Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.
Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.
Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
It can be a little confusing in Revelation to distinguish between what is current and what is of the future. Is judgement a future event, or are we judged as we die (how else would those in white robes described earlier have found their way in?!).
Satan has been cast into a lake of fire, so he surely won’t be doing any tormenting of lost souls, and the medieval world’s failure to read this chapter resulted in the Doom wall paintings that depict the godless being poked and prodded. So have death and Hades, by which we may understand that the natural world is coming to its end. Anyone whose name was not in the book of life has been cast into the lake as well.
This is tough stuff. You may be angry that God has consigned, or will consign, a dear friend who you know rejected faith in Christ, to an eternal death or destruction. You may ask what happened to mercy. You may question whether God is a God of love. I cannot and will not make excuses for God, for although I do not understand all his ways, my experience of him reveals him to be holy and just, kind and gracious, loving and merciful.
I cannot re-interpret what the Bible says so that it can fit in with modern thought. The Bible is, and always has been, relevant – not relevant to the modern world and its ways, but relevant to eternal truth. I will not dumb down the bits that are challenging, but I will seek to encourage people out of an Old Testament way of life under the Law into a New Testament freedom with Lord Jesus. God took himself in Jesus to the cross to save us all from the law of sin and death.
Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life?
Do you value the Old Testament as a pointer to the riches of the New?
Father God, in Jesus I have salvation by his blood, and my name is written in the Book of Life. It’s just that I fail in faith, for I cannot believe that Jesus would do what he did for me, and I fret that you will see me for who I am, rather than see Jesus in me. Help my unbelief, I pray. Amen.
My name is written