring inward righteousness and heart obedience, and they are appeased by ritual and ceremony; thus these gods inspire no fear of accountability in their worshipers. But despite the vain, foolish speculations of men, the true and living God is the Supreme Judge of the universe. His judgment of unbelievers will be just, because He is just. Deu_32:4 says of God, “His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.” Job_37:23-24 declares, “The Almighty — we cannot find Him; He is exalted in power and He will not do violence to justice and abundant righteousness. Therefore men fear Him.” God cannot but be just, because the absolutely holy perfection of His nature will not allow Him to do anything but what is right. God’s will is the supreme standard of justice and equity, and He wills nothing but what is just, right, and true. Nothing outside of Himself compels God to act justly; justice is His very nature. Thus, all of God’s acts toward people are perfectly just; sinners have all wronged God’s justice, but God’s justice has not wronged them, nor could it ever. No one at the Great White Throne judgment will have the slightest grounds for complaint about his or her sentence. Those who reject God’s grace and mercy in this life will inevitably face His justice in the life to come. God said of wayward Israel, “My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me” ( Psa_81:11 ). To their equally stiff-necked descendants Jesus declared, “You are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” ( Joh_5:40 ) and “You will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” ( Joh_8:24 ). Unrepentant sinners will experience God’s justice at the Great White Throne judgment. This simple, but powerful text describes the terrifying reality of the final verdict and sentence on sinners under four headings: the scene, the summons, the standard, and the sentence. The Scene Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, ( Rev_20:11-12 ) In one brief, straightforward, unembellished statement, John describes the appalling, terrifying scene before him. The apostle is shown the Judge seated on His throne of judgment, and all the accused standing before Him. The familiar phrase kai eidon once again introduces a new vision in Revelation (cf. Rev_20:1 , Rev_20:4 ; Rev_6:1 ; Rev_7:2 ; Rev_8:2 ; Rev_10:1 ; Rev_13:1 , Rev_13:11 ; Rev_14:1 , Rev_14:6 , Rev_14:14 ; Rev_15:1 ; Rev_17:3 ; Rev_19:11 ; Rev_21:1 ). This vision of the Great White Throne judgment follows those of the Millennium ( Rev_20:1-10 ), and the Second Coming ( Rev_19:11-21 ), and immediately precedes that of the new heaven and the new earth ( Rev_21:1 .). The first thing John saw was a great white throne. Nearly fifty times in Revelation there is the mention of a throne. In this case it is the seat of God’s sovereign rule (cf. Rev_4:2-6 , Rev_4:9 ; Rev_5:1-7 , Rev_5:13 ; Rev_6:16 ; Rev_7:10 , Rev_7:15 ; Rev_19:4 ; Rev_21:5 ). It is called great not only because of its size as greater than the thrones mentioned in Rev_20:4 , but also because of its significance, majesty, and authority. That it is white symbolizes its purity, holiness, and justice. The verdict handed down from this throne will be absolutely equitable, righteous, and just. “The Lord abides forever,” wrote David, “He has established His throne for judgment, and He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity” ( Psa_9:7-8 ). Daniel described this scene in Dan_7:9-10 : “ I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 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.” Jesus described this scene as the “resurrection of judgment” ( Joh_5:29 ). Of this judgment, the apostle Paul wrote, “Because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” ( Rom_2:5 ). Even more awe inspiring than the throne was the vision of Him who sat upon it. The judge on the throne is none other than the eternal, almighty God, described in the throne scene of Rev_4:8-11 : And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, — “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.” And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, — “ Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” Earlier in Revelation the Tribulation martyrs cried out, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” ( Rev_7:10 ). In Rev_19:4 “The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who sits on the throne saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!’” (cf. Rev_1:4 ; Rev_4:9-10 ; Rev_5:6-7 , Rev_5:13 ; Rev_6:16 ). Sharing the throne with the Father is the Lord Jesus Christ. In Rev_3:21 Jesus promised, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” In John’s vision of the new heaven and the new earth, he saw “the throne of God and of the Lamb” ( Rev_22:1 , Rev_22:3 ). Though the Father and the Son share the throne, it is the Son who is uniquely in view here, since Scripture teaches that He will judge sinners. In Joh_5:22 Jesus said, “Not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,” while in Joh_5:26-27 He added, “Just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.” In Act_10:42 Peter declared that Jesus “is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.” The apostle Paul warned the pagan philosophers of Athens that God “has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” ( Act_17:31 ). In Romans he wrote of “the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” ( Rom_2:16 ), while to Timothy he noted that “Christ Jesus … is to judge the living and the dead” ( 2Ti_4:1 ). It is God in the Person of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ who will sit in final judgment on unbelievers. After describing the vision of the Judge on His throne, John noted the startling reality that from His presence earth and heaven fled away. That amazing, incredible statement describes the “uncreation” of the universe. The earth will have been reshaped by the devastating judgments of the Tribulation and restored during the millennial kingdom. Yet it will still be tainted with sin and subject to the effects of the Fall — decay and death; hence it must be destroyed, since nothing corrupted by sin will be permitted to exist in the eternal state ( 2Pe_3:13 ). God will in its place create “a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away” ( Rev_21:1 ; cf. Rev_21:5 ; Isa_65:17 , Isa_65:22 ; 2Pe_3:13 ). The present earth and heaven will not merely be moved or reshaped, since John saw in his vision that no place was found for them. They will be uncreated and go totally out of existence. This is nothing less than the sudden, violent termination of the universe (cf. Psa_102:25-26 ; Isa_51:6 ; Mat_5:18 ; Mat_24:35 ; Luk_16:17 ; Luk_21:33 ; Heb_1:11-12 ; Heb_12:26-27 ). Barnhouse wrote, “There is to be an end of the material heavens and earth which we know. It is not that they are to be purified and rehabilitated, but that the reverse of creation is to take place. They are to be uncreated. As they came from nothing at the word of God, they are to be sucked back into nothingness by this same word of God” ( Revelation: An Expository Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971], 391). The details of God’s uncreation of the universe are given by Peter in 2Pe_3:10-13 , which describes the final expression of the Day of the Lord: But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. The