Chapter 5 THE GRAND FINALE
During the climax to this drama of earth, the most fantastic, the most dramatic, the most profound series of events of all time will take place. You will never read a novel or see a movie more powerful, more thrilling, or more awesome than the events of the final scenes of earths history.
The word millennium means a period of one-thousand years. Though this word is not mentioned in the Bible, it is often used to refer to a particular thousand-year period, which is mentioned several times, and to the events associated with it.
The millennium will occur at the end of time, at the end of the earth as we know it, not many more years away. To some people the events associated with the millennium will be the most thrilling experience ever to happen; to all others they will be the most terrifying.
God never does anything concerning this earth without first revealing His plans to us. Throughout the worlds history, God has given warnings of impending situations. Amos 3:7 says, Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. The prophets, in turn, reveal the messages to the people.
God warned the people who lived before Noahs flood that He was going to destroy all life on the earth by a flood of water. Noah preached for 120 years, trying to warn them, but none would listen. Instead, they continued their evil and violence so detestable to God.
Likewise, as the world rapidly approaches the final events of this earths history, many today are inclined to disregard the abundant warnings and advice God has given us concerning these last-day events. In this they also make a fatal error.
Revelation 20:5 speaks of a resurrection from death after the millennium, the thousand-year period, comes to an end. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. (The last five words of this verse actually belong in the next verse.) The rest of the dead implies, of course, that some of the dead were resurrected prior to this resurrection.
John 5:28,29 tells a little more about these resurrections. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. Notice who will hear the Lords voice: all that are in the graves. No matter how evil a person has been, he will hear the Lords voice and will come forth from the grave. Everyone who has ever died will be resurrected from death in either one or the other of these resurrections; for as these verses show, there is to be a resurrection of the righteous and a resurrection of the wicked. Which one is which?
Revelation 20:6 answers this question. (The first five words quoted here are from verse five.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. Those who rise in the first resurrection at the beginning of this thousand-year period are the righteous; they will be with the Lord during the millennium. The wicked rise in the second resurrection at the end of the thousand years. This verse also speaks of a second death, which will not affect the righteous. The wicked, therefore, will die a second time. They will die a death from which there will be no resurrection.
Thus far we have seen that there is to be a specific thousand-year period, which is marked at the beginning by the resurrection of the righteous and at the end by the resurrection of the wicked. Many other profound events occur both at the beginning and end of this thousand-year period. First Thessalonians 4:13-18 shows that the beginning of the millennium is also marked by the return of the Lord, Jesus Christ. It is at His presence that the righteous dead are raised. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep [dead], that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus [the righteous dead] will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep [dead]. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump [trumpet] of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
The apostle Paul tells us here that he is conveying a message from God; in verse 15 he says, For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord. God, therefore, tells us that Christ Himself will come back to this earth with a shout and with trumpets, and at that time the righteous dead of all ages will be resurrected. At that time also, the righteous living will be caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. Notice that the Lord comes with a shout and with trumpets. Many think that the Lord will return to this earth secretly, but as these and other verses show, His coming will be anything but secret; His arrival is to be announced by trumpets, as is customary upon the arrival of a king.
Satan, the devil, will not be idle during the years just preceding the return of the Lord. The devil will do his best to deceive people and keep them ignorant as to how Christ will return. Just as he tries to counterfeit every other Bible doctrine, Satan plans to counterfeit Christs return at the opportune time. Matthew 24:23,24 tells us, Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. These verses warn us of an overwhelming deception, so convincing that even the very elect will nearly be deceived. This overwhelming deception occurs when Satan himself impersonates Jesus Christ! There is much confusion in the world today as to how the Lord will return. Satan has people believing his lies in order to make them more likely to be deceived by his impersonation of Christ. Satan, however, will not be permitted to counterfeit exactly the manner of Christs return; therefore, those who take the time to study and understand exactly how Christ is to return will recognize the counterfeit when it appears.
Human eyes have never seen a sight such as the one Satan will present. Remember that he was originally an angel in heaven; he is the most beautiful and the most intelligent being that God ever created. Human beings will be dazzled when Satan walks the streets of the cities and towns of this world in all his splendor and glory. He will speak softly, in a pleasant, melodious, soothing voice, and will say many of the things Jesus said many centuries before. Satan will raise his hands in blessing the people, and the people will prostrate themselves before him, worshiping him, believing that he is Christ. He will heal the sick and will perform many miracles just as Jesus did. Then, in his assumed character of Christ, he will claim to have changed the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, Saturday, to Sunday, the first day, and will command everyone to keep Sunday holy instead of the Sabbath. He will claim that those who insist on keeping Saturday, the Sabbath, holy are blaspheming his name. Verse 24 tells us that Satan shall shew great signs and wonders. The devils miracles, his appearance, his dazzling brilliance, and his pleasant manner will be almost more than even Christs elect can withstand, and they will very nearly accept this overpowering deception. Almost the entire human race will fall down and worship the devil, believing that he is Christ.
Consider some of the other verses which show the manner in which the Lord Jesus Christ will return to this world. Matthew 24:26,27 warns us, Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. During a severe thunderstorm when lightning flashes it lights up the entire area with its brilliant flash, and the sound of thunder can be heard for miles. Christ says His return will be like that. It will be impossible for anyone to miss the return of the Lord.
