Part 6-Second Coming Predictions-The Basis for the Anti-Christ’s Deception

“and all the world wondered after the beast..” 

Revelation 13:3

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie

2 Thessalonians 2: 10-11

How can the beast of Revelation 13 (aka the Antichrist) convince an entire world to follow?  In the coming studies, the Antichrist will be revealed through God’s word.  Please understand it is not something I discovered.  It has been known for thousands of years.  Great men and women of God proclaimed it long before our generation. But, there is a counterfeit as there is with all of God’s truth.  The enemy uses deception because he is the father of lies and there is no truth in him.

There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25

So how can we know the truth about the Antichrist?  Only one way. From our Creator through His written and inspired word.

“Thy word is truth.”

John 17:17

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When we begin our study on the Antichrist, we must understand the foundation from which this work of delusion operates.  This delusion is so strong that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”   The elect, are not deceived.  Why?    The answer lies (in part) in our opening passage 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11.

They received the love of the truth.

Over the years since my conversion to Christ from atheism (40 years), I have seen people come to Christ and receive Him.  And, just as Jesus warns in the parable of the seed, there are many who receive the truth with joy, but for various reasons (e.g., cares of this life, riches and  tribulation), they fail to grow roots in the soil of Christ to  produce fruit into salvation See Matthew 13.

But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

Matthew 13: 20-21

Our passage in 2 Thessalonians 2, says, that because the truth is not loved, they are open to strong delusion and they will believe a lie.

 Last week we studied how the religious people of Christ’s day did not accept Jesus and the only way to salvation, because they were comfortable in their religious experience.  They were self-deceived and felt no need of Jesus nor His words.  Their whole world revolved around tradition and the way things had always been done.  Change was not an option to them. The change was frightful and promised no hope or comfort.

The religious people of the time had the Tanakh (aka Old Testament) which was full of the prophecies about their Messiah Jesus, but Jesus didn’t fulfill the image they had formed for the coming Messiah.  To this day, they continue to look for Him based on tradition and not the Tanakh (scripture). It was because of their traditions, the power of their peers, and false beliefs about scripture that caused them to be in a state of delusion.

This will happen again before the Lord returns, or should I say , it is happening!

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One of the first works of Jesus after His resurrection was to explain to His disciples about Himself as in scripture (Tanakh). It was because of Jesus’ “Bible study” and the reality His resurrection that His followers built a stronger faith in Him.  We are told in scripture that faith comes by hearing God’s word.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

Romans 10:17 NIV

If we desire more faith in Christ, then when need more of the word of God.  Wouldn’t you agree? Revival in our hearts will come when we hear more of the word of God and less of our own word.

When talking with the Jews, Jesus said,

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me.  But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

John 5:46-47

Indeed, Jesus gave a “Bible study” to His disciples when he talked with His disciples on the first day of the week after His resurrection.  It was not a New Testament Bible study because this portion of scripture was yet to be written,  Don’t misunderstand, the New Testament is just as much of scripture as the Old Testament because holy men spoke (and wrote) as they were moved by the Holy Spirit through the followers of Jesus.

“These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

Luke 24:44-45

Peter compared the letters of Paul with scripture. Notice that the untaught and unstable “twisted” the meaning of his writings as they do with all scripture:

and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.

2 Peter 3:16

We miss the entire story of Jesus if we say, “Well, that is in the Old Testament. It has been done away with. I don’t have to listen to it.  It is true that there is an old covenant that passed away, but it does not mean that the words of the Law of Moses (First five books of the Bible), the Prophets (Major and Minor prophets, Jeremiah, Daniel, Amos, etc), and the Psalms (poetic books) have no meaning for us today. To think this way is to not receive the love of the truth and the teaching/encouragement that comes with God’s entire word. It also means missing more about Jesus!

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:4 NIV

When Jesus prayed for His disciples and all believers in John 17, he prayed to the Father these words:

Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

John 17:17

At the time Jesus prayed this prayer, the New Testament had not been created. Paul had not been converted.  Jesus was referring to the Tanakh which contains all the books of what we call the Old Testament.  Jesus used the Tanakh to help His disciples understand the scripture which spoke of Him.

The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

Psalm 119: 160

As the writers of the New Testament began to write about Jesus (the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and write letters to believers (writings of Paul, Peter, James, etc) they expounded on the Tanakh and their experience with Jesus.  They encouraged the believers to trust in the entire word of God.

Notice that when Paul wrote an encouraging letter to young Timothy, there was no New Testament.  He is referring primarily to the scripture or Tanakh:

“…and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:15-17

Did you notice that ALL SCRIPTURE makes the man of God complete.  If we ignore any portion of our Bibles, we are in danger of being incomplete.  For sure, we will miss learning more about Jesus.

It is unfortunate that we (Non-Jews) call the books of the Tanakh the “Old” Testament.  It insinuates that it is not only ancient, but irrelevant to those living after the cross.

Soon, I hope to write on the Old Covenant VS the New Covenant.  This is, perhaps, where people become confused and throw out good doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. It is true there are things that are old and things that are new, but some things never pass away.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:8

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If the Antichrist is going to be effective in the work of strong delusion so that the whole world follows,the word of God, the word of God must be minimized and ignored.  Tradition, pomp, and display should dazzle the eyes and ears so that God’s word becomes old and out dated.  Public opinion and the professional preachers must reign supreme.  It must be in the hands of religious people who have an agenda of power and hide parts of God’s word that reveal their work of deception.  All this must come together for the enemy to succeed in deceiving the whole world, so that the Antichrist may flourish.  Sadly, it has already happened and continues to this very day.

“And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Matthew 15:9

We are instructed to beware of  teachers, leaders, and false prophets both in and out of the church who teach something contradictory to the entire word of God.

