Summary of Revelation Chapter 20

The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:13-15 ~ The End of the World ~ Part 2.  In this post, we continue our practice of summarizing the previous segment in our exploration of the Revelation of Yeshua to Yochanan and an introduction to the New Heavens and A New Earth.

Summary of Revelation Chapters 20 [1]

We just concluded what has been called the most controversial chapter in all of Scripture.

In the view of Premillennialists, the golden age of peace and righteousness will not and cannot be realized until Yeshua personally returns. He will then bind HaSatan for 1,000 years and reign over this earth with a rod of iron. The saints who rule with Him will be the righteous who have experienced resurrection earlier in His Second Coming. HaSatan will be given one last chance at the end of this time and will succeed in deceiving many people, but his rebellion will be supernaturally crushed, and he will be eternally judged.

The amillennial position takes the Millennium to represent the present age, extending from the First Advent to the Second Coming of YeshuaYeshua bound HaSatan (symbolically) when He lived and died on earth centuries ago. In the future, HaSatan will again be loosed to bring mischief upon the Kehilah, but the Second Coming of Yeshua will result in his demise and will usher in an eternal new creation devoid of evil, death, and the curse. [Do they sincerely believe that HaSatan is not currently alive and well and impacting planet earth today?]

Postmillennialists believe that there will be a future golden age during which HaSatan will be bound, and peace and righteousness will prevail throughout the earth. This will not be accomplished by the personal return of Yeshua, but by the power of the Besorah preached through the Kehilah to all nations.  At the end of this golden age, HaSatan will launch an abortive attempt t destroy the work of God once again. That will trigger Yeshua’s Second Coming.

And, that folks is the reason why I am a Premillennialist!

Introduction of Revelation Chapters 21 & 22 [2]

The New Creation

Will there be a literal New Heavens and New Earth? What is the New Jerusalem?

As with the rest of Revelation, there is no consensus among expositors regarding the closing chapters of the book.  However, as with Chapter 20, the disagreement among scholars does not divide along the lines of the Four Views we have been studying.

The New Heavens and the New Earth have been interpreted in primarily three ways: literally, symbolically of heavens, or spiritually.  Many tend to take the first position (as do most Futurists) and to acknowledge secondarily spiritual application to the present Kehilah.  A thumbnail sketch of each is:

Literalists:

  • Some take the descriptions in these chapters literally, as applied to a brand new planet and universe, which will be created after the close of the Millennium (premillennialists) or else at the Second Coming of Yeshua (some amillennialists and postmillennialists).
  • The New Jerusalem described here will be the eternal home of the redeemed.
  • This is the view of Futurists, especially dispensationalists. The focus is terrestrial.  The earth is restored to a condition like that which characterized the Garden of Eden.

Non-Literalists:

  • Some spiritualize the whole vision, applying it to a nonmaterial state of existence in heaven.
  • Others take the New Heaven and New Earth to represent what Sha’ul call a New Creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). [It is hard for me to reconcile symbolically that Yochanan was describing a new physical place to represent new creatures in Yeshua as Rabbi Sha’ul was talking about in that passage.]
  • The New Jerusalem represents the Kehilah itself, constituted under the imagery of the new Holy of Holies in its present earthly existence.

In my next post, we’ll begin to explore an Overview of the New Creation in Chapter 21:1-8.

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[1] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

[2] Ibid.

The End of the World ~ Part 2

Revelation 20:11-15
The End Times

In my last post, we began to explore Revelation 20:11-15 ~ The End of the World ~ Part 1.  In this post, we conclude our exploration of Chapter 20.

11 Next I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. 14 Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire. ~ Revelation 20:11-15 (CJB)

As I said previously, this passage contains one of the Bible’s most personal messages. We ought to read it often. It will help us to be ready to answer the roll call.  There is so much packed into these five verses that to adequately do them justice; I decided to split this post into two parts.  We will concentrate on verses 13 to 15 in this post.

The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. 14 Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. All the dead who have not participated in the first resurrection are now resurrected and judged. There is no longer any need for Sh’ol, where the bodies are held for judgment since this is the judgment. Nor is there a need for death, which is the punishment for sin, since sin is now being banished from the universe, as foretold by Sha’ul at 1 Corinthians 15:54-55. Likewise the sea, a biblical metaphor for death, destruction and turmoil (see Isaiah 57:20, Ezekiel 28:8, Psalm 107:25-28), harboring fearsome, Satanic creatures such as Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1, Psalm 104:27, Job 40:25-41:26(41:1-34)) and the beast of 12:18-13:8 above, releases its dead for judgment, so that, having served its purpose, it too disappears (Revelation 21:1).

Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire. This is the event foretold by the parable of the sheep and the goats in Mt 25:31-46:

“Then he will also speak to those on his left, saying, ‘Get away from me, you who are cursed! Go off into the fire prepared for the Adversary and his angels!’… They will go off to eternal punishment, but those who have done what God wants will go to eternal life.” (Mt 25:41, 46)

The eternal life spoken of is in Revelation 22:1-22:5.

The lake of fire may mean the wicked will experience the torment of burning and stench physically forever, or it may be a metaphor for the eternal pain of knowing that one is separated from the God for eternity.

This is the climactic moment for the wicked. It is not God who has determined their fate, but themselves, by their deeds that fall short of God’s holiness, and by their lack of trusting Him for salvation through Yeshua HaMessiah. “The Lord… is patient with you; for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins” (2 Kefa 3:9). Compare Romans 2:1-8, especially vv. 5b-6: “… by your unrepentant heart you are storing up anger for yourself on the Day of Anger when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed; for he will pay back each one according to his deeds,” as taught in Psalm 62:13(12) and Proverbs 24:12. God desires that the wicked should turn from his evil ways.

David Stern writes: [1]

“The Judaism of today tends to finesse or minimize the punishment to be meted out to the wicked. Orthodox Judaism speaks of a probationary period (like the Roman Catholic purgatory) of not more than eleven months for members of the House of Israel. In this sense, Judaism does not take sin seriously, in terms of its consequences to the individual sinner.”

To those who cannot relate to verses 11-15 because they find the doctrine of eternal punishment for the wicked too fearsome, or because they cannot accept that God would be “so mean—it’s against his loving nature,” the Tanakh replies, The fear of Adonai is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Justice and mercy, holiness and love are qualities which God balances in His way, which may not be the way we would choose.

“My thoughts are not your thoughts, says Adonai, and my ways are not your ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

“There is a way which seems right to a man, but at its end are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12).

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:13-15 [2]

Premillennialists believe that those who have been previously buried or fed to the fishes at sea will not be able to escape this final judgment (cf. Isaiah 26:21). Death and Sh’ol were revealed in the fourth seal.  Here they are personified as demonic powers that had previously held the dead captive but now must surrender their prey.

Amillennialists believe with the inauguration of the new heavens and the new earth in Chapter 21 and 22; there is no more need for Death and Sh’ol.  All those who persisted in the path of death will attain the thing they all were inadvertently pursuing: the second death.

Postmillennialists believe both the wicked and the redeemed will be included in the final judgment.  HaSatan and his confederates, Death and Sh’ol will be forever consigned to the lake of fire, along with anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life.  All of Yeshua’s and our enemies will be destroyed never to rise again.

In my next post, we’ll examine a Summary of Chapter 20 and an introduction to the last two chapters of the Revelation of Yeshua ~ a New Heaven and a New Earth.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

The End of the World ~ Part 1

Revelation 20:11-15
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:7-10 ~ HaSatan Again “At Large.”  In this post, we begin to conclude our exploration of Chapter 20 to learn about The End of the World. No, this is not a “gloom and doom” post for us Believers; but, it sure could be if you have not accepted Yeshua as your personal Lord and Savior.  God is still on the throne, and He is in control.

11 Next I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 The sea gave up the dead in it; and Death and Sh’ol gave up the dead in them; and they were judged, each according to what he had done. 14 Then Death and Sh’ol were hurled into the lake of fire. This is the second death — the lake of fire. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the Book of Life was hurled into the lake of fire. ~ Revelation 20:11-15 (CJB)

Introduction to the Passage

 This passage contains one of the Bible’s most personal messages. We ought to read it often. It will help us to be ready to answer the roll call.  There is so much packed into these five verses that to adequately do them justice, I have decided to split this post into two parts.  We will concentrate on verses 11 and 12 in this post and take up the remainder in my next post.

The judgment is complete. Every person from every era and every region will be there. Every deed and motive will have been recorded. Although God is a God of mercy, he is also a God of judgment. This is taught equally by the Tanakh, the Brit Hadashah, and Jewish tradition. Sha’ul speaks of the judgment day in Romans: on a day when God passes judgment on people’s inmost secrets. (According to the Good News as I proclaim it, he does this through the Messiah Yeshua.) ~ Romans 2:16 (CJB) The more we know ourselves, the more it will make us serious and thoughtful to think of this.

There will be only two classes: the saved and the lost. The books contain the records of people’s works. The Book of Life is a separate book that includes the names of all the redeemed. This includes people saved during the 1000 years, and all those people who were part of the first resurrection: Blessed and holy is anyone who has a part in the first resurrection; over Him, the second death has no power. On the contrary, they will be cohanim of God and of the Messiah, and they will rule with him for the thousand years.” ~ Revelation 20:6 (CJB) The Great White Throne Judgment only applies to those people whose names are not written in the Book of Life.

The Prophets speak of this judgment as the Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot. See Isaiah 2:12, 13:6-13 (a verse of which is alluded to in Mattew 24:29); Ezekiel 30:3; Joel 1:15, 2:1, 3:4(2:31) (quoted at Acts 2:20), 4:14(3:14); Amos 5:18-20; Obadiah 15; Zephaniah 1:17-18; Zechariah 14:1-9 and Malachi 4:5(3:23) (alluded to at Matthew 17:10-11).

In the Brit Hadasah, we can find the terms Day of God (2 Kefa 3:12), Great Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot (Revelation 16:14), Day of the Messiah Yeshua (Philippians 1:6, 10; 2:16), and the ambiguous phrase, Day of the Lord, which can mean either Day of Adonai-Tzva’ot or Day of the Messiah Yeshua (1 Corinthians 1:8, 5:5; 2 Corinthians 1:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2; 2 Kefa 3:10).

Moreover, God judges not only outward deeds but the inner man. In the Brit Hadashah, we see this when Yeshua confronts the P’rushim (Luke 12:1-5, Matthew 23:23-28) and in the whole tenor of his Sermon on the Mount (Mattityahu 5-7); also compare Yochanan 2:23-25; Romans 2:16; Messianic Jews 4:13, 10:30. The Tanakh too speaks of secret deeds and motives when it says: “God will bring every work into judgment, concerning every hidden thing, whether it be good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Compare also Psalm 139. The Oral Torah affirms this: [1]

“Rabbi [Y’hudah HaNasi, 135-219 C.E.] said, ‘… Pay attention to three things, and you will not come under the power of transgression: know what is above you—an all-seeing eye, an all-hearing ear, and all your deeds recorded in a book'” (Avot 2:1)

So, there is no room either for the common misunderstanding on the part of either Messianics, Jews, or non-believers that the Tanakh portrays God as stern, judgmental and lacking mercy, with the Brit Hadashah picturing Him as so merciful that He overlooks judgment and even justice; or for the opposite mistake of thinking that the Brit Hadashah, with its talk of hellfire, focuses on judgment more than the Tanakh.

Verses 11 and 12

Next, I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. First, it is necessary to identify the one seated upon the throne. The One sitting on the throne is Yeshua. Although He shares the throne with God the Father (Revelation 3:21), it is through Yeshua alone that God renders the final judgment. According to Yochanan:

“The Father does not judge anyone, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…. [The Father] has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Don’t be surprised at this; because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to a resurrection of life and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment.” (Yochanan 5:22, 27-29)

Earth and heaven fled from his presence and no place was found for them because they are corrupted by sin, unholy and impure (Romans 8:19-22). Although in the present age the impure defiles the pure, when God Himself appears in glory His purity banishes the unclean, for His holiness cannot abide that which is corrupted by sin (see Matthew 9:20). The only remedy is “a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).  [See what we have to look forward to as we continue in Chapter 21 and 22?]

And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done. This judgment is for all who have rejected God’s grace, the forgiveness God offered humanity through His Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. This judgment is not set to determine one’s eternal destiny; that is determined when the individual rejects God’s offer of salvation. The judgment is to set the degree of punishment which each lost person will receive.

I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Rabbi Sha’ul writes:

“All of us will stand before God’s judgment seat…” (Romans 14:10). “For we must all appear before the Messiah’s court of judgment, where everyone will receive the good or bad consequences of what he did while he was in the body…” (2 Corinthians 5:10) “on a day when God passes judgment on people’s inmost secrets. (According to the Good News as I proclaim it, he does this through the Messiah Yeshua.)” (Romans 2:16)

Books were opened; and another book, the Book of Life. There seem to be two elements in the Final Judgment. First, there is judgment for eternal salvation (v. 5) or damnation (vv. 14-15) by being written in the Book of Life. Second, there is a judgment according to works from what was written in the books (plural); this concept appears in the Tanakh at Daniel 7:9-10. From these books, God judges all our deeds, both public and secret, and even our innermost thoughts. For the saved this judgment determines rewards (1Corinthians 3:8-15), while for the lost it determines degrees of punishment (Luke 12:47-48).

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:11-12 [2]

Among Premillennialists, there is a debate on whether the one seated on the Great White Throne is God the Father or God the Son. If it is the same throne in Revelation 4:2 than it was the Father. Those who favor God the Son cite Revelation 3:21 and Revelation 21:5-8. The glory of Yeshua or the Father is so intense that earth and heaven fled from His presence. They concur with the description of the dead and the books as presented above.

Amillennialists believe the Great White Throne is not a different judgment to be distinguished from other judgments at the close of the age, but merely a description of the only ultimate judgment at the coming of Yeshua. The fact that the earth and heaven fled from His presence did not come before the Millennial Rule, His Second Coming is not until the end of the Millennium.  They also cite when Yochanan saw the dead come before God to be judged prove this is the point in history when Yeshua returns.

Postmillennialists believe the final judgment is to take place at the actual postmillennial coming of Yeshua.

In my next post, we’ll examine Revelation 20:11-15 ~ The End of the World ~ Part 2.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.

HaSatan Again “At Large”

Revelation 20:7-10
The End Times

In my last post, we explored Revelation 20:4-6 ~ The Thousand-Year Reign. In this post, we continue in Chapter 20 to discover HaSatan Again “At Large.”  But don’t be alarmed!  God is still on the throne and in control.

7 When the thousand years are over, the Adversary will be set free from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore; 9 and they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God’s people and the city He loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 10 The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  ~ Revelation 20:7-10 (CJB)

Bavel, the Beast, and the False Prophet – the agencies through which HaSatan had done his destructive work – have been destroyed (chaps. 17-19), and HaSatan’s own time has come at last. He makes a furious but brief and futile effort to regain his hold on the earth.

Magog is the general name of the northern nations of Yafet’s posterity (Noach’s third son) (Genesis 10:2). Gog is their prince. In Ezekiel 38-39 they attack God’s people from the north. Here they are from the four corners of the earth. Probably these names are used to refer to the enemies of God from among all nations.

How could HaSatan muster such a vast following, when he had been bound for 1000 years, and there had been a reign of righteousness? The answer lies in the fact that, like now, the people living during the Millennium will have free will, just as God created them from the beginning.

When the thousand years are over, the Adversary will be set free from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for the battle. Their number is countless as the sand on the seashore. The final curtain on HaSatan‘s devious relationship with humanity is going up. HaSatan is going to be tested for one last time; the unredeemed of this earth are going to be tempted by the master Tempter one final time. Man today faces three enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil. However, during the Millennium, while HaSatan is bound, and the world is reformed under the rule of Yeshua, the only real problem that man will face will be the flesh! But, because of man’s sinful nature, there will still be some who will not turn to Yeshua and be saved during the Millennium. These HaSatan will gather around him, as every man and woman of the unredeemed will again yield to the subtle tempter and will join his ranks.

David Stern suggests we should: [1]

Compare the structure of Ezekiel 36-48 with Revelation 20-22. Ezekiel 36-37 speaks of Israel’s salvation, with David ruling over them (compare Revelation 20:1-6). In Ezekiel 38-39 Gog from Magog interrupts this rule with an eschatological battle, in which the nations come against the Kingdom (compare Revelation 20: 7-10). The final order is described in Ezekiel 40-48 in terms of a rebuilt temple in a new Jerusalem (compare Revelation 21-22). In both places, a temporal kingdom is followed by an eternal kingdom after a final war.

Ezekiel writes that Gog, from the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval, will come with armies from a number of other places against the Jewish people regathered into the Land of Israel from the other nations and living at peace in unwalled towns. Those nations are the same in Ezekiel 38 as in Ezekiel 27, in the lament against the king of Tyre, who is, as is clearest from Ezekiel 28:11-19, a stand-in for Satan.

And they came up over the breadth of the Land and surrounded the camp of God’s people and the city He loves. But fire came down from heaven and consumed them. Tim LaHaye, talking about this time of rebellion, adds these words: [2]

But in spite of all the ideal conditions arranged by God to attract a maximum number of people to accept His free salvation by receiving His Son, millions will rebel at the end of the thousand-year kingdom, for Revelation 20 indicates that at the end of the thousand years, Satan will be loosed from the bottomless pit to go out “to deceive the nations” – that is, to tempt them to rebel against God. The reason for this tempting is so that all the people living on the earth who are still unsaved will be forced to make a decision about whether they will receive Christ before God establishes the eternal order. We have already seen that these will be people under 100 years of age, according to Isaiah 65:20, for only believers, will live past their hundredth birthday. The sad part of this whole story is that even after living for almost a hundred years under the righteous reign of Christ, there will be a multitude “whose number is as the sand of the sea” who will rebel against God when given the opportunity. Among other things, this suggests that it isn’t entirely Satan’s fault that people reject faith in Christ, but results from the rebellion of their own will. Satan is coming on the scene at this point only brings to the surface the rebellion of many hearts who, like many Jews of our Lord’s day, “willed not to come” to Him that they might have eternal life (John 5:40).

The Adversary who had deceived them was hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”  This is the final event in the long and wicked history of the one who originated rebellion against God. Already at the beginning, after enticing Adam and Eve to commit the first human sin, God knew and said what the end would be:

“I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman [Eve], and between your seed [all who sin and rejoice in the sin of others, whether angelic (Ep 6:10-13) or human (Ro 1:32)] and her seed [her descendants, i.e., humanity; but more particularly, the unique “seed” spoken of in Ga 3:16, Yeshua]; he [the Hebrew is singular, referring to Yeshua, not plural] will bruise [or: crush] your head, and you will bruise their heel [the Hebrew is plural; humanity can be injured, Yeshua cannot].” ~ Genesis 3:15 [3]

This prediction of HaSatan’s ultimate downfall is fulfilled in stages. Thus when Yeshua said: Now is the time for this world to be judged, now the ruler of this world will be expelled” (Yochanan 12:31), He was speaking of how His death on the execution-stake would defeat the Adversary (compare Revelation 12). The Messianic Community also has a part in causing HaSatan‘s ruin, as Sha’ul writes, “God, the source of shalom, will soon crush the Adversary under your feet” (Romans 16:20). In vv. 1-3 above that Adversary is chained in the Abyss, and here he is hurled into the lake of fire and sulfur to be tormented forever and ever.

May it be soon!

Special Comparative Notes on Chapter 20:7-10 [4]

For Premillennialists, the reason for God permitting HaSatan this last brief respite seems to be to prove the character of those generations born during the Millennium and never previously tempted to rebellion.  The city is earthly Jerusalem. This battle is waged by God alone.  All three views opine that the time frame for HaSatan’s handiwork will be very brief.

Amillennialists believe the city is the New Jerusalem described in Chapter 21.

Postmillennialists believe there is no reason to exclude the possibility of actual fire since such will accompany Yeshua in His final judgment. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Kefa 3:10, 12).

In my next post, we’ll examine The End of the World in Revelation 20:11-15.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern.

[2] A Layman’s Commentary on Revelation by Don Jones.

[3] David Stern’s amplified version.

[4] Material in this post is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg. Notations in brackets, if any, are my comments.