Revelation 20:14

Monday, 2 August 2021

Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. Revelation 20:14

In the previous verse, it noted the sea giving up its dead and Death and Hades delivering up the dead in them. That was in order to judge those in them. With that complete, John now provides a description of an amazing finish to this process saying, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire.”

Again, Death and Hades are being personified. These great foes of humanity are now facing their own demise – never to be seen again for all eternity. John’s words are perfectly in accord with Paul’s words found in 1 Corinthians 15 –

“The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:26

Death, the great enemy of mankind, will be destroyed. Hades, the place where the dead resided, will also be destroyed. As death will no longer reign in man, there will never again be a need for storing the souls of the dead. In this, John says, “This is the second death.”

Some manuscripts repeat the previous words as an explanation and for emphasis –

“Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire.” BSB

The proverbial saying “Born twice, die once; born once, die twice” is seen in this verse. For all who come to Christ and are born again, there is only one death to be anticipated. For those who never come to Christ, they will see death someday, and they will also be a part of the second death when they are cast into the Lake of Fire along with Death and Hades. But understanding the process requires thought concerning death.

Considering the Greek of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:26, light will now be shed on what Paul was conveying. The verb he uses for “will be destroyed” is in the present indicative middle or passive voice. And so rather than “will be,” the action has already begun, and it will continue on until a fixed point.

A good way to understand it would be to consider a major league baseball team that has no chance of winning the pennant. They have lost the right to play in the World Series, and yet they continue to play because other teams still have a chance. Until the baseball season is ended, they continue in order to meet a set plan which was initiated at the beginning of that season. Though they are defeated, their defeat will continue until the plan is finished.

Therefore, Paul is conveying the thought that Death “is being destroyed until it is finished.” Further, there is a definite article in front of “death.” Therefore, “death,” like in Revelation, is being personified by Paul. Tyndale’s version renders the verse, “Lastly, Death the enemy shall be destroyed.”

In support of the ongoing (and yet inevitably completed) nature of the action, several pertinent verses from the New Testament which concern the work of Christ should be reviewed. These are only a few among many which show us that Death is defeated, but that it will continue in this defeated condition for a set amount of time. First, from Paul’s second letter to Timothy –

“…but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:10

Paul shows that in Christ’s first appearance death was abolished. However, death still exists as is quite evident from the world around us. To understand this, again think of the baseball team that has no chance of winning the pennant, and yet, it still plays during the regular season. And so even though this action is done, it is awaiting a future fulfillment.

In Hebrews 2, it is seen that it was through Christ’s death that this came about. In this, “death” is tied in with the devil, showing that it is the devil who had “the power of death” –

“Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Hebrews 2:14, 15

Next, in John’s first epistle, he shows that death is tied to sin. This takes us back to the very beginning when the devil deceived the man. In so doing, man sinned. In this, death entered the world. As the wages of sin is death, it shows that the work of the devil is what brought death about –

“He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” 1 John 3:8

Jesus Christ came to undo this. He accomplished it at the cross, destroying the power of the devil in all who believe. But why didn’t He just toss the devil into hell right then? The answer is that He is building a church out of the redeemed of the world. After that, He will fulfill the Old Testament prophecies promised to Israel during the millennium.

If He simply destroyed the devil at that time, there would be no church and thus no “living temple.” There would also have been unfulfilled prophecies promised to Israel. Instead, the victory was won, but the devil has been allowed to continue in the world until a time determined by God. In this, we can think of the team that will eventually win the pennant. It is comprised of people who are winners, but they are not winners until the end of the season.

Those who come to Christ are “in Christ” and can never die again. But those who are not will both physically die and be eternally separated from God in the process, because Death continues to reign over them. Thus, we see why there is an ongoing nature to the work of Christ. But some wondrous day, even Death will be eliminated forever. As John says, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

Life application: In John 3:16, we read the wonderful words, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

How can life be eternal? Eternal life is guaranteed because God will destroy death and also the place of death, known as Hades. Hades is the place where the lost go now, and it is the repository of those lost souls. After the final judgment of those in Hades, it will be thrown into the lake of fire because there will be no more need for it.

The logical deduction to be made from John’s words is that, if death is no longer present and Hades is also no longer present, those who are alive in Christ can no longer die. The promise given by Jesus is realized in its fullness. However, it can be assured to any person willing to accept it right now.

God has spoken and what He has said is more certain than the ground under our feet. He has given His word, which cannot be broken, that all who look to the Son – believing in His work and accepting what He has done for them – will never die. Though our bodies may wear out, and though they may cease to function, our souls will continue forever, waiting for the moment when they are reunited with eternal bodies. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:54, 55 –

“So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’”

God has a marvelous plan for the people of the world if they will only accept it by faith. There is no other way to be reconciled to Him, except for faith in what He has already done through Jesus. When we believe that gospel message, and proclaim with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, God is pleased to call us His own and grant us eternal life.

If you have never accepted the gift of eternal life, now is the time of God’s favor and today is the day of salvation. Don’t wait another moment but call out to JESUS!

Lord, we are fully convinced that Your word is true and that what it proclaims will come about exactly as You have stated. We trust in Jesus alone for our salvation, and we are confident in the promise of eternal life that You have offered through His shed blood. What a great and marvelous God You are! Hallelujah and amen.

