Revelation 21:4-8

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Rev 21: 4-8 The Lake of Fire, and The Great Multitude Which No Man Can Number

Introduction

The “great multitude which no man can number” will be shown to be just another way of saying “the sea gave up the dead that were in it”. Once we make this connection, we will have no trouble understanding how it can be clearly stated that “there shall be no more death”.

So here in our study today we are told:

Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

“There shall be no more death”. The only way to destroy death is to stop the birth of new babies and raise all people who have ever lived to life, through the judgment of the great white throne.

Rev 20:9 And they [“the nations in the four quarters of the earth”] went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
Rev 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12 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.
Rev 20:13 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.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

As long as one person is either dead or is still in a fleshly “body of death” (Rom 7:24) death is not destroyed. But if all of mankind is destroyed by “fire from heaven” and all men who have ever lived are raised up in spiritual bodies, then death is indeed destroyed.

1Co 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
1Co 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

So then this “white throne judgment”, accompanied by this “lake of fire which is the second death”, is the chastening judgment of all men of all time.

Now here is a Biblical Truth which the world most often overlooks. It is the Biblical Truth that judgment is simply the chastening which brings about the salvation of all who are judged.

1Co 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1Co 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

“If we judge ourselves, we will not be judged” only because we have been judged already. But judgment, whether it is “judging ourselves” now or the judging of others later, is not condemnation to eternal torment. “When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord”, and since the whole world will be judged, we can rest assured that in the end that judgment will always produce the righteousness of God in “the whole world” and in “all men”.

Isa 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The “sea” is the Biblical symbol for the marred flesh out of which comes all of mankind. Since all men are destined to be saved by the judgment of the cross, it follows that when the cross has finished its work in all of mankind, then truly “there will be no more sea”, either within us or without.

Rev 13:1 And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.

All unbelieving sinners who are not now part of the “few… first fruit… chosen” will, by the agency of this “few… firstfruit… chosen”, be given mercy. How can the following verses of God’s word be made to agree with the false doctrine of “double predestination” and eternal torment?

Rom 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

It will be by the agency of this very same group of God’s elect, who are known here in this revelation of Jesus Christ as “the lake of fire”, that all men who are not in the “blessed and holy first resurrection will be purified from all the false doctrines within them. It is this very same symbolic ‘fire’ which will devour the fuel of false doctrines known as “wood, hay and stubble” which will be burned up and destroyed by the words of Truth coming from the mouth of God’s elect. It is by that very same ‘fire’ that all the false doctrines of “wood, hay and stubble” will be burned out of all men of all time. The “fire” of “the lake of fire” is the fire of God’s Word which is in the mouth of His elect. It is God’s elect who are the fire through which those who “suffer loss will be saved, yet so as by fire”.

Jer 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

There! That is the “fire of scripture”. It is “My [Christ’s] words in your mouth” which burn and torment us all as we, with our lying heresies, withstand those fiery words.

1Co 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

The word here is not the Greek word ‘pas‘. This word here is ‘hekastos‘ which means “each” or “every” and leaves no room for exclusions. Now we can understand the meaning of the symbolism of ‘fire’ in scripture. The scriptures, which tell us of the hope of salvation beyond this life, are easily made to accord with those scriptures which speak of the destruction of all sinners and their ultimate salvation “through death”, through destruction of “every man’s work” and through being “saved, yet so as by fire”.

1Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

There is hope of life beyond this life and through the symbolic flames of the lake of fire. It is in this lake of fire, that death will be destroyed and “every man… will be saved so as by fire”.

Who is it who will dwell in these “everlasting [Hebrew: olawm – age lasting] flames” and this “devouring fire”? This is, was and always will be the Truth of the Word of God concerning “who will dwell with everlasting burnings”.

Isa 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?

“Who will dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Surely Isaiah, who never shrank from telling Israel what would be the result of her sins, is going to tell us to do our best to avoid this “devouring fire”. But what is it that Isaiah tells us to do? Here is the answer of the spirit to this most important rhetorical question posed by this prophet.

Isa 33:15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;

“He that walks righteously” is the person who is granted to “dwell with the devouring fire”. So what is the purpose of this “devouring fire”? What do these “everlasting burnings” accomplish? Let’s read it again.

