Written in the book of life - Only those who had continued faithful unto death were taken to heaven. All whose names were not found in the public registers, who either were not citizens, or whose names had been erased from those registers because of crimes against the state, could claim none of those emoluments or privileges which belong to the citizens; so those who either did not belong to the new and spiritual Jerusalem, or who had forfeited their rights and privileges by sin, and had died in that state, were cast into the lake of fire.
This is the way in which God, at the day of judgment, will proceed with sinners and apostates. Reader, see that thy name be written in the sacred register; and, if written in, see that it never be blotted out.
And whosoever - All persons, of all ranks, ages, and conditions. No word could be more comprehensive than this. The single condition here stated, as being what would save any from being cast into the lake of fire, is, that they are “found written in the book of life.” All besides these, princes, kings, nobles, philosophers, statesmen, conquerors; rich men and poor men; the bond and the free; the young and the aged; the frivolous, the vain, the proud, and the sober; the modest and the humble, will be doomed to the lake of fire. Unlike in all other things, they will be alike in the only thing on which their eternal destiny will depend - that they have not so lived that their names have become recorded in the book of life. As they will also be destitute of true religion, there will be a propriety that they shall share the same doom in the future world.
Written in the book of life - See the notes on Revelation 3:5.
Was cast into the lake of fire - See the notes on Matthew 25:41. That is, they will be doomed to a punishment which will be well represented by their lingering in a sea of fire forever. This is the termination of the judgment - the winding up of the affairs of men. The vision of John here rests for a moment on the doom of the wicked, and then turns to a more full contemplation of the happy lot of the righteous, as detailed in the two closing chapters of the book.
Section e. - Condition of things referred to in Revelation 20:11-15;
(1) There will be a general resurrection of the dead - of the righteous and the wicked. This is implied by the statement that the “dead, small and great,” were seen to stand before God; that “the sea gave up the dead which were in it”; that “Death and Hades gave up their dead.” All were there whose names were or were not written in the book of life.
(2) there will be a solemn and impartial judgment. How long a time this will occupy is not said, and is not necessary to be known - for time is of no consequence where there is an eternity of devotion - but it is said that they will be all judged “according to their works” - that is, strictly according to their character. They will receive no arbitrary doom; they will have no sentence which will not be just. See Revelation 22:11.
(4) the wicked will be destroyed, in what may be properly called the “second” death. As remarked in the notes, this does not mean that this death will in all respects resemble the first death, but there will be so many points of resemblance that it will be proper to call it “death.” It does not mean that they will be “annihilated,” for “death” never implies that. The meaning is, that this will be a cutting off from what is properly called “life,” from hope, from happiness, and from peace, and a subjection to pain and agony, which it will be proper to call “death” - death in the most fearful form; death that will continue for ever. No statements in the Bible are more clear than those which are made on this point; no affirmation of the eternal punishment of the wicked “could be” more explicit than those which occur in the sacred Scriptures. See the Matthew 25:46 note, and 2 Thessalonians 1:9 note.
(5) this will be the end of the woes and calamities produced in the kingdom of God by sin. The reign of Satan and of Death, so far as the Redeemer‘s kingdom is concerned, will be at an end and henceforward the church will be safe from all the arts and efforts of its foes. Religion will be triumphant, and the affairs of the universe be reduced to permanent order.
(6) the preparation is thus made for the final triumph of the righteous - the state to which all things tend. The writer of this book has conducted the prospective history through all the times of persecution which awaited the church, and stated the principal forms of error which would prevail, and foretold the conflicts through which the church would pass, and described its eventful history to the millennial period, and to the final triumph of truth and righteousness; and now nothing remains to complete the plan of the work but to give a rapid sketch of the final condition of the redeemed. This is done in the two following chapters, and with this the work is ended.
At the general conference of believers in the present truth, held at Sutton, Vermont, September, 1850, I was shown that the seven last plagues will be poured out after Jesus leaves the sanctuary. Said the angel, “It is the wrath of God and the Lamb that causes the destruction or death of the wicked. At the voice of God the saints will be mighty and terrible as an army with banners, but they will not then execute the judgment written. The execution of the judgment will be at the close of the one thousand years.” EW 52.1Read in context »
At the close of the thousand years, Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the host of the redeemed and attended by a retinue of angels. As He descends in terrific majesty He bids the wicked dead arise to receive their doom. They come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea. What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death. GC 662.1
Every eye in that vast multitude is turned to behold the glory of the Son of God. With one voice the wicked hosts exclaim: “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!” It is not love to Jesus that inspires this utterance. The force of truth urges the words from unwilling lips. As the wicked went into their graves, so they come forth with the same enmity to Christ and the same spirit of rebellion. They are to have no new probation in which to remedy the defects of their past lives. Nothing would be gained by this. A lifetime of transgression has not softened their hearts. A second probation, were it given them, would be occupied as was the first in evading the requirements of God and exciting rebellion against Him. GC 662.2Read in context »
Satan rushes into the midst of his followers and tries to stir up the multitude to action. But fire from God out of heaven is rained upon them, and the great men, and mighty men, the noble, the poor and miserable, are all consumed together. I saw that some were quickly destroyed, while others suffered longer. They were punished according to the deeds done in the body. Some were many days consuming, and just as long as there was a portion of them unconsumed, all the sense of suffering remained. Said the angel, “The worm of life shall not die; their fire shall not be quenched as long as there is the least particle for it to prey upon.” EW 294.1
Satan and his angels suffered long. Satan bore not only the weight and punishment of his own sins, but also of the sins of the redeemed host, which had been placed upon him; and he must also suffer for the ruin of souls which he had caused. Then I saw that Satan and all the wicked host were consumed, and the justice of God was satisfied; and all the angelic host, and all the redeemed saints, with a loud voice said, “Amen!” EW 294.2Read in context »
Out of the throne came a pure river of water, and on either side of the river was the tree of life.... The fruit was glorious; it looked like gold mixed with silver. ML 355.2
The fruit of the tree of life in the Garden of Eden possessed supernatural virtue. To eat of it was to live forever. Its fruit was the antidote of death. Its leaves were for the sustaining of life and immortality.... After the entrance of sin the heavenly Husbandman transplanted the tree of life to the Paradise above. ML 355.3
The redeemed saints, who have loved God and kept His commandments here, will enter in through the gates of the city, and have right to the tree of life. They will eat freely of it as our first parents did before their fall. The leaves of that immortal widespread tree will be for the healing of the nations. All their woes will then be gone. Sickness, sorrow, and death they will never again feel, for the leaves of the tree of life have healed them. Jesus will then see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, when the redeemed, who have been subject to sorrow, toil, and afflictions, who have groaned beneath the curse, are gathered up around that tree of life to eat of its immortal fruit, that our first parents forfeited all right to, by breaking God's commands. There will be no danger of their ever losing right to the tree of life again, for he that tempted our first parents to sin will be destroyed by the second death. ML 355.4
Upon the tree of life was most beautiful fruit, of which the saints could partake freely.... The most exalted language fails to describe the glory of heaven or the matchless depths of a Saviour's love. ML 355.5Read in context »