Acts 1:9-11 describes the scene when the Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven: And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men [angels] stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. When Jesus left the earth, a cloud received Him as He ascended. Since He will return in the manner in which He left, He will, therefore, come in the clouds of heaven. This is exactly what Revelation 1:7 says. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Jesus comes in the clouds of heaven, and how many eyes will see him? EVERY EYE shall see him. If people proclaim that Jesus has returned and you have not seen Him for yourself coming in the clouds of heaven with all the holy angels blowing trumpets, then you will know that it is an impostor or that Satan, perpetrating his grand delusion, is masquerading as Christ. Notice that this verse tells us that the people who crucified Christ will also see Him return in all His glory. There is to be a special resurrection of those who participated in the crucifixion of Jesus so that they can witness His return in all His power and glory. How do you suppose these people will feel when they see the Lord whom they crucified returning?
Christ indeed will return in all His glory, for Matthew 16:27 tells us, The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Satan, who, you will remember, is an angel, will dazzle the world with his glory when He counterfeits the Lords return; and he is only one angel. What will the effect be on the people of earth when Christ returns in all His glory with His angels in all their glory? Words cannot describe the scene; the power and glory of the heavenly host will be overwhelming. It will be impossible for anyone to miss the return of the Lord. Notice also in this verse that Christ will reward the people of earth at this time for their works, whether good or bad.
Revelation 8:1 tells us that there will soon be silence in heaven: And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour. Why do you suppose there will be silence in heaven, which is usually bustling with activity? Matthew 25:31 answers this question: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory. When Christ returns to this earth, He brings all the holy angels with Him. Heaven, therefore, is completely empty; this is the reason for the silence. Chapter ten explains prophetic symbols and will show that in Bible prophecy one day represents one year of actual time. The time period, therefore, represented by the half hour of this verse is about one week. (One-half hour is one-48th of a day; one-48th of a year is approximately one week.) Heaven will be empty for about one week of actual time. This is the time that Christ and all the holy angels will spend in coming to the earth from heaven, gathering all the righteous people, both dead and alive, and then returning to heaven again.
In order to find out how many angels Christ brings with Him, consider Revelation 5:11: And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands. Ten thousand times ten thousand is one hundred million, but there are thousands of thousands more. Hebrews 12:22 says, But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. There are so many angels that they are beyond numbering, and they will all be coming with Jesus when He returns to the earth.
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 24:30,31).
One day a small cloud will appear in the east. The cloud will be quite some distance from earth when it first appears. As the earth rotates on its axis, everyone will be able to see the cloud, just as everyone sees the sun. Gradually the cloud gets closer and closer, larger and larger. Soon it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary cloud, for inside the cloud can be seen a brilliant light. When the cloud is quite close, it appears as if it will cover the entire earth. The mighty sounds of the trumpets and the shouts of the angels are now heard as the sky is filled with the indescribable glory of Christ and His heavenly host. The righteous dead from all ages are resurrected, and the righteous living are caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They, in their new, glorious, immortal bodies, join the overwhelming splendor in the sky.
Everywhere one looks, the dazzlingly glorious angels are seen, as the power and glory in the sky completely overwhelm the people of earth. The people who have rejected Christ and who have trampled on His laws see the Lord Jesus Himself with a power and glory which defy description, surrounded by His glorious holy angels, and they finally realize what they have done. They finally realize that they have foolishly thrown away everything that really matters. They call to the rocks and mountains to hide them from the glory of Christ, as Revelation 6:15-17 describes: And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Indeed, who but the people who have accepted Christ and obeyed Him and who have longed to see Him return? It will be impossible for anyone to miss the return of the Lord, for it is anything but secret.
As Christ raises the righteous dead, He gives them new bodies. Philippians 3:20,21 says, For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body. Christ had a real, physical body after His resurrection; and this verse tells us that when the righteous are raised they too will be given a body, not one made from the dust of the ground, but a glorious body like the body of Jesus. First Corinthians 15:51-54 tells us that these righteous dead who are raised will also be given the gift of immortality. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. The word corruption here refers to the decay of our bodies at death. The righteous, both living and dead, are given new, immortal bodies when the Lord returns.
One of the most beautiful promises in the entire Bible is found in John 14:1-3: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Fathers house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. Christ promised that He was going away to prepare mansions for His people. Notice that these are not just houses or apartments which He prepares; they are mansions. Have you ever wanted to live in a mansion on a hill with a lovely view? Jesus also promises that He will return to this world to receive the people throughout all ages who have loved Him and served Him as the Bible specifies.
When Christ left the earth after His crucifixion, He went to heaven. This is shown in Hebrews 9:24: For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us. When he left the earth Christ went to heaven and prepared a city for His people, as Hebrews 11:16 says: But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Verse 10 says, For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. The next chapter will describe this glorious city and the fantastic life the righteous will enjoy throughout eternity.
First Peter 1:3,4 tells us that this city, the inheritance of the righteous, is reserved for them in heaven. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you. When Jesus comes back to this earth, He gathers the righteous, who meet the Lord in the air. First Thessalonians 4:16,17: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump [trumpet] of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Christ does not set foot on the earth at this time. He takes the righteous back to heaven, where their inheritance is reserved for them and where they reign with Him a thousand years, as Revelation 20:6 says: Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
What do you suppose Satan will do when he realizes that Christ is returning to earth in that little cloud in the east?
Reports in the news media predicting that an asteroid will hit the earth in the near future are increasing. On the cover of the April 1997 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine there is a colorful picture of a large asteroid headed straight for the earth. The headline says, Asteroid Hit! And then below the headline in smaller type we read, Planet Earth Will Be Hit By An Asteroid Or Comet. Will It Be The End Of The World? Or Can We Survive? Many other publications have similar pictures and are talking about this event. Movies are being made about an asteroid hitting the earth.
