Revelation (22 of 24) The Great White Throne Judgement

20:11-15 The Great White Throne Judgement

Memory Verse: Revelation 20:15

20:11 The Great White Throne: The Lord God Almighty

  • 19:11-20, 20:1-10 John saw the second coming of Jesus and the one-thousand year kingdom that Jesus established on the Earth. After the one-thousand years were expired, Satan tried to war against God one last time, but God defeated him and his army instantly with fire from heaven. Satan was cast into the lake of fire where the Antichrist and false prophet were already banished to for all eternity. The next event in the prophetical timeline is the final and greatest “judgement”.
  • 20:11a John saw a great white throne. The throne is described as “great” maybe because of its size but also because of the position of authority that it represents. It is described as “white” possibly representing righteousness, holiness and justice of the one sitting on it or of the judgements that will be given from there.
  • 20:11b John also sees the One that sat on the great white throne—the Lord God Almighty. In chapter 4 God is described sitting on His throne. We learned that He is perfect in goodness and righteousness. He should be exalted and is worthy of our complete devotion. He is the supreme being and source of all life. He has always existed and will always continue to exist. He is worthy to receive glory, honor, and power. He is the sovereign ruler above all else. It is He who sits on the throne to judge unbelievers in righteousness by His Son Jesus.
    Revelation 4:8-11; John 5:22–29; Act 17:31
  • 20:11c Then from the very face of God the earth and the heaven fled away—meaning that the earth and heaven as we know them will be removed completely. There was no place found for the earth and the heaven—emphasizing they will cease to exist. God is getting rid of the “old earth and heaven” and preparing a “new earth and heaven” which He will establish after the judgment.
    Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:10-13

20:12-13 The Great Judgment: According To Their Works

  • 20:12a, 13a Next, John saw all (small and great) unbelievers (of the dead) stand before God. The time for the final judgment has come. This is the resurrection of damnation. The sea, death and hell all will give up or deliver up the dead which are in them. All of the unbelievers of all the ages will be resurrected at this time. It won’t matter if their physical bodies were buried at sea or on land. Their bodies that were on the earth and their souls which were captive and tormented in hell—a place of temporary confinement until this time of judgment has come—will be resurrected before God causes the earth and heaven to cease to exist. All of these unbelievers stand before God’s great white throne waiting to be judged for their evil works and rejection of Jesus as Saviour.
    Daniel 12:2; John 5:29; Acts 24:15
  • 20:12b The judgment starts as the books are opened—these books have recorded their every deed, word or thought, even every secret thing, whether it be good or evil. God’s standard is perfection, because He is perfect. From Adam all through the history of mankind, we have failed to live up to God’s standard. We have fallen short of His standard of perfection. We have sinned against God and the punishment for this is death and separation from God for all eternity.
    Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 5:48; Romans 3:23
  • 20:12c Then another book was opened, which is the book of life—this book contains the names of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (believers). We have seen this book several times in Revelation as “the book of life,” “the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” “the book of life from the foundation of the world,” and we will see it mentioned as “the Lamb’s book of life.” This book would be the only hope for the unbelievers if their names were written in it because that would mean that Jesus had already paid the punishment for all their evil deeds that are recorded in the other books from which they are about to be judged. But since we know they are unbelievers already standing before the great white throne of God, meaning they have rejected the grace of God, this book isn’t presented as their last hope, but presented to add damnation because their names are not written in it and thus they have no defense for the sins they have committed against God.
    Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15, 21:27
  • 20:12d, 13b Finally, the unbelievers (the dead) will be judged. They will be judged according to the things which were written in the books. These books are a record of their works. Therefore, every man will be judged according to his works. This will be a fair and just judgment. They will be judged only for their works and not the works of others. There will even be greater damnation for those who committed greater sins—although all sinners will be damned. It is here that we should also note that only those who have saving-faith in Jesus will escape this judgement. Many will be surprised in that day to find out they weren’t really believers because they weren’t trusting in Jesus for their salvation but instead they were trusting in their own works. Many will cry out to Jesus saying that they prophesied, cast out devils and did many wonderful works in His name, but Jesus will respond saying, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Today, make sure you are trusting in Jesus by grace through faith alone for salvation.
    Matthew 7:21–23; Ephesians 2:8-10

20:14-15 The Great Punishment: The Lake Of Fire

  • 20:14 After the judgments are given, death and hell are cast into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Both death and hell are no longer needed and since they are immaterial objects being cast into the lake of fire probably means they will cease to exist.
  • 20:15 Then as each unbeliever is judged from the books for his works and found guilty by a holy God his sentence will be given. His only hope was that his name was found written in the book of life, but as his name is not found written in that book he is cast into the lake of fire. Since these unbelievers have been resurrected, they will be cast alive with body and soul into the lake of fire which is a place burning with brimstone and there is torment day and night for ever and ever. The bible doesn’t say if the fire is literal or figurative, but it is clear that either way it represents a place of eternal anguish and torment.
    Matthew 10:28; 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 19:20

Review Questions

  • What does the great white throne represent?
  • What happens to the earth and heaven?
  • What will unbelievers by judged by?
  • What is the great punishment for all found guilty?
  • What is the only way to avoid this great white throne judgment?

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