The doctrine of heaven is one that is liked by most people and particular comforting at the time of a loved ones’ passing. On the other hand, the doctrine of hell is one that no one really wants to think about. Yet the Bible, and in particular Jesus Himself, teaches both truths. In this message and the one to follow, we will examine what the Bible says about both Heaven and Hell, and then consider the obvious implication for us and how we can make sure we are going to Heaven when we die.
Context of Revelation 20
- Rev 1:1 The book of Revelation is a book that contains many things about the end times, but it is more than that – is a book that ultimate reveals Jesus Christ to us (“The Revelation of Jesus Christ”).
- Rev 1:1 The purpose of the book is “to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass”.
- Rev 1:19 It includes the things that John saw, the things which are (chap 1-3), and the things which shall be hereafter (chap 4-22).
- Rev 4-18 has dealt primarily with the events of the Great tribulation during which God will judge Israel for rejecting Christ and the Gentiles nations for their sin as well as prepare the earth for the reign of Christ on earth.
- Rev 19 begins by praising God for beginning to judge the wickedness of a great false religious system (“the great whore”) that persecuted God’s saints (v.1-6), and the praising God for his reign and the wedding supper is announced.
- 19:11 John sees heaven opened and one who is “Faithful, True, the Word of God, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, wearing many crowns” comes to judge and make war – this is Jesus Christ revealed as God.
- 19:14 He has his armies with him and he comes to smite the nations and rule (v.15). Every eye will see Him come. Matthew 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
- 19:19 The beast (Antichrist – world ruler) will gather the kings of the earth and their armies against Christ.
- 19:20 The beast and the false prophet are both taken and “cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (“burning stone” – sulphur which burns like liquid fire emitting noxious fumes.”
- 19:21 Those who were left were killed with the sword and their flesh was left to be eaten by birds.
I. The lake of fire – a place specifically prepared for the devil and his angels (20:1-10)
- This lake of fire that burns with brimstone (v.20) is a different place from what is commonly referred to as hell in other parts of the Bible.
- The word hell is sometimes used generally for the grave (place for the departed – the grave) and sometimes as a place of punishment for the wicked after death. The context helps to know which is referred to. Luke 16:23 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
- Hell and the lake of fire are two entirely different places.
- This lake of fire was specifically prepared for the devil and his angels who rebelled against and have fought so violently against God and the instigators of so much evil. Matthew 25:41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
- 20:1 An angel comes with a key to the bottomless pit and a great chain
- 20:2 This angel lays hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil (slanderer) and Satan (adversary/enemy) and binds him for a thousand years.
- 20:3 Satan is cast into the bottomless pit and shut with a seal so he cannot go out and deceiver the nations for 1000 years.
- 20:4 Then we see thrones and people with Christ and reigning with Christ for 1000 years.
- 20:5-6 There has been the first resurrection of all the righteous unto life and to enter Christ’s long awaited and much anticipated kingdom. Those who do not have part in the first resurrection are those who will come under the curse of the second death.
- 20:7 Satan is loosed for a bit after the 1000 years.
- 20:8 He goes out and deceived the nations again.
- 20:9 They will be defeated soundly by fire from heaven.
- 20:10 The devil will be finally cast into the place God prepared for Him – the lake of fire and brimstone.
- Satan will not rule and reign in hell; He will suffer the worst in hell.
II. The lake of fire – a place of suffering (20:10)
- 20:10 as implied by the name, the “lake of fire” is a place of torment (severe suffering)
1) The torment of separation from God
- Death is not the cessation of existence; it is the separation of body from soul and spirit.
- When Adam and Eve sinned; they died in that they were cut off from God, the life source.
- The lake of fire is a place of total separated from God, and therefore from all that He provides (light, love, peace, pleasure, and fulfillment) which is why it is called “the second death” – the second separation from God (20;6,14,21:8).
- 2 Thessalonians 1:8–10 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.
- Matthew 7:23 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
2) The torment of unquenchable fire
- Luke 16:23–24 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
- Mark 9:44–49 44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: 46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: 48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 49 For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.
