In the End, There Can Be Only One (Revelation 20 – 21)

posted in: Messages | 0
For the last two weeks we have been talking about the Millennial Kingdom – the thousand years when Jesus Christ himself will rule the planet after he returns to Earth to finish the War of Armageddon at the end of the 7 years of tribulation. Those of us who are Christ Followers now will have the benefit of being raptured away before all of that happens, only to come back with Christ when He returns in our new glorified bodies. Then we will be among the rulers of the Gentile nations during the thousand years. It’s going to be amazingly! Watch last week for the details.
But for now it’s time to move to the end of the thousand years, which we find the details of in Revelation 20.
We’ve already covered part of it, but I’m going to start at verse 1 for context. Chapter 19 ended with the return of Christ and the defeat of the Beast and False Prophet.
Revelation 20
1 And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. 2 He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. 3 He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
That catches us up to what we’ve covered so far. Now comes the epic final battle as Satan is let loose.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
Now you know why they don’t make a movie about this. The epic final battle between Satan and his massive army and the God they have rebelled against…lasts all of about 30 seconds as fire from heaven simply disintegrates them in an instant. It’s as if God is done messing around.
Then he takes the Enemy himself and throws him into the lake of fire where he will be tormented forever for all the pain and evil he has caused. But he won’t be alone. The Beast and False Prophet were thrown in at the beginning of the thousand years, and in a minute there will be even more company.
But before we get to that, let’s talk about the events leading up to this final “battle” if you can even call it that.
For a thousand years now, Satan has been bound in the abyss, and all of his demons are actually incarcerated in the smoldering ruin of Babylon. They have been unable to deceive and tempt anyone. And with Jesus ruling the world with an iron scepter, and dealing with people decisively as necessary – there has no doubt been peace throughout the land on all levels for the full thousand years. But just because everyone is obeying on the outside, doesn’t mean their hearts are truly in it. Which is why it is so easy for the Devil to summon an army that is effectively the full population of the earth at this time.
Remember, the earth was populated with believers at the start, but because they were still naturally human and still had a sin nature, their children didn’t come out of the womb as believers.
Even so, it’s hard to imagine how so many people would reject Jesus when they could see that He is indeed God in the Flesh right in front of them. When they could see his power and glory. But that’s the story of humanity. Faith does not come by seeing.
The Israelites back in the days of Moses experienced a tremendous Miracle when God caused them to walk through the sea on dry ground with walls of water on each side. They saw water miraculously pour out of a rock. They saw Manna from heaven feeding them every day. But when they got to the promised land, they did not believe God would continue the miracles to conquer it.
Same as the Pharisees and religious leaders during Jesus’ ministry. They see him perform miracles and even raise the dead, but instead of believing he is the promised Messiah they’ve been waiting for – they have him killed.
So, really, it comes as no surprise that so many would be in His presence but still not bow the knee in their hearts.
The Words of Jesus will still be true –
Matthew 7
13 “…Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
So, back to the end of the Millennium – what lie do you suppose the Devil told all these people that would make them actually think they could fight against the King who can slay them with words from his mouth?
Probably the same lie he told Eve in the garden. “Did God really say? You won’t surely die. You will be like God.”  Perhaps he makes them believe they will have strength in numbers. Who knows, but apparently it works.
And so, people from all over the world – which I believe will be one land mass at this time rather than several continents separated by oceans – march toward Jerusalem.
I’m guessing all the believers will head there too to seek protection in the city. It doesn’t say.
Now one thing that is mentioned in this account is something that has puzzled commentators for centuries. John mentions Gog and Magog, but gives no further explanation. Which would seem to point us back to Ezekiel and his prophecy against Gog of the land of Magog. It’s covered in Ezekiel 38 and 39 if you want to read it.
The matching names that are found nowhere else in the Bible would seem to make it an obvious connection, but the description of the battle in Ezekiel is very different from the one in Revelation. It’s more drawn out. And instead of the enemy being devoured completely, it says it takes Israel seven months to clean up the bodies, and they use their wooden weapons and such as firewood for seven years. That doesn’t sound like what we just read in Revelation. So, while some commentators still hold that they are the same event, many do not. I tend to side with the group that suggests the battle in Ezekiel happens at another time we don’t know about.
Either way, it’s not that important.
The end result is the same.
God wins completely and absolutely by annihilating the enemy armies in one fell swoop.
And thus ends the final rebellion.
What follows next is the final accounting.
Revelation 20
11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
This is a heavy scene, and not one that people like to think about or talk about. This is called the Great White Throne judgment, and it is the judgment of all nonbelievers – all who have rejected God as their Lord and King. This is where they will receive the punishment for their treason – the punishment that Christ offered to suffer for them, but they refused.