Day of the Lord will come suddenly, unexpectedly, and with disastrous consequences for the unprepared — just like the coming of a thief. When that Day comes, several things will happen. First, “the heavens will pass away with a roar.” Rhoizedon (“roar”) is an onomatopoetic word; that is, a word that sounds like what it means. It describes the loud whistling, crackling, rushing sound that will result when “the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up … [when] the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat.” Stoicheion (“elements”) refers to the basic building blocks of matter, such as atomic and subatomic particles. “Destroyed” is from the verb luō , and could be translated “dissolved.” The present universe will explode like a gigantic nuclear bomb, and the resulting “intense heat” will literally dissolve all the matter in it. The present laws of thermodynamics, which state that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, will no longer be in effect. As a result, the universe “will be burned up”; it will be totally consumed. The absolute reverse of creation will occur. It didn’t take eons of evolution to create the universe, nor will it take eons to uncreate it. The uncreation of the universe, like its creation, will take place by the word of God. Introducing the final element in this fearful scene, John writes that he saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. The setting is the indescribable void, the inconceivable nothingness between the end of the present universe and the creation of the new heaven and the new earth. The prisoners before the bar are all physically dead, since there are no longer any living people — none could possibly have survived the destruction of the present universe. The last living unbelievers will perish when God crushes the rebellion at the end of the Millennium ( Rev_20:8-9 ). The last living believers will be translated and transformed into their eternal bodies, like Enoch ( Gen_5:24 ), Elijah ( 2Ki_2:11 ), and the raptured church ( 1Th_4:13-18 ). The dead pictured here standing before the throne of divine judgment are not just from the millennial rebellion, but include all the unbelievers who ever lived. This is the “resurrection of judgment” ( Joh_5:29 ), the resurrection “to disgrace and everlasting contempt” ( Dan_12:2 ), the “resurrection of … the wicked” ( Act_24:15 ). The Bible teaches that no believer will ever face God’s judgment, because “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” ( Rom_8:1 ). Everyone “who believes in Him is not judged” ( Joh_3:18 ); they have “eternal life, and [do] not come into judgment, but [have] passed out of death into life” ( Joh_5:24 ). Far from being judged, all the godly participants in the first resurrection ( Rev_20:6 ) will have already received their rewards (cf. Rev_20:4 ; Rev_19:7-9 ; 1Co_3:12-15 ; 2Co_5:10 ). To emphasize the all-encompassing scope of the judgment, John notes that the sweeping mass of unbelievers before God’s throne includes both the great and the small. All will face judgment, the somebodies and the nobodies, “for there is no partiality with God” ( Rom_2:11 ; cf. Deu_10:17 ; Job_34:19 ; Eph_6:9 ; Col_3:25 ; 1Pe_1:17 ). John Phillips provocatively wrote: There is a terrible fellowship there…. The dead, small and great, stand before God. Dead souls are united to dead bodies in a fellowship of horror and despair. Little men and paltry women whose lives were filled with pettiness, selfishness, and nasty little sins will be there. Those whose lives amounted to nothing will be there, whose very sins were drab and dowdy, mean, spiteful, peevish, groveling, vulgar, common, and cheap. The great will be there, men who sinned with a high hand, with dash, and courage and flair. Men like Alexander and Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin will be present, men who went in for wickedness on a grand scale with the world for their stage and who died unrepentant at last. Now one and all are arraigned and on their way to be damned: a horrible fellowship congregated together for the first and last time. ( Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1991], 242-43) The Summons And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; ( Rev_20:13 ) As the next scene in this ultimate courtroom drama unfolds, the prisoners are summoned from their cells to appear before the Judge. Since their deaths, their souls have been tormented in a place of punishment; now the time has come for them to be sentenced to the final, eternal hell. Before the sea was uncreated and went out of existence (cf. Rev_21:1 ), it gave up the dead which were in it. The sea may be singled out because it is seemingly the most difficult place from which bodies could be resurrected. But God will summon from its depths new bodies for all who perished in the sea throughout human history, including those who drowned in the Flood, those who went down with the Titanic, the Lusitania, the Arizona, and the countless other ships that have sunk, as well as all the millions of other people who met their end at sea. Death symbolizes all the places on land from which God will resurrect new bodies for the unrighteous dead. The sea and death are pictured as voracious monsters that have swallowed those bodies and will be forced to disgorge them before their uncreation. Hades is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol . Both words describe the realm of the dead. Sheol , used sixty-seven times in the Old Testament, describes the realm of the dead in general. Hades is used ten times in the New Testament, always in reference to the place of punishment (cf. Luk_16:23 ) where the unrighteous dead are kept pending their sentencing to hell. In this incredible scene, Hades is emptied of its captive spirits, who are reunited with resurrection bodies before the bar of God’s justice. Unbelievers, fitted with resurrection bodies suited for hell, will then be ready for their sentencing to the lake of fire where their punishment, unlike that in Hades, will last forever. The Standard and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…. and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. ( Rev_20:12 , Rev_20:13 ) As the judgment commences, the Judge opens the books. The scene is reminiscent of the one described by Daniel: “ I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire. 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_7:9-10 ) The books contain the record of every thought, word, and deed of every unsaved person who ever lived. God has kept perfect, accurate, and comprehensive records of every person’s life, and the dead will be judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. Sinners’ deeds will be measured against God’s perfect, holy standard, which Jesus defined in Mat_5:48 : “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” In his first epistle Peter wrote, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” ( 1Pe_1:15-16 ). To the Galatians Paul wrote, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them’” ( Gal_3:10 ) — a truth also taught by James: “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” ( Jam_2:10 ). No prisoner before the bar of divine justice will be able to claim the perfect obedience to God’s holy standards that He requires. They “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” ( Rom_3:23 ), and are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” ( Eph_2:1 ). God’s justice demands payment for every person’s sins. Christ paid that penalty for believers: “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” ( Isa_53:5-6 ). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’” ( Gal_3:13 ). God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” ( 2Co_5:21 ). “[Christ] Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” ( 1Pe_2:24 ). But unbelievers, not having Christ’s righteousness imputed to them ( Phi_3:9 ), will themselves pay the penalty for violating God’s law — eternal destruction in hell ( 2Th_1:9 ). God’s judgment of impenitent, unbelieving sinners’ evil deeds will include their thoughts. “God … knows the secrets of the heart” ( Psa_44:21 ), and He “will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus” ( Rom_2:16 ), “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” ( Luk_8:17 ). Sinners will also be judged for their words. Jesus said in Mat_12:37 , “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Finally, unbelievers will be judged for their actions: “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” ( Ecc_12:14 ); “The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds” ( Mat_16:27 ). Nor will anyone be able to claim ignorance of God’s standards, because both creation ( Rom_1:20 ) and the conscience ( Rom_2:14-15 ) reveal God’s righteousness. Those without knowledge of God’s law will be judged on the basis of the knowledge they did have ( Rom_2:12 ). The absolute, unerring accuracy of God’s judgment will ensure that unbelievers’ punishment in hell fits their iniquity. Each person’s life will be individually evaluated, and each person’s punishment will be consistent with that evaluation. Thus, Scripture teaches that there will be varying degrees of punishment in hell. When He sent the twelve out on a preaching tour Jesus told them, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly 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” ( Mat_10:14-15 ). Rebuking several cities for their unbelief, Jesus declared: “ Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” ( Mat_11:21-24 ) The hypocritical scribes “who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation” ( Mar_12:38-40 ). Describing the final judgment in the parable of the faithful steward, Jesus taught that “[the] slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few” ( Luk_12:47-48 ). The writer of Hebrews asks, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” ( Heb_10:29 ). It should be noted that while there are varying degrees of punishment in hell, everyone there will suffer intolerable, indescribable misery and torment. All sinners in hell will be utterly separated from God and all that comes from His goodness. Thus, they will be miserable, but not equally miserable. After the books containing the prisoners’ evil deeds were opened, another book was opened, which is the book of life. This book’s imagery corresponds to the registry of citizens kept by ancient cities; it contains the names of all those whose “citizenship is in heaven” ( Phi_3:20 ). It is referred to several times in Revelation ( Rev_20:15 ; Rev_3:5 ; Rev_13:8 ; Rev_17:8 ; Rev_21:27 ). The book of life is the record of God’s elect (cf. Dan_12:1 ; Mal_3:16 ; Luk_10:20 ; Phi_4:3 ; Heb_12:23 ), and all whose names are not recorded in it will be eternally damned. Since their names were not in the book of life, the prisoners before the Great White Throne were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Some, in shock and horror, will protest, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” ( Mat_7:22 ). But they will hear in reply the most chilling, terrifying words that any human will ever hear: “I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness” ( Mat_7:23 ). Those who refuse to plead guilty to their sins in this world, repent, and ask God for a pardon based on the substitutionary work of Christ will face trial after they die. And on that day, they will be pronounced guilty. The Sentence Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. ( Rev_20:14-15 ) The evidence is irrefutable, the verdict rendered; judgment will be swiftly carried out. As the sentence is passed, death and Hades (the grave, and the temporary place of punishment for everyone whose name was not found written in the book of life ) were thrown into the lake of fire, meaning that they will go out of existence, swallowed up by the final hell. Their inmates, currently suffering in their spirits only, will be united with specially designed resurrection bodies and cast into eternal hell (cf. Mat_10:28 ). That final hell, described as the lake of fire, may already exist (cf. Mat_25:41 ), but if so, it is currently unoccupied. Its first two occupants, the beast and the false prophet, will not arrive until the end of the Tribulation ( Rev_19:20 ). The clearest and most vivid of the New Testament terms used to describe the final hell, the lake of fire, is geenna (Gehenna). Gehenna is the New Testament word for the valley of Ben-Hinnom (also called Topheth; 2Ki_23:10 ; Isa_30:33 ; Jer_7:31-32 ; Jer_19:6 ), located southwest of Jerusalem. In Old Testament times, idolatrous Israelites burned their children in the fire there as sacrifices to false gods ( Jer_19:2-6 ). In Jesus’ day, it was the site of Jerusalem’s garbage dump. The fires kept constantly burning there gave off foul-smelling smoke, and the dump was infested with maggots. Sometimes the bodies of criminals were dumped there. The valley of Ben-Hinnom was thus an apt picture of eternal hell, one used repeatedly by Jesus ( Mat_5:22 , Mat_5:29 , Mat_5:30 ; Mat_10:28 ; Mat_18:9 ; Mat_23:15 , Mat_23:33 ; Mar_9:43 , Mar_9:45 , Mar_9:47 ; Luk_12:5 ). Hell will be God’s eternal cosmic dump; its inmates will be burning as garbage forever. The blessed and holy participants in the first resurrection will not experience the second death ( Rev_20:6 ). But the rest of the dead, who did not participate in the first resurrection ( Rev_20:5 ), will face the second death, which is defined here as the lake of fire. Those who die in their sins in this present world of time and space will die a second death in eternity — they will be sentenced to the lake of fire forever. Scripture vividly portrays the various aspects of the final, fiery hell. Fire is used more than twenty times in the New Testament to depict the torment of hell (cf. Rev_20:10 , Rev_20:15 ; Rev_14:10 ; Rev_19:20 ; Rev_21:8 ; Mat_3:10-12 ; Mat_5:22 ; Mat_7:19 ; Mat_13:40 , Mat_13:42 , Mat_13:50 ; Mat_18:8-9 ; Mat_25:41 ; Mar_9:44 ; Luk_3:9 , Luk_3:16-17 ; Joh_15:6 ; Heb_10:27 ; Jud_1:7 ). Whether the fire of hell is literal, physical fire is unknown, since the lake of fire exists outside the created universe as we know it. If the fire here is symbolic, the reality it represents will be even more horrifying and painful. The Bible also depicts hell as a place of total darkness, which will isolate its inmates from each other ( Mat_8:12 ; Mat_22:13 ; Mat_25:30 ; 2Pe_2:17 ; Jud_1:13 ); as a place where the worm (possibly emblematic of an accusing conscience) devouring the wicked will never die ( Isa_66:24 ; Mar_9:44 ); as a place of banishment from God’s kingdom ( Mat_8:12 ; Mat_22:13 ); and as a place of unending sorrow, where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth” ( Mat_8:12 ; Mat_13:42 , Mat_13:50 ; Mat_22:13 ; Mat_24:51 ; Mat_25:30 ; Luk_13:28 ). There is only one way to avoid the terrifying reality of hell. Those who confess their sins and ask God to forgive them on the basis of Christ’s substitutionary death on their behalf will be delivered from God’s eternal wrath ( Rom_5:9 ; 1Th_1:10 ; 1Th_5:9 ). For those who refuse to repent, the somber warning expressed by the writer of Hebrews will apply: For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God. ( Heb_10:26-31 )
