The End of the Road

Chapter 44

At the coming of Christ, the wicked are destroyed by the brightness of His glory; and Christ takes His people to the City of God. The earth is left a barren wilderness. "Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof." "The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word." "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." Isaiah 24:1, 3, 5–6

Satan will then be confined to the earth, now devoid of life. The revelator foretells the banishment of Satan and the condition of desolation to which the earth is to be reduced, and he states that this condition will continue for a thousand years. After presenting the scenes of the Lord's second coming and the destruction of the wicked, the prophecy continues: "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season." Revelation 20:1–3

That the expression "bottomless pit" represents the earth in a state of chaos and darkness is evident from other scriptures. Concerning the condition of the earth "in the beginning," the Bible record says that it "was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Genesis 1:2. According to prophecy, it will be at least partially brought back to this condition. Looking forward to the great day of God, the prophet Jeremiah declares: "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger." Jeremiah 4:23–26

For a thousand years, this is to be the home of Satan with his evil angels. Limited to the earth, he will have no one to tempt and disturb. Stripped of his power, he will be left to consider the part which he has acted since first he rebelled against the government of heaven and to look forward with trembling and terror to the dreadful future when he must suffer for all the evil that he has done.

At the close of the thousand years, Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the redeemed and attended by a host of angels. As He descends in glory and majesty, He calls the wicked dead to life to receive their sentence. They come forth, numberless as the sands of the sea. In contrast to the righteous who were raised clothed with immortal youth and beauty, the wicked bear the traces of disease and death.

As the wicked went into their graves, so they come forth with the same hatred for Christ and the same spirit of rebellion. Nothing would be gained by a new probation in which to correct the failings of their past lives. A lifetime of sin and rebellion against their Creator has not worked in them a change of mind. A second opportunity to change, were it given them, would be taken up as was the, first in ignoring the requirements of God and arousing rebellion against Him.

Now Satan prepares for a last mighty struggle for the supremacy. As he sees the vast numbers upon his side, his hopes revive; and he determines not to yield the great controversy without a struggle. He will organize all the armies of the lost and through them seek to fulfill his plans. In rejecting Christ, the wicked have accepted his rulership; and as his captives, they are ready to follow his leading. Pointing to the unnumbered millions who have been raised from the dead, he declares that with him as their leader they are well able to take the city.

Now Christ again appears to the view of His enemies. Holding supreme authority and power, the King of kings pronounces sentence upon the rebels against His government and executes justice upon those who have transgressed His Law and persecuted His people. Says the prophet of God: "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. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." Revelation 20:11–12

The entire wicked world stands before the judgment bar of God, arraigned on the charge of high treason against the government of heaven. They have none to plead their cause; they are without excuse, and the sentence of eternal death is pronounced against them. It is the time of the judgment and destruction of ungodly men—"For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion." Isaiah 34:8. They "shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Malachi 4:1

It is now evident to all that the wages of sin is not noble independence, but death. The wicked see that by their life of rebellion they have despised the gift of God, but how desirable it now appears. All this, they realize, might have been theirs; but they have exchanged peace and happiness for misery and despair. All see that their exclusion from heaven is just. By their lives, they have declared: "We will not have this Man [Jesus] to reign over us."

Fire comes down from God out of heaven. "The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." 2 Peter 3:10. The earth's surface seems one molten mass-a vast, seething lake of fire.

Satan's work of ruin is forever ended. For six thousand years he has had his way, filling the earth with sorrow. The whole creation has suffered in misery. Now God's creatures are forever delivered from his presence and temptations.

"I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." Revelation 21:1. The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. No evidence of the curse remains. There will be no eternally burning hell to continually remind the saved of the fearful consequences of sin, marring their happiness as they view the torture of the lost.

One reminder alone remains. Upon His wounded head, His side, His hands and feet, our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. These will be the only traces of the cruel results of sin. Says the prophet, beholding Christ in His glory: "He had bright beams coming out of His side: and there was the hiding of His power." Habakkuk 3:4, margin. The reminders of His humiliation are His highest honor. Through the ages of eternity, the wounds of Calvary will show forth His praise and declare His power.

There "the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose." "Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree." "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, . . . and a little child shall lead them. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," saith the Lord. Isaiah 35:1; 55:13; 11:6, 9

"And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." "And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." Revelation 21:4; Isaiah 33:24

"The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse 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 un shadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love." The Great Controversy, 678

"And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." Revelation 5:13

Though the journey at times has been lonely, and the way difficult, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, have reached the end of the road; they are home at last.