The children of Israel were warned to stay away from mediums (where the dead would talk), and fortune tellers.  Why? Because, they placed themselves in a place where they could be deceived:

“And when they say to you, “Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,” should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living?”

Isaiah 8:19

It was not the dead that talked, but satanic agencies appearing as a dead person.  God appeals to them to seek Him and not things and places that would open them up to deception.

The next verse gives us a basis to avoid delusion in all situations, including those who speak without using God’s word:

To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Isaiah 8:20

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be where there is darkness and not light to direct me. Rather, I desire the light of God’s word to direct my path.  Don’t you?

Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.

Psalm 119: 105

We can conclude from God’s word that the work of the Antichrist will use strong delusion on those who do not love God’s truth.   The tools of the Antichrist are sights, sounds, and yes even miracles. The choice in the end is to acknowledge one or the other.  God’s truth or the sights, sounds, and false teachings  of the Antichrist.

The work of the Antichrist looks to take away the one thing that can unmask the work of the enemy. It is God’s word and the work of the Holy Spirit who guides people into truth.

However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth

John 16:13

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In times past, we have seen God’s word burned by the Nazi’s. During the Dark Ages, the reformation began when a single Bible written in a little known language (Latin)  was found by Martin Luther. chained to a monastery wall.

Today, in the 21st Century, there are countless paper Bibles in multiple languages. In the last few years, the Bible has been digitized so that the work of finding verses and understanding it in it’s early language of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic has become very easy.  I use Bible Gateway and Strong’s Lexicon often in writing these studies.

Despite the availability of the Bible, many do no read it or study it.  We are told an interesting prophecy related to the word of God and the end times:

“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”

Amos 8:11

This was fulfilled in the Dark Ages, but because we have the Bible so abundantly, we might be tempted to think this prophecy only applies only to those in old times. But, read carefully.  It is a famine of HEARING the words of the Lord.

This appears to make reference that the preachers and teachers of our time using less and less of the word of God, so the people don’t “hear” the words of the Lord.

If you have teachers and pastors who not only teach the word of God, but also handle it correctly, you are blessed. But never forget,  reading and understanding God’s word is not just for those who have a PHD in religion. It is for you.  If you are willing to follow God’s word, he will reveal more and more of His truth.

If anyone decides to follow God’s will, they will know the teachings, whether it is from God or not.  If someone decides they don’t want to do God’s will, the opposite must be true.  They will be confused and, perhaps, on the path to strong delusion.

“If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God…”

John 7:17

Who will God teach knowledge? What makes it easier to understand?

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine?”

Isaiah 28:9 (first part)

The answer is simple:

“…them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.”

Isaiah 28:9 (last part)

Is this not a description of little children (infants)?

This is why Jesus said,

“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:3

The context of this verse is when the disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Verse 1). Jesus put a child in their midst to help them understand the great truth that we must have the faith of a little child.  Jesus went on to say in the next verse:

“Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.”

Matthew 18:4

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The work of the Antichrist was at work during the time of the disciples as well as at the time we are now living.  This work was a perversion of God’s word (lawlessness) and even leading people away to a different teaching:

“For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.”

2 Thessalonians 2:7

This verse takes us back to our opening verse concerning strong delusion.  Let’s read again:

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie

2 Thessalonians 2: 10-11

“…though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Galatians 1:8

There is another gospel preached in these last days from a messenger who appears as an Angel of Light. The deceptive work of the Antichrist will first be upon those who choose sights, sounds, public opinion and the words of professional preacher doctrines that they personally prefer instead of God’s word.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

2 Timothy 4:3

Have you noticed that the council and warnings from God’s word is not to unbelievers, but to believers who have become like the Scribes and Pharisees of old….Religions and comfortable in their traditions.

If we feel we are in need of nothing and we can never learn any more truth. If we feel our denomination has all the truth, we are setting ourselves up for strong delusion.  It is God’s word that has all the truth!

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But, there is another work of the Anti-Christ that is perhaps even more important to understand  The objective of the Anti-Christ is to come between you and Christ.  It is not only what you know, but who you know. It is less about information and more about revelation and obedience to his will.  If salvation was dependent only on knowing the scripture (head knowledge), then only those with a PHD in religion would be saved.

Joyce Meyer said something that is very relevant here,

“You see, there is a difference between information and revelation. No matter how much information you get, if it never turns into revelation it’s not going to do you a whole lot of good.”

That revelation must be about Jesus and His will. It is when we have a revelation about God and Jesus Christ that we make our election sure and we will never fall:

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble” 

2 Peter 1:10

What are “these things” that we should do to make sure we never stumble? The answer is found in it’s context which are the words preceding Verse 10:

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,  to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

2 Peter 1:5-9

Is this not a pattern of growth?  But, notice the part I underlined.  It is telling us that we will be “fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We actually begin to know more about Jesus by doing those things described through the power Jesus gives us.

This idea is expressed in the Old Testament when Jeremiah disclosed that Joaish (The last good king of Judah) knew Him because of what he did for others:

He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
    and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?
    declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 22:15-17 (NIV)

Jesus said the same thing in different words:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent….We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person.  But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

John 17:3, 1 John 2:3-6 (NIV)

Eternal life is dependent on who you know (Jesus).  But to know him must come through both God’s word and a revelation about Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit. This will give you a heart to help others.  If we are not willing to follow, the truth is not in us and we are deceitful to others and of little value in the work of God’s kindgdom.

We may be like the Anti-Christ and have,

 “…. a form of godliness but deny its power”

2 Timothy 3:5

That power comes from God’s word and following it so that it affects your neighbor for his/her good.

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

2 Corinthians 13:5

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I hope you have seen through this study the need to base your faith on the word of God and not on sights, sounds, large crowds, and the influence of the world.

