The Book of Revelation, Part Two, Chapters 19, 20, 21


The Binding of Satan With a View to Gog and Magog

Revelation 20:1-10

f) That fire from God out of heaven destroys them is evident and clearly stated in the text. We must also in this connection confer chapter sixteen, verse 21. There we read: “And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.” Moreover, we can refer also to chapter nineteen, verse 21: “And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceedeth out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” All these passages refer to the same end although the presentation differs. In Rev. 16:21 it is the great hail that destroys them. In Rev. 19:21 it is the sword that proceeds out of the mouth of Christ that slays them. Here it is fire from God out of heaven. The idea is that all the wicked shall be killed in that last day in order to pass through the resurrection of damnation and to appear before the judgment seat pf God in Christ. 

Finally, in verse 10 of this chapter we have the judgment of Satan recorded: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” We may note here, in the first place, that by deceiving the nations that live on the four corners of the earth Satan performs his last act of wicked deception and rebellion against the Most High, and thereby fills the measure of iniquity, thus becoming ripe for judgment. In the second place, we must note too that, like the beast and the false prophet, he is here presented as being unworthy even of any public and formal judgment. He is immediately cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, that is, into hell. Cf. Rev. 19:20. This is true not of his fellow devils, but of Satan himself, as the prince of devils, alone, even as it is not true of the followers and worshippers of the beast and his iinage, but of the beast and the false prophet only. In the third place, we may also note that this punishment consists in continuous torment, day and night, and that too, without end, forever and ever. Those who teach that the agents of darkness will ultimately be annihilated and who deny eternal punishment may base their view on falsely conceived humane considerations; but Scripture everywhere contradicts this doctrine. The justice of divine retribution rendered to the wicked cannot be gaged by man’s finite existence, but must be viewed in the light of the terrible nature of sin as committed against the infinite majesty of the ever blessed and glorious God. In that light we can somewhat understand that Satan and all his subjects, the beast and his worshippers, shall be tormented night and day forever and ever.


The Final Judgment 

Revelation 20:11-15 

11. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 

12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 

13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 

14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of tie. This is the second death. 

15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. 

John now records here a new vision, as is evident from the introductory “And I saw . . .” History has been brought to a close in every respect, and now follows the vision of the final judgment of the world, before the description of the New Jerusalem and the new creation in the following chapters. The throne here is not the same as the one mentioned in Revelation 4:2. It is here a throne of judgment. It is described as “great,” indicating the magnitude of the judgment that is to take place. And besides, it is described as “white,” symbolic of the glory and holiness and righteousness of the Judge. He that sits on this throne is evidently God: for He is not further described, but we read that from His countenance the heaven and the earth flee away. And in verse 12 we read that the dead stand before God. This is not in conflict with the teaching of Scripture that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ and that Christ shall appear as the Judge of the whole world. For God judges the world in and through Christ, who is His revelation and representative also in the hour of judgment. Then we read, as I already quoted: “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” The last clause explains the first. It tells us that the earth and heaven so “fled away” from the face of God that they completely pass away and completely disappear. The fashion of this present universe must pass away, according to Scripture. It will be consumed in the final world-fire, to make room for the new heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell. This we may also read in II Peter 3:10-14: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” The fashion of this present universe, therefore, must pass away. Thus it is presented in the vision, namely, as a fleeing away of the earth and heaven before the face of God. There was no place for them. Further, we read of the resurrection of the dead in this same passage: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” John saw the dead, all the dead, small and great, rich and poor, righteous and wicked. He beholds the dead and beholds them as dead, that is, as those who passed through physical death. From this and from the fact that the judgment is described before the resurrection we may not conclude, of course, that the judgment will actually take place first. It is evident from the last part of verse 13 that this is not the case. The order, therefore, is rather thus, that the dead before the throne of God and the judgment are described first, and then it is explained whence these dead here appear before the throne of God, namely, as out of the resurrection. “Small and great” may mean children and adults, but it may also refer to the different stations and positions they occupied in this present life. Or at all events, the description is derived from their earthly position and relative difference in this world. 

Then we read: “And the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life.” Here we may find proof that indeed all the dead appear here before the throne of God—righteous and wicked, the godly and the ungodly. That the books were opened is a symbolic representation of the truth that all men must be revealed in their true ethical character, in their right moral value. All must be made manifest before the judgment seat of God in Christ. Our works must be exposed before our own consciousness, as well as before all the world, in their proper light. The reason is, of course, that God must be justified when He judges. The “book of life” is God’s own record of His elect saints. They were redeemed by the blood of their Lord and Savior. Through that blood they were justified; and they were also sanctified in Christ Jesus. This book is also opened. For when men are judged according to their works, the work of Christ for, in, and through the saints, the elect whom God hath given to Christ from before the foundation of the world, must also be exposed. Therefore they can never perish in the judgment. And they shall see themselves in Christ as God sees them, as perfectly righteous in Him. Further we read: “And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” In their works the true, ethical worth of all becomes manifest. This is not only true of the works of the wicked; but it also includes the works of the saints in Christ, the works of faith, of repentance, of sorrow over sin, the work of sanctification, in order that it may be manifest that the saints, although their own works were wicked, nevertheless were perfectly righteous and’ judged as righteous before the throne of God in Christ. 

In verse 13 we read of the “second resurrection.” In this verse, therefore, we have an explanation of the fact that the dead could appear before the judgment seat of God. They were first raised from the dead. From this it should be evident that all the dead—not only the wicked—are here presented as raised, and that the bodily resurrection is the “second resurrection,” in distinction from that mentioned in verses 5 and 6. Further we read: “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it,” etc. The idea is that all the dead, no matter how they died, whether they were drowned in the sea or burned in the fire or buried, were raised. That is why we read in this verse that death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire, and that this is the second death. And all that were raised were judged. For so we read: “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” This, therefore, is the final punishment. Death and hell are here personified. They have done their work, and they are now completely overcome by Christ, consigned to their proper place, hell. Cf. I Corinthians 15:26. This, then, is the second death. And that second death implies eternal desolation in hell. For “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” The wicked too are cast into hell. Of the reward of glory of the righteous, whose names are in the book of life, we do not read here, but will read of it in the following chapter.


The Blessedness of the New Jerusalem 

Revelation 21:1-4 

1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 

2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 

3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God. 

4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 

The description of the judgment upon the powers of darkness, the devil, the beast, the false prophet, and all their host of wickedness, is now complete. However, with this negative result the book of Revelation could not be complete. It must needs end with a description of the glorious realization of all the promises of God, the final and everlasting reward of the righteous. This is presented in chapter 21, verse 1, to chapter 22, verse 5, which speak of the new creation, the new Jerusalem, and the tabernacle of God with men. 

In verses 1 and 2 we read of the new creation and the new Jerusalem. In verse 1 we read: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth.” The new creation is the end of all prophecy that is revealed in Scripture. Thus we read already in Isaiah 65:17: “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” And also in Isaiah 66:22: “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.” And in II Peter 3:13 we read: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” Concerning this new creation we may briefly remark, in the first place, that it will be a new heaven and a new earth. This is emphatically stated in the test here and in other passages of Scripture. The heaven and the earth constitute the two main parts of the original creation as mentioned in Genesis 1:1. Both are affected by sin. Both will be renewed and united in a higher unity than before. Secondly, it will be radically new. For “the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” Isaiah 65:17II Peter 3:10, 11. This does not mean that it will be a new creation out of nothing. For although the present world will be destroyed by fire, nevertheless it will not be annihilated. Even as the resurrection of the body is not a new creation, so the renewal of the universe is not a creation out of nothing. Yet nothing of the present world will enter into that new creation. Old things are passed away. In the third place, we notice that in this new creation heaven and earth and all things contained in them will be united in one, namely, in Christ. For thus we read in Ephesians 1:9-11: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” And thus also in Colossians 1:10, ff.: “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” And then follows the passage which we have particularly in mind in this connection: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”