We take a closer look at the verses in Revelation that talk about the end of the wicked. Discover what happens when God is forced away.
Who destroys the Wicked at the End of Time?
Some of the evidence given for believing God exterminates the wicked at the end of time. Malachi 4:1 summarizes the Old Testament view of the end of sin and sinners. Matthew, Mark, Luke—Jesus parables indicate the fate of sinners which include: a fiery furnace, torture by jailers, a wretched end, cut in pieces, thrown into the darkness, burned in the eternal fire, destroyed by an army. There is also weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 5:22, 30 warning about the fires of hell and ending up in hell. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 Sinners are killed by the brightness of his (Jesus) coming. Revelation 14:9-11 Sinners are tormented forever and ever in fire. Revelation 18:8 Babylon completely consumed with fire Revelation 19:20-21 Rider on white horse (Jesus) kills sinners with the sword in his mouth. Revelation 20:7-10 Fire from heaven (NLT) destroys sinners. Revelation 20:14-15 Death, the grave and sinners end up in the lake of fire. Perspective: When death is seen as punishment instead of a consequence then we need an executioner. When created beings are viewed as immortal then we need an active executioner to end their existence. On the other hand, if death is the consequence of sin and sinners are mortal then they are doomed to extinction.
Certainty of the annihilation of sin and the wicked.
Sin is going to be destroyed. The Bible is clear that all the wicked are to be utterly and completely destroyed (Isa 14:18-20; 24:1-6; Jer 4:23-25; 1 Thes 5:3; 2 Thes 1:7-10; 2:10; 2 Peter 3:7, 10-12). Babylon is an apt symbol for the kingdom of selfishness and in Babylon's complete literal destruction the end of sin is mirrored (Rev 14:9-10; Cps. 17-20). All living sinners die at the beginning of the Millennium and they are resurrected and destroyed forever at the end of the Millennium. The question we are concerned with is, what causes this death and destruction? We are also concerned with the elimination of sin so that it never plagues the universe again. We can be certain the wicked are destroyed at the beginning of the Millennium for the following reasons. Firstly, Jesus indicated the wicked are destroyed at the Second Coming (Lk 17:26-30). Secondly, the answer to the question asked in Revelation 6:17, “Who shall be able to stand?” includes only those who have the seal of God (chp. 7). Thirdly, the seventh plague speaks of a destruction that defies the im- agination. Part of this destruction consists of hailstones weighing up to 50 kg or 75 lbs. (16:17-21). Nobody can survive this plague. If Jesus comes after the seventh plague, there will be nobody to save! Lastly, Jeremiah speaks of the earth being “empty” (4:23) again. This can only be during the Millennium since at the end of the Millennium the saints return to the earth. Thus, the Devil is bound (20:2) when the earth is empty during the Millennium because there is no one on the planet to deceive.
We examine some of the passages which indicate the destruction of sinners.
Isaiah 14:18-20 18 All the kings of the nation’s lie in state, each in his own tomb. 19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, 20 you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. The offspring of the wicked will never be mentioned again. Because of the revelation of Christ about the supernatural, evil being called the devil or Satan, we know this passage refers to both the king of Babylon and the devil who inspired him (Revelation 12:9). Thus, it is the devil who is charged with killing the wicked. This passage also indicates that he will die last with no one to bury him. Isaiah 24:1 See, the LORD is going to lay waste the earth and devastate it; he will ruin its face and 103
104 scatter its inhabitantsC2 it will be the same for priest as for people, for master as for servant, for mistress as for maid, for seller as for buyer, for borrower as for lender, for debtor as for creditor. 3 The earth will be completely laid waste and totally plundered. The LORD has spoken this word. 4 The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the exalted of the earth languish. 5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. 6 Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left. While the LORD is blamed for the destruction of the earth in verse one, verse six indicates that it is a curse, or consequence in our understanding, which causes the destruction. Jeremiah 4:23 I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. 24 I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. 25 I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. 26 I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger. 27 This is what the LORD says: “The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely.” This prophecy about the future of Israel cannot be applied to the end of the world because of verse 27. In other places the Bible is certain that there will be no one left on the earth, it will be destroyed completely, that is all the people will be destroyed. 