Thursday, April 19, 2007

While the Judge to be is Still our Advocate.

Revelation 20:11-15

Last Judgement — Final Transition.

In British courts of law the route to becoming a judge is to serve first as an advocate (quaintly called a barrister in England) and we find the same progression in heavenly courts leading up to the Last Judgement itself:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. [1 John 2:1]
Now is the time to make use of his advocacy and the access we have through him to the Father.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Last Judgement — Final Transition.

Revelation 20:11-15

The Great White Throne
Judgement by the Book
The Bottom Line

Seated as Judge at the Last Judgement will be God's appointee, Jesus Christ the Righteous, on whose proceeding to the judgement, an irresistible summons to attend will be sent out to all those who are to be judged.

Every person who ever lived will be in the assembly for the trial and the assembly will be separated immediately into two groups to hear first the
deeds of each individual laid bare and then the pronouncement of liberty to all those whose names are written in the book of life.

Those thus summoned to an eternal reward will join with the Judge in judgement of the world before the sentence of damnation is pronounced and consignment to the lake of fire, which is the second death, takes place.

The Bottom Line

Revelation 20:14-15:

14 • Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.

• This is the second death, the lake of fire.

15 • And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life,
he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Since we are incapable of seeing beneath the surface of a lake of fire so we can only get any idea of the horrors of its depths by comparison with known or imaginable things. For example the sea's flooding has a deadly tenacity but the flood will have been so much less tenacious than the fire will prove to be.

The lake of fire is called the second death because, since Death and Hades are thrown into it, there is to be no retreat back to the intermediate state of merely being dead. Hades is thrown in (and so too its space, so to speak, as well as its torments) to be assimilated into the lake of fire. If the first death is temporal (and indeed 'mortal' is in some ways synonymous with 'temporal') then when Death is thrown into the lake of fire its characteristic passage of time is also thrown into eternity and we may consider the second death to be a dying that never dies.

Those whose names are written in the book of life will not even taste
the second death. Even now, for those who are 'asleep in Jesus', the torments of Hades are unknown because they and the pleasures they enjoy are separated from Hades by a great chasm that is fixed.

Although we can't look into the depths of the lake of fire the horrors of the road that leads inexorably there ought to be enough for us to determine not to go that route. We have much the same circumstance in reverse with wanting to be counted with those whose names are written in the book of life for we can't trace out those deeds done in the body with any certainty but certainty does come from getting to the bottom line so we
simply ask, 'Is my name written in the book of life?'

Judgement by the Book

Revelation 20:12c-13:

• And the dead were judged by what was written in the books,
according to what they had done.

13 • 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

The sea's grip on 'her dead' is proverbially tenacious. We are neither to think of Death and Hades as two separate places nor that the souls of the sea's dead are held in some other place apart from Hades, the world of the dead. The cumulative effect of the repetitions is to insist that all the dead will be at the great white throne and will be judged. Neither previous judgement, such as the flood that destroyed the world that was, nor death itself will prevent an appearance there.

The judgement is emphatically to be 'according to what they had done.' That is the case for each one of us and what we have done and are doing is being recorded right now. By contrast with the book of life we could call these books the books of the knowledge of good and evil, noting that another reason for the earth and the sky fleeing away is the whole world's inability to contain such books but also that, perhaps with this, the making of books is finally at an end.

The Great White Throne

Revelation 20:11-12b:

11 • 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.

12 • 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.

No place was found for earth and sky at the great white throne
in John's vision because nothing can compete with the the majesty of the one seated on the throne. A man (Jesus Christ) will sit there because, first of all, the dead of humanity are those who are to be judged. Judgement is to be made outwith time and space on the things done in space (on the earth) and in time (governed by celestial movements) so, in the vision, no place was found for earth and sky at the great white throne.

The book of life is given a special mention to draw attention to its name and to distinguish it from the other books without dismissing them altogether. The focus is placed on what it is that we really need to be asking: 'Is my name written in the book of life?'

There will be a judgement beyond death, time and space, that will be made according to what is being written down now. The one who presides at that judgement will have authority over death, time and space so that all the human dead from all time and from everywhere will be summoned there, will be there and will be judged there, when the books are opened.