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2-2-2019 No Place for Heaven & Earth Revelation 20:11-15

Revelation Series  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  46:19
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Introduction:
Last week, January 28th, President Trump announced his long anticipated deal of the century, or perhaps 2 centuries his plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I believe this initiative, even if it never gets to the place of full implementation, is quite significant in terms of biblical prophecy. The deal includes other nations as contributors to the economic development of the Palestinians and Jordan will ensure Muslim access to the temple mount.
From a prophetic standpoint, this is highly significant because of so many signs pointing to the approach of the tribulation we’ve been reading about. If not for the abundance of indicators regarding the nearness of the coming New World Order and the appearance of the antichrist, Trump’s plan would not be so significant compared to what lies ahead.
Daniel’s description of the antichrist’s covenant with Israel adds to the intrigue & suspense surrounding the Deal of the Century.

DANIEL’S DESCRIPTION OF THE ANTICHRIST’S COVENANT WITH ISRAEL

At a time in perhaps the not too distant future, the antichrist will initiate a peace deal with Israel that will appear much better to the nation than the Deal of the Century.
The prophet Daniel tells us that the coming antichrist will “make a strong covenant with many for one week . . .” (Dan. 9:27).
Daniel 9:27 LEB
And he will make a strong covenant with the many for one week, but in half of the week he will let cease sacrifice and offering and in its place a desolating abomination comes even until the determined complete destruction is poured out on the desolator.”
We know this treaty includes Israel from the verses context, but the word “many” suggests it includes other entities, likely additional nations.
The Hebrew for “make a strong covenant” suggests the antichrist will take an existing peace plan and make it better, perhaps more favorable to the nation of Israel. Nothing demands that this previous covenant be successful or fully implemented; the text only indicates that the antichrist improves the terms of a previous covenant.
I believe that one of the favorable aspects of this future deal offered by the antichrist will be the allowing of Israel to build its third temple. President Trump would not have gotten far placing this in his plan, but this would certainly make the antichrist’s plan one Israel cannot refuse.

THE RELEVANCE OF TRUMP’S PLAN TO PROPHECY

I really doubt that Trump is the antichrist (despite what some of you might think of him) nor is his plan he just signed with Netanyahu the one spoken of in Daniel 9. We are not yet at that place in the timeline of biblical prophecy. The New World Order does not exist yet in its entirety and President Trump is currently opposed to the globalism it will represent.
However, this does not mean that this week’s Deal of the Century is not relevant to biblical prophecy.
First, the antichrist will make his covenant with “the many” as noted months back. Trump’s plan involves the support of several surrounding Arab nations and the United States, as well. Some of them were at the announcement this last week.
Second, President Trump stressed the detailed nature of his plan for peace in the Middle East in its 181 pages. This makes it all the more inviting for the antichrist to incorporate into his future plan. Much of the hard work is already done, which makes it all the more ready for future use after we are with the Lord.
Third, both our President and Netanyahu used the words “peace” and “security” frequently in their speeches this last week. This also points to the nearness of the end times in which we live. In 1 Thessalonians 5:3, Paul described the beginning of the day of the Lord in this way:
1 Thessalonians 5:3 LEB
Whenever they say “Peace and security,” then sudden destruction will overtake them like the birth pains of a pregnant woman, and they will not possibly escape.
Last, given the fact that nations are aligning exactly as Ezekiel 38-39 said they would previous to the Gog-Magog War, it could happen in the not so distant future.

WHAT DOES THE PLAN MEAN FOR US?

