(Authored by Roger Kirby) Part 149 - Revelation 20:1-15
Cleansing and Judgment
And so we come to the great but perplexing chapter on judgement. We are glad to read of the final demise of the dragon and the beasts, which reflect all the evil on the earth, but it is difficult to know what to make of some of the circumstances. We have to remember that it has been fairly impossible to take almost anything in this book literally so far. It is strange if we can suddenly start to do so here.
I have neither the space nor the desire to say anything about the possible implications of the thousand years which have caused so much argument over the centuries. There are 3 major approaches known as the pre-millenial (the events described and those possibly discovered elsewhere in the New Testament occur before the thousand years), the post-millenial (the events occur after the millenium, and the a-millenial (the thousand years are not to be taken literally).
There are at least 5 things that follow from what is written in this chapter regardless of which belief (or none!) that you hold as to how it is all going to happen.
1. At some date in the future all evil will be eradicated from this world of ours. (Revelation 20:10)
2. This will not happen all at one clean sweep. There will be many problems before that final, very desirable, event occurs. (Revelation 20:1-9)
3. It will not all happen at the cosmic level. Human beings will be involved at certain stages before the evil is completely eradicated. (Revelation 20:4, 9)
4. Once evil is removed there will be a time of judgement. No one will be exempt from this. (Revelation 20:12, 13) My picture of how this will happen is: arrival at an airport in your home country. First you have to show your passport. If you have the right passport (we are citizens of heaven says Paul in Philippians 3:20) you are immediately welcomed into your home country, but you still have to go through the luggage checkpoint to see that you have no contraband in your cases. So, we too although welcomed because we are justified by faith - we have been promised now that we shall be welcomed by the Lord when we go to meet him - we are still to give account of what we have done in the years allocated to us since we set out to follow Jesus (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10-12). Like all illustrations, that one of mine is not perfect but it should help you to see what the scripture is saying. It is not the case that we are born again and need worry no more that all our future is without concern. That is a popular misunderstanding of the implications of being ‘born again’.
5. Not everybody is guaranteed a comfortable after life. (Revelation 20:15) what exactly will happen to them is much debated. A literal ‘lake of fire’ scarcely seems compatible with a God who is Love.