And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away…
I. THE SUPREME TRIBUNAL: "A great white throne." It is a new wonder. St. John saw other thrones in more than one apocalyptic disclosure, but none like this. It is unique and transcendent. It is "great." It represents Divine majesty. It is "white." Its intolerable splendour is without a stain. It is not a throne of grace. To it no penitents are welcomed. None could bow before it. No elemency is published and no forgiveness dispensed. It is the supreme and final tribunal. From the decisions of this bar there is no appeal. The sentences of the King are irreversible.
II. THE INTOLERABLE PURITY OF THE JUDGE: "Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away." Descriptions may be indefinite from the lack of graphic ability in the narrator, or from the impossibility of seizing and reporting the transcendent and stupendous objects which he has to record. Not a single minute particular is given in St. John's outline of the dread vision. All that we are told of the throne is, that it is vast, and dazzling in its whiteness. "Him that sat upon" the throne; but not a syllable is there about that sight. Of that face — its majesty, brightness, terror — St. John could utter nothing; but he has recorded what followed its unveiling. Earth and heaven, as conscious and guilty things, fled away — just as the stars retreat and disappear when the sun darts forth at break of day, or rather as tow and gossamer fly and vanish when touched by the flame. The face from which all nature shrank into instantaneous invisibility, and could discover no space to hide in, was incapable of description.
III. THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE DREAD ASSIZE: "I Saw the dead, small and great, stand before God." Earth and heaven were permitted to vanish from the face, the splendour and purity of which they could not endure. Not so men. The guiltiest, though the heart shrink, must encounter the sight and hear the sentence. St. John "saw the earth and heaven fly"; but "the dead, small and great, stand," stand "before the throne," and await their doom.
IV. THE IMPARTIALITY OF THE SOLEMN AWARDS. The prominent truth in the vision is, He will "judge the people righteously." "According to their works," as good or evil, holy or unholy, the sentence will be given. Faith ""n the blood of atonement, without a life of reverence, virtue, love of God, self-sacrifice, and Christ-like nobleness, is the pretence of hypocrites and traitors. "According to their works," St. John saw "every man judged."
V. GREAT AND APPROACHING CHANGES IN THE SEEN AND UNSEEN WORLDS: "And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire." We cannot understand this statement without recalling the peculiarities of our present life. To the righteous now there exist the earth and the unseen heaven. After the judgment the distinction between the earth where we are and heaven where God is, will be abolished. The earth and the visible skies are to depart; the unseen heaven will alone remain. Resembling changes await the wicked. The bodies of the unrighteous are in the graves of this planet. Their souls are in Hades awaiting judgment. The scene of retribution is a future and unseen world. After judgment, the earth and the grave will be Be more. Hades — the unseen world of spirits — will be similarly abrogated. Death and Hades, and all which they represent, will merge in retribution, of which the lake of fire is the symbol.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.