 

 

Deuteronomy 21:18-23 ( He Who Is Hanged Is Accursed of God)

Deuteronomy 21:18-23
He Who Is Hanged Is Accursed of God

There’s something wrong with a conversation I had with Sergio when preparing the previous Deuteronomy 21 sermon. I will read you the conversation as it is both quite comical and also highly embarrassing. I copied the messages directly from the conversation. I needed help with the Hebrew on one of the verses, needing to make sure I was correct in an analysis I was putting together. The exchange reads:

C: “Hey, I got something for you. Do you have a Hebrew moment?”
S: “What’s that mean?! As in, it’ll take more than a moment?! Sure. Just answering emails”
C: I just have a question that I want to reconcile. Deut 21:15-17. Is there any way to determine if the wives are at the same time, or only one after another (the first wife is gone by divorce or death). Only one scholar comments, insisting that they are one after the other and not both alive at the same time. I think they are trying to inject their bias against polygamy into it. It seems (as far as I can tell) that the Hebrew is clear – two wives together. The other commentators seem to agree, but I just wonder how you read it.
S: I think the telling part is in v 16- the tense of the verbs. Sounds like both at the same time. I’ve read this and stumbled over it every time as I try to figure out why this is ok but today no polygamy. Not wanting to read my bias in but what you said in sermon yesterday was a brain squiggle.”
C: Exactly how I read it. And it is not true that polygamy is not allowed today. It is only forbidden for elders and deacons. Implying that it is not disallowed for anyone else.
S: I guess I mean in our culture context, which is based on biblical law
C: Yes!
S: But maybe I presume too far. So then have to rethink the whole Muslim 4 wives thing…
C: It would make no sense to go to Africa and say, you cannot be a Christian unless you divorce your wives.
S: Absolutely not
C: The Lord accommodates cultural things like this. But the real question is… Why would anyone want the headache of two wives!
S: Of course I can’t imagine the drama of more than one wife…
C: We think exactly alike ahahahaha
S: And I’m a woman!!
C: Is that Rhoda?
Oh gee I thought I was talking to Sergio.

It got worse. I wasn’t just not talking to Sergio or Rhoda. I was messaging a lady here in the church, not realizing I had hit the wrong contact…

Text Verse: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

Sometimes, we do something thinking that we are taking an action in order to resolve one issue when, in fact, we may be resolving a completely different issue. The verses today will show us this.

Israel thought they were taking care of an issue through the crucifixion of the Lord, when in fact the issue that was being taken care of through His cross was exactly the opposite of what they thought it was. For me and my messaging, it was embarrassing to say the least. For Israel, and for us, what occurred was glorious.

One thing is for sure, nothing God has done in and through Christ will ever cease to amaze us – even for eternal years. Marvelous things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. He Will Not Obey Our Voice (verses 18-21)

18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son

ki yihyeh l’ish ben sorer u-moreh – “According to has to man son backsliding and rebellious.” Here is a new word, and another that still should be defined. The first word, translated as “stubborn,” is sarar. It is new to Scripture, and it signifies stubborn, backsliding, rebellious, etc. Robert Young translates it as “apostatizing.”

It means “to turn away” in a moral sense. In the writings, psalms and prophets, it will be used again and again when referring to Israel the people.

The second word is marah. It signifies to be contentious, rebellious, provoking, and so on. It comes from a root which signifies, causatively, to make “bitter.” Thus, when one is rebellious, it will embitter the one who is rebelled against.

It has been used 8 times so far, always in relation to a person or the people of Israel. For example, it was used of both Aaron and Moses who embittered the Lord through disobedience. It has also been used several times about the entire congregation.

Like the other word, it will also be used in the writings, the psalms, and the prophets when referring to rebellious Israel. Through their actions, they embitter the Lord.

Taken together, however, the words as they are used here sorer u-moreh, become an idiomatic expression in Israel. They are used together in the Hebrew in the same manner elsewhere, such as in Psalm 78:8 and Jeremiah 5:23 –

“And may not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not set its heart aright,
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.” Psalm 78:8

&

‘But this people has a defiant and rebellious heart;
They have revolted and departed.” Jeremiah 5:23

As a curious side note, the word moreh is noted in the margin of Matthew 5:22 in the Revised New Testament where the Greek word more is translated as “you fool” –

“But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:22

There, the Greek word is móros – a stupid or foolish person. The noun form is where the English word “moron” finds its origin. Though the words are not etymologically related, it appears that they carried basically the same idiomatic relation in both languages just as many similar words in various languages do for us today.

For now, and with these words understood, we see that this son both turns away from what is right, and he also embitters his parents in the process. He is a selfish malcontent that continuously chooses the rebellious path to his shame and to the grief of those who are responsible for him, as is next explicitly stated…

18 (con’t) who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother,

The Hebrew reads: b’qol aviv u-b’qol imo – “in voice father and in voice mother.” The “and” can mean “or” at times, but for now, just note that it says “and.”

As far as the clause, this explains the use of the word marah. Not only is he a deadbeat that does disgraceful things, maybe without his parents knowing it, but he purposefully ignores the words of his parents. He does what they tell him not to do, and he doesn’t do what they tell him to do. What they say is shunned, even after correction. As it says…

18 (con’t) and who, when they have chastened him,

In this, the word yasar is used. It signifies to discipline, chasten, admonish, and so on. It means to literally chastise with blows, or figuratively with words – as if for instruction.

This word has been used six times, all in relation to Israel. The first three were in Leviticus 26 where the Lord said he would yasar, or punish, Israel for their future disobediences. Further, it is especially noteworthy that a parallel is made to them and to this disobedient son twice so far –

“You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you.” Deuteronomy 8:5

The word will continue to be used in relation to Israel in the writings of the prophets. And more, it is used in an emphatic form in Psalm 118:18 (a messianic Psalm) when referring to the chastening of the Lord upon His Messiah –

“The Lord has chastened me severely,
But He has not given me over to death.” Psalm 118:18

There the Hebrew reads: yasor yiserani Yah – “chastening has chastened me Yah.” The idea here in Deuteronomy is that the parents took the appropriate measures that should be taken. They have spoken to him, and he would not listen – to either parent – and they then disciplined him as a parent should, and nothing has helped. He is worthless and beyond any hope of redemption. Even after chastening he..

18 (con’t) will not heed them,

v’lo yishma alehem – “and no will hear them.” The same word used in the second clause and translated there as “obey,” is again used here. It is shama. Here, it signifies to hear in the sense of hearkening to, and thus to obey. He purposefully ignores the words of his parents to his own shame and to their agony. What to do with such a rebellious punk? Moses next says…

19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him

v’taphesu bo aviv v’imo – “and shall take hold of him his father and his mother.” As you can see, verse 18 was translated as “father or mother,” but now they translate it as “father and mother.” In this, scholars then give an opinion on the meaning that may not be correct.

