The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. Proverbs 11:31. They
"shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the
Lord of hosts." Malachi 4:1. Some are destroyed as in a moment, while
others suffer many days. All are punished "according to their deeds."
The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to
suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has
caused God's people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than
that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by
his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames
the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch--Satan the root, his
followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the
demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare
the righteousness of Jehovah.
Satan's work of ruin is forever ended. For six thousand years he has
wrought his will, filling the earth with woe and causing grief throughout
the universe. The whole creation has groaned and travailed together in
pain. Now God's creatures are forever delivered from his presence and
temptations. "The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they [the
righteous] break forth into singing." Isaiah 14:7. And a shout of praise
and triumph ascends from the whole loyal universe. "The voice of a great
multitude," "as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty
thunderings," is heard, saying: "Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent
reigneth." Revelation 19:6.
While the earth was wrapped in the fire of destruction, the righteous
abode safely in the Holy City. Upon those that had part in the first
resurrection, the second death has no power. While God is to the wicked a
consuming fire, He is to His people both a sun and a shield. Revelation
20:6; Psalm 84:11.
"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. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No
eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful
consequences of sin.
One reminder alone remains: Our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His
crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are
the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought. 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. That
pierced side whence flowed the crimson stream that reconciled man to
God--there is the Saviour's glory, there "the hiding of His power."
"Mighty to save," through the sacrifice of redemption, He was therefore
strong to execute justice upon them that despised God's mercy. And the
tokens of His humiliation are His highest honor; through the eternal ages
the wounds of Calvary will show forth His praise and declare His power.
"O Tower of the flock, the stronghold of the daughter of Zion, unto Thee
shall it come, even the first dominion." Micah 4:8. The time has come to
which holy men have looked with longing since the flaming sword barred the
first pair from Eden, the time for "the redemption of the purchased
possession." Ephesians 1:14. The earth originally given to man as his
kingdom, betrayed by him into the hands of Satan, and so long held by the
mighty foe, has been brought back by the great plan of redemption. All
that was lost by sin has been restored. "Thus saith the Lord . . . that
formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in
vain, He formed it to be inhabited." Isaiah 45:18. God's original purpose
in the creation of the earth is fulfilled as it is made the eternal abode
of the redeemed. "The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein
forever." Psalm 37:29.
A fear of making the future inheritance seem too material has led many to
spiritualize away the very truths which lead us to look upon it as our
home. Christ assured His disciples that He went to prepare mansions for
them in the Father's house. Those who accept the teachings of God's word
will not be wholly ignorant concerning the heavenly abode. And yet, "eye
hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him." 1 Corinthians
2:9. Human language is inadequate to describe the reward of the righteous.
It will be known only to those who behold it. No finite mind can
comprehend the glory of the Paradise of God.
In the Bible the inheritance of the saved is called "a country." Hebrews
11:14-16. There the heavenly Shepherd leads His flock to fountains of
living waters. The tree of life yields its fruit every month, and the
leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations. There are
ever-flowing streams, clear as crystal, and beside them waving trees cast
their shadows upon the paths prepared for the ransomed of the Lord. There
the wide-spreading plains swell into hills of beauty, and the mountains of
God rear their lofty summits. On those peaceful plains, beside those
living streams, God's people, so long pilgrims and wanderers, shall find a
"My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings,
and in quiet resting places." "Violence shall no more be heard in thy
land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy
walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise." "They shall build houses, and
inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and
another eat: . . . Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."
Isaiah 32:18; 60:18; 65:21, 22.
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.