1 Thessalonians 5 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. The certain destruction of all on the planet is emphasized. 2 Thessalonians 1:7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you because you believed our testimony to you. Verse 9 in this passage sets the destruction at the end of the Millennium since the destruction is everlasting. It cannot be used for the Second Coming. The idea that Jesus kills sinners by the brightness of His coming is in direct contradiction to Jesus= teaching in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:38-42) which may be summarized by “Do not resist an evil person.” The life of Jesus illustrated His teaching exactly. He let evil people have their way with Him until they had murdered Him. The early Christians had the same attitude and went to the stake, the cross and the lions with peace because of the certain joy Jesus had told them of. While Jesus avoided hurt and death where He could, He knew His death was inevitable at the hands of evil people. The cross is not a momentary act of mercy by an avenging God. It is a revelation of the patience and compassion of God, or of His character. It reveals the truth about how God has related to sin. It is foolishness to those who want revenge (1 Cor 1:18-23). So, why would Jesus change from Saviour to destroyer when He comes the second time? There is more to be said. The glory of Jesus appears over a time before His Second Coming. During this time wickedness and destruction will increase especially during the seven last plagues. Revelation 18 After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendour. 2 With a mighty voice he shouted: “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. 3 For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her
105 adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” 4 Then I heard another voice from heaven say: ACome out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; The phrase “another angel coming down from heaven” refers to Jesus Christ as can be seen by reading Revelation 10:1 and 20:1. So Jesus will appear in His people with the loud cry to come out of Babylon before He comes literally. “The earth was illuminated by His splendour,” means that all the earth will experience the wonder of God in His people. This is what makes for great hatred towards them and the desire to kill them as with the end of Jesus Christ on the cross. It has always been this way for the true followers of Jesus. They will be hated because they are a threat to those who have loved wickedness and refused the gospel. Those who lived in Jerusalem and Judea, who refused the Lord of Glory and crucified Him brought upon themselves the destruction of their city and the awful horrors of the siege. It was their rebellion against Goodness that led to their horrible end at the hand of the Romans. This is a warning of what is to come at the end of the world. By refusing Jesus the people of earth place themselves at the mercy of the Devil and he will destroy them. This is because he was a murderer from the beginning and he hates the woman and her offspring (John 8:44; John 10:10; Rev 12:4, 12-17). He destroys God’s creation to bring pain to God, whom he also hates. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendour of his coming. This passage refers to one person, “the lawless one” who will be destroyed by Athe breath of his mouth@ and “the splendour of his coming.” In the context of the passage, the lawless one appears just before the Second Coming and masquerades as Jesus Christ. This is the Devil who takes on a human form and mimics the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. His pretence is destroyed by “the breath of his (Jesus=) mouth,” that is, the words that Jesus speaks and “the splendour of his (Jesus’) coming.” This splendour, which the fake Christ will try and emulate, will be clearly surpassed by the real Christ and the imposter Christ will be unmasked or overthrown. 2 Peter 3:7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. These verses guarantee the destruction of the planet by fire. It does not say who causes this destruction or if it will occur at the Second Coming or at the end of the Millennium. The intent of the passage is to encourage immediate repentance in all since the day will be unexpected (vs 14).
The role of Jesus Christ in the destruction of the wicked.
1. His presence did not destroy sinners before or after His resurrection and the angels promised that this same Jesus would return in the same way (Acts 1:11). There were angels in attendance when He ascended to heaven and this is the meaning of the “cloud” that received Him (Matthew 24:30-31; 25:31; 26:64; Luke 9:26; Daniel 7:13; Revelation 1:7; 19:14). So, the Second Coming is a reverse of His ascension. There were many bright, holy angels when He left and there will be as many when He comes again. Some believe that the gentle Jesus now returns as the powerful, avenging king. He was and left as our Saviour but now he returns as the destroyer.
