Jesus is Sovereign over the Future (Revelation 4-22), cont’d.
Revelation 20 The Millennium (Chronology Chapter)
Jesus will establish His Kingdom and will reign on earth for 1,000 years. At this time, the bodies of all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior…from all of the ages…will be resurrected and rejoined to their spirit. We will stand before Him to be judged and rewarded for our service to Him…and then we will live with Christ for 1,000 years here on earth.
At the beginning of the Millennium Satan will be cast into the Bottomless pit. At the end of the Millennium he will be set free for a short time. During that time he will attempt once again to rally a force behind him to overthrow the Kingdom of God…but God will seize him and cast him into the Bottomless Pit for all of eternity.
Revelation 20:1-3-The Imprisonment of Satan for 1,000 years
Satan is bound in the "abyss" for 1,000 years...the millennium period.
Revelation 20:4-6-The Resurrection and Reign of the Saints of all Ages
Those who had been martyrs during the tribulation will now rule on earth with Christ for 1,000 years (:2). This time-frame is referred to as the “Millennium”. The English word “Millennium” is a transliteration of the Latin word that is used to translate the two Greek words for “1,000 years”…from Greek to Latin to English. It is the time when Christ will reign on the earth (cf. Isaiah 2:3; Daniel 7:14; Zechariah 14:9). It happens between the Second Coming of Christ to the earth (19:17-21, Armageddon) and the Great White Throne of Judgment (:11).
Two resurrections are referred to here...they are general references that group different times of resurrection together. The "first resurrection" includes all the righteous who will be raised before the beginning of the resurrection. The second resurrection refers to those who have never accepted Christ...they will be raised for judgment after the end of the millennium.
Revelation 20:7-10-The Temporary Release and Final Judgment of Satan
At the end of the millennium Satan will be released for a short time (:3). He will gather an army of non-believers to fight against the Lord, but the Lord will supernaturally destroy his army. He will then be thrown into the lake of fire for all of eternity.
Revelation 20:11-15-The Resurrection and Final Judgment of the Non-Believers of all Ages
At this time, the bodies of all the Non-Believers who have ever lived will be resurrected and re-joined to their spirits. At that precise moment, they will find themselves standing before the “great white throne”. It’s is God’s place of judgment for sin. This is the judgment of all those who did not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. It is called the "second death" (cf. 21:8) because they had previously died physically (the first death), and now they will die spiritually. This spiritual death is not annihilation…meaning that they will no longer exist. This spiritual death is spiritual separation from God for all of eternity…to a place of punishment and torment called the “lake of fire” (:14).
Notice that there are books opened (plural). These books contain a record of every sin ever committed by every person who has ever lived. These unsaved individuals will stand there before God while the complete list of their sins is read. Imagine how humiliating, how guilty, how ashamed, how absolutely unholy and unrighteous a person will find himself to be at that moment. There, standing at the foot of the throne…with holy, righteous God seated upon it…all the sin and rebellion of their entire life will be read in detail. The vileness and vulgarity of their sin will stand out clearer and more distinct than ever before because of its proximity to the absolute holiness of God. But wait…another book is opened. It is the Book of Life. Here are listed the names of those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. In their case…even though the list of their sin may be as long, or longer, than anyone else’s…they will not be pronounced guilty. Because the blood of the Lamb of God paid the price for their sin and has washed them clean. Forgiven. If their name is just found in that book… Slowly, deliberately, a thorough search is made in the book of Life for their name. Page after page is turned. Perhaps, as the search is made…the opportunities that were presented to them to accept Jesus as their Savior are reviewed. But their name is nowhere to be found in the Book of Life. They had never accepted Jesus as their Savior. And now…with only their sins recorded, and not their salvation…they are pronounced lost, separated from God…for all of eternity (:15; 21:8). One, after another, they will be judged (:13)…until all the unsaved of all the ages have been judged and sentenced.
And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
As I write these words…my heart breaks. Tears fall from my eyes. I can hardly continue to type. Lord, there are so many who still do not know You. So many that I love…family, friends. So many that I want to go to Heaven. Please, Lord, help me to tell them about Jesus. Please, help them to be saved.
Questions about the Resurrection
Where Do I Go When I Die?
We could ask this question another way: 5 Minutes after I die…where will I be?
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NASV)
- For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3. inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—7. for we walk by faith, not by sight—8. we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9. Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
The part of me that is spirit…the non-material, non-physical part…immediately leaves my body. Depending on whether I am a believer in Christ, or not…it will go to one of two places.