Aside from the judgment scene, there are a few interesting things to note here.
First, the earth and the heavens fled from God’s presence, and there was no place for them. What this most likely means is that the universe is uncreated. The heavens here are talking about our sky and outer space, not where you go when you die as a believer. Jesus himself predicted this.
Luke 21:33
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Anyway, the creation is uncreated – the earth, moon, sun and stars all disappear as quickly as they appeared when God spoke them into being – leaving behind all the souls of those who have been in hades awaiting this moment. Hades is where non-believers go when they die to await this, the second resurrection.
So, all the non-believing dead are lining up in front of the great throne, and the books are opened. Some are books that have everyone’s life stories in them, and then there’s the Book of Life.
That is the important one. Everyone standing in this line does NOT have their name in it. Everyone standing in this line is still guilty of treason and died still sitting on God’s throne. And now they will be judged according to what they have done.
And it seems that the punishment will be more or less severe based on what you have done in your life. Though I don’t think levels of the lake of fire will be that much different from each other.
Make no mistake, there is only one way to get your name in that book.
It doesn’t matter how good you are or how bad you are.
If you have not been washed with the blood of the Lamb, redeemed, justified, and forgiven – by believing in your heart that Jesus was indeed the Son of God, lived a sinless life, died on the cross, and was raised to life AND you confess that Jesus is Lord – Your Lord, King and Master
If you have not done both of those completely and fully, then my friend your name is not in the book.  And this is your fate.
I urge you to examine yourself as to where your allegiance lies.
Is it to thine own self be true?
Is it like Frank Sinatra – I do it my way?
Or are you submitted to the King who loves you so much he died for you?
You can’t fake it.
Now, aside from all the people being thrown into the lake of fire – it also says that Death and Hades are thrown in as well. That is interesting because generally Death and Hades are not considered to be tangible things or people, but I guess somehow they do exist in such a way that they can be thrown into the lake of fire. Or it may just be a figurative way of saying all the people that were still dead in hades were thrown in. We can’t be sure.
But one thing we do know is that it’s not SOULS going into the lake of fire, but resurrected BODIES. We learn that in Daniel.
Daniel 12
1 At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Again we see about the book, and only two possible destinies.
Now, at this point – something extremely important has happened that is easy to miss with all the focus on the throne and judgment.
Last week I started to share with you about how all of these end-time happenings are ultimately about God keeping his promises to mankind through the centuries.
Here’s where we left it last week.
There are six major covenants that God made with Man, starting with the promise to defeat Satan at the very beginning, followed by the promise not to destroy the earth by a flood again (later we learn it will be by fire), followed by the promise of land to Abraham, blessings to Moses, and a Kingdom to David – all fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom. And finally the New Covenant established by Jesus himself that also finds fulfillment in the Millennial Kingdom.
In the events after the Millennium that we just covered, the remaining outstanding covenants are fulfilled.
Let’s examine.
Noah’s covenant can be found in
Genesis 9
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”
Then God put the rainbow in the sky as a reminder of that promise.
But notice that God was specific. He did not say He will never judge the earth again. He did not even say he will never destroy the earth again. Only that He wouldn’t do it with a flood.
And the great and sad irony of our modern times is that the Enemy has convinced the world that the rainbow is the symbol of God’s acceptance of everything that caused God to destroy the earth in the first place. Don’t think that’s just a coincidence.
We learn later from Peter something rather important…
2 Peter 3
1 Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Our modern world has indeed deliberately forgotten and outright denied the great flood of judgment, and thus they will be shocked when the earth is destroyed again by fire. But it won’t be our generation that sees this. It will be the final generation of the Millennium. Let’s read it again in Revelation.
Revelation 20
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
The flood of Noah did not destroy the planet, but it destroyed all condemned life on the planet. This fire from heaven will do the same. Thus, in a sense, fulfilling the promise God made to Noah that the final judgment would not be by water.

Five covenants down, one to go.
As part of the curse on the Serpent, who was Satan, God promises his ultimate defeat.
Genesis 3
15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”
The “he” is Jesus, who, as we saw, will ultimately crush Satan despite Satan wounding Jesus at the cross.
Little did Satan know, those wounds were always part of the plan for his ultimate demise.
So far in our Revelation story, the Devil has been bound up but not destroyed. But what happens just after the fire from heaven?
Revelation 20
10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
This ultimate defeat of Satan fulfills the promise made at the very beginning.
All covenants and promises to man fulfilled in the reverse order that they were made.
I don’t know about you, but I think that is totally awesome!
And that’s not even the whole picture!
It turns out that there is one more covenant that precedes these covenants made between God and Man. You may recognize it as it has come up quite frequently recently in my talks.