106 This means Jesus, who is God, has changed character or function. This can happen since Jesus will not always be the mediator between angry sinners and a loving God (Revelation 16:9, 11, 21; 22:11). However, this kind of thinking is playing fast and loose with the character of God which is the only thing in the universe which does not change (Malachi 3:6). When Jesus comes riding on a white horse with the armies of heaven (Revelation 19:11-21) it is significant that the beast and the false prophet are captured and thrown into the lake of fire and the rest of the beast’s armies are destroyed with the sword coming out of Jesus mouth. This means they have not been destroyed by the coming of Jesus on His white horse. This weapon of destruction in Jesus mouth is clearly the sword of truth. It is the truth about God that results in the destruction of the wicked not some weapon of violence. This truth throws the wicked, both evil men and wicked angels into such confusion that they turn on each other as described in Revelation 17:16. 2. At the end of the Millennium Jesus= presence does not destroy the wicked who surround the city. Revelation indicates it is a “fire” which does the destroying (20:9-10, 14-15). If it was the presence of Jesus at the Second Coming, then it would also occur as soon as the wicked are raised at the end of the millennium for King Jesus is present on the planet too. 3. The Second Coming occurs during the sixth plague or the battle of Armageddon It is often assumed that the Second Coming occurs after the seventh plague since the Israelites left Egypt after the tenth plague. During the sixth plague all the armies of earth are gathered to do battle with God and His army of angels (Rev 16:16). It is the time when the saved are rescued from the planet and taken to heaven. The seventh plague, which destroys sinners and the planet, comes after the sixth plague so sinners must be alive on the planet after the saints have been taken to heaven. Revelation pictures the destruction of the wicked as the consequence of earthquakes and hailstones in the seventh trumpet (11:19) and the seventh plague (16:17-21), and earthquakes and hailstones are both symbols of the worst disasters that ever came upon ancient Israel (Job 38:22-23; Amos 1:1; Zech 14:5). God is coming to rescue His people from the planet and Satan gets all the armaments of earth to try and prevent this happening at the battle of Armageddon. This results in the end of the world. 4. Jesus is the Saviour NOT the destroyer of the world. Jesus purpose has always been to save people. People are His beautiful creation, and his desire is that they all come to salvation (1 Tim 2:4). His stated purpose and the devil’s purpose are clearly stated in John (10:10). Hebrews 9:27-28 “ God is the life-giver, and the devil is the life-destroyer. Rebellious sinners will be destroyed but not at God’s hand. There are forces of destruction all around us. We are only preserved from these destructive forces by God’s grace. Earthquakes, tsunami’s, viruses, the evil within us, the evil in others all threaten our existence. There are at present enough nuclear weapons stockpiled to destroy the planet many times over. There is a passage which succinctly reveals the true situation. Revelation 7 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” These angels are holding back the winds so that God’s friends can experience the character change or sealing necessary for the crisis of the Second Coming. What are these winds? Some say they are the And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment, 28 so also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.”
107 forces created by God to punish wicked people. Can this be substantiated? Having God’s angels holding back these winds hardly makes sense if God is sending these destructive forces on the planet. There are nine references to “four winds” in the Bible (Jer 49:36; Ezek 37:9; Dan 7:2; 8:8; 11:4; Zech 2:6; Mat 24:31; Mark 13:27; Rev 7:1). Seven of these references indicate universality or that they are all over the earth. Daniel 7:2 uses this phrase in a way which illuminates its usage in Revelation 7. Daniel 7:2 Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.” The interpretation of the vision is that kingdoms arise out of force, violence, and deceit. The sea with its turbulence represents wickedness (Isaiah 57:20-21). If we say that the winds represent forces sent by God, we are making God culpable of the wickedness on the planet. This is not possible since God has gone to extraordinary lengths to save us from sin (John 3:16) and there is no darkness or wickedness in Him (1 John 1:5). Why is it necessary for Jesus Christ to destroy sinners if there are already forces seeking to do so? These forces are everywhere (four corners), and it takes all of God’s angels (four angels) to prevent the destruction of the planet. Only God’s protection delays this universal destruction by “the four winds.” 5. Sinners cry out for death when Jesus comes. If the Second Coming of Jesus killed sinners, they would not be crying for the rocks and the mountains to fall on them (Rev 6:15-16). This desire for mass suicide is important to think about. 