Many have wondered why God would go to all the bother to resurrect those who have knowingly rejected Him—those who willingly turned their back on the opportunity for salvation—simply to then cast them into the lake of fire, effectively putting them to what the Bible calls "a second death."
To some that brief, and often misunderstood, part in the overall plan of God borders on the absurd and morbid—and totally unnecessary. They are dead. Why not simply leave them dead and buried?
After the Millennium and the second resurrection, a third resurrection takes place, otherwise known as the "second death." This will be a resurrection for all those who knowingly and willingly reject the calling of God, who turn their backs on salvation and the opportunity of sonship in the very family of God. Relevant scriptures are Revelation 2:11; 20:14-15; 21:8; and Hebrews 10:26-27.
The stubbornly, knowingly rebellious will then face the final lake of fire and total, final and complete death.
But, again, why bother? Those being raised in this third and final resurrection are already dead. Why bring them back to life to almost immediately consign them to death?
Actually there are many reasons.
Consider the dramatic impact of example. Not on those being resurrected to face their final death, but on those now resurrected into God's family. The Millennium is now passed. The Last Great Day is now history. The melting of all things physical is close to reality (2 Peter 3:10-12). The final closure on human life now approaches.
And the final lesson from human existence is now etched on the spiritual minds of God's children. It is the lesson that sin and rejection of God and His way of life and laws simply will not be tolerated. We will witness that final act—the second death—being sentenced on the incorrigibly wicked. It is a lesson that will last us for all eternity.
It is comparable to the lesson of capital punishment in the Old Testament. How many such sentences would be needed, if people knew that swift, severe and just punishment would be administered? Ecclesiastes 8:11 is an excellent scripture to consider. When judgment is known and witnessed, then obedience is reinforced.
As those in God's family leave behind all things physical, we will have burnt into our consciousness and memory the lesson that sin simply does not pay. It is truly an example that will never leave us.
A second principle is responsibility and accountability. Those being brought back to life in this third resurrection need to face the consequences of their choices to reject the God of creation and His offer of eternal life as a very son in His family.
Consider that many of the knowingly wicked prospered during their former physical lives. Compare Ecclesiastes 7:15; 8:14; Psalm 73:12; Job 21:7-15; and Jeremiah 12:1-2. Many prophets and saints of old wondered why the wicked prospered in spite of their rejection of God. Some blatantly, and knowingly, scorned and mocked God. And yet they still prospered.
A day must come when they learn that a penalty for rejection of God is very real—that a judgment awaits their choice.
There will be a final accounting of their decision to knowingly reject God.
An interesting comparison is the story, or parable, of Lazarus and the rich man found in Luke 16:19-26. We can assume that the rich man knowingly rejected God, in comparison to Lazarus' faith and trust in spite of his poverty and suffering.
In this story, the rich man now faces his final fate, when it will be too late for repentance.
Moving on to other considerations, Matthew 10:28 is indeed interesting. In that verse, we have a warning that God can destroy both "soul and body." In other words, all that is man.
Compare Psalm 109:14-15 and Isaiah 26:14. God will, one day, cut off the very memory of the incorrigibly wicked at the third resurrection, or in the second death. The Hebrew word translated as memory is zeker, which alludes to the scent, or record of a person.
This is almost comparable to the double delete facility on many computer systems. This will be a final, total and complete wiping out of the very record, or scent, of a person. It is a final "blotting out" of that record from the very Book of Life. Compare Revelation 3:5; Exodus 32:33; and Deuteronomy 9:14.
And the word blot comes from the Hebrew machah, to rub out, to erase, to utterly wipe out (see Strong's Concordance Hebrew #4229).
A fearful event takes place at the second death—the final erasure of a person's existence.
In closing, consider Galatians 6:4-8. God will not be mocked. An accounting will come for knowing and willing rebellion. "For whatever a man sows, that he will also reap."
That final reaping for the wicked will take place in this final resurrection to condemnation and punishment, as explained in John 5:27-29 and even John 3:16.
In summary, this second death is a necessary, logical and sound end to the plan of God for mankind. It is:
A time to leave a vivid example of the result of rebellion and sin.
A time for accountability and responsibility.
A time for final judgment and condemnation.
A time for final erasure—blotting out—of the unrepentant.
A time for closure on all things physical.
A time, then, when the spiritual family of God can move forward, without any record, or "scent," of human existence, sin and rebellion.
For more on this subject see our booklets on Fundamental Beliefs, God's Holy Day Plan, Heaven and Hell and What Happens After Death? UN