Saturday, March 2, 2024

Morning Message: The Day of the Lord

Bobservations' Column
Titled - "The Day of the Lord"
Written by: Pastor Bob Lawrenz

As we have just finished chapter 19 and the beginning of chapter 20, we should be reminded about what the Holy Spirit has told John about Christ’s Second Coming. I have always been encouraged by John 15:15, as Jesus tells the Apostles that He has told them “...all things that His Father has told Him.”

And it’s always good to take God at His Word. Revelation 19:14 speaks of the “armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses.” It is the fulfillment of Zechariah 14:4,5 where we are told that “the Lord my God shall come, and all the Saints with thee.”

One of the exciting things about this fulfillment is the John 15:15 reference, where we started. Now we have a bigger picture of God’s faithfulness. And what we find is that John 15:15 is itself a fulfillment. The Father never wants to leave His children in the dark, without knowledge.

The Prophecies of the Prophets are incredible! In Amos 3:3, the Prophet asks a rhetorical question: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Of course, they cannot possibly do that without an agreement made in advance: Where was the walk to begin? What is the destination to be? What path would be taken? And what is the pace that the two would keep? Without agreement in all these things, the two are not walking together. The Holy Spirit’s words for Amos and for John to record are impeccably accurate. Amos is the Prophet that tells us almost 800 years before Jesus’ birth, about the “Day of the Lord” which we read about today. He describes it in 5:16-20. The prophecies are to help His children to be of one mind with Him.

All the intricacies of God’s Word are seemingly beyond finding out, until we run across them in the Word. Then we are held in awe at His wonderful works. This is why it’s so
important to be in God’s Word daily! Let’s see what other nuggets we can find as we go through the rest of the chapter.

“Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the Prophets.” - Amos 3:7

Bobservations' Column: Audio Version

Sunday Morning's Audio Message:
Revelation 20:11-15 - "The Day of the Lord"

Summary/Additional Bible Notes 

"I won’t mind going to hell. All my friends will be there.” Many flippant comments like this are made by unbelievers who think that eternity is something to joke about. Everyone dies, and what the Bible says about eternal punishment reveals that it is no joking matter.

The word throne appears often in the Apocalypse, but we must distinguish between its different appearances. For example, the throne in chapters 4–5, as well as the one in chapter 7, is a throne of grace and mercy. Here stand the redeemed. They have been washed by the blood of the Lamb and offer their worship, praise, and thanks (5:8–10; 7:9–17). The throne in 20:11–15, however, is one of justice and punishment. Those who stand there will face only judgment. There we find no praise, no joy, no singing—only silent gloom as wrath is displayed and judgment meted out.

And who will sit on the throne of judgment? Scripture makes it clear that it will be the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself said in John 5:22, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” It is the Lord Jesus, the despised Nazarene and lowly carpenter, who will occupy the judge’s “bench” on that day. The apostle Paul stated, “I charge thee, therefore, before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1). He will judge the living in the Judgment of the nations at the beginning of His Millennial Kingdom (Matthew 25:31–46); and at the end of the Kingdom, He will judge the “dead” at the Great White Throne.

Today we are finishing up the twentieth chapter of Revelation, verses 11-15.

After the final defeat and punishment of Satan, the rest of mankind is resurrected. These are the non-believers, brought back to life in the second resurrection. This brings them to a great white throne, symbolic of purity and justice. Unlike the rainbow throne described in earlier chapters, this one is austere. Those who died in Christ are judged on the basis of His life, rather than their own—those are the persons whose names were written in the book of life (John 3:16–18). In contrast, here at the great white throne judgment, unbelievers are judged on their own deeds, which means damnation (Romans 6:23). Every person who did not follow Christ is consigned to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).

Great White Throne (20:11) - Nearly fifty times in Revelation there is the mention of a throne.  This is a judgment throne, elevated, pure and holy.  God sits on it as judge (see 4:2-3, 9; 5:1, 7, 13; 6:16; 7:10, 15) in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ (see 21:5-6).

Earth and the Heaven Fled Away (20:11) - John saw the contaminated universe go out of existence.  Peter described this moment in 2 Peter 3:1013.  The universe is "uncreated," going into nonexistence.

The Dead (20:12) - 
The people described here, at the Great White Throne, are the unsaved dead. No one who has received Christ as his or her personal Savior will be there. There is no blowing of the trumpet, no white robes, no clean linen, no garments of righteousness—all characteristics of the presence of believers. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 and Revelation 19:8.) Scripture teaches that the final resurrection will not be a general resurrection but a resurrection with two stages—one for the saved and one for the unsaved.

Standing Before God (20:12) - In a judicial sense, as guilty, condemned prisoners before the bar of divine justice; there are no living sinners left in the destroyed universe since all sinners were killed and all believers glorified.