6. The wages of sin is death (Rom6:23). This statement means that sin kills people. It is a consequence of a moral reality in the same way that eating poison results in physical death. God did not say to Adam and Eve, “If you eat from the tree, I will kill you.” Death is a consequence of sinning not a punishment inflicted by God. Wages are the sure result of working for an employer, they are not a punishment inflicted for working! We are to reason from cause to effect and stay out of guessing or conjecturing, especially blaming God, who is holy, for the results of evil. Death is not restorative since sinners do not learn from their death. 7. Killing sinners is only necessary if sinners have immortality If God must kill sinners then they have some sort of immortality and Plato was right, we do have an immortal soul. The Bible claims only God is immortal (1Tim 6:16) and hence we are mortal, meaning that left alone, long enough, we die. Some read the following and conclude that God kills people in hell. Matthew 10:28 “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” In this verse Jesus admonishes us to not be afraid of those who only kill the body, i.e. humans, but to be afraid of the one who can kill both body and soul (spirit or spiritually). The intent is to be afraid of the one who can snatch away your salvation. A few verses later Jesus says, Matthew 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” “Rest for your souls” does not mean spiritual leisure, it means salvation. Jesus is in the saving business and the devil is in the destroying business (John 8:44-45; 10:10). It is dangerous to attribute the work of Satan to God. This is what the religious leaders of Israel did (Matthew 10:25). This is the sin against the Holy Spirit, the attributing the work of the devil to God (Mt 12:24-32). Hell is for Satan and his angels (Matthew 25:41) and all those Satan can drag down with him. Hell is not created or managed by God. Hell is the consequence of evil even as syphilis and sexually transmitted diseases are often the consequences of promiscuity. Emphysema and lung cancer are often the consequence of smoking (Prov 8:36).
8. Killing sinners would be an acknowledgment of defeat by God. If God executes or kills sinners at any time, then He has acknowledged defeat because finally He had to establish His rule of love by force and violence. God has claimed to run His universe based on love. God=s love for people is stated over and over again in the Bible (Lev 19:18,34; Deut 4:37; 7:7,8,13; 10:15; 23:5; 33:3; 2Sam 12:24; 1Kings 10:9; 2Chron 9:8; Ps 78:68; Isa 43:4; 63:9; Jer 31:3; Ezekiel 16:60-63; Hosea 3:1; 11:1,4; 14:4; Zeph 3:17; Mal 1:2; Mark 10:21; Lk 6:35; John 3:16; 11:5,36; 13:1,23,34; 14:21,23; 15:9,12-13; 16:27; 17:23,26; Rom 5:5,8; 8:35-39; 2Cor 5:14; 13:11,14; Gal 2:20; 5:22; Eph 2:4; 3:18,19; 5:2,25; 6:23; 2Thess 2:16; 3:5; 1Tim 1:14; Tit 3:4; 1John 3:1,16; 4:7-12,16,19; Jude 21; Rev 1:5; 3:9,19). Clearly, from these passages, God loves all people. To love someone is the opposite of abuse or control. Loving people implies that God is a freedom loving God, not a dictator who will kill you in the end if you do not obey Him. Sinners die because of evil but not at the hands of God. 9. Burning is one of the cruellest methods of execution. Most are agreed that God is merciful and gracious and kind (Ex 33:19; 34:6). Burning people is one of the unkindest ways to execute people. We have far more humane ways of accomplishing this end as humans. We do not burn our pets when they need to be “put down.” Are we kinder than God? We cannot portray God as a vindictive being, claiming the justice demands it, and expect those who honour fairness and kindness to worship or admire Him. 10. Will some burn some longer than others? However, some antediluvians survived longer than others with the terror of drowning in their face. The greater the emotional or physical strength of the sinner the greater the rebellion against God and the longer suffering. Some survived the holocaust or the galleys simply through the strength of their being. However, the wicked perish at the end of time, some will survive longer than others. The length of suffering is connected to the strength of their being and the depth of their rebellion. 11. The Destruction of the devil, the most important wicked being: Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! 13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. 14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” 15 But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. 16 Those who see you stare at you; they ponder your fate: “Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, 17 the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?” 