1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire [the lake of fire].

This is the truly good news we are told of throughout God’s word. Yes indeed, judgment is severe and sure. There really are fiery trials for all who will follow in the footsteps of their Lord. There really is a symbolic “lake of fire” which awaits all who will not submit to Christ in this age. But all judgment, either present or future, is for the purpose of chastening. It is never for the futile, counterproductive purpose of eternal torment:

1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

1Ti 4:10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially [“Firstfruits”, not exclusively] of those that believe.

2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us- ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The diabolical lie of eternal torment is the exact opposite of the teaching of scripture, that the elect are a special “kind of first fruits.” God’s elect who are redeemed in this age are not the only fruit of the sacrifice of Christ. This dreadful heretical lie teaches that ‘all’, when speaking of all men being saved, means only “all kinds of men”, and that Christ’s sacrifice is definitely not “for the sins of the whole world”. This great heresy teaches that God’s will that “not… any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” is nothing more than a vain wistful wish on God’s part, and that wistful wish is being thwarted by another heresy known as man’s free will. That is right. The same people who teach “double predestination”, meaning that the elect are predestined to be saved, and the rest of mankind are predestined to burn in hell for all eternity, also teach that you and I have a free will. The scriptures teach the exact opposite:

Pro 16:1 The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

Pro 16:4 The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

Rom 9:16 So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.

But God has no wishes which He does not accomplish. What God wishes for and wants is exactly what God gets.

2Ch 20:6 And said, O LORD God of our fathers, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?

Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

This again is God’s pleasure:

Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Notice how this verse accords with what is said about mankind after the “great innumerable multitude… comes up out of the great tribulation” know as the lake of fire.

Rev 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
Rev 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Rev 7:15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
Rev 7:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
Rev 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

It is obvious that the 144,000, who are called “the firstfruits to God and the Lamb”, are those who come up in the first resurrection to rule and reign with Christ during the thousand years. It should be equally obvious that the “great multitude” which no man could number is the Biblical symbol of all those who “come up against the camp of the saints” and are cast into the lake of fire along with “all the dead in the sea, death and hell.”

So it is true that “His mercy endures for ever”.

Psa 118:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 118:2 Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 118:3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 118:4 Let them now that fear the LORD say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Because His mercy really does endure forever, we are told:

Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

“He that sat on the throne” is our Lord. We know this because the next word is “said”. It is always our Lord who is speaking for His Father.

Are all things made new only at the “redemption of the purchased possession” (Eph 1:14), or is there not also a very present application of this verse? The answer to that question, as is always the case, is that there is a very present application to “all things being made new”, and it is this application which we must always keep preeminent in our studies and in our very lives. Here is how our Lord wants us to view this fifth verse at this very moment:

2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The ongoing nature of these words is expressed in the very next two verses:

2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

To just what extent is this true? Let’s look at the previous verse:

2Co 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

What have we just learned? If I am not to know you after the flesh, pray tell, how am I to know you? We are never left to guess about these matters. In words that are clearly understood, we are told how we are now to know each other in Christ.

Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him [the angel showing John these things]. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

To make sure we do not miss this great revelation and to confirm that it will shortly come to pass, this great Truth is repeated in chapter 22:

Rev 22:8 And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
Rev 22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

So we are now to see each other as angels of God who are sent to show these things to our brothers in Christ. We are to see this primarily as a present reality, as well as being true in John’s day and as being true in the future.

Eph 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Eph 3:10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,
Eph 3:11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:

That angel is the symbol of all those who comprise the whole church. It is “by the church” that “all men” will eventually see “what is the fellowship of this mystery”, and it is by the church that all men will be made to “know the manifold wisdom of God”.

Let’s go back one chapter to see just how clearly the holy spirit wants this to be made.

Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

“The ages to come” is referring to my age and your age. It is “by the church” that these words have been written, and it is by these written words that we are brought to this understanding.

So God is in the process of “reconciling the [whole] world unto Himself, and He is not imputing their trespasses unto them.”

