Read More Than Conquerors, pp. 235, 236
THE GREAT WHITE THRONE
(The treatment of Rev. 20:11–15 is continued in Lesson 23, Part 1)
A. THE ONE WHO SITS UPON IT, verse 11
Christ’s glorious return is portrayed in vivid colors. John sees a great, white throne. Upon it is seated Jesus as Judge (cf. Matt. 25:31; Rev. 14:14). From his face the earth and the heaven flee away. This is probably added for two reasons:
1. Because Christ’s return introduces a series of events that follow one another in swift succession. Moreover, once the Bridegroom has arrived, the door is shut (Matt. 25:10).
2. Because before the infinite majesty and holiness of tins divine Judge heaven and earth are not able to maintain themselves.
B. THE PEOPLE WHO STAND BEFORE IT, verses 120, 130. 14
All individuals who have ever lived on earth are present. This follows from the expression, “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne.” The entire Bible teaches but one general bodily resurrection. This one and only general resurrection takes place at the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; Acts 24: 15; Matt. 22:31; Acts 24:21; Heb. 6:2). Nowhere in the entire Bible do we read of a resurrection of the bodies of believers, followed, after a thousand years, by a resurrection of the bodies of unbelievers. All are raised at the same time. The universality of this resurrection is stressed by the statement that the sea, death, and Hades all gave up their dead. In other words. whoever had been buried at sea, whoever had arrived at the moment of physical death. and whoever had passed into the realm of the dead (the realm of disembodied existence) were all “given up,” so as to appear before the throne of judgment. Thereafter Death and Hades (here dramatically personified ) are cast into the lake of fire. This means that they can do no further damage. After Christ’s second coming there will never be any separation of soul and body any more, either for the righteous or for the wicked. See, in this connection, Revelation 21:4 (which surely is a contextual commentary on Rev. 20:13) and further also Isaiah 25:8; I Corinthians 15:26.
But how is a resurrection of the body possible? It is with this as with every doctrine: it surpasses our comprehension. A few things can be said, however, in partial clarification. According to the teaching of I Corinthians 15:38 a “seed” of each body is preserved. Around this seed God will build a body conformable to it; hence, different for each person. Let no one say that it is impossible for God to preserve something of our present bodies. The following illustration might be helpful. The great chemist, Faraday, had a helper. One day this helper accidentally knocked a little silver cup into a jar of acid. The cup disappeared completely, having been dissolved by the acid. But Faraday knew exactly what to do. He put some chemical into the jar. Result? Every particle of silver descended to the bottom of the jar. Then he lifted out this shapeless mass of silver, sent it to the silversmith who remade it into the cup it was at first. Surely, what a chemist can do God is able to do also. He can do something that is even better, for in the case of believers he will take what has been preserved of the body that has borne the image of the first or earthly Adam and will refashion it so as to bear the image of the second or heavenly Adam. And what a contrast there will be in the day of the resurrection between those who will awaken unto shame and everlasting contempt, on the one hand, and those who will awaken unto honor and everlasting glory, on the other! While the former, body and soul now reunited, will cause even the damned to shudder, the latter will cause the angels to break forth into a song of adoration. See further Isaiah 66:24; Daniel 12:2, 3; I Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 3:21; I John 3:2.
1. Verse 1: “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.” What further light is shed upon that passage by Psalm 102:26; II Peter 3:10; Revelation 6:14; and Revelation 21:1?
2. Can you think of any other scriptural passaages that indicate the swiftness (or rapid succession) of events that will characterize Christ’s second coming?
3. Revelation 20:12a, 13a teach one general bodily resurrection. But does not John 5:29 teach two bodily resurrections?
4. Are there any who, though they will stand before the throne, will not have to be raised from the dead? See Genesis 5:24; Matthew 17:3; 27:52, 53; I Thessalonians 4:17. How many of these passages are applicable here?
5. Verse 120: “the great and the small…Does this imply that there will also be babies before the throne?
6. Explain I Corinthians 15:41, 42a.
7. Explain I Corinthians 15:42b–44.