18 All the kings of the nation’s lie in state, each in his own tomb. 19 But you are cast out of your tomb like a rejected branch; you are covered with the slain, with those pierced by the sword, those who descend to the stones of the pit. Like a corpse trampled underfoot, 20 you will not join them in burial, for you have destroyed your land and killed your people. The offspring of the wicked will never be mentioned again. First application This passage is addressed either to Sennecharib who destroyed the city of Babylon in 689 BC and incorporated Babylon into the Assyrian Empire or to the rulers of the neo-Babylonian empire which Nebuchadnessar created and the subsequent kings who ruled over Babylon. Both empires were enemies of Judah. Scholars are divided on whom this passage refers to in its primary application. Sennacherib’s death by assassination (2 Kings 19:37), eight years after he destroyed Babylon, would have given great joy and comfort to the surrounding nations, especially Judah. (Sennacherib was the king who had failed in his attempt 12 years earlier, 701 BC, to capture Jerusalem, (Isa. 37; 2 Kings 18:13-19:36.) Cyrus the Medo-Persian leader captured Babylon in 539 BC. He diverted the Euphrates river and entered via the riverbed under the bronze gates and took the city by surprise. Belshazzar was killed,as were many of the nobles of Babylon. There would have been no magnificent burial for Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, who as the world empire of the time, had caused other nations to tremble and had apparently made deserts and refused to let his captives go free. Second application Since the time of Jesus Christ and his revelation of the existence of a supernatural, evil being or the devil or Satan, we apply this passage, as also Ezekiel 28:1-19, to explain the origin and development of this powerful opponent of God who will eventually come to a dreadful end. In this interpretation we notice that the devil is blamed for the deterioration and eventual destruction of the planet. He is also blamed for the death of all its inhabitants at the end of time. This is categorically stated in verses 16 and 20. It is also stated that he would not let his captives go home. It has always been God=s intention to save all the people of the planet (1Timothy 2:4), however, the devil has done his best to enslave, victimize and addict as many as possible. He has also prevented people from coming to salvation by deceiving them into thinking that God is a tyrant who wants to punish those who do not do His will. They are thus afraid of God and refuse to come to Him. At the end of time Satan will come to his end and there will be no one to give him the honour of a burial. The certain death of the devil is mentioned in several scriptural passages. Isaiah 14:9-20 predicts his death with absolute certainty Ezekiel 28:18-19 indicates that this destruction is a consequence of sin within. There is a “fire from within that destroys this being and his end is Ahorrible.” Matthew 25:41 Then he will say to those on his left, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Romans 16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death--that is, the devilB Revelation 12:12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short. Revelation 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. This last passage, with Ezekiel 28, give the best description of the ultimate destruction of the devil in the lake of fire, or the second death (Rev 20:14). It is into this lake that death and the grave are also thrown. This can only mean that the lake of fire is not a literal fire but a symbol of destruction. One cannot burn death and the grave! There will be “fire” at the end of the world but this “lake of fire” means destruction.
How the devil comes to his horrible end is alluded to in Revelation 20:9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. These events occur at the end of the Millennium with the siege of the Holy City by the Devil and his followers. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that this wicked army will use nuclear weapons as the main thrust of their attack. Without God’s protection, which has been forced away, an atomic chain reaction would burn up the earth’s atmosphere and crust. For the first time in history we know we have the technology to accomplish such a conflagration. Atomic scientists and statesmen have been warning of this possibility for decades. Ezekiel 28:18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So, I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. 19 All the nations who knew you are appalled at you; you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.
“Desecrating your sanctuaries” refers to what has happened in the devil’s mind. He has traded in deceit and evil for so long that he has violated his own being. When this happens in a mind suicide is certain. Judas and Hitler are examples. Both traded in wicked thoughts at the expense of all their friends and in the end, life was not worth living. The “fire” that comes out of the devil, even though he has bowed in admiration before the wonder of God (Philippians 2:10-11), will result in his destruction. According to the above passage, his end will be horrible. What this means we do not know but we can be sure that he will not go easily. If he escapes the nuclear holocaust described in Revelation 20, he still comes to a certain end! There is no need to blame God for the consequences of wickedness. The end of the devil is also the end of all wicked beings. It is clear, it is certain, it is inevitable according to the passages we have read.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Ezekiel 28:
