“Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into the Shabbat.” –Zohar 1:119a
(We find a similar idea in Hebrews 4:1-11).
An examination of Revelation 20.
While there are a number of Christian theological views on this chapter, my interest is in conveying a Messianic Jewish view based on the Hebrew Scriptures (The Bible) and positive Jewish Tradition (Teachings of the Rabbis conducive to Yeshua’s Gospel).
One of the first things we notice about the last three chapters of the Revelation is the way they reflect the subject matter and themes of the first three chapters of Genesis. It seems clear that the G-d Who inspired the writer of Genesis (Moshe: Drawn Forth) also inspired the writer of the Revelation (Yochanan: HaShem is Gracious). In the beginning G-d created all things, drawing them forth (Moshe) from that which did not exist, and in the end G-d gifted Grace (Yochanan) through His Son Yeshua in order to redeem humanity and birth a new creation.
The first two chapters of Genesis describe G-d’s creation. The creation is described in its sinless state and the conditions of Eden are incomparably beautiful. At the beginning of chapter three of Genesis the ancient serpent entices Eve and Adam into sin and as a result of Satan’s act and the actions of Adam and Eve, both humanity and creation itself are defiled by sin (Romans 8:19-22). However, G-d’s plan of salvation was already at work to remedy the damage that had been done (Rev. 13:8). Through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Lamb Who was slain (Rev. 5:6, 9; Ephesians 1:4-7; John 1:29) all creation would one day be cleansed of sin and a new creation would be established.
“The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will never end.” –Yeshua
(Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)
In reverse order to that of Genesis 1-3, which begins with creation and ends in sin and death, the final chapters of Revelation count down to a new creation and eternal life. Here in the third to last chapter of Revelation, sin is judged and both Satan (v10) and wicked humanity (v15) are cast into the lake of fire (eternal punishment). The last two chapters of Revelation deal mainly with the new creation and the sinless state of what will be a type of new Eden, the new Jerusalem and Olam Habah.
G-d says, “I AM the Aleph (A) and the Beit (Z), the beginning and the end” (Rev. 21:6). In the beginning, following creation, Satan seeded Eve’s mind with a lie and she conceived and gave birth to sin, a pattern that the first man Adam adopted willingly in his role as the head of humanity, their combined sin resulted in death; while at the end, G-d the Father seeded Myriam with righteousness Himself, the second Adam, Yeshua, Who, in His role as head of humanity, brought Salvation to all of creation; and as a result of Yeshua’s willingness to sacrifice himself, death has been swallowed up in victory. The outcome being Life eternal (1 Corinthians 15:45-49; Romans 5:12-21).
- Satan & First Adam (Created)
- Sin & Death
- Sin & Death banished
- G-d the Father & Second Adam (Uncreated)
- New Creation
20:1 Then I saw a messenger coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain upon his hand.
The Messenger and the key:
This messenger is holding the key he was given in Revelation 9:1. What is clear is that the star-messenger of Revelation 9:1 and this messenger are one in the same. He has no independent authority, he receives his authority from G-d. The key he holds opens the lock to the shaft of the great abyss in Revelation 9 but here it’s used to lock Satan in the Abyss for a temporary period (the deep Gen 1:2, 6, 7; 7:11; Proverbs 8:28). This abyss is thought to have a narrow shaft-like opening that widens in to a great bottomless chasm beneath both the earth and Sheol.
The abyss (deep unfathomable prison) is often confusing to the reader and even more regularly misunderstood due to its similarity to Gehenom (the temporal place of torment in Sheol, set apart for the enemies of G-d).
The Abyss is not Sheol:
It’s important to note that the abyss is the intermediate place of punishment for fallen angels, demons, the beast, the false prophet and Satan (Rev. 9:1, 2, 11; 11:7; 20:1, 3). The place of final punishment, is the lake of fire mentioned in Revelation 20:10, 14, and 15.
“And Yeshua (Jesus) asked him, “What is your name?” And the demon said, “I am Legion”; for many demons had entered the man. The demons were imploring Yeshua (Him) not to command them to go away into the abyss.” –Luke 8:30-31
The apocryphal writings of Enoch support the idea that the abyss of Hebrew eschatology is seen as an entirely separate holding place set apart for the fallen angels and demonic beings (Enoch 18:12-16; 21:1-10).
The chain is a symbol of bondage. Satan is bound as a counterpoint to his binding of others. This also accentuates the fact that he has been made temporarily and completely powerless, being both imprisoned and chained.
2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.