Also, knowing Jesus through a practical experience with Him day by day.

These two things will provide the basis for avoiding the strong delusion that is upon the earth now.  Next time, we will move further into our study of the Antichrist and the plans to take away the one thing that will unmask the work of Satan behind the scenes….the word of God.

Blessings to you and your family until next time….Eddie

 

Part 5 Second Coming Predictions-Strong Delusion

“And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.’ For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”

Matthew 24:4-5

Many who read this passage think on simple terms and convince themselves they could never be deceived by someone who said they were Jesus. But, there are many around the world claiming to be Christ or a Prophet that have built a cult of followers around them.

A quick look at Wikipedia shows many in the world claiming “I am the Christ.”

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If you have 25 minutes to watch a documentary on a person claiming to be Christ, click here.  I must warn you that this can be disturbing if you are a follower of the only name under heaven whereby we are saved.  Notice, as you watch (if you do), how the beauty of the true Creator is used to seduce the followers into a lie and away from the true God.  The ramblings of the false Christ is seductive to people who love not the truth as found in God’s word.

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Before you can understand the false, you must know the true.  Herein lies the problem, many are confused by minimizing or ignoring the words of God Himself-The Holy Scripture.

Also, many are looking for answers and expect them to come from a leader other than the proven word of scripture.

Often delusion is self-made. The scripture warns us ahead of time:

“Let no one deceive himself….”

1 Corinthians 3:18

“Do not be deceived….”

1 Corinthians 6:9

For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

Romans  16:18

The subject of delusion is often avoided by many because:

1.) It is not politically correct to think that other people are being deceived.  It is asked by those who don’t know God’s word, “Who can judge something like that?”

2.) It forces the fact that there is an enemy who works hard to deceive people.

3.) There are actually some people deceived, even in the Christian churches.

4.) No one thinks they are deceived or can be deceived.

But let’s start with this question:  How can anyone know they are deceived or not?

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

Matthew 7:15

Deception does not come in a red suit and a pitch fork.  It comes looking nice and easy on the eyes. This is why delusion can be so powerful. It mimics truth and appeals to the sense of sight and sound.

Satan has used deception since he appeared as a serpent to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. His desire is to destroy as many as possible.  He is compared to a hungry lion:

“Be sober, be vigilant; because  your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

1 Peter 5:8 

 He is called  the father of lies:

“He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father”

John 8:44

“Even Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light! So it is no great thing if his servants disguise themselves to look like servants of righteousness. In the end they will get exactly what their actions deserve.”

2 Corinthians 11: 14-15

With our ancient enemy seeking to personally deceive us, the most pressing question is, “How can I keep myself from delusion?” It is all about knowing the true Jesus as described in  the entire Bible

What God has said2

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Delusion-For Religious People Only

Jesus reserved harsh words and most urgent warnings for religious people.  Those who were not religious, or were considered “sinners” by the religious community, received a softer exchange of words, encouragement, and personal interaction.  The religious people of Jesus’ day asked the disciples,

“How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” Mark 2:16 

These words came from the scribes and Pharisees (Religious leaders and scholars)

Jesus heard them and said,

“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

His biggest enemies were the Bible scholars and religious people of the day.  His friends were not particularly gifted Bible students, nor were they likely “church” members.

Goal for church

His true followers were average people, perhaps less educated, at least in the religious schools. They were not content with their lives and felt a need of the presence of the Lord. They were often meek and unassuming.  Jesus said it was these who would inherit the earth:

“Blessed are the meek,

For they shall inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:5

Their spiritual neediness made them more open to the words of Jesus and salvation, but also open to deceivers in sheep’s clothing.  If Jesus is not introduced properly to a spiritual needy person, they are subject to being fed by the deceiver.

On the other hand, those who feel that no need of a physician and are comfortable in their “religious” experience are, perhaps, in danger of being self-deceived.  It seems that there are much more warnings for the “comfortable” than for the needy.

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—Revelation 3:17

Notice being wealthy is not about physical wealth, but spiritual wealth as demonstrated in its context. Perhaps when Jesus was talking more about perceived spiritual wealth than actual riches when He said,

 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25

True, these words of Jesus came after speaking to the rich young ruler when “he went away sorrowful because he had great riches” Mark 10:25. But notice that he felt rich spiritually because he said,

“Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Mark 10:20

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To illustrate the types of  people Jesus sought and who became his friends and followers, I have made a short list:

  1. A woman with multiple marriages and living with someone(John 4)
  2. A group of men and women who were not of the same “faith” but were moved by the testimony of the woman with multiple marriages (John 4)
  3. Someone with mental problems that had 7 demons (Luke 8:2)
  4. Someone caught in adultery (John 8)
  5. A hated tax collector (Matthew 9:9)
  6. Simple Fishermen with violent tempers so great, Jesus gave them the name “Sons of Thunder.” (Mark 3:17). They wanted to kill the Samaritans because they did not accept Jesus (Luke 9:54)
  7. Someone with a socially unacceptable disease (Matthew 8:1)
  8. A hated soldier of an occupying country (Mathew 8:5)
  9. Two people demon possessed, but would be considered mentally sick in today’s society. (Matthew 8:28)
  10. Someone with a blood disease of 12 years (Mark 5:25)
  11. Someone who was blind (Mark 8:23)
  12. Someone who could not speak (Mark 9:17)
  13. A doubting follower in jail for political reasons and for preaching Christ (Matthew 11: 1-6

“I will make the lame a remnant,
And the outcast a strong nation;
So the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
From now on, even forever.” Micah 4:7

Again, the words of Jesus brings warning:

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Mark 2:17

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In contrast there were controlling religious leaders of Jesus’ day who were part of the big church, who constantly followed Jesus, but for the wrong reasons.  They show up on the scene early, just before Jesus is baptized and makes his ministry public.  They came to John to be baptized.  John’s response seemed judgmental and harsh:

“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” Matthew 3:7-9

The Pharisees and Sadducees were proud and content with their lives.  Their character was marked by a “holier-than-thou” attitude who knew the truth and the Tanakh (The Old Testament)…at least that is what they thought.  But even more, they believed their lineage made them superior to everyone else.  This pride sought to destroy Jesus and anybody else who went against their beliefs:

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham.  But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.” John 8: 39-41

As Paul and James would later concur, it is the fruit of works that determine the identity of the tree. The Scribes and Pharisees responded to Jesus in a very accusatory way making reference to the events surrounding His birth.  In effect, they called him a bastard (Illegitimate child born to unmarried parents).

