It's like this.
The Bible says that during the millennium people will seek death but be unable to find it. Hold up, hold up. Why are people trying to commit suicide?
It's because our vision of what a utopia might look like might be completely different from what God sees as perfect. This implies that there are people there who actually do not want or deserve to be there.
But Jesus called them aside and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their superiors exercise authority over them. 26It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave— 28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
and directly before that...
8When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last ones hired and moving on to the first.’
9The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10So when the original workers came, they assumed they would receive more. But each of them also received a denarius.
11On receiving their pay, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’
13But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Did you not agree with me on one denarius? 14Take your pay and go. I want to give this last man the same as I gave you. 15Do I not have the right to do as I please with what is mine? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
That is, when evening comes, God will not only pay everyone their reward but may in fact give people who seem not to want or deserve their reward.
While most of the interpreters of Revelations see this period as a withdrawal of grace, I completely disagree. God has made a covenant with both the Jews and the Christians. He has offered Jesus as a sacrifice, once for all, for our sins. To withdraw this, especially due to a trick, would be breaking his vow. We have choices in this life. Unlike our politicians, God keeps his promises.
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
But when we cross-reference this passage, we find out...
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out…
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand…
...It is not possible to deceive the elect. Just as it is not possible to withdraw Christ's grace. God himself intended this, and to say otherwise is to testify against God and the Holy Spirit.
This is not the withdrawal of grace from the righteous. That is, God has not suddenly said, "I know I forgive your sins then, but you don't measure up. So I'm gonna punish you now." Rather it is a condemnation of the wickedness of the world itself.
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit
25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
With all my heart, I long for Jesus. I long to belong, and to be loved. Revelation speaks about a Mark and people being cast out for not taking the Mark (not being able to buy and sell), and then later those with the Mark are cast out (of heaven). This is a simple reversal of fortune, not some scheme to punish people for... pardon the expression, the hell of it.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
If there were anything, anything, that I could do to separate from God, this would be righteousness based on the Law. But there isn't, nothing you can do is unforgivable but blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (but neither will I intentionally do anything to distance myself from God, because I love God).
The deception of Revelation, then, is not that people are tricked into taking the Mark. It is believing that the Mark could possibly separate us from God in the first place!
The Mark is a symbol of disobedience to God. But it is a manmade object, and nothing can separate us from God...
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.") 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
...We can only be convinced of a delusion that they can.
John's Revelation is talking about an end times where people are so convinced of their own evil that they have to be destroyed (I do not believe this destruction is punishment, nor permanent, but rather a way to resolve the condition of being trapped in sin). They are stuck, because they are blaspheming against the Holy Spirit. I mentioned blaspheming against the Holy Spirit twice, what do I mean?
Jesus says this is the only unpardonable sin. This is assuming that God or Jesus WON'T do something (like forgive sins). That we are too terrible a person. Or that someone else is. The reason God won't forgive this sin is because it's basically a trap of hubris that cannot be forgiven until it is resolved. We define God's nature or ability, effectively typecasting him.
This, this is why I object to John's Revelation. Because it is basically an affront to the teaching of grace. We have to accept it as an abstract depiction of end times, but understand that much of it is based on false perceptions.
I've read it until I literally went mad, and I can only conclude that it's a sort of incomplete picture of God's plan of grace. It only deals in the righteous, not how God will resolve the problems of the sinner. And this question must be resolved, as I do not deem myself worthy enough to be called righteous at end times. Would I also be tossed into a lake of fire? Or should I trust that nothing I can do will separate me from the love of God?
Either all of us will fail and fall short, or God has a plan even for those tossed into a lake of fire.