Summary: First resurrection, White throne judgment
Revealing the Revelation
Chapter 20 – “Judgment Day”
April 11, 2010
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Last week we took a look at the first part of this Scripture. Since it was Resurrection Sunday we focused mainly on the resurrection part of this Scripture. Christ will return. The dead will rise to meet the Lord in the air. We have God’s promise on that. Paul wrote to the young Thessalonian church:
“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.”
Death is such a terrible thing to the unbeliever. It’s the end. The world fears death. It holds a great dread for them – as it should. But for the Christian it promises so much. We have a hope – we have an expectation that we will be with the Lord for ever. The bible says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Those of us who love Jesus will simply walk into God’s presence in heaven when we die. Death is only a doorway into the heavenly realm.
And those who die in the Lord will return with Christ at the last trumpet to set up His earthly kingdom for the thousand years. Those of us who are left alive on earth at that time will rise into the air to meet the Lord. He is not going to take us up to heaven. We are simply meeting the Lord. The Greek word used here to meet the Lord in the air is the same one used when the Prodigal son’s father ran out to meet him and then returned with him to their home. It is the same one used to describe how Jesus turned around on the road to Emmaus to have dinner with Cleopas and his wife. “Jesus acted as if he were going farther” Luke 24:28 says, but stopped, turned around and went back to their house.