  • Throughout the history of the church, God’s people rightly have been preoccupied with heaven. They have longed for its joys because they have been only loosely tied to this earth. They have seen themselves as “strangers and exiles on the earth” who “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb_11:13, Heb_11:16). With the psalmist they have said to God, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psa_73:25-26); and “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psa_42:1-2). Through the centuries, that desire to see God (Mat_5:8) and to be in His presence and enjoy Him forever (Psa_16:11), that intense longing that nothing on this earth can satisfy (Heb_11:13-16), has marked believers. Sadly, that is no longer true for many in today’s church. Caught up in our society’s mad rush for instant gratification, material comfort, and narcissistic indulgence, the church has become worldly. Nothing more graphically demonstrates that worldliness than the current lack of interest in heaven. The church doesn’t sing or preach much about heaven, believers seldom discuss it, songs are no longer written about it, and books about heaven are few and far between. Believers who do not have heaven on their minds trivialize their lives, hinder the power of the church, and become absorbed with the fading things of this world. The Bible makes it clear that believers are to focus on heaven. In Phi_3:20 Paul notes that “our citizenship is in heaven.” To the Colossians he wrote, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col_3:1-2). James rebukes worldliness in no uncertain terms: “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jam_4:4). The apostle John adds: “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1Jo_2:15-17). A heavenly perspective is vital, since everything connected to believers’ spiritual life and destiny is there. Their Father is there, as are their Savior and their Comforter. The myriads of their fellow believers who have successfully run their earthly races are there (Heb_12:23). Believers’ names are recorded in heaven (Rev_3:5; Rev_13:8; Rev_17:8; Rev_20:12, Rev_20:15; Rev_21:27; Phi_4:3), they are citizens of heaven (Phi_3:20), their inheritance is there (1Pe_1:4), and their reward (Mat_5:12) and treasure (Mat_19:21) are there. In short, everything of lasting importance to believers is in heaven; it is their home, and they are strangers, exiles, and pilgrims on earth (1Ch_29:15; Psa_119:19; Heb_11:13-16; 1Pe_2:11). Even death, the final enemy (1Co_15:26), merely ushers believers into the presence of God. The words of the Preacher in Ecc_7:1, though cynical and pessimistic, are nevertheless true for the believer: “The day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.” His intense longing for heaven led Paul to write, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain…. [I have] the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better” (Phi_1:21, Phi_1:23). Desiring heaven exerts a powerful influence on believers’ lives here on earth. In his first epistle the apostle John described one of the main reasons Christians desire heaven: “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1Jo_3:2; cf. Phi_3:21). Believers will receive glorified bodies, similar to Christ’s resurrected body, in which they will “see Him just as He is” (cf. 1Co_13:12). Then John gave the practical effect such knowledge should have on believers’ lives: “Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1Jo_3:3; cf. 2Pe_3:14). A genuine and strong longing for heaven has many important implications and benefits for the Christian. Such a longing is one of the surest indicators of genuine salvation, “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Luk_12:34). A genuine and strong longing for heaven also produces the highest and noblest Christian character. Those who spend much time meditating on heavenly things cannot help but have their lives transformed. A genuine and strong longing for heaven also brings joy and comfort in trials. Those who focus on heaven’s glories can endure anything in this life and not lose their joy. When they suffer, they can say with Paul, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2Co_4:17). A genuine and strong longing for heaven is also a preservative against sin. Those who set their minds on things above are less likely to become ensnared by earthly temptations. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom_8:5-6). A genuine and strong longing for heaven will also maintain the vigor of believers’ spiritual service. Those who are negligent in the Lord’s work and make only a token, minimal effort to serve Him, demonstrate little regard for eternal things. They foolishly think that the reward for pursuing earthly things is greater than that for pursuing heavenly things. Finally, a genuine and strong longing for heaven honors God above everything else. Those who focus on heaven focus on the Supreme One in heaven. By setting their hearts on Him, they honor the One whose heart is set on them. Scripture refers to heaven more than five hundred times. Revelation alone mentions heaven about fifty times. The Bible delineates three heavens (2Co_12:2). The first heaven is the earth’s atmosphere (Gen_1:20; Job_12:7; Eze_38:20); the second heaven is interplanetary and interstellar space (Gen_15:5; Gen_22:17; Deu_1:10; Deu_4:19; Psa_8:3; Isa_13:10); the third heaven is the dwelling place of God (Deu_4:39; 1Ki_8:30; Job_22:12; Psa_14:2; Dan_2:28; Mat_5:34; Act_7:55; Heb_9:24; 1Pe_3:22). Heaven is an actual place, not a state of spiritual consciousness. That is evident because some have gone there in glorified bodies, such as Enoch (Gen_5:24), Elijah (2Ki_2:11), and the Lord Jesus Christ (Act_1:9). That Christ is presently preparing a place for believers and will one day return to take them to heaven (Joh_14:2-3; 1Th_4:16-17) offers further proof that heaven is a place. The Bible does not give a location for heaven, but views it from the perspective of the earth as up (Rev_4:1; 2Co_12:2). Though heaven is far beyond the created world in another dimension, when believers die they will be there immediately (Luk_23:43; 2Co_5:8). Those believers alive at the Rapture will also be transported to heaven immediately (1Th_4:13-18; 1Co_15:51-55). This text unfolds six features of the final and eternal heaven, called the new heaven and the new earth: the appearance of the new heaven and the new earth, the capital of the new heaven and the new earth, the supreme reality of the new heaven and the new earth, the changes in the new heaven and the new earth, the residents of the new heaven and the new earth, and the outcasts from the new heaven and the new earth.
