Monday, June 16, 2003

The Revelation of Jesus Christ

Before the Judgment Seat

For those who would like to start at the very beginning of this series on the book of Revelation, click here.

A short post today on these verses from Revelation:

Then I saw a large white throne and the one who was seated on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne. Then books were opened, and another book was opened—the book of life. So the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each one was judged according to his deeds. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15, The Net Bible)

Earth and heaven fled from His presence. I am struck with the two interpretations that are possible here. The first is that the physical heavens and earth flee from His presence. That is: there is an underlying evil (or curse) that is part of creation and at this point in future history, those elements are destroyed. According to Peter:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare. Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the heavenly bodies will melt away in a blaze! But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. (2 Peter 3:10-13)

The second interpretation is that the creatures in the heavens and the earth flee and find nowhere to run, because no thing can escape from the Presence of God. They are, therefore, brought to judgment. It is possible that both are intended. Speaking in computer operating system terms, Universe Version 1.0 crashes, because it became infected with the Sin-Rebellion virus. It's time to reboot, defragment, and cleanup.

All the people who have ever and will ever live will come before the Lord. There are two types of books. The first type, of which there are many, contain a record of our deeds--good and bad. You and I need to live our lives in light of this day: as Peter says, "what sort of people must we be?" You and I will face this judge, and the books of our lives will be read, and we will be judged according to our deeds. We will see the damage our small lies have done. We will see the wounds of our careless and thoughtless words, our adulteries, our selfishness, our pride, and our murders. We will also see the good things, especially those done by the power of the Holy Spirit. We will see those times of God directed and God pleasing choices.

But as for entering the new heavens and the new earth, "in which righteousness truly resides," our deeds are too haphazard and random. Everlasting time means that the effect of my small indiscretion, small self-centered choices, small (really really small) slips of the tongue, etc. can add up to quite of bit of damage. We have already been there. The thousands of years that has seen humanity occupy this earth have not been good years. What might it be like after 1,000,000 years of my choices alone. Like Richard Wagner's The Merry Prankster, heaven would eventually have to get a noose and hang me by the neck--just to get some peace.

Which brings me to the second type of book. There is only one--no deeds are recorded--only names--purchased by the Lamb--purchased by His own blood. This is the Book of Life. Your entire future, once you appear before this throne, rests on whether your name is listed in that book or not. It will not be what you did or why, it will be what He did. I know that for me, the turning of the last page in the books of my deeds will show that the new heavens and the new earth cannot risk my entering. I will then wait for the Book of Life to be referenced and there my name will be. I have been bought preciously and my old body and my old ways will be blasted away, but I will have a new body:

For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly but because of God who subjected it—in hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now. Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:19-23)

It seems to me that this day, when my name is read from the Book of Life, is the day of my final adoption and the redemption of my body. My salvation, which began 33 years ago and has continued to this day, will be complete. I trust and hope that it will be the same for you. If you are not sure, and you think that a life with the living God and His ways is a good thing, you must do two things:

  1. Forget about getting there by writing better pages in the books of your deeds and actions. Your final story will not make it. Try to appreciate the damage that years of your kind of choices and actions would do to a truly good world. Use this picture: a beautiful mountain reflected on a lake--and your litter strewn across the meadow path leading to the lake.
  2. Talk to God. Ask Him to listen to you and ask Him to write your Name in the Book of Life. Ask His Holy Spirit to enter your life and begin the process of your salvation.

Tuesday: Springtime and Harvest

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>


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