Today, Thursday August 04
The Great White Throne Judgment
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
The Apostle John is given a “Revelation” of end time events that are very specific! He gives more details of these event than any of the other Old or New Testament writers. He sees and writes about exactly what is going to happen when we come to very end of the church age, the Tribulation, the Millennium, the final revolt of Satan, and the final judgment of the dead at the “Great White Throne”.
At the end of Revelation 19, Jesus comes back to earth with His saints to conquer all His enemies and to set up His thousand-year reign. Revelation 20 begins with Satan being bound for a thousand years and the saints of God ruling and reigning with Christ in His Kingdom. Now at the end of this chapter, at the completion of the one thousand years, we have a description of what is called the Great White Throne Judgment.
We are not to confuse this judgment with the “Judgment Seat of Christ” which we read about in Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:11-17; and 2 Corinthians 5:9-11. This judgment for the church age saints comes first, probably at some point in heaven while the seven-year Tribulation is taking place on earth. The character of our service will be revealed (1 Cor. 3:13) as well as the motives that impelled us (1 Cor. 4:5). It will also be a place of reckoning as we give an account of our ministries (Rom. 14:10-12). If we have been faithful, it will be a place of reward and recognition (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 4:1-6). For those of us who have been faithful, it will be a time of rejoicing as we glorify the Lord by giving our rewards back to Him in worship and in praise.
At the Great White Throne Judgment, there will be only unbelievers; and there will be no rewards. John described here an awesome scene. Heaven and earth will flee away, and there will be no place left for sinners to hide! All must face the Judge! The Judge is Jesus Christ, for the Father has committed all judgment to Him (Matt. 19:28; John 5:22-30; Acts 17:31). These lost sinners rejected Christ in life; now they must be judged by Him and face eternal death. This death is called the “second death” because it is the final separation of sinners from God.
Over the years of studying the Scriptures, I have come to believe that “hell” and the “lake of fire” are two different places. In the Old Testament and up to time of the cross of Jesus Christ, the soul and spirit of anyone that died went to a place called Sheol. That are some Scriptures that indicate that this place is somewhere in the “heart of the earth”. Sheol was divided into two compartments. There was a hades or hell side that was a place of flame and torment. And there was a “paradise” side that was where those who by faith believed in Christ went. Remember Jesus told the thief on the cross with Him that “today you will be with Me in paradise”.
It is interesting to note here, that in His earthly ministry, Jesus actually spoke more about hell than He did heaven. He made it clear that hell was created for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41), not for people. But if people reject the only remedy for their sin, which is the cross and blood of Jesus, they will go there too (Luke 16).
I believe that at His resurrection, Jesus emptied the paradise side and took all those there to “heaven” (John 14:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:1-8). Paul called it the “third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:1-4). This is where the throne of God is, and Jesus is presently seated at His right hand. That’s what Stephen saw when he was being martyred (Acts 7:54-60).
Here in Revelation 20, it appears that the souls and spirits that are in hell side of Sheol, will be reunited with their bodies and stand before this Great White Throne judgment and then be cast into the “lake of fire”, which is the second death. We will talk more about this tomorrow! Today make sure you have trusted Jesus for your eternal salvation so you can escape this final judgment!