We will get to that in a few minutes. For now, the parents are to lay their hands upon Miscreant Mike and march him to those who will attend to the matter accordingly…

19 (con’t) and bring him out to the elders

The elders are those referred to in verse 21:2. As we saw, they are those who represent the citizens. Generally, it is the elders who are responsible for proper conduct within the families, and for maintaining proper standards for all who issue from the tribe to which they belong. They have the age and experience to evaluate moral matters within the city, as it next says…

19 (con’t) of his city,

The translation is correct. It is not “of the city,” as if it were any city. Rather, it is personal – iro, “of his city.” He lives there, and those who have seen him grow up know full well what kind of a loser he is. They will now be allowed to make the moral decision about his wayward disposition. Specifically, he is to go…

19 (con’t) to the gate of his city.

Now the translation is incorrect. It says: v’el shaar meqomo – “and to gate his place.” The word maqom means “a standing.” It is the place where he lives and takes up the air, water, and food that are jointly used by all the people. The words are personal and reveal the intimacy of the situation.

The gate of the city, as has been seen, is the place where the affairs of the city are conducted, and matters of morality, legality, and so on are discussed, evaluated, judged, and tried. Once the parents have him there at the gates…

20 And they shall say to the elders of his city,

The word iro, or “his city,” is used again. It is a personal matter dealing with a person in the city in which he lives, and he is standing before the elders of his city. They are those who are morally responsible for heeding the words of his parents and taking action after hearing the parents’ words, which are…

20 (con’t) ‘This son of ours

benenu zeh – “son of ours, this.” You can almost see them standing there pointing at him, distancing themselves from him. They have had enough, and they now will be rid of him, because he…

20 (con’t) is stubborn and rebellious;

Sins one and two: sorer u-moreh – “backsliding and rebellious.” It is an exact repeat of the words stated about him in verse 18. It is probable that if this was not yet an idiom, it became one at this time. The repetition from verse 18 now, as is to be proclaimed by the parents, would be long remembered and used by the people henceforth. Along with these sins…

20 (con’t) he will not obey our voice;

The third sin: enenu shomea b’qolenu – “not hear our voice.” It is again a repeat of verse 18. He does what they tell him not to do, and he doesn’t do what they tell him to do. What they say is shunned, even after correction. And more…

20 (con’t) he is a glutton and a drunkard.’

The fourth and fifth sins: zolel v’sove – “glutton and drunkard.” The word zalal, or “glutton” is introduced. It signifies “to shake” as in the shaking of the wind, and also to quake. It figuratively means to be morally loose, and thus prodigal and worthless. It is used in Proverbs 28:7 when speaking of a worthless son –

‘Whoever keeps the law is a discerning son,
But a companion of gluttons shames his father.” Proverbs 28:7

It is of note that Israel did not keep the law. The words of this Proverb implicitly speak against Israel. It is certainly what was on the Lord’s mind in Luke 15, a proverb clearly referring to Israel –

“A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.” Luke 15:11-13

The second word, sove, is also introduced here. It signifies wine and thus abstractly it speaks of carousal, coming from sava, meaning to drink heavily. This word is found only four times, once here, twice in relation to Israel, and once in relation to Nineveh.

The first word, and the verb form of the second word are found together in Proverbs, and it is very probable that Solomon was considering this verse from Deuteronomy when he wrote out his thoughts there. This is especially likely considering that he refers to both the father and the mother in the passage –

“Hear, my son, and be wise;
And guide your heart in the way.
20 Do not mix with winebibbers,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
22 Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who begets a wise child will delight in him.
25 Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:19-25

As far as why I mentioned the use of “or” and “and” above is revealed here. In this, both parents are said to come and testify against the son. As such, scholars generally state the same thing as with Matthew Poole does –

“The consent of both father and mother is required to prevent the abuse of this law to cruelty. And it cannot reasonably be supposed that both would agree without manifest necessity, and the son’s abominable and incorrigible wickedness…” Matthew Poole

One must read into the text that both parents must agree to this. If there are two parents, this would certainly be the case. But if there was only one parent, his words would be just as valid. It is the law of two or three witnesses that testify to a crime. In the case of the parents, two is sufficient. Albert Barnes is right when he says –

“The formal accusation of parents against a child was to be received without inquiry, as being its own proof. Thus the just authority of the parents is recognized and effectually upheld…”

However, if there is only one parent, the purpose of bringing the son before the elders, and the reason it highlights in a personal way “his city” and the “gate of his place,” is because those elders would be fully aware of the conduct of the person, and they – or someone from the city – would be fully qualified to speak against him.

What is necessary is the voice of the parent – be it one or two. There is nothing in the law that speaks of stoning such a person apart from the witness of the parent who has the moral right to testify against the son. This is what is highlighted in the passage. If this has been established…

21 Then all the men of his city

Again, it is personal, iro, or “his city.” The people of the town would have been aware of this person’s conduct, the parents had brought him forward, no longer able to bear his conduct, and he is thus considered irredeemable. What is of note, however, is that the stoning is reserved for the men of the city.

In Leviticus 20:2, it says “the people” shall stone a person who gives his descendants to Molech. Five times in Leviticus and Numbers, it says “all the congregation.” However, here, only the men are mentioned who…

21 (con’t) shall stone him to death with stones;

Without any explanation of why the men are singled out, it simply says that it is they who are to stone him until he is dead. Stoning has already been used as the punishment for a blasphemer and a Sabbath-breaker. It is also noted as the prescribed punishment for other offenses as well.

The idea here is that if this son is rebellious against his own parents, he is – in essence – acting as a blasphemer. This is because the fifth commandment has been given, which is to honor one’s parent. In ignoring the command, he thus blasphemes God. And a blasphemer is to be stoned…

21 (con’t) so you shall put away the evil from among you,

This is the first purpose of capital punishment. Some punishments will drive the evil from a person. However, some forms of evil are so egregious that there is no remedy except to purge the source of the evil, meaning the person, from the society. If this is not accomplished, the society will eventually devolve into anarchy. However, when appropriate action is taken, a positive aspect will arise from it…

21 (con’t) and all Israel shall hear and fear.

This is the second purpose of capital punishment. This is unlike our nation today where a certain element is allowed to run amok and get away with anything – no matter how egregious it seems – thus resulting in even more wickedness.

