River of Fire, Lake of Fire, Sea of Glass Mingled with Fire
“… The ancient of Days took his seat. … His throne was flaming with fire. … A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.” – Daniel 7:9,10 (NIV)
After I read these texts my mind suddenly started visualizing this scene. I had not planned to do this. It almost started automatically. In a way, I was lost in a trance, though a somewhat conscious one. It’s intriguing when moments like this happen.
Lest I forget, let me mention that I had in mind concurrently the other bodies of fire that apocalyptic literature mentions, i.e., the Sea of glass mingled with fire, the Lake of fire in which death and Hades are destroyed. I’ve thought more and more that all of these fiery bodies of water or energy, whether river, sea or lake, are different manifestations of the same reality: God’s presence or his very essence and nature. The text comes to mind, “Our God is a consuming fire.”
As I envisioned the river of fire I thought of the large rivers I’ve seen during my life whether in the United States or in Europe. I saw this river of fire that comes out from before him [the Ancient of Days] as wide and as long as the rivers I had seen. For some reason I didn’t think that this river ever ended.
Since God’s throne will one day be on the new earth as it is now in heaven, I thought that the river of fire encircled the entire globe and ended where it had begun, God’s throne and God, himself.
The book of Revelation says that the new earth will have no need of the sun because God’s presence will provide light enough for its inhabitants. Since the river of fire encircled the globe from east to west, I thought of an extension or continuation of the same river flowing out from God’s presence but going north to south to compliment the river of fire that flows east to west.
I thought of the dwellers of the new earth living in homes along both east-west or north-south axes along the river of fire, to stay close to the light and thus to God’s presence.
I also thought of the light and of the awe-inspiring scene of God’s flaming and glorious throne at the nexus of both the east-west and the north-south rivers of fire.
The Bible speaks of God dwelling in unapproachable light. These wide and globe-encircling rivers of fire would certainly prevent anyone or anything from getting too close to the light of God’s presence.
I thought of the fate of the unrepentant. It is possible that they will, in fact, be near these rivers of fire. As moths would do when delighted with an incandescent light bulb, the unrepentant will run into the fire, or light, and will destroy themselves. In this way it will be said that the unrepentant ran to their own destruction by running headlong into the lake or river of fire.
Perhaps the tranquil sea of glass mingled with fire will be what comes into being after the unrepentant have run, of their own choice, into the Lake of fire.
The source of their being was God and in their final moments it was to that same source of life that they returned of their own free will. However, not having accepted Christ’s robes of righteousness, they were not able to stand in the presence of God and live.
God didn’t cause them to run into the Lake or River of fire. He merely allowed them to finalize their own self-destruction. Perhaps their own stubbornness resulted in what common sense would tell them was an unwise course of action—running into a lake or river of fire.
In spite of their physical bodies being destroyed by their own conscious action, might not their minds be preserved at least in God’s memories? An earthly parent who’s watched the execution of their child because of crimes against the state does not stop loving and does not forget the memory of their evil and perhaps unrepentant child. How could they? That child was the fruit of their bodies and dreams, however frustrated those dreams turned out.
Throughout eternity God will always remember each life or soul (mind) that he created, even the ones that ran to their own self-destruction in the Lake or River of fire. Such is the price, or nature, of perfect love. It does not end, even in the face of the death of those it loves.