Category Archives: Rapture

Biblical truths about the second coming compared to Hollywood and Bible fiction writers.

The 1,000 Years of Revelation. What is it?

This is part three in a series called “What the Rapture Is Not.

In our last  two studies, we explained, from the Bible alone, the  mistakes of Bible fiction found in the Left Behind books and subsequent movies. We spent most of our time explaining from clear multiple passages about the second coming. You can read them by clicking on the links below:

What the Rapture Is Not

7 Years of Tribulation-Biblical?

Now we turn our attention to the truth about the 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?”

No doubt, there are many people who have a saving relationship with Jesus that know very little (if anything) about this topic as well as other end-time events.  But, as shown in the scripture below,  all scripture is good for several things.  The 1,000 years is good to contemplate, 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 with certainty 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 format.

What is the truth about the thousand years?

What happens during this period?  Has it already started?  Is it here on earth? When does it end? Does Jesus rule on earth during this period?

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 What the Rapture Is Not  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 all. Even 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?

 

7 Years of Tribulation-Biblical?

“And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”

Daniel 12: 1

“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”

Matthew 24:21

No doubt, there is predicted a “time of trouble” by Daniel and Jesus in these two verses, but how long is it?

There is not a verse in the Bible that has the phrase, “7 years of tribulation”, or “7 years of trouble.”,  The length of the time of trouble in the verses above is not specific about time as are many others we will discuss.  It is just a “time of trouble.”

The attempt to make it 7 years  comes from a fanciful misinterpretation of  Daniel 9: 24-27  prophecy.  Despite this, the Daniel 9 prophecy is powerful when interpreted in its setting.  It has helped  many believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah and the validity of Scripture. I am one of them.

Last post, we explored the topic: What the Rapture Is Not.  Please read this before continuing.  It will help in the understanding of what actually happens when Jesus returns and how the time of trouble fits in the time line.

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  Let’s read the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 and compare it with actual history and  dates supported by the Bible  to see if there is a 7-year tribulation hidden somewhere in it.  In the process, we will discover the power of this prophecy in Daniel written almost 500 years before Jesus!

Please follow closely.  When we are finished, I recommend you verify the dates at your local library or other resources.  Beware of the confusion of the internet.  Also, I have included a chart at the end in the “Appendix” to make these dates easier to see and follow.

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Ready? Here we go.   Be sure to pay special attention to key words and the context.

Daniel 9:24-27

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (7), and threescore (60) and two weeks (2): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

 And after threescore (60) and two weeks (2) shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (1): and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Daniel 9: 24-27

If you count up the number is parenthesis, you will have the 70 weeks mentioned at the start of the prophecy.  There is a reason why they are split up that way.  I will not go into those historical reasons in this writing for the sake of staying on point.

The setting for these verses is important in understanding the prophecy.  Daniel and his people (The Jews) had been taken captive by Babylon and the city of Jerusalem was destroyed and lay desolate as prophesied by Jeremiah.  It was predicted by Jeremiah that they would be in captivity for 70 years!

“In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

Daniel 9:2

As the 70 years of captivity drew near to the end, Daniel began to pray and confess his sins and the sins of the people (Verses 4-20). Then Gabriel (an angel) came and informed Daniel that he had come to

“give thee skill and understanding.” 

Daniel 9:22

Then Gabriel gives the vision as stated in Verses 24-27 above.  This is the skill and understanding Daniel needed to understand the message.  He knew  from Jeremiah’s writings the 70 years of captivity would soon end.

From Daniel 9: 24-27 above, we observe the following:

70 weeks was given to Daniels people (thy people) and the city of Jerusalem to:

  1. Finish the transgression
  2. Make an end of sins
  3. Make reconciliation for iniquity
  4. Bring in everlasting righteousness
  5. Seal up the vision and prophecy
  6. Anoint the most Holy
So God was giving the Jewish people (Daniel’s people in captivity) 70 weeks or 490 days to do all those  things; ending with anointing the most Holy.  We shall see that the anointing of the most Holy is not in regards to the apartment in the sanctuary necessarily, but the Holy One of God-Jesus
The  70 weeks given to the Jews are are calculated in the verses in sections:
three score (60) and
two weeks (2)
7 weeks (7) and
1 week (1)
Quick arithmetic shows this is 70 weeks is 490 days (7 X 70).  But, in Bible prophecy the day = year principle should be used to unlock the timelines for history.  The verses that supports this principle can be found in the passages below:
 “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.”
Numbers 14:34
  “And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”
Ezekiel 4:6
So God was giving the Jewish people 490 years for their assignment.  During this time, he sent prophets and others to inspire and help keep them close to him.  But as one reads their story, it is quickly seen that they often went after other gods and forsook the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob…the one and only true Creator God!
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“Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city…”
Daniel 9: 24
If we can determine where the 490 years begins (with certainty) we can understand the other events of the prophecy.
The time lines starts here:
“….from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem”
Daniel 9: 25
This command to restore and build Jerusalem can be found in Ezra Chapter 7 when Artaxerxes gave the commandment in 457 BC (See the *notes at the end).
So, now that we have a starting date, let’s see where it takes us:  The first stop is the coming of the Messiah the Prince
“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince….
Daniel 9: 25
The Messiah the Prince can refer only to Jesus himself.  He is both the Messiah and a Prince
He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
John 1:41
Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
John 1:45
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6
So we know that from the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Jesus would be a certain length of time.  How long?
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks (7), and threescore (60) and two weeks (2): the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
From 457 to Jesus is 69 weeks or 483 days or 483 prophetical years.  Lets do some math:
Starting at 457 BC and moving through history 483 years brings us to the fall of 27 AD
This is the date Jesus was baptized by John (anointed) and He began his ministry as the prophecy predicted. Here is an important verse in connection with Jesus’ baptism:
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
Matthew  3:16
A dove  represents anointing.
Another interesting passage that makes sense in the light of Jesus beginning his ministry exactly on time according to Daniel’s prophecy some 500 years before Jesus is this one:
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son…”
Galatians 4:4
The time was “full.” In other words, Jesus came to this earth and began his ministry right on time.  It may be possible that this quote is in reference to this particular prophecy.  Whatever the case, we know that God knows the future  and will not do anything unless he reveals it by his prophets:
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
Amos 3:7
69 weeks or 483 years of the 70 weeks or 490 years has been explained.  Isn’t it comforting to know that God, through the prophet Daniel let the world know when Jesus would come on the scene?
 Now let’s look at the last week or 7 years.  This is where Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and others use the 7 years as a period of tribulation.  They disconnect it from this time line and attempt to run it down to the end of time after Jesus “raptures the church.”  But we are going to  let the verses speak for themselves.  We will keep the last week on the timeline as intended.  If we do, we learn the most interesting part of this prophecy.
Daniel tells us after Jesus began his ministry that Jesus would be cut off:
“Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:….”
Daniel 9: 26
But before He is cutoff he would do the following:
“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease,
Daniel 9:27″
Jesus was to “confirm the covenant with many for 1 week or 7 days which is 7 years in prophecy. But He is “cut off” in the middle of the week or 3 1/2 days or 3 1/2 years
Jesus ministry was exactly that long (3 1/2 years) before He was “cut off” or crucified on a Roman cross in 31 AD.  He ministered from 27 AD to 31 AD.
As Daniel 9:27 stated, the sacrifices and oblations also ended at the time of Jesus’ death.  The law of ceremonies had served their purpose of teaching the Jewish nation about the price of sin, the sacrifice for it, and the plan of salvation.  Those ceremonial laws were the School Master to bring people to Jesus and help them understand the lesson of sin, forgiveness,  grace and the sacrifice of Jesus!  The School Master died forever the day Jesus died on the cross as the true Lamb of God.

Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

Galatians 3:24, 25

All the festivals, drink and meat offerings and special Sabbath days (Not the weekly Sabbath found in the 10 commandments) were shadows pointing to  the body of Jesus.   All those had served their purpose and were fulfilled in Christ:

“Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”

Colossians 2:17

On the other side of the cross, the people looked forward in faith to Jesus (the Messiah) and what He would do for them (Die for their sins).  All of us on this side of the cross look back in faith at what Jesus has done for us (Die for our sins).

 Something extraordinary occurred at the crucifixion of Christ to demonstrate the truthfulness of the two verses above:

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Matthew 27: 50, 51
Thus ended the rounds of ceremonies and the laws put in place by Moses to teach about Jesus.  Please note:  These laws did not include the 10 commandments as some would assert.  A study for another time.
Jesus told His disciples this:
 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Matthew 15: 24
Jesus was “confirming the covenant” with the children of Israel during His ministry.  With them he spent most of His time.  His plea about the coming Kingdom of God was a message primarily to the Jews.
He also told His disciples to do the same:

“These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Matthew 10: 5, 6

This the disciples did for 3 1/2 more years after Jesus was “cut off” or crucified in 31 AD.

This takes us 3  1/2 years forward to the end of the 70 weeks or 490 years.

In the year 34 AD specific and relevant events took place to mark the end of the 490 years “determined” or given unto the Jewish nation:

In this year Stephen was martyred and Paul was converted to be the teacher to the Gentiles

“I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” 

2 Timothy 1:11

Another important passage of scripture also marks the end of 70 weeks given to the Jews to do all those things of the covenant listed in Daniel 9.  It is a point where the burden of carrying the gospel to the entire world is taken off the shoulders of the Jews and given to the Gentiles. It is the point where God reveals who is a real Jew or seed of Abraham.

Paul and Barnabas were preaching to a large group, but were interrupted by the Jews because of the large following of the two disciples.  Those religious leaders who were interrupting contradicted Paul and Barnabas  and actually blasphemed God!  But it is what Paul and Barnabas say that marks the transition and end of the  490 years given to the  Daniel’s people (Israelites)

 “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:  45, 46

The appointed people of God had rebelled continuously and  failed to keep the covenant (agreement).  At this transitional period in history God turned to the Gentiles and made them heir to the promises of God:

And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:29

No longer was there a distinction between literal Jew and Gentile if one belongs to Christ. God’s chosen people are simply identified as belonging to Christ:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:

But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

Romans 2:28, 29

Thus the 70 week prophecy came to an end! There is no room or context in the prophecy for 7 years of tribulation or the Anti Christ. It is simply not there.  To try to force it takes away from a beautiful and important part of the ministry of Christ of keeping the covenant with them while He was on this earth.

While Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and others has everyone looking at Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple to mark the soon return of Jesus, the Anti Christ is at work elsewhere in the world.  This we will see in future studies.  The Hollywood produced Bible fiction  is so deceptive that almost the whole world is taken in.  What a great diversion by the enemy of mankind!  It teaches an incorrect story about Jesus return and gives a false hope of a 2nd chance after Jesus returns.

In conclusion, the 70 week prophecy of Daniel 9 is mishandled to try and support 7 years of tribulation at the end of time and the work of the Anti Christ.  If the prophecy is kept in its context, it becomes a prophecy to support Jesus as the Messiah, his crucifixion, the spread of the gospel, and God’s long suffering with the lost sheep of the house of Israel!

Below is a summary chart of the dates we have discussed above:

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APPENDIX

Below is information (if you want more detail). I hope this prophecy helped you see how God is in control and provided proof of Jesus ministry hundreds of years before He came to pay the price for our sins.

*Notes about the dates described above:

Ezra has three decrees with different dates that could be used.  Nehemiah has a date also.  But the decision as to which one to use, you must keep in mind the key words of the prophecy: “the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.”