Instead, when a person is executed for his crime, others will hear and be less likely to commit the same offense. Eventually, enough miscreants will be removed where the people will live in peace without them, and those who would dare to act accordingly will – instead – turn to a more productive lifestyle. This punishment is probably what Solomon was referring to –

“The eye that mocks his father,
And scorns obedience to his mother,
The ravens of the valley will pick it out,
And the young eagles will eat it.” Proverbs 30:17

A person who has been stoned outside the city for offenses against his parents will be left to rot where he lies. In such a state, the birds of the air will fill themselves with his otherwise worthless remains.

Stubborn and rebellious, deserving to be stoned
This is what should happen to this son
Can his sins ever be atoned?
Look at all the wickedness he has done!

He is a glutton and a drunkard and deserves to die
This is for certain, and it should come about
The parent has had enough, though He did try
But his life should end with stones… and in a shout

* The evil must be put away from us
We are Israel and we must be rid of this Man!
We must remove from the land this Jesus
We must purge Him away as soon as we can

II. You Shall Surely Bury Him That Day (Verses 22 & 23)

22 “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death,

v’ki yihyeh b’ish khet mishpat mavet – “And regarding is in man a sin, judgment of death.” The meaning is that a person is found to be worthy of death and is thus under a sentence of death. It is a capital crime that is referred to.

The words here follow immediately after stoning of the stubborn and rebellious son, and the connection is certainly intentional. It may be that what Moses will next say about such a person is to underscore the need to end punishment for even such a vile offender so that the people do not assume that their punishment can exceed the boundaries of God’s grace and mercy.

This must be the case based on what will be said in the next verse. For now, there is the case of one worthy of death and under a sentence of death. If this is the case…

22 (con’t) and he is put to death,

This could include any form of execution. A person may be killed with the sword, stoned, and so on. The means of death is irrelevant to the passage. He came under a sentence of death, and he is executed. If this occurs…

22 (con’t) and you hang him on a tree,

The word translated as “tree” is ets. It signifies wood. It can be a tree, gallows, or the like. In this, it is obvious that this is referring to publicly displaying him after death. It is a practice that had its own significance and was practiced in Israel. One such example is seen in the killing of five Amorite kings in Joshua 10 –

“And afterward Joshua struck them and killed them, and hanged them on five trees; and they were hanging on the trees until evening. 27 So it was at the time of the going down of the sun that Joshua commanded, and they took them down from the trees, cast them into the cave where they had been hidden, and laid large stones against the cave’s mouth, which remain until this very day.” Joshua 10:26, 27

The idea here is that of victory over the foe. Joshua defeated the five Amorite kings, and they were hanged off of the land by men’s hands, demonstrating that they no longer had any authority over the ground below them – “We have gained victory over the foe, and this is a public demonstration of it.”

The same is true with the person who is found to have committed sin and who is then under a judgment of death. The body is on public display that the sin of the man has been judged by men, he has been executed for it, and he has then been lifted up by men after the execution as a symbol of victory over the sin – “We have gained victory over the foe, and this is a public demonstration of it.” If such is the case…

23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree,

The word is nebelah, a carcass. As was seen in the account of the five Amorite kings, they were hung until evening, the start of a new day, and then they were taken down. This was to avoid violating this clause of the law.

As I said just a minute ago, what is being said here is stated so that the people do not assume that their punishment can exceed the boundaries of God’s grace and mercy.

The person has died for his sin, the victory over it has been gained, and the day has revealed this. But how God deals with the person after that is wholly at His will. Before the sun went down, this was to be accomplished. As it next specifically says…

23 (con’t) but you shall surely bury him that day,

The words are emphatic: ki qabor tiqberenu ba’yom ha’hu – “For burying him you shall bury him in the day the that.” This makes it absolutely clear that the person is to be buried before the sun goes down, meaning before the start of the next day.

They were not to wait until sundown and then take the body down, but they were to have this accomplished before the next day began. And there is a reason for this…

23 (con’t) so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance;

In the Hebrew, this is actually the last clause of the verse. And it will be evaluated as such. The correct rendering is: “(for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance” (KJV). With that understood, we will first evaluate the words…

*23 (fin) for he who is hanged is accursed of God.

ki qilat Elohim talui – “for accursed of God he who is hanged.” The word is qelalah. It signifies cursed, but what does that mean? John Lange is correct when he says –

“the word contains the idea; to reject as detestable, wherefore the one cursed of God must be removed as soon as possible out of sight, from off the land given by God, which is defiled (morally, not physically, not even levitically) by him.” John Lange

The person died in sin, a moral issue. It isn’t the physical body that is being referred to, even though defilement does come to one who touches a dead body. And it is not a ceremonial defilement that is being referred to. It is a moral issue being addressed.

And more, this does not mean that the person who is hanged is accursed in the sense of not being saved. That would mean that any saved person who was hanged on a tree could not be saved. That is not the issue. What this means is that the person becomes a curse when hanged on a tree. Why?

Because sin is in all people. Anyone who is publicly displayed on a tree is dead. Death is the final penalty for sin. It is not the physical body, but the sin that is being focused on. Sin hangs on the tree and that sin is accursed of God. Albert Barnes explains it quite well –

“That is, he has forfeited his life to the law; for it is written, Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them; and on his body, in the execution of the sentence of the law, the curse was considered as alighting; hence the necessity of removing the accursed thing out of sight.” Albert Barnes

The dead body is the evidence of the sin, the body is placed on display as a sign of victory over the sin, but then the sin is to be put away. The hanging of the body on the tree is the sign of being accursed by God and that is to be ended with the coming of the new day. With that, the final clause of the verse in the Hebrew can now be analyzed.

The body is to be taken down from the tree before sundown, “so that you do not defile the land.” The Hebrew says, “your earth,” not “the land.” As was seen in the first verse of the chapter, the word used both there and here is adamah.

It usually signifies the ground, soil, or earth, rather than the land as territory. It comes from the same root as adam, or man. Both come from the verb adom, implying redness. As we noted in verse 21:1, the thought of defiling the ground (not the land) with a body curiously brackets the contents of the entire chapter.

Such an ongoing public display of the sin would defile the ground because it would be an ongoing public display of the curse of God, thus defiling it.