The best explanation is that Ezekiel was describing Satan who was the true @kingA of Tyre, the one motivating the human “ruler” of Tyre. Satan was in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1-7), and his chief sin was pride (1Tim 3:6). He also had access to God=s presence (Job 1:6-12). Speaking of God=s judging the human Aruler@ of Tyre for his pride (Ezek 28:1-10), the prophet lamented the satanic “king” of Tyre who was also judged for his pride (11-19). Tyre was motivated by the same sin as Satan and would suffer the same fate. Ezekiel described the beauty and perfection of Satan as God originally created him (12-15a). He was the model of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. God did not create Satan as some prime minister of evil. As with all God’s Creation, Satan was a perfectly created being, one of the crowning achievements in God’s angelic realm. Satan was given an exalted place; he was in Eden, the garden of God. Eden was the epitome of God’s beautiful Creation on earth (Gen 2:8-14). Satan’s beauty matched that of Eden: every precious stone adorned him. Ezekiel listed nine gemstones in describing Satan’s beauty. These were 9 of the 12 kinds of stones worn in the breastplate of Israel’s high priest (cf. Ex 28:15-20; 39:10-13). The precious stones probably symbolized Satan’s beauty and high position. God had anointed Satan as a guardian cherub (Ezek 28:14). The cherubim (of cherub) were the “inner circle” of angels who had the closest access to God and guarded His holiness (10:1-14). Satan also had free access to God’s holy mount (28:14), heaven, and he walked among the fiery stones (cf. 16). Some associate “the fiery stones” with the precious gems (v 13), but the stones there were part of Satan’s attire whereas the stones in verses 14 and 16 were part of the abode where Satan dwelt. Others have identified the “fiery stones” with God’s fiery wall of protection (cf. Zech 2:5). They see Satan dwelling inside or behind God’s outer defences in the “inner courts” of heaven itself. This view is possible, and the word translated “among” (mitôk) can have the idea of “between” or “inside.” Whatever the exact identification, Ezekiel was stating that Satan had access to God’s presence. As originally created by God, Satan was blameless . . . till wickedness was found in him (Ezek 28:15) and he sinned (16). The sin that corrupted Satan was self-generated. Created blameless, his sin was pride (1Tim 3:6) because of his beauty. Satan spoiled his wisdom because of his splendour (Ethbaal’s similar problem, Ezek 28:1-2, 5, 7). Satan’s pride led to his fall and judgment. Though Ezekiel presented the fall of Satan as a single act, it occurred in stages. Satan’s initial judgment was his expulsion from the position of God’s anointed cherub before His throne. God expelled him from the mount of God (heaven, v 16; cf. v 14). Satan was cast from God’s government in heaven (cf. Luke 10:18) but was still allowed access to God (cf. Job 1:6-12; Zech. 3:1-2). In the Tribulation Satan will be cast from heaven and restricted to the earth (Rev 12:7-13); in the Millennium he will be in the bottomless pit (Rev 20:1-3); and after his brief release at the end of the Millennium (Rev 20:7-9) he will be cast into the lake of fire forever (Rev. 20:10) One of the elements of Satan’s sin was his widespread dishonest trade. The word for trade comes from the verb ral which means “to go about from one to another.” Ezekiel had used that noun in speaking of Tyre’s commercial activities (Ezek 28:5). Does this mean Satan was operating a business? Obviously not. Instead, Ezekiel was comparing the human “prince” of Tyre and his satanic @king.A So Ezekiel used a word that could convey a broad meaning. Satan’s position in heaven involved broad contact with many elements of God’s creation much as the prince of Tyre’s position enabled him to contact many nations. Though Ezekiel was describing the “ultimate” ruler of Tyre, Satan, the purpose of the lament was to speak of the city’s destruction. So, he began to blend the characteristics of the satanic king with the human ruler. Satan would be cast to the earth (17), and the king of Tyre would also be cast down before other kings, his enemies. Satan’s ultimate destiny will be the lake of fire (Rev 20:10), and the defeat and death of the human ruler of Tyre was pictured as being consumed by fire (Ezek 28:18). Both Satan’s and Tyre’s defeats would shock those nations who had followed them. They would be appalled because of Satan’s and Tyre’s horrible end (Cf. 27:35-36).
The End of Sinners in Revelation:
The Sixth Seal Revelation 6:12–15 (NIV84)
12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15 Then the kings of the earth,
111 the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! Revelation 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Earthquake, sun darkened, moon turned to blood, etc are the same signs at Sinai (Exodus 19:16-18) and the Cross (Matthew 27:41-52) and other times God showed up on earth. Apparently there is a wish for universal suicide by sinners at the Second Coming. They would prefer to die rather than meet Jesus the Lamb of God. This can only mean they are filled with guilt and shame as Adam and Eve were when they sinned.