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.” John 8: 41, last part

Again, their smug holier-than-thou attitude shines through.  But Jesus says something that is powerful underneath the stern language. He starts with the idea that if they loved the God of Abraham they would love Him if they understood His words, but they are incapable of doing so.

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.  Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word” John 8:42

Their preconceived ideas about God and a misunderstanding of scripture led them to “not (being) able to listen to the words of Jesus.”

Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God…You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”

Matthew 22:29, John 5:39

Their knowledge of scripture and how to interpret it was all wrong, because they missed seeing Jesus in it! They were self-deceived by twisting things to fit how they felt rather than letting God’s word interpret itself.

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;  knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,  for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of Godspoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1: 19-21

These words tell us that the prophetic word is confirmed.  How is it confirmed?  Is by its fulfillment.  Because of this, we should listen and follow it until the light rises up in our hearts.  The prophecy cannot be interpreted by one person, it is done so by the men moved by the Holy Spirit to write Scripture.  As we compare scripture with scripture, we will see the light and understand.  How many people are willing to do this?

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Continuing with the argument by the religious leaders, Jesus says a truth that reveals that their religion is a sham and they are something other than what they appear to the people:

“You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resourcesfor he is a liar and the father of it.” John 8:44

What a powerful scene to behold!  Here Jesus is telling the religious leaders and religious people who followed them that their father was the devil!  It is the truth they are missing.  They have their own resources for “truth.”

Jesus is telling the truth, but they don’t want to hear it!

But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” John 8:45-47

It is sobering to know that, even the scholars and religious people in the church who refuse to hear and follow the word of God are, simply not of God!  Is this possible?

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord,Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”

Luke 6:46

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

Matthew 7:21-23

How important it is to know Jesus, not just with lip service, but with obedience to the will of the Father in heaven.  Many of the church leaders today, take the extreme opposite view of the Scribes and the Pharisees who taught a strict legalistic form of religion. The teachers of today teach a cheap grace whereby obedience is minimized, eliminated or spiritualized away. But how can you be a follower of Jesus and refuse to obey His word?

Notice that it is the ones who know Jesus that obey the law of God who are His friends.  Those who have a dramatic experience of doing many wonders in His name are not safe.  It is the ones who do the will of the Father in heaven.  Jesus’ will and the will of the Father are not against each other.

For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

Matthew 12:50

We must beware of those who would minimize or eliminate obedience to the will of God as found in scripture.

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The religious leaders  have called Jesus a bastard and now they say He is demon-possessed.  Why would they say that?

“Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” John 8:48

Jesus defended himself and answered,

 “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me.” And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

John 8:49-51

By dishonoring Jesus, they are dishonoring God the Father! Keeping the word of God results in never seeing death.  Conversely to not obey the word results in eternal death.

But notice how they react:

“Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

John 8:52-53

Follow their reasoning.  Jesus says if they keep His word they will never see death. But, they reason that since Abraham is dead and the prophets are dead, Jesus is claiming to be greater than Abraham! Just what are you saying Jesus?  Then Jesus delivers the bombshell, he calls them a liar.  Abraham saw the coming of Jesus and was glad. But, what really threw them over the edge was when he claims the title Moses gave to the children of Israel as the One who was their God i.e., “I AM.”

“If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad. Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 

Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

John 8:54-58

Those who practiced “lawlessness” like the religious leaders of the day had missed Jesus in their studies and were self-deceived because they wanted scripture to say something that it did not.  They wanted a Christ that was like them and would free them from the bondage of their enemies.

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So, as we study the topic of delusion, we must be willing to do the will of God or we will be subject to strong delusion.

If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

John 7:17

If we are not doing the will of God as shown clearly in the scripture, our worship is useless because we are following the philosophy of man:

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.

Mark 7:7

Let us not become so religious that we miss Jesus.  It is all about Him.  If we come to into a relationship and know Him, we will be assured of eternal life

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.

1 John 2:3

If we say that we know Him and disobey Him or lead a life of lawlessness, we deceive ourselves:

He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 2:4

Again, strong words from Jesus to religious people who claim to know Him.

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There are millions today that are deceived because they love not the truth.

As we will see next time, the biggest deception of all time is upon us today.  It is in our newspapers and on our news.  It is cleaver, powerful, and appears to be from God.  We will consider this portion of scripture and how it relates to religion.  Please notice carefully the things that set up “strong delusion.”

“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders,and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 

2 Thessalonians 2: 8-12

We will study the Anti-Christ.

Friend, there is hope for you today, if you simply ask the Lord to take charge of your life and direct your path through His word.  Begin to read and follow the words of our Creator.  Let it become your spiritual food and drink.  Let  it speak to you and you will find Jesus in its pages from Genesis to Revelation.

Jesus is real.  It is not about becoming religious.  It is about knowing Jesus and following Him.  Won’t you do that today?  Your life will be fuller and you will find peace with Jesus in mind and thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 4-Second Coming Predictions- 1,000 Years?