The four decrees are :
The decree of Cyrus (Ezra 1:1-4)
The decree of Darius I (Ezra 6:1-12)
The decree of Artaxerxes I (Longimanuus) (Ezra 7: 12-26)
The decree of Artaxerxes (Nehemiah Chapters 1 and 2)
Let’s eliminate some of the dates  based on the guiding verse of Daniel 9:25
Ezra 1-gave instruction only for the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Said nothing about the whole city.  We can eliminate this date.
Ezra 6-simply the endorsement by Darius of the decree of Cyrus.  Only mentions the building of the “house of God.” We can eliminate this date.
Ezra 7 makes provision for complete restoration of the Jewish state, including the right to appoint magistrates and judges, hold trials, and pass and execute sentence upon violators of the own national laws. This is the date that fits the idea of “restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem.” 
Nehemiah 2-Wording has not been preserved, but was simply a reinstatement of Artaxerxes original authorization to Ezra recorded in Ezra chapter 7.
Determination of the date of the decree: It was in the seventh year of Artaxerxes’ reign (Ezra 7:7,8)
Biblical evidence for the 457 BC start date:
The dates for Artaxerxes reign are well documented in the ancient sources: Greek historians, Ptolemy’s Canon
The Babylonian business tablets
Elephantine papyri from Egypt
From the above documents, we know that Xerxes was killed in late December of 465 B.C. and the reign of Artaxerxes began at the time.

Artaxerxes Reign

Fall to Fall

First year 464/463 B.C.
Second year 463/462 B.C.
Third year 462/461 B.C.
Fourth year 461/460 B.C.
Fifth year 460/459 B.C.
Sixth year 459/458 B.C.
Seventh year 458/457 B.C.

 

Therefore, the seventh year of Artaxerxes, according to Jewish reckoning, extended from the fall of 458 to the fall of 457 B. C.

Note: the references in this prophecy to destruction of the city and temple and desolations:

“….the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined… for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate”

Daniel 9:27

This is not reference to a small historical character called Antiochus or a future Anti-Christ, but to the total destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD as predicted by Jesus himself when he told the disciples.  There has never been a temple since then and never will be!

“Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Matthew 24:2 

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains,.  Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes.  But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not e in the winter or on the Sabbath.   For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

Matthew 24: 15-22

The total destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman soldiers was horrible.  Many who tried to escape were crucified outside the city.  At one time, the number of crosses outside the city almost made it look like a forest of trees.  Those who heeded the advice of Jesus escaped the city and remained alive.

This was a time of trouble unlike any seen before….But there will be another time of trouble just before the Lord comes.  While the Christians will be here, the plagues will not touch them, just as it didn’t when the plagues fell on Egypt when they were in captivity.  This is a topic we will discuss in the coming weeks.

Until then, may the Lord bless you and your family and keep you under His wings.

What the Rapture Is Not

The Rapture is Not

1. A word in the Bible.

The word is promoted as a secret snatching away of Christians, leaving the lost on earth for a 7 year period of tribulation, where the Anti-Christ rules.  Many point to Paul’s description of the second coming in 1 Thessalonians as the starting point for the rapture scenario.

“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4: 17-18

All the illusions of what happens during the “rapture” feeds off this verse and is embellished in Bible fiction books and the work of Hollywood.  However, the Bible is extremely clear about the events surrounding Jesus’ second coming.  If you read only the verses describing the return of Christ, the truth becomes clear. If Jesus warned us about our need to understand , it must be important to each one of us individually.

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:4

2. It is not silent and invisible

Often Hollywood producers and writers of Bible fiction will describe the event as quite and sudden; leaving the lost to wonder, “What just happened?”  The righteous are gone!  Beds, clothing, cars, airplanes are minus bodies. But, consider these Biblical descriptions of the second coming and ask yourself if it is quite.

*”For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.”  

