Promises and Secrets
A website for those not afraid to examine their beliefs, compare them to the real world, and make sure they fit.
Steps From Second Coming to New Jerusalem
As clear as the Bible is on the events from the first sighting of Jesus in the clouds to the end of the Millennium and the Great White Throne judgment, many still do not understand well enough to steer away from imaginary events and concepts.
Jesus Christ will come again, rule for a thousand years on earth, then return the kingdom to His Father in perfect condition.
The whole story
For most Christians who read only the well-known passages of the Bible, their view of the second coming of Christ and His thousand-year reign on earth is limited to a quick battle and an age of time that passes quickly between Revelation 20:6 and Revelation 20:7:
6Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
The Judgment of Satan
7When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison
Not just 1000 peaceful years
From shortly before verse 6 to the end of the Millennium and the Final Judgment, a lot of things happen that are not listed in Chapters 19 and 20. However, the versions of these events are so varied between denominations and individual Christians that I wonder if they are all reading from the same Bible. I don't mean different versions, for they all have pretty much the same information, it is just interpreted in so many different ways. Some think that the Millennium will be a time of peace and harmony. They are certain that everyone on the earth will be obedient to Christ and happy because the Devil is locked away where he can't do any harm, so people will relax and be good. And yet, if you read what the Bible actually says, that is not what it says will happen.
When Jesus returns in the clouds in Revelation 1:7 and 19:11
7"Look, he is coming with the clouds," and "every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth "will mourn because of him." So shall it be! Amen.
11I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.
, He immediately engages in a war with the Antichrist and gathered kings of the earth with their armies (Revelation 19:19
19Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army.
). The Antichrist and the false prophet are captured and tossed into the "fiery lake of burning sulfur".
Not everyone killed
The next verse causes some controversy because people make assumptions and it becomes a basis for a false belief. Verse 21
21The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh.
is taken by many to be the reason why a "Rapture" must have happened 7 years earlier. Their interpretation is that after this battle the earth is a burnt and desolate place because every living person was supposedly killed, so the Millennium must be taking place in Heaven and life will be perfect for everyone who was "taken". But, if you read the verse, it is the rest of the kings and their gathered armies who are killed and fed to the birds, not everyone on the earth. There is no indication that anyone from earth has ever gone to Heaven except Jesus, and He just returned to earth. Not only that, no one has been resurrected at this point.
Next, Satan is captured and chained in the Abyss to keep him from deceiving the nations. Now, if the earth was a desolate place with everyone dead, and the "saints" gone to Heaven, why would he have to be chained? And, since he will be released later for a short time, how do you release him from anything if he is walking around the earth?
"But, I thought..."
Next, we read about those who had been killed during the tribulation because of their faith. Some say that these were not killed during the tribulation, but were killed during the church age. The trouble with that view is the words of the passage that refer to the mark of the beast (Revelation 20:4
4I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
). That would be the beast that was just thrown into the Lake of Fire with the false prophet. This is the first resurrection. They are gathered from the "four corners of the earth" (Mark 13:27
27And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
) to join the Lord in the air. While there are some that separate between the "church age" saints and the "tribulation" saints, they do so with no references, just a great desire to be in Heaven during that time.
No trip to Heaven
Now, if you go back to 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
13Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After 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.
, you see that we "will be with the Lord forever". When will that be? At His coming. Where will that be? Right here on earth, reigning with Him in the Millennium.
Now we are at Revelation 20:6, the beginning of the reference to the Millennium that lasts until verse 7. One verse. That's not much press for a thousand year reign. How do we know what happens during this time? Well, it turns out that at least two of the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah and Zechariah, discussed this time period and some of its predicted events. First, we have Isaiah 65, which like other passages, is often misunderstood as pertaining to eternal life in the New Jerusalem.
Babies and death in Heaven?
A neighbor came over the other day excited to say that she had discovered that people will continue to have children in Heaven. When my wife asked why she thought that, the neighbor referred to the passage in Isaiah 65:20, and 23:
20"Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
23They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the Lord,
they and their descendants with them.
The Lord Himself spoke these words recorded by Isaiah.