With that understood, Moses closes out this incredible chapter with the usual formula that he has used again and again in Deuteronomy, saying it is that “which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.”

Israel was in bondage, and Israel was brought out. The Lord chose the land, promised it to the fathers, and is fulfilling His promise by bringing Israel in and giving them the land. The idea, then, is that just as the Lord has given it, so He can remove them from it.

The statement is both a note of ownership and a note of expected performance. Unfortunately, the record of Israel shows that they have consistently treated the land by the first notion, but they have rarely treated it by the latter. With the verses complete, we must next find what the Lord expects us to discover concerning them…

Look at Him there, hanging on that tree
He is cursed of God, just as the law does say
I’m so glad that it isn’t me
That is hanging there on that cross today

I have done nothing so that I deserve to die
I am Israel, God’s chosen son
He looks with favor on me, I don’t even have to try
Yes, I am the favored one

But there… there upon that tree
There is the accursed of God for what He has done
What happens to Him has nothing to do with me
I am Israel, God’s chosen son

III. Pictures of Christ

In this Chapter of Deuteronomy, there has been a high stress on typology pointing to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. The first passage (1-9) pointed to His work cleansing the people from the guilt of innocent blood. As accomplished through the breaking of the neck of an unworked heifer.

The second passage (10-14) refers to the doctrine of eternal security for the believer who is brought out from the power of the devil. Such a person can never be sold back to his power again.

The third passage (15-17) looks to the pi shnayim, or firstborn’s portion (the double portion) that came through Christ’s work. Through His work, He redeemed to Himself those under law, both Jew and Gentile – be it the Mosaic Law or the general law of sin.

In our verses today, we first came to the fourth passage (18-21) which revealed the penalty for the disobedient son who would not listen to his father or mother. As we saw, the words used in those verses have been, and continue on throughout Scripture to be, applied to Israel, God’s disobedient son.

In the fifth passage (22 & 23), which is intimately connected with the fourth passage, a note concerning hanging a person on a tree was presented, telling the reader that such a person is accursed of God. With those two final thoughts in mind, we can ask, “How is God glorified?” And we can answer: “It is by demonstrating His works in, through, and for His people.” In John 9, we read –

“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’
Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’” John 9:1-5

Jesus came to do the works of God. One of those works was to take upon Himself the punishment that His own people deserved for their stubborn and rebellious nature before God, their Father. As we noted, the words translated as “stubborn” and “rebellious” in verse 18 are used again and again of Israel – the people under the law.

The word “rebellious” was even used of Moses and Aaron who represent the law. Explicitly, sin is an issue that must be dealt with. But what is implicit is that the law is the main issue that must be dealt with.  As Paul says, “by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Israel is under law, they violate the law even to the point of being stubborn and rebellious, and thus they deserve the penalty of stoning levied upon such a son. But before that, they were chastened in order to correct them. It is a chastening that Israel did not heed, just as the disobedient son did not heed.

As we saw, the word translated as “chastening” was used of them time and again, but it did not produce proper conduct, just as it did not in the case of the rebellious son. However, in their place, God chastened Christ, as we saw in 118th Psalm, a messianic psalm.

Because of this, Israel deserved the penalty of the disobedient son – stoning to death. However, they have been spared that penalty because Another took their place. The account said that the parents were to take their disobedient son before the elders and to the gates (the place of judgment) of the city. Christ fulfilled that –

“And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death.” Matthew 26:57-59

&

“When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha.” John 19:13

As I noted, there was a stress on the fact that when speaking of the disobedient son, it repeated the word iro, or “his city.” This becomes a veiled reference to the deity of Christ, as is noted in Matthew 5, where Christ speaks of the Lord –

“But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” Matthew 5:34, 35

After that, and when he is brought to the place of judgment, the parents state the following: 1) “This son of ours,” a term applied to Israel by the Lord (e.g., Exodus 4:22); 2) is “stubborn and rebellious,” both words – as we have already seen – commonly applied to Israel by the Lord; 3) “he will not obey our voice,” words spoken about Israel so many times it isn’t worth the effort to count; 4) “he is a glutton and a drunkard,” words which certainly applied to Israel, and yet a term directly applied by Israel to the Lord –

“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 But wisdom is justified by all her children.” Luke 7:33-35

In such a state, a state that applied to Israel, and which the Lord assumed in their place, such a Son was to be taken out and stoned. The way this came about was to accuse Him of blasphemy. The same penalty for being a stubborn and rebellious son (Israel) is given for one accused of blasphemy –

“And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death.” Leviticus 24:16

And this is exactly what the leaders of Israel accused Him of –

“Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, ‘He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?’
They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death.’” Matthew 26:65, 66

However, because they, Israel at the time of Jesus, were not allowed to execute their wrongdoers, the words of the final two verses are given – that of hanging a person. This is seen in John’s gospel. First, the note of why He is not stoned –

“Then Pilate said to them, ‘You take Him and judge Him according to your law.’
Therefore the Jews said to him, ‘It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,’ 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.’” John 18:31, 32

And next, the formal charge once again, supposed blasphemy –

“The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.’” John 19:7

The deserved penalty of stoning a stubborn and rebellious son, Israel, was imputed to Christ. As we saw earlier, what is necessary is the voice of the parent – be it one or two. There is nothing in the law that speaks of stoning such a person apart from the witness of the parent who has the moral right to testify against the son.

The Father witnessed against Israel, his son, through the prophets. The law, as a mother, witnessed against Israel as well, a precept implied in Solomon’s words of Proverbs 6:20 (and elsewhere) –

“My son, keep your father’s command,
And do not forsake the law [torah, fem. noun] of your mother.”

But God graciously substituted Christ Jesus in their place. As stoning could not take place, the Lord was crucified on a tree.

Hence, seeing this in advance, the Lord placed these final verses into this chapter in order to complete the narrative of what Christ has done for His people. Christ was hung, but according to the law, His body had to be taken down before sunset.

Though He was crucified by Romans who were not bound to this precept, the Lord foresaw that day and spoke these words through Moses now. Of this, in relation to Christ’s cross, John says –

“Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” John 19:31

The Sabbath, meaning Saturday which began at sundown, was nearing. In order to ensure these men did not remain on the cross, their deaths were to be expedited. When they came to Christ, however, He had already died. Thus, all were removed before the coming of the new day so that the land would not be defiled.