  • 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 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. 3 v.10) "A new heaven and a new earth": The "new heaven" is the atmospheric heaven around and above the earth. A New Heaven and a New Earth This area has been the domain of Satan (see Eph. 2: verse 2) and must be purified before the heaven of God can come down to the new earth. This new earth will be a perfect environment similar to that of the Garden of Eden. A unique distinction of this new earth will be that the vast oceans of water that now cover three fourths of the world's surface will not be included, leaving much more inhabitable land for the population of the redeemed. From a metaphorical perspective, commentators have seen the absence of the sea as symbolic of the absence of evil. This "new heaven and new earth" are actually a heavenly pattern of what the Garden of Eden was a miniature of on earth. We will see the Tree of Life restored with water that flows from the throne of God.  It didn't rain in the Garden of Eden. Plants were watered from beneath the earth. The water in the Garden of Eden flowed out in four rivers (symbolic of enough for the whole world). This river that flows from the throne of God is the same water that Jesus told the woman at the well, if she drank it, she would never thirst again. 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Now John sees the new holy city which is not heaven, but is called that since everyone who will be in it is holy. This is Christ's Kingdom. "Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection." (20 v.6) New Jerusalem will be coming down to the new heaven and new earth mentioned in verse 1. The old heaven and earth which was in chapter 20 verse 11 fled away and was no more. The city is illustrated as a bride because it contains the bride and takes on her character. John saw the bride adorned for her husband because the time for the consummation had arrived. The concept of the bride includes not only the church, but all the rest of the redeemed from all the ages who will live forever in that eternal city. 1 Cor. 15 v.28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 21:3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God. The tabernacle of God is with men. The tabernacle was the original symbol of God dwelling with His people. In eternity, mankind will dwell with God. In that eternal state, we will not only enjoy fellowship with our redeemed loved ones but will also have actual fellowship with God Himself. "Tabernacle" here means dwelling place of God. No longer will he be far off. No longer will he be "veiled" in the human form of Jesus Christ, in a cloud, a pillar of fire or in a Holy of Holies. Just like God walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden, He will be in heaven with us continually. As Matthew 5 v.8 states: The pure in heart shall see God. Believers will see God as He is. 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. All tears, pain, sorrow, and death will be removed in that heavenly New Jerusalem where Christians will live. This is the exact opposite of the curse that resulted from Adam's sin (see Gen. 3: verses 16 to19). The effects of the curse are removed, and all things are made new. God does not merely repair the creation, He re-creates it for His children to enjoy for all eternity. Just as the disciples knew security when Jesus was there to take care of all their needs, we will know perfect peace and joy in heaven. Jesus is the king of peace. Jesus defeated death on the cross. The biggest fear of mankind is death. We just read where the Christians will not taste the second death. This fear is gone away. Death will no longer hang over the Christian. The Christian has eternal life (not death). There won't be any reason to cry for in heaven. The devil and all his problems he brought upon the Christians have been thrown into the lake of fire. Every negative thing has been done away with.
  • 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. "The One who sits on the throne said", is the same One "from whose presence earth and heaven fled away. (Rev 20 v.11) Here we see God sitting on the throne saying that He "makes all things new" when we are saved we become a new creature. We know this saying is true for the believer. Just as He did not throw us away and get a new person: He says here "I make all things new".  He did not say He made new things.  He just takes the old things and transforms them into new. Here we see that Jesus commanded John to write, because all the things He has been shown are true. Jesus is the truth. 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. It is done. These words mark the end of redemptive history. This is a statement ( Gr. gegonan) of divine finality. It represents God's promise that this new state will be forever. Alpha and Omega is the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Hence, this phrase represents the sum of all things. In Revelation 1: v.11 and 22: verses 12 to13 it is used of Christ. Here it is used of God the Father ("He that sat on the throne"), indicating the deity of both the Father and the Son. Just as Jesus said on the cross "It is finished" You see, Jesus is the way to get to the water of life. In fact, He is the water. He is life. He who hungers and thirst after righteousness shall be filled.  There is nothing before Him and nothing after Him. A citizen of heaven is described as one who "thirsts" signifying those who recognize their desperate spiritual need, "hunger and thirst for righteousness", Matt. 5 v.6. 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. An overcomer is one who exercises saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. A person who in faith drinks the water of salvation freely offered by God. Each of the seven letters to the churches in Rev. 2 and 3 end in the promise of he that overcomes will inherit these things. Just as a bride is an equal inheritor of all that is her husband's, so the Church, the Bride of Christ, will inherit all that is His. He even promises that He will be our God and we shall be His son. These terms of endearment are experiences we as Christians shall enjoy forever. How Do I Become a Christian From this scripture, we see there is something we must overcome. If we are faithful to Him in the face of all odds, we will inherit eternal life. The New Testament is actually an inheritance to the believers. If we believe, we can collect on that inheritance. Who ever we are faithful to, is our God. If he is our God, He will claim us as His son. 21:8  But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." The contrasts between verses seven and eight are graphic. They represent the age-old concept that there are only two kinds of people with God, believers and unbelievers. They experience two different lifestyles on earth and go to two different eternal destinies. Believers go to "eternal life" while unbelievers experience "the second death," which is the lake of fire. Second Death Fear is not of God. Fear is the opposite of faith. In fact, it is mentioned twice here by saying "fearful and unbelieving". Jesus cannot be someone's Savior, unless they believe they He is their Savior. Abomination, meaning vile, polluted, detestable, wholly caught up in wickedness and evil. Here, we see those who do abominable things taking part in the second death. Notice here this says "murderers" not accidental killing or killing in war. This is premeditated murder, or those who hate their neighbors. We see here "whoremongers" (this means not only in the physical but also in the spiritual). "Sorcerers" has to do with the occult and also drugs. "Idolaters" has to do with anything or anyone you put ahead of God. "Liars" can do more harm than you can imagine. Many have a tendency to tell little white lies, but any untruth is a lie. Those whose lives are characterized by such things give evidence that they are not saved and will not enter into the heavenly city. After we are forgiven of our sins and born again, we must practice salvation. We must not have the habit of sinning. We may slip and sin, but if we do, we have an advocate with the Father. Repent and ask forgiveness, and then as Jesus told the woman who the Pharisees had caught in the art of adultery, "Go and sin no more". Do not practice sin. The horror of it all if you do not change from these evils, is that you will be thrown into the lake of fire.