The whole world sees our Savior as a babe in the manger; as a twelve year old child asking and answering the questions of the doctors and lawyers of the law in the temple; as a traveling evangelist, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead; as that man who fed the hungry multitudes, and finally they see Him as our dying Savior on the cross. But we are no longer to see him that way. The Lord we know is no longer in a body of flesh in any of those capacities. He is now seated at the right hand of His Father with all power in heaven and in earth.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

It is a rare person who even understands that verse. If “all power” is now in Christ’s hands, why is there still evil in this world? Could it be that Christ is actually actively involved in the process of sending strong delusion via the dragon, the beast and the false prophet? Have we not all been deceived by this trio within us?

Rev 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

Rom 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

Who was it who had us deceived?

Eze 14:9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

But does any of this refer to God’s saints? Yes, it does. The fact is that all of this is written, at this time, only for God’s saints. God’s words are not even designed, at this time, for those who are not intended to understand them until a later time.

Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him [the beast within us] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

It is only by “living by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”, that along with our Savior, we are prepared by God and are proven and qualified to become the merciful, loving and caring kings and priests we are intended to be.

Rom 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

It is in this very reassuring spirit that our Lord continues to comfort us with these words:

Rev 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
Rev 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

Are these words of comfort meant for just the few chosen, or will not all men “each in his own order”, be given “the water of life freely”? What do the scriptures teach?

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
1Co 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
1Co 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
1Co 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

The wages of sin is death, and death is slated to be destroyed by “the gift of God”.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do the wages of sin come only upon some men? How absurd! The wages of sin come upon all “in Adam”. So we are told:

Rev 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

It is “in Adam that all die”, and just as all die in Adam, “even so in Christ, shall all be made alive”. It is through this “lake which burns with fire and brimstone” that all men will be saved.

1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Here is what Strong’s Concordance reveals about this word ‘brimstone’.

G2303
θειον
theion
thi’- on
Probably neuter of G2304 (in its original sense of flashing); sulphur: – brimstone.

When we look up this G2304, the Greek root of this word ‘theion‘, this is what we find.

G2304
θειος
theios
thi’- os
From G2316; godlike (neuter as noun, divinity): – divine, godhead.

So “brimstone” or ‘theion‘ is “godlike” and “divine”; and what is God?

1Jn 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

1Jn 4:16 And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

How long does his mercy last?

Psa 106:1 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Is His mercy just for believers?

Rom 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

1Jn 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Now we can begin to understand why this second judgment is called a “great white throne judgment”. It is a ‘godlike’ merciful judgment”. It is not called ‘a great black throne’. It is a great white throne’. Christ died for the ungodly, not just for believers, and He did so while we were yet in our sins.

Rom 5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

This mercy of ours is coming to the very unbelievers “through whose unbelief” we are given this mercy”. It will be given to them through the very same “one event”, Psa 107 “goodness of God” experience through which “one event” you and I have been “shown mercy”.

Ecc 9:2 All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

This is not contrasting Jews with Gentiles. The contrast is between “the righteous and the wicked… the good and the sinner”, and we are plainly told “All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked”. But we are “yet sinners” before we become aware of any of this. It is as “the fearful and the unbelievers” that Christ died for us. It is in that state that the apostle Paul poses this question?

Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

The answer to this question is a resounding, yes! At first we all despise “the goodness of God which brings us to repentance”. We despise it so much that we are brought “to our wits’ end” by that very “goodness”. Here is that “goodness of God” which Paul speaks of in Rom 2:4.

Psa 107:21 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Psa 107:22 And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
Psa 107:23 They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
Psa 107:24 These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
Psa 107:25 For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
Psa 107:26 They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
Psa 107:27 They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end.
Psa 107:28 Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
Psa 107:29 He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Psa 107:30 Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Psa 107:31 Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

It is with this hope set before us that through all the trials we endure on a daily basis, we can still say with the apostle:

Rom 11:33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
Rom 11:34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?
Rom 11:35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?
Rom 11:36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Next week, if the Lord wills, we will begin to see how we are to “keep” and “live by” these words which have “proceeded out of the mouth of God”.

Rev 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.
Rev 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
Rev 21:11 Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
Rev 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.

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