Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Revelation 20:11-15
Pastor Steve Schell
Revelation 20:11
Verse 11: All believers were resurrected before the Millennium began and have ruled and ministered on Christ’s behalf during this entire period (Rev 20:4-6). Only after it ends and Satan has been judged does the second resurrection take place. Then unbelievers will come to life and put on resurrection bodies, just as believers did before them, only when unbelievers are raised they must face the sad prospect of standing before God so He can judge their lives (Da 12:2; Jn 5:28). To bring this judgment God is seated on a great white throne and each person is brought before Him one at a time.

Revelation 20:11
Verse 11 (continued): When John sees God sitting on this throne he describes Him as the One “from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” This remarkable description gives us insight into the means by which God will destroy the present universe before creating “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev 21:1). We’re told this old universe will flee from His presence (literal: face) which I believe means it will be destroyed when He releases the full, unrestrained intensity of His glory. In his second letter Peter describes this destruction in some detail (2Pe 3:7, 10-13). He says the universe will be destroyed by fire, but when Peter’s statement is combined with John’s we realize the “fire” he’s talking about is divine fire rather than natural combustion. In other words, it’s the glorious “fire” of God’s presence. He will release His presence until it fills the universe in complete and undiminished intensity. With a “roar” the earth, stars, galaxies and every other celestial object will be incinerated. Only spiritual beings and humans in resurrected bodies will survive.

Revelation 20:11, 12
Verse 11 (continued): John’s description of God as the One from whom “earth and heaven fled away” gives us a glimpse of His incomprehensible power. During this present season in which we are now living He is restricting His glory to allow the universe to exist. But He will not always do so. When its appointed time is finished, He will release the fullness of His glory; He will “be all in all” (1Co 15:28), and the present creation will disappear (Ro 8:18-22). Verse 12: Next, John sees the unbelieving dead standing before God. All unbelieving humans, from the rich and powerful to the poor and powerless, will be resurrected and judged from books containing a record of the deeds of their lives (Da 7:10). The very fact that a person is part of the second resurrection and is being judged tells us the sad verdict which will be announced. Yet God patiently and kindly shows each one the justice of their sentence. Undoubtedly He will show then the many times He reached out to them and yet they refused to come to Him.

Revelation 20:12
Verse 12 (continued): Along with the books which record the choices each person has made, the “book of life” will also be present. This is, as it were, a citizenship list of every person who belongs to God’s kingdom. Even Moses, as far back in history as the Exodus (Ex 32:32, 33), knew of the existence of this book. David also spoke of it (Ps 69:28; 87:6), as did Isaiah (Isa 4:3), Ezekiel (Eze 13:9), Daniel (Da 12:1) and Malachi (Mal 3:16, 17). Jesus assured His disciples,
“...your names are recorded in heaven” (Lk 10:20). Paul spoke of those “whose names are in the book of life” (Php 4:3), and the author of Hebrews spoke of “...the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven” (Heb 12:23). And, as we’ve seen, John refers to the book of life repeatedly in his Revelation (Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27). So as they stand at the great white throne each person’s name will be sought for from the pages of this book and “...if anyone’s name was not found ...he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15).

Revelation 20:13, 14
Verse 13: Regardless of how people died, every person will be resurrected. Not one will be overlooked, even if they tragically died at sea and therefore sank into its depths unburied. These are not lost to God but will also stand before His throne to have the justice of their verdict explained. Their eternity will be based upon the actions and choices they made during their lifetime. Verse 14: When the universe disappears into God’s fiery presence, and His glory fills all, the process of dying, of digging graves and of disembodied spirits waiting in darkness to be judged will come to an end. These tragic results of sin will no longer exist in the “new heaven and earth” (Rev 21:1).

Revelation 20:15
Verse 15: As we saw earlier (v 11) I believe John’s reference to the “lake of fire” refers to the divine fire which will fill the universe when God releases the full expression of His glory. When that takes place this present universe will disappear, but neither spiritual beings nor resurrected humans will ever cease to exist. The Bible never implies that a spirit can cease to be, so neither the devil nor his fallen angels will be extinguished. Instead, they will be trapped in the glory of God with no escape, tormented forever by their own evil and their hatred of God. This is the same destiny that awaits those who follow the devil. Those who make the “ruler of this world” their ruler (Jn 16:11) will join him in his judgment.

Revelation 20:15
Verse 15 (continued): The only difference between Satan and unbelieving humans is that humans will be resurrected into immortal bodies (Jn 5:29; Ac 24:15; Da 12:2). And a central feature of a resurrected body is that it is immortal and therefore capable of enduring the fiery glory of God (1Co 15:21, 22, 42-44, 53). So the unbelieving dead who have been resurrected at the second resurrection will join the devil in eternal torment because they will also exist forever filled with the evil attitudes and passions they themselves have created through a life time of choices. The Bible offers no hope that there will be an opportunity for these to repent and escape this misery. It seems that the unbelieving heart is sealed at death and can no longer change, at least for the better. This means they must exist forever immersed in an ocean of God’s glory with no means of escape. What will be heavenly for believers is hellish for those who hate Him.

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