“And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds.”
Revelation 20:11-13 NLT
The Apostle John had no respite, no time to rest, in the vision given to him. It was relentless, one scene after another unfolding before him. He had just witnessed the devil and his proteges, the beast and the false prophet, consigned to the fiery lake, to be tormented forever. But that scene cleared from before him and was replaced by a “great white throne”. It was occupied by God Himself. A raft of emotions must have crossed his mind. Joy at seeing his God. But a great sense of foreboding as he watched the earth and sky trying to hide from God. This isn’t looking good, he must have thought. A feeling of sadness came upon him as he observed a crowd, apparently limitless, gathering before the throne. Everyone who had died was there. It didn’t matter where they had died, or where they had been buried, because there was no escape.
I suppose the question has to be asked – what about any people still alive at this point? I don’t think there were any, because the earth was trying to escape from God’s presence. And all of God’s people would by now have been in Heaven.
John saw a vast library of books, including the Book of Life. And you can just imagine the scenario. A name was called out and the person stood there trembling with fear. All his or her deeds were read out for everyone to hear. Jesus gave a warning to His disciples, which we can read from Luke 12:2, “The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all”. The person thought that all their wicked deeds had escaped public scrutiny. Those thefts that they thought had not been seen. The indiscretion with the man or woman in the office, their spouse at home. The images found on the internet late at night. The blasphemies and rejection of Jesus and His grace. All read out. The list of deeds came to an end. It wasn’t good listening. And it was followed by a pause before the cry from the throne went out, “Guilty!”
Folks. I don’t want to be in that number, before God’s throne of judgement. And I don’t want my loved ones, my neighbours, my workmates, to be there either. We all need to embrace God’s gracious love while we still can. No-one knows when this momentous event will take place. But happen it will. And there is only one way to avoid it. Jesus said in John 14:6, “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” In John 10:28-29 we read, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.” It is only through Jesus that we can enjoy God’s presence for ever. That must instil within us a sense of urgency. We must tell all the people that we know. And persevere in praying for them. For we know that our God will answer these prayers because He is faithful.
Dear God, how can we thank You enough for Your free gift of salvation through Jesus. We praise and worship You today. Amen.