The Dragon, Serpent, Devil, Satan:
This is a good opportunity to reiterate the details regarding Satan and his role in creation. Before he is anything at all, he is created. This means he is subject to the Creator whether he likes it or not. Revelation 12:9 uses the same terms to describe Satan, each of these names describing an aspect of the perfect evil that makes up his being.
REV 12:9 And the great Dragon (Taniym, tormentor) was thrown down, the serpent (Nachash/tempter, deceiver) of old (Genesis 3) who is called the Devil (Slanderer) and Satan (Accuser), who deceives (Tempter) the whole earth; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
This verse describes the Dragon from beginning to end, the various names used convey aspects of the Devil’s character, and each attribute is reflected in the evil actions of the Adversary of G-d’s people.
- Dragon: The Tanakh conveys this title by comparing the evil one to animals that metaphorically represent the actions of the Dragon:
- Rahav: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 39:10; Job 26:13
- Leviathan: Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:14; 104:26; Job 41:1-34
- Behemot: Job 40:15-24
- Tanym: Isaiah 51:9; Psalm 74:13; Job 7:12
- Serpent: Nachash, present in the Garden of Eden, a tempter and deceiver (Genesis 3)
- Devil: Greek, “Diabolos” means slanderer or accuser, which corresponds to the Hebrew Satan (Accuser) Job 1-2
- Satan: Adversary/Accuser
- Deceiver (of the world) Rev. 20:2-3
- The Accuser of our brothers: Satan continues to falsely accuse the Jewish people today and extends his accusations against the Messianic Jewish and Gentile believers
The Greek is correctly translated, “earth” here because the context denotes a counterpoint to the heavens.
Yeshua reflects on this event (and perhaps the original casting out of Satan) in Luke 10:18.
On earth Satan continues his temporary role as devourer, deceiver, accuser, tempter and adversary:
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” –1 Peter 5:8
Bound and sealed for a thousand years:
The messenger with the key and chain binds Satan (Making this messenger more powerful than Satan) and seals him in the abyss for a thousand years. The seal is similar to that used to seal Yeshua’s tomb. However, while Yeshua had the power to lay down His life and take it up again (John 10:17), thus breaking the seal of His tomb and bringing resurrected life and salvation to humanity, Satan is unable to break free, in fact, in the end he is freed by G-d and then only for a short time.
There is much unnecessary debate over the thousand years. Whether we take it literally or figuratively, the thousand years is representative of a long period of time as we measure it within time and space but remains just a brief part of eternity.
What is important in the present verse, is the reason for Satan’s imprisonment:
“So that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed;”
G-d has intended a time of reprieve for the nations while His Son Yeshua reigns with His elect ones.
4 Then I saw thrones, and those who sat on them, and judgment was given to them.
“I kept looking
Until thrones were set up,
And the Ancient of Days took His seat;” –Daniel 7:9
“And Yeshua (Jesus) said to them, ‘Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” –Matthew 19:28
Here Yeshua is simply stating an accepted rabbinical teaching.
"In the Olam Habah, (world to come,) the holy blessed G-d will sit, and kings will place thrones for the great men of Israel, and they shall sit and judge the nations of the world with the holy blessed G-d:''
–Yalkut Simconi, par. 2. fol. 41. 4.
Rav Shaul/Paul the apostle also understood and passed on this teaching, applying it not only to Jewish believers but to all believers.
“Do you not know that the set apart ones shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by
you (plural), are you (plural) unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you (plural) not know that
we shall judge angels (messengers)? How much more things that pertain to this life?
–1 Corinthians 6:2-3
This judgement is one that acknowledges those who have aided the Jewish people and the set apart ones of G-d who are Messiah followers. This is not a judgement that decides salvation.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a navi (prophet) will receive a prophet's reward, and the one who receives a tzadik (righteous person) because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person's reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” –Matthew 10:40-42
We can conclude that those seated on the thrones will be:
- The twelve Talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua, who will judge ethnic Israel
- Certain Jewish and Gentile believers who will judge the nations and specific angelic beings (Fallen angels, demons etc)
“But each person must be careful how he builds on it (The Salvation of Yeshua). For no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Yeshua ha-Mashiyach. Now if any person builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each person’s work will become evident; for the day (Judgement) will show it because it is to be revealed with fire (refining judgement), and the fire itself will test the quality of each person’s work. If any one’s work which has been built on the foundation remains, that person will receive a reward. If any one’s work is burned up, that person will suffer loss; but the same person will be saved, as one escaping the flames.” –1 Corinthians 3:10-15
We should note that part of the purpose of this judgement is to reward the believer. Those who have only the foundation (Salvation in Yeshua) to stand on after being judged will be saved but will not have reward added to their salvation during the millennial reign.
