An exposition of Revelation 20:11-15. This message by pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist church on Sunday morning, November 9, 2008.
It was agonizing. I had to just sit there. That big clock on the wall kept ticking. I heard every click as the minute hand inched its way toward the top of the hour. I was sweating. My throat was dry. It seemed it was getting hard to breath. And he just kept me waiting. I started to leave but that wouldn’t help. That would only mean more trouble. I was in enough trouble as it was. It was not my first offense. And you know what they say, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” I had thrown the rock and now I must face the music. But how long would Mr. Layton keep me waiting? There is only so much a third-grader can take! There is something about the knowledge that you’ve been “caught.” You’re guilty. You know it. The authorities know it. Everyone knows it. And you are waiting for the day of reckoning. It is a sobering thing. The problem is so many seem to think they’ve gotten away with it. They are not concerned because as far as they can tell no one has the “goods on them.” So they continue to live a life free of worry or fear. Talk of a cosmic judge before whom they must give an account of their life is a fairytale, something for children and simple-minded folk to fear but not them. But even a casual walk through the Scripture reveals there is coming a day of reckoning. Judgment Day will come. Deny it all you like. Scoff if you will. But the facts will not change. One day every man, woman, boy and girl will stand before the Creator of the universe and give an account for their life. I know this is not a popular subject. I understand people don’t want to hear it, they would prefer to hear something more “practical.” But I would suggest that if it is true there is a day of reckoning then there is nothing more practical than for you to hear about it and prepare for it.
The people of God were oppressed and persecuted. The government of Rome had mandated the worship of the Roman Emperor as god. Because they refused to acknowledge Caesar as lord – Christians lost their jobs, had their home confiscated, their possessions taken from them, they were imprisoned, tortured and executed. They cried out, “How long O Sovereign Lord before you do something?” Rome was marching on. The Church was being destroyed. “How long?” John, the beloved apostle, was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day when he was given a vision of things to come. He was told to write what he heard and saw and send it to the churches. Thus we have the book of Revelation. Its purpose was to encourage and inspire. It was meant to bring hope and courage to a struggling people. Through its vivid images and fantastic pictures it reveals God’s working in history. It puts forth the victorious Lamb of God who has conquered. It tells of the epic struggle between the church and the dragon (who is Satan or the devil). And it boldly sets forth God’s sovereign rule over all of history. History is marching toward its predetermined end. Satan will be destroyed. The kingdoms of this earth will fail. The people of God will persevere. And the Kingdom of God will be established. Chapter 19 tells of the return of Christ. Chapter 20 tells of the defeat of Satan. And then 2 we come to this scene of Divine Judgment. Our text this morning is found in the 20th chapter of the Revelation beginning with verse 11.
Text: Revelation 20:11-15
When you read the New Testament a clear pattern reveals itself. There talk is of “this age” and “the age to come.” What is also clear is that the thing that separates these 2 ages is the return of Christ. And when He comes – judgment is carried out – Mt 13:36-43; 25:31-46 Here we have John’s description of that judgment. John with an economy of words sets forth a clear and succinct statement of that judgment. Every word carries weight. It is a simple yet sobering message. As we work our way through this text we will discover that…
Thesis: The vision of Revelation 20:11-15 warns of the certainty, the severity and the personal nature of God’s final judgment.
God’s judgment is certain, severe and personal. I want to quickly point out three things.
I. This text is a sobering reminder that we all will stand before the Sovereign Judge of all the earth and give an account. (20:11)
This is an awesome sight. It is intended to make your knees buckle. This is the God before we will stand and give an account. You can’t laugh it off. You can’t ignore it. It is certain and it is personal – you will give an account.
II. God’s sovereign judgment will be holy, righteous and true. (20:12-13)
Let this scene soak in. “I saw the dead…standing before the throne…” “The sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them…”
Do you get this picture? The dead – what dead? All those who’ve walked the planet! All of those who’ve lived since the curse was placed on humanity in the Garden. They have been raised to life and given new bodies to face the judgment. They all stand before that “great white throne” to give an account.
Did you notice that phrase in verse 13 – “and they were judged, each one of them according to what they had done.”
One day we’ll all stand before God and give an account. His judgment will be holy, right and true. And there is one other thing…
III. God’s sovereign judgment will be final and irrevocable. (20:14-15)
These are sobering words. They do not need any amplification or explanation.
So what have we learned? Christ is coming again. When He comes there will be a day of reckoning. We will stand before Him to give an account for our lives. What is patently clear is that, left to ourselves, we are in big trouble. Why? Because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And the wages of our sin is death. No exceptions.
What you must understand is this – your sin must be dealt with. You are left with a choice. You can hold onto your sin and thus face God on your own and you pay the price for your rebellion or you take your sin to the cross of Christ. Either you will pay or Christ will pay. One way or the other your sin will be dealt with. You did note didn’t you there was more than 1 book? In addition to the book that contains your thoughts and actions – there was the book of life.
Those cast into the lake of fire are those whose names were not found in that book. How do you get your name in the book of life? Your repent of your sin and you trust in Christ and Him alone. Christ died in order to bring us to God. The just for the unjust. His righteousness laid to our account. Our sin placed on Him. To be “in Christ” is to be pure and spotless in God’s sight. Rather than a lake of fire there awaits the redeemed a new Heaven and a new Earth. A life of glory, peace and grace in the presence of God himself.
There is a day of reckoning. We will stand before the judge of all the earth and give an account. His judgment will be holy, right and just. And His judgment is final and irrevocable.
Are you prepared for that day?