1 Thessalonians 4: 16

This is the verse right before the one described above that says the Christians will be “caught up to meet the Lord in the air!”  Does it sound quite?  Can you hear a shout, a voice, and a trumpet?

When Jesus returns,  He comes in His glory, the glory of countless angels, and the glory of the Father Himself!

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Luke 9:26

Heaven is emptied when Jesus comes to rescue His beloved!

Can the lost hear it?  Can the lost see it? What are they saying when the Lord returns? They are in a panic and don’t want to see His face!

 (they)….”hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains,  and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Revelation 6: 16-17

Indeed, “who is able to stand” during the second coming?  As shown in 1 Thessalonians the ones who meet the Lord in the air (with their resurrected and glorified bodies) will survive this destructive event!  The saved are saying,

“And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.

Isaiah 25:9

How many will see Him when he returns?

“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.”

Revelation 1:7

Jesus left in clouds and he returns in clouds. As the disciples watched in wonder as Jesus ascended.  He was taken up with clouds.  They were told He would come back in a similar manner i.e. visible!

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-11

The lost morn, the save rejoice. Some will ask, “How can every eye see Him on a round earth?”  It is simple.  Like the rising of the sun, the second coming can be seen approaching the earth like clouds forming on the horizon! As the earth rotates, the righteous (both dead and alive) rise and are changed in a twinkling of an eye.  The lost look for places to hide from the face of the lamb. But, some have been taught that He comes fast, in the “twinkling of the eye. “That takes us to the next the thing the Rapture is not:

3.)  It is not instantaneous

As we saw above, there is enough time for the lost to run and attempt to hide from the Lord’s coming.  The saved have time to proclaim they have waited on Him and He will save them.  Every eye sees Him.

The Hollywood and the Biblical fiction writers paint a  false picture of a man preaching the word of God suddenly disappearing.  But how does the Bible describe it?  Let’s look closely at two phrases they use:  1.)  “Twinkling of an eye” and 2.) “Thief in the night.”

They claim from this partial verse that the Lord comes in the twinkling of any eye.

 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52

But look closely at what is happening in a moment and in the twinkling of the eye.  Let’s read the verse in its context.

Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 1 Corinthians 15: 51:53

Is it not very clear? The physical bodies of the saved are changed from mortal to immortal very quickly.  They went into the grave sick and subject to death (corruptible) and rise to never see death and decay again!

It is not about the speed of the second coming, but rather the speed of the transformation from mortal to immortality!  This happens with trumpets and sound and the very presence of God and His holy angels, not some instantaneous disappearing of the saved.

This description  is a direct reference to the same author’s preview of the second coming in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18 where the dead are raised up and those of us alive are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  But, before we rise to meet him, our bodies are changed and receive the promise of immortality!  What a reunion day that will be when we all meet together for the first time!  Thank you Lord, for inspiring Paul to reveal this mystery!

Another verse often used in connection with the twinkling of the eye is found in Matthew 24.

For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Matthew 24: 27

Without the context, it certainly sounds like the Lord comes instantly like a flash of lightning!  But, again, context is so important.  Let’s read the verses before.

“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”

Matthew 24: 26-27

Jesus describes the lie He has already come and He is in the desert or in some secret inner room,  This sounds like a secret coming to me.  But, Jesus warns us to not believe it, because his coming is compared to lightning.  The context is not the speed but rather the all encompassing brightness! Brightness that covers the entire sky.  This is confirmed by the fact that the skies are lit up with the glory of God and His angels!  Just like the brightness of lightning, every eye can see it.  His coming is not in the secret places of the desert or the inner rooms.

Paul describes the brightness in 2 Thessalonians:

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

2 Thessalonians 2:8

This verse alludes to another event that occurs at the second coming-destruction.  We will discuss next.

