Over the past several months we have been going through the book of Revelation. In past blogs we have witnessed many terrible things. We have seen demonic locust that torment men for three months. We have see blood, fire and hail come down from heaven. We have seen men and women beheaded for the cause of Christ. The verses we will discuss in this blog are more terrible than all of those.
In the latter part of Revelation 20 we read of the judgment of the wicked dead. This is commonly referred to as “The Great White Throne Judgment.” Again this portion of scriptures begins with the phrase “and I saw.” This statement was made by John 37 times in the book of Revelation. What a privilege John had to view these things. This time John will witness as the dead stand before God. This no doubt is the gloomiest hour the world has ever known.
Let me first say that this not a "general judgment." In fact there is no such thing as a "general judgment" in the scriptures. As we study these verses we will see that the church will not be found at this judgment, nor will we find Israel. This is the judgment of the wicked dead alone.
The church will be judged at the Judgment seat of Christ and Israel will be judged during the seven years of tribulation. This judgment is reserved only for the wicked dead. The judgment of the wicked dead will take place at least 1,007 years after the judgment of the church.
This also is not the judgment of the nations recorded in Matthew 25. Let us look at the differences between these two judgments.
Matthew 25 Revelation 20
Judgment of nations Judgment of individuals
Takes place on this earth Takes place in heaven
Judged for their treatment of Jew Judged for their works
No books are opened Books are opened
Takes place before kingdom Takes place after the kingdom
Having established that this is the judgment of the wicked dead alone, I want to talk about this judgment in two ways. I want us to see a picture of this judgment. I also want to discuss the purpose of this judgment.
A Picture of Judgment
Notice the description John gives us of this scene. In these verses we see the description of Christ and His throne as being white. White speaks of holiness, justice, purity and righteousness. White stands for all that is honorable and right. The white is even more remarkable when compared to the darkness of the sin found in those being judged.
In these verses we learn that death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire. Death is a representation of the grave, and hell of course is the underworld where the souls of the wicked remain until this time of judgment. By these two being cast into the lake of fire we realize that there will be no more death or sin for God will do away with both.
We know that this judgment will not take place on this earth for it will take place at the same time the earth is being renovated by fire. Peter tells us the earth will be burned with fire on the "day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men."
“But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same world are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.” 2 Peter 3:7
When the kingdom age if fulfilled, and while this judgment is taking place, God will renovate the earth with fire. While mankind stands in judgment, the earth is also being judged and restored.
Therefore we can see the scene. After the kingdom age is finished the heavens and earth will roll away. Somewhere in the middle of nothing we see a white throne. Upon this throne sits Jesus Christ. The host of heaven surrounds Him, and the wicked dead stand before Him. Angels stand guard waiting to cast all who stand before Christ into the Lake of Fire. What a terrible scene.
The Purpose of Judgment
I do not believe that the wicked will be judged in these verses to determine whether they are guilty or not, whether they are saved or not. That has already been determined. The reason that these people are standing before God is because they have not accepted Him. These will be judged to determine the degree of punishment they will endure.
This is sad for there will be some good people that stand before God on this day. People that were kind and lovable, but they never accepted Christ as their Savior. Murders, rapist, child molesters all will stand before God. There will also be children, mothers, grandmothers, community leaders who will all stand before God.
As the books are open the person’s life is brought into judgment. Every work must be accounted for. Nothing will be hid on this day. The wickedness that men have indulged in will be brought into the open for all to see. You may ask “how this is possible?” You must remember that God is an omniscient or all knowing God. He is also omnipotent, or all-powerful, and knows and sees the heart.
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Matthew 15:19
“Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things area naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13
As these books are open we are told that whoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. This is very interesting to me. It almost reads that there is searching being done for the names of those that stand before God. God knows all that are His, for He said in John 10 “I know my sheep.” If then God knows those that are His, why would He search the books for them? Could it be possible for God to have made a mistake and not remembered one of His?
No! I believe that many will stand before God and cry out that they were in fact saved and that they accepted Christ as their Savior. As they cry forth God will show them the book of life as proof that they never were really saved. How sad it is to picture the unsaved standing before God searching frantically for their names in the book of life. Then even more terrible the moment that they realize their name is not in the book of life.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23
No doubt some will be subject to more punishment than other. I personally believe it will be those who sat on a church pew every Sunday that will suffer the most.
“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom me have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48
All however will be punished. How sad it will be to be one of those people who are not so bad and have to spend eternity with the wicked.
What a time of judgment. All will be judged. No doubt we will see Cain, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh, Jezebel & Ahab, Judas and those responsible for the crucifixion of the Lord. We will even see King Agrippa who said to Paul "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian."
This will be the saddest day history will ever know. I believe it will be a terrible sight as we watch friends, coworkers, and family cast, kicking and screaming in the lake of fire. Remember friend that it is not until after the Great White Throne is completed that God wipes away all tears from our eyes.
I also believe that it will be at this time that the blood of those we came in contact with will be required at our hands.
The fallen angels will also be judged at this judgment. Not the angels of Satan but those who today are chained in darkness according to Jude 6.
“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6
Once all of this is done and the earth is purged of all evil we will see a new earth in the next chapter.