Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
What is the millennium and how does the Bible describe? Are we to take God’s kingdom of 1,000 years seriously or is it only allegorical language to convey some undetermined age of renewal?
To discover more about this fascinating age of rest, renewal, restoration and the reign of Christ, feel free to access the digital resources below in my Alpha and Omega Series. If this content is helpful for you, please consider liking, sharing and subscribing to this blog for more content just like this.
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!
As I ponder the unsearchable depths of God’s mercy and love displayed on the cross of Christ this Good Friday, I also want to reflect on the immeasurable power of His resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Christian faith and the central event in history that validates the truth of the gospel and the divine nature of God’s Son.
Only Jesus has demonstrated power over the grave and declared victory once and for all over death. He stands alone and is without equal, and He alone is able to give eternal life to all who believe in Him [Romans 6:23, John 11:25-26].
No human in history has been able to beat death, and therefore Jesus in His resurrection power is the only hope for all mankind.
Volumes have been written on the ramifications of the resurrection, so I am not sure if I can add much to what has already been said. Having said that, here are a few thoughts on what the Bible says about the resurrection.
The Resurrection is an Expectation in the Old Testament
Many may be surprised to discover that before the New Testament witness about the incarnation of the Messiah — Jesus Christ — the resurrection was deeply established in the Hebrew Scriptures — or Old Testament. As in the opening passage above from Job, the expectation of a final resurrection of the body is not merely a New Testament idea. The patriarchs and the prophets understood that God’s grand plan of redemption would culminate at the end of this present age with the renewal of all things in the age to come.
Hebrews tells us that Abraham offered up Isaac in faith, believing that God would raise his beloved son from the dead [Hebrews 11:17-19]. Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel all prophesied about the day of resurrection, and more importantly about the coming Redeemer who would raise and gather God’s people in the end.
Consider just a few of those prophetic passages that we discover in the Old Testament.
Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. 13And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.14And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
As you can see, the resurrection is not a New Testament idea, but it did take the first advent of Christ to bring it into an entirely new perspective.
Jesus is the Firstfruits of Resurrection
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
[1 Corinthians 15:20]
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross can only be validated in light of His resurrection. Jesus was raised for our justification, proving that His sacrifice on the cross was acceptable to the Father and sufficient to save sinners. Without the resurrection of Jesus, our faith is futile and we are still in our sins [1 Cor. 15:17].
Beyond that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is God’s demonstration of power over death that provides the blessed assurance and eternal hope that we too will live in Christ. Jesus makes the most definitive declaration about Himself in John’s gospel.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
God has declared a Day when He has promised to redeem all of creation, including our physical bodies [see Romans 8:18-24]. Until that Day, all who believe in Christ receive the promised Holy Spirit as a deposit to guarantee our future resurrection. Jesus is the firstfruits, and all who believe in Him will be raised up on the last day as part of God’s great harvest!
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
The Resurrection of the Righteous will Occur on the Last Day
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
From Job to Daniel to Jesus to Paul, the testimony of the Biblical prophets is in absolute agreement. The resurrection of God’s people takes place at the end of this age on the last day when Jesus returns in power and great glory. The 2nd Coming of Christ is the Day of resurrection [see 1 Cor. 15:21-26]. It is the Day of God’s final gathering of His people. It is the harvest of the righteous to inherit the Kingdom [see Matthew 13:36-43].
The resurrection is the most critical and distinguishable element and identifying marker in Scripture that determines the timing of the return of Christ to earth, the rapture of the church, the recompense for evil, and the restoration of all things. The Bible is clear. The resurrection of the righteous takes place on the last day of this present age.
But each will be resurrected in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.24Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
[1 Corinthians 15:23-24]
Flesh and blood cannot inherit the coming kingdom of God. In other words, it is impossible for anyone to enter God’s kingdom in mortal flesh. No one can dwell in God’s holy presence on earth without first receiving a glorified, immortal body, and no one will receive their resurrected body until Jesus Christ returns to earth as King of kings.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
[1 Corinthians 15:50-52]
It will be at that moment — when we receive our immortal, glorified bodies — that we finally will be conformed to the image of Christ and His likeness forever! Until that Day, we rest in the finished work of Christ upon the cross for us, and we rejoice in the hope of the future glory that will be revealed in us when Jesus returns!
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God … And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ
Today is January 6th, 2021 — Epiphany.
On the traditional “Christian” calendar — especially in Roman Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern Orthodox persuasions — today is regarded as the holy day of the Epiphany, which is the celebration of the manifestation of the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God and Savior of the world. As one of the oldest Christian holidays — even predating December 25 — it would be well worth some time to discover more about the origin, history and meaning behind such a sacred festival. Here is a helpful article from the Catholic perspective.
Primarily, the Feast of Epiphany is associated with the visit of the wise men — magi from the east — who first interpreted and then tracked a star to Jerusalem to investigate the birth of the King of the Jews [Matthew 2]. After finding the newborn King in Bethlehem, the magi bowed down to worship Him, commemorating the initial manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, fulfilling the ancient promise that the Messiah of Israel had come to bless all the nations of the earth with His eternal salvation [Genesis 12:3].
While the visitation the Magi and the mystery of the gospel to the Gentiles is also a topic most worthy of discovery and discussion, I would like to take today’s post in a different direction — an eschatological direction. The word epiphany itself is revealing in that its Biblical expression is more closely connected to the second advent of Jesus Christ than to His birth.
As we are about to see, epiphany literally means “brilliant appearance” or “glorious manifestation,” as derived from the Greek word — epiphaneia [ἐπιφάνεια]. The Biblical authors used this word intentionally to describe the visible and awesome display of the glory of God when He comes from heaven in power at the end of the age. In other words, in light of His first appearing as the Suffering Servant, we should be living in hopeful expectation of the appearing of Jesus Christ as the Conquering King.