But, you may ask: “How about the thief in the night that Paul describes?”  Isn’t it secret?  Let’s read the verse using context and related verses from Peter

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5: 2

From this verse, it is not doubt that His coming is compared to a thief in the night.  It can be said, that when a thief comes, it is unexpected.  It is not about a secret rapture, but rather the unexpected event, just like those during the time of Noah.  Although, they were warned, it was still unexpected.  This idea is confirmed by Peter:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

2 Peter 3:10

Both Paul and Peter says the Lord will come as a thief in the night, but Peter adds an additional description.  When He comes as a thief, there is “great noise” “elements will melt.”  Even the earth and all of man’s works are “burned up.”  This doesn’t sound quite or secret.

Paul confirms Peter’s description.  Let’s read the remainder of Paul’s description we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (above)

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

1 Thessalonians 5: 2-4

He describes destruction when the Lord comes just like Peter did in his description!  Did you notice that followers of Christ are not overtaken by darkness and the experience of a thief in the night? The thief in the night is not about secretiveness of the Lord’s coming, but rather being unprepared, as Jesus said here,

“But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.”

Matthew 24: 43

The Christians know approximately when Jesus is coming  and are watching, the lost are going about their normal routine just like they were before the flood came in Noah’s day.

For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,

Matthew 24:38

This brings us to the next point:

4. Is not an event where the lost are left behind

An interesting  point: The phrase “left behind” is not in the Bible even though a whole series of books and movies are entitled as such!

The movies and Bible fiction portray a dramatic moment where the saved are instantaneously snatched away leaving the lost wondering what just happened.  They claim they are “left behind” to endure 7 years of tribulation (will discuss  next time.)

The Bible verses used to support this are not interpreted in the context nor collaborated with other clear passages. Let’s explore the most often used and compare between two disciples:  Matthew and Luke.  First Matthew:

Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.

Matthew 24: 40-41

At first glance and with Hollywood echoing its description, it certainly sounds like one man and one woman are taken up to meet the Lord and the other two are left on earth.

But, let’s read context and the point  of all of the words of Jesus:

37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Matthew 24: 37-39

Jesus compares the lost in the days of Noah with the lost at His coming (verse 37). Read the verse carefully and answer this question:  “who got took away by the flood?” Was it the saved or the lost?  In Noah’s day, it was those who were ignoring Noah’s plead to come in the ark (the lost).  In the “day of the Lord” it is those not looking for the second coming (the lost).  Of the people in Noah’s day, Jesus said the flood came and “took them all away.” So, it is the lost who are taken!  The waters swirled and took them down stream where they were destroyed (dead). Just to be sure we are reading this correctly, let’s compare with Luke:

26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, 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. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. 

Luke 17: 26-30

So those who are described as being “taken all away.” in Matthew are described as being “destroyed” in Luke.  Contradiction?  No!  Just a misapplication of the Bible fiction writers with the word “taken”.

Taken” or “took” in its context means they are destroyed.  I don’t want to be taken, I want to be left.  Which means being the opposite of taken (destroyed).  To illustrate,:  Suppose you had a library and your house burned down.  When you go in to see how many of your books survived the fire, you might find a few unscathed by the fire.  You would say, “I had a thousand book, but only 3 are “left” or remaining. Paul described what it means to remain alive or “left” in this passage:

“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.”

1 Thessalonians 4: 17

The scholars who produced the NIV understood this and translated the words “alive and remain” as “alive and are left“:

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

1 Thessalonians 4: 17 (NIV)

I want to remain alive when the Lord returns. Don’t you?  I don’t want to be “taken away” in the destructive fires of His brightness.

Verse 26 of Luke 17 reminds us of the direct comparison between Noah and Christ. In both cases the story is about the lost.  In Noah’s day, the lost  have ignored the appeals for salvation and are going about the normal routines of life expecting nothing to change. But, they are caught as a thief in the night (surprised) by the destructive event of the flood.  They are destroyed (killed)! Verse 27.

The same thing happened to Sodom, but this time it was fire from heaven that “destroyed them all“!

