What an awful destiny: Thrown into a lake that burns forever with fire and brimstone. To die a second time and suffer eternal destruction.
Revelation 21:8 lists some of those who will suffer that doom: unbelievers who do not trust God, corrupt people (the word means you can’t stand the stench), murderers, immoral people (pornos), those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers (which includes greedy and covetous people), and all liars (fakes).
Pretty much what you expect, right?
But there’s one more on that list. It even begins the roll call: “cowards who turn away from me.”
The Greek word translated ‘coward’ is deilos. It means “timid, fearful.” It’s the word used in Matthew 8:26 of the disciples — “men of little faith” — who were afraid when their boat was about to be swamped by stormy waves.
Does that get as close to home for you as it does for me?
It brings to mind Matthew 10:33, when Jesus warns that whoever denies him before men, he will deny before the Father.
It brings to mind Hebrews 10:39, which draws a frightening contrast between those whose faith assures their salvation and those “who shrink back to destruction.” (NAS)
I think of courageous hearts — Syrian, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Egyptian — forced to kneel before evil men who demand they renounce Christ, yet they refuse … and their throats are slit because of it. I think of “Christians” in the West who cave to cultural pressure and approve as normal what God calls an abomination.
You may not face a knife to your throat, but you may be deprived of your livelihood if you insist on standing faithfully with Christ. If I join the cowards and turn away from Jesus, I face something far, far worse.
“Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid of them! The LORD your God will go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT)