Summary: Message 37 in our exposition of Revelation contemplating hell.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“Judgment and Hell’s Fire” Rev 20: 11-15
Hell is not Satan’s domain; it is his eternal prison. This is not his headquarters; it is his confinement. It is not his home; it is his place of torment. Following the description of the final disposition of Satan, John recorded a grim scene. Hebrews solemnly states.
… it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment… Hebrews 9:27
There are many who never faced judgment on this earth. They seemed to get away with their wickedness. Even though many may escape the earthly courts, NO ONE will escape the heavenly court. God is a righteous judge. All must face judgment for righteous deeds neglected and sinful deeds committed. It is obvious from this Scripture that death does not end life.
There is judgment after death. It is not judgment and then death. It is death and after death judgment.
Scripture reveals two judgments; one for those who embrace Christ and another for those who don’t. The one who embraces Jesus and His work on their behalf will not face penalty for their sin. We anticipate purification and reward for faithful service. There is temporary judgment in this age for sin but there is no eternal judgment in the next. For the one who rejects Jesus, there is temporary judgment in this age AND everlasting judgment in the next.
John described what that final courtroom scene and judgment will look like.
4. The Great White Throne Judgment 20:11-15
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it,
This is a white throne indicating judgment and rule of absolute purity and perfection.It is most likely Jesus sitting on the throne. As we have seen before, the Father commits all judgment to the Son.
"For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. John 5:22-23
The next phrase is somewhat problematic.
from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
What is meant by earth and heaven? Usually it is a reference to the entire universe; either material or immaterial or both. Some see this as a reference to the creations of the new heaven and new earth as mentioned in the next chapter. If that is true, then there would be no “sea” left to give up their dead as mentioned in this same passage. Why would earth and heaven flea away from Jesus their Creator? God promised creation redemption and that it would be set free into the freedom and glory of the sons of God. This sounds more like annihilation. I tend to think that this is a reference to the inhabitants of earth and heaven.
It would make perfect sense in this context of facing judgment. John simply comments that there is no place to hide from this judge by humans or angels. There was no hiding place from final judgment.
The next phrase then details the extent to which the universe gives them over for judgment.
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them;
First, we are dealing with those who have died from every walk of life. No one escapes.
Whether prominent or impotent, all will personally stand and give account before Jesus.
Those who have died previously, which at this point is all unbelievers, will be raised with a physical body in order to physically stand before Jesus.
Those who died at sea will not escape. Those put in graves will not escape. Those cremated will not escape. There will be a final resurrection.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. "For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. "Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.