The Final Showdown
The earth is the proving ground for the validity, power, indestructibility, justice, and perfect righteousness of the principles upon which God’s kingdom is built. During the span of history from the beginning of the world until now, Satan and his hosts have mounted every possible assault in their desperate search for that one weakness or flaw needed to supply the evidence to prove that God’s ways are not perfect and need to be reformed. They have worked to provoke God to the point where He would arise to sweep humankind off the face of the earth. They have subjected Him to the greatest test that could ever come upon Him at their hands and devices.
This has been no light test for God. He is a being of infinite power and love. The witness of human history shows that the more power a person possesses, the greater the danger of his corruption. A great many have successfully endured privation and poverty only to be destroyed by coming into possession of riches and power. Furthermore, the intense sensitivity of Gods nature and perceptions causes Him to view sin with a hatred and detestation that no human being could either know or understand. Throughout the entire period of the great controversy, God has been suffering intense anguish.
All heaven suffered in Christ’s agony; but that suffering did not begin or end with His manifestation in humanity. The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception sin has brought to the heart of God. Every departure from the right, every deed of cruelty, every failure of humanity to reach His ideal, brings grief to Him. When there came upon Israel the calamities that were the sure result of separation from God, – subjugation by their enemies, cruelty, and death, it is said that “His soul was grieved for the misery of Israel.” In all their affliction He was afflicted: . . . and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” Judges 10:16; Isaiah 63:9.
Our world is a vast lazar house, a scene of misery that we dare not allow even our thoughts to dwell upon. Did we realize it as it is, the burden would be too terrible! Yet God feels it all (Education, pp. 263, 264).
Christ feels the woes of every sufferer. When evil spirits rend a human frame, Christ feels the curse. When fever is burning up the life current, He feels the Agony (The Desire of Ages, p. 823).
The depth of God’s continual suffering needs to be better realized and appreciated. There has been the inclination to think that Jesus came to this earth, suffered with increasing intensity for thirty-three years, and then returning to the perfect bliss and painlessness of heaven. This is anything but the truth. The Father and Son have suffered to a depth of which we have neither knowledge nor experience.
This personal pain is distasteful to God who desires the end of all suffering more than we ever could. He has the power to end it in an instant by simply obliterating it. Yet he does not yield to the pressure of His own feelings and desires. He is prepared to suffer in order to maintain the principles of His government, whereby we will be assured eternally the happiness and security of all the universe. If we could enter into the full extent of God’s sufferings, and at the same time possess the power He has, then we would know something of the pressure exerted on Him throughout the great controversy.
But during all those ages of darkness and death, of temptation and suffering, God has never deviated from the stated and perfect principles of His government and kingdom. He has never violated the freedom given to an individual, has never taken a person’s life, has never destroyed, and has never in the smallest particular way broken law. He has been strictly impartial and just. He has been the Saviour, ever and only working to bless, heal, and restore. Satan has never gained a point over the Lord in battle. From it all, God emerges as untouched by sin as if it had never entered the universe. He is immaculate.
But while God has been immaculately perfect in all his activities, He has not been seen as such. In the eyes of humanity, Satan has dressed the pure and holy God in his own evil garments. Millions upon millions have gone to their graves with a decidedly reversed view of the true nature of righteousness and the God of righteousness. The great controversy cannot be settled until every one of those minds sees the true nature of our heavenly Father and confesses His perfect justice and righteousness.
God is not concerned about clearing His name for His own personal interest. He is not proud. He does not take personal offense. But He does understand that His character and the principles of righteousness are one and the same. Therefore, the justification of one assures the establishment of the other. He further knows that the eternal happiness and security of the universe depends on the vindication of those principles. Inasmuch as His everlasting and infinite love for all His children will not permit Him to provide anything less than perfection for Them. He is determined not to permit the ultimate desecration of righteousness. He will establish it eternally.
Because of this, every person who has ever lived must be assembled for the final showdown in the great controversy. Every principle upon which the kingdom of God is built and operates must be revealed in sharply defined contrast to the principles of Satan’s government.
It follows then that if it was important for God never to violate the laws of His government during the active controversy, then it is of multiplied importance that He strictly adhere to them in the final confrontation around the city after the thousand years have expired.
