Revelation 20.11-15 – Motivation to share

Today the second resurrection takes place one thousand years after the resurrection of believers in the Lord Jesus, and it takes place before the great white throne. It is a judgement for every unbeliever regardless of rank or file (great and small), and, in as few words as possible, those part of the second resurrection and judgement are brought before God in what is essentially a sentencing, not a trial.

11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Often times we hear people say

‘Oh, when I get to heaven God has some explaining to do!’, or

‘I’ve got some questions for God and He is going to have to be ready for me when I get there!’. The same kind of person also, usually, believes that all good people go to heaven and it will be settled at the pearly gates by sweet talking your way past St. Peter after ascending up an escalator through the clouds…

The reality is very different; believers have been raised to life with Christ and brought before His judgement (2 Corinthians 5.10), and those who rejected the way, will, words, and work of Jesus are brought before the great white throne for sentencing…and it’s not pretty.

The second resurrection and attached judgement are so final and eternal in consequence (v.10), and this is hell – eternal separation from God’s presence. It is not one big party led by a guy with hoofs, a pitchfork, and a bad beard…it is eternal separation from the presence of God with no chance of return. It is final.

Scaring people into being a believer is never the best way forward, is it, ‘Do this or else…’, think how you see a manic street preacher shouting about hell and you shudder because they are probably pushing people away from Christ not drawing them in. But, for those of us who know the love of the Saviour, for those of us who know with assured confidence that we will stand before our Lord and Master at the first resurrection and reign with Him for a thousand years before watching Him bring about a new heaven and a new earth in which we will dwell with Him for eternity, for us, we need to know the alternative. Not to scare unbelievers into believing, but to motivate ourselves to go and share the love and the life of Christ.

I read recently that there is no more selfish person that he or she who is willing to go to heaven alone.

So, time to share the love and life of Christ with those whom God has put you in the midst of. Don’t shout about hell, but live like you are going to heaven.

Revelation 20.7-10 – Over before it starts

When I was younger I played a lot of rugby and the team I follow, Castleford Tigers, were a bit of a yo-yo team for a few seasons. By this I mean that one year they were promoted, the next year relegated. This carried on for much of the mid-2000s and in 2007 they were cruising towards promotion as the season ended. The last game was away at Rochdale who, incidentally, had already been relegated.

So we had the league champions visiting the basement dwellers, both leaving the league next year; one via promotion and one via relegation. In rugby, unlike football (soccer), an unlikely result or upset is far less likely due to the physical nature of the game, and, as you may have guessed, the Tigers cantered to a 106-0 victory that day with my Dad and brother in attendance…can’t remember where I was. The point is, basically, the game was a foregone conclusion, over before it started as a contest.

REGULAR PATTERN ... Mark Leafa crashes over for Castleford Tigers during their record-breaking victory over Hornets at Spotland on Sunday.

Picture from the Manchester Evening News

Did that stop Rochdale turning up that day? No.

Did they approach the game with hope for a victory? Possibly.

Did the Rochdale fans still believe in their team and leaders? Yes.

Was the result ever in doubt? No.

We see the same here in Revelation 20.7-10,

7 And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

After a thousand years of a near-perfect environment, fallen mankind still rebels against God and His ways, and this is really a final demonstration of man’s rebellion and depravity. Satan is released and gathers a huge number of people (their number is like the sand of the sea), who go to surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city.

Then, it’s over before it starts, they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The fight never even gets going and the enemies of God are defeated (again), and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Again, no annihilation, in the original language forever and ever is literal…the torment and punishment is forever and ever.

So, if we listen to the deception of the devil, the slander of Satan, we will find ourselves on a team that may well believe it is heading for victory but that in reality has no chance of victory.

This won’t be like a game of rugby; over after 80 minutes and everybody is friends and shares a meal together to chat…the consequences of being on the wrong team here are egregious and eternal.

Which team do we want to be on?

Revelation 20.1-6 – The first resurrection and the millennium

Today an angel comes down from heaven and binds the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and binds him for a thousand years. He is thrown into a shut, sealed pit for a thousand years so he cannot employ his main tactic, his principal approach, deception; so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended.

He will be released at the end of this time, for a little while, when we will see Christ’s ultimate and eternal victory over him. Until then, he is bound and cannot influence people on earth by deception.