  • 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. From the past, at the beginning of the millennium, one of the seven angels who poured out a bowl or vial appeared to John. Now the angel was to show John the Lamb's bride, the Lamb's wife. New Jerusalem is likened to a bride because the redeemed are forever united to God and the Lamb. At this point, the marriage has already taken place in 19 v.7 and now is referred to as "The Lamb's Wife. 21:10-11 "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God," " "Having the glory of God: and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;: That great city, the holy Jerusalem. The Lamb's wife is described as the new city of Jerusalem. This magnificent city is where the bride of Christ (the Church) will live forever. The most dominant characteristic of the holy city is the presence of God's Glory, which personifies God's presence with His people. The Glory that departed from the Old Jerusalem (see Ezek. Chapters 8 to 11) is restored to the New Jerusalem of the future. John's incredible vision began when the angel carried him away in the Spirit in Rev. 1 where he received the visions that make up the book of Revelation. John's visions were not dreams, but spiritual realities, like the one's Paul saw when he was also caught up to the third heaven. From John's vantage point atop a great and high mountain, he repeats his observation of verse 2 that New Jerusalem came down out of heaven from God, emphasizing its divine origin. Note what is described here is not the creation of heaven, but the descent of what already existed from eternity past. Now it's being situated in the center of the new heaven and the new earth. "The Glory of God": The brilliance radiating from New Jerusalem caused by the full manifestation of God's glory will be so much, the city will have no need of the sun or the moon as the glory of God will illuminate it.
  • 21:12 And had a wall great and high, [and] had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: The inclusion of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles in the foundations and gates of the city  (see 21 v.14), indicates that both Jewish and Gentile believers will all be part of the family of God and share eternity as one. Although it would seem that the Jews are distinct from the Church during the Millennium, they will all be one as children of the living God for eternity. If you have ever been to Jerusalem in Israel, you know the old city has a large wall around the city. The physical Jerusalem here has 12 gates. You see, this earthly Jerusalem is a replica of this heavenly Jerusalem. Here we see their names (twelve tribes), celebrating God's covenant relationship with Israel, the people of the promises, covenants, scriptures and the Messiah. These angels are stationed to attend to God's glory and to serve His people. 21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. This is reminiscent of the way the twelve tribes camped around the tabernacle in numbers 2 and the allotment of tribal lands around the millennial temple. (Ezek. 48) 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The foundation of Christianity was established by Jesus through the twelve apostles. You can easily see, this is not only a city but stands for the Christians as well. These stones commemorate God's covenant relationship with the church of which the apostles are the foundation of. The layout of New Jerusalem's gates picture God's favor on all His redeemed people from both the old and new covenant. 21:15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. This is like Ezek. 40 v.3 and the measuring of the millennial temple. Also, the measuring of the Tribulation temple described in chapter 11 v.1. All three measurements is showing the significance that shows what belongs to God. 21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. The city lies foursquare. The size of this city indicates that each border is approximately fifteen hundred miles long. Thus the dimensions of the city would be equal to the area from the eastern seaboard of the United States to Colorado on one side and from the Canadian border to the southern tip of Florida on the other. In addition to the length and breadth, the city will be fifteen hundred miles high. This great size will afford sufficient space for the habitation of the saints from all ages of history. We see here that this city is a cube. Twelve thousand furlongs is 1500 miles. This city is 1500 miles square and 1500 miles high. 21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. A cubic is 18 inches or 1-1/2 feet. Times 144, the wall was 216 feet across. Just as in Babylon the walls, were wide enough for chariot races. This is even wider. To emphasize the city's dimensions are literal and not mystical, John tells us that the measurements are given according to human measurements. 21:18 And the building of the wall of it was [of] jasper: and the city [was] pure gold, like unto clear glass. The massive walls a material called jasper. This is the same diamond like stone that was mentioned in verse 11. (Clear as crystal) Next the city itself was pure gold, like clear glass. Imagine how God's glory will radiate throughout and light up the entire city. 21:19-20 "And the foundations of the wall of the city [were] garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation [was] jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;" "The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst". Jasper = Diamond Sapphire = A brilliant blue stone Chalcedony = Sky blue with colored stripes Emerald = Bright green stone Sardonyx = Red and white striped stone Sardius = Various shades of Red Chrysolite = Transparent gold or yellow Beryl = Shades of green, yellow and blue Topaz = Yellowish green Chrysoprasus = Gold tinted green Jacinth = Blue or violet colored Amethyst = Purple stone These brightly colored stones will refract the shinning brilliance of God's glory into a spectrum of beautiful colors that will flash from New Jerusalem throughout the re-created universe. 21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass. The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Every gate will be one pearl, each large enough to cover the gateway to this huge city. In addition, the street of the city will be "pure gold, like unto clear glass," indicating that believers will walk on golden streets. The holy city of God will be so magnificent that believers will literally walk on precious metals that today are used for costly adornments. There is no silver in the city. Silver means redemption and we have already been redeemed. These stones show us things that are important here on the earth are plentiful in heaven. You see, God owns all the wealth in the world. God has so many rare stones He even puts them in the wall. Each gate is made of just one pearl. And remember the height of the cube is 1500 miles. That makes for a very large pearl. The streets in New Jerusalem is made of the highest quality of pure gold which is like everything else, transparent. We are not familiar with transparent gold here on earth, but everything in heaven is transparent to let the light of God's glory blaze unrestricted.
