The Great Judgment

Today’s Reading: Revelation 20

Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their forehead or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. – Rev. 20:1-6

There is little information on what the 1000 years will look like and much disagreement among believers on the order in which all of this will take place. What we can take from this passage for certain is that God rewards those who remain faithful during even the worst of persecutions and trials. The difficult times we endure do not go unnoticed by God, nor are they forgotten. In the same way, those who do evil and who do not remain faithful are also noticed by God.

When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations – called Gog and Magog – in every corner of the earth. He will gather together for battle – a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:7-15

We serve a just God who deals accordingly with sin. Those who remain rebellious and unrepentant will suffer the consequences of their choices. Rebellion against God does not go unnoticed. God deals sternly with sin. Those who reject what Christ did for them when he died on the cross so they could receive salvation will experience another kind of rejection on the day of final judgment. Those who want to share in everything this world and Satan have to offer will also share the same fate – the eternal lake of fire.

Just as the weeds are sorted out and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the world. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will remove from his Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s Kingdom. Anyone who has ears should listen and understand. – Matthew 13:40-43

He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness. – Romans 2:7-8

This describes so many of our loved ones – they are living for themselves, refusing to obey the truth laid out for them in God’s word. Do we think about their fate? Do we avoid tough conversations? It is uncomfortable to confront sin, but God also calls us to speak the truth in love. If we truly love them, we will pray the Spirit will lead us into opportunities to point them back to the light and away from the darkness and its deceit. Perhaps 2017 will hold some God-appointed opportunities and Spirit-led conversations.

What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? – James 2:14

Revelation has always been a difficult book for me to study but I have never doubted the truth in its words. I do not have a full understanding of what the final days will look like but I do have faith that God will do exactly what He said He will do. This year the reality of that truth became very real when my mother passed through death to life before Jesus sent her back so He can complete everything He wants to do through her. God allowed my mother to see and hear the torture of Hell before everything went white and Jesus Himself stood before her.

The rest of my mother’s story will be shared in my 2017 blog. Thank you for all who have journeyed with me from Genesis to Revelation this year. On Sunday, I will begin another 365-day walk through the Bible. I invite you to join me again. I am asking God to give me new perspective as I study His word over the next 12 months, although much of this 365-day devotional might look the same as last year. Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to continue to spend time in God’s word everyday. Allow His presence to do a work in your heart as He speaks to you through His written Word.

Looking forward to finishing up the last two chapters of Revelation tomorrow as we say goodbye to 2016 and give God our 2017.