“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15
That’s an ominous statement concerning the human race, but I’m ahead of myself. Let’s go to the beginning to see how and why this will happen.
“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 1:1-3
The “revelation” we see in Chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation came directly from Jesus Christ, “which God gave Him to show His servants.” Who did Jesus give His Revelation? John the Apostle – “who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw.” What kind of document is Revelation? Prophecy. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy.”
The Apostle John was the last apostle of Christ still alive on earth. The other apostles had been martyred. John was a prisoner of the Roman Empire on Patmos, a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. John heard a loud voice behind him saying: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (Revelation 1:11) Patmos was less than a hundred miles from Ephesus and the other cities mentioned. Early Church writers of the 2nd Century AD wrote that John had ministered in Ephesus, so the churches of that region would have known John and been able to verify that he had written the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Jesus began His Revelation by speaking directly to the seven churches in the seven cities. Then, the Lord called John up to Heaven. “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, ‘Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” (Revelation 4:1) John was immediately “in the Spirit” and he saw the Throne of God.
The rest of the Revelation of Jesus Christ takes place from John’s “heavenly” and “futuristic” perspective. In Chapter 5, John sees the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) taking the “scroll” and opening its “seals.” As Jesus opened the seals one by one, John witnessed God’s judgment on the earth and the people on the earth. The “seven seals” were followed by the “seven trumpets” and “seven thunders.” God’s judgment on the earth and the people on the earth continued.
When we come to Revelation 14, we see the proclamations of three angels concerning the Judgment of God on the wicked and disobedient humans on earth. Watch carefully for what the angels say happens to those people.
“Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people—saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ And another angel followed, saying, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.’ Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:6-11
It is going to be very difficult to live on earth during the “great tribulation” without receiving the “mark of the beast,” but those who do receive it will face “the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.” People who receive the beast’s mark “shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night.”
What does God’s Word say will happen to these people? They will “be tormented with fire and brimstone … And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night.” That is a clear message. It’s not hard to understand the words. There’s no “mystery” about what will happen to people who receive the mark of the beast during the Tribulation. They will be tormented “forever and ever.”
The next thing John sees is Jesus Christ – “One like the Son of Man” – thrusting in His sickle to reap, “for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” Jesus thrusts in His sickle on the earth, “and the earth was reaped” (Revelation 14:14-16).
Then John saw an angel come “out of the temple which is in heaven,” also having a sharp sickle in his hands. Another angel came out from the altar in Heaven, “who had power over fire,” and John heard him cry with a loud cry to the angel with the sharp sickle, “Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe. So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses’ bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.” (Revelation 14:17-20)
God’s Judgment of the disobedient humans on earth continues in Revelation 15 with seven angels who have the seven last plagues – “for in them the wrath of God is complete.” That’s an important thing to note – the “wrath of God.” That’s the righteous anger and fury of the Almighty God and it’s not complete (finished) until seven angels do something with the seven last plagues.
(Quick question: why should anyone be afraid of the “wrath” of God and the seven “last plagues” if God is not going to judge anyone? If God is going to forgive everyone and welcome everyone into eternal peace and joy, why would anyone be afraid of God’s judgment?)
Look at what angels and other beings in Heaven sing at that moment.
“Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.” Revelation 15:3-4
The “works” of the “Lord God Almighty” are “great and marvelous.” The “ways” of the “King of the saints” are “just and true.” People will “fear” God because He alone is “holy.” All nations will come and worship before God, for His “judgments have been manifested” (made known clearly).
Next, John saw the “temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven” opened. Out of the Temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues. One of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls “full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever.” The Temple was filled with smoke “from the glory of God and from His power,” and no one was able to enter the Temple until “the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed.”
In Revelation 16, John heard a loud voice from the Temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.” Notice that God’s judgment and wrath are still the focus of the Revelation of Christ. Here are the contents of the seven bowls “of the wrath of God.”
- Loathsome sores
- Sea turns to blood
- Waters turn to blood
- People are scorched
- Darkness and pain
- Euphrates dried up
- Earth utterly shaken
Here is some of what John heard the angels say as they poured out the bowls of God’s wrath. Notice the emphasis on God’s “judgment.”
“You are righteous, O Lord, The One who is and who was and who is to be, Because You have judged these things.” Revelation 16:5
“Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.” Revelation 16:7
John writes about the scarlet woman and the scarlet beast in Revelation 17 and the fall of Babylon the Great in Revelation 18. In Revelation 19 we hear how the creatures of Heaven respond to God’s Judgment.
“Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God! For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her …” Revelation 19:1-2
Then, John writes about the Lord Jesus Christ executing judgment on the armies of the earth.
“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He hada name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, ‘Come and gather together for the supper of the great God, that you may eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, both small and great. And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.” Revelation 19:11-21
Keep in mind that “Christian universalists” would have us believe that all of the people judged by God so far in the Revelation of Jesus Christ will be saved at some point after God kills them and will join the rest of the other unsaved people from earlier generations in Heaven to spend eternity with Him in blissful joy and peace. Oh, and those of us who confessed with our mouths the Lord Jesus Christ and believed in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead will be there, too.
Do you see that in the chapters of Revelation that we’ve studied so far? I don’t, but maybe we’ll see God forgive everyone in the last chapters of Revelation. Join us next time as we “test” The Hell Test.
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”