It does not take much imagination to realize that the devil will convince the world that the little cloud is an asteroid, and that our only chance for survival will be to launch the nuclear intercontinental missiles at it to try to break it up before it hits the earth. What a welcome for the Lord. A salvo of nuclear missiles. This will be the Battle of the Great Day of God Almighty that is mentioned in Revelation 16:13,14, and Satan is preparing the world for this battle in news media articles. And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. This battle of that great day of God almighty is NOT the battle of Armageddon. The battle of Armageddon is discussed in chapter seventeen.
What about the wicked people who have rejected the Lord, broken His Ten Commandment law, and blasphemed His name? What happens to them after the righteous are taken from the earth?
Consider Revelation 6:14: And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. This describes a world-wide earthquake of such magnitude that the entire surface of the earth is drastically changed. Can you imagine how the wicked must feel at this time as the earth literally comes apart at the seams? Also, in their sinful condition they cannot stand the overwhelming power and glory of Christ and all His holy angels, who literally cover the sky. Luke 21:25-27 tells us that the wicked are so terrified that their hearts fail them for fear. And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
This earthquake is further described in Revelation 16:17, 18,20,21: And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great. The entire topography of the earths surface will be drastically changed by this world-wide earthquake: mountains will be leveled, and islands will sink into the sea. In addition to the earthquake, there will be the hailstones about the size of a basketball, weighing about 70 pounds each. This artillery from the skies and the violent world-wide earthquake will demolish everything on the earths surface, from buildings and houses to cars and other machinery. Everything on the earth will be totally destroyed.
It is with great sorrow that God must destroy those who will not repent of their sins. Second Peter 3:9 tells us that The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God wants every one of us to realize the vile nature of sin. He wants us to realize the importance of obeying the Ten Commandments. He wants to be able to save everyone; but if the sinner will not separate himself from sin, he cannot be saved.
Consider next Jeremiah 25:30-33: Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The Lord shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh [which is what He is doing today]; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.
Why will the slain, which this text says are all over the earth, not be gathered or buried? The wicked, you see, will all be slain at this time by the mighty convulsions of nature during the world-wide earthquake. The righteous have been taken off the earth to meet the Lord in the air and are thus spared the trauma of remaining here during this time. The wicked are not buried, simply because there is no one left on earth to bury them.
Jeremiah 4:23-27 tells us that this cataclysmic destruction of everything on the earth occurs at the return of Christ. I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.
The earth was without form and void. These are exactly the same words used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the earth before anything was created on it. We see, therefore, that the destruction is total. Everything on the surface of the earth is destroyed. There remain no people, no birds, no animals. All the cities are broken down the houses, the buildings, the freeways. The heavens above are black, without the sun, moon, and stars to give their light. Because of the cataclysmic convulsions of the earths surface, hot volcanic ash and dust are driven skyward by the tremendous pressures released from beneath the earth as volcanic mountains disintegrate. This process spreads a blanket of dust and ash in the upper atmosphere all around the earth. The sun, moon, and stars do not shine, for their light cannot penetrate this thick blanket of volcanic dust and ash. When does all this occur? Verse 26 tells us: at the presence of the Lord. After the righteous are taken off the earth, calamity follows; yet, as verse 27 says, this is not the end, for many other events must occur.
Ezekiel 32:7,8 also talks about God covering the sun with clouds And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness upon thy land, saith the Lord GOD.
Isaiah 24:1,3-6 also describes the earth during this time and shows that the earth will be completely empty, without man or beast: Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth and fadeth away, the world languisheth and fadeth away, the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.
The few men left are the righteous who have been taken off the earth before these convulsions of nature occur. These verses tell us that God makes the earth empty, utterly empty. Verse 5 tells us why this has to happen: because men have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. We will see shortly that a large organization has made an attempt to change Gods Ten Commandments as this verse says. Many live today as if there were no laws to follow, completely without morality. They cater to their every desire with abandon in their mad scramble to seek pleasure and have fun. One day these people will realize what they have done, but then it will be too late.
This description of the earth continues in Isaiah 24:18-20: For the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. We see here that the physical violence occurring at this time shakes the very foundations of the earth. One can imagine the earth as it travels in its orbit around the sun, reeling to and fro, staggering like a drunkard, as enormous forces act upon it.
Again we can read in Isaiah 13:9,10 that the sun, moon, and stars will not shine upon the earth: Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners [those who do not obey Gods Ten Commandments] thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. Verse 9 clearly says that the wicked, the sinners, those who have not obeyed Gods Ten Commandments, will be destroyed by the terrible convulsions of the earth as nature itself seems to rebel against the wicked.
Second Peter 3:10 tells us: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. We see here that the Lord will come unexpectedly, just as a thief comes unexpectedly. Since the wicked rarely give thought to things concerning God and the Bible, other than to blaspheme God and take His name in vain, they have little idea of the nearness of the Lords return; when He comes, the wicked will be shocked as they behold with stark terror the destruction of the world around them. This verse also tells us again that the earth and all the works therein will be destroyed.
Zephaniah 1:2,3 also tells us that God will completely empty the earth: I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the Lord. I will consume man and beast; I will consume the fowls of the heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the stumblingblocks [idols] with the wicked; and I will cut off man from off the land, saith the Lord. All life, even to the fishes of the sea, will be destroyed at the presence of the Lord.
Many refuse to believe what we have just learned about the condition of the earth during the millennium. For that reason we have considered nine Bible texts which describe the complete destruction of the surface of the earth, from the mountains and the islands to the fish in the sea. God tells us things over and over again to help impress the truth upon our stubborn minds. God has told us what will happen, and He means to carry it out. In Jeremiah 4:28 He says: For this shall the earth mourn, and the heavens above be black: because I have spoken it, I have purposed it, and will not repent, neither will I turn back from it.