Epiphany in the Prophets
There are so many prophetic references in the Old Testament that describe the visible and glorious appearance of the LORD when He comes to judge the nations. All of these Scriptures emphasize the conspicuous nature of the Day of the LORD. For brevity, I will only share a few here.
Then the LORD will appear over them, and his arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord GOD will sound the trumpet and will march forth in the whirlwinds of the south.
God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.
And all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground … So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.
[Ezekiel 38:20, 23]
Now let’s take a look at how the Apostles used the word epiphany in the New Testament to further develop this doctrine of God’s future appearing.
Epiphany in the New Testament
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
The appearing of Jesus Christ is inextricably connected to several key eschatological events. The Apostle Paul was exclusive in his use of the Greek word, epiphaneia, though other Apostles used a similar Greek word — phaneroó φανερόω — to describe the appearing of Christ. These words, along with the words “coming” and “revelation,” are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament.
Jesus will appear to destroy the lawless one
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul provides a significant detail about the “appearing” of Jesus Christ — namely that it will be the precise moment He destroys the antichrist [aka the lawless one]. It is also worth considering that Paul connects the appearing of Jesus with His “coming” and the Day of the LORD.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
[2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 8]
We know from other passages like Revelation 19 that the Beast (antichrist) is destroyed at the end of the great tribulation, therefore, the appearing of Jesus Christ must be at the end of the great tribulation.
Jesus will appear at the appointed time
Paul encouraged Timothy to remain faithful and fight the good fight of faith to the end, which he correlates with the appearing of Jesus Christ.
I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession,14to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen
[1 Timothy 6:13-16]
Jesus will appear to establish His kingdom
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he connects the epiphany of Christ to His coming kingdom on earth. Again, God’s kingdom will be established at the end of this present age.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom …
[2 Timothy 4:1]
Jesus will appear to reward the saints
In the very same passage, Paul links the final rewarding of the faithful saints to the appearing of Christ.
Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.
[2 Timothy 4:8]
Jesus will appear in glory
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Paul, in one of the most profound statements in the New Testament, says that our blessed hope is the appearing of our “great God and Savior Jesus Christ!” And because we interpret Scripture with Scripture, we now know that this appearing will take place at the end of the age when Jesus Christ comes in visible glory to destroy the antichrist, establish His kingdom and reward His saints.
It is critical in understanding that the appearing of Christ IS NOT a secret, phantom event but rather the most profound display of God’s glory the world has ever seen! The appearing of Jesus Christ will be LITERAL, VISIBLE, PHYSICAL, and UNMISTAKABLE!
In closing, I would like to remind everyone reading this post that the epiphany of Jesus Christ is much more than the story of His birth — as glorious as it was. The epiphany of Jesus Christ is the story of the coming Day when He returns in power and great glory for all the world to see. It is this appearing that we must be prepared to face. It is this appearing that we cannot escape.
The Apostle John leaves us with a reminder of how sobering this appearing will be. Are you prepared to meet Jesus Christ? Is your soul yearning for the appearing of our great God and Savior? Or will you shrink back in fear on that Day when His glory is revealed?
And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
[1 John 2:28]
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence.
Reality consists of two worlds — two realms — separated by a veil. The physical dimension here on earth is but a shadow — a dim reflection of the spiritual realm — and in this present age we are unable to see behind the veil. Although the heavens are the true substance of things to come, they remain hidden from us — invisible to the naked eye.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12
Fortunately, the Bible provides some interesting glimpses into heaven when the veil is partially lifted and man is able to peek behind the curtain, as it were.
Think of Jacob and the stairway to heaven [Genesis 28]. Ezekiel, Isaiah, and John and their visions of the LORD on His throne [Ezekiel 1, Isaiah 6, Revelation 4-5]. Elisha and his servant surrounded by the armies of heaven [2 Kings 6], and Stephen’s vision of Jesus as he was being stoned to death [Acts 7:54-56].
As intriguing as these glimpses into heaven may be, they were limited in scope and vision, but one day that will all change.
This day is what I like to call the Big Reveal!
This is the revelation of Jesus Christ. The day of God’s visitation. The arrival of the King. There is coming a day when the heavens will be ripped open and the Lord Jesus will come down in all His power and glory and every eye will see Him for who He truly is.
It is a singular day — the culmination, crescendo and climax of history. It is the end, the finale. That is why the prophets always refer to this unique day as “the” revelation of Jesus Christ [see Luke 17:28-30, 1 Peter 1:5-7, 13, 4:13]. It is a day like no other.
The return of Jesus is THE BIG REVEAL! For believers … it is the moment we all have been waiting for. For the rest of the world, however, it will be the most dreadful day imaginable.
So how will this Big Reveal go down?
Let’s see what the Bible says.
The Veil will be Torn
Instead of thinking of the heavens as empty “space,” we must understand that the heavens consists of some form of material substance, though invisible to us. This what is known as the very fabric of space. The Bible repeatedly describes God the Creator as the One who “stretches out the heavens” like a tent or a curtain. [see Job 9:8, Psalm 104:2, Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 48:13, 51:13, Jeremiah 10:12, 51:15, Zechariah 12:1]
So if heaven can be stretched out like a tent or curtain, then it stands to reason that it also can be rolled up like a scroll or torn apart. That is precisely what will happen during God’s big reveal. The veil between heaven and earth will be ripped open to reveal the LORD Jesus, and He will at that moment come down in all His power and glory.
Consider the overwhelming testimony of Scripture that describes this unique moment when the veil is torn and Jesus comes down from heaven to earth and treads upon the wicked in judgment.
Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence— 2as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.
7Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. 8Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. 9He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet. 10He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind. 11He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. 12Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.
Bow your heavens, O LORD, and come down! Touch the mountains so that they smoke!6Flash forth the lightning and scatter them; send out your arrows and rout them!
Hear, you peoples, all of you;pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it,and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you,the Lord from his holy temple.3For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place,and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.4And the mountains will melt under him,and the valleys will split open,like wax before the fire,like waters poured down a steep place.
Draw near, O nations, to hear, and give attention, O peoples! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it. 2For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. 3Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood. 4All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.
When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
There will be no mistaking God’s Big Reveal when the veil between heaven and earth is ripped open and the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth in all His glory!
If that weren’t enough, here are a few more supplemental details that help put this monumental event into perspective.
The Angel Armies will Descend
Once heaven is opened and the veil is lifted, the entire host of heaven will be exposed for all to see.
[God will] … grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-8
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones.”
And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.
The Nations will Mourn
There will be collective wailing and mourning by all who have rebelled against the God of heaven on that day.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
The great Day of the LORD is near— near and coming quickly. Listen, the Day of the LORD! Then the cry of the mighty will be bitter. 15That day will be a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, 16a day of horn blast and battle cry against the fortified cities, and against the high corner towers. 17I will bring such distress on mankind that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their flesh like dung.
Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”
And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Fire will Consume the Wicked
The final outpouring of God’s wrath is always associated with an all-consuming fire to be poured out on the wicked.
For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the whirlwind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. 16For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment, and by his sword, with all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many.
Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him.
When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,
2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly … But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed … waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!
2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12
The Lord Jesus will Come Down to Wage War
God’s Big Reveal culminates with the Lord Jesus coming down from heaven to earth in bodily form to crush the Beast and his armies in the war to end all wars!
Behold, a day is coming for the LORD, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east … Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.“
Zechariah 14:1-3, 5
And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast. 13These are of one mind, and they hand over their power and authority to the beast. 14They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:8
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army.20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh
As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Over the last century, a majority of Christian churches in America have taught that Jesus Christ can come at any moment for His church — otherwise know as the rapture. But is the rapture the same thing as the 2nd Coming? Well, apparently it depends.
Few would argue that the 2nd Coming of Christ is one of the most essential, non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith. Christ has come. Christ will come again. Sounds simple, right?
Unfortunately, because of a man-made doctrine — namely dispensationalism — the 2nd Coming of Christ has been distorted into a convoluted belief system that unnecessarily complicates the clear teaching of Scripture. For example, when dispensationalists say “second coming” they don’t really mean second coming. What they mean is that Jesus can “come” at any moment to rapture His church back to heaven, but also that He will “come” again to judge the earth.
In other words, the dispensational belief system has to divide the coming of Christ into two “phases” or “stages” in order to make sense of it all. Taken to its logical conclusion, there are not two “comings” of Christ, but rather … three!
Having been raised on the dispensational doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the church, I once affirmed this man-made system without question.
But then one day … I started reading the Bible for myself.
What I discovered was that the Scriptures did not align with dispensational theology, especially the notion that the church would be whisked away to heaven before the great tribulation. Nothing could be further from the truth!
I began to see that the Scriptures plainly teach that the “coming” of the Lord immediately follows the great tribulation at the end of the age on the Day of the LORD [see Matthew 24:27-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-28]. In other words, there is only one 2nd Coming of Jesus Christ. The 2nd coming of Christ is one event, one advent. Not one verse in all of Scripture presents the Second Coming of Christ in “two phases” or “two stages.” Once I came to that very important conclusion, the Scriptures began to make perfect sense.
Since dispensationalists refer almost exclusively to the writings of the Apostle Paul to support their view of a pre-tribulation rapture of the church, I thought it would be worth some print to demonstrate how the Apostle Paul actually destroys the pre-tribulation argument in his epistles.
Using only his letters to the church in Thessalonica, I will demonstrate how Paul understood and taught the essential doctrine of the 2nd coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Greek word used predominantly in regard to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ is the word — parousia [παρουσία] — which means “coming, presence, arrival, advent.” Jesus Himself used this word to describe His return, as did Peter and John, but Paul used parousia more than any other New Testament writer.
For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
Jesus Christ — Matthew 24:27
By using this very specific and technical term as a thread in Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica, all the unnecessary confusion about the 2nd Coming of Christ becomes crystal clear. Let’s take a closer look.
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
Paul’s message to the saints in Thessalonica was one of encouragement and hope due to the intense persecution the church was suffering at the time. Here in the first chapter of his letter, Paul commends the church for turning from idolatry to the “living and true God,” and he encourages them to wait for His son “from heaven.” Although parousia is not used here, clearly Paul is referring to the 2nd Coming of Christ when He returns from heaven to earth. Notably, it is at this time that Jesus will deliver the saints from the wrath to come.
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20For you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
Paul first uses the term parousia here in chapter two. He says that the church has become his crown of boasting, which he will present before the Lord Jesus “at his coming.” Paul invokes the very same imagery in his second letter to Timothy, when he says, “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. [2 Timothy 4:8]
So Paul is expecting to receive his reward from the Lord “on that day” — the Day of the LORD and of His appearing.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
The next time Paul uses the word parousia he provides more detail. He says that the coming of Jesus is “with all his saints” — or holy ones. The 2nd coming of Christ is often characterized by the heavenly host, dressed in white robes of righteousness, coming with Jesus to earth. [see Matthew 25:31, Jude 1:14-15, Revelation 19:11-16]
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The passage above has been branded as the “classic” rapture passage in all of Scripture, and while it certainly describes the catching up [Greek harpazó] and gathering of believers to meet Christ in the air, we interpret this event within the context of the passage. This “rapture” event is connected to the parousia — the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ [see 1 Thessalonians 4:15]. This is the visible, public, glorious return of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth with loud shouts from heaven and the sound of the trumpet of God.
