Q279 : Sheep, Goats, and the Lake of Fire

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Q279 : Sheep, Goats, and the Lake of Fire

Dear Tony,

Greeting to you in the peerless name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I was reflecting on the sheep and goats judgment and wondering whether the King's making of the goats to depart into everlasting fire "prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41) is synonymous with their being sent to the Lake of Fire rather than Hades, since Hades is never said to be prepared for the devil and his angels.

If this is so, as I suppose, does it mean that these goats are sent to the Lake of Fire in their natural bodies?

Will there be no death and resurrection for this class of humanity, since it appears that one reason for the second resurrection is to give physical bodies to the dead to enable them to undergo eternal fire/punishment in the Lake of Fire? How does all this square with Revelation 19:21 which says "and the remnant were slain with the sword"? Who might the remnant be if not the goats who supported and fought alongside the beast and the false prophet?

A279 : by Tony Garland

The statement that the goats are to depart into everlasting fire “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat. 25:41) would seem to have the Lake of Fire in view—as you surmise. It could mean this is their immediate destination, or it could be possible that Jesus is simply be referring to their final destiny—which is sealed at that point. They would depart immediately: but perhaps not directly into the Lake of Fire, yet are sure to eventually find themselves there. So that is one possibility to keep in mind.

Even so, my view is that, when read at face value, the passage seems to indicate they go directly into the Lake, never to participate in the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20.

We do have precedent for individuals bypassing judgment and going straight into the Lake of Fire: the Antichrist and False Prophet who are “cast alive into the lake of fire” (Revelation 19:20).

Perhaps, like the beast and false prophet, they are treated specially because of their hardened rejection and mistreatment of Jesus “brethren” during the period immediately preceding the Second Coming. Given that the earth dweller generation opposed to God at the time of the end are specially singled out as hardened (never having been written in the book of life), it could well be that they receive such unique treatment.

I don’t see their resurrection prior to confinement in the Lake as a requirement:

  1. The beast and false prophet are cast alive into the lake (Rev. 19:20), but are not annihilated — we find them there when Satan joins them 1,000 years later (Rev. 20:10).
  2. It seems simple enough for God to adapt/change their physical bodies at the time they are cast into the lake—such that they can remain there eternally (Rev. 20:10). Surely our all-powerful God is not required to kill them and resurrect them before placing them therein.
As to your other question concerning “the remnant who were slain with the sword” in Revelation 19:21, I take those to be people who were direct participants in the battle of Armageddon, who make up the armies of the kings of the earth mentioned in Revelation 19:19. These would be among those gathered by the three demons “to the battle of that great day” (Rev. 16:14-16). Although many people are gathered to participate in the battle of Armageddon, not every individual alive at that time participates. Upon Christ’s return, there are God-opposers remaining among the nations who did not directly participate in that battle. These, then, would be the goats.

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