““…and if anyones name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire”
CS Lewis said that the passages in the bible that we tended to skip over were the very ones we ought to think deeply about. Many of us struggle with the tension created by Jesus as the Lamb and the picture John paints in chapter 19 of Jesus as the returning King, full of strength and holding authority to judge the whole world. And something inside of us is hardwired for fairness, every day we judge whether things are fair or not fair. And if things are not fair, our reflex is to be upset, always seeking for things to be put right, put in place.
Here in this chapter, things are being put in place;
- “Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire”
- “and I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne. And the dead were judged according to what they had done”
Every day my children approach me describing a situation, usually in tears, and appeal for justice; “its not fair!” This judgement, I can make. I have enough information. Here in revelation we read of final judgement and the decisive- gulf between ones found in the book of life and those not.
Many litres of ink have been spilt over the fairness of the ones who are not found in the book of life and are thrown into the lake of fire. “its not fair” is a popular view. But we are weak here because
- We don’t know enough. We haven’t read the book of life or the other “books that were opened” v 12
- The imagery created by the “lake of fire” v15. John Lennox believes we should put away medieval analogies and simply conclude this is gravely serious. The analogy lake of fire is powerfully effective to get the message through to all of us and perhaps there is no better analogy than this.
Some believe merely experiencing the presence of God in heaven for a short period even in judgement and being banished from his indescribable presence is in itself “hell”. Hell could be a purely negative experience or the deprivation of an extraordinarily beautiful thing, the presence of God himself.
Whatever hell is, its serious. Lets not waste our time on trivialities. One atheist said if Christians really believe in heaven and hell, if there is so much at stake, why don’t they speak to us more about the gospel!
Help us Lord to read your Word with guidance from your Spirit, to approach it with all our heart and minds, seeking first your kingdom, to invest our time in eternal things and not to shy away from the importance for us and to all our friends and family, to the people of this world of their relationship with You.