Psalm 2
7 He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
8 Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You will break them with a rod of iron;
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Psalm 2 is a prophetic Psalm that seems to portray a conversation between God the Father and God the Son before the creation of the world. God the Father told God the Son that if he asked for it, he would be given the earth and nations. And based on our study so far, it would seem that he must have asked.
And so, Jesus ruling the earth in the Millennial Kingdom would seem to have fulfilled that promise completely – but it turns out there was more to it than that.
The Apostle Paul got a few more details about it and shared them with us in his first letter to the Corinthians.
Chapter 15 is a long and thorough explanation of what it is we believe as Christians, especially pertaining to Jesus rising from the dead. We’ll pick it up in verse 20.
1 Corinthians 15
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
So, Paul is making a case for the fact that you and I will live after death, be resurrected, because Jesus was resurrected. He is also explaining how there is a larger order to all of it. Christ rose first, then others called the firstfruits – likely meaning the church at the Rapture, and then when he comes back there will be more resurrections like the OT saints and Trib saints.
Now he’s going to talk about what happens once all the good resurrections are done.
24 Then the end will come, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
So, Jesus was promised the earthly Kingdom, which he got to have for a thousand years. Now at the end, he is going to hand the Kingdom back over to God the Father – once he has destroyed all enemies. So far in Revelation we have seen the Beast, the False Prophet, and even Satan defeated. But here it says that the last enemy to be destroyed is death.
And what do we see as the last thing to get thrown into the lake of fire?
Revelation 20
14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.
Mission accomplished.
To which Paul reports…
1 Corinthians 15
28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
In the end there can be only one.
So, from before the world began, God the Father makes a promise to God the Son, which is fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom, but part of that promise included a task for Jesus to destroy all enemies, with Death itself being the last enemy to defeat – which we see happening here at the White Throne Judgment.
Once that is done, all of God’s promises have been fulfilled. The first one TO His son, and the last one THROUGH His Son.
All have been fulfilled. Jesus has completed his task and defeated all enemies.
Now He can hand the kingdom back to the Father so that God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – may be ALL IN ALL.
Which looks like this…
Revelation 21
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
The whole thing was planned out in perfect symmetry from before time began, and it WILL play out just as God has decreed that it would.
I don’t know about you, but I find this amazing and awe inspiring.
What an awesome God we serve!
And the amazing blessed promise of God for all who will listen is that you and I can be part of that ALL IN ALL.
We will one day get to live in the presence of God Almighty, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
Only Joy unspeakable and full of glory!
As God says
Revelation 21
 “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
What a wonderful future awaits us.

And as much as I would love to end on that high note and let you go home feeling awesome about yourself and the wonderful future that is in store for us – It would be committing Scriptural Fraud and would actually be the opposite of loving you to do so.
Scriptural fraud because we stopped one verse short of God’s complete statement.
And the opposite of loving because God himself, who loves you and I with a love that far surpasses what we can even fathom or give ourselves, does not deliver this beautiful and inviting news – without also making it drastically clear that this future is not for everyone.
The full statement reads…
Revelation 21
 “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
In the same joyful description of the future for those who are righteous, comes the warning about what and who won’t be allowed in God’s Perfect Kingdom.
Paul spelled out something similar in
1 Corinthians 6
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
My friends, maybe you can ignore Paul and the Old Testament on these subjects, but when God the Father in his Alpha and Omega speech in the new heaven and new earth spells it out the same way. I would hope you would listen.
God is not kidding around. He is creating a new world because we ruined this one. And in this new world, there will be no sin. Meaning, He WILL NOT tolerate people who claim his name but stay on his throne thinking they can do what they want.
Jesus made this clear in in famous Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 7
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
God is not interested in your good works. He is ONLY interested in your obedience – your allegiance to the king.
God is saying, “You don’t get to come to me on your terms. You don’t get to have my blessing while you live in sin. You cannot claim to follow my Son when the only thing you follow is yourself and the culture.”
This is not a game.
This is not just some concept.
There are real and eternal consequences, and you cannot fool God.

Now, just to be clear, since the Enemy will take this opportunity to whisper into your ear that this means God wants you to be perfect and live by some external code you have no hope of keeping, God is not saying you have to be perfect. He knows we cannot be.
But there is a big difference between a heart that truly desires to please God but sometimes falls into temptation, and a heart that calls Jesus Lord but still does whatever it wants and even claims that God is OK with it.
That’s called one-cheeking it.
You want Jesus to be king, but you want to be king too, so instead of getting off the throne completely, you slide over to just one cheek.
Jesus, you rule that side, I rule this side, and we both win!
Thanks for the free ride to heaven when I die and done having my fun and living for myself.