Many are tempted to view this topic as not necessary in their experience.  They will ask, “Why study the 1,000 years?  What does that have to do with my salvation?”

For sure, there are many people who have a saving relationship with Jesus that know very little (if anything) about this topic as well as other topics.  But, as shown in the scripture below,  all scripture is good for several things.  This topic is good to understand too, otherwise the Lord would not have inspired John to see it and write it under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Wouldn’t you agree?

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”  2

Timothy 3:16

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”

Romans 15:4

Pondering whether the 1,000 years is literal or symbolic is of little consequences because of the many facets brought forth about the nature of God contained in the topic.

A study of the 1,000 years is important study for a couple of main reasons.  First it reveals further teachings about the 2nd coming and it provides clarity to things that are not clear in other passages.  Secondly, it demonstrates how God deals with the sin problem, judgment, and justice.

For the purpose of this study, we will look at events only.  We will assume the period is a literal 1,000 years.  unless we find something that would lead us to a different conclusion.

There are clear related passages that let us know the start of this period; events in the middle; and finally events when the 1,000 years have passed and eternity begins.

If you are ready, let’s prayerfully begin.

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*Much thanks to Steve Wohlberg for the following material and its format.”

What is the truth about the thousand years?

To discover the answer, we must carefully examine the only authoritative source where it’s taught, the Bible, especially chapter 20 in the book of Revelation. Let’s see what Revelation 20 actually says, and doesn’t say.

Here’s Revelation 20 in its entirety:

“1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 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. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 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. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8 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. 9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10 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. 11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 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. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20, King James Version.

Following is a brief summary of each verse.

vs. 1 – An angel descends from heaven with a key and a chain.
vs. 2 – He binds Satan for 1000 years.
vs. 3 – During the 1000 years Satan cannot deceive the nations any more.
vs. 4 – Martyrs are resurrected to reign with Jesus Christ for 1000 years.
vs. 5a – The rest of the dead will be raised at the end of the 1000 years.
vs. 6 – Those in the first resurrection will reign with Jesus for 1000 years.
vs. 7 – Satan will be loosed at the end of the 1000 years.
vs. 8 – After the rest of the dead are raised, Satan deceives them again. There will be billions – like the sand of the sea. They are called Gog and Magog. Satan gathers them for a final battle.
vs. 9 – Satan and this host surround God’s City. Fire comes down and devours them.
vs. 10 – Satan, the Beast, and the False Prophet end up in this lake of fire.
vs. 11 – Before this fire falls, a final judgment occurs.
vs. 12 – All the resurrected lost are judged.
vs. 13 – Another description of the resurrected lost being judged.
vs. 14 – Death and Hell [Hades-Grave] are cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
vs. 15 – All the resurrected lost are cast into the lake of fire.

To break it down even further: there is a ‘good resurrection’ (called “the first resurrection”) at the beginning of the 1000 years (vs. 4-6), whereas “the rest of the dead” are resurrected at the end of the 1000 years (vs. 5a). Satan is bound during the 1000 years (vs. 3), but is loosed “when the thousand years are expired” and “the rest of the dead” are raised (compare verses 5a and 7). Satan gathers the lost for a final battle against God’s City (vs. 8). A final judgment occurs, and then the lost are punished in the lake of fire (verses 9, 14-15). Then the old earth passes, and the new earth comes (Revelation 21:1).

The above points are undeniable, for this is exactly what Revelation 20 says. Two significant facts should be noted:

  1. Revelation 20 doesn’t say there will be peace on earth during the 1000 years.
  2. Revelation 20 doesn’t say Jesus Christ will rule during the 1000 years from the present city of Jerusalem.

These common doctrines are being taught worldwide but are not found in Revelation 20,the only place in God’s Word that specifically mentions the 1000-year period. Now let’s go deeper.

The Two Resurrections

There are two defining ‘bookends’ marking the beginning and the end of the thousand years, the two resurrections (vs. 4-6). Let’s see what else the Bible says about them.

Jesus Christ taught two resurrections.

“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their 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

John 5:29.

The apostle Paul did too.

“There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust”

Acts 24:15.

Thus, both Jesus Christ and Paul taught two resurrections, the first being “the resurrection of life” for the saved, the second being “the resurrection of damnation” for the lost.

Revelation 20 revolves around these two resurrections. As we’ve already seen, verses 4-6 reveal that one takes place at the beginning of the 1000 years, the other at the end. The Word says,

“Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years

(vs. 6)

This is the good, or “first resurrection,” at the start of the 1000 years. Those in it need not fear the second death.

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years where finished”

(vs. 5a).

This is the bad or second resurrection, at the conclusion of the 1000 years. Jesus Christ called it

the resurrection of damnation”

John 5:29

Thus it is plain that there are two resurrections – one at the beginning of the Millennium, in which true believers in Christ are raised to eternal life; and one at the opposite end of the Millennium, in which the “unjust” awake to something else entirely.

The Second Coming

If the thousand years begins with the resurrection of the just, the question is, When does this good resurrection take place? When we find the answer, then we’ll understand what initiates the thousand years.

Scripture teaches that the return of Jesus Christ results in the resurrection of His saints. Paul tells us plainly that it is at “His coming,” when “the trumpet sounds,” that “the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming”

1 Corinthians 15:23:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, 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.

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

1 Corinthians 15: 51-55,

Paul also wrote,

“The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump 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.”

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

According to Paul, “the dead in Christ shall rise first.” This is the same as “the first resurrection” depicted in Revelation 20:6.

In summary, Revelation 20:4-6 begins the 1000 years with the resurrection of the saints. 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 teach that the resurrection of the saints, who are called “the dead in Christ,” occurs when Jesus Christ returns. Thus it is the return of Jesus Christ, when His saints are resurrected, that marks the beginning of the Millennium.