But this defilement was not because of Christ’s sin! Rather, it was for the sin of Israel and, indeed, the whole world –

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

Paul explicitly states and explains this in Galatians 3 by referencing this exact passage from Deuteronomy –

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:13, 14

The Jews, understanding the law, did not want the bodies of those crucified to remain on the cross and thus defile the land, especially over the Sabbath and during the feast. Little did they know that the curse of sin attached to the body of Christ was theirs, not His.

As I said twice, and now amend and repeat for the picture to be understood, what Moses wrote out was to underscore the need to end punishment for even such a vile offender, Israel, so that they would not assume that their punishment of Christ could exceed the boundaries of God’s grace and mercy… toward them.

Of this act of being hung on a tree, Matthew Henry says –

“Those who see a man thus hanging between heaven and earth, will conclude him abandoned of both, and unworthy of either.”

Israel stood looking at their own sin when they beheld the crucified Christ. It is they who were abandoned of heaven and earth, and it is they who were unworthy of either. And yet, Christ did what He did for them… and for you, and for me.

As we saw, the first and last verses of the chapter speak of defilement of the adamah, or earth, because of death. The death is the result of sin, and the sin is the result of the law. It is from the adamah, or earth, that Adam was fashioned. Thus, if the earth is defiled, those who are from the earth are defiled.

What we need is a new birth, from a heavenly Source, in order to be cleansed of our defilement. That is what Christ came to do, and that is what the gospel of Jesus Christ conveys to us.

He accomplished this and now offers, to any who will simply receive what He has done, the gift of eternal life. Let us be wise and let us receive that wondrous gift. In this, we will put behind us the defiled earth and partake of that incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that Peter spoke of in our text verse today. The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Sometimes I imagine
that You came Lord,
so many gathered
to hear your voice,
and I am frozen,
and standing still.
How can that be
my King came for me?

I fall on the ground,
my heart pounding hard,
I’m overwhelmed
by You at my sight.
I’m sobbing and shaking
soaked in my tears.
How can that be
my Lord came for me?

And I am still
frozen in awe,
filled to a brim
with Your precious love.
I can’t comprehend.
I fall at Your feet.
How can that be Lord,
You came for me?

On that old tree
long time ago
You took my sins
to save my soul.
You suffered and died
that I can be freed
to live my true life
when You’ll come for me. Izabela Bednara

Closing Verse: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.” Acts 2:22-24

Next Week: Deuteronomy 22:1-12 Be sure to watch your ways… (That You May Prolong Your Days) (64th Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

He Who Is Hanged Is Accursed of God

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son
Who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother
And who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them
Bad news is coming to him, O brother

Then his father and his mother shall take hold of him
And bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city
And they shall say to the elders of his city
‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; it truly is a pity

He will not obey our voice
He is a glutton and a drunkard, his life choice

Then all the men of his city
Shall stone him to death with stones, O my dear!
So you shall put away the evil from among you
And all Israel shall hear and fear

“If a man has committed a sin deserving of death
And he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree
His body shall not remain overnight on the tree
But you shall surely him that day bury

So that you do not defile the land
Which the LORD your God is giving you
———-the land on which you trod
As an inheritance, please understand
For he who is hanged is accursed of God

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not heed them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city, to the gate of his city. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall put away the evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

22 “If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.

 

 

 

 

 

Revelation 20:13

Sunday, 1 August 2021

The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Revelation 20:13

The previous verse noted that “the dead were judged according to their works.” What was recorded of their lives is brought forth for them to face in the final judgment. With that stated first, the categories of where the dead are is only now noted, beginning with, “The sea gave up the dead who were in it.”

There is, as with everything in Revelation, debate as to what “the sea” means. Is this the literal sea, or is it a symbol of the nations that has previously been used? In this case, it is probably the literal sea. There is no need to allegorize this. The Old Testament makes a distinction between those who died on the land from those on the sea. Though poetic, Jonah equates drowning in the sea to the pit –

“The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.” Jonah 2:5, 6

It is probably for the reader’s benefit that a distinction is noted concerning the dead in the sea. Those who fail to understand the Lord’s authority over all things might assume that those who died in the sea would be safe from final judgment. Such is not the case. In noting this, it is an assurance that all who drowned in the Flood of Noah, and throughout the ages, will be included in the tally. Along with those in the sea, it next says, “and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.”

In Revelation 1:18, Jesus is said to possess the keys to Hades and Death. These entities are noted again in verse 6:8. Here, like in 6:8, they are being personified. In this verse, they are treated as if they are living entities that have control over the souls of those who have died in time past. But if Christ has the keys to them, then He is the one with ultimate control over them. As such, John next notes, “And they were judged, each one according to his works.”

It is a repeated thought from the previous verse. All people, regardless as to who they are, when they lived, or where they died, will be gathered together for the final judgment before God. Their deeds will testify to their lives, and they will be judged with the perfect judgment of God.

Life application: The sea is noted along with Death and Hades to ensure us that there is no place from which the souls of men will not be searched out for judgment. Those who died in the waters, reaching back even to the Flood of Noah and those who died in the earth, all will be resurrected for judgment.

Every human who has ever existed is remembered by God and will be brought before the great white throne. Death has not separated them from this final act because man was made to be a soul/body unity. In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul describes the soul without a body as “naked.” In order for man to be in a state which is suitable for judgment, it appears their soul will be reunited with a real, physical body.

Those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life will find an eternity of punishment awaiting them. People who see fault in this are only finding fault in themselves. A finite sin against an infinite God demands an infinite punishment – and all have sinned.

God never changes, and His righteousness is a part of His very nature. When a sin is committed, it is a violation against that nature, and therefore it will be there in a minute, in an hour, in a day, in a year, in 1000 years, and so on for all of eternity. The sin committed in time, which God created, will exist as long as time exists. Time, space, and matter occurred at the same moment of creation, and so as long as space and matter exist, time will be associated with it. And because man is a physical being, the stain of that sin remains as long as that physical being remains.