We have seen that at the return of the Lord Jesus Christ the righteous are taken off the earth to meet Him in the air. The wicked are all slain and are as dung upon the ground. But what happens to the devil and his evil angels, who are on this earth with us? Revelation 20:1-3 gives us the answer: And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. So Satan and his angels are cast into the bottomless pit where they will remain for this thousand-year period. Where is this bottomless pit? What is it?
Genesis 1:2 describes the earth as being without form and void before God created its features. Jeremiah also describes the earth as being without form and void after the earthquake and other violent convulsions of nature destroy everything and change the topography of the earths surface. The earliest translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew, the Septuagint translation into Greek, produced probably around the second century B.C., uses the Greek word abussos in Genesis 1:2 to describe the earth in its primordial condition, and also in Jeremiah 4:23 to describe the earth in its destroyed and broken-down condition after Christs return. Abussos, therefore, is the Greek word which is used to describe an empty earth. We get our English word abyss from this Greek word.
This same Greek word, abussos, is translated bottomless pit in Revelation 20:1,3. The bottomless pit is simply this earth in the broken-down condition which results from the world-wide earthquake, the giant hailstones, and other catastrophic events which accompany Christs return at the beginning of the millennium.
But what about the great chain in Revelation 20:1 that is used to bind Satan? As an aid to understanding this language, let us consider a situation in which a similar expression could be used today. Suppose you had made plans for an important event and during the event, when you are totally engrossed, a friend calls you to go somewhere with him. Perhaps you answer your friend, as many would do, that you are all tied up and cannot get away at this time. Are you really all tied up with cords or a chain? Of course not, but this is a common saying we use to indicate that the circumstances in which we find ourselves will not permit us to do anything else. We are tied up by a chain of circumstances and are not free to do other things. This is exactly what the great chain is in the angels hand. Satan is bound on this earth by the great chain of circumstances which the Lord has prepared at this time. Satan and his evil angels are restricted to this planet, the surface of which has been completely destroyed. There is no light from the moon or the stars, and there is no light from the sun to warm the cold and barren surface. This desolate earth is Satans prison for one thousand years. He no longer has anyone to tempt and deceive. He and his devils have nothing to do but to contemplate the ruin and havoc they have wrought for the past six thousand years on earth, and before that in heaven. But this is not the end, for verse 3 says that Satan will be set free from his prison for a little while at the end of this thousand-year period.
Let us review now the events which mark the beginning of the millennium, this thousand-year period which, according to the Bible, is due to start in the very near future:
1. The Lord, Jesus Christ, returns to the earth.
2. The righteous dead are raised and given new, immortal bodies.
3. The righteous living are caught up with them to meet the Lord in the air. They are also given new, immortal bodies.
4. The surface of the earth is completely desolated.
5. The wicked are slain, and their bodies lie as dung all over the earth.
6. Satan and his evil angels remain on this desolate earth, which is their prison for one thousand years.
During this thousand-year period, the righteous remain in heaven, the wicked remain dead, Satan remains bound on earth by this chain of circumstances, and the earth rests from the traumatic events associated with Christs return. What will the righteous be doing in heaven for this period?
First Corinthians 6:2,3 speaks of this period: Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life. We are told here that the saints shall judge the world. But who are the saints? First Corinthians 1:2 shows that the saints are the righteous, the true Christians. Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours. Revelation 14:12 says that saints are people who keep the commandments of God. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. Saints are the true Christians, the righteous, those who obey Gods Ten Commandments, and they will judge the world, the evil people and the evil angels, during this thousand-year period in heaven. The lives of all the wicked down to the smallest detail will be opened before the righteous in heaven, and they will judge the wicked.
The following hypothetical case is possibly typical of situations that will occur. A man and woman had been very happily married on earth. They went to church every week, spread the good news of the salvation of Christ, helped other people, donated money to the poor, and in general appeared to live the kind of lives one would expect Christians to live. At the return of the Lord, only the woman was resurrected from death and taken to heaven. One of the first things she will do after she meets Jesus is to look for her husband. When she cannot find him, she asks Jesus why her husband is not here. Jesus then takes her by the hand and leads her over to the books of record, where He looks up her husbands name and allows her to read every detail of her husbands life. She then agrees that Christs judgment was correct. She concurs that because of her husbands sins recorded in the book, the Lord could not save him.
Of course there will be tears at this time and great disappointments as the righteous all wonder why their friends and loved ones were not saved. This is one of the reasons why the righteous will judge the wicked. Christ will answer every question. He will show everyone exactly why it was impossible to save their friends and loved ones who would not turn from their sins and who would not accept the Savior, His love, and His sacrifice for them.
The events which mark the end of the millennium are even more amazing than those at the beginning. The fantastically beautiful city of God, which Christ prepared for His righteous people and which was their home for their stay in heaven, is now transported to the earth. Revelation 21:2 describes the descent of this Holy City to earth: And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The huge city, which covers an area of approximately 118,750 square miles, like a gigantic space ship comes down to rest on the earth on the site of the present city of Jerusalem. A great plain is prepared to receive the city as it settles to earth.
All the righteous people from earth inside the Holy City of God return to the earth, which they left one thousand years earlier. As at the beginning of the millennium when the righteous were resurrected at the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, so it is now that at the presence of the Lord the wicked are resurrected. Revelation 20:5 tells us: But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. After the resurrection of the wicked, all the people who have ever lived on the earth are alive at one time, the righteous inside the Holy City, and the wicked outside.