Left Behind

In Part 2,  we studied about who was taken, who was left. We saw that those who are “left” are actually the saved who remain alive and those who are “taken” are the lost taken in death.   Here is further Biblical support.

Jesus returns, the righteous dead are raised, and along with the righteous living they all are “caught up” to meet the Saviour in the air. This is great news for true believers!

But what about those who are not “caught up,” those who are left behind? Popular teaching says they will have a second chance during a “seven-year Tribulation,” an idea heavily promoted in the wildly popular Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Though those books have sold by the millions, the important question for us should be, Is that theology truly biblical?

Immediately after Paul describes true believers being “caught up,” he then declares,

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say Peace and Safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them … and they shall not escape”

1 Thessalonians 5:2-3

Thus, according to Paul, those who are not “caught up” will reap “sudden destruction” and “not escape.”

Does this sound like ‘the second chance’ so graphically depicted in Left Behind novels and films? Hardly.

It gets worse. How widespread is this “sudden destruction”? Jesus Himself explained it. Note the comparison between the lost of Noah’s day and Lot’s day.  Those left are those not destroyed.  They remain alive.  Those taken are those destroyed.

As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them allEven thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed

Luke 17:26 -30

In Noah’s day, all who refused to enter the ark were  destroyed in the deluge. In Lot’s day, everyone except Lot and his family were consumed by falling fire. Jesus Christ said,

Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

Luke 17:30

Other texts make it clear that when Jesus returns, the lost will be destroyed, and they are not given another chance during some hypothetical “seven-year Tribulation” (which, by the way, is nowhere specifically referred to in the Bible). Here are just a few texts describing the global desolation that follows Jesus’ return.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 – When Jesus returns in flaming fire, the lost will be destroyed.
Revelation 16:17-18 – At Armageddon, cities crumble around the world.
Revelation 6:14; 16:20 – Every island sinks, and all the mountains disappear.
Jeremiah 4:23-26 – Planet Earth is totally devastated, with “no man” left alive.
Jeremiah 25:30-33 – Those slain by the Lord lie dead, unburied, all around the world.
Revelation 19:17-18, 21 – The birds eat the flesh of every human being worldwide.

These verses teach that those not “caught up” when Christ returns will be destroyed, and the destruction will encompass all the earth, as it did during Noah’s flood. Jesus Himself taught this.

“The flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be”

Matthew 24:39

From this verse, it is clear who got “took away” or who was taken.

The Rest of the Dead

The last sentence in Revelation 19 describes birds feasting upon “the flesh of all men” (vs. 21). Immediately following is Revelation 20, which depicts the binding of Satan so that he can “deceive the nations no more” during the 1000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). Why not? The answer’s easy–there’s nobody left alive on earth to deceive. Those in the first resurrection were “caught up” to be with Jesus, and the rest, those taken, were slain.

This helps explain what follows (Read carefully):

“that he [Satan] should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled”

(Revelation 20:3).

Notice these three words “no more until.” What do they tell us? They teach that those “nations” are entirely Satan’s nations. Satan is deceiving them now, but can’t continue deceiving them during the Millennium, “until” a certain time.

What time is that? When the 1000 years are over, obviously. Now put two and two together. At the end of the Millennium, “the rest of the dead” (who missed “the first resurrection”) are raised back to life. Then Satan deceives them again. Look again, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise:

 “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”

Verse 5a 

“When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison”

Verse 7 

At the end of the 1000 years, “the rest of the dead” are raised, and Satan is “loosed.” Therefore the raising of the “rest of the dead” is what “looses” the devil. Satan then swoops into these resurrected nations (now alive in the four corners of the earth), deceives them again, and then gathers them for the grand finale (verses 8-9).

What does all this mean? The answer will come shortly after we examine a few more crucial points. What should be clear so far however, that the common notion of the Millennium, reflected in Left Behind, leaves much to be desired. In fact, it’s completely bogus.

The Bottomless Pit

Crucial to understanding the Millennium are the first texts of Revelation 20, verses 1 and 2. According to these texts, Satan is bound with “a great chain” and confined to “the bottomless pit” for 1000 years. The expression, “a great chain,” doesn’t mean a literal chain. Even today, all of “the angels that sinned” with Lucifer are described as being in “chains of darkness” (2 Peter 2:4). These words do not refer to actual clinking and clanging metal, but to circumstances of darkness that these angels find themselves in after having been booted out of heaven.

During the 1000 years, Satan is represented as being bound with a chain because his new circumstances prevent him from deceiving the nations during the Millennium (Revelation 20:2). Again, what are those circumstances? Everyone left on earth is dead.

What’s this “bottomless pit”? In the Old Testament the word “pit” often refers to a grave, a cemetery, or to the place of the dead.

Psalms 55:23 – Evil men will go “down into the pit of destruction.”
Numbers 16:32-33 – “the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up … into the pit.”
Ezekiel 32:22-23 – “his graves are about him … in the sides of the pit … all of them slain.”
Psalms 28:1 – David prayed not to “become like them that go down to the pit.”
Psalms 69:15 – “Let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.”

Isaiah 14 contains one of the Old Testaments clearest prophecies about Lucifer. He was cast out of heaven (vs. 12) for exalting himself (vs. 13). Yet he is to be brought down “to the sides of the pit” (vs. 15). Isaiah 14:18-21 perfectly parallels the prophecy in Revelation 20:1-3.

