This is part 9 in a 14 part series entitled Don’t Panic – Survival Guide to the Apocalypse. Full PDF Download available free here: Don’t Panic – Survival Guide
On Earth As It Is In Heaven
There is a glorious promise to those who follow Jesus Christ. Those who physically survive the time of tribulation and pass the testing of their faith, will enter the millennial kingdom rule of Christ on earth. For those who have died in Christ prior to the millennial kingdom, they will be resurrected to rule WITH Christ during this kingdom age.
There is a specific 1000-year timeframe mentioned repeatedly in Revelation 20. This is known as the Millennial Kingdom, the Kingdom Age, or the Messianic Age, and is where Jesus will reign on earth as anticipated by the Israelites/Jews for millennia. It begins at the Second Coming of Christ, at the conclusion of the apocalyptic period on earth (called the “70th Week of Daniel” or “The Tribulation”). The purpose of the tribulation period was to prepare both the earth and its’ people for this kingdom. The Millennial Kingdom will fulfill the Feast of Tabernacles, the last of God’s appointed times. After this, the reign of Jesus Christ will continue on into eternity.
In the millennial kingdom, the curse upon humanity will be at least partially lifted, life will be restored to utopia-like conditions, and God will dwell in the midst of the people. Mortals will repopulate the earth and enjoy healthy, long lives. Satan and his fallen horde will be bound and justice and grace will prevail. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?
Who Rules the Millennial Kingdom?
Jesus is clearly in charge during the 1000 year reign, but whether He Himself will sit on the throne or a resurrected King David will, I’m not entirely sure. We see a picture of God handing Jesus the Kingdom here:
“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. “ (Daniel 7:13-14)
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD : He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:7-12)
The resurrected and caught up body of Christ, the “church”, will reign with Christ as promised in Revelation 2:
I will give authority over the nations to the person who overcomes and continues to do what I’ve commanded to the end, and ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; shattering them like clay pots.’ (v26-27)
Those who died during the time of tribulation for the sake of Christ (“martyrs”), will also be resurrected and reign with Him:
I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God’s word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of the Messiah, and they will reign with Him for 1,000 years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
The previously caught up body of Christ (the “church”), and the tribulation martyrs, will be in eternal resurrection bodies. They will not reproduce (Matthew 22:30).
What Will It Be Like on Earth at the Beginning?
At the beginning, life will be as close to perfection as we can imagine. The earth will be refashioned during the shaking of the heavens and the earth at Jesus’ Second Coming, and Jerusalem will be raised up (physically and spiritually) as the world capital. It will be renamed “The Lord is There” (Ezekiel 48:35). There will be peace on earth:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4)
The earth will produce food abundantly and there will be leftovers from year to year (Amos 9:13). People will build houses, plant vineyards and tend the earth. People in their physical bodies will bear children. Elements of the curse will be reversed and long life will be enjoyed once again. Humans and animals will be vegetarian:
“I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the Lord, and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:19-25)
There will be fresh waters issuing from the Temple, that brings life. Fish will be included in the human diet. Trees will not lose their leaves and will bear fresh fruit every month. The leaves of the trees will bring healing:
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.” (Ezekiel 47:6-12)
We know Ezekiel 47 is talking about the Millennial Kingdom and not Eternity because in Eternity, the new earth will have no sea (Rev 21:1). Ezekiel 47 is parallel to Revelation 22, which seems to blend the Millennial Kingdom into the Eternal Kingdom:
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. (V1-5)
The land of Israel will be divided and distributed among the tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 47-48).
It appears that during the Millennial Kingdom, those who rebelled against God will be viewable via a portal of sorts outside the city of Jerusalem to serve as a visible reminder to worship God:
“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord. “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” (Isaiah 66:22-24)
What Will It Be Like on Earth at the Ending?
Jesus and His resurrected saints will rule the earth “with an iron rod”. That doesn’t mean He will beat people, but He will have strict laws and require obedience. Remember the Old Testament laws given when Israel was a Theocracy (nation run by God)? I imagine many of the rules will be similar. Now, with no fallen angels to tempt humanity, you would think it wouldn’t be that hard to follow God’s rules when He’s RIGHT THERE. After all, the rules are fair and just.