After my wife told me about it, my negative reaction was not exactly a cause for joy for her. That section of the 65th chapter of Isaiah has a subheading of New Heavens and a New Earth in my NIV, immediately before verse 17. However, this subheading was not given in the document that was translated, just added by someone who thinks that is the topic of the passage. Now, this is a phrase mentioned in the first verse of Revelation 21
1Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.
, speaking of the moment before the New Jerusalem comes down out of Heaven to earth. At that time, the final judgment will have been made and only those chosen by God are able to enter the City, so eternal life is beginning at that time, according to the Revelation of John.
There are at least two passages that directly conflict with this interpretation of the words of Isaiah as applying to the new heaven and the new earth and eternal life - Matthew 22:30
30At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
and Revelation 21:4
4"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
, which presents a problem with our friend's theory.
Doesn't it make more sense...?
A more reasonable explanation is that the time Isaiah writes about is the Millennium. While many object to this statement, we must either accept the fact that people, with their immortal translated bodies, will be able to have sexual relations with anyone they choose, thereby causing children to be born out of wedlock, or that Jesus was lying to the Pharisees when He said that people would not be given in marriage in the Resurrection. My guess is that fornication outside of marriage would still be a sin, even if no one actually performs it because of their new natures. Also, if this passage refers to eternal life in the New Jerusalem, then people will still die of old age (Isaiah 65:20
20Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.
), against the words of Revelation 21:4 above. Again, this is contrary to what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:17
17After 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.
. Eternal life, in my dictionary, means eternal life - forever. It is not eternal or forever if you die before the end of - uh, forever.
Why would they think that?
Part of the erroneous interpretation is caused by the phrase "new heavens and a new earth". However, if you notice, the natural instinct of the animals to kill for food will have changed. Children will play with animals once considered dangerous. Something big has happened, creating a world that is largely different from the one we now know. It is a new earth order, since Jesus is now in charge, but not yet the recreated heaven and earth after the final judgment. Jesus will have changed much. Yes, this is conjecture, but at least it is more feasible than making Jesus, John and Paul all out to be liars.
Not perfect peace
Other events that occur during this Millennium indicate an anticipation of the Bible writers that not everyone will be peaceful, happy and compliant. Zechariah, in chapter 14 of his book, writes about the great battle when the Lord returns, and presents a list of requirements that must be met by the survivors of this battle. For the thousand years of Christ's reign on earth, they must go up "year after year" to Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16-17
16Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.
) to worship Him in a very specific Jewish manner (the Feast of Tabernacles). The passage implies that if there is resistance to accomplishing this, there will be a cost. If this resistance is enough for the Lord to cause punishment for the disobedient, then there will be some who are not on the side of the Lord. But then, where else would Satan get those who will fight at the last battle surrounding God's holy city (Revelation 20:9
9They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God's people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.
Next, there is a huge resurrection of the "rest of the dead" (those who did not make the first resurrection) who are to stand before the Great White Throne to be judged for their works (Revelation 20:12
12And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.
). All we know about the result of this judgment is in Revelation 20:15
15Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.
The reason for it all
Next, we see something that is not the normal sight as you take your afternoon walk around the neighborhood. A 1500-mile cube-shaped city starts descending from heaven. Of course, those who have studied know that this is not an invasion from outer space, but the result of a promise. This city contains the condos that Jesus promised to prepare when He left the earth in His ascension after the resurrection. It is the New Jerusalem, coming down to a newly created world, replacing the old worn out earth that has recently disappeared.
And then something really different happens. God comes to earth to live with the people who made it through the trial and tests of obedience. He and His Son sit on thrones and light up the new world. Everyone who did not make it are nowhere to be seen.
What will it be like? Who knows? We can guess and conjecture, but 1 Corinthians 2:9
9However, as it is written: "What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived" -- the things God has prepared for those who love him--
gives us a hint. How do we know who loves Him? Read 1 John 5:1-4
1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
You want to be there? Obey the Father. Obey the Son who said obey the Father. Are you detecting a theme here?
Why should we care about all this?
There is a lot going on before, during, and after the Millennium that many ignore or never learn in the first place. Two-thirds of the population of the world never give it any thought. The vast majority of the one-third that is left think they have all the answers, but their answers are not even close to lining up with the Bible, the Son, and the will of God. There is no way to know if your name is written in The Book of Life, so matching your actions to everything you can learn about God's will is the most important thing you can do in this life (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
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