The Sixth “Last Thing”: The Last Judgment and the End of the World (Rev. 20:11-15) -- By: David J. MacLeod

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:627 (Jul 2000)
Article: The Sixth “Last Thing”: The Last Judgment and the End of the World (Rev. 20:11-15)
Author: David J. MacLeod

The Sixth “Last Thing”: The Last Judgment and the End of the World
(Rev. 20:11-15)a

David J. MacLeodb

Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, had a slave to whom he gave a standing order. The man was to come in to the king every morning of his life, no matter what the king was doing, and say to him in a loud voice, “Philip, remember that you must die!”1

Death is the one certain fact in everyone’s life. Many things are probable; much is questionable; but nothing is certain, except ultimate death, sooner or later.2 Death is the most “democratic institution” on earth.3 “It comes to all men [and women], regardless of color, education, wealth, or rank. It allows no discrimination, tolerates no exceptions. The mortality rate of mankind is the same the world over: one death per person.”4

“It is appointed for men to die once” (Heb. 9:27). With that verdict there can be no dissent. “And after this comes judgment.” The idea of a final tribunal, a Great Assize before which all men must appear and at which they will be assigned their eternal destiny, did not originate in the ghoulish imaginations of medieval artists and writers. When the writer of the Book of Hebrews referred to a postmortem judgment, he was not introducing some novel idea. Earlier in his letter he listed “eternal judgment” as one of the elementary teachings of the Scriptures (6:1–2).

The idea that there will be a future judgment is found in the Old Testament (Ps. 96:13; Eccles. 12:14; Dan. 12:2) and the New Testament (e.g., Acts 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 9:27). It is significant that the most solemn and searching preacher of judgment was Jesus Christ Himself.5 In twelve out of thirty-six of His parables He spoke of people being judged, condemned, and punished for their sins. In discussing the rich man and Lazarus He drew back the curtain on the existence of people in the afterlife to show the rich man in torment, suffering an anguish that ...

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