“All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house [the grave]. But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under feet. Thou shall not be joined with them in burial”

Isaiah 14:18-21

These verses predict a time when all the nations are slain and lie in their graves, yet Satan will not join them in burial. He will be left, instead, to wander among earth’s ruins. Notice carefully:

“Fear, and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, thou inhabitant of the earth … 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 moved like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in prison, and after many days shall they be visited”

Isaiah 24:17-22

This is a prediction of a destroyed and devastated earth. Its inhabitants are gathered as prisoners in the pit [the grave]. When Revelation 20:1-3 describes Satan as bound with a chain for 1000 years, this means that a chain of circumstances will prevent him from deceiving the nations. The major circumstance is the return of Jesus Christ in “flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 2:8), the “sudden destruction” of sinners (1 Thessalonians 5:3), the largest earthquake in history (Revelation 16:18), the global crumbling of cities (Revelation 16:19), the disappearing of mountains and islands (Revelation 16:20), and the total depopulation of planet Earth just like “it was in the days of Noah” (Matthew 24:37-39). This “great day of the Lord” will come “as a destruction from the Almighty” (Joel 1:15).

“And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be as dung upon the ground”

Jeremiah 25:33

Earth will then be like one gigantic bottomless pit, a huge cemetery. Jeremiah predicted:

“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”

(Jeremiah 4:23 -26).

As Satan and his angels behold their kingdom in ruins, they can only wonder about, counsel together, and contemplate with trembling the final events to occur at the end of the 1000 years.

Yet it doesn’t end here. We mustn’t forget the last section of Isaiah 24:17-22, which predicts that those who lie dead in their graves “shall be visited” (Isaiah 24:22). What could that possibly mean other than what we have seen in Revelation 20:5?

“But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” It’s what Jesus was talking about when He warned about the “the resurrection of damnation”

John 5:29

This occurs at the end of the Millennium.

Far, then, from being a time of earthly glory when Jesus reigns from Jerusalem, the Millennium is a time when earth lies waste, in desolate ruins, a prison house for Satan and his demons.

The Saints in Heaven

If this doesn’t sound inviting, it’s because it isn’t supposed to be inviting. It’s a time of chaos, desolation, and ruin, a time when sin takes another step toward its horrific ending. The Millennium is not some idyllic era of peace and goodness upon this old earth, with Jesus ruling from Jerusalem, but a time of utter devastation and judgment.

What about God’s people? What about those who participated in “the first resurrection,” who were “caught up” with Jesus as opposed to being left behind? What happens to them during the Millennium?

Near the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus told His followers that He was going to heaven, where He would be preparing mansions for His children (John 14:1-2). When He returns, He will take us to Himself, “that where I am, there you shall be also” (vs. 3). When He comes, Jesus will take us to the place where He is now, in heaven in the New Jerusalem (see Revelation 3:12; 21:10). As we saw earlier, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 tells us that at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ we shall be “caught up.” Thus we are going up to glory. In perfect agreement with this is Revelation 19:1-2, which teaches that immediately after the destruction of Babylon (Revelation 18:8-24), John beheld God’s saints in heaven.

“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand”

Revelation 19:1-2

According to Revelation 20:4, 6, the saints will “reign” with Jesus for 1000 years. Contrary to popular opinion, Revelation 20 does not say they will reign on earth during that time. Why would Jesus and His people rule over a devastated and ruined world anyway? The Bible says we will soar upward when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 4:17), that He will take us to the New Jerusalem (John 14:1-3), and that we will then be in heaven praising God (Revelation 19:1-2).

Some might ask, How can we “reign” for 1000 years if we’re in heaven? Don’t we have to be on earth to “reign” over others during this time? Not necessarily. The Bible also says the saints will “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Thus this “reign” idea implies we will be in some position of authority, just as Adam originally exercised dominion over the earth, that’s all.

Now, if planet Earth is depopulated, with no survivors (except Satan and his angels), and the saints are in heaven, then what is the purpose of the 1000 years? A few possibilities exist:

1) It gives the loyal universe an opportunity to behold the terrible results of Satan’s rule;
2) It gives the saints in heaven an opportunity to go through heaven’s records and to have all their questions answered about why some of their loved ones are there and some are not;
3) It provides a period of time when Jesus and the saints together can make decisions about the just punishments to be carried out upon the lost at the end of the 1000 years (see 1 Corinthians 6:2-3);
4) It also gives the saints a period of time to prepare mentally for the events at the end of the 1000 years, at which time many of their loved ones will be resurrected, judged, and sentenced to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:5a, 11-15).

The Resurrection of Damnation

Okay, we have seen that at the Second Coming, Jesus returns, the saved (both the resurrected dead and those alive at His return) are taken to heaven where they “reign” for a thousand years, the earth is destroyed–and Satan remains captive there for the allotted thousand years. What then happens at the end of the thousand years?

Revelation 20 (as we’ve already seen) is clear that two events occur:

1) The “rest of the dead” are raised to life (vs. 5a).
2) Satan is “loosed” (verses 3, 7).

Both events occur simultaneously. When the lost are resurrected, Satan now has people once again to deceive; thus he is, in effect, “loosed” from his chains. Satan then

“will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea”

(vs. 8).

The “sand of the sea” means myriads of people (all the lost–from the days of Adam down to the last person who experienced “sudden destruction” at Christ’s return). During the 1000 years, they remain in their graves; now, they are raised to life in “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29).

Immediately after the lost are resurrected, Satan gathers “them together to battle.” What Hollywood movie producer could even envision such a scene: billions of lost people, including (no doubt) great military commanders, gathered together in one final burst of rebellion?

The next question is, Who will this terrible army attempt to fight? The Bible makes it plain: “They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city…” (vs. 9). This is the New Jerusalem, the home of the saved (Revelation 3:12; 21:10), which descends from heaven to the earth (Revelation 3:12; 21:2) right before the second resurrection. Then Satan and his macabre army surround the “camp of the saints” in a last-ditch effort to conquer God’s fortress.

Picture this scene: all the world’s lost and all the world’s saved are together for the first time–the saved inside the city, the lost outside. The lost will behold the reward of the righteous, the saved the doom of the damned.

