Lesson Number Twenty-Nine
Punishment of the Wicked
“Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7.
Before the flood Noah warned the antediluvians for 120 years. Sodom and Gomorrah were warned by Lot, Egypt by Moses, Nineveh by Jonah, Babylon by Isaiah and Jeremiah, the great world empires by the prophecies of Daniel, and the final events of this world warnings were given by Daniel and John (refer to Lesson Number Seven).
Warnings of the last judgments of God are far more numerous than for any of the previous judgments. The Old Testament prophets left us their warnings of God’s final judgments, and evidence of the final events abound in the words of Christ and His disciples, especially in the book of “Revelation.”
Revelation means “that which is revealed.” Here are warnings and counsels to make us aware of the final development of events for both the righteous and the wicked. We all have the opportunity to know what God says, and none can plead ignorance. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed.” 2 Peter 1:19.
The end of the world, the judgment, the resurrection, the soon return of Jesus, are all clear prophecies of a sequence of events nearing fulfillment. At the return of Jesus there will be only two classes, the righteous and unrighteous. Yet God has made it plain in regard to the events which will occur for both the righteous and the unrighteous. Although there are many prophecies given concerning the final scenes, we will only summarize those which are directly related to the final events of the wicked.
Three major final events will affect the wicked:
1. The plagues (Revelation chapters 15, 16)
2. The millenium (Revelation 20:1-6) (Refer to Lesson Number Fourteen)
3. The final judgment (Revelation chapter 20)
These events fulfil “God’s strange act,” an act which appears contradictory to His love and mercy. For the safeguard of the whole universe God acts wisely and justly in the destruction of sin and sinners. Satan with all his host, along with those who have rejected truth and righteousness, have been given every opportunity to repent, and now they have reached the culmination of their open rebellion against God.
When Jesus finishes His work of intercession, man’s probation will end, sins will be placed upon the scapegoat (the symbol of Satan, refer to Lesson Number Fourteen), and Jesus steps out of the heavenly temple. At this time, while there is no mediator in the heavenly sanctuary, God’s judgments begin with the releasing of the seven last plagues.
“And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: and the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.” Revelation 15:5, 6.
“For the Lord shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act.” Isaiah 28:21.
During the time of the release of these unnatural calamities, the despisers of God will regretfully acknowledge that “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Jeremiah 8:20. When it is too late, in desperation they will seek for that knowledge which will appease the wrath of God, but every opportunity has been slighted and rejected, and now it is too late.
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” Amos 8:11, 12.
“They shall cast their silver in the streets, and their gold shall be removed: their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord: they shall not satisfy their souls, neither fill their bowels: because it is the stumblingblock of their iniquity.” Ezekiel 7:19.
Start of the Millenium
The righteous dead are resurrected and translated with the living righteous to abide with Christ for a thousand years (refer to 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; Revelation 20:1-3, 5; Lessons Twenty-Five through Twenty-Eight). During this time they will reign with Christ and cooperate in the judgment of the wicked. But the unrighteous are all slain by the glorious presence of Jesus. Not one living person is left to roam the earth. Satan (seen in the symbol of the scapegoat) is left to roam for a thousand years and reflect upon the carnage of the wilderness he has caused.
“Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.” Isaiah 13:9. “I beheld, and, lo, THERE WAS NO MAN” (Jeremiah 4:25). “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. . . . The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. . . . Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth. . . . The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.” Isaiah 24:1, 3, 17, 19. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Revelation 20:5.
Satan During the Millenium
“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled.” Revelation 20:1-3.
With nothing but the dead and ruins about him, Satan and his angels are bound, restrained to this “bottomless pit,” a “wilderness, through a land of deserts and of pits, through a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt?” Jeremiah 2:6. With none to tempt, and wholly cut off from his work of deception and ruin, he is forced to contemplate his destructive work.
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; that made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? . . . Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people . . .” Isaiah 14:12-20.
End of the Millenium
1. Jesus Returns With Redeemed and the New Jerusalem
Jesus returns to the desolate earth with all the redeemed. “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; . . . and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” Zechariah 14:4, 5.
Jesus’ return at the close of the thousand years will level the mount of Olives as a great plain, to lay a foundation for the descent of the New Jerusalem. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Revelation 21:2, 3.
2. Wicked Are Raised and Satan Is Loosed
“. . . and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Revelation 20:3.
At the end of the thousand years, when the last phase of the judgment of the wicked is completed, there is a general resurrection of the wicked. This is the second resurrection. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. . . . And when the thousand years were expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth . . .” Revelation 20:5, 7, 8.
The wicked who perished at the second coming of Christ, plus the wicked of all ages, will be raised at the end of the thousand years for the final vindication of God's righteousness. Again the wicked will demonstrate their firm purpose to do evil and to follow rebellion, and then God will make a full end of every taint of sin.
“And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited.” Isaiah 24:22.
“For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” Jeremiah 4:27.
The Final Judgment
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations . . . to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city.” Revelation 20:7-9.
With the wicked raised at the second resurrection, Satan is able to deceive and marshal the nations of the earth for a final siege of the recently descended city of God. He musters his armies around the great city. “ . . . and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 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.” Revelation 20:9, 10.
With the destruction of the wicked, the same fire will purify the earth. No trace of sin will remain. From the ashes of the cleansing fire God will create the new earth.
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10.
“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away. . . . Behold, I will make all things new.” Revelation 21:1, 5.
“And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14, 15.
When the last particle of sin has been consumed, then will the prophecy be fulfilled, “And they shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:3.
The evil work of Satan is ended for ever. No more temptation, no more sin. God’s tried and faithful people will abide in the security and peace of the new earth for eternity. The earth is recreated to its former perfection.
“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!” Romans 11:33.
“The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.” Isaiah 14:7.
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