The Final Phase of the Judgment Index

Daniel has unveiled to us three phases of the judgment: the judgment of the righteous (pre-advent judgment)(see lessons 13, 14, 15), the judgment of the wicked during 1000 years (see Lesson 16), and the execution of the judgment at the end of the 1000 years. In this lesson we want to study carefully the third phase - the execution of the judgment.

The final phase of the judgment is the meting out of punishment to the wicked. According to popular teaching today, a wicked person goes to hell as soon as he dies, yet Daniel and Revelation have clearly revealed to us that the wicked are not judged until the 1000 years, and that they are punished at the end of the 1000 years. How could this be true if a lost person goes to hell when he dies?

This lesson is very closely related to the previous one and will examine three questions: When does hell take place? Where does it take place? and, How long does the punishment last?

Daniel and the Fate of the Wicked
1. To what does Daniel say the wicked will be resurrected? Daniel 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.  
2. What is the final fate of the little horn? Daniel 7:26 But the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. The little horn is symbolic of all the wicked, according to Daniel, will eventually be consumed and destroyed.
When will the Wicked be Punished?
According to popular teaching, a wicked person goes to hell as son as he dies. Therefore, punishment is received immediately after death. If this were true, how unfair would God be. Cain slew Abel six thousand years ago. According to popular teaching, Cain would have gone to hell when he died and would have been burning ever since. Someone else commits murder today and goes to hell at death, but poor Cain has to burn six thousand years longer for the crime of being born six thousand years earlier! is that justice? Every sense of justice suggest that people be punished alike for the same crime.
3. According to the apostle Peter; when are the wicked punished? 2 Peter 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: If the wicked are reserved for the final day of judgment, they cannot be burning now.
4. When did Jesus say the wicked will be burned in the fire?

Matthew 13:40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of the world.

Matthew 13:41-42 The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus makes it clear that the wicked are not placed in the fire until the end of the world.
5. When does John the Revelator say the wicked will be cast into the fire?

Revelation 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.

Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.

Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The Bible is very clear on the question of when the wicked will be punished. They are not cast into the fire until the end of the 1000 years.
Where Are the Wicked Punished?
Popular teaching today suggests that hell is going on in the center of the earth. The devil stands there with his pitchfork, poking people in the fire continually. Obviously this is a fictitious medieval concept that has no place in modern thinking and no place in Biblical teaching.
6. Where does the Bible say the fires of hell will take place? Revelation 20:9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. As the wicked encircle the Holy City, fire comes down and destroys them. They are not inside the earth somewhere; they are right on the earth.
7. How does the apostle Peter describe the fires of hell?

2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

2 Peter 3:11-12 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Peter's picture of the fires of hell is very clear. The entire world is engulfed in flames that totally destroy the surface of the earth. The world was destroyed in Noah's day by a flood of water. It will be destroyed the second time by a flood of fire that will totally annihilate the wicked.
8. When the fire is all over, what does God create? Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. The heavens in this text refer to the atmospheric heavens, not the heaven where God dwells (2 Peter 3:7). The present surface of the earth as we know it will be totally destroyed. then it will be returned to its original perfection by recreation. It will then become the final home of God's redeemed people throughout all eternity.
How Long Are the Wicked Punished?

Popular teaching suggests that when people go to hell, they continue burning throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. In other words, they never, never stop burning. Notice one preacher's description of what hell is like:

"In the kingdom to come there is a large and broad valley where the multitudes of lost souls are suffering all the torments of the damned. Spanning the valley is a high bridge which gives a good view of the whole terrain. One of the joys of the saints is to go out on this bridge on the Sabbath day and view these poor souls. they see friends, relatives,... father, mother, brother, sister, husband, or wife in torment. This is a feast for the eyes."

""See! It is a pitiful sight. The little child is in this red-hot over. Hear how it screams to come out. See how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor of the oven. You can see on the face of this little child what you see on the faces of all in hell - despair, desperate and horrible!... God was very good t this child. Very likely God saw that this child would get worse and worse, and would never repent and so it would have to be punished much more in hell. So God, in His mercy, called it out of the world in its early childhood." Quoted in "What Hell will Be like," Ruben Engstrom, Southern Publishing Association, page 4.