Believers…go to Heaven
Luke 23:42-43 (NASV)
- And he was saying, "Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!" 43. And He said to him, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise."
Unbelievers…go to Hell
Luke 16:19-31 (NASV)
- "In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.
How will we exist if our spirit is taken away and our body is left behind? Three different answers generally given:
- As A Disembodied spirit
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NASV)
- For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6. Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—7. for we walk by faith, not by sight—8. we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
- We will be given a Temporary body
Some kind of temporary body will be provided until our body is resurrected.
- There are no Temporal (meaning physical) Limitations in Heaven…time, space. So, there will be no need for a temporary body since there will be no waiting for the resurrections to happen. In Heaven, they will happen simultaneously with your death.
Psalm 90:4 (NASV)
- For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night.
2 Peter 3:8 (NASV)
- But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
Some common terms and confusing misinterpretations of the Resurrection…
Purgatory is a Catholic teaching that was pronounced in A.D. 1483. It is a place that people go to pay for those sins that were not properly dealt with in their earthly life. Since salvation in Catholicism is largely dependent on an individual’s personal works and achievements during life…if you haven’t done enough, or if you have not been forgiven of all of your sins…then you go to Purgatory for a period of time and take care of those matters there. Purgatory is not a Biblical concept or teaching.
The souls of those who have died in the state of grace suffer for a time a purging that prepares them to enter heaven. The purpose of purgatory is to cleanse one of imperfections, venial sins, and faults, and to remit or do away with the temporal punishment due to mortal sins that have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance. It is an intermediate state in which the departed souls can atone for unforgiven sins before receiving their final reword.
(Pocket Catholic Dictionary, quoted in Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, Ron Rhodes, pp. 234-235)
In Catholic theology, Limbo (Latin limbus, edge or boundary, referring to the "edge" of Hell) is a speculative idea about the afterlife condition of those who die in original sin without being assigned to the Hell of the damned. Limbo is not an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church or any other. Medieval theologians described the underworld ("hell", "hades", "infernum") as divided into four distinct parts: hell of the damned (which some call gehenna), purgatory, limbo of the fathers, and limbo of infants.
*The Limbo of the Patriarchs or Limbo of the Fathers (Latin limbus patrum) is seen as the temporary state of those who, in spite of the personal sins they may have committed, died in the friendship of God, but could not enter Heaven until redemption by Jesus Christ made it possible. The term "Limbo of the Fathers" was a medieval name for the part of the underworld (Hades) where the patriarchs of the Old Testament were believed to be kept until Christ's soul descended into it by his death through crucifixion and freed them (see Harrowing of hell). The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes Christ's descent into "hell" as meaning primarily that "the crucified one sojourned in the realm of the dead prior to his resurrection. This was the first meaning given in the apostolic preaching to Christ's descent into hell: that Jesus, like all men, experienced death and in his soul joined the others in the realm of the dead." It adds: "But he descended there as Saviour, proclaiming the Good News to the spirits imprisoned there." It does not use the word "Limbo".
*The Limbo of Infants (Latin limbus infantium or limbus puerorum) is a hypothesis about the permanent status of the unbaptized who die in infancy, too young to have committed personal sins, but not having been freed from original sin. Since at least the time of Augustine, theologians, considering baptism to be necessary for the salvation of those to whom it can be administered, have debated the fate of unbaptized innocents, and the theory of the Limbo of Infants is one of the hypotheses that have been formulated as a proposed solution. Some who hold this theory regard the Limbo of Infants as a state of maximum natural happiness, others as one of "mildest punishment" consisting at least of privation of the beatific vision and of any hope of obtaining it. This theory, in any of its forms, has never been dogmatically defined by the Church, but it is permissible to hold it. Recent Catholic theological speculation tends to stress the hope that these infants may attain heaven instead of the supposed state of Limbo; however, the directly opposed theological opinion also exists, namely that there is no afterlife state intermediate between salvation and damnation, and that all the unbaptized are damned.
She'ol (sheol; Hades, or the world of the dead), a word usually derived from sha'al, "to ask or seek," perhaps with the signification expressed in English, "the insatiable sepulcher." We have no clue to the origin of the word, and must seek for its meaning in the several passages in which it occurs. In Gen. 37:35, "And Jacob said, I will go down into the grave (Heb. to Sheol) unto my son mourning," the meaning is obvious. In Num. 16:30 Moses declares that Korah shall go down alive into the pit, viz., the interior of the earth (v. 33). In II Sam. 22:6 the A. V. has, "The sorrows of hell compassed me about." The English word hell does not here mean a place of torment, for it will be seen that the sorrows (Heb. "snares") of Sheol are equivalent to the nets of death. In Job 11:8 there seems to be an allusion to the belief that there is a dark and deep abyss beneath the center of the earth, tenanted by departed spirits, but not necessarily a place of torment. "Hell from beneath is moved for thee," etc. (Isa. 14:9), is thus rendered by Delitzsch (Com., in loc.), "The kingdom of the dead below is all in uproar on account of thee;" and its meaning thus interpreted, "All Hades is overwhelmed with excitement and wonder, now that the king of Babel...is actually approaching."
In the great majority of cases Sheol, in the Old Testament, is used to signify the grave; and it can have no other meaning in Gen. 37:35; 42:38; 1 Sam. 2:6; 1 Kings 2:6; Job 14:134; 17:13,16, and in many passages in the writings of David, Solomon, and the prophets. The darkness and gloom of the grave was such that the word denoting it came to be applied to the abiding place of the miserable. When this was supposed to be the case our translators rendered the word "hell." Some passages are doubtful, but concerning others scarcely a question can be entertained (e. g., Job 11:8; Psa. 139:8; Amos 9:3), in which the word denotes the opposite of heaven. Still more decisive are Psa. 9:I7; Provo 23:14; in which Sheol can only mean the abode of the wicked, as distinguished from and opposed to the righteous.
In the New Testament the Gr hades is used in much the same sense as sheol in the Old, except that in a less proportion of cases can it be construed to signify "the grave." In this sense it occurs in Acts 2:31; I Cor. 15:55; but in general the Hades of New Testament appears to be the world of future punishment (e. g., Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 16:23).
(Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, p. 1012)
But for those who believe that the teachings of Scripture are the final, absolute, and ultimate authority for our faith and beliefs…and, as those who follow in the example of the leaders and writers of the Bible who also believed that the Bible, the Word of God takes precedence over the words of men…instead of inventing dimensions of the after-life that are not found in the Bible and that add to what the Bible says…we simply believe that when a person dies his spirit goes to Heaven, or to Hell. End of story. That’s what the Bible says…that’s what we believe.
What Happens to My Body When I Die?
The 2 Resurrections
1 Corinthians 15:10-26
- But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. 12. Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13. But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14. and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 15. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17. and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. 20. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24. then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.
The resurrection speaks of the physical body.
When we die…our physical body stays on earth.
For believers…the resurrection speaks of the fact that at some point in time…God will supernaturally re-gather the elements and materials that constituted your physical, corporeal body…whether it has decomposed in the ground, been burned to ashes through cremation, or even been eaten by a shark! It makes no difference. God will gather your physical body back together…and then He is going to change it, to transform it, to glorify it…so that it is suitable for life in Heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:1-10 (NASV)
- For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3. inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked.
We don’t know exactly what our new, fit-for-Heaven body will be like. But, the Apostle Paul gives us a little insight. Evidently, someone asked him this very question.
1 Corinthians 15:35-53 (NASV)
- But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" 36. You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; 37. and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own. 39. All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one flesh of men, and another flesh of beasts, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish. 40. There are also heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the earthly is another. 41. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42. So also is the resurrection of the dead It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43. it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44. it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45. So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL " The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly. 50. Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52. in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Two Resurrections: Unto Eternal Life and Unto Eternal Separation
Now remember…those who have died…their spirits immediately go to one of two places…Heaven or Hell. And, now, at their resurrection…their body is going to be raised from the grave and be re-joined to their spirit. Notice that the Bible speaks of the resurrection of the bodies of those who have gone to Heaven and the resurrection of the bodies of those who have gone to Hell as two distinct and separate resurrections. There will be a resurrection unto eternal life with God…and a resurrection unto eternal separation from God. So, we often speak of there being two resurrections…one to life, and one to death.
- and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.
- "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.
It can become confusing as we speak about the resurrection because we are going to see that people are resurrected at more than two times. But, here is how to understand it. While there are two resurrections…one to life and the other to death…the term resurrection is a general term that includes more than one event in time. For instance, within the phrase “Resurrection to Eternal Life”…there are five different times when people will be resurrection. It is one resurrection unto life…but there are five phases, or times when people are resurrected unto life.
The Resurrection to Eternal Life
1 Corinthian 15:23 (NASV)
- But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,
The Apostle Paul gives us an outline of the events in the resurrection program in 1 Corinthians 15.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power [1 Cor. 15: 20-24].
