Tuesday, 3 August 2021
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:15
With the judgment noted since verse 11 complete, John finishes the chapter with words of finality, saying, “And anyone.” The Greek reads, “And if any.” It is conditional, but it is also all-inclusive for those who are found in such a category, which is that they are “not found written in the Book of Life.”
As noted, it is all-inclusive and there will be no exceptions. To not be written in the Book of Life means that such a person will be “cast into the lake of fire.”
No categories are stated. Thus rank, title, ethnicity, age, status, amount of wealth, number of good deeds accomplished, and so on, are not considered. One is either registered in the Book of Life, or he remains dead in sin. He is “condemned already” according to Jesus’ words of John 3:18.
The words are to be taken literally, just as the thousand-year period that began the chapter is to be taken literally. There is eternal life for those who are saved, and there is the lake of fire for those who are not. This is what the word declares.
Life application: In the end, all humans have eternity to look forward to. Some will receive eternal life, and some will receive eternal death. Death is what separates. It separates souls from bodies, it separates loved ones physically, it separates people in a spatial sense, and it separates us through time – only a memory is left, but nothing tangible.
However, the second death isn’t the end of those who are cast into the lake of fire. Rather it is an eternal separation from God – the Source of life. Because there is no life, there is only eternal death. And during this time of eternal death, there is only suffering and corruption. Because God is the source of goodness, there can only be an eternal movement away from goodness and to corruption and terror.
Jesus used the term Gehenna to describe this place of eternal destruction. Gehenna is the Greek translation of ge-hinnom. Ge is a valley and Hinnom is the name of the valley. This valley, which is a deep ravine running along the side of Jerusalem, was where the most wicked and idolatrous practices were conducted, including that of child sacrifice to the pagan god Molech.
Some have identified this type of sacrifice to Molech as a giant bronze statue that was heated from the inside. When it was fully heated, babies were placed on the hands of Molech and burnt to death as an offering. This and other wicked practices were conducted in the land that God had chosen to be for His people, just outside of His dwelling. But they rejected Him and went their own way, committing what is violent and deserving of destruction.
After the return of the people from the Babylonian exile, the Valley of Hinnom became the garbage dump of Jerusalem. People would carry out all the filth of the city and dump it into fires that burned day and night, consuming the refuse. This is the picture that Jesus portrayed concerning the lake of fire and its eternal destruction. It is a place outside of where God dwells, it is a place of putridity and corruption, it is a place of absolute evil (evil being the absence of that which is good), and it is a place where the fire never dies.
The Bible proclaims that hell is real, and hell will be the final destination of any who die apart from the Person of Jesus Christ. There is a Book of Life and there is a way to be included in this book. The choice is clear, and the choice is ours. God doesn’t force hell upon His people, nor does He, as reformed theology teaches, force heaven upon them. He leaves the choice up to each person who hears the gospel message.
God has granted man free will, and He has given us the ability to perceive what is good and right and what is evil and wrong. In the end, hell will be a self-inflicted punishment for those who reject the gospel. It will be a choice that the offender will eternally regret.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19
Be wise. Call out to God through His offer of peace. Call out to Him through JESUS.
Oh God, the horror of considering an eternal separation from You is more than we can imagine. We shudder at the thought of being forever in a place of horror and corruption, never again sharing in Your glory even in the slightest way. We call out to Jesus and accept His gospel of peace. We receive all of His goodness and all of His promises now. We know that it is only through Him that we can avoid the second death, and so we choose Jesus. Amen.