Following the Millennial Kingdom, Satan, who will be bound during the thousand year reign of Christ, will be loosed and will lead a final rebellion against God and His people. As soon as Satan’s army surrounds Jerusalem, God will rain down fire from heaven and devour them (Rev. 20:7-9).
Satan’s Final Judgment
Satan will then experience the final judgment that God has prepared for him.
“The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Rev. 20:10)
The lake of fire does not cause annihilation. The beast and the false prophet, who were cast into the lake of fire a thousand years prior to this (Rev. 19:20), are still there. The lake of fire is a place of torment; a torment that is experienced “day and night forever and ever.” Jesus taught that “everlasting fire” (i.e. the lake of fire) was specifically prepared for “the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41), but, because of their rejection of God, unbelievers from every dispensation will be cast into the lake of fire as well.
The Great White Throne Judgment
“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, ….” (Rev. 20:11-12)
Those who appear before this “great white throne” judgment will be resurrected to do so. Notice that John saw “the dead … standing before God.” Verse 13 goes on to say “the sea gave up the dead who were in it,” and “Death and Hell delivered up the dead who were in them.”
Though many teach that there will be one great “general resurrection” at the last day, the Scriptures teach that there are two different types of resurrection. Jesus spoke of these two resurrections.
“… the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” (John 5:28-29).
The “resurrection of life” is described in Revelation 20:4-6. The believing dead, from Israel and the nations, whose hope is the earthly kingdom of Christ, will be raised to reign with Him for a thousand years. This is the “first” (former) resurrection.
There is another resurrection that was not the subject of prophecy, but was part of the mystery revealed to the apostle Paul. This resurrection, commonly called the rapture, is the “blessed hope” of the church, the body of Christ. At the close of this current age of grace, before the beginning of the tribulation period, the Lord Jesus will come “in the air” to catch his church up into glory (cf. I Thess. 4:13-18; I Cor. 15:51-57; Titus 2:13; Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4).
Those who stand before the great white throne judgment, are the unbelieving dead of all ages. As the apostle Peter describes it, in II Peter chapter 2, this is the “day of judgment” that God has reserved to punish the “unjust” (vs. 9). They will receive “the wages of unrighteousness” (vs. 13), for God has reserved for them “the blackness of darkness forever” (vs. 17).
The Judge who will sit upon this great white throne is the Lord Jesus Christ, for the Father “has committed all judgment to the Son … and has given Him authority to execute judgment also” (John 5:22,27; Acts 17:31).
As we look back again at Revelation 20, we see in verses 12-15, that the basis for this judgment is twofold: (1) “books” (plural) were opened and (2) “another book (singular) was opened which is the Book of Life.” The first thing that will be examined is “the books.” These unbelievers will be “judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.” Evidently, these books contain a record of each person’s works done here on earth.
If we stopped at this verse, we might be led to believe that people can be saved by their works. This is the mistaken notion that many people have today, that if they have done enough “good works,” or if their “good works” outweigh their “bad works,” they will be allowed into heaven. There will be many in that day of judgment who will claim to have done good works, some even in the name of the Lord, and claim to be worthy of heaven, but the Lord will answer, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:21-23).
The great white throne judgment will demonstrate that no one is worthy before God, based on their own works. For God’s standard is perfect righteousness, and “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). God gave the law, His measure of righteousness, not that men might be saved by doing the “deeds” of the law, but “that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God, therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19-20).
Only those who are “in Christ” can be counted righteous in God’s sight. God revealed His righteousness in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. This righteousness is made available to all who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. It is not by works that a person is justified, or made righteousness, for we are “justified freely (lit. `without a cause’ cf. John 15:25) by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:21-24). Jesus Christ, “who knew no sin,” was made sin for us, “that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (II Cor. 5:21). There is no other way (John 14:6).
The end for all those who stand before the Great White Throne judgment will be the same; they will all be cast into the lake of fire. “Anyone not found written in the Book of Life” will be cast into the lake of fire. In Revelation 13:8, the Book of Life, is called, “the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Those whose names are written in the Book of Life are those who have looked, in faith, to the Lamb of God, who alone is able to save them.
Being cast into the lake of fire is called “the second death” (Rev. 20:14), or the second type of death. The first type of death is physical death, which is separation from the body. This second type of death is spiritual death, which is separation from God—a separation which will last for all eternity.
The twentieth chapter of the Revelation contains some very sobering passages of Scripture, but they remind us of the importance of our own relationship with the Lord. Have you trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, or are you trusting in your own works? It’s not too late to come to God in faith and be saved (Eph. 2:8-9). God does not desire “that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9). God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4).
To those who know Jesus Christ as Savior, this passage should encourage us to take seriously our calling, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
“Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” (II Cor. 5:20)