That there will be a division in the resurrection program is suggested by the phrase, "but every man in his own order" (v. 23). The word order (tagma), according to Robertson and Plummer "is a military metaphor; 'company,' 'troop,' 'band,' or 'rank.' We are to think of each 'corps' or body of troops coming on in its proper position and order . . ."6 The parts of the resurrection are viewed as the marching battalions in a well-organized parade of triumph. Yet the military concept of the word can not be overly stressed. Harrison says:
…it is very doubtful if the military force of the world is to be insisted on in this connection, for the reason that the figure with which the section begins is that of "first fruits," and, as we have seen, that calls for a harvest similar in nature to the first-fruits. This idea must be regarded as more certainly regulative of the sense than the force of…[tagma]. Doubtless all that Paul intends to convey by the use of…[tagma] is the thought of sequence.7
In this sequence of resurrection parade Christ is admittedly the battalion leader or the "first fruits" of the harvest that promises a great abundance of like fruits to follow at the appointed time of harvest. This phase of the resurrection program was accomplished at the time of Christ's resurrection on the third day and marks the beginning of this whole resurrection program.
A second group is introduced by the word "afterward." This word (epeita) signifies a lapse of time of undesignated duration. Edwards comments, "He does not say that the one event follows the other immediately, nor does he say how soon it will follow."8 There is latitude here to cover the span of time between the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of "they that are Christ's at his coming."
There has been a difference of opinion as to who is envisioned in the second group. Some take the term they that are Christ's (hoi tou Christou) and make it synonymous with those "in Christ" (en to Christo) of verse twenty-two. This would be the technical expression that states the relation of saints to Christ in this present age. Therefore, it is concluded, this is the resurrection of the church mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16. This view is supported by a reference to the word coming (parousia), which is often applied to the rapture. Paul would thus be stating that the second great group in the parade of resurrection would be those resurrected from this present age at the rapture of the church. It would be further stated by those holding this view that Paul is not mentioning here the resurrection of the tribulation saints nor Old Testament saints in the program. However, since Paul is outlining the great program of resurrection, it would seem strange if those important groups were omitted. It may be better to take the alternative view that the expression they that are Christ's is a non-technical reference to all the redeemed, both of the church, of the Old Testament period, and the tribulation period, all of whom will be raised at the "coming" of Christ. The word coming, then, would be taken in its widest sense as applying to the second advent and its program and not to the rapture only. Thus Paul would be saying that the second great group would be the saints of all ages who are raised because they belong to Christ and this will have been accomplished by the second advent.
(Things to Come, Pentecost, pp. 402-404)
The Resurrection to Eternal Life…the 5 Phases
Phase 1 of the Resurrection unto Life - The Resurrection of Christ
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NASV)
- But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
Saints at the Time of Christ's Resurrection
Matthew 27:52-53 (NASV)
- The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53. and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The reason why there is some uncertainty here is because the Bible does not tell us what happened after these people appeared. If they then went to Heaven…as Jesus did…or, if they continued to live and eventually died…as Lazarus did. If they went to Heaven, then that would be a resurrection of the body. However, if they continued to live out a natural life…that would be a resuscitation of the body…to an earthly, physical life. So, we will just make a note of it here and include it as a possibility of an additional resurrection at the time of the resurrection of Christ.
This Resurrection resembles the wave offering of first fruits at the harvest season…Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:10,11.
Phase 2 of the Resurrection unto Life – at the Rapture
This is the resurrection of the bodies of believers who died during the Church Age.
Phase 3 of the Resurrection unto Life – at Second Coming (pt. 1)
Old Testament believers (Daniel 2:1,2)
Phase 4 of the Resurrection unto Life – at Second Coming (pt. 2)
Saints martyred/killed during the Tribulation period (Revelation 20:1-5)
Phase 5 of the Resurrection unto Life - End of the Millennium
This phase is the resurrection of those who died during the Millennium (1 Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 20:6). Some believe that there will not be any death during the Millennium. Those who are still alive at the end of the Millennium will be translated…spontaneously changed.
The Resurrection to Death/Eternal Separation
Those that are Lost…1 Phase
The End of the Millennium (Revelation 20:11-15)
This is the resurrection and judgment of all nonbelievers of all ages.
Prayer: Lord, please use me to bring people to You. Hell is a reality and I don't want anyone to go there...much less the people that I love, my family and friends. Please show me how to present the Gospel to them in a way that they will respond to, in faith.