As we understand what happened to the lost  at the time of Noah (destruction by flood) and Sodom (destruction by fire); it will be the same when He returns.  Peter describes it clearly:

 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2 Peter 3: 11-13

So the fate of the lost is destruction at the second coming. Every known element will be burned up in intense flames (brightness) when the Lord returns. But, the saved have the promise of inheriting the earth; not the old earth, with its scars of sin, but a new earth where righteousness lives! When are the new heavens and the new earth created?  We will look at this next time.

But, what about this 7 years of tribulation and the 1,000 years?  Next time we will look closely at this…using only the Bible.

We have seen a clear picture of the second coming where there is no room for second chances i.e. 7 years to endure tribulation.  When the Lord comes the time for salvation is stopped.  This is expressed in Peter’s writings where he connects perishing with the second coming:

 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

2 Peter 3:9

The above verse is in the context of his second coming.  See verse 4:

“Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

2 Peter 3: 4

Our God delays the coming of Christ because he is “longsuffering toward us.”  Today, we have our second and third chances, but when He comes there are no more opportunities and those that have spent the chances will perish as described above.

It is the enemy’s desire to make people put off the day of their salvation by encouraging them to believe they have a second chance during the 7 years of tribulation.  To eat, drink, and go about the normal routines of life ignoring the appeal of a loving God to come into the ark of salvation.

In my research, i discovered a web site dedicated to giving instructions to people who will be on earth during the 7 years of tribulation.  It is a worthless website and a dangerous concept. Herein is why the Lord warns us.  The theory of a second chance during the 7 years is both false and a danger to souls.

5.)  It is not a Second Coming with a part A and part B

The return of Jesus to start eternity  is a one time event.  Jesus takes us “to where He is” after He returns. We will stay there in heaven for 1,000 years and then the redeemed of all ages will all return to watch the Lord create a new earth.  At this time, Jesus will set the New Jerusalem down on the earth and this will become our home throughout eternity.  Truly, the meek inherit the earth! We will discuss more in our next study.

After the “rapture” we go to be where Jesus is now!

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:3

As mentioned, after 1,000 years, we all return  in the New Jerusalem and watch the Lord do what He did in Genesis 1:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God…”

Revelations 21: 1-3 

Summary:

We have been talking about what the rapture is not, but we have seen what the second coming really is.   The events of the second coming of the Lord are as follows:

1.) The Lord can be seen coming in clouds with all the brightness and glory of Jesus, God the Father, and the holy angels.

2.)  Every eye will see Him just as every eye sees the sun and lightning across the sky.

3.)  The lost will run to places to hide themselves.

4.)  Despite the lost’s attempt to hide they are destroyed by the brightness of his coming.  They are taken in death like the floods that took the lost in Noah’s day and the fires that took those in Sodom!

5.) The saved are not burned up, but remain alive.  They remain or are left over from the destruction.

6.)  The saved will rejoice.

7.)  The dead in Christ will be resurrected in the first resurrection (The Bible talks about a second resurrection.  We will explore this next time.)

8.)  Both the saved who are resurrected and those still alive after the destructive fire from heaven will be changed instantly. Their bodies will be glorified so that they are no longer subject to corruption nor death.  They put on immortality.

9.)  The saved meet the Lord in the air. This is the first time all the saved see each other!  It is God’s great reunion day!

Next time we will address these questions and many others:

1.) “Where does Jesus take the saved after He returns?”

2.) “What about the tribulation?”

3.) “Where did the 7 years come from?”

4.)  “How about the 1,000 years?”

5.) “How about the new Jerusalem John saw coming down from heaven?”

6.) “What about the fate of the unsaved dead at the coming of Jesus?”  “What happened to them?”

7.)  “What about hell?”

All this we will explore from the Bible next time.  Until then, put on the whole armor of God, because the enemy wants to slay you.  But, you can find strength and protection under the wings of the One who is able to keep you until the end.  The Lord Jesus.