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 5For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5
Staying consistent with the theme of his letter, Paul finishes by encouraging believers that the parousia — the coming Day of the Lord — will NOT take believers by surprise! As children of light and of the day, true believers will be ready in hopeful expectation and will be aware of the signs and seasons preceding the coming of the Lord.
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Paul concludes his letter by reminding us that our complete redemption will take place “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,” which includes our “bodies” to be resurrected on the last day at the end of the age.
Before we move to 2nd Thessalonians, let’s recap Paul’s teaching about the second coming.
Jesus is coming from heaven to earth.
Jesus is coming with his reward.
Jesus is coming with the saints.
Jesus is coming down visibly on the clouds.
Jesus is coming with loud shouts from heaven and the voice of the archangel.
Jesus is coming with the trumpet blast.
Jesus is coming to raise the righteous dead.
Jesus is coming to gather all believers who remain alive until His return.
Jesus is coming like a thief in the night to surprise those in darkness.
Jesus is coming to judge the wicked.
Paul’s second letter to the church in Thessalonica picks up right where it left off in his first letter, emphasizing the coming of the Lord Jesus and the Day of the LORD. We can begin to complete our list of details with Paul’s words.
This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7andto grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10
Paul opens his letter by providing one of the most comprehensive accounts in all of Scripture of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He says that God ultimately will grant relief to believers when “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire!” No one can dispute that this is the second coming of Christ. He goes on to describe both the judgment of the wicked and the triumph of the saints “when he comes on that day.”
Up until now, Paul has been speaking about the same singular event when Christ comes in glory — the day of the Lord. This is the parousia — the very same coming that Jesus Himself predicted. The language only allows for one event, and Paul will drive the proverbial nail in the pre-tribulation coffin in the next chapter.
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
Once again, Paul wants the believers in Thessalonica to make sure there is no confusion concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus and the rapture of the church — “our being gathered together to him.” Paul is adamant that believers will not be deceived or surprised at the coming of the Lord because there are several clear signs that must take place before the day of the Lord and the rapture of the church.
Paul could not be more straightforward. He says, “for that day will not come, unless the rebellion (apostasy) comes first, and the man of lawlessness (Beast) is revealed.” The reason believers will not be deceived or surprised is because we will know that the Lord will not come until these two major signs take place. First there will be a great falling away from the faith in the last days and then son of destruction — aka the “antichrist” — will be revealed and will enter the temple to set up the abomination that causes desolation [see Matthew 24:15].
And if that weren’t enough, Paul ties a massive bow on his teaching about the 2nd coming of Christ by giving us the precise element of timing. That’s right. Paul tells us exactly when Jesus is coming back — speaking of the parousia.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
2 Thessalonians 2:8
Jesus Christ will destroy the lawless one — the son of destruction — how and when?
Jesus will kill the Beast with the “breath of his mouth” by the “appearance of HIS COMING!“
It could not be more clear. Paul builds His entire case of the singular event — called the coming of the Lord — and he provides as many possible details connected to this singular event to help believers understand the key elements of timing that accompany the return of Jesus and the day of the LORD.
The final detail Paul provides is the most telling. Jesus Christ will destroy the Beast when He comes on that Day in flaming fire with His mighty angels to be glorified in His saints!
Case closed! This happens at the end of the great tribulation, which means that there is no “pre-tribulation” or “mid-tribulation” rapture of the church. The rapture of the church coincides with the 2nd coming of Jesus, which is precisely when Jesus kills the antichrist by the breath of His mouth.
The book of Revelation describes this very even in more detail, which again supports the timing of the post-tribulation rapture of the saints during the 2nd coming of the Lord at the end of the age.
And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.
But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
The Lord Jesus often used symbols, types and shadows to teach us lessons about prophetic realities to come. In His famous discourse on the end of the age, Jesus draws our attention to two primary allusions from the Old Testament.
The judgment of the ungodly by flood in Noah’s day
The judgment of the wicked by fire in Lot’s day
If the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah give us any indication about the Day of the LORD when Christ is revealed from heaven, then it is certainly worthy of deeper study.
Storing Up Wrath
Then the LORD said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”
To avoid conflict, Abram and his nephew, Lot, had separated their wealth and settled in opposite directions. While Abram chose the land of Canaan, Lot chose the fertile plain on the eastern side of the Salt Sea and settled in Sodom. In that day, the cities of the plain were lush with fresh water and rich vegetation, which obviously appealed to Lot.
And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw that the Jordan Valley was well watered everywhere like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, in the direction of Zoar. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
There was only one problem. The people in these cities were extraordinarily godless, for “the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD” [Genesis 13:13]. The depravity of these people was manifest most prominently in their extreme sexual degradation — namely the defiling of their bodies with the perverse practice of homosexuality.
We discover some time later (Genesis 18-19) that the LORD could bear the sin of Sodom no more. God had waited patiently, giving the people of Sodom and Gomorrah a chance to repent. Instead, they only persisted in sin and continued to store up for themselves more and more wrath for their coming judgment.
God’s wrath is described in the Scriptures in several different ways. In the Hebrew, the words most commonly translated for wrath are חֵמָה (chemah) or עֶבְרָה (ebrah), which suggest an overflowing fury that has been building over time.
In the Greek New Testament, there is one distinct word translated “wrath” that is unique from all the others. It is the word ὀργή (orgé), which again refers to the settled and righteous indignation of God toward the wicked. Paul uses this word in his epistle to the Romans.
