“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Here is a well-known verse that most can recite from memory, but have you looked closely at the words and the context?
First, let’s consider the context. We find it in verse 1:
Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away
Did you catch that? The earth we live on now is the first earth, but there is coming a time when God will create a new earth and a new heaven (the atmosphere)
This was prophesied from long ago, even before Jesus came to this earth the first time.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
“For as the new heavens and the new earth
Which I will make shall remain before Me,” says the Lord,
“So shall your descendants and your name remain.”
So, we can be certain that this earth we now stand on, will be destroyed and a new one created. The tainted air we breath will also be changed.
As I look at the pollution of this world on the earth, in the air, and in the sea it is no wonder that God must use fire to melt all the filth and disease. The fire is a cleansing act of God before creating a new heaven and earth.
Peter describes the day when the Lord will burn up this earth.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:10
Even the elements will melt! All the “works” man has created will come to an end and be reduced to ashes. Malachi had a similar vision of this day when he said,
“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
Malachi 4:1 (Partial)
What all is burned up? If we continue on with this verse in Malachi, we will discover something about the fate of those who reject the appeal of a loving God to repent and turn from evil ways.
“For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
Says the Lord of hosts,
“That will leave them neither root nor branch.“
Malachi 4: 1 (Complete)
The fate of this earth with its sin and rebellion come to ashes. Continuing with Malachi, we read these words:
“You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,”
Says the Lord of hosts.”
Last night, my wife cleaned our oven by using the self-clean feature which sets the oven temperature very high. This intense heat over a 4 hour period brings all the crud in the oven to ashes. She then wiped out the ashes and the oven looked like new. The fires God sends will cleanse the earth of all the “crud”
Peter saw this “strange act” of God and used the example of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah to illustrate the destiny of those who “live ungodly.”
“…turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly“
2 Peter 2:6
Look closely at these verses. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to ashes, so will be those who are lost. Sodom and Gomorrah is the example!
Even Satan himself has a destiny with eternal destruction:
I brought fire from your midst;
It devoured you,
And I turned you to ashes upon the earth
In the sight of all who saw you.
All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you;
You have become a horror,
And shall be no more forever.”’
Ezekiel 28: 18-19
The fire God sends reduces all the “elements” and “works of earth to ashes. This is a final work and not a continuous work of torture as many have tried to claim.
In the book of Revelation, a very literal depiction is given to help the reader understand that sin, death, and everything evil come to an end.
“They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them”
Just as a hungry dog devours its food and leaves an empty bowl, so does the work of the fire. This devouring fire is what destroys Satan as described in Ezekiel 28:18-19
This fire that is devouring the earth, the atmosphere, and all the elements is huge! It is world-wide and is described as a lake of fire in Revelation.
The fire is the end of everything we know, including the life and death struggle of this world. Notice what is thrown into the lake of fire:
Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Here John uses the concept many do not understand. It is the second death.
How can there be a second death caused by the lake of fire?
As we discussed last time. All of us, saved or lost are destined to die. This is the first death. But, those who are lost die a second death that is eternal. They “perish” and, like Satan, will never be anymore.
Like a brother of mine said, “If you have been born once, you will die twice and if you are born twice, you will die once.”
Life or eternal death is at the heart of the bad news/good news found in John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
There is a simple truth in this powerful verse that is often missed:
Believe = eternal life
Don’t Believe = Perish
Here is the simple formula to understand and clear up the confusion about life and death.
The first death, the one all must experience, is the opposite of life. When God created life, he used to elements to produce the soul. Here is the verse and the formula:
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Dust (elements) + breath of life (God’s spirit) = Living Soul
The first death is the opposite of life:
“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Dust – spirit (breath of life) = Dead Soul
Moses described it this way:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
David also said about the living:
You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
Now don’t let this upset you because even though we turn to dust, that time period is as fast as you can blink your eye. For our Lord will raise us from the grave or wherever our dust may be. As Job said, our flesh can be destroyed, but the next moment we will see our Redeemer:
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19: 25-27
We saw last time that it is the resurrection that is to give us hope of receiving eternal life. After we are dead we brought back to life. To the sleeping in Christ, this change is like the time it takes to blink or twinkle your eye.
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
1 Corinthians 15: 51-53
How my heart yearns for the day Jesus will return and re-unite us as described by Paul,
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope…
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
1 Corinthians 4: 16-18
What a great reunion day that will be! Those long separated by death will experience the creation of life all over again. The dust will have God’s breath of life (Spirit) breathed back into their nostrils and we will become incorruptible living souls again! Glory!
But the lost will not have this experience. Although they died once like all of us the will die a second time. Let’s let the Bible explain it.
“Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power.”
The lost also have a resurrection, but it not the joyful one.
Let’s follow some simple logic. If there is a first resurrection, there must be at least a 2nd one. Right? If there is a first death, there must be a 2nd one. Right?
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
That is right! All who are in the grave will be resurrected and the lost will experience the 2nd resurrection and the 2nd death that is eternal. How does this happen?
“They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.”
Those who are part of the 2nd resurrection go upon the breadth of the earth. They are deceived by Satan. The “breadth” of the earth refers to the wide expanse. There are literally millions! He convinces them that if they attack the city, they will have access to the tree of life which is located in the holy city (New Jerusalem) that has descended from heaven after the 1,000 years. It is next to the river of life. They certainly have a vast number of people for
“…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Matthew 7:13
Then I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,…Between the street of the city and the river there was a tree of life visible from both sides.
Revelation 21:2 and 22:2
Notice that Jesus talks about the “many” lost being destroyed in Matthew 7:13 .
This fire that the Lord uses to cleanse the earth and create a new one also destroys the disease of sin and death. For it is also cast into the lake of fire.
And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
The first and second resurrection and the 1st death and 2nd death are separated by 1,000 years.
“But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”
Here is a summary of what we have learned in this series on Life and Death confusion:
1.) Death is real. It is the end of life.
2.) It is compared to sleep even by Jesus himself.
3.) The sleep of death is quick. The dead don’t know anything and it passes quickly like a blink of the eye.
4.) Those who are in Christ are resurrected first and meet the Lord in the air with those who are alive at the second coming. All are taken where Jesus is now.
5.) The saved are in heaven for 1,000 years. To learn more about this, see the post called, “Part 4-Second Coming Predictions-1,000 years?”)
6.) At the end of the 1,000 years, the lost are raised from the dead and face the White Throne judgment (Revelation 20). They are then deceived by Satan to attack the holy city New Jerusalem.
7.) God sends fire out of heaven and the disease of sin is destroyed.
8.) God creates a new heaven and a new earth with the New Jerusalem as its capital.
The idea that the unsaved suffer non-ending suffering and torment in white hot fire for eternity does not make sense in the light of these many verses.
I have run out of time. I had promised to talk about the verses that seem to indicate the unsaved suffer throughout eternity and that the flames never go out. I have the material nearly ready and it is rather lengthy. I hope you don’t mind if I save it for next time.
Blessings! May you have a wonderful God day!