Chapter 12: The Thousand Years are Finished
In Revelation 20, after describing the end of the rebels, John gives a description of the last Judgment. “And I saw a great white throne [a symbol of purity and equity], and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them” (vs. 11). The old political systems (heavens) of Gentile times “fled away” at the close of the first six thousand years of God’s plan. Now both the heavens (the political system) and the earth (the people) are new—the earth has a whole new populace. There is no place left for the old. The new King is reigning in justice and holiness, and everything is being done in a new way; all things are become new.
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (v. 12). It is another scene of Judgment. The “small and great” who lived during the Millennium are judged. All ranks and degrees and conditions of mortals are judged. None can escape. They are judged by God’s standard, and they are judged “according to their works.” Some names are in the book of life, and some are in the book of death.
Books are kept. It is a reminder that none can escape the results of their deeds. The consequences are adhesive. They cannot be torn away from the one who performs them. All are recorded in God’s book. The books are photographs of human souls. Each comes to Judgment trailing the record which will determine his destiny. It is the age-old principle: “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
Let each take the lesson to heart.
All are judged by their deeds, which express the very inner meaning of their lives. This has always been God’s principle. Those who have bad records would like to hide the record from all eyes, human and divine. But God does not keep things hidden; at Judgment the records are brought forth, the records that show how thoughts became purposes, purposes became deeds, and deeds became destiny.
John continues to write the vision he saw: “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works” (v. 13). John emphasizes how completely earth’s population will be represented, and again he declares the fact that every man is judged according to his works.
Then he describes again how extensive is the final destruction: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (vs. 14-15). At last is brought to pass the saying written so long ago in prophecy: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
And victory it will be! From pole to pole will ring the song of triumph, the anthem of deliverance, the shout of liberty full and complete, proclaiming “liberty throughout a ll the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.”