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
Notice Paul refers to “the day of wrath.” God’s wrath (orgé) is always associated with the Day of the LORD and the coming of Jesus Christ to judge the ungodly. It is a distinct kind of wrath. It is a settled wrath that God has allowed to build over time as He withholds judgment. It is His final wrath and outpouring of anger that is almost always expressed by an all-consuming fire.
The point is that God’s wrath — His orgé — is not some capricious, erratic impulse — likened to a quick-tempered outburst of anger — but rather it is the gradual culmination of God’s long-suffering with sin that finally builds and boils over into the complete outpouring of His anger.
The LORD gave Sodom and Gomorrah more than enough time to repent and turn from their wicked ways, but in the end, His eyes could no longer look upon their sin. Jesus Christ is warning us with the very same message today. There is a day when God’s mercy and patience will cease, and His wrath will be poured out on the earth in flaming fire, just as it was upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Righteous are Not Appointed to Wrath
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 — NKJV
Now that I have established the Biblical meaning of God’s wrath — especially in how it was foreshadowed in the fiery destruction Sodom — I need to clarify what the Bible means when it says that the righteous will not suffer the wrath of God. Much confusion and many elaborate eschatological views have emerged from a fundamental misunderstanding of this one verse — 1 Thessalonians 5:9.
The Apostle Paul plainly states that those who are sealed and secured in Christ Jesus can be 100% certain that they will not be consumed by the fire of God’s all-consuming wrath — namely His orgé. Notice that this is the exact Greek word that Paul uses in this passage, which is connected to a very unique type of God’s judgment and more specifically to the Day of the LORD.
So what does this verse mean?
#1 — We are Saved from the Fires of Eternal Hell
First, this means that all who have believed in Jesus Christ will not suffer the eternal wrath of God’s punishment in the fires of hell. Don’t forget that the wrath of God is most completely expressed in His all-consuming fire, which precisely characterizes hell.
Paul again says in Romans, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God“ [Romans 5:8-9].
Notice again that this passage in Romans 5 uses the Greek word orgé when speaking of our being saved from God’s wrath. So when Paul says that the righteous are not destined for wrath, he primarily means that we are not destined for eternal hell.
We are saved from hell! Saved from the second death! AMEN!
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15And if anyone was found whose name was not written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
#2 — We are Saved from God’s Direct Wrath on Earth
When we study the Bible, we discover that God is very precise and specific in His ability to pour out wrath on the wicked, while at the same time preserving and protecting the righteous. There are numerous examples of God directly judging the ungodly and wicked in wrath, while at the same time rescuing the righteous. Here are some of the most obvious.
Noah saved through the flood
Israelites protected through the plagues in Egypt
Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16
Joshua protected from the hailstones in Joshua 10
Sealed remnant preserved during Babylonian invasion in Ezekiel 9
And of course, the most obvious example is the one we are studying here, which is Lot being rescued out of Sodom just prior to its destruction. Once again, the timing is telling, especially when we understand that Lot’s rescue from Sodom is a foreshadowing of the return of Christ and the Day of the LORD.
If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.
2 Peter 2:6-9
God’s people always have endured suffering, persecution, and tribulation, and the last generation will be no different. The righteous will go through the great tribulation, but believers will not be the objects of God’s wrath. Not only is God able to rescue us from trials if He so chooses, He also is able to keep us and protect us from suffering His wrath.
#3 — We are Saved from the Day of Wrath
But on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Here we discover a valuable insight from the Lord Jesus that cannot be overlooked. Notice how Jesus says that God destroyed Sodom on the very same day He rescued Lot out of the city, and then He tells us that it will be exactly the same on the Day when the Son of Man is revealed.
If we are to take the word of the LORD at face value, then we can draw the following conclusion. In the same way Lot was saved and removed from Sodom the very same day that God poured out His wrath in fire and brimstone, then the righteous will be removed and delivered from the earth on the very same day the Son of Man is revealed in flaming fire.
This is precisely why Paul encourages us “to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” [1 Thessalonians 1:10].
Furthermore, just as the LORD sent His two angels into the city to literally snatch Lot and his family away to safety just prior to the outpouring of His wrath, so the Scriptures affirm that God will send out His angels across the earth to gather the righteous on the very same day He comes to judge the earth with fire.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.27And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
So the rapture of the church occurs on the day the Son of Man is revealed from heaven in flaming fire. The rapture of the church is at the same time as the resurrection of the dead and the return of Jesus. It is on this day — the Day of the LORD — when Jesus will pour out the totality of His wrath in flaming fire.
Jesus affirms that His final wrath — orgé — will come when the Son of Man is “revealed.” There is only one revelation of Jesus Christ. That is why it is called “the” revelation of Jesus Christ. It is singular. He is only revealed from heaven once — on the Day of the LORD.
And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.16On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords
So when the Scriptures speak of God’s people being delivered from the wrath to come, ultimately it is speaking about God’s wrath poured out on the ungodly when Jesus comes.
The words of Paul confirm this once again.
To grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed … And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming.
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
[2 Peter 3:8]
Considering that I have spent a substantial amount of time on the Day of the LORD, my aim is to bring this series to its conclusion, so here goes.
As a firm believer in Biblical creation and a “young” earth model of Biblical history, it is important to begin by demonstrating how the Day of the LORD will be the final 1,000 years — or 1 Day — of redemptive history before God creates a new heaven and new earth. This of course has become known as the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, which I believe to be a literal 1,000 years of Christ’s reign on earth.
Peter provides a keen insight into the Day of the LORD by reminding us that “with the Lord” one day is as a thousand years, and a thousands years as one day. Obviously the Millennial Kingdom will be that unique Day on earth when we will dwell WITH THE LORD and He will dwell with us!
