10 Minute Read + Scripture readings

Today’s Bible Reading:

Deuteronomy 23
Psalms 112-113
Isaiah 50
Revelation 20

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Revelation 20:11 (CSB): “Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

We’re going to get serious in this post. It’s going to be dark. We’re going to look at the final judgment of unbelievers.

Before we look at Revelation 20, though, we need to be reminded that there are going to be two judgments: 1) The Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:102 Corinthians 5:6-11), and 2) The Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

The Judgment Seat of Christ is the place where believers, and only believers, will be judged. The Great White Throne is where unbelievers, and only unbelievers, will be judged.

Further, both of these judgments are judgments of works. They do not determine where someone will spend eternity. That has already been settled. Once someone breathes their last breath, the matter is settled. Instead, these two judgments will determine the number of rewards and responsibilities that believers receive and the degree of punishment that unbelievers receive.

So, let’s look at Revelation 20:11-15, verse-by-verse, commenting briefly on what we observe in the text.

Revelation 20:11 (CSB): “Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.”

  • This throne is huge and white which means it strikes fear in those who are brought before it, particularly because it is pure and holy and they are not.
  • The one seated on the throne is Jesus. He is the one who provided the way for sin to be forgiven so he will judge those who rejected Him and His free gift.
  • The final part of this verse speaks of the “un-creation” of all that God made in Genesis 1-2. The Apostle Peter speaks a little bit about this un-creation in 2 Peter 3:10.

Revelation 20:12 (CSB): “I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.”

  • The “dead” are those who have experienced the first death (physical death).
  • Unbelievers are not limited to one social class or any one culture or any other demographic of society. They are from “the great and small” (every single demographic).
  • Unbelievers are judged according to “what was written in the books.”
    • The “book of life” has the names of all who are saved (Revelation 3:513:8). Obviously, not a single person who is at the Great White Throne will have their name in the Book of Life. So, it’s just a formality to make sure that they aren’t in there.
    • The “books” appear to be a detailed account of every action, every word, every thought, every attitude, every motive, everything(!) that the unbeliever did in their life. The severity of their punishment will be determined by how much they willfully broke God’s laws while they were alive. They are judged according to the details about their life that were recorded in the books.

Revelation 20:13 (CSB): “Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works.”

  • This verse simply tells us that every single person, no matter where their dead body sat and decayed, will be resurrected to this judgment. Absolutely no unbeliever is exempt.
  • Note that this is the second verse in which the phrase, “judged according to their works,” appears. God is making a point that He wants us to get. Everyone is going to Hell who appears at this judgment. But, the degree to which they will be punished will be determined by what they did in their life (their works).

Revelation 20:14 (CSB): “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”

  • Notice the two designations: “death and hades.” Simply put, “death” has to do with the (decayed) physical body and “hades” has to do with the spirit. At the Great White Throne, bodies will be reunited with their spirits to experience a very real physical punishment forever.
  • “The lake of fire” is the ultimate and final place of punishment for the unbeliever. No one is there yet. Wherever it is, it will be populated after the Great White Throne Judgment.
  • Also, notice the word “thrown.” Unbelievers will not be walked to the lake of fire. They won’t be escorted. They will be thrown into the fire like garbage.
  • Also, notice that “lake of fire” is used three times (twice in verse 14 and once in verse 15). God, through the writer John, is trying to get our attention.

Revelation 20:15 (CSB): “And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”

  • Some would read about the Great White Throne and think that God is cruel. Yet, when a believer reads John’s account of the final judgment of the unbelievers, we see a compassionate God warning people about the inevitable consequences if they don’t turn to Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life.
  • Just as a doctor might motivate a cancer patient by warning them of what would happen if they don’t take the remedy, God is warning us of what will happen if we don’t trust in Jesus.
  • This account of the Great White Throne isn’t cruel. It’s compassionate. God is warning us. If you haven’t already trusted in Jesus and surrendered to His authority over your life, I sure hope you will settle that matter before this day ends.

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, help me to fill my mind with Your Word in an age when everything seems to be turning upside down. Help me to believe Your Word and live in conformity to Your Word. And, as I look at the sin all around me, and even in me, help me to look forward to the day when all wrongs will be righted. In the meantime, help me to be an agent of peace to share the Gospel with others so that they can be prepared for the day of judgment, too. Amen.

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash