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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

December 10, 2014

Revelations 20:7-15, 21:1-4

  1. We learned last week that Jesus now rules and reigns over a spiritual kingdom according to John 18:36, Colossians 1:13 and Matthew 28:18-20.

  2. Verses 7-8. Now we come to some disturbing words in this prophecy. When the thousand years are ended, Satan is going to be released from his prison in the abyss and will come out to deceive the nations again. We noted at the beginning of this lesson that Satan being prevented from deceiving the nations meant that a world empire would not be able to persecute the Christians nor deceive the world into worshiping it rather than God. There would be some persecution but nothing like what was done under Rome. Verse 8 indicates that Satan will unleash one more effort as he did during the days of the Roman Empire. Satan is going to use a world power to persecute Christians and sway the world away from worshiping the true God. Revelation 20:8 identifies Gog and Magog as “the nations that are at the four corners of the earth.” Gog and Magog appear in Ezekiel 38-39. In speaking about Gog, God said, “Thus says the Lord GOD: Are you he of whom I spoke in former days by my servants the prophets of Israel, who in those days prophesied for years that I would bring you against them?” (Ezekiel 38:17 ESV) God said Gog had been prophesied of in former days by God’s servants the prophets. Yet we only read of Gog and Magog right here. So what is Gog and Magog? Gog and Magog represent the heathen enemies against God’s people. These are the nations of the world that fight against God’s people. The devil is going to exert his power over the nations of the world again to gather for battle. The devil will have the power to deceive the nations again just as he deceived those during the days of the Roman Empire, igniting persecution and false worship.

  3. Verse 9-10 is reminiscent of when the kings of the earth and the beast gathered for battle against Christ (19:19, 16:14-16). Satan is going to try to destroy the people of God yet again. This is the meaning of the symbolism of nations of the earth marching against the camp of the saints and the beloved city. Just as the nations gathered to try to destroy God’s people before but were destroyed by Christ, so it will happen again. Christ will destroy the enemies of God’s people, described as fire coming down from heaven and consuming the enemies. Satan is finally cast into the lake of fire at the end of the 1000 year reign of Christ, the place where the beast and false prophet were already cast in chapter 19. There they all are tormented day and night forever and ever. God brings his judgment against Satan and he will endure eternal punishment. Jesus made the same point about the fate of Satan. “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’” (Matthew 25:41 ESV) Eternal torment in the lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his angels. Satan is now cast into the punishment he deserves.

  4. Verses 11-14. The final scene of this chapter is of a great white throne. This is the scene of final judgment. Earth and sky are no longer needed. The time for this world is over. This imagery fits New Testament teaching (Read Hebrews 1:10–12, 2 Peter 3:10). All the dead are standing before the throne. As the apostle Paul said, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10 ESV). John sees books and a book. Of course this is symbolic for God’s mind. God doesn’t need a book to remember anything. The books of our deeds are opened in preparation for judgment. “The dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” The sea giving up its dead and Death and Hades/hell giving up its dead further emphasizes the point that this is the final judgment that no one will escape. Hades and the word hell mean the abode or place of the dead. Then Death and Hades/hell were thrown into the lake of fire. This shows that there is no more death at this point and there is no more Hades/hell place of the dead waiting the final judgment. Hades is the resting place of the souls who died. There is no more need for Hades because there is no more death and no more earth (20:11).

  5. Verse 15 contains the critical message concerning our future. Those not written in the book of life will experience the lake of fire, which is the second death. What we know is the symbol lake of fire is the second death. The symbol lake of fire is used to symbolize the second death. Since we have seen that all things in Revelations are symbols we must see that the book clearly reveals to us the meaning of the symbol lake of fire as the second death. Fire is oftentimes used for judgment as a cleansing, or purifying agent. See 1st Peter 1:6-7 1st Corinthian 3:10-15. The believers will not have to deal with the second death. We really don’t know what it is, but we know we do not have to endure it or go through it.

  6. Chapter 21:1-2. John now sees a new heaven and new earth because the first heaven and first earth had passed away. We saw the first heaven and earth pass away in Revelation 20:11. The time of this physical earth is completed. It has been burned up (2 Peter 3:10-13). Now the new heaven and the new earth have been ushered in. John is going to be told what this new heaven and new earth looks like in verses 3-8. Before we look at the details of this new heaven and earth, it is important to know that this is not the first time this image is used in the scriptures. Isaiah prophesied of this same time of restoration in Isaiah 65:17 and 66:22. His description of the new heavens and new earth mirrors what John is going to see in these upcoming verses. Verse 1 also reveals that the sea was no more. The sea has a reference to the realm of evil in the book of Revelation (see also Isaiah 57:20). We saw the dragon bring the beast up from the sea (13:1), depicting its great evil. Included in this evil is a representation of the mass of humanity (cf. Revelation 20:13). The evil nations and the wickedness of the world have passed away along with the physical heaven and earth. Notice that Revelation 21:2-8 confirms this understanding that the new heaven and new earth are about the full restoration of God to his people and Christ’s kingdom completing its subjugation of all authorities and powers. Verse 2 shows the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. We saw this imagery of the bride back in Revelation 19:7-8 where we learned that the bride represented the holy people of God and the bright clothing representing the pure and righteous deeds of the saints (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27). More will be described about the bride of Christ in verse 9 through the rest of chapter 21.

  7. Verses 3-4. The apostle Peter said that we are looking forward to the new heaven and new earth. The meaning of this new world shows why we are full of anticipation. Verse 3 tells us that the dwelling place of God is now with humans. God is living with his people. This is what we are looking forward to obtaining. God is dwelling with his people again. Sin ripped man out of the paradise and presence of God for God cannot live with darkness, evil, and sin. Through the victory of Christ on the cross and rule of his kingdom we now can live with the Lord. The scriptures reveal that when we come to Christ we become the people of God and God blesses us. Ephesians 5:25-27 speaks of a current joining of Christ to the church, the people of God. However, we cannot reverse the timeframe of the book at this point. John is seeing what will happen at the conclusion of the final judgment. While the kingdom of Christ was established in Acts 2 and all who accept the invitation of the Lamb participate in that kingdom as John described himself as a fellow partaker in the kingdom (Revelation 1:9), Revelation 21 is picturing the ideal union between Christ and his people. Revelation 21 is picturing the church in its perfected state at the end of the reign of Christ. John is seeing the eternal reward being given to God’s people. Verse 4 validates our understanding that this is showing the people of God in their future, perfected state receiving the eternal reward at the end of time. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Do not foul up the beautiful imagery given here. Some read this and say that if God is wiping tears that means God’s people are still crying. This is not what this imagery means. The image is that while on the earth these Christians have been suffering. They are full of tears. They are full of pain. They have been persecuted. They have been killed. God wiping tears means that he is giving perfect comfort to his people. Isaiah shows this very point when he speaks of weeping for the destruction of the nation, but then prophesies a time of comfort as God wiping the tears (see Isaiah 22:4, 25:8 ).Verse 4 continues to show that comfort from life’s sorrows and pains is in view. Death will no longer exist. There will not be mourning or crying. Notice that there will not be crying any longer. The tears that God is wiping are those tears shed during this present heaven and earth. In the new heaven and earth God will comfort his people. There will be no more death, no more mourning, and no more crying. Grief and pain will exist no longer because all of these things have passed away. Christ has been victorious. He has conquered all powers and authorities. Now the people of God are able to rest.

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