This is Satan’s last stand, his final opportunity to conquer Jesus Christ, His New Jerusalem, and the redeemed of all ages. But he can never defeat the King of the Universe. He failed miserably when Jesus was a lowly carpenter in human flesh. What chance does he have against Him now as King of the New Jerusalem? None whatsoever!

Fire from Heaven

After Lucifer’s legions gather round God’s holy city to make war against it, what happens next? The Bible explains explicitly:

“[Satan] shall go out to deceive the [resurrected]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. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them”

Revelation 20:8-9

Notice, “fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” That’s their fate!

Before the fire falls, a vast cosmic judgment scene unfolds.

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it … And I saw the [resurrected] dead standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it [another description of the resurrection of the lost], and Death and Hades [the grave] delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged each one according to their works”

Revelation 20:11 -13

This judgment occurs while Satan’s army is gathered around the city; it concerns only the lost, who are then judged “according to their works.” As books are opened above them, they are allowed to see the complete record of their lives. They are shown why they are lost, why they are outside God’s City, why they have forfeited eternal life with Jesus. As the Book of Life is opened, they discover their names are missing. Then Jesus will undoubtedly show them how much He loved them, how He tried hard to save them, and yet how by their own persistent efforts they resisted His tender appeals. Yes, they will see that Jesus Christ died for them, that on the cross He paid the full penalty for all their sins, and that they could have been inside the city with His saints; but now they are outside with another master, the master of their own choosing. They will see that, though Jesus willingly took upon Himself the punishment that was theirs, they spurned Him, and now they are forced to stand before His holy majesty in the shame of their spiritual nakedness, with every wrong thought, every wrong word, and every wrong deed bearing down upon their consciences to condemn them, and there is no longer any Mediator to represent them and intercede for them.

After sentence is pronounced, the fire of God brings final retribution upon the lost. By this time, all the unsaved understand why they are lost. This destruction is an act of justice, not cruelty. The book of Revelation is very clear about God’s uprightness. “Just and true are your ways, O King of the saints” (Revelation 15:3); “You are righteous, O Lord … Because you have judged these things” (Revelation 16:5); and “For true and righteous are His judgments” (Revelation 19:2).

The judgment at the close of the Millennium will be perfectly just, without any taint of imperfection chargeable upon God. By rejecting His love and mercy, and by a life of continued sinning, the lost have earned their just reward. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). The Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, holy angels, and the saints will all weep over the unsaved. But nothing more can be done. Now it’s too late.

Revelation 20:8 says the lost will march across “the four quarters of the earth” right before the fire falls upon them. Thus we conclude that God’s fire will descend all over planet Earth. This unquenchable downpour will become a “lake of fire” (14-15) boiling everywhere. Malachi 4:1, 3 says that entire fateful day will “burn as an oven.” 2 Peter 3:10 adds “…the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” Thus God will totally purify and cleanse our sin-polluted earth with flames. In fact, 2 Peter 3 parallels the destruction of the world by water in Noah’s day with the purification of the earth by fire at the end of the 1000 years (2 Peter 3:5-7). In Noah’s day, the whole earth was under ‘a lake of water’; at the end of the 1000 years, this planet will be wrapped in “a lake of fire.” In Noah’s day, God’s people floated in the midst of the water but were protected inside the ark; at the end of the Millennium, when a lake of fire envelops our planet, God’s saved “saints” will be right there, riding the storm safely inside the New Jerusalem.

The New Heaven and New Earth

Revelation 20 concludes with these solemn words, “Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. The next verse reads: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1).

New heaven (sky), new earth! What happened to the old ones? We just saw. The lake of fire consumed them. When the Bible says, “…the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” this must include the lake of fire! After God’s fire completely purifies this planet and its atmosphere, He will recreate the earth and sky, so long under the contaminating effects of sin. God will make “a new heaven and a new earth.” Eventually the cleansing fire will disappear, after purifying this earth from every trace of sin, sinners, Satan, and demons, and in place of smoggy sky and a polluted earth the Lord will create new ones.

“Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells”

2 Peter 3:13

Revelation 21 also adds,

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful’”

Revelation 21:4-5

“Write, for these words are true,” says God Almighty. When this finally happens, the lake of fire, death, sin, sorrow, crying, and pain will “have passed away.” There will be no more terrorists, no more tears over the World Trade Center, nor crying over a million other things like natural disasters, sickness, divorce, child abuse, or graveside services. These will all have “passed away.

As Noah and his family finally walked out of the ark onto a cleansed world, so will God’s faithful saints finally step out of the New Jerusalem into a brand new world.

Conclusion

Contrary to popular opinion, the biblical Millennium is a time of desolation and ruin, followed by more rebellion, then judgment, and finally, re-creation–when the Lord who first spoke heaven and earth into existence (Genesis 1) repeats His creativity, “His wonders to perform”!

The most important issue, however, isn’t so much our knowledge of millennial details but our knowledge of the God who has revealed the truth about it. What this study shows us, perhaps more than anything else, is that there is no second chance, no middle ground, no neutrality in this Great War between Jesus Christ and Satan. Remember, the devil deceives “nations” (Revelation 20:3) in many areas, including this one. You friend, will be on one side or the other. You will either be inside the city, safe and secure with Jesus, looking down on the hordes outside; or you will be outside, deceived by the Devil, looking up at what might have been yours had you only repented and given yourself fully to Jesus Christ for faithful obedience.

Jesus died for you! He died so that you could have a place with Him in that New Jerusalem and in the new heavens and new earth that are coming. Your final destiny, inside or outside, eternal life or eternal destruction, depends upon your choice. Will you give yourself to the One who gave Himself for you, and thus have eternity with Him, or will you continue resisting His pleadings?