Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne . . . . And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. . . . Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
People often do things they wouldn’t do if they knew they would be caught. The bad news of this passage is that every inappropriate word, thought and deed is part of the public record. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known (Luke 12:2), said Jesus. He knows what you did when you were four, and he knows what you did when you were forty. It is recorded in the books.
Thankfully, there is another book called the book of life. It contains the names of every single person who belongs to Jesus Christ. Some were murderers, adulterers, thieves, gossips and blasphemers. But they are completely forgiven because they belong to the one who paid for their sins.
They will not be thrown into the lake of fire, but will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:11), wrote Peter. He will present [us] before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 1:24), wrote Jude. We are holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (Colossians 1:22), wrote Paul. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14), says Hebrews.
Our greatest concern on Judgment Day will not be what we have done, or haven’t done, but whether we have truly believed in Jesus Christ. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already (John 3:18), wrote John.
Revelation 21:1-3 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. . . . I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. . . . And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.
The sin of our first parents was the greatest disaster ever, and resulted our banishment from paradise (Genesis 3:24). That could have been the end of our story, but God promptly announced that someone would come to crush the devil’s head (Genesis 3:15). Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus defeated Satan, and opened the way for God and his people to live together again.
The city of God will be like Eden and Jerusalem together, but better than both by far. It is what Abraham was looking for as he journeyed through life. [H]e was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10), says Hebrews.
It is also the place Jesus had in mind when he said, My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? (John 14:2).
It is also the city that Paul had in mind when he wrote, the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother (Galatians 4:26).
It is also the place the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he wrote, For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come (Hebrews 13:14).
Cities are the height of civilization, but in a fallen world they are always corrupt (Genesis 11:4). The city of God will never be corrupt, however, and will have the best of everything. All that our parents lost in Eden will be restored by Jesus Christ, plus more than we can imagine. This will be our eternal home, and the best of all possible worlds.
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Tears begin at birth and are common throughout childhood. Even adults have reason to cry sometimes: loss of health, wealth, beauty, reputation, opportunity, innocence and love. All night long I flood my bed with weeping (Psalm 6:6), wrote David.
God may seem indifferent to our tears, but here we see he is not. The most powerful being in the universe is also the most tender. Our mothers used to dry our tears, and they were good at it. But our heavenly Father loves us even more, and will dry our tears for the very last time. He will not send an angel to do it, but will do it himself. Sorrow that lasted a lifetime will disappear, and purest joy will take its place.
Revelation 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new!
Our fall into sin brought death and misery, as well as a curse on the earth (Genesis 3:17-19). That is why everything in the world is damaged: hearts, minds, relationships, societies and everything else. Cars that were new twenty years ago are now being sold for parts.
But Christ is making everything new. [I]f anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come (2 Corinthians 5:17), wrote Paul. Christ begins his work of renewal in the hearts of his people, but he will not stop until the whole universe has been renewed. [W]e are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth (2 Peter 3:13), wrote Peter.
A friend of mine restored an old car to better than new condition. It was still the same car, but with better parts, better paint, and many improved features. The new creation will resemble the old, but it will be dramatically improved. Imagine perfect people, in a perfect world, with a perfect God forever.
Revelation 21:8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
The most surprising thing about this list is that it begins with those who are cowardly. They are excluded from eternal life because following Christ requires courage. It takes courage to say no to our sinful nature, and to a world that rejects Jesus Christ. This is always true, of course, but especially during persecution.
Ranavalona I was the queen of Madagascar in the eighteen hundreds. She was no friend of Christians, and put many of them to death. She dangled some over a cliff and told them to renounce Christ to save their lives. Upon refusal, the rope was slowly cut until they fell to the jagged rocks below. Following Christ is scary at times, but we are never allowed to turn away from him (Mark 13:13). There is no place in glory for those who lack the courage to follow Jesus Christ.
Revelation 22:4 They will see his face.
This has been the desire of God’s people since paradise was lost (Genesis 3:23-24). [S]eek his face always (Psalm 105:4), wrote the Psalmist. And, the upright will see his face (Psalm 11:7), wrote David. All the seeking of all God’s people for thousands of years will not be denied.
There have been times when men went off to war and did not return for years. One soldier said goodbye to his wife when she was nine months pregnant. She gave birth to a girl, and often told her how wonderful her daddy was. She also showed her pictures, and told her how happy she would be when she finally met her daddy.
Then one day, as she played in the yard, a handsome young man came to the gate. He looked into her eyes, until at last, she recognized him. With a squeal she jumped into his arms and said, Oh Daddy, you are real! To see our Father’s face will be the joy by which all other joys are measured, and we will never be apart from him again.
Reflection and Review
What do you think of Judgment Day?
How will the city of God compare to our cities today?
Have you ever needed courage to follow Jesus Christ?