What a picture of God! No wonder many people view God as a tyrant when they think of God punishing people without end throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity. There have been monstrous tyrants throughout history. They would torture people endlessly, but at long last they at least allowed his victims to finally die. However, some would have us believe that God is a worse tyrant than human tyrants. The teaching is that by some miraculous process God keeps renewing people, keeping them alive so that He can keep on torturing them without end. No wonder the doctrine of an eternally burning hell has made more infidels than any doctrine the devil has ever devised.

The destruction of the wicked is a frequently mentioned subject in Scripture. In fact, it is referred to 182 times as complete annihilation: 98 in the Old Testament and 84 in the New Testament. One hundred and eight-two times Scripture declares that hell will end and the wicked will never be any more. There are also five or six texts that are not as clear, but as we look at them more carefully we will discover them to be in harmony with the rest of Scripture. Proponents of the teaching that hell will never come to an end have latched on to these five or six texts, completely ignoring the 182 clear texts of Scripture indicating the final, total, complete annihilation of the wicked.

9. What does Jesus say will be the ultimate fate of the wicked? John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. A stronger word cannot be found to describe the cessation of life than the word "perish."
10. How does the psalmist, David, describe the fate of the wicked?

Psalm 37:9 For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.

Psalm 37:10 For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be.

11. How else does David describe the fate of the wicked? Psalm 37:20 But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume into smoke shall they consume away. Here again is a picture of total and absolute annihilation.
12. Will the fires of hell burn people up, or will it keep on burning them? Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root not branch.  
13. When the fire has done its work, how much will be left? Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root not branch. When a tree is burned up, both its branches and its roots, there is nothing left of the tree. It is totally destroyed, totally consumed, totally annihilated.
14. What is the only thing that is left of the wicked after the fire has done its work? Malachi 4:3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.  
15. What two cities in the Bible are mentioned as examples of hell fire? Jude 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. These two cities are no longer burning. The fire burned until it had completely consumed and destroyed the city, then it went out. The Bible states that these two cities are examples of what hell fire is like. When the fire had done its work, it will go out.
The Fate of Satan
16. What does Jesus plan to do to Satan? Hebrews 2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;  
17. How does God destroy the devil? Revelation 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.  
18. What is the lake of fire called? Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. Please note that the fire results in death, a death from which there is no resurrection.
19. In Ezekiel 28, under the symbolism of the king of Tyre, God addresses Lucifer, that arch rebel. How does god bring an end to Lucifer? Ezekiel 28:18 Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.

Again, notice the strong language used to describe the destruction of Satan. He is destroyed by fire, he is devoured and reduced to ashes. The fate of the wicked is the same fate that awaits Satan himself.

20. Will Satan still exist in the fire? Ezekiel 28:19 All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. We don't have to worry about Satan getting out of hell. God will forever bring an end to Satan. What a glorious truth!
The End of Sin
21. What is the wages of sin? Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The penalty for sin is not everlasting life in hell, but death. God does not offer us a choice between life in hell or life in heaven. The choice offered us is life versus death. If a person burned throughout the ceaseless ages of eternity in hell, amazingly he would still receive eternal life. It certainly would not be a pleasant life, but it would still be life, and he would never receive the wages of , which is death. hell fire is not the punishment for sin; death is. The fire is only the means to bring about the end, which is death. If the fire does not result in death, then it is not the punishment of sin.
22. Who only has eternal life?

1 John 5:11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His son.

1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

Life is available only in Jesus Christ. Only those who have accepted Christ as their Saviour have everlasting life. Without Christ there can be no life. Satan would like us to think that we can have life without Christ. If eternal hell were true, that would be possible. Scripture is just too clear - there is no life apart from Jesus Christ.
23. On Calvary, Christ paid the penalty for our sins. He suffered the second death for us. Is Jesus still being punished on the cross today, or did He die on the cross?

John 19:30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and he bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.

John 19:33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs:

The fact that Jesus died on the cross is the strongest evidence against the pagan doctrine of eternal torment. Our Saviour paid the penalty for our sin. That penalty was death, not burning through all eternity in hell. God will deal deal with the sin problem. He will totally destroy sin and sinners. They will be no more. God has done the only thing that a just god could do in destroying sinners. But praise God, He is not a pagan tyrant. He is just, but He is also merciful.

"The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One plus of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all flow life and light and gladness throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things, animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love." Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, page 678.

24. What did God do so that you don't have to perish in hell? John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  
25. Are you thankful that a merciful and just God will destroy sin and sinners, but that He will not punish them throughout all eternity?