The Tribulation Part 15 (Conclusion): The End is the Beginning

Sojourner414

Watchman, what of the night?
In chapter 14 of the Tribulation Study, we saw King Jesus Christ set up and reign over the Millennial Kingdom, and the doomed efforts of a freed Satan to gather the a vast army against the Lord. Their ill-fated attack ended as fire came down from the Father and vaporized the entire lot of rebels. As we continue on the final chapter of our study, the end of all things has finally come.

(Yup... another long one folks. Trying to finish this with a lot to go!)

" Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” (Revelation 20: 11, NASB, emphasis mine)

John sees a throne that is gleaming white; pure, unadulterated, without stain or blemish. It's stature and importance are uncontested, and the power and authority it represents are absolute. This is the throne that the Lord makes rulings and decisions from; He declares and orders, and the angels obey.

What we are also told is that the Earth and Heaven "fled away": in other words, they no longer exist. Looking to Scripture, we find out exactly what happens to them in this instant:

"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation. For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:3-13, NASB, emphasis mine)

After thousands of years and many "resets", the Heavens and the Earth are no longer suitable for God's purposes, or for His saints to occupy. Sadly, it has been contaminated by sin far too often, and like man, must be made again anew. In a flash, the Earth and sky around it disintegrate, as the Lord releases His hold on them and allows them to explode in flames. One thing to note: the Greek word ouranos, which means " the visible heavens: the atmosphere, the sky " (Strong's 3772), and the word is used in both Revelation 20 and 2 Peter 2. It's my belief that the Lord only destroys the Earth and the atmosphere of it, which the Fall of Man, 6000+ years of sin and Satan's evil have contaminated.

The Lord will recreate the heavens and the Earth; but before He does, one last matter must be settled before eternity can begin. And it is a grave one, full of sadness and despair, heartbreak and ruin. And it is one I dearly pray no one reading this ever has to bear witness to as a participant.

THE LAST JUDGMENT.

Before we get into the actuality of the judgment, let me point out two things: the first is the identity of the Judge:

"For not even the Father judges anyone,
but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." (John 5:22-23, NASB, emphasis mine)

This is important, as the Lord Jesus has experienced Life here on Earth; without that, unsaved man could accuse the Lord of not knowing how powerful temptation can be, the hardship of living on this planet, and the horrors that life can entail. Instead, a judge sits on the throne who is not without understanding and compassion, but also in whom righteousness and true justice live, and all facts will be heard, and all accounts reviewed.

The second is that normally, there are cherubim singing praises to the Lord in the Throne Room. There are elders falling down, worshiping and singing, the 144,000 following the Lord, the saved singing His praises, and lightning and thunder coming from the Throne. Instead, no mention of any sound whatsoever is made according to John.

Dead silence.

All of these things were warnings to those coming before the Lord, and warnings are intended to make those thinking otherwise to turn away from their evil and wickedness. But now it is TOO LATE, and the time for warnings is OVER.

"
And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds." (Revelation 20 :12-13, NASB, emphasis mine)

Here, we see all of mankind, from Cain all the way down to Adolf Hitler, stand before the Creator of the universe. Every unsaved person who ever lived and all those who died (with the exception of the Antichrist and the False prophet, who were immediately judged), will stand before the Lord on this most terrible day. All their words, deeds and even thoughts will be shown before the Lord, and they will each give an account of their lives to Him. Because of the facts recorded in the books, none of them will be able to lie, as many in the heavenly host will bear witness to their acts. But unlike believers, they will have no one to advocate for them. Since they rejected the gift of Jesus Christ, all that is left to judge them on is whatever "righteousness" they have (their "deeds").

After death and Hades are emptied, the Lord destroys them both:

"Then death and Hades
were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire." (Revelation 20: 14, NASB, emphasis mine)

They are no longer a factor that will be allowed in God's creation. In fact, Death is specifically referred to as an "enemy", and the last one to be destroyed:

“But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all. “(1 Corinthians 15:20-28, NASB, emphasis mine)

Now, we read from John the most chilling words ever written in the history of mankind. A sorrowful, harrowing occurrence, as those who spurned the living God are given their judgment:

“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. " (Revelation 20:15, NASB, emphasis mine)

And with that....history ends..

...but not the story of God and mankind:


"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5, NASB, emphasis mine)

After the Last Judgment, the very first thing the Lord does is essentially the first thing Scripture records Him doing in Genesis: creating the heavens and the Earth! Only this time, there will be a few differences in th new creation:

-"No longer any sea": Rather than a world where water takes up most of the planet, the Lord creates a beautiful world with plenty of area for people to enjoy Of course, it doesn't mean there won't be any bodies of water on it!! But rather than the vast, lonely expanses of the deep, the water will not keep people far and separated from one another. A possible double meaning here is that unlike the "land" (Israel) and "sea" (gentiles), there will be only one people, with no more separations to divide man.

-"No longer any death": the age-old enemy of man, that served to put fear, pain, hurt and despair into the hearts of virtually every living soul to walk this planet, is burning in an eternal death of its' own, in another place and reality far, far away from this new Earth.

-"There will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain":
All the hurt, sadness, misery and harm from the original Earth have died with it. God the Father will no longer allow these terrible things that have grieved His beloved children. Instead, this is a time for celebration, love, and the Father, Son and Holy Ghost finally being united with their creation!

This is not a reworked, patched-up version of the planet and everything on it; it is brand new!! All the things that made life a struggle are gone forever! The Lord makes sure that John writes this down for everyone to read, and to have hope for in the age to come!

John continues:

" Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6-8, NASB, emphasis mine)

Here, the Lord reaffirms to John that no one who practices sin will be allowed in this world. All those who lie, murder, steal, fornicate, do wicked and hideous things, and who revel in sin will only have one place to go, and this will NOT BE IT. The Lord states that the Lake of Fire is the only place they will go to, but for those who overcome, they will have the Water of life, and they will enjoy this new Earth forever.

Now, we watch, along with John, the coming of the New Jerusalem:

"Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." (Revelation 21: 9-14, NASB, emphasis mine)

In reading this description in Scripture, some have asked "How can the Church be the Bride of Christ if the City of New Jerusalem is the Bride?" The answer to that is: the City represents the total sum of redeemed humanity. All those who trusted in Christ and were redeemed by his blood have the right to enter the city, and it is our home. Keep in mind that Christ did not die for buildings, He died for people so that we might live. Calling the City "the Bride" is much like calling all the students of an institution "the school"; it's a term referring to the whole.

John gives us details on the great city:

"The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements."
(Revelation 21: 15-17, NASB, emphasis mine)

John tells us of a city that, measured in miles (he confirms that angels use the same means as humans to measure things!), is roughly the same size as our present moon!!! This is one reason we know that the this description describes the "Eternal State": such a city would make our present Earth wobble by its' sheer size alone! Additionally, I don't think the Lord would let it come down to the Earth for a thousand years, only to be incinerated along with it!

John continues to describe the city to us:

"The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass." (Revelation 21: 18-21, NASB, emphasis mine)

The materials He lists are the closest thing John can even think of to describe this beautiful place. The walls are jasper , a mineral that would be quite like diamond. "Pure gold, clear as glass" would refer to gold that is so brilliant and polished, looking in it would be like looking in a golden mirror. This comprises the streets and the very city itself! The gems comprising the foundations of the city, remind us not only the twelve apostles, but the twelve gems inset into the High Priest's breastplate. In that sense, we are reminded not only that the foundation was that laid by the Lord Jesus, but that the Lord's coming was the fulfillment of the law, itself given by the Lord.

"I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life." (Revelation 21: 22-27, NASB, emphasis mine)

Here, we see that the city will need no temple: God Himself will dwell with man on Earth. Heaven and Earth are now one, and God Himself will be man's temple, treasure and reward. The light of God will mean that the planet will not need a sun (although it doesn't mean that one won't be there!); it proclaims the sufficiency of God in all things. This also means that there will be no "nighttime"; not only literal darkness, but spiritual and figurative as well. Man will no longer be blinded by sin, but will see clearly the truth of and in all things, as illumined by God's glory.

This also means that all lying, dishonesty, treachery and depravity will have no place
here. God simply will not allow it.

"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. " (Revelation 22:1 -5, NASB, emphasis mine)

John, led on by the angel, sees the river of the water of life flowing through the middle of the city from the Lord's throne. This is a physical demonstration of the sufficiency and abundance of God; as no need will go unmet in the Eternal Kingdom! From God himself will come living water, which represents the life God promises to those that trust in Him for salvation.

From this water will be growing on either side the Tree of Life; in that sense, Eden will have been restored and man returned to it as the Lord intended. The twelve kinds of fruit also remind us of both the apostles as well as the tribes of Israel, and it's entirely possible that the leaves from the trees will bring together those from all "nations". In other words, all walks of life, cultures, times and places, epochs and eons; any "differences" in the cultures and backgrounds could be addressed through this way, as everyone would have equal access to the trees of life.

"And he said to me, “These words are faithful and true”; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.” ” (Revelation 22: 6-9, NASB, emphasis mine)

The angel with John tells him that these things were revealed to John, so he could in turn relay this message. Through the angel, the Lord confirms He is indeed coming quickly, and pronounces a blessing on those who heed what the Lord revealed to John. After reminding John not to worship him (a servant), the angel directs John's worship to the only one who truly deserves it: God.

John continues with the angel's message:

" And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.” (Revelation 22:10-11, NASB)

John learns that rather than "keep this message to himself", he was to write it and get it out to people. And an important part of that message is that if you reject the gift of salvation in this life, you don't get a "second chance" in eternity. Those who are able to choose and turn their noses up at the Lord will dearly wish they hadn't in the ages to come! But just as much: those who take the Lord up on His gift are secure in eternity.

John closes the book (and the Bible) with the Lord's final instructions to him and us:

"“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. ”Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost. I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen."
(Revelation 22:12-21, NASB, emphasis mine)

In John's closing words in Revelation, he reminds us that the Lord will come "quickly" (or "by surprise"). Because of this, the Lord urges through John those that read the book of Revelation to "wash their robes" so they can have access to this incredible city. He also reminds us that all those who continually sin and love practicing it will not be allowed into this city; it's a good bet that they won't be allowed anywhere but the Lake of Fire, as previously mentioned! And in this final passage, the Lord issues the warning not to add or remove anything from the book of Revelation; in that vein, we need to exercise caution not to go outside the meaning that the Lord put into it, nor deny or minimize the warnings given therein.

And of course: let those who want the water of life come take it for free. Freely it was given to us, so let us point the way to others so they may freely give it.

In writing this series, I have tried to stick as close to Scripture as I could, and interjected at certain points as little as possible. Hopefully, I was able to let the lord's word speak rather than my own "opinion", and that folks got something out of this.

I thank all of you for taking the time to read this. God bless, and I bid you all peace.

YBIC,

-Sojourner414
 
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