And I saw the souls (nefesh: inclusive of spirit and body) of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Yeshua and because of the word of G-d, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Messiah for a thousand years.
We know that the millennial reign is yet future because the text presumes an end to all who will be beheaded for the sake of Yeshua’s testimony.
Both the martyrs of Yeshua and the adherents of His Gospel are resurrected here. Those who have not worshipped the beast or received its mark are those from every generation who have refused the consciousness (Mark on the forehead) and the sinful actions (Mark on the hand) of the enemy and the empires (beast) that have perpetuated evil; instead they have allowed their souls to be governed (Mark on the forehead) and their actions (Mark on the hand) to be ruled by Yeshua, rather than the evil one (beast consciousness of Satan).
Reigned with Messiah for a thousand years:
These thousand years, be they literal or figurative, are powerfully symbolic to the Jewish reader. We should also note that the predominant Jewish view is that of a literal earthly Messianic reign. In fact, some Christian scholars view the Jewish belief in a literal Messianic reign as one of the primary reasons to reject a literal millennial rule (utter folly).
So what do the rabbis teach concerning the reign of the Messiah?
The Babylonian Talmud’s tractate Sanhedrin says:
“Rav Katina said, ‘The world will exist for six thousand years, then for one thousand years it will lie desolate…’” –Sanhedrin 97a
The Zohar expounds upon this idea:
“Happy are those left alive at the end of the sixth millennium to enter into the Shabbat.” –Zohar 1:119a (We find a similar idea in Hebrews 4:1-11).
The idea of a day being as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day to G-d (2 Peter 3:8), is also a rabbinical one. The rabbis say that the day of Genesis 2:17 is, “the day of the blessed G-d”, meaning that it’s a thousand year day. They say therefore, that Adam didn’t fill his day because he lived 130 years, 870 years short of 1000 years (a day of the L-rd). Ref. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 5. fol. 185. 4. vid. Jacchiad. in Dan. vii. 25.
From a Messianic Jewish perspective this is an acknowledgement of the failure of the first Adam and the need for the second Adam, Yeshua the Messiah (1 Corinthians 15:45).
One rabbinical teaching explains that the reign of the Messiah will be a thousand years. Midrash Tillim, fol. 4. 2.
The Babylonian Talmud expounds upon this by saying that during these thousand years G-d will renew His creation, and that then, “the righteous will be raised, and no more return to dust”. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1, 2. & Gloss. in ib. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 42. 1. & 49. 3. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 150. 2.
The believers who reign with Messiah during this thousand year earthly reign will never see death again, they’ve been transformed into their eternal bodies as part of the first resurrection. In other words, while the remainder of humanity continues to suffer death, those who have accepted Messiah’s reign prior to the coming of His kingdom, will encamp around the city and go up for the feast of Sukkot. Also, those who remain among the nations who had fought against Jerusalem and the Messiah will be given an opportunity to honour the kingdom of the Messiah by going up to the feast of sukkot. Those that do not go up will suffer drought and death:
“Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, HaShem of heavens armies, and to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot (Booths). And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, HaShem of heavens armies, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which HaShem smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot (Booths). This will be the sin (missing the mark) of Egypt, and the sin of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Sukkot (Booths).” –Zechariah 14:16-19
5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of G-d and of Messiah and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
The fact that the remaining dead (unredeemed humanity) don’t come to life until the thousand years are complete shows a period that is distinct from the second resurrection which will then be followed by, “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21-22). A similar distinction is made in Ezekiel 36-48.
There are times when traditional Judaism also makes a distinction between the days of the Messiah and the Olam Haba (World to come).
“Rabbi Chiyya ben Abba said in Rabbi Yochanan’s name: ‘All the prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah; but as for the Olam Haba, “No eye but Yours, G-d, has seen what He has prepared for the one who waits for Him” (Yishaiyahu 64:4).’” –Sanhedrin 99a (Brakhot 34b)
The second death has no power over the believer. Those who belong to Messiah, both Jew (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 61:6) and Gentile (1 Peter 2:9) will reign alongside Him as a kingdom of Cohanim (priests), a holy nation.
7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they came up on the breadth of the land (Eretz Israel) and surrounded the encampment of the set apart ones and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
The set apart ones are redeemed ethnic Israel and those redeemed from among the nations. The beloved city is without doubt Jerusalem (Flood of Peace).
The titles, “Gog and Magog” alert us to the relevance of Ezekiel 36-48. Ezekiel 36-37 speaks of ethnic Israel’s salvation and the greater Son of David’s (Yeshua) rule over ethnic Israel and the land: this corresponds to Rev. 20:1-6. In Chapters 38-39 of Ezekiel, Gog, the king from Magog seeks to disrupt this rule with an eschatological battle, in which the nations of the earth come against Israel and Jerusalem: this is fulfilled in Rev. 20:7-10. Finally, Ezekiel 40-48 with the rebuilt temple and a renewed Jerusalem, sees its ultimate fulfilment in Revelation 21-22. In both Ezekiel and Revelation a temporary kingdom is followed by an eternal kingdom after a gathering of the nations for war.
Ezekiel explains that the king Gog from the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshekh and Tuval, will amass armies from numerous other places to come against the Jewish people who have regathered in the land of Israel. These same nations are spoken of in Ezekiel 27 in the lament against the king of Tyre who is a type for Satan (Ezekiel 28:11-19).
As time and Jewish history progressed, the rabbis came to understand the titles Gog and Magog as being synonymous terms for all that sets itself up against G-d.
One rabbinical source describes a conversation between the Messiah and Gog and Magog. The Messiah asks them why they have come and they respond, “We have come against HaShem and against His Messiah”. Ref. Barclay’s commentary on Revelation
The Jewish Virtual Library records details of the numerous rabbinical writings that allude to this final battle (that is, an attempted battle only because fire comes from heaven to destroy the enemies of G-d and His people. In fact those gathered against G-d, Israel, Messiah followers from the nations and Jerusalem, don’t get a chance to fight):
“In the aggadah, the names Gog and Magog were reserved for the enemy of Israel in the end of days.” –Jewish Virtual Library
It’s unlikely that this gathering for war is the same gathering of armies in the previous chapter because the armies of the previous chapter were defeated and their bodies eaten by the birds (meaning that a battle was fought) whereas these verses describe defeat without a battle. The armies of the earth who are metaphorically named Gog and Magog, approach the encampment of G-d’s people who inhabit the holy city Jerusalem, but before they’re able to fight they’re devoured by fire from heaven (Ezekiel 28:11-19).
10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
This is the end of Satan. From this point on chronologically speaking, Satan is assigned to eternal punishment. This happens prior to the judgement of Humanity.
The demise of Satan has been prophesied from the very beginning:
“And I will put enmity between you (Serpent) and the woman (Eve), And between your seed (Ephesians 6:10-13; Romans 1:32) and her seed (Both humanity and the Messiah, Galatians 3:16). He (singular: denoting the Messiah) shall crush your head (Satan’s rule), And you shall bruise them (plural: humanity) on the heel.” –Genesis 3:15
The defeat of Satan happens in two stages. First Messiah defeats Satan on the cross: “Now is the time for this world to be judged and the prince of this world will be expelled.” (John 12:31). This is explained in detail in the sign of Revelation 12. Second, at the end of days Satan is defeated in his last desperate attempt to usurp the Messiah and is thrown into the lake of fire (eternal punishment).
The word order, “day and night” denotes a rhythm of death, anti-creation, whereas the word order, “evening and morning” (Genesis 1) denotes the rhythm of creation and life.
11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from before His face earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
“But the day of HaShem will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” –2 Peter 3:10
“The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will never end.” –Yeshua
(Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33)
This is the beginning of the renewing of all things. At the revelation of the great white throne of G-d and upon beholding His face, all that was temporary and sinful, even the earth and the heavens, flee from before Him (Romans 8:19-22). G-d’s purity, symbolized in the white throne banishes all that is impure because His holiness will not abide that which is corrupted by sin (Matthew 9:20). This will be remedied by, “a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth have passed away.” Revelation 21:1.
We’re not told if the One seated on the throne personifies G-d the Father or Yeshua. Elsewhere in the Revelation it is the Father Who is seated on the throne (5:1, 7, 13), however, HaShem, Who is Himself the Merciful Elohim (Judge) has entrusted judgement to Yeshua (John 5:22, 27-29) and in Revelation 3:21 Yeshua explains that the Father shares His throne with the Son. In fact Messiah is to be the judge of all (Matthew 25:31-46). On the other hand, Rav Shaul/Paul speaks of both the judgement seat of Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:10) and the judgement seat of G-d the Father (Romans 14:10). Therefore G-d the Father is the merciful Judge Who has entrusted judgement to the Son Yeshua. Suffice to say, “HaShem Elohaynu, HaShem echad”, G-d is One.
12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened;
“The dead,” are distinguished from the great and the small because all will stand before the judgement seat of G-d/Yeshua. “The dead” is a designation for those who were not part of the first resurrection, “The Living”.