In this last showdown He is afforded His final opportunity to confirm that He is not an executioner. Instead, He has given to all the freedom to choose what they want, and He will not interfere with the choice. To make the least concession then, after so perfectly demonstrating to the contrary over the previous millennium would nullify all that has been achieved. It would be as if a man spent a lifetime building a splendid edifice and then burned it to the ground. It is certain that this is not what God will do. There is no possibility of His having faithfully resisted every pressure to provocation for so long only to give way to it at the last. The final eradication of the wicked will happen exactly as the lesser decimations occurred in human history. As Jerusalem was overthrown by the Jews themselves, as Sodom and Gomorrah perished as a harvest of their own seed-sowing, as the flood came, not that God sent it but because He could not prevent it without violating His righteous principles, so the final end will come. It will not be because God sent it, but because He cannot prevent it without taking away people’s freedom to choose what they want.
These principles are poorly understood by earth-dwellers, most of whom have gone to their dusty beds with distorted understandings of God’s character. This is not God’s fault, for He has provided in nature, in His Word, and in the revelation given by Christ all that is necessary for understanding His righteous principles. Therefore, in His great love and mercy, He will especially raise up every human being so that once more they can be shown God’s workings and their own rejection of them. This time they will have no arguments with which to counter the witness of God. Every person, from Satan down will acknowledge that God has been just and that the loss of their own souls is their own doing.
After one thousand years, during which there will not be a living soul upon this earth apart from the devil and his evil angels, the wicked of every generation will be raised up for this final showdown. They come up resuming “the current of their thoughts just where it ceased. They are actuated by the same desire to conquer that ruled them when they fell” (The Great Controversy, p. 664).
Satan is astir at once to marshal the mighty host into the most prodigious and prestigious army ever to trample the earth. It will be a most impressive sight as they drill and train day after day. How long a time will be involved in this mammoth preparation, we are not told. According to the principles of freedom that the Lord extends to all, they will be given as much time as they wish to take. Satan knows this, and while he is anxious to see the struggle over, at the same time he knows that it will be a titanic struggle. Therefore, he will direct that the preparations be as thorough as possible.
They do not intend to advance to the hoped-for conquest of the city with bare hands. Skillful artisans construct implements of war” (the Great Controversy, p. 664). Just how sophisticated the weapons will be, we are not told. It is possible they will be as highly technical as the scientific men can assemble. The atomic scientists will be there, remembering all they learned while still living on this earth. They will think in terms of conducting nuclear warfare against the city so that, if it is at all possible to prepare such tools of destruction, they certainly will do so. With Satan having full control of all the people on the earth except those in the safety of the ark of the New Jerusalem, there will be no restrictions upon the development of his war machine. There will undoubtedly be weaponry such as we have never before seen deployed upon the earth, far in advance even of nuclear technology. The advancing hordes will carry such weaponry with them as they move up to the jasper walls.
But no battle ensues. It has been suggested that the battle of Armageddon begins before Christ’s coming and is completed around the New Jerusalem. A little careful thought will show that there is no battle in the end. The struggle between God and His people on one side and Satan and his on the other will all end before Christ comes the second time. At the end of the thousand years, God will have at HIs command the revelations of the principles of righteousness as embodied in his Character, which have been provided by His dealings with the rebellion in heaven; the temptation and fall of humanity; the course of His leading and dealings with human beings through all of the pre-first advent history; the life and teachings of Christ upon this earth; and at least, the witness of the translated saints as given during the time of Jacob’s trouble.
These witnesses will be fully unfolded before the entire multitude. Their advance against the Holy City is arrested. The coronation of Christ take place. A panoramic view above the throne plays out for every individual to review the history of the great rebellion and their place in it. As scene after scene passes before them, they will see the great controversy in it sure light. They will realize just what God stands for. They will see the true nature of Satan’s rebellion against Him. They will recognize that His law was provided for them as a life preserver; that disregard of the divine precepts did not bring them release from arduous bondage but opened the floodgates of woe upon them. They will understand, at last, that every woe and trouble they have experienced has been the result of their own course of action. They will know that they have abused the gift of freedom of their own miserable hurt (see Great Controversy, pp. 666-668).
