The sea gave up the dead - Those who had been drowned in it, and those millions slain in naval contests, who had no other grave.
And death - All who died by any kind of disease. Death is here personified, and represented as a keeper of defunct human beings; probably no more than earth or the grave is meant, as properly belonging to the empire of death.
And hell - Ἁιδης, Hades, the place of separate spirits. The sea and death have the bodies of all human beings; hades has their spirits. That they may be judged, and punished or rewarded according to their works, their bodies and souls must be reunited; hades, therefore, gives up the spirits; and the sea and the earth give up the bodies.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it - All that had been buried in the depths of ocean. This number in the aggregate will be great. If we include all who were swept off by the flood, and all who have perished by shipwreck, and all who have been killed in naval battles and buried in the sea, and all who have been swept away by inundations of the ocean, and all who have peacefully died at sea, as sailors, or in the pursuits of commerce or benevolence, the number in the aggregate will be immense - a number so vast that it was proper to notice them particularly in the account of the general resurrection and the last judgment.
And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them - That is, all the dead came, from all regions where they were scattered - on the land and in the ocean - in this world and in the invisible world. “Death and hell” are here personified, and are represented as having dominion over the dead, and as now “delivering” up, or “surrendering” those who were held tinder them. On the meaning of the words used here, see the notes on Revelation 1:18; Revelation 6:8. Compare the Matthew 10:23 note; Job 10:21-22 notes; Isaiah 14:9 note. This whole representation is entirely inconsistent with the supposition that a large part of the dead had been already raised up at the beginning of the millennial period, and had been permitted, in their glorified bodies, to reign with Christ.
And they were judged, - All these were judged - the righteous and the wicked; those buried at sea, and those buried on the land; the small and the great; the dead, in whatever world they may have been.
This class had made self supreme, laboring only for selfish interests. They were not rich toward God, not having responded to His claims upon them. Although professing to be servants of Christ, they brought no souls to Him. Had the cause of God been dependent on their efforts, it would have languished; for they not only withheld the means lent them of God, but they withheld themselves. But these could now see and feel that in occupying an irresponsible position in reference to the work and cause of God they had placed themselves on the left hand. They had had opportunity, but would not do the work that they could and should have done. 4T 386.1
The names of all who profess the truth were mentioned. Some were reproved for their unbelief, others for having been slothful servants. They had allowed others to do the work in the Master's vineyard, and to bear the heaviest responsibilities, while they were selfishly serving their own temporal interests. Had they cultivated the abilities God had given them, they could have been reliable burden bearers, working for the interest of the Master. Said the Judge: “All will be justified by their faith and judged by their works.” How vividly then appeared their neglect, and how wise the arrangement of God in giving to every man a work to do to promote the cause and save his fellow men. Each was to demonstrate a living faith in his family and in his neighborhood, by showing kindness to the poor, sympathizing with the afflicted, engaging in missionary labor, and by aiding the cause of God with his means. But, like Meroz, the curse of God rested upon them for what they had not done. They had loved that work which would bring the greatest profit in this life; and opposite their names in the ledger devoted to good works there was a mournful blank. 4T 386.2
The words spoken to these were most solemn: “You are weighed in the balances, and found wanting. You have neglected spiritual responsibilities because of busy activity in temporal matters, while your very position of trust made it necessary that you should have more than human wisdom and greater than finite judgment. This you needed in order to perform even the mechanical part of your labor; and when you disconnected God and His glory from your business, you turned from His blessing.” 4T 386.3Read in context »
The Lord designs that the death of His servants shall be regarded as a loss because of the influence for good which they exerted and the many willing offerings which they bestowed to replenish the treasury of God. Dying legacies are a miserable substitute for living benevolence. The servants of God should be making their wills every day in good works and liberal offerings to God. They should not allow the amount given to God to be disproportionately small when compared with that appropriated to their own use. In making their wills daily, they will remember those objects and friends that hold the largest place in their affections. Their best friend is Jesus. He did not withhold His own life from them, but for their sakes became poor, that through His poverty they might be made rich. He deserves the whole heart, the property, all that they have and are. But many professed Christians put off the claims of Jesus in life and insult Him by giving Him a mere pittance at death. Let all of this class remember that this robbery of God is not an impulsive action, but a well-considered plan which they preface by saying: “Being in sound mind.” After having defrauded the cause of God through life they perpetuate the fraud after death. And this is with the full consent of all the powers of the mind. Such a will many are content to cherish for a dying pillow. Their will is a part of their preparation for death and is prepared so that their possessions shall not disturb their dying hours. Can these dwell with pleasure upon the requirement that will be made of them to give an account of their stewardship? 4T 481.1
We must all be rich in good works in this life if we would secure the future, immortal life. When the judgment shall sit and the books shall be opened, every man will be rewarded according to his works. Many names are enrolled on the church book that have robbery recorded against them in the Ledger of Heaven. And unless these repent and work for the Master with disinterested benevolence, they will certainly share in the doom of the unfaithful steward. 4T 481.2
It often happens that an active businessman is cut down without a moment's warning and on examination his business is found to be in a most perplexing condition. In the effort to settle his estate the lawyers’ fees eat up a large share, if not all, of the property, while his wife and children and the cause of Christ are robbed. Those who are faithful stewards of the Lord's means will know just how their business stands, and, like wise men, they will be prepared for any emergency. Should their probation close suddenly, they would not leave such great perplexity upon those who are called to settle their estate. 4T 482.1Read in context »
Evil counselors were not wanting, who swayed that once noble, independent mind as they chose, because he did not make God his guide and counselor. His fine sensibilities became blunted; the conscientious, considerate spirit of his early reign was changed. Self-indulgence was his god; and, as the result, severe judgment and cruel tyranny marked his course. The extravagance practiced in selfish indulgence necessitated a grinding taxation upon the poor. From the wisest king that ever swayed a scepter, Solomon became a despot. As a king he had been the idol of the nation, and that which he said and did was copied. His example exerted an influence the result of which can be fully known only when the works of all shall come in review before God, and every man shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. 7T 218.1
Oh, how can God bear with the misdeeds of those who have had great light and advantages, and yet follow the course of their own choosing, to their eternal harm! Solomon, who at the dedication of the temple had solemnly charged the people, “Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God” (1 Kings 8:61), chose his own way, and in his heart separated from God. The mind that was once given to God and inspired of Him to write the most precious words of wisdom (the book of Proverbs),—truths which are immortalized,—that noble mind, through evil associations and yielding to temptation, became inefficient, weak in moral power, and Solomon dishonored himself, dishonored Israel, and dishonored God. 7T 218.2
Looking upon this picture, we see what human beings become when they venture to separate from God. One false step prepares the way for another, and every step is taken more easily than the last. Thus souls are found following another leader than Christ. 7T 219.1Read in context »
In every act of life Christians should seek to represent Christ—seek to make His service appear attractive. Let none make religion repulsive by groans and sighs and a relation of their trials, their self-denials, and sacrifices. Do not give the lie to your profession of faith by impatience, fretfulness, and repining. Let the graces of the Spirit be manifested in kindness, meekness, forbearance, cheerfulness, and love. Let it be seen that the love of Christ is an abiding motive; that your religion is not a dress to be put off and on to suit circumstances, but a principle—calm, steady, unwavering. Alas that pride, unbelief, and selfishness, like a foul cancer, are eating out vital godliness from the heart of many a professed Christian! When judged according to their works, how many will learn, too late, that their religion was but a glittering cheat, unacknowledged by Jesus Christ. TMK 167.2Read in context »