In summary, I believe that there has been approximately 6,000 years of human history, although our imperfect dating methods must allow for some general latitude on the exactness of this date [+ or – 200 years or so]. All I know is that according to the Biblical record and the genealogies provided in Scripture, we are approaching the completion of 6,000 years — or 6 Days — of human history, which can only mean one thing.
The imminent return of the Lord Jesus is at hand. Once Jesus returns on THAT DAY, it will inaugurate the beginning the final 1,000 years — the 7th Day of rest — for all of God’s people. Here is a simple visual that may help provide some perspective. [Note — the “rapture and second coming are simultaneous events — not separate]
By establishing the original creation week, the LORD was giving us a prophetic pattern of history in the first book of the Bible. The Sabbath Day rest on the 7th Day has always been a picture of the final Day — or 1,000 years — when God returns to earth to give rest to His people! What a day of rejoicing that will be!
So if we are dealing with a literal Kingdom of 1,000 years, what will the Day of the LORD really be like? I will try to hit the high points here.
The Tribute of the Nations
One of the first recurring themes I see in the Scripture describes how the surviving nations will bring tribute and offerings to the LORD in Zion, honoring Him as the King of kings. There are many passages that depict this during the Millennium, but I will only provide a few here.
“At that time tribute will be brought to the LORD of hosts
from a people tall and smooth, from a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering, whose land the rivers divide,
to Mount Zion, the place of the name of the LORD of hosts.”
“Because of your temple at Jerusalem kings shall bear gifts to you.”
Isaiah 60 perhaps provides one of the most detailed accounts of the nations paying tribute to King Jesus.
“And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising
Lift up your eyes all around, and see; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be carried on the hip. 5Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and exult, because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. 6A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD. 7All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you; the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall come up with acceptance on my altar, and I will beautify my beautiful house.
Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows? 9For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the LORD your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful.
Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you, but in my favor I have had mercy on you. 11Your gates shall be open continually; day and night they shall not be shut, that people may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession. 12For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste. 13The glory of Lebanon shall come to you, the cypress, the plane, and the pine, to beautify the place of my sanctuary, and I will make the place of my feet glorious. 14The sons of those who afflicted you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet; they shall call you the City of the LORD, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.”
The Universal Worship of Yahweh
Along with tribute and offerings from the nations, the Bible also describes that Day as a time when all the nations of the earth migrate to Israel to worship the LORD of lords in all His glory.
“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.”
“For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD.”
The Scriptures also describe a unique highway from Egypt to Assyria in that Day that will allow the nations to caravan to Zion to worship the LORD.
“In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the LORD of hosts has blessed, saying, “Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.”
The Law Will Go Forth from Zion
As the King of the Universe reigns from His throne, the law of the LORD will be the law of the whole earth and justice will prevail in God’s Kingdom. All who forsake God’s law will be punished, but all who obey will enjoy God’s favor and blessing forevermore. Jesus will rule “on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore” [Isaiah 9:7].
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Satanic Influence will be Removed
The Millennial Kingdom will be free from the presence and power of the evil one — the devil — as the earth will enjoy a Day of victory over our enemies.
“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.”
Peace and Prosperity for the Earth
The coming Kingdom of God will be a time of peace from war and the overall longevity of life. Beyond that, all of nature will be in harmony. I believe this will include no more catastrophic storms or earthquakes. No more brutal famines or harsh winters. It will be paradise on earth again.
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. 18But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. 19I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. 20No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. 21They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 22They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 23They shall not labor in vain or bear children for calamity, for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their descendants with them. 24Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. 25The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the LORD.
The Restoration of Paradise
The Millennial Kingdom will be a progressive restoration of paradise on the earth, as God’s people will be commissioned by the LORD Himself to expand the beauty and glory of His name throughout the earth.
Living waters will flow from under God’s throne in Jerusalem and will replenish and bring new life to all the desert lands. Men will harvest the best of crops and catch an abundance of fish, enjoying the fruit of their labor in the joy of the LORD!
“And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the streambeds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Shittim.”
“Again you shall plant vineyard, on the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant and shall enjoy the fruit. For there shall be a day when watchmen will call in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.’”
“They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, declares the LORD.”
[Jeremiah 31:5-6, 12-14]
“Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar … As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8And he said to me, ‘This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. 9And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing.’”
[Ezekiel 47:1, 7-12]
The Saints will Rule with God
Finally, I would like to leave this series with Scriptures that describe the role of God’s people in His Millennial Kingdom. The saints — or holy ones — will rule and reign with Christ during this time, executing His will, participating in the restoration, and inheriting the Kingdom itself. Our level of authority and responsibility in the Kingdom will be determined by our faithfulness and obedience to God in this life. Some, therefore, will be given greater roles than others.
“The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.”
“But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever… And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.”
[Daniel 7:17, 27]
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Once the 1,000 years are ended, the devil and death will be destroyed once and for all, and God will make everything new in a new heaven and earth in which we will dwell forevermore. This is the final eternal state.
“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”
“So that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons. They will seize the spoil of those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Lord GOD.”
Once the great Day of God’s wrath is finished and the last wicked warrior falls to the ground at the battle of Armageddon, the LORD will roar from Zion and all the saints will shout for victory! As King Jesus takes His seat on His glorious throne, the administration of His government will begin.
One of the most practical details about the Day of the LORD that often is overlooked involves the spoils of war. The Lord Jesus will put an end to the war of all wars at His coming, and the aftermath will leave the earth desolate in ruins, scattered with countless dead bodies and weapons.
The spoils will be for the taking, but the task of cleaning up will be overwhelming. Interestingly enough, the Scriptures provide details about the aftermath of the war and the process of cleansing the land.