Unfortunately, the Bible predicts another response. While many will follow God in obedience, many will harbor resentment in their hearts. Despite the reversal of the curse, humanity’s sin nature will still be intact. All these years humans have been placing blame: the serpent made me do it…Eve made me do it…the devil made me do it…unbelievers around me made me do it… God is about to show humanity that even without external temptation, our fallen nature is rebellious against Him. *I* made me do it.
Although Jesus’ Kingdom rule will never end, we are told that after the thousand years, Satan will be released from the pit for “a little while”. We can see how this ends here:
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:7-10)
Even without the influence of Satan or the fallen angels, without the challenges of the curse, with God living among them, humans still retain a sin nature and many will rebel against God’s rule. Shockingly, “their number is like the sand of the sea”. Humans want to be their own rulers – they want to be “as gods”. When Satan is released, he will have no trouble collecting them in a final stance against God. Humanity hasn’t learned its’ lesson that there is no battle when opposing God – fire will come down from heaven and consume them in short order. The final test of humanity, as with all the others, will result in human rebellion followed by God’s judgment. At this point the Millennial Kingdom is complete. It will be followed by the Great White Throne Judgment, which is then followed by the Eternal State.
The Great White Throne Judgment
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
The Great White Throne Judgment occurs immediately after the Millennial Kingdom, after the “Last Battle”. It bridges the Millennial Kingdom and Eternity. The Great White Throne Judgment should terrify anyone who isn’t clothed in the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Like an ominous courtroom scene, the evidence will be brought forth to be examined before God. There will be no debate over guilt or innocence. No one at the great white throne judgment will have any defense to make for themselves. After this judgment, everyone will enter their eternal destinations.
Current believers WILL NOT participate in the Great White throne judgment. All believers in Christ from the beginning of humanity up to the start of the Millennial Kingdom will have already been judged and will be in their eternal, glorified, rewarded states. These will have participated in the First Resurrection. They will not participate in the Great White Throne Judgment except perhaps as observers.
All humans who died in rejection of Jesus Christ since the dawn of humanity will be resurrected from the dead as part of the Second, and Final, Resurrection. They will stand before the throne of God at the Great White Throne Judgment.
It is possible that believers who die in Jesus Christ during the Millennial Kingdom will also stand for judgment at this time, but their judgment is not specifically discussed. Judgment before God at some point is certain for every human.
For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10-12)
The general resurrection at this time is described as the “resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29), the resurrection to “disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2), and the resurrection “of the wicked” (Acts 24:15).
God has placed eternity on our hearts because we are, in fact, all created to be eternal beings. Where we spend eternity is up to us, and is decided while we are in our physical bodies on earth.
Each person will be summoned and take a turn standing before the throne of the Almighty God. Books will be opened. There are two different types of books. The first is the singular Book of Life. This book contains all the names of people who are saved by grace through faith through the blood of Jesus, throughout the entire age of humanity. If your name is found in this book, you will receive eternal life. If your name is not found in this book, you will be cast into the Lake of Fire with the devil and his angels. It’s a “yes or no” type book. Because God knows the beginning from the end and is not constrained by time, everyone’s name in the Lamb’s Book of Life has been recorded in there since the foundation of the world (Rev 3:5, Phil 4:3, Rev 13:8, Rev 21:27, Rev 17:8).
The second set of books contains the record of everything every human has thought, said, and done while in physical existence on earth.
Those whose names are found in the book of life will find that all their bad deeds have disappeared out of this second set of books. Psalm 103:12 states that “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us”. These sins against God have been blotted out by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. Judgment will determine degrees of reward.
Look, I am coming soon, and my reward is with me to repay each person according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)
Those whose names are NOT found in the book of life will have all their thoughts, words, and actions held up against God’s perfect holy laws. God’s expectation is stated in Matthew 5:48 – “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” If even a single rule is broken, the death penalty is prescribed. The balance of good deeds versus bad deeds will be taken into account as to HOW bad their eternal suffering will be. However, everyone whose name is not found in the Lamb’s book of Life will be cast into the eternal lake of fire.