The Destroying Winds Revelation 7:1–3 (NIV84)
1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” God’s angels hold back the destructive winds of earth until God’s people are sealed. These angels harm the earth by letting go of the winds. They do not create the winds. These winds are the consequences of sinners abusing their dominion of the earth and the devil and his angels inspiring and abetting these catastrophes. These four angels appear again in 9:14 and are again portrayed as being destroying angels. The Torment of Fire and Burning Sulphur Revelation 14:9-11 (NLT) Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand 10 must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. 11 The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.” Even the holy angels and the Lamb cannot protect them from their fate. This is what it means to have God’s wrath at full strength. God’s wrath is letting people experience the consequences of their choices. “Forever and ever” means nothing is left when the fire ends as with the description of the smoke rising in Edom or today’s Jordan as described in Isaiah 34:10. The Seventh Bowl Revelation 16:18–21 (NIV84) 18 Then there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on earth, so tremendous was the quake. 19 The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath. 20 Every island fled away and the mountains could not be found. 21 From the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail, because the plague was so terrible. No living thing can survive this plague or bowl. It is the ultimate destruction of the planet caused by ecological disasters. It occurs after the Second Coming which happens in the sixth bowl. The Punishment of the Prostitute Revelation 17:16 (NIV84) “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”
112 This is cannibalism. This is the end of the kingdom of selfishness or hedonism or the kingdom of this world. It is self-destruction. Jim Jones is prophetic of the end of sin with the mass killing of his followers. The end of the Jews in 70 AD with the destruction of Jerusalem because of the hardness of their hearts is also prophetic of what will happen on the planet. Hitlers miserable end echo’s this final destruction. The armies which turned on each other rather than attack Jerusalem in King Hezekiah’s time mirror this final destruction (2 Chronicles 20:22-24). Sinners have a penchant for destroying each other with war and greed. The Fall of Babylon Revelation 18:8 “Because of this, in one day she will be struck with plagues—disease, grief, and famine. And she will be burned with fire, because the Lord God, who judges her, is mighty.” Chapter 17 verse 16 makes it clear that the beast and the ten horns do the burning. This destruction of Babylon is caused by infighting among sinners. The Battle with the Rider on the White Horse Revelation 19:19–21 (NIV84) “Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. 20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.” The rider has blood on his robe before the battle begins and no soldier holds a sword in his mouth. This symbolic picture is telling us again that Jesus won the battle at Calvary (John 12:31, Revelation 5:6-10). It is the guilt of sinners in the innocent face of the Truth that causes their destruction. The Doom of Satan Revelation 20:7–10 (NIV84) “When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison 8 and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. 9 They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” The End of Death and Sinners Revelation 20:14–15 (NIV84) “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” A literal fire cannot destroy death and the grave (Hades). The meaning is that death and the grave are destroyed. The fire referred to is a metaphor for complete destruction. Fire is often used as a metaphor or symbol in scripture for death. Here is one example. Leviticus 10:1-2, 4-5 “Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the LORD by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the LORD.4 Then Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, Aaron’s cousins, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. He said to them, “Come forward and carry away the bodies of your relatives from in front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5 So they came forward and picked them up by their garments and carried them out of the camp, just as Moses had commanded.”
Notice that the fire did not burn them up, they were still in their clothes, but the “fire” did kill them. This fire was symbolic of their death.
Jesus substitutionary death is a type of the death of sinners
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NLT) God did not kill Jesus. Jesus cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) When Jesus took our sin on himself God was forced away so Jesus could die (Romans 5:15-21). His death was the consequence of a physically ruptured heart, the consequence of the emotional stress caused by the universal rejection by Jesus Christ of the people he came to love and serve. The death he died illustrates how sinners will die. They die because their guilt and shame overwhelm their desire for life.
Judas’ life and death are prophetic of the end of sinners.
Judas threw away his money and confessed he had betrayed an innocent man and ended his life (Matthew 27:2-5). At the end of time sinners have no use for their possessions, and they confess they are wrong and they corporately wish for death (Revelation 6:15-17).
Sin is deadly. We die a little each day mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. If we live long enough we will eventually long for death even with the Blessed Hope of the resurrection in our hearts.
Because of sin we are doomed to die. Our hope is in the life-giving resurrection of Jesus Christ who was even able to resurrect himself!
Ian Hartley, October 2020
“Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. 15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”