Thus, there are only two possibilities to handle the sin problem: 1) That it be covered by an act of justice which will eternally satisfy God’s righteousness (which is eternal), or 2) that the sin be judged and eternally punished. And there is only one act of justice that can eternally satisfy a sin against God. A suitable Substitute must be found. It must be one in the same category (an animal cannot satisfy a sin for a human) and one that is sinless (for example a baby even though it has not committed a sin has still inherited Adam’s sin nature). If such a substitute is found, the penalty for sin may be taken out on that substitute.

Only Jesus was and is sinless because He was born of the Holy Spirit and a woman – no sin was transferred through a human father. And yet, Jesus is fully Man because He was born of the Holy Spirit and a human mother. Further, Jesus never sinned during His life. Therefore, He is a qualified Substitute. If the payment rendered on Jesus’ cross is accepted, then the sin can never be punished again.

Because He is fully God, His atonement is eternal. His covering will continue as long as He continues, and He will continue for eternity. Despite people claiming that it is somehow unfair that Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to God. And unfairness is a non-starter because “all have sinned,” and thus what is fair is that all go to the Lake of Fire; that is fair.

Anyone who doesn’t go to the Lake of Fire receives mercy because of what Jesus did. Anyone who doesn’t come through Jesus will receive what is already due them. The judgment at the great white throne is one of “works.” Therefore, there are two possibilities. The first is to have suitable works –

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:29

The second is to have unsuitable works –

“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. … Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:20 & 28

The greatest sadness to be found in this judgment will be in those who have trusted in their own goodness and good deeds to justify themselves in the sight of God. They will come into His presence assured of their own righteousness, and they will be severely disappointed when the gavel comes down in judgment against them because of an issue they never thought through – the inherently fallen state of man in the presence of pure holiness.

If you have never accepted Christ’s righteousness, today would be a good time to do so. Eternity is a very long time, and the Lake of Fire is a very unpleasant destination. Be sure to come to God through His offer of peace and reconciliation. Come to Him today through JESUS!

Jesus, we know that we are unworthy of Your goodness and the gift of Your righteousness, but we accept it by faith. Cover us with Your precious blood. In this, we know that we will be eternally secure from the righteous judgment that we are due. Thank You for Your white garments of righteousness that allow us to be restored to God. Thank You Jesus, thank You. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 20:12

Saturday, 31 July 2021

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. Revelation 20:12

With the great white throne brought into the forefront of John’s view in the previous verse, he now continues with the narrative, saying, “And I saw the dead, small and great.” This is an expression that simply means, “and I saw all of humanity from the small to the great.” At times, more expressive terms are used, but this one is simple enough to say that none will be exempt, from the small to the great.

Of this, Albert Barnes says, “The fair meaning in this place therefore is, that all the dead would be there, and of course this would preclude the idea of a ‘previous’ resurrection of any part of the dead, as of the saints, at the beginning of the millennium. There is no intimation here that it is the wicked dead that are referred to in this description of the final judgment. It is the judgment of all the dead.”

There is no reason to assume this. The Bible clearly speaks of a rapture of the church, and it also refers to the first resurrection. One must deny a literal reading of those events in order to dismiss them as something other than what is referred to. Further, Paul notes that believers in the church must appear before the judgment (bema) seat of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:10). Nothing is said there of a great white throne judgment. The two are, therefore, distinct judgments. Understanding this, John says of this mass of humanity that they are “standing before God.”

It is an expression that means they are exposed before Him as creatures before their Creator. He is the judge, and they are the judged. As judgment has been granted to Christ Jesus, He is the member of the Godhead they actually appear before. While standing there, it says, “and books were opened.”

The same terminology was seen in Daniel 7:10. The order of events there is not the same as here in Revelation, but it is certainly referring to the same judgment upon humanity. The idea of books being opened is that there is a documented record of the life and deeds of humanity.

This does not mean that a literal book, as we think of it, is kept. The imagery is given for us to understand that all of what man has done is recorded. At the time of John, a biblion, or a papyrus roll, was the standard means of recording things. Later, books as we know them today were used. Now, we record things on computer hard drives or various other devices. The symbolism is set forth so that the truth is conveyed, regardless as to the means of recording such things. Each person’s record is to be evaluated. John next says, “And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.”

This book has already been seen in Revelation 3:5 –

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

This “Book of Life” is that which records those who have gone from the spiritual death of Adam to the born-again life of Jesus Christ. All who have been restored to a right relationship with God through Christ are recorded in the Book of Life. With this understood, it next says, “And the dead were judged according to their works.”

There are several possibilities as to what could be conveyed here, but the simplest explanation is that all the dead standing before the throne will be judged on their deeds. Those who are recorded in the Book of Life will have their deeds judged for their eternal state in heaven, just as believers in the church will when they go before the judgment seat of Christ.

Those who are not in the book of life will be judged for their deeds, setting their eternal fate in hell. As such, there will be greater punishment for those whose deeds were more wicked. In the end, however, those who are saved will have eternal glory in heaven, and those who are not will have eternal condemnation in hell. It is by their deeds that the state in one of those places will be determined. As John says, “by the things which were written in the books.”

The record of the life of all people will be taken into account. God is perfectly just, and He will reward each person exactly as is deserved and without any partiality at all.

Life application: Everything we as humans do is recorded. If we fail to come to Jesus Christ, we will not receive His covering and we will stand utterly exposed and naked before our Creator. There will be absolutely no doubt of guilt, though now we as humans try to hide it. Every person who has ever lived will receive his judgment. There will be no soul left unremembered before God.

Concerning the term “God” in this verse, some manuscripts have “the throne” instead of “God.” As the throne is the throne of God, the intent is the same – it is Jesus who sits to judge. Unfortunately, some scholars try to disconnect the two (God and Jesus) when the terminology changes, but one must continually ask, “Is Jesus God?” The answer is “Yes.” Therefore, based on Jesus’ own words about all judgment being committed to Him, it is He before whom they stand.

Why does it say God (or “the throne,” implying the throne of God) then? The reason is so simple that it is easily overlooked. It is because He is God that the term is used. In other words, even those who have denied His deity during their lives – such as members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other cults, as well as unbelieving Jews – will realize that the One they are now being judged by is the One whose deity they denied.