  • 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. "No temple therein:" There will be no need for a temple in heaven to provide a means for a man to fellowship with God. Because of Jesus sacrificial death on the cross, sin will not exist there. God and the Lamb are the temple of the eternal city. This clearly emphasizes the deity of Christ as equal in essence to that of the father. There will be not need for anyone to go anywhere to worship God. Believers will constantly be in His presence. There will never be a minute when they are not in perfect, Holy Communion with the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. Therefore there will be no need for a temple, cathedral, church, chapel or any other house of worship. Believers will be the true worshipers God has always sought. 21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof. No more day and night but there will be one eternal day. The Glory of God will illuminate New Jerusalem and its lamp with be the Lamb Jesus, who is the Light, and does away with darkness. 21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. The reference to "nations" reminds us that our national distinctions, like our personal appearances, are God-given. Revelation 7: v.9 refers to "a great multitude of all nations," and Revelation 5: v.10 refers to believers as "kings and priests" who reign with Christ. Not that any national identities will be preserved in the eternal state, but rather just the opposite. People from every tongue, tribe and nation whether Jews or Gentiles, will be united as God's people. Every believer will be fully equal in the eternal capital city. This just means that God doesn't care whether you are Chinese, African, or American. If you accept Jesus, you will be in heaven regardless of what country you're from. 21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. Its gates will never be closed. This depicts the city's complete security and that there is no need to close them. New Jerusalem is a place of rest, safety and refreshment where God's people will "rest from their labors." Never again will anything have to be shut up for fear of loosing it by thieves and robbers. None of that will ever exist again. 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. All who enter heaven will surrender their earthly prestige and glory when they enter. All who enter heaven "will cast their crowns before the throne" of God". (Chapter 4 v.10) 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither [whatsoever] worketh abomination, or [maketh] a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. This Scripture just means that this is a holy city (a place of true worship). There will be no evil of any kind in it. The residents are the redeemed, those washed in the blood of the lamb. Those who have been made righteous in Christ. Once again, we are confronted with the significance of having our names written in the Lamb's book of life assuring us that Christ knows each believer personally, by name. Lamb's Book of Life What a wonder this will be - to continually see God's face (Rev. 22 v.4) and to walk in the light of His presence (Rev 21 v.23 and  22 v.5) No wonder John tells us there is no temple in heaven (21: v.22) for as Paul wrote, "who hopes for what one already has" (Romans 8 v.24). What need could you have for a temple when everywhere you go is God? But a temple is not the only thing missing in heaven. What else does it lack? Consider the following short list: No more sea (21 v.1) No more tears, death, sorrow, crying or pain (21 v.4) No more sinners (21 v.8) No more fear (21 v.12) No more sun or moon (21 v.23) No more night (21 v.25) No more sin or evil (21 v.27) No more disease or injuries (22 v.2) No more curse (22 v.3) It would be enough to call this place "heaven" just from that list of what it lacks. But that wouldn't tell half of the story! Now consider some of the remarkable features eternity will boast: Unending fellowship with God (21 v.3, 7, 22) Unending newness (21 v.5) Unending water of life (21 v.6; 22 v.1) Unimaginable beauty (21 v.11, 21) Uncompromised security (21 v.12) Unbroken unity between believers (21 v.12, 14) Unlimited holiness (21 v.16) Unparalleled size (21 v.16) Untold wealth (21 v.18-21) Unending light (21 v.23; 22 v.5) Unrestricted access (21 v.25) Unending fruit from the tree of life (22 v.2) Unceasing service to God (22 v.3) Unending reign (22 v.5) Beyond these thrilling descriptions from the book of Revelation, we know from other Bible texts that heaven will be a place of: Rest (Heb. 4 v.1-11; Rev 14 v.13) Full knowledge (1 Cor. 13 v.12) Holiness (Heb. 12 v.14; Eph. 2 v.21) Joy (1 Thess 2 v.19; Jude 1 v.24) Glory (2 Cor. 4 v.17) Worship (Rev. 7 v.9-12; 19 v.10) With all that heaven and eternity have to offer, it is hard to see why anyone would deliberately choose to miss it. Yet many will, according to Rev. 21 v.8, 27 and 22 v.11, 15. Make sure you're not one of them!
  • Transformation class 04.01.2012

    1. 1. Chapter Twenty One April 1, 2012
    2. 2. AgendaThought for the WeekReview Chapter TwentySummary Chapter Twenty One
    3. 3. Chapter Twenty SummaryI. THE THOUSAND YEAR REIGN (1-6)A. SATAN BOUND FOR 1000 YEARS (1-3) 1. John sees an angel come down from heaven a. Having the key to the bottomless pit b. With a great chain in his hand 2. The angel binds Satan for a thousand years a. Casting him into the bottomless pit, shutting him up and setting a seal on him b. So that he should deceive the nations no more for a thousand years -- But afterward he will be released for a little whileB. SAINTS REIGN WITH CHRIST FOR 1000 YEARS (4-6) 1. John sees souls upon thrones, to whom judgment was committed a. Who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and the word of God b. Who had not worshiped the beast or his image c. Who had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands 2. These souls lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years a. The rest of the dead not live again until the thousand years were finished b. This is the first resurrection 1) Blessed and holy are those who have a part in the first resurrection 2) Over such the second death has no power 3) They shall be priests of God and of Christ 4) They shall reign with Christ a thousand years
    4. 4. Chapter Twenty SummaryII. SATANS FINAL ATTEMPT AND DEFEAT (7-10)A. HIS RELEASE FROM PRISON (7-8) 1. After the thousand years were completed 2. He will go out to deceive the nations a. Those in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog b. To gather them to battleB. HIS FINAL ATTEMPT AND DEFEAT (9) 1. To have the nations surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city 2. But fire from God out of heaven devoured those Satan had deceivedC. HIS ETERNAL TORMENT (10) 1. The devil who deceived the nations was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone 2. The same place where the beast and the false prophet are 3. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever
    5. 5. Chapter Twenty SummaryIII. THE FINAL JUDGMENT (11-15)A. THE ONE ON THE GREAT WHITE THRONE (11) 1. John sees a great white throne and Him who sat on it 2. Before Whose face the earth and heaven fled away so no place was found for themB. THE JUDGMENT OF THE DEAD (12-13) 1. John sees the dead, small and great, standing before God 2. Books were opened, including the Book of Life a. The dead were judged according to their works b. The dead were judged by the things written in the books 3. All the dead were judged, each according to his works a. For the sea gave the dead who were in it b. For Dead and Hades delivered up the dead who were in themC. THE LAKE OF FIRE (14-15) 1. Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire (which is the second death) 2. Anyone not found written in the Book of Life were cast into the lake of fire