As one looks out over the vast multitude of the lost, the people of all ages can be seen, from Cain, who killed righteous Abel, and the mob that crucified the Lord, to most of the people of today. The wicked come forth from their graves in exactly the same pitiful condition in which they went into their graves. They do not get new perfect bodies as do the righteous at the beginning of this thousand-year period. In chapter four we saw that the blueprints and details of each individual are so minutely and accurately recorded in the computer banks of heaven that on the resurrection day the thought patterns in our brains will be reconstructed exactly as they were at the moment of death. If a man died cursing God, he will arise with that same curse on his lips, right in front of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. If a man died suddenly so that he could not have realized what happened, during the first few moments after his resurrection he will not even realize that he had been dead. The dead, remember, are not conscious of any time passing; their thoughts have perished, and they are unconscious, asleep in their graves.
Revelation 20:3 told us that after the thousand years are over, Satan must be loosed a little season. Verse 7 says, And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison. Satan is no longer bound because now he has the wicked of all ages to work with, and he begins to deceive them immediately. He does not let them know that he is the devil, and he tells them that by his power he resurrected them from death.
As the righteous inside the city observe the pitiful condition of the wicked, the wicked look inside and see the unbelievable glory and beauty everywhere. Remember that the surface of the earth is still completely desolated at this time, and the contrast between the beautiful city and the desolate earth is striking. Naturally the wicked want this beautiful city for themselves. Satan deceives them into believing that they can take the city, and they begin to build the necessary weapons of war. This takes some time, of course, since they have to reconstruct the factories, steel mills, and other facilities with which to build the weapons.
The period of time during which this transpires will be one hundred years. This is shown in Isaiah 65:20 There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. This verse is in the middle of Bible texts that talk about the new earth. We will consider these texts later.
Revelation 20:7,8 says, And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. Remember that Satan knows that he is going to die and that he does not want to die. He never gives up, and this war is his last-ditch effort to defeat Christ and preserve his own life.
Finally, when all the missiles and other weapons of war are finished and the massive army of the wicked is assembled, they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed [surrounded] the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city. (Revelation 20:9). Satans army surrounds the city and prepares to attack. At the moment the attack is to begin, Christ appears high above the Holy City in all His glory with the two tables of stone, the Ten Commandments, in His hands. The wicked stop in their tracks, overwhelmed by the majesty and glory of Christ, and the attack is halted. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12).
The method Christ uses to open the books of record and display to everyone the contents is a movie of everything contained in the books. Christ shows the people of earth, both the wicked and the righteous, a movie of the entire history of the earth from creation to these final scenes, a panorama in living color across the whole screen of the sky, in three dimensions and quadraphonic sound. This is the movie that the actors of all ages were making as they lived their lives and played their parts on the stage of this Theater of the Universe. As we watch this drama, we will be appalled to discover the extent of the lies and deception that this world accepts as truth.
We will see creation, as Christ molded and fashioned the details of our world. We will see the beautiful Garden of Eden, where no creature hurt or destroyed another. We will witness the advanced civilization of the men who lived before the flood. Men were giants at that time as Genesis 6:4 indicates: There were giants in the earth in those days. Before the flood people lived nearly one thousand years, and possessed an intelligence many times greater than our intelligence today. The claim that man evolved from simple life forms and is getting better and better will be exposed in this movie as another of Satans detestable lies. We will see that mankind has not gotten better; mankind has gotten very much worse.
We will watch as Noah builds the ark, trying in vain to make the people understand that the world would soon be destroyed by a flood. We will hear their ridicule and witness their terror as they realize that the flood has come. We will see Noahs ark come to rest on the mountains of Ararat, where it is today. All history, in every detail, will be presented.
We will see Christ as He lived His life on earth and will ourselves feel the anguish and tribulation, the joy and happiness, the sadness and disappointment, and finally the pain and suffering of the cross that our Lord felt as we live His life with Him moment by moment on the screen. We will witness the tender compassion He had for the multitudes, as He healed the sick, the blind, and the lame. The scenes of Christs trials will be shown in vivid detail. Those who crucified Christ will watch themselves commit their terrible acts of abuse toward the great Creator of the universe, unable to turn away from the heart-wrenching scenes. Imagine how they will feel as they finally realize the enormity of their folly.
We will witness the terrible persecution of Christians by the papacy during the Dark Ages and listen as the reformers, Luther, Wesley, Calvin, and others, begin to raise the shades of darkness from the earth.
We will see the ravages of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and every other brutally oppressive dictator who has saturated the earth with blood.
Have you ever done things in your life you would like to forget? If you are among the wicked at this time, you will watch yourself commit each sin that you ever committed, and you will be painfully aware that everyone else is watching also. All the wicked will watch themselves committing the things which they would like to forget. All the double-dealing, all the cursing, all the lies, all the crooked business deals, all the adulterous relationships, and all the murders will be shown with crystal clarity, and everyone will witness these acts. The wicked will long to turn from the scenes being displayed, but their sins and the vivid reality of the presentation are such that they cannot.
The righteous inside the city, however, will be spared the humiliation of witnessing their sins in this drama, for Acts 3:19 tells us that the righteous have had their sins blotted out of the record: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. Also in Ezekiel 18:21,22 we read: But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
The intrigue behind the politics of this world will be seen and understood by all, as the payoffs to the politicians and their subsequent betrayal of the people are clearly presented. We will see and understand completely the intrigue and duplicity behind the wars of earth, and we will see exactly who was responsible for these wars. The wicked will be painfully aware that all their secret deals, all their foul deeds, all their selfish, greedy schemes, have been seen and understood by everyone. The politicians of all ages will see all their lies exposed to public scrutiny. There will be no secrets at this time, for all the depravity of the wicked will be clearly revealed and comprehended by all. Luke 12:2,3 tells us: For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
The movie will also show how the false churches and false religions have operated to keep the truth of God from the people. The false pastors and false ministers and priests will watch themselves deceiving the people who looked to them for truth.
Immediately after the movie is over, the wicked will be struck with an overwhelming conviction of guilt. Every crime that has ever been committed will have been revealed and explained, and the wicked will be thoroughly convicted. Because of this enormous guilt and because of the majestic glory of Christ, the vast multitude of the wicked will fall to their knees and confess their wickedness before the Lord, as Romans 14:11 describes: For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. The wicked will bow to Christ outside the Holy City, and the righteous will bow before the Lord inside the city. Even Satan himself, along with all the evil angels, will fall to his knees and confess that Christ is right, and that he, Satan, has been in the wrong. Christ will be totally vindicated from all the accusations which Satan made. Notice here that the vote will be unanimous. There will not be one dissenting vote anywhere in the entire universe.
Satan, the evil angels, and the wicked bow before Christ, not because of a change of character, for they are as rebellious as ever, but because they are overwhelmed by their guilt. They are criminals who have been caught red-handed, and all their crimes have been exposed to the understanding of everyone. Words at this time will be useless. There will be nothing left for them to do but acknowledge defeat.
When the wicked arise from their knees, Satan will rush into the multitude and again try to convince them that they can take the city, but they, realizing that it is hopeless, will turn on Satan with all their vengeance. The wicked know who Satan is now because it was revealed in the movie. Moreover, consider what will happen when one of the wicked looks over the multitude and sees the man who had an adulterous affair with his wife. He knows it happened because he saw it in the movie. He will immediately rush over to take vengeance. Or, consider that another sees the thief who stole from him. The result of the movie, the result of all the wicked knowing who did what to whom, is that they will turn on one another with fierce and uncontrolled fury and will tear one another to pieces, taking vengeance and blaming others for their hopeless predicament. The weapons that were to be used against the New Jerusalem are now turned and used against the wicked. The scene will be one of total misery, grief, and brutality as these lost souls, without restraint, engage in an orgy of blood. Revelation 14:20 describes the scene: And the winepress was trodden without [outside] the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. The one thousand six hundred furlongs of this verse is a distance of about 184 miles. As the vast multitude of the lost engage in this fierce carnage, the blood will become as deep as a horses bridle for the distance of 184 miles from the city in all directions. The ghastly scene positively defies description.
So, what happens to the wicked? They destroy each other. This ghastly scene of unbelievable carnage is one of the reasons sin will never arise again in the universe. As the righteous behold the behavior of the wicked and the acts they thought their loved ones could never do, they are thoroughly disgusted. These impressions will remain with the righteous throughout eternity. God does not have to kill the wicked, and the righteous have no feelings of resentment toward God.
Since many believe that God is going to destroy the wicked in the end, let us consider a few more Bible texts that confirm that the wicked will destroy each other. Ezekiel 38:21 says, And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord GOD: every mans sword shall be against his brother. Isaiah 9:19 says, Through the wrath of the LORD of hosts is the land darkened, and the people shall be as the fuel of the fire: no man shall spare his brother. And Psalms 34:21 says, Evil shall slay the wicked . . .
Consider the battle for a moment. With modern weapons of destruction, the field of battle would be a blazing inferno, especially in the very close combat that this situation will produce. Modern flame throwers can inundate large areas. Incendiary bombs and shells cause great havoc with fire so hot everything burns that can burn. Also, Satan would not be above using atomic weapons in his preparations to attack the beautiful city of God. The wicked will use these weapons against each other, and these also will contribute to the inferno that will be the battlefield at this time.
Jesus describes this scene in Matthew 13:41,42: The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Referring to this battlefield, where the wicked turn all their weapons upon each other, as a furnace of fire is quite an accurate description of what will take place. The wailing and gnashing of teeth refer to the final battle. The wicked wail and gnash their teeth as they fight against each other.
Revelation 19:20 also mentions this fire: And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshiped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. Later chapters will explain who the beast, his image, and the false prophet are and what the mark of the beast is.
Brimstone (sulphur) is reminiscent of war and especially gunpowder. Brimstone is one of the ingredients of gunpowder. This again refers to the battle where the wicked destroy each other.
It is with tears in His eyes that God must watch the destruction of those who have not turned from their lives of sin. As we have seen, 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. God does not want to see any of us destroyed, but if the sinner will not turn from his sins and repent, he must be destroyed, for the thought of sin existing throughout all eternity is totally unacceptable to everyone elsewhere in the universe.
Satan, the devil, dies also at this time. Since Satan is the one who caused all the trouble in the first place, the wicked and the evil angels take vengeance on Satan and attack him. Satans manner of death is so clearly described in Ezekiel 28:2-10 that there can be no question about it. These verses clearly show that he will be attacked by the wicked strangers in these verses. These verses, in fact, tell us that someone, one of the wicked, or one of the evil angels, actually slays Satan. As we saw in chapter two, Satan was masquerading as the king of Tyrus at that time. These verses, also mention what we learned in chapter two that Satan wanted to be God.
Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus [Satan, the devil], Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God: Behold, thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee: With thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures: By thy great wisdom and by thy traffic hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches: Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; Behold, therefore I will bring strangers upon thee, the terrible of the nations: and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of thy wisdom, and they shall defile thy brightness. They shall bring thee down to the pit, and thou shalt die the deaths of them that are slain in the midst of the seas. Wilt thou yet say before him that slayeth thee, I am God? but thou shalt be a man, and no God, in the hand of him that slayeth thee. Thou shalt die the deaths of the uncircumcised by the hand of strangers: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.
Satan, mortally wounded, suffers on after all of the other wicked have perished. He lives long enough to witness the total disaster he has caused. He sees the total futility of his life; he realizes that he has been a total failure, to be remembered as such by the righteous and the holy angels throughout eternity. One can imagine Satan, furious and in a panic, totally out of control, knowing that he is shortly going to die, shouting his last insults and obscenities against Christ. This final horrible memory of the hideous results of sin that the righteous will carry with them throughout eternity could possibly be one of the most important in protecting the universe from sin forever.
Finally, after all the wicked including Satan and his evil angels are all dead, the mess outside the walls of the city is appalling, with blood and corpses as deep as a horses bridle. The gruesome scene is all around the city and extends for 184 miles from the wall of the city in all directions.
The last part of Revelation 20:9 tells us what God does to clean up this mess. and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. This fire will completely burn up the remains of the wicked. Revelation 20:14,15 refers to the destruction of the wicked as the second death: And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. The second death is like the first death except that there is no resurrection from the second death. The people who die in this battle will not be resurrected again. They cease to exist. They become as if they had never been. When Romans 6:23 speaks about death being the penalty for sin, it means this second death. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Revelation 21:7,8 says: He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. The wicked do not live forever; they do not burn throughout all eternity in hell, for if they did, they would be immortal and have everlasting life. As we learned earlier, this is not the case.
Psalms 37:10 describes the complete destruction of the wicked: For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. Verse 20: But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away. The wicked will be totally and completely destroyed.
The only thing left of the wicked will be ashes on the surface of the earth, as Malachi 4:1-3 shows: For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts. The wicked will not live for eternity. They will die the second death, from which there is no resurrection. They will be ashes on the surface of the earth. As Psalms 37 says, the wicked shall not be. They will simply cease to exist.
Even Satan himself will be ashes on the surface of the earth: Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. (Ezekiel 28:18,19). Satan himself will cease to exist. He and his evil angels will be ashes, along with the wicked outside the walls of the Holy City.
These verses say that the people are astonished at Satan. Satan has always masqueraded as someone else. He also masquerades as the Holy Spirit. It is not until the movie that Satans mask is removed, and the people are astonished to find out who the devil has been masquerading as. Who do you think Satan is masquerading as today?
There is an apparent contradiction in the Bible concerning this lake of fire and how long the wicked will be burned. Revelation 20:10 says: And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. If the devil and the wicked are burned up and are ashes on the surface of the earth, how can they be tormented day and night for ever and ever?
The wicked being tormented day and night for ever and ever refers to the fact that the wicked and their deeds will be remembered throughout eternity by the righteous, by the holy angels and by everyone else in the universe. They have all watched what has happened here on the earth and in the movie, and they will remember everything they saw. The wicked will be figuratively tormented by these memories. Also, the books of record will be available for the righteous to read whenever they want.
Moreover, the meaning of forever in the Bible does not have the usual meaning we generally give to it. In order to understand how the Bible uses the word forever, consider Exodus 21:6. This verse deals with a servant who chooses to serve his master, that is, work for the same employer, for the rest of his life. It was customary in Old Testament times, when there were no banks or loan companies, that a man needing to borrow money would indenture himself to his financier in order to repay the loan. If the man liked working for the financier, and if the financier liked the man, they would make an agreement to continue their employer-employee relationship. Exodus 21:6 tells them what should be done: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever. This really was not as cruel as it sounds. Women get their ears pierced today to wear jewelry and think nothing of it. This was simply a method of sealing a contract. The point here, however, is the term for ever. Since the servant cannot serve his master after he or his master is dead, the term for ever in this instance means until the death of one of them.
Consider another example of the use of forever in the Bible. Jonah 1:17 says: Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. As Jonah was reflecting on his experience, he said in Jonah 2:6: I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. Jonah said here that he was in the belly of the fish for ever. In this case it is obvious that for ever means three days and three nights.
In Jude, verse 7, we read that Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. How long does this eternal fire last? Sodom and Gomorrah today are near the southern end of the Dead Sea and are obviously not burning. The eternal fire lasted until the cities were burned up and there was no more fuel to support the fire. Second Peter 2:6 tells us that Sodom and Gomorrah were turned into ashes and thus have ceased to burn. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample [example] unto those that after should live ungodly.
These terms such as forever and eternal in the Bible are used to signify a continuance of action until that action naturally comes to an end. The meaning, therefore, of forever and eternal is derived from the way they are used. Even today, we have English words that derive their meaning from the way they are used. For instance, consider the word tall. When tall refers to a man, it means about six feet. When tall describes a tree, it means perhaps one or two hundred feet. And when tall describes a mountain, it might mean fifteen thousand feet or more. Forever is used in the Bible in this same way. We derive its meaning from the way it is used. When eternal and forever refer to God, they have the meaning we generally associate with them; they mean without end.
Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 tells us again that the wicked will be destroyed. And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. We see from this text that the wicked will be punished with everlasting destruction. In other words they will be destroyed forever. The fire that will bathe the earth will destroy Satan and his evil angels and all the wicked people from all ages so that they will be ashes on the surface of the earth. They will not live forever they will be utterly destroyed, and their destruction will be everlasting, as this text says.
The Bible makes it clear that God is a god of love. He loved us so much that He came to earth as a man and allowed the creatures whom He created to put Him through the agonizing torment and death of the cross so that we might understand in this life how loathsome sin is and the extent of the evil deeds that people do when they disregard the law of God. Would a god like this torture the wicked throughout all eternity, as most people believe? In the next chapter we will discover that our life throughout eternity in Gods new earth will never be marred by sadness or tears. If the wicked are to be tormented in an ever-burning hell, consider how someone might feel in heaven knowing that a loved one is writhing in the flames of hell for all eternity. How could that person be happy knowing that? This idea that the wicked are going to burn throughout eternity is one of Satans lies designed to discredit God and to make us despise God. This lie was devised to make us think that Gods personality and character are like Satans. When the wicked are destroyed, they are dead. They are as though they never existed. The wages of sin is death, not eternal life. (Romans 6:23).
Since God is a god of love, how does He feel about the destruction of the wicked? Ezekiel 18:31,32 tells us to: Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but He must rid the universe of sin and sinners or else the situation we have on earth the misery, the pain, and the sorrow would exist forever. God must allow the destruction of the wicked in order for His people to have a happy, peaceful, and trouble-free life forever. If the sinner clings to sin, he will be destroyed with it. The choice is his.
After sin and sinners are destroyed from the earth, life will be joyful and happy beyond our loftiest imaginings. Revelation 21:4,5 tells us, And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. In Gods new earth trouble will be unknown. All creation will once again be in perfect harmony.
As the earth is bathed in the lake of fire, all traces of sin and degradation will be destroyed. The fire will completely sterilize the earth, insuring that all the disease germs, parasitic worms, viruses, and other forms of life which cause pain, suffering, and unhappiness that Satan mutated from Gods created creatures will be destroyed. The earth will be thoroughly cleansed and thoroughly sterilized from the curse of sin.
Then the righteous inside the Holy City have the great honor and privilege of watching as Christ recreates the earth into a Garden of Eden so beautiful it surpasses the grandeur of the first Garden of Eden. Gods people will be speechless as they behold Christs masterpiece of design and creation. They will then be free to leave the Holy City to travel throughout the beautiful new earth.
Isaiah 11:6-9 gives some idea of the beauty and harmony of the new creation: The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Christs entire creation will be in perfect harmony. The animals which kill on earth now will be as baby animals, as pets, in the new earth. Nothing, not even man, will ever hurt anything again. Life will be a symphony of happiness forever.
Will this problem of sin and disobedience to Gods law, the Ten Commandments, ever arise again in the universe? Nahum 1:9 says that the affliction of sin will never occur again. What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time. Throughout all eternity, no one will ever again break one of Gods Ten Commandments. Because of the drama which has taken place on the earth, everyone will thoroughly understand the vile nature of sin. Everyone will thoroughly understand what happens when a society of people disobeys Gods law, and no one will want the misery and pain of the experience of earth again. Throughout all eternity, therefore, all creation will live in perfect harmony because all creation will perfectly obey the law of God.
As drastic as the events of the millennium sound, it is not necessary for anyone to suffer the experience of the wicked and watch the earth crumble around him. Isaiah 55:6,7 says, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Christ wants everyone to realize what he is doing and to turn from his wicked way. If he will do this, Christ will forgive his sins and abundantly pardon. As we have seen, there is no other hope for the wicked.
The situation on earth today is similar to the situation on the SS Titanic before it sank. The Titanic was the largest and grandest luxury ocean liner ever built up to that time. It was on its first voyage across the Atlantic Ocean when it hit an iceberg. After they spotted the iceberg in the fog, the crew tried to turn the ship; but they were too close, and the iceberg tore a long, narrow slit in the side of the ship below the water line. Because of the length of the slit, the crew could not isolate the leak with the water-tight doors, and it soon became apparent that the ship would sink. Unfortunately the ship was not carrying enough lifeboats for everyone to be saved.
Since the ship did not hit the iceberg directly, there was no shock of impact, and the people on board were not aware that anything was wrong. They were eating, dancing, and enjoying the elegance and comfort of the huge liner. Over the public address system the captain broadcast an urgent warning to abandon ship, but the people refused to believe that the ship was sinking. After all, this grand liner was supposed to be unsinkable. Over and over again came the warning, but the people continued to enjoy their dancing and feasting. They thought that someone was trying to play a joke on them. A few people heeded the call and left the ship in lifeboats, but the others simply could not believe that there was anything wrong. The rooms were warm and comfortable; the food was delicious; the music was superb. Life seemed to be at its best, and many of the lifeboats left with only a few people in them.
Finally, as the ship continued to take on water, some of the guests noticed that the chandeliers were not hanging straight anymore the ship was listing slightly. An explosion from deep in the bowels of the ship finally made the people realize that there was, indeed, trouble, and they panicked. They hurried to get what few belongings they could and then rushed to the outside, only to find that there were not enough lifeboats.
The ship was now listing badly; many explosions could be heard as sea water reached the boilers; and it was apparent that time was running out.
Just as most of the people on the Titanic refused to believe that the ship was going to sink, the people of earth today refuse to believe the events soon to transpire on the earth. Today, Christ is giving us the urgent warning that this ship of earth is sinking fast. There is only one way for the people of earth to save their lives. There are only a few years left. What will we do about it? Christ made it possible for us to enjoy the indescribable life in His new earth, but if we wait until probation closes it will be too late.
Second Corinthians 6:2 tells us, Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Christ is calling everyone to follow Him and to obey His Ten Commandments. Now is the time to find your salvation, for there is coming a time when the Word of the Lord will be taken from the earth. God tells us in Amos 8:11,12: Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.
Christ says in Proverbs 1:24-33, Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it. (Proverbs 2:22).
The great controversy is ended. Sin and sinners are no more. The entire universe is clean. One pulse of harmony and gladness beats through the vast creation. From Him who created all, flow life and light and gladness, throughout the realms of illimitable space. From the minutest atom to the greatest world, all things animate and inanimate, in their unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.5
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