Revelation 20:11-15

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

THE REIGN OF CHRIST

INTRODUCTION:

There are basically three major interpretations of the one thousand years in Revelation of Jesus Christ 20 .

1. The literal and premillennial interpretation. People who believe this believe that the millennium is a literal period of one thousand years which is preceded by the second coming of Christ and followed by resurrection and judgment. This is what we believe. When we say that we believe in the premillennial return of Christ, we mean that the second coming of Christ occurs before the millennium. There will be an actual period of one thousand years following the second coming of Christ, which is known as the millennium.

2. The amillennial interpretation. People who believe this believe that there is no literal one thousand year period known as the millennium. They spiritualize this one thousand year period. They believe that the new birth and the millennium began with the first coming of Christ. The saints are pictured as reigning in heaven with Christ. Many people who typically believe in the literal interpretation of the Scriptures make an exception to their literal understanding when it comes to prophecy. They spiritualize the text. We do not believe that the amillennial interpretation of the millennium is Biblically correct.

3. The postmillennial interpretation. This view believes that the thousand year reign of Christ occurs before the second coming of Christ. In other words, the second coming of Christ occurs after the thousand years are finished.

According to this view, the gospel is viewed as triumphant during the last one thousand years of the present age. Although this view was common in the 1800s, very few people believe it today. We likewise do not believe that the postmillennial interpretation of the millennium is Biblically correct.

We have already seen -

I. THE BINDING OF SATAN - 20:1-3

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:1-3 - (1) And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, (3) And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

The second coming of Christ, which occurs at the end of the 7-year period known as the tribulation, has just occurred. Following the second coming of Christ, the individual Jews and Gentiles who survived the tribulation are judged. Those who have been saved during the tribulation enter the millennium. Those who were never saved during the tribulation are put to death. At the beginning of the millennium, the period of one thousand years, Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit where he is confined throughout the one thousand years.

In addition, we have already seen -

II. THE JUDGMENT AND RESURRECTION OF TRIBULATION SAINTS - 20:4

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:4 (4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Verse 4 refers to believers who died during the tribulation. At the beginning of the millennium, they are here resurrected from the dead. At this same time the Old Testament believers are raised from the dead. By contrast, believers from the church age had been raised from the dead seven years earlier, following the rapture.

We have also already seen -

III. THE FIRST RESURRECTION - 20:5-6

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:5-6 - (5) But the rest of the dead [i.e. the unsaved dead] lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This [i.e. this resurrection of the believers at end of the tribulation which is mentioned in verse 4] is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.

The first resurrection is the resurrection of all believers from the dead. It takes place in stages. Christ is part of this first resurrection. Believers from the church age are resurrected from the dead at the rapture before the tribulation begins. Old Testament saints and tribulation saints are raised from the dead following the second coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation.

We have also seen -

IV. THE LOOSING OF SATAN AND THE FINAL REVOLT - 20:7-9

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:7-9 - (7) And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, (8) And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. (9) And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

In Revelation, John does not occupy himself with the details of the millennial kingdom but only with the fact and duration of it. At the beginning of the millennium, Satan is bound and confined to the bottomless pit for one thousand years. Verses 7-9 fast forward one thousand years to the end of the millennium. Satan is set free from the bottomless pit and allowed to deceive the nations one more time.

Finally, we have already seen -

V. THE DOOM OF SATAN - 20:10

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

We move on to -

VI. THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE GREAT WHITE THRONE - 20:11

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

I saw has been translated I beheld several times in Revelation and refers to John.

What John saw was a great white throne.

The throne was great in that it was large as well as in the seriousness of the occasion it represented.

The throne was also white, which would symbolize the purity of its judgment.

In addition, John saw him that sat on it, i.e. the One sitting on it or the One Who was sitting on the great white throne.

Although John does not specifically identify the One sitting on the throne, it is apparent that He is God the Father Who is the One pictured throughout Revelation as the One sitting upon the throne. However, Christ also sits there with Him according to Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:21 , 22:1, and 22:3.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:21 - To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:1 - And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:3 - And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.

The One doing the judging seems to be the Lord Jesus Christ because all judgment has been committed by God the Father to God the Son.

John 5:22 - For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.

Paul wrote -

Roman 2:16 - In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by [i.e. through] Jesus Christ. . . .

Likewise in Acts 17:31 Paul stated on Mars Hill -

Acts 17:31 - Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained (i.e. by Christ); whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

From whose face the earth and the heaven fled away refers to the One sitting on the throne, i.e. to God the Father.

Thus, from whose face refers to God the Father's face.

Fled away suggests sought to flee away or sought safety in flight.

There was no place found for them. It is literally a place was not found for them.

The most natural explanation of the fact that earth and heaven fled away is that the present earth and heaven are destroyed and will be replaced by the new heaven and the new earth. This seems to be a picturesque way of introducing the idea in Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:1 that the present heavens and earth are destroyed.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 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.

Also -

II Peter 3:10 - But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

Next we see -

VII. THE RESURRECTION OF THE WICKED DEAD - 20:12-13

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:12-13 - (12) And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

I saw is the same word used in verse 11, and I refers to John. Several times in the Book of Revelation it has been translated I beheld or I looked.

What John saw is the dead, small and great, stand before God. It is the dead ones . . . standing before God where the dead ones refers to the unsaved dead and where God likely refers to God the Father Whose throne it is. However, Christ, Who also sits on the throne, is the One Who actually does the judging because all judgment has been committed to Him.

Small and great likely refers to their social standing, i.e. to their unimportance and importance on the social scale.

Before God is in the sight of God or in the presence of God.

The books were opened.

Again and indicates that an additional fact is about to be introduced.

Another book was opened is another book of the same sort was opened, and this additional book is described by which is the book of life.

Which refers to book.

As indicated by the italics, the book has been supplied by the translators.

Life is the word used exclusively for eternal life and implies that the book of life contains the names of all those who have eternal life.

In the clause the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, the dead is the unsaved dead who have been raised from the dead in order to stand before this judgment at the great white throne.

Were judged out of those things which were written in the books indicates that the books are records of their lives and indicates that God is going to give them ample opportunity to demonstrate by their works, which have been recorded in these books, that they deserve eternal life. Of course, they do not deserve it; and their works as recorded in these books will clearly demonstrate this.

The book of life will also be consulted to verify that their names are not recorded there. The fact that the book of life is consulted or opened is not an indication that the saved people (whose names are written in the book of life) will be judged at this time. No saved people are judged at the great white throne judgment.

It is interesting that the unsaved are judged according to their works. God will examine their works, and their works will demonstrate their lost or unsaved condition.

Romans 2:5-11 also indicates that an individual will be given ample opportunity to demonstrate that he has lived a life which deserves admittance into heaven.

Romans 2:5-11 - (5) But after thy hardness [or stubbornness] and impenitent [i.e. unrepentant] heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;

(6) Who will render to every man according to his deeds:

(7) To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:

(8) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

(9) Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

(10) But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:

(11) For there is no respect of persons with God.

To summarize, according to Romans 2:6 , God will render to every man according to his deeds.

According to Romans 2:7 , God will give eternal life to those who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honor and immortality. Unfortunately, this is a nil class, i.e. a class with no members; and no one like this will ever be found because all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23 ).

According to Romans 2:10 , God will give glory, honor, and peace to every man that continuously works good. Again, none of these people will ever be found because there are none. However, all people will be found to be contentious and disobedient to the truth but obedient to unrighteousness. As a result, they will receive indignation and wrath according to Romans 2:8 .

Furthermore, each one at the great white throne judgment has done much evil in his lifetime and deserves the tribulation and anguish he will receive according to Romans 2:9 .

Back to Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:12

Thus, they are judged out of the books according to their works. Their works will also determine the degree of punishment each one deserves. Whereas everyone in Hades receives the same degree of punishment, those in Gehenna or the lake of fire will receive differing degrees of punishment. At the great white throne judgment, the works of all unbelievers will be judged to determine the degree of suffering each one will experience in Gehenna. It will be terrible for all but even worse for some.

The idea of different degrees of punishment in hell is found in statements made by Jesus in verses such as Matthew 10:14-15 and Matthew 11:20-24 .

Matthew 10:14-15 - (14) And whosoever shall not receive you [i.e. the twelve apostles sent forth by Jesus], nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (15) Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Matthew 11:20-24 - (20) Then began he [i.e. Jesus] to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: (21) Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (22) But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. (23) And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (24) But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

No unsaved person will escape the great white throne judgment.

The sea gave up the dead which were in it.

The sea refers to the world's large bodies of water, oceans and seas. Many have lost their lives at sea; yet, those who have and whose bodies have never been recovered will be resurrected from the dead out of the sea.

Not only did the sea give up its dead, but death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them.

Death gave up its dead also. Between death and the sea all the bodies of the unsaved are raised from the dead.

Hell is hades or sheol, the place where the souls of the departed unsaved dead go at death. Whereas the sea and death speak of the place from which the bodies will be resurrected, hades and sheol speak of the place of confinement where the souls are tormented in temporary hell while awaiting the resurrection to the great white throne judgment after which they will be cast into permanent hell, the lake of fire and brimstone. All the bodies of the unsaved dead are resurrected from the dead and reunited with their souls so that they might stand before Christ at the great white throne and then be cast into the lake of fire. There is no place a dead person can be hidden where he will not be found and no state from which he will not be resurrected.

And they were judged every man according to their works repeats the idea that every man will be judged according to his own works which was taught in the previous verse.

They refers to the unsaved dead standing before the great white throne.

Were judged every man is were each (one) judged. Although all who appear at this judgment will be judged, this statement indicates that they will be judged individually and not as a group.

According to their works is the general principle by which they will all be judged, and it will determine the degree of punishment they will experience in the lake of fire.

Finally, we see -

VIII. THE LAKE OF FIRE - 20:14-15

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:14-15 - (14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire means that all of the occupants held captive both by death and by hades or sheol were thrown into the lake of fire. Not a single one will escape or be forgotten.

This is the second death means that the casting of death and hell or hades into the lake of fire constitutes the second and final death.

By contrast, in verse 6 it has been stated that the second death will have no power over those who have part in the first resurrection, the resurrection to life. In other words, no saved person will ever experience the second death.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The basis for the judgment is declared in verse 15 to be whether their names were found written in the book of life.

It is not clear whether the names were written in the book of life at the instant of salvation, or whether the names of all persons were originally written in the book of life but some were blotted out when they departed from life on earth without having been saved. If they were blotted out, this presents a sad picture of a blank space where their names could have been written for all eternity as the objects of divine grace.

Whosoever was not found written in the book of life is actually a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. It is literally if anyone (or anybody) was found (or discovered) with his name not written in the book of life. If anyone would be at this great white throne whose name was not written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. Inasmuch as no one who is judged at the great white throne judgment has his name written in the book of life, everyone of those judged there will be cast or thrown into the lake of fire. There will be no exceptions.