The Great White Throne Judgment boils down to a single verse in Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus paid the price so that every human ever born could have been redeemed and had eternal life. It is only by rejecting God’s free gift that humans choose to pay their own debt with their eternal life.
Upon the completion of the Great White Throne judgment, Death and Hades (hell) is also cast into the Lake of Fire. The decision is final and complete.
God’s holiness demands that He deal with sin and rebellion against Him. This is why He offered Himself as a sacrifice, in order to provide a way for us to escape His wrath. One thing we can be certain of is God’s fairness, justice, and mercy. There are some things we just can’t know, such as how God will judge those who can’t understand or who haven’t heard His truth. We are told that He will judge by the heart and the conscience.
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:5-16)
We all deserve God’s wrath, because we all have sinned against Him. Through God’s great mercy, we are each extended the offer of eternal forgiveness. It is our free will whether we ask for that offer to be applied to our individual account.
A Glimpse of Eternity
But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
It’s clear that our minds are unable to even imagine what God has in store for us for Eternity! That said, God gives us a small glimpse of what is to come.
After the Millennial Kingdom is complete, the general resurrection of the dead and the Great White Throne judgment will proceed. When God sits in His court of judgment, earth and sky flee away. This is the first heaven and the first earth “passing away” (Revelation 21:1), and is further described by Peter after he briefly touches upon the Day of the Lord:
…on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed.Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for the day of God and hasten its coming.Because of that day, the heavens will be dissolved with fire and the elements will melt with heat. But based on his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:10-13)
Then the end will come, when he (Jesus) hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet” (Psalm 8:6)
Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Cor. 15:24-28)
The new heavens and earth will be created after the Great White Throne Judgment is complete and the eternal destinations of each human have been established. Here is a small peek into the eternal destiny of those who have been saved by grace, through faith, in Jesus Christ:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel were inscribed— on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, and on the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement. The wall was built of jasper, while the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:1-26)
From this chapter on Eternity, we can tell:
- At the end of the Millennial Kingdom, after the Last Battle and the Great White Throne Judgment, God will make a new heaven and a new earth. Whether he completely refashions the current versions or starts from scratch isn’t clear. It’s likely the universe remains intact, but the Earth for sure, and possibly our solar system, is remade.
- The new earth won’t have any seas. The earth will no longer be divided by waters.
- God will dwell among the people.
- There will be no more sadness.
- There will be no more death.
- There will be no more mourning (no death / separation).
- There will be no more crying.
- There will be no more pain.
- All things will be made new – this is an entirely new order of life.
- All the overcomers, those who have conquered (for the entire span of humanity), qualify to enter this eternal kingdom.
- There is a literal heavenly city called Jerusalem, where the “wife of the Lamb” – all who have believed in Christ – will live.
- Heavenly Jerusalem appears to be either cube or pyramid-shaped, and heavily jeweled. Its’ radiance is incomprehensible.
- Its’ size is measured in human measurements (literal), and is 1400-1500 miles long, wide, and high. For reference, the moon’s diameter is 2100 miles. If it were a cube its’ relative size is approximately:
- Heavenly Jerusalem will be the light for the earth. It may orbit around the new earth? There is no longer a need for sun or moon in Heavenly Jerusalem, as the glory of God is the light. It is not clear if the current sun and moon will be done away with. It does not tell us how far above the earth Heavenly Jerusalem will be.
- There will no longer be night in the Heavenly Jerusalem; it is lit by the eternal light of God in its midst.
- There may be night on earth if Heavenly Jerusalem orbits around it like the moon (?)
- There will be people dwelling on earth, living in “nations”, and ruled by “kings”. These are all in their eternal resurrected state as well (after the Great White Throne Judgment).
- These earthly kings, and possibly other earth dwellers, will be able to come and go into Heavenly Jerusalem to bring wonderful things from the earth into it.
- The gates of Heavenly Jerusalem will never be shut.
- All the dwellers in Heavenly Jerusalem and on earth are those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
We also know that our eternal resurrection bodies will be like Jesus’ resurrection body – “we will be as He is”. Our new bodies:
- Will be unconstrained by our current dimensions. Jesus was able to appear and disappear at will.