    6. 6. Chapter Twenty One Objectives1) To consider the eternal destiny of the redeemed, in terms depicting fellowship with God and protection by God3) To be amazed at the glory of the holy city, the New Jerusalem, the Lambs wife, as revealed to JohnRead 21
    7. 7. Chapter Twenty One SummaryI. ALL THINGS MADE NEW (1-8)A. THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH (1) 1. John sees a new heaven and a new earth 2. The first heaven and earth had passed away, and there was no seaB. THE NEW JERUSALEM (2) 1. John saw the holy city coming down out of heaven 2. It was prepared as a bride adorned for her husbandC. THE PROCLAMATION FROM HEAVEN (3-4) 1. “The tabernacle of God is with men” a. “He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people” b. “God Himself will be with them and be their God” 2. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” a. “There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” b. “There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away”
    8. 8. Chapter Twenty One SummaryD. THE PROCLAMATION FROM THE ONE WHO SAT ON THE THRONE(5-8) 1. “Behold, I make all things new” a. “Write, for these words are true and faithful” b. “It is done!” 2. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End” a. “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts” b. “He who overcomes shall inherit all things” 1) “I will be his God” 2) “He shall be My son” 3. “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars...” a. “Shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” b. “Which is the second death”
    9. 9. Chapter Twenty One SummaryII. THE NEW JERUSALEM (9-21)A. JOHN IS SHOWN THE HOLY CITY (9-11)1. By one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the lastplaguesa. Who offered to show John “the bride, the Lambs wife”b. Who carried him away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain2. He sees the great city, the holy Jerusalema. Descending out of heaven from Godb. Having the glory of Godc. With light like a jasper stone, clear as crystal
    10. 10. Chapter Twenty One SummaryB. THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CITY AND ITS WALL (12-21) 1. It had a great and high wall with twelve gates a. With twelve angels at the gates b. With the names of the twelve tribes of Israel c. With three gates each on the east, north, south, and west d. With twelve foundations, on which were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb 2. The measurement of the city, the gates, and the wall a. The angel had a golden reed to measure them b. The city is laid out as a cube, its length, breadth, and height are each 12,000 furlongs c. The wall is one hundred and forty-four cubits 3. The construction of the city, the wall, its foundations, and the gates a. The wall was of jasper; the city was pure gold, like clear glass b. The twelve foundations of the wall were adorned with precious stones: 1) Jasper 5) Sardonyx 9) Topaz 2) Sapphire 6) Sardius 10) Chrysoprase 3) Chalcedony 7) Chrysolite 11) Jacinth 4) Emerald 8) Beryl 12) Amethyst c. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate one pearl d. The street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass
    11. 11. Chapter Twenty One SummaryIII. THE GLORY OF THE HOLY CITY (22-27)B.ILLUMINATED BY THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND THE LAMB (22-23) 1. Its temple are the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb 2. It is illuminated by the glory of God and the LambB. ENHANCED BY THOSE WHO ENTER IT (24-27) 1. The nations of the saved shall walk in its light 2. The kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it 3. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day, and there is no night there 4. The nations shall bring their glory and honor into it a. Nothing that defiles, causes an abomination or a lie, shall enter it b. Only those written in the Lambs book of Life enter it
    12. 12. Review Questions for Chapter Twenty One1) What are the main points of this chapter?- All things made new (1-8)- The New Jerusalem (9-21)- The glory of the holy city (22-27)2) What did John see? (1)- A new heaven and new earth3) What happened to the first heaven and first earth? What of the sea? (1)- They had passed away; it was no more4) What did John see coming down out of heaven from God? (2)- The holy city, New Jerusalem, prepared as bride adorned for her husband
    13. 13. Review Questions for Chapter Twenty One5) What is said about the dwelling of God? (3)- The tabernacle of God is with men- He will dwell with them and they shall be His people- God Himself will be with them and be their God6) What will God do? What shall be no more? (4)- Wipe away every tear from their eyes; death, sorrow, crying, pain7) What did the One on the throne say to John in verse 5?- “Behold, I make all things new”- “Write, for these words are true and faithful”8) What did He say in verse 6?- “It is done!”- “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End”- “I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts”
    14. 14. Review Questions for Chapter Twenty One9) What is promised to those who overcome? (7)- He shall inherit all things- “I will be his God and he shall be My son”10) Who shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire andbrimstone? What is this called? (8)- The cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral,sorcerers, idolaters, all liars- The second death11) Who offered to show John the bride, the Lambs wife? (9)- One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls12) Where is John taken, and what does he see? (10)- To a great and high mountain- The great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God
    15. 15. Review Questions for Chapter Twenty13) What was the general description of the city? (11)- It has the glory of God- Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal14) What surrounded the city? (12)- A great and high wall with twelve gates15) What stood at each of the gates? What was written on the gates? (12)- An angel; the names of the twelve tribes of Israel16) How many foundations did the wall have? What was written on thefoundations? (14)- Twelve; the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb
    16. 16. Review Questions for Chapter Twenty One17) What was the length, breadth, and height of the city? (16)- 12,000 furlongs (about 1500 miles)18) How tall was the wall? (17)- 144 cubits (about 72 yards)19) What was the construction of the wall? Of the city? (18)- The wall was of jasper- The city was of pure gold, like clear glass20) What were the foundations of the city adorned with? (19)- All sorts of precious stones21) What were the twelve gates? What was the street of the city? (21)- Twelve pearls, each gate of one pearl- Pure gold, like transparent glass
    17. 17. Review Questions for Chapter Twenty One22) Why was there no temple in the city? (22)- The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple23) Why was there no need for the sun or moon to shine in it? (23)- The glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light24) Who shall walk in its light? Who shall bring their glory and honor intoit? (24)- The nations of those who are saved- The kings of the earth25) What shall not be shut at all day? What about at night? (25)- The citys gates-There shall be no night there26) Who will by no means enter the city? Who will enter the city? (27)- Anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie- Only those who are written in the Lambs Book of Life
    18. 18. Resources Used• Mark Copeland•• Collins Family•