They will see things as they have never seen them before, things the devil was determined they should never see. As soon as they do, all intent to continue with the rebellion against God is ended. The principle here is that when the misrepresentation of God’s character begins rebellion against God likewise begins. So when the character of God is fully revealed for what it is, rebellion against God then come to its end.
This is precisely why there is no war between the wicked and God over the New Jerusalem. In the beginning of the great controversy, God had not yet been afforded the opportunity to set forth so clear a manifestation of His character as would setting the problem right then and there. But at the end of the thousand years, He will have such revelations, which He will use, not only to ensure that there is no war but to bring, from the least person to Satan himself, the frank and open confession that they have held wrong concepts of God, that they have been responsible for rejecting His salvation, and that their doom is deserved.
The picture is so clear. The wicked see things exactly as they are, and instead of rushing in to attack the city, they fall “prostrate” and “worship the Prince of life” (The Great Controversy, p. 669).
Satan also sees it all. His mind travels back over the full span of his life. He sees again those days when he was the covering cherub. He remembers the first thoughts of doubt and then the open rebellion. He surveys the long centuries in between, comparing the loving patience and forgiving power of the Eternal in contrast to his own mean, destructive spirit.
Satan sees that his voluntary rebellion has unfitted him for heaven. He has trained his powers to war against God; the purity, peace, and harmony of heaven would be to him supreme torture. His accusations against the mercy and justice of God are now silenced. The reproach which he has endeavored to cast upon Jehovah rests wholly upon himself. And now Satan bows down and confesses the justice of his sentence. (The Great Controversy, P. 670).
The great moment has come. There is not a single intelligent being in the universe whose mind has the slightest question remaining as to the perfect righteousness of God’s character. Even the arch-rebel himself will bow down to acknowledge the truth of God’s ways and the falsity of every other system.
Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee: for they judgments are made manifest.” (Revelation 15:4) Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created intelligences. The working out of Satan’s rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan’s own works have condemned him. God’s wisdom, His justice, and His goodness stand fully vindicated. It is seen that all His dealing in the great controversy have been conducted with respect to the eternal good of His people and the good of all the worlds that He has created. “All Thy works shall praise Thee, O Lord; and Thy saints shall bless Thee.” Psalm 145:10. The history of sin will stand to all eternity as a witness that with the existence of God’s law is bound up the happiness of all the beings He has created. With all the facts of the great controversy in view, the whole universe, both loyal and rebellious, with one accord declare; “Just and true are thy ways, Thou King of Saints” (The Great Controversy, pp. 670, 671).
In the day of final judgement, every lost soul will understand the nature of his own rejection of truth. The cross will be presented, and its real bearing will be seen by every mind that has been blinded by transgression. Before the vision of Calvary with its mysterious Victim, sinners will stand condemned. Every lying excuse will be swept away. Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character. Men will see what their choice has been. Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy will then have been made plain. In the judgement of the universe, God will stand clear of blame for the existence or continuance of evil. It will be demonstrated that the divine decrees are not accessory to sin. There was no defect in God’s government, no cause of disaffection. When the thoughts of hearts shall be revealed, both the loyal and the rebellious will unite in declaring, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify They name? . . . for Thy judgements are made manifest.” Revelation 15:3, 4 (The Desire of Ages, p. 58).
We tend to think of the post-millennial judgement as a judgment of the wicked, but what is really going on here in this “day of final judgment”? Who and what is actually being judged? Notice that the universe is doing the judging! God is the One who is cleared of blame and His government stands unblemished!
The wicked are part of the universe; they too are standing in judgment of God and declaring His name as “just and true.” But their confession is bitter, unlike that borne of the world of the holy Spirit, which brings the sinner to repentance. The hardened impenitent masses still hate God, every one of them. Now they hate Satan also, and they abandon their loyalty to him and his government. Their end has come. There is nowhere to turn. There is no hope.
Though God stands vindicated by this confession, there is one more grand demonstration of the truth about God and the nature of His government. The wicked will die, and there will be a cleansing fire. It will be seen that sin destroys the wicked, not God. God will emerge from this scenario with His character and the nature of His justice standing unimpeachable for eternity.