From the first chapter of the Bible, all the way through to the last, the concept of the Trinity and the concept of the God/Man are to be found, understood, and accepted. God has stepped out of His eternal domain and united with human flesh in the Person of Jesus in order to show us the unseen Father. Now, at the end of the ages, these people await their judgment.

For sure, the book of works is insufficient to save. Paul sums this up in Ephesians 2:8, 9 –

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

At this judgment, no person will say, “I deserve eternal life based on what I did.” Either they are saved through faith in Christ Jesus and are recorded in the Book of Life, or they worked out their lives apart from Christ. If the latter is the case, they will see the futility of the life they lived.

What a terrifying thought – to stand naked and exposed before the Living God without the covering of Christ. May none presume that deeds are sufficient to appease the wrath of God for sins committed while in the flesh. May we understand now the severity of the consequences of the choices we make concerning our beautiful, perfect, just, righteous, and holy Lord – JESUS.

Lord Jesus, apart from You we are fallen and wicked. We know that without Your righteousness, there is no hope for us. Please help us to be able to clearly convey this to others and to stand firm on the message that without You we stand exposed and condemned. May You be praised for providing a way of reconciliation and restoration. Amen.

 

 

Revelation 20:11

Friday, 30 July 2021

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 found no place for them. Revelation 20:11

The scene now set forth is a post-millennial judgment. Satan has been cast into the Lake of Fire, and now will come the final judgment of all humanity not previously raptured or raised. Of this judgment, John begins with, “Then I saw a great white throne.”

It is a throne of justice. The white signifies perfect righteousness. The judgment will be pure and unbiased. John next says, “and Him who sat on it.”

The Greek is a present participle. It says, “Then Him who is sitting on the throne.” The scene is active and alive. This is referring to Christ Jesus. God is unseen. This is made perfectly evident in Scripture. However, Jesus who is fully God and fully Man, reveals the unseen God to man, and it is to Jesus that all judgmental authority belongs –

“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:22, 23

Christ, sitting on the throne of God, has already been seen in Revelation 3:21 –

“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

To sit down with His Father does not mean that the Father literally sits on a throne. God is Spirit and has no parts. Jesus’ words indicate a position of authority. That position is His. In this judgment before the great white throne, John next says of Jesus (who sits upon the throne), “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.”

The symbolism is apocalyptic. A similar instance was seen in Revelation 6:14. The terminology is also like that found at various times in Scripture, such as Psalm 18:7-15; Psalm 77:16-19; and Psalm 114:3-5. These and other references describe the creation fleeing from the presence of the Lord. The idea is that in seeing Him in His glory, everything else recedes from sight. As such, John says, “And there was found no place for them.”

Again, the thought is like that of the parting of the Red Sea or the parting of the Jordan. When the Lord’s presence is made manifest, the creation flees back from Him. In the full presentation of the splendor of the Lord at this final judgment, all creation will appear to flee away from Him. The only thing evident to the eyes of those before the throne will be the One who created all those things

In other words, the creation that they are a part of, that they relied on, that they idolized, and that they thought was the source of their existence is nothing in comparison to the One who created it all. They failed to look beyond the creation to their Creator, and now they find that the only thing of true value is what they failed to seek out and glorify. No place is found for those things because the Source of those things is there before them. His glory causes all else to recede into obscurity.

Life application: The final judgment of all humans who had not previously been granted eternal life will come someday. Those who were called up to Christ at the rapture will be witnesses of this judgment, not a part of it. Likewise, those who were part of the first resurrection are also safe from this judgment. Only those who didn’t previously participate in one of these two events, along with those who lived during the millennial reign and who did not take the mark of the beast, will be involved here.

A progression of thought, concerning Christ as Creator, proceeds all the way through until He is seen as the final Judge upon the throne. In Colossians 1:16, it says, “All things were created through Him and for Him.” Jesus was the mediator between God and the creation at the very beginning. He is the One through whom all things came into existence (see also John 1:3).

In the next verse of Colossians 1:17, it says, “And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Jesus is the continued Mediator between God and the creation after all things were created – “in Him all things consist (or are ‘held together’).”

Jesus is also the direct Mediator between God and Man as is noted in 1 Timothy 2:5. There it says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” The Bible is absolutely clear on this precept. The Pope has no authority to mediate between God and man. No pastor or preacher has such authority. No angelic being or apostle has this authority. There is one and only one point of mediation between God and man, Jesus Christ.

Jesus is also the Judge of man. By His own words of John 5 (cited above), we know that He will be the One there at the final judgment of man.

One must understand the nature of the Godhead in order to comprehend the nature of our relationship with God. Jesus fills all of these positions because He is the full expression of God in bodily form. He is continuously, ceaselessly, and endlessly revealing to us the unseen Father. Thus, all judgment has been committed to the Son. We err when we bow to any other god, when we look to horoscopes for daily counsel, or when we look to a human figure – living or dead – to submit our prayers or petitions to. All of these things cause us to miss the mark. It is Jesus to whom we owe our devotion and supplication.

In saying that creation will flee away from His presence, there are several general thoughts on what this means. The first is that creation will literally be utterly swept away and that what is coming will be a new creation. It will be something that never existed before. The second thought is that this creation will be utterly purified by His glory, and so what is coming will be a new creation – as if one were to make something from clay – such as a bowl – and then completely start over with that material and make something new.

Based on the words of Genesis 1 and 2, and considering that redeemed man will continue to exist with Christ forever, it would appear that the second option is more likely.  This will continue to be evaluated in verses to come.

Creation will be purified and perfected to its original state. Paul seems to allude to this in Romans 8:20-22 as well. No matter what occurs with the created order, those who are saved by the blood of Christ will exist for all eternity in His presence, completely free from corruption, impurity, or defilement.

Of this, we can be certain. God’s word is clear and unambiguous in this. God has promised eternal life to those who come to Him as He has set forth in the giving of JESUS.

What a marvelous thought it is! Oh Lord Jesus, to see You in all of Your glory is more than our minds can imagine. You have taken sinful people and redeemed them to Yourself in such a way that we won’t be utterly consumed when Your glory is revealed. You have covered us with Your own precious blood. What a great and glorious Lord! Hallelujah and Amen.