Books (20:12) - These books record every thought, word, and deed of sinful men - all recorded by divine omniscience (see Daniel 7:10, the verse that is the source of this text).  They will provide the evidence for eternal condemnation (see 18:6-7).

The “books” of 20:12 record all the evil deeds of the individuals standing before the Great White Throne. They are judged according to their “works,” or deeds. When their names are not found in the book of life, they will have no basis for objecting to the fairness of the Judge for omitting them. The “other” books will give evidence from their lives to demonstrate their culpability and the fact that they deserve the punishment they receive in the lake of fire.

The “books” will play one more role also: They will indicate the degree of punishment these people will receive. Although all will be “lost,” the measure of their punishment will coincide with the degree of spiritual truth they received and rejected in their lifetimes. (For a fuller understanding of this aspect of eternal punishment, see Matthew 11:23–24; Luke 12:41–48; and Hebrews 10:29.)

These passages are not meant for mere debate. They are meant to be pondered deeply by everyone who reads them. What is your condition before a Holy God, my friend? Will you be at this judgment, trembling before your Maker at the Great White Throne because you never received His grace provided for you in His Son, the Lamb? I urge you to trust in the blood of the Lamb today, so you will not have to face His wrath tomorrow.

Book of Life (20:12) - It contains the names of all the redeemed (see 3:5). It contains the names of all who have been saved from the second death. They belong to Jesus Christ, the Lamb who purchased their redemption. Other references to this book are Revelation 13:8 and 21:27.

Judge According to their Works (20:12) - Their thoughts (Luke 8:17) words (Matthew 12:7), and actions (Matthew 16:27) will be compared to God's perfect, holy standard (Matthew 5:48) and will be found wanting (Romans 3:23).  This also implies that there are degrees of punishment in hell (see Matthew 10:14-15; 11:22; Mark 12:38-40; Luke 12:47-48).

Death and Hell (20:13) - Both terms describe the state of death.  All unrighteous dead will appear at the Great White Throne judgment; none will escape.  All the places that have held the bodies of the unrighteous dead will yield up new bodies suited for hell.

Second Death (20:14) - 
The “first death” is physical death—something we all must experience (except, of course, for the generation of believers who will be transported into the presence of the Lord via the Rapture). The first death involves separation of the soul from the body. The second death (described in Revelation 20:14–15), will be the eternal separation of unbelievers from God. It has been said, with appropriate candor, “If you are born once, you will die twice; if you are born twice, you will die only once.”

The "second death" is for all those who were born only physically in their lifetimes. They were not born again spiritually (John 1:13; 3:6–7). The second death will involve a conscious and tormented existence in the lake of fire. The term lake of fire is a metaphor for a place that is too horrible to be imagined. Human language can only compare it to something we can faintly comprehend. The reality will be far worse than anything we can think of.

There are more than twenty references in the New Testament alone to these fires of hell, most of them in statements of the Lord Jesus Himself.  The warnings are given with such urgency as to leave no doubt that they should be taken with all seriousness.  

Whosoever... Not Found... Lambs Book of Life (20:15) - Not only are lost men and women condemned by the record of their works but also by the absence of their names in the Lamb's book of life.  Just as there are degrees of reward for the righteous in heaven, there are degrees of punishment for the unrighteous in hell.

There is only one way to avoid the terrifying future of hell.  Those who confess their sins and ask God to forgive them on the basis of Christ's substitutionary death on their behalf will be delivered from God's eternal wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9).

Ungodly men and women today scoff at the reality of hell.  They will even go so far as to use it as an excuse for rejecting Christ.  "How could a God of love send someone to such a horrible fate?"  
The entire question is wrong. A better wording is “If God is love, then why do some people go to hell?” Romans 1:18–20 lays the foundation for the answer:  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (wickedness) of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (suppress the truth by their wickedness); Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."

People have been given enough truth to know and surrender to God, but they refuse it. Self-will wants to deny God’s right to tell us what to do. So, with the truth in front of them, many people turn away and refuse to see it. Atheist Thomas Nagel has said, “It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

Jesus was God incarnate and therefore love incarnate, but He spoke more about judgment and hell than anyone else in Scripture.

No human being can escape the knowledge of his or her own sinfulness. We may mask it, may play psychological games with it. We may try to blunt it through drugs or alcohol or a fast-paced life, going from relationship to relationship. But in every human heart the law of God does a convicting work, and that convicting work has an existential element to it. There is naturally the fear of death because of what may lie immediately ahead of that. And even though people would reject Christianity, reject the Bible and what it says—about, “It’s appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment”—they cannot escape the consciousness of their own sin, and they cannot escape the lingering reality that justice does exist in the world. We understand the concept of it; we understand right and wrong, and there may well be an accounting yet to come. 

Is your name written in the Lamb's book of life?

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