There is a Stench in the Land
I have written extensively about the catastrophic loss of life on the Day of the LORD. As Jesus comes to tread the winepress of God’s wrath upon the nations, untold millions will die, leaving a river a blood in His wake. These horrid details are often difficult to process and just as easily ignored altogether.
But the reality of death on that Day will be inescapable. Not only will the wild beasts and birds gather to feed on the carrion (Revelation 19:17-21), but also a foul stench will arise, filling the air with the repulsive odor of decaying flesh.
Both Joel and Isaiah spoke of this Day.
“I will remove the northerner far from you, and drive him into a parched and desolate land, his vanguard into the eastern sea, and his rear guard into the western sea; the stench and foul smell of him will rise, for he has done great things.”
“For the LORD is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their host; he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter. Their slain shall be cast out, and the stench of their corpses shall rise; the mountains shall flow with their blood.”
7 Months for Burial
Cleansing the land of these dead bodies will be no small task. Ezekiel provides exclusive insight about how long this process will actually take.
“On that day I will give to Gog a place for burial in Israel, the Valley of the Travelers, east of the sea. It will block the travelers, for there Gog and all his multitude will be buried. It will be called the Valley of Hamon-gog. For seven months the house of Israel will be burying them, in order to cleanse the land. All the people of the land will bury them, and it will bring them renown on the day that I show my glory, declares the Lord GOD. They will set apart men to travel through the land regularly and bury those travelers remaining on the face of the land, so as to cleanse it. At the end of seven months they will make their search. And when these travel through the land and anyone sees a human bone, then he shall set up a sign by it, till the buriers have buried it in the Valley of Hamon-gog. (Hamonah is also the name of the city.) Thus shall they cleanse the land.”
Although I can’t be certain, this passage seems to designate this grueling job to “the house of Israel,” which I understand to be the survivors from Israel who turn to Jesus in repentance and faith at His coming and are saved [see Zechariah 12-13, Joel 2].
The cleansing of the land will be one of the very first steps of restoration in the Millennium.
7 Years of Fuel
In a future post, I plan to emphasize how all the nations will pay tribute to the LORD in Zion and bring their treasures to Israel during the Millennium. The nations will flow to the mountain of the LORD each year to honor the King of kings. But Zechariah seems to imply that there will be some immediate spoils of war in the aftermath of the Day of the LORD.
“And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other. Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever beasts may be in those camps.”
Ezekiel also indicates that the immediate spoils of war will provide enough fuel to sustain the land during the first seven years of the Millennium!
“Then those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out and make fires of the weapons and burn them, shields and bucklers, bow and arrows, clubs and spears; and they will make fires of them for seven years, so that they will not need to take wood out of the field or cut down any out of the forests, for they will make their fires of the weapons. They will seize the spoil of those who despoiled them, and plunder those who plundered them, declares the Lord GOD.”
This passage reinforces the idea that there will be many survivors from both Israel and the nations that will enter the Millennium in natural bodies and will have the same basic needs that we do in this present age, such as food and shelter. Only those who receive resurrected bodies at the return of Christ will enter the Kingdom in a glorified state like that of Jesus Himself.
As I begin to shift my focus to the Millennial Kingdom, I will do my best to address all of these issues from a Biblical perspective.
“For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”
The Day of the LORD is the dawning of the coming Kingdom of God, when King Jesus leads all His redeemed in triumphant procession, riding the clouds through the wilderness from the east, and passing through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem before entering His Temple. It is a Day when Christ will sit down on His throne and take His rightful place as the Eternal King of Israel. As Isaiah says, “the government will be on His shoulder … of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom” [Isaiah 9:6-7].
One of the first orders of business in God’s new kingdom will be to gather the multitudes before the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is the Day that we all must stand before our God and our Righteous Judge and give an account of our lives. It is the Day we receive either the due penalty or gracious reward for our words, thoughts, and actions while on earth. It is also the day that every knee will bow before the King of kings.
“So that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
For believers in Christ Jesus, there will be no condemnation at this judgment — but many of us likely will suffer a strong sense of loss for time wasted and for missed opportunities in the present age. Motives will be exposed. Deeds brought into the light, and every word counted before our God.
For unbelievers who survive the great tribulation and God’s wrath, this Day of judgment will be most dreadful indeed.
Jesus will Judge our Secret Thoughts
The coming Judgment Seat of Christ is a sobering reminder that nothing is ever done in secret. No deed goes unseen. No secret motive remains hidden. No sin is unnoticed. No one ever really “gets away” with anything. God knows all things, even the secret things, and our secrets will be judged on that Day.
“They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.”
The Apostle Paul wrote more extensively about the Judgment Seat of Christ than anyone. He realized that he too would stand before the Judge of all the earth on that Day.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”
[2 Corinthians 5:10]
“For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.”
[1 Corinthians 4:4-5]
Even King Solomon understood the gravity of that Day when all men will give an account of their lives to God.
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”
The Righteous will Receive their Reward
For God’s children — those who have trusted in God’s Only Son — the Judgment Seat of Christ will be the Day we receive our rewards before entering the Kingdom. Jesus taught extensively about how faithful stewardship in this life will determine how one is rewarded in the Kingdom. Paul also reminded the churches that everything we do in the body will be tested on that day.
“For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
[1 Corinthians 3:11-15]
As I mentioned earlier, the resurrected saints will not be condemned nor fear punishment at the Judgment (Bema) Seat of Christ, but many will suffer loss, knowing that more could have been done for the Kingdom.
On the other hand, the faithful will be rewarded on that Day. For sake of time, here is a short list of rewards that believers will receive.
A New Name — [Isaiah 62:1-3, Rev. 2:17, 3:12]
Authority to rule and judge in God’s Kingdom — [Luke 19:11-27, 22:28-30, Rev. 20:4-6]
A Place at the Master’s Table — [Luke 12:35-40, 22:30, Rev. 19:6-10]
Imperishable Crown of Righteousness — [2 Timothy 4:8]
Imperishable Crown of Life — [James 1:12, Revelation 2:10]
Unfading Crown of Glory — [1 Peter 5:4]
Imperishable Inheritance — [1 Peter 1:4-5]
For the first time in human history, God will effectively reign on earth as it is in heaven, and all His people will be subject to Him and be given the privilege to participate in His Kingdom rule.
For the wicked, however, there will be no consolation.
The Wicked will Receive their Punishment
Like many scholars and Bible teachers, I draw a distinction between the “white throne” judgment mentioned in Revelation 20 and the Bema Seat of Christ. The white throne judgment takes place after the 1,000 years of the Messianic Kingdom and only involves the “dead” who must be ultimately judged for their unbelief and wickedness. The Judgment Seat of Christ, however, takes place immediately after His return to earth on the Day of the LORD, prior to the millennial Kingdom.
Both the righteous and the wicked will be present at the Judgment Seat. Let us turn to the Scriptures for some clarity.
In Ezekiel 34, the LORD gives a warning to the wicked shepherds who have abused and taken advantage of His people. God will judge between the sheep and goats and between the sheep and sheep, revealing who truly belong to Him — the Good Shepherd.
Jesus continues this idea throughout the gospels. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that judgment will be rendered according to the fruit that is produced. Each person who does not produce good fruit will be “cut down and thrown into the fire” [Matthew 7:19]. The Lord goes on to warn us about the severity of that Day.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”
Jesus paints the picture a little clearer in one of His parables.
“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Evidently, the wicked will be judged and then cast out of God’s presence into the tormenting fire to suffer everlasting punishment. For those who must face the Judge of all the earth, it will be a Day of terror, knowing that there “no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” [Hebrews 10:26-27].
I will leave you with one of the most vivid scenes of the Judgment Seat of Christ in all Scripture.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world …
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’ … And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
“Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory.”
Last time I left off with the Lord Jesus — the King of Glory — leading His army of holy ones in triumphal procession from Sinai to the Sanctuary in Zion. Yeshua is Yahweh — the full embodiment of the divine nature and eternal power — in the form of a man — Immanuel — God with us.
Psalm 68 must be the most beautiful description and most vivid account of the Day of the LORD and the return of the King of Glory. It is well worth an in-depth study of its own but for now will serve as the backdrop to this post.
“Your procession is seen, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary— the singers in front, the musicians last, between them virgins playing tambourines: Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!”
God’s word never ceases to amaze me. When I consider, that in His infinite wisdom, the LORD has provided the true testimony and historical record of the past as well as the clear view and prophetic vision of the future. This is what qualifies the Bible unique among all other writings — both sacred or secular. The Bible is no mere human invention. It is a supernatural phenomenon.
Try to envision for a moment this divine procession in the future. Do you see Moses and Elijah? Abraham and Peter? Jacob and Paul? King David and Queen Esther? Michael the Archangel? They are all there!
Can you see the mighty ones — the angel armies — lifting their swords? Can you hear the people weeping tears of joy and the children singing songs of praise? Can you see a multitude that no man can count, from every tribe and nation, following their Savior King and shouting in victory?
Can you see the glorified Christ? Wrapped with inapproachable light … riding His chariot of fire on a cloud.
It is more amazing still that God provides multiple viewpoints for the same future events. David was given one perspective in Psalm 68, as a participant in the procession. Ezekiel was given an altogether different vision from the holy city Jerusalem. Let’s take a closer look.
Coming from the East
Just as the sun rises in the east and the morning light dawns over the horizon, the Son of righteousness will arise upon the earth on that Day and shine in the brightness of His glory. As the Spirit of God carried Ezekiel to the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem, he was given a glimpse of this beautiful procession coming from the east.
Ezekiel saw what we all long to see … “the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east” [Ezekiel 43:1]. He could hear this multitude moving across the earth like the sound of many waters. An awesome sight to behold.
David helps further explain the tumult.
“O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.”
The dawn imagery prevails throughout the Scriptures!
“Arise, shine, for your light has come,and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,and thick darkness the peoples;but the LORD will arise upon you,and his glory will be seen upon you.And nations shall come to your light,and kings to the brightness of your rising.
Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy. For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one … For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.”
[Psalm 132:8-10, 13-14]
“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.”
Even the Apostle Peter echoes this in his second epistle.
“And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”
[2 Peter 1:19]
Open the Gates!
As the LORD leads His procession toward Jerusalem — you can hear the shouts growing louder, the praises being lifted higher, and see the light shining brighter. And one can only imagine the collective voices of God’s saints all proclaiming in unison … “Open the Gates! Open those ancient doors! So that the King of Glory may come in!”
David was given another glimpse into the future moment when the LORD of Glory enters the Eastern Gate in Jerusalem.
“Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty, the LORD, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory!”
Once King Jesus enters the city, He will make way to His royal throne in the Temple of God — the Sanctuary.
“As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple…”
Next the LORD will take His rightful place as King of kings and sit down on the throne of David to declare final victory and rest from all our enemies.
“Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel forever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoring and by the dead bodies of their kings at their high places.”
Kingdom and Power and Glory Forever
At the moment Jesus Christ sits down on His throne, His rule and reign as King of the Universe shall begin. The whole world will be astonished at the presence of the glory of God Almighty! For the kingdom and the power and the glory are His forever. Amen.
“O kingdoms of the earth, sing to God; sing praises to the Lord,
Selah to him who rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens; behold, he sends out his voice, his mighty voice. Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!”
And the exciting part at this point is … His reign will have just begun!