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, 3 and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

You would think that this is then all that is needed for us to see paradise on earth – the devil is out of the picture – but, sadly, this is not the case and due to our fallen sinful nature, the fact that the devil is bound and Christ is reigning on earth for a thousand years is still not enough for some people. Eternity starts at the beginning of chapter 21, and that is when we will see a permanent paradise.

This then is the first resurrection;

4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

How we long to be a part of this first resurrection!

Should our time on earth come to an end before Jesus snatches up His church out of the Great Tribulation then we are assured that to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5.6-8). We would then be a part of this millennial reign with our Lord along with the raptured church, saints of the Great Tribulation, and all others who have fallen asleep in the Lord.

To be a part of this means we are not part of the second resurrection, and therefore not part of the judgement before the great white throne.

Two resurrections, a thousand years apart.

The first is far preferable, right? By the grace of God we can be part of the first because the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, and it is by this very same grace of God we have been saved. All we need to bring to the party, so to speak, is faith…faith in the name of Jesus, for it is by grace we have been saved through faith in Jesus.

Revelation 19.19-21 – A no-go zone

When I was younger I used to walk to school. It took around 25-30 minutes, but this could be made considerably shorter by cutting through what we called a snicket, or a ginnel, or an alley, or whatever you call the narrow connecting passageway that joins two roads but is only wide enough for a person. If it was dark in the morning when I left (as it was for a few months a year), there were some snickets that I would not dare go through unless I was with my friends…peer pressure can really cut time off the walk to school…no, I’m not scared, are you, good, let’s go

Anyway, along with the snickets, there was also the possibility of garden-hopping. This involved, basically, cutting through someone’s garden to cut a big chunk off the walk. However, in my mind that was not a good thing to do, what if they came out and there I was strolling through their lovely manicured lawn? So the garden was a no-go zone, somewhere that was very real, it existed, but was out of bounds for me because I chose not to go there.

Today, we read of the ultimate no-go zone;

19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.

20 And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

21 And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.

The Antichrist and the kings of the earth gather with their armies to make war on Jesus and the army of saints He has with Him. However, it doesn’t even get started, the beast was captured, also the false prophet. Then, the no-go zone – These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.

The Bible translates differen words as ‘hell’ (sheol, hades, tartaros, gehanna), but it is clear here that the Antichrist and the false prophet are sent to hell, the lake of fire that burns with sulphur. They are sent before the great judgement before the great white throne of 20.11-15, and they receive special treatment, so to speak, in that they are sent there before the judgement. They are joined in the next chapter by Satan, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. No annihilation, no disappearing, no “I’m dead and that’s the end of it”, that’s now how we are made.

Friends, we need to be doing everything we can to avoid this no-go zone. I once heard a wise man and good friend give a speech to around 300 young people and they asked him for his one golden piece of life advice. This is what he said, and this is where we need to begin and constantly circle back to in our earthly efforts to avoid the no-go zone that is the very real place of hell and eternal separation from God, he said;

25And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27And he answered,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

28And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”

Luke 10.25-28

Revelation 19.11-18 – Jesus and the fourth supper

Today, He’s back! There is no doubt that this white horse is carrying the King of kings and Lord of lords, unlike 6.1-2 which was not Jesus.

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”

There is so much here that points to Jesus;

Faithful and True…His eyes are like a flame of fire, the insight Jesus has is unparalleled…

on his head are many diadems, the royalty and authority Jesus has is unprecedented…

He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God, takes you back to John’s Gospel, no?, In the beginning was the Word

From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down nations, the power of His Word is unrivaled…

We could go on and on, but the picture is clear;

this is Jesus, this is His coming again, He is back, His second coming, He is back to rule and reign.

Yesterday we talked about the four suppers we see in Scripture, you can read yesterday’s devotional here, and we said there is a fourth supper that we must avoid at all costs.

17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”

Some would call this great supper of God Armageddon, but no matter how we describe it, it is going to happen. If we live in the flesh, we will die in the flesh, regardless of the station in life we hold, see;

“Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”

This fourth supper must be avoided, and to do that we must first partake of the first supper on offer, that of the salvation of Jesus (Luke 14.16-24).

So today let us take stock and evaluate

What in me is destined for the fourth supper?

What in me do I need to remove to make sure I am not present at the fourth supper, the great supper of God?

Have I truly partaken of the first supper, the salvation on offer through Jesus?

We can either be following him on white horses as part of His redeemed, or we can be at the fourth supper. Through His gracious, merciful lovingkindness, all we need to is accept the free gift on offer; our invitation to the first supper.