If that’s you. You may do lots of good things. You may even be able to do miracles in Jesus name – because as what Jesus said shows, God can and does use people that are not on his team to do good. Even Judas served a purpose. – but when you get to the other side, you’re going to find yourself standing in line at the White Throne rather than ruling the nations in a new home in the Kingdom.
And you may plead your case and list all your works, but Jesus will simply look at you and shrug and say,  “What made you think that was ME on the other half of that throne? Telling you that what you’re doing is OK?”
My friends, this is so important. Who do you think wants that throne even more than you do? Who was the first to try to take it? Who was the one that tempted Eve with subtle little lies? Who is the one that convinces the whole world at the end that they can beat God, only to be devoured by fire in an instant? Who is it that Jesus says is the father of lies and only comes to steal, kill, and destroy?
My friends, if you are one-cheeking it on the throne, it ain’t Jesus on the other half.
God does not share his glory or his throne with anyone.
And God will not and cannot tolerate unrepentant perpetual sin.
He says so throughout His word, but none so pointedly as here at the end.
Revelation 21
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
I’m going to break these terms down because I love you too much to let you walk away ignorant of this.
Cowardly – means too afraid to follow Jesus. Too afraid to be hated by the world. Too worried about what others think. Hebrews calls it shrinking back when things get tough. This is what Jesus was referring to in his parable of the sower/soils – the rocky soil.
Matthew 13
20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Unbelieving – does not mean you don’t believe Jesus is real. It means you don’t put your full faith and confidence in HIS sacrifice on your behalf.
Vile – The Greek behind this is actually a verb meaning “having become abominable” – basically those guilty of the abominations in Scripture – which include the things in the rest of the list.
Sexually Immoral – which includes any and all kinds of sexual activity both physical and mental, as Jesus specified, outside of the marriage between a man and woman. Everything else is an ABOMINATION.
Magic Arts or Sorcery – literally Drug Abuse of self and others.
Idolaters – worshiping anything other than the one true God.
Jesus – who is THE TRUTH – has a particular hatred for those who spread lies.
The people who practice these things continually and unrepentantly (meaning they don’t care and are not sorry for it), GOD ALMIGHTY SAYS WILL NOT inherit the kingdom,
WILL NOT be his children,
WILL NOT be in the new heavens and new earth,
but will instead join Satan and the others in the Lake of Fire for all eternity.
This is not fire and brimstone preaching, this is simply the truth of the Scripture we just read.
If this is not sobering to you, then you need to check your pulse.
I don’t like this any more than you do.
If I didn’t love you so much I’d be happy to just skip over it.
Because we are all guilty of probably at least one of these at times if not more.
Which is why the grace and mercy of God is oh so sweet.
Because even if your whole life before this point was characterized by ALL of these abominations and more, you are not beyond redemption.
In Paul’s version of this, after he lists the things that will keep you out of the kingdom…
He doesn’t just stop there and say, sorry or good luck. He continues with something amazing.
1 Corinthians 6
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Did you catch it. He’s saying that some of you WERE THAT WAY. Some of you did all or some of those things. Some of you wallowed in the filthy pit of sin in your past, but because of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God you were washed, sanctified and justified.
Justified – because of Jesus’ atoning death on that cross, if you put your faith in Him and make Him your Lord, you are declared INNOCENT of all charges.
Sanctified – The Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you – making YOU HOLY,  Set apart and empowered to do the works God has called you to do.
Washed – When God forgives, he also forgets.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Psalm 103
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
So beautiful. Like a warm blanket. Like a tight embrace. That is the joy and the benefit – not for everyone, but as the Psalmist repeats several times in this poem – for those who fear the Lord.
These things, and heaven, and the kingdom to come are ONLY for those who fear God.
And that doesn’t mean to be afraid of Him.  It means what the Psalmist ends with.
Those who fear God are those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Jesus made it clear over and over and over that the greatest commandment is to Love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that to love God is to obey Him. Not to obey some law, or some list of rules.
But to know God personally and obey Him moment by moment as your heart is tuned to His and empowered by the Holy Spirit that is inside of you.
And the extended hand of God to you though Jesus is saying – it doesn’t matter what you’ve believed or been doing up to this moment.
Now that I’ve shown you the truth, will you accept it?
Will you get completely off of my throne and allow me to be Lord of your life so that I can use you for my glory and bless you in the process?
Or will you remain deceived into thinking you can have it both ways?
My friends, we have now read almost to the end of the book.
We now know how this all turns out.
We’ve been given a great gift of seeing how our present day choices effect our eternal futures.
And right now, because of God’s patience and great mercy, we still have a choice between the two drastically different destinies.
But that won’t be the case forever.
In the end, there will be only one.
Let’s pray.