Final Battle, Final Judgment

Rev. 20:7-15

Said before, will say again – a far more reliable guide to understanding and interpreting the Bible is the Bible, not the newspaper. Apostle John used prophets of OT, not Patmos Times as source material for his descriptions. As John saw visions God presented to him, he wrote down what he saw in terms of OT pictures. By one count 278 out of 404 verses in Revelation make one or more references to OT themes, mainly from Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah. Means that understanding those books plus tabernacle/temple imagery is indispensable to proper grasp of Revelation.

From this point in Revelation onward, are looking at end of this age, then next age. How will this age come to an end, what takes place then, what can we expect our existence in next age to be like – topics John has yet to address. Perhaps most surprising – much of what John describes here presented as final fulfillment of some mind-bending OT prophecies. Ezekiel speaks of Gog and Magog, a temple of stunning grandeur and dimensions where God will dwell with his people forever in the city named Yahweh Shammah, The LORD is there. Isaiah prophesied of a new heaven and new earth that will remain and old heaven/earth remembered no more. Will get to those themes as we continue study.

Now, the end — final battle and final judgment. How we will know it is approaching, what we can expect our Triumphant King to accomplish, and what our place in all this is.

A. approach of the end v.7-9a

here is what binding has prevented – would have assembled for battle earlier if possible! (see also Rev. 16:13-16; 17:14; 19:19)

binding of Satan has also effectively restrained his allies – they cannot be as evil as if taken off the leash

last secondary action before end – releasing restraints on Satan and his activity

remember his primary target: Christ’s church wherever it is found; his intent: destroy it – his anger building for 2000 years, only one thing will satisfy

will use every available means to deceive unbelievers to buy in to his agenda – convincing them is in their best interests to do his bidding

read 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 – note his resources: has real power, performs false signs and wonders, wicked deception

wows unbelievers to think he has all necessary credentials, is worthy to be followed, they fall for his lies

deceives the nations

Gog and Magog – representative of earthly power aligned to destroy OT people of God, described by Ezekiel chapter 38ff

these are last earthly enemies of Christ and his church, a countless number allied together to make war on the saints

scope of assault

enemies worldwide assemble to make attempt on “the camp of the saints” – not just one or two nations, essentially all unbelievers

use variety of means to try to prevail – political, economic, legislative – however pressure can be brought against church

political rhetoric from government and academic leaders – using inflammatory language against Christians and Biblical principles

economic policies to oppress believers – taxes that penalize, policies that if followed require violation of conscience

laws and penalties intended to destroy Christians – think blasphemy/apostasy laws, hate speech/crimes, loss of constitutional guarantees

ultimately will use force where God permits to imprison or kill any who remain opposed Satanic agenda

when will he be loosed? or has he already been?

must take global perspective as things really are – not limited to personal experience, what media outlets have for top stories

and… must look for other evidences too – disruptions to other parts of created order increasing to intensity previously unknown

answer to question – perhaps; do know for certain we are 2000 years closer than John… also know God is still the same

remember how Revelation starts: “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.” (Rev. 1:17)

quickly followed by message to Smyrna: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)

B. Second Coming v.9b-10

cp. previous descriptions – read Rev. 6:12-17; 11:19; 16:9, 20-21

no need to repeat in ch. 20 what has already been written – when that day comes (only God knows the date) will destroy enemies, deliver his people from harm

as before, is clear who does the fighting – is fire from God, wrath of God, judgment of God that brings this age to an end

God’s people, whether have previously died or still alive on earth, are only bystanders, witnesses to what King Jesus does

is God’s fight with his enemies, is God who secures the victory, is God who receives all praise and glory for what he accomplished

is clear this is time we’ve been waiting for

when it comes, all those who are objects of God’s judgment respond with cursing and blaspheming God, refusal to repent

will continue to do so for all eternity – if fire and hail does not bring repentance, fires of hell won’t either… esp. w/o Holy Spirit

this what makes eternal punishment just – the lost keep sinning, they rightfully continue to be punished

now is devil’s turn

devil, Satan, dragon, deceiver – finally sent to his eternal doom, lake of fire and brimstone, never to trouble saints again

important note: Satan not the prison warden, is one of the inmates; God is warden, meting out punishment he deems appropriate

C. judgment v.11-13

previously seen different perspectives on run-up to final judgment – now, at last, here judgment is described

no exceptions… everyone will appear – small and great, sea / death / hades gave up their dead

some try to make Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10) separate from Great White Throne Judgment – universal witness of NT is that Christ is the Judge and there is a resurrection

John 5:28-29“Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voiceand come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

the books and the book (figuratively representing God’s all-encompassing knowledge)

if we could look in books might see – names of all people from “every tribe, language, people, and nation” entered, deeds listed in all their awful detail

yet notice: many names with black line after line of terrible deeds, different names with line after line of red – some a red line, others red words

first sort of names only found in the books, second sort found in the book, the Book of Life

every black line of words represents deeds to be judged, deeds for which sinner has taken full responsibility by refusing God

otoh, every red line represents deeds covered by the precious blood of Christ, red words those good works he has done thru us

for unbeliever, this will be time when their deeds will be judged, found sinful and unacceptable to God, and condemned

for believer, this is time when deeds will be judged, found righteous and acceptable to God, and rewarded

unbelievers appear before throne dressed in filthy rags of their own righteousness, totally unable to please God, with works done for self and rejected by God

believers stand there dressed in white robes of Christ’s righteousness, their sinful deeds judged on Good Friday and covered by blood, their good works purified and made acceptable by blood

for believer’s name to be written in Book of Life requires penalty for sin must be satisfied by another – Christ at the Cross

D. victory v.14-15

see 1 Cor. 15:26 – final enemy overthrown – “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

we know by the resurrection of Christ, death can have no power over believer – yet… is still part of human experience, for now

when that Great Day comes, death and place of the dead sent away to trouble the saints no more – everything that has corrupted this present world utterly removed, forever

this earth and heaven, this universe fled from face of Judge, wicked consigned to place of eternal torment, what about righteous? what comes next? – come next week!

E. meanwhile…

if world really is getting worse, especially our piece of it, how should enemies of God live?

let your fear of God’s judgment cause you to repent – is still time, opportunity to hear and embrace truth of the Gospel

Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Rev. 14:7)

at its most basic, elemental level eternal Gospel is (1) fear God, (2) give glory to God, (3) worship your Creator, because judgment is certain

if world really is getting worse, especially our piece of it, how should we as people of God live? – confident anticipation

confident that, through whatever world and Satan throw our way, Lord Jesus walks beside us, strengthening us, leading us home

anticipation of day “when the books are opened, we need not fear. In that great day, Christ’s perfect obedience is credited to us, and his shed blood has washed away all our sins. The book will say that we are without sin and perfectly obedient! And because of Jesus Christ, God will say to us, “well done, good and faithful servant, come and share your master’s happiness!” Poythress

 

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