A Final Judgment

Just preceding the Eternal State, one final judgment will take place. All the unrighteous of all the ages will be bodily resurrected to stand before God’s throne and be judged according to their deeds (see Rev. 20:5, 11-15). Everyone who is now in Hades will be brought before that judgment, referred to as the “Great White Throne of Judgment,” and will then be cast into Gehenna, the lake of fire. This is referred to as “the second death” (Rev. 20:14).

The Eternal State begins with a passing away of the first heavens and earth, fulfilling Jesus’ two-thousand-year-old promise: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35).

Then God will create a new heavens and earth just as Peter foretold in his second epistle:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells (2 Pet. 3:10-13; see also Is. 65:17-18).

Finally, the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven to the earth (see Rev. 21:1-2). Our minds can hardly begin to grasp the glories of that city, which covers an area one-half the size of the United States (see Rev. 21:16), or the wonders of that never-ending age. We will be living in the perfect society forever, under the rule of God, to the glory of Jesus Christ!