3) The torment of intense darkness
- Jude 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
- Matthew 22:13 13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
III. The lake of fire – an eternal place (20:10)
- 20:10 Notice that this is the place where the beast and the false prophet are who were cast there some 1000 years before. They are still there and they along with Satan will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
- This torment will go on forever and ever.
- Some has suggested that maybe the judgment will take place and then eventually be over – annihilation.
- The problem with that is that you can’t say that heaven is forever but the lake of fire is not. The verse same word “for ever and ever” (22:5) is the same word here “for ever and ever.”
- Jesus uses the same word for punishment as he does for life. Matthew 25:46 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
- Sodom and Gomorrha suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Jude 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
IV. The lake of fire – a place of justice (20:11-15)
- 20:11 there is a great white (symbolising purity) with God on the throne – most likely Christ. John 5:22 22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
- The heavens and earth flee from this the face the one on the throne – perhaps when they are destroyed (to make way for the new 21:1).
- 20:12 The dead stand before God just as we are told. Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
- This is the wicked dead, as all the righteous dead have already been raised (20:5-6).
- Not a person will escape – “ the small” as well as “the great” are there.
- 20:13 Those in the sea, those who are dead and in hell (temporary hold place) give up the bodies of those who have died to stand and be judged.
- 20:12 The dead are judged out of books.
- This not a careless trial without any evidence
- These books contain the works of every man
- Everything every man has ever done or said is recorded and build the case against him. Matthew 12:36–37 36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
- No righteous person will be judged; only the wicked. Ecclesiastes 12:14 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
- 20:14 All those who have died without being right with God, those who have been in hell will be cast into the lake of fire – eternally separated from God in what we called “the second death.”
- 20:15 Everyone who is not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of the fire.
- They too will be tormented for all eternity along with the beast, the false prophet, and Satan.
- They will endure the terrible torture, fire, and blackness forever.
- All because they chose to follow the path of Satan for whom this awful place was prepared.
- It was never originally intended for them, but they chose to follow His path.
- And when the books are open; the books will not lie – they truly have followed their own path, gone their own way, done there own thing, and rejected God at every turn, even thought He did everything in His power including giving His only begotten son to rescue them.
- No one will go to the lake of fire unjustly.
V. The lake of fire – A place that can be avoided (20:15)
- The Great White Throne judgment is a not a judgment of deciding one destiny but rather of confirming it.
- The decision of where you will go when you die is determined during your life on earth.
- The problem for all of us is that all of us fall short of God’s righteous standards and none of have works good enough to earn heaven.
- The good news is that even though we deserve the lake of fire and even though we cannot rescue ourselves, we can still be rescued from sin and eternal torment through the work of God’s Saviour and Deliver Jesus Christ.
- As Isaiah’s prophecy foretold… “4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, And carried our sorrows: Yet we did esteem him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: The chastisement of our peace was upon him; And with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; And the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4–6)
- Those who believe on Jesus are written in the book of life (v.12,15) which is called the “Lamb’s book of life” in other places containing the names of all those who believe on the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who died and took their place, so we would not have to pay for their sins in hell.
- This should great joy now to know that we will never have to go to that awful place. Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
- Is your name in the book of life? Have you believed on Jesus?
- He loves you and did not come to condemn you but to rescue you. John 3:17–18 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
- He does not want you to perish and he is continue to delay his coming hoping you and many others will get saved. 2 Peter 3:9 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
- Don’t let Satan deceive you into following him in his rebellion; it will all come crashing down and one day it will be too late.
- Don’t allow the toys, the cares, the affairs, and the things of life to distract you the need to believe on Jesus.
- What about others around you who have not believed? Have they been warned? Have they been told? Those who died rejecting God would want us to tell them. Luke 16:27–31 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Oh, my brothers and sisters in Christ, if sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay, and not madly to destroy themselves. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for. (Spurgeon, C. H. (1861). The Wailing of Risca. In The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons (Vol. 7, p. 11). London: Passmore & Alabaster.)
- Revelation 22:10-17 Come and take of the water of life (found in Jesus) and drink freely so that you sins are forgiven so that you never go the awful place of torment not prepared for you.