“For we will all stand before the judgment seat of G-d.” –Romans 14:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may be recompensed for the actions performed in the body, according to what each one has done, whether good or bad.” –2 Corinthians
“On the day when, according to my gospel, G-d will judge the secrets of human beings through Messiah Yeshua.” –Romans 2:16
By the books opened here (Daniel7:9-10), G-d judges the deeds of human beings (Romans 2:6) both public and secret. For the redeemed this judgement determines reward (1 Corinthians 3:8-15).
This judgement determines justice according to the scrolls that are opened, reward and punishment are the result. Therefore, all humanity both believers and non-believers will be judged with equity. However, salvation is a separate issue, recorded in a separate scroll. In fact, the fate of those recorded in the scroll of life that follows has already been alluded to in verse 5.
and another scroll was opened, which is the sefer chayim (scroll of life); and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the scrolls, according to their deeds.
The phrase sefer chayim (scroll of life-eternal: plural), appears in the Tanakh only in Psalm 69:
“Add iniquity to their iniquity, and may they not come into Your righteousness. May they be blotted out of the sefer chayim (scroll of life) and may they not be written with the righteous.” –Psalm 69:27-28
However, it is first referred to in the Tanakh in Exodus 33:
“But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your sefer (scroll) which You have written!” HaShem said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My sefer (scroll).” –Exodus 32:32-33
The Rav Shaul/Paul says something similar in his letter to the Roman ecclesia:
“For I would be willing to allow myself to be accursed, separated from Messiah for the sake of my brothers and sisters, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and daughters, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the temple service and the promises,” –Romans 9:3-4
Both these men are echoing the heart of the Messiah Yeshua, Who forsaking is very life, died and rose again for our sake.
In the New Testament the phrase, “Book of life” appears at Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23 and six times in the Revelation. It is also alluded to by Yeshua at Luke 10:20:
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”
The book of life always denotes redemption and eternal salvation.
We notice that in the Tanakh passages quoted above, names are blotted out rather than written into the sefer chayim. From these Scriptures (Psalm 69:27-28; Exodus 32:32-33) traditional Judaism gleans the understanding that prior to birth the names of every human being is recorded in the sefer chayim and cannot be blotted out from conception until the age of understanding (which in reality varies with the individual), 12 years of age for girls and 13 years of age for boys traditionally. At the age of understanding, when boys become men in the community of Israel and when girls become women in the community of Israel, it is incumbent upon each one to act in accordance with the Torah, seeking the goal of the Torah in order to remain written in the sefer chayim.
From a Messianic perspective this means that once a human being gains understanding each one must accept the goal of the Torah Himself (Romans 10:4), Yeshua the Messiah and His sacrificial death on our behalf in order to remain in the sefer chayim. Hence, not blotted out. Once we have accepted Messiah’s death and resurrection on our behalf our names are immovably written in the sefer chayim for life eternal.
Some ask, “What is the purpose of this judgement?” We should notice that the phrase, “the dead were judged from the things which were written in the scrolls, according to their deeds.” refers specifically to those who are not part of the first resurrection. They’re judged according to the deeds written in the scrolls, whereas those who are in Messiah will be acquitted according to the fact that their names have not been blotted out of the sefer chayim (Book of life).
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and sheol (Hades) gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
This verse explains that all of the dead are resurrected, all will face judgement (Hebrews 9:27). There were superstitions in Yochanan’s time regarding the spirits of those who died at sea or were left unburied, that might have lead his readers to misunderstand this text. Therefore all aspects of death and burial are covered by the listing of the sea, death and sheol.
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 was not found written in the sefer Chayim, scroll of life, that person was thrown into the lake of fire.
This passage reflects the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Regardless of whether the lake of fire is meant literally or figuratively the reality is that it is a place of eternal (not temporary) torment.
There is no longer a need for sheol, the holding place for those who will face judgement, because judgement has come, likewise there is no longer any need for death, the punishment for sin, because sin is now being removed from the universe forever. They are cast into eternal punishment in the lake of fire where they will add their torment to that of Satan, the beast and the false prophet and those whose names are not found written or have been blotted out of the sefer chayim.
The sea isn’t thrown into the lake of fire because the sea is a metaphor for death and sheol rather than being the entities themselves.
Those whose names are not found in the sefer chayim are those who by their own sinful actions and their refusal of G-d’s offer of mercy and redemption through His Son Yeshua have rejected G-d’s mercy. Therefore it is not G-d Who sends a person to eternal punishment, rather by refusing G-d’s help the rebellious choose their own fate.
“’Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,’ declares HaShem (Merciful) Elohim (Judge). ‘Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares HaShem (Merciful) Elohim (Judge). ‘Therefore, repent and live.’” –Ezekiel 18:30-32
“For G-d so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For G-d did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of G-d.” –Yochanan 3:16-18
© Alastair Brown 2015