The key for us is that we live in the last days of human history as we know it with the tribulation seemingly just around the corner, which makes Jesus’ return for us even closer. Apart from the vast number of indicators pointing to the closeness of what we see in Revelation 6-16, President Trump’s plan would likely be much less significant in terms of Bible prophecy than it appears to be.
I want to remind you that Jesus will come for His church before the antichrist initiates his covenant with Israel. I say this because in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 the apostle tells us the rapture will happen before the unveiling of the antichrist’s identity. We would, therefore, be in heaven with Jesus before the antichrist initiates his treaty with Israel.
For our near future, this deal last week gives Israel control of the entire area with security, and the Palestinians must meet many demanding requirements and jump through many hoops in the next four years before they achieve statehood and fully possess a piece of the Land YHWH gave to Israel.
So, much can and will happen before that time.
The rapture or the Gog-Magog War or both could dramatically change the Middle East and make Trump’s plan irrelevant apart from its possible incorporation into the covenant that the antichrist will someday make with Israel. BUT… could these things happen before the end of the four years? I think it’s possible, and perhaps likely, but the Lord is patient and desires as many to come to Him as possible before His wrath comes upon the world.
We also know that true and lasting peace will never come to the Middle East until Jesus returns to earth and sets up His kingdom based in Jerusalem so Trump’s plan has to fail to some degree.
Transition:
but it turns out we find ourselves this morning further along on the chronology of eschatology in our expository journey through The book of Revelation.
The wicked are all killed at the return of Christ (19:21) and are denied resurrection at the beginning of the millennium (20:4–6; a second “resurrection” is deliberately never mentioned). Following the millennium, Satan is released (20:8–9). The newest unbelievers are deceived once again into following satan in the final act of rebellion before being defeated permanently (20:9). At the end of verse 10, the judgement seems to be complete with all God’s enemies separated and tormented for eternity. As a result, our passage this morning provides further details of the judgment of every human being.
Scripture Reading: Revelation 20:11–15
Revelation 20:11–15 LEB
11 And I saw a great white throne and the one who was seated on it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and a place was not found for them. 12 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 by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and each one was judged according to their deeds. 14 And Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
This is the Great White Throne Judgment. God has already judged the eternal destiny of his people by raising them from the dead and giving them resurrected bodies never to be condemned! This understanding fits with the immediate context (in believers are raised at the return of Christ—19:14; 20:4–6) as well as the teaching of the rest of the New Testament (e.g., Matt. 24–25; 1 Thess. 4–5; 2 Thess. 1; 2 Pet. 3). I believe scripture teaches those whose names are recorded have already been raised from the dead and made ready for eternal life in the new heaven and new earth at this point.
I think all of us can agree that the entirety of Scripture has at least four overarching movements of humanity: creation (Gen. 1–2), sin crisis (Gen. 3–11), covenant resolution with Christ being the climax of the resolution (Gen. 12–Rev. 20), and consummation (Rev. 21–22). YHWH is the Author of life, but from early on in our history, sin and death have intruded like a cancer into God’s perfect creation. But the Author of life will never accept the sin-death condition. There must be a total and complete healing. YHWH vowed to destroy all his enemies, and the last enemy to die is death itself. This passage tells of the time when God will rid his creation of this malignancy—death—in order that full and abundant life may flourish once more. With the destruction of every one his enemies, YHWH renews of His creation, a second garden-Paradise like place in which YHWH will live among his people forever. The great reversal from death to life is by Jesus, the Christ, “the Living One” who died and came to life again and is alive for ever and ever.
Transition:
But can we all agree on the details of the Great White Throne Judgment?"
Some believe that the Scriptures reveal three different judgments to come.
The first is the judgment of the sheep and the goats or a judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31-36). This takes place after the tribulation period but prior to the millennium; its purpose is to determine who will enter the millennial kingdom.
The second is a judgment of believers’ works, often referred to as the “judgment seat [bema] of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). At this judgment, Christians will receive degrees of reward for their works or service to God.
The third is the great white throne judgment at the end of the millennium. This is the judgment of unbelievers only in which they are judged according to their works and sentenced to everlasting punishment in the lake of fire.
Others believe that all three of these judgments speak of the same final judgment, not of three separate judgments. In other words, the great white throne judgment here will be the time that believers and unbelievers alike are judged. Those whose names are found in the book of life will be judged for their deeds in order to determine the rewards they will receive or lose. Those whose names are not in the book of life will be judged according to their deeds to determine the degree of punishment they will receive in the lake of fire. Those who hold this view believe that Matthew 25:31-46 is another description of what takes place at the great white throne judgment. They point to the fact that the result of this judgment is the same as what is seen after the great white throne judgment in our passage. The sheep (believers) enter into eternal life, while the goats (unbelievers) are cast into “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).
Matthew 25:46 LEB
And these will depart into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The fact that there is going to be a final judgment for all men, both believers and unbelievers, is clearly confirmed in many passages of Scripture. Every person will one day stand before Christ and be judged for his or her deeds. While it is very clear that the great white throne judgment is the final judgment, genuine believers disagree on how it relates to the other judgments mentioned in the Bible, specifically, who will be judged at the great white throne judgment.
So what do we know?

I. YHWH Judges (vv. 11-12)

This seems fairly obvious at this point, but I want to show you what scripture says and does not say:
Revelation 20:11 LEB
And I saw a great white throne and the one who was seated on it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled, and a place was not found for them.
This language and scenery highlights the Majesty of our Almighty creator through reverent fleeing clearing the way to get work done.
Revelation 20:12 LEB
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 by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.
John just says he saw the dead “great and small” here standing before the throne. This is where the different interpretations begin— which dead? the ones already sealed in heaven or the unsaved? maybe a mix of both? the next verses do specify the wicked, but what about this verse??
Revelation 20:12 LEB
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 by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.
books were opened. And another book was opened
I want you to notice here at the multiplicity of books. It’s not just one book!
The books that are opened contain records of everyone’s deeds, whether theses deeds are good or evil, because God knows everything that has ever been said, done, or even thought, and He will reward (or punish) each one accordingly [[Romans 2:6]].
Romans 2:6 LEB
who will reward each one according to his works:
Revelation 20:12 LEB
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 by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.
The book of life
Also at this time, another book is opened, called the “book of life”. It is this book that determines whether a person will inherit eternal life with God or receive everlasting punishment in the lake of fire. Although Christians are held accountable for their actions, they are forgiven in Christ and their names were written in the “book of life from the creation of the world” (Revelation 17:8).
We also know from Scripture that it is at this judgment when the dead will be “judged according to what they had done” .
Transition:
While we cannot be dogmatic on if the saved are present here, we can say:

II. YHWH Judges More (vv. 13-14)

Here is where it gets more specific
Revelation 20:13 LEB
And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and each one was judged according to their deeds.
Hades was the place of the dead and took its name from the Greek god of the underworld
The lake of fire is identified as the “second death” or eternal death.
Revelation 20:14 LEB
And Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.
The last enemy, death, which has caused abundant sorrow and grief since Genesis 3, will now be thrown into hell [[1 Cor. 15:26]]
1 Corinthians 15:26 LEB
The last enemy to be abolished is death.
All of God’s enemies will suffer the same fate in the lake of fire—the beast and the false prophet (19:20), Satan (20:10), death (20:14), and wicked humans (20:15; 21:8). The lake of fire is equivalent to what is traditionally called “hell” (Greek: gehenna) or the place of final punishment. In Revelation, the lake of fire portrays eternal punishment (14:10–11; 20:10). As the “second death,” the lake of fire represents eternal separation from the presence of God and anything related to life, since God is the creator and giver of life
Transition:
So YHWH judges, and He judges more, so the natural conclusion we see is:

III. YHWH Judges Everyone (v. 15)

Whichever view one holds of the great white throne judgment, it is important to never lose sight of the facts concerning the coming judgment(s).
Revelation 20:15 LEB
And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
First, Jesus Christ will be the judge, all unbelievers will be judged by Christ, and they will be punished according to the works they have done. The Bible is very clear that unbelievers are storing up wrath against themselves [[Romans 2:5]]
Romans 2:5 LEB
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
The words of Chan and Sprinkle bring home the point of application:
What causes my heart to ache right now as I’m writing this is that my life shows little evidence that I actually believe this. Every time my thoughts wander to the future of unbelievers, I quickly brush them aside so they don’t ruin my day. But there is a reality here that I can’t ignore. Even as the conversations of people around me fill my ears, the truth of Scripture penetrates my heart with sobering statements about their destinies. We can talk about the fate of some hypothetical person, but as I look up and see their smiles, I have to ask myself if I really believe what I have written in this book. Hell is for real. Am I?
Dealing honestly with the biblical truth that God will judge the wicked brings us face-to-face with God’s absolute holiness and purity without any sort of boasting or gloating. It also ought to motivate us to pray for and reach out to our unbelieving friends with the good news of Jesus Christ.

So What?

Believers will be judged by Christ, but since Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us and our names are written in the book of life, we will be rewarded, but not punished, according to our deeds. Romans 14:10-12 says that we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and that each one of us will give an account to God.
Several eternally significant teaching points surface in this passage.

1. Unbelievers will face God’s eternal judgment.

While the very last part of Revelation speaks about all the wonderful things God has in store for his people, this text provides a sobering reminder of the punishment awaiting those who rebel against God. While some would like to find support for the doctrine of annihilation in Revelation (i.e., the belief that the wicked will be destroyed and cease to exist once thrown into the fiery lake), the book seems to teach the eternal conscious punishment of the wicked. In Revelation 14 & 20:10, we find the phrases “torment,” “night and day,” and “forever and ever,” phrases that suggest eternal judgment. The main point, however, is more than a theological argument between eternal conscious torment versus annihilation. Although the word “hell” is often thrown around in our society as a curse or exclamation, the Bible clearly teaches the reality of hell as the place of final punishment (cf. 21:8; 22:15). This will be the fate of real people, people we know.

2. God’s judgment is rendered on the basis of divine initiative and human responsibility.

The two sets of books (“the book of life” and “the books”) point to the importance of both God’s sovereignty and our response of faith. In Revelation (and in the rest of the Bible, in my view), it is not either-or but both-and. God’s sovereignty stands as one of the main themes of the entire book, while human choices carry eternal significance (e.g., the importance of listening to the Spirit throughout the seven letters in chapters 2–3 and of failing to repent in 9:20–21; 16:9–11). As Wright points out, “The miracle of the divine-human relationship, from the very beginning, has always been that human thought, will and action is somehow enhanced, rather than being cancelled out, by the divine initiative and power.”6 The “books” are opened not in hopes of making changes in the book of life but “in order to put on public display the concrete and indisputable evidence ratifying the inclusion or exclusion of names from the book of life.”7 This point leads naturally to the following area of application.

3. A genuine faith must be not only a believed faith but also a lived faith.

Revelation does not stand in conflict with the Pauline doctrine of justification by faith but emphasizes (along with James and even Paul himself) that true faith will be revealed through its actions. One of the book’s central verses—12:11—highlights both the finished work of Christ on the cross and our active response to that. Sometimes we drift into thinking that following Christ is more about knowing than about living. But Jesus commanded his disciples to teach others “to obey everything I have commanded you,” not merely to know his commands (Matt. 28:20). This text provides a crucial opportunity to examine our own lives to make sure that our faith is a lived and expressed faith.

So What?

Conclusion:
The dead in Christ and the dead to Christ will face God’s judgment.
In the end, God will cast death, Hades, and the unrepentant into the lake of fire.
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