So we come to a frightening scene for those who are maybe unsure about their relationship with God or who may feel condemned by the Church or themselves.
The great white throne which we have seen several times previously is here again but this time there is no singing or shouting. In fact it appears quite silent, frighteningly so!
“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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20 v 11-15)
The earth and heaven vanish. Heaven was where the dragon began and the earth is where he finished and in between he had corrupted both. We surely need something new. Could God create again but this time make it incorruptible? We shall see. If heaven and earth could not stand before this great white throne what hope do you and me have?
Books are opened, plural, perhaps a book for everyone who has ever lived and died, the great and small, every class of people. Hades (the grave) released those within it and the sea also (those that die at sea are often never found but lay somewhere at the bottom of it) in fact every person that had died is brought to the great white throne. Inside those books is our whole life. Everything we have ever done! I hope nobody can read my book. What about yours?
How do we survive this moment?
If that was it we would be doomed.
But there’s another book, the book of life. Thank God for this book!
If you are worried whether your name is in the book of life it most likely is for if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be bothered.
But our names are in there! Maybe in your book of life there are things in there that you would rather not have been written. Life may have many twists and turns and it definitely hasn’t been anywhere close to being good enough to stand before the great white throne. I wonder if Isaiah’s message of God blotting out our transgressions (43:25) means our books are quite messy as Jesus has blotted out our sins by His blood, nice thought. Whatever happens when our books are opened and we are judged we will be so thankful for our relationship with Jesus as we are now.
Then comes surely the most upsetting sentence in the Bible in verse 15. There’s no comment about this. There is no jubilation. No victory.
When in v10 the devil and his manifestations (the beasts of the sea – deceptive political power and the earth/false prophet – deceptive religious power) are thrown into the lake of fire there is an extra comment which is a balancing of the books, as if justice is being done, “They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” But not here in v15. Not for those whose names are not written in the book of life. They are thrown and cast out, gone are the enemies of God, those who hurled insults at Him and His Church; it leaves a lump in my throat and yours too.
We still have much work to do!