- Will be able to pass through physical materials. Jesus was able to walk through locked doors.
- Will be able to eat, but probably won’t have to. Jesus ate after His resurrection, and angels ate several times in the Old Testament. It is unclear what happens to the food after we eat it 😉
- Will not reproduce. That is not to say they couldn’t, but we will be as the angels in heaven and not marry nor be given in marriage. Eternal creatures have no need for reproduction. (Matthew 22:30)
- Won’t need sleep. It won’t ever be night in the Heavenly Jerusalem.
We are given a glimpse of the New Earth in Isaiah:
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)
As far as I am able to tell, this passage in Isaiah 65 describes the new heaven and new earth (which comes after the Great White Throne Judgment). However, it goes on to discuss life in the Millennial Kingdom. Thus, it seems that some elements of the Millennial Kingdom may also be present in Eternity. From Revelation 21 it does appear that God “makes all things new”, which to me suggests it will be an entirely new format.
What Will We Do?
What will we do in eternity? I believe once we are given our glorious new bodies, it will be clear that life is not about “us”. Life never was about us, but on earth it’s so easy to get caught up in ourselves. Eternity will be about glorifying our Father and doing His work. The Bible tells us that we will worship God and serve Him for eternity.
We will likely be assigned duties based on our interests and talents. There is suggestion that how we have used our “talents” (time, energy, resources) while on earth will determine how much we will be entrusted with in the afterlife.
I believe we will also have time to explore all of God’s creation and the majesty of heaven. We will learn the answers to the questions of humanity; we will probably never stop learning! And of course, there will be fellowship with all the saints since the dawn of creation! Loved ones who have died in the faith, and new brothers and sisters in Christ. Eternity will be a time of joy and rejoicing!
Eternal State for Unbelievers
On a much sadder note, God also gives us a glimpse of the eternal state for those who reject His offer of salvation. This is the destiny of those who choose to rely on their own works to try to “earn” salvation, and for those who either completely ignore or outright reject God. There is only ONE way to eternal life, and that is through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
“Death” in the Bible is used to refer to separation. Physical death is the separation of the eternal spirit from the physical body. Eternal death (the “second death”), then, is the separation of the eternal spirit from God permanently. The eternal destiny of those who aren’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (followers of Jesus Christ) will be cast into the lake of fire. God does not desire for any human to go there, He created it for the fallen angels. Unfortunately, much of mankind rejects God’s offer of reconciliation and therefore chooses an eternity of separation from Him. Hell is often joked about as one big party, but the reality is that it is a place of torment and anguish. The lake of fire will also be a place of separation and torment. It does appear that there are different levels of punishment in the lake of fire: And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12; see also Matthew 10:14-15, 11:21-24; Mark 12:38-40).
Hell, and the Lake of Fire, will be incomprehensibly awful to the same extent that Heaven will be incomprehensibly wonderful. No one would choose hell/lake of fire if they truly understood what it would be like. It is frequently described in terms of fire. It is also described as a place of total darkness and isolation (Matthew 22:13, 2 Peter 2:17), a place of banishment from God’s kingdom (Matthew 8:12, 22:13), and a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”, symbolizing regret and suffering (Matthew 13:42, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30; Luke 13:28).
Is the Lake of Fire Eternal?
It is popular to believe that the lake of fire couldn’t possibly be eternal. I examined the verses pertaining to this:
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting [o-w-lam #5769] life, others to shame and everlasting [o-w-lam #5769] contempt. (Daniel 12:2)
Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal [aionion #166] fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Then they will go away to eternal [aionion #166] punishment, but the righteous to eternal [aionion #166] life. (Matt. 25:41,46)
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever [aionas #165], and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)
The same word is used for eternal life (which we know is truly eternal) and eternal punishment.
Then death [thanatos] and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death [thanatos]. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14-15)
The human side of me truly hopes that the “second death” is an annihilation-type event instead of eternal suffering. However, from scripture, it seems very clear that it is not.
Whatever it is, I have faith in a good God, who sees and knows more than I can comprehend. I trust that His ways are perfectly righteous and just.