Roger P. Daniel.
Prophecy tells us of the wonderful future for us who are saved and the sad future of the unsaved, ending for them at the terrible Great White Throne judgment when they are cast into hell. Prophecy shows that God is fully in charge of what looks like utter world-wide religious and political confusion. Beginning with the imminent coming of the Lord for believers to take them to heaven, till the end of time and beginning of eternity, this upgraded little book leads us through the future in a logical manner that makes it easy to understand. Prominent words we should know, as well as the important personages of the future, are given in bold print and then explained. Two charts are used to aid in the understanding of these future events.
Roger P. Daniel is a retired safety expert with 40 years in the automotive industry and has devoted his full time to Believers Bookshelf in writing and editing over the years of his retirement. He has sought to make books easier to read especially for the younger reader or reader for whom English is a second language, without diluting the truths presented therein. He is active in ministering as far and wide as possible and has reached many thousands through his written ministry.
God's Prophetic Timetable
The Main Personalities of Prophecy
The Nations of Prophecy
The Believers Will Be in Heaven Before the Tribulation Begins
The Judgment Seat of Christ
The Tribulation Martyrs
The Marriage of the Lamb
Back on Earth: The Tribulation
The Great Tribulation
The Appearing of Christ
The Battle of Armageddon
The Battle of Jerusalem
Our Reign With the Lord
The Invasion of Gog and Magog
The Little Season
The Great White Throne Judgment
The New Heavens and Earth
Summary of the Two Resurrections
Is the United States Found in Prophecy?
A Personal Word to the Reader
We trust you will enjoy our study of prophecy in this little book. It was first given as a seminar to a group of young people in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, between 25 and 30 years ago, so it has an international flavor. And of course prophecy is very international since it covers events that involve a number of nations, although it centers on Israel. We have upgraded this second edition for further clarity.
Some of the key scriptural or commonly used words or phrases in these prophetic studies will be in bold type to help catch your eye and thus help you remember them.
Please remember that you have the responsibility to "test all things, hold fast what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). The apostle Paul commended the Bereans because they "received the word with all readiness, and [then] searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). You are responsible to do likewise! Only by looking up all the references for yourself, asking the Lord for an understanding of His Word, will you have the assurance that you haven't been led astray.
Don't interpret the Bible by world-events: let the Bible interpret world events. God is giving His longterm reality of what He is going to do, whereas we can only see the short-term variations in world politics and events. However, some world events in the light of prophecy will prove to be very interesting!
All Bible-symbols that need interpretation to understand prophecy are explained somewhere in the Bible. Sometimes God plainly explains those symbols; others are more hidden and have to be searched out, but they are all there, whether we find them or not!
Remember that the Bible is the Word of God from cover to cover. "Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:21). "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Tim. 3:16). This only applies to the original "autographs" in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. Therefore, one thing we need for a good study of prophecy (or anything else) is an accurate, readable English translation of the inspired Hebrew and Greek manuscripts.
I can only tell you what I believe to be the relative accuracy of several translations. Others not mentioned are in my opinion virtually man's estimation of what God said. The better translations are, from most accurate to least accurate, the New Translation by J.N. Darby (JND), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New King James Version (NKJV), the King James Version of the Scofield Study Bible III—what the New Scofield was called after 2002—the English Standard Version (ESV), and the New International Version (NIV). I will be using either the JND for needed clarity, or the NKJV in this book (with permission). I like the NKJV because it is relatively accurate, it reads in modern language, yet it reads close enough to the KJV that it doesn't offend most KJV readers. For those who prefer the KJV, I recommend the Scofield version because most marginal corrections have been brought into the text and other words have been updated for clarity.
Why study prophecy? It is like a "light that shines in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). It makes us realize the wonderful and exact inspiration of the Bible. It shows us that God is in control of all events, past, present and future. "Heaven rules" (Dan. 4:26). It makes us realize how near the Rapture (the Lord's second coming to the air for His own) really is and that the world is not our real, lasting home. It lets us see more of the glory [the displayed excellence] that will be Christ's in the future, which He will share with us. It gives us a deeper sense of the blessings awaiting us in the future with Him (Rom. 8:16-18). It shows us that sin will be fully judged: it will be righteously and eternally dealt with. It shows us the need to be earnest in preaching the gospel and in our personal and church walk so we will be found faithful at the Judgment Seat of Christ—the judgment in heaven of our works only.
God hasn't made any worthwhile subject easy to search out. Prophecy is like a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces have to be diligently sought out from many chapters of both the Old and New Testaments, and then carefully checked for proper "fit" into the overall picture. The colors have to match too: we can't mix what applies to Israel or to the saints of the future dispensations with what applies to the Church today. Only when everything fits properly can we get a complete and accurate and awe-inspiring picture of the future. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing" [handling accurately] "the Word of Truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).
A dispensation is a period of time of no set length in which God acts with mankind in a unique way. For instance, we are now in the Church-dispensation. The Church didn't exist (except in God's mind) until the day of Pentecost after the cross: it won't exist on earth after the Rapture. Today in the politics of the United States, we speak of the "administration" of the current president. That "administration" operates somewhat differently than the one of the past president, and the next president's administration will be different in other ways, yet all is within the guidelines of the constitution. We could rightly substitute the word dispensation for administration. Get the idea?
For a helpful study of the dispensations, I recommend my little book, A Chart of the Ages. A full color chart almost three feet long is also available. See www. bbusa.org. When I was a young person, no one thing helped me more in my understanding of the "timing" of scriptural events than this basic chart.
The significant future prophetic events with their common names are the Rapture which leads into the Tribulation which leads to the Appearing of Christ, which leads into the Millennium. We see Satan locked up at the beginning of the Millennium (the 1000 year reign of Christ) and loosed at its close, then the Great White Throne Judgment and finally the Eternal State. We will look at each of these events in some detail, but first, we will look at God's prophetic timetable, the main personalities of prophecy and the primary nations of prophecy.
We note that words in italics in quotations have been added by myself for emphasis.
Roger P. Daniel 2012
GOD'S PROPHETIC TIMETABLE
God's prophetic timetable is given in seed form in the four remarkable verses of Daniel 9:24-27, which are the key to unlock the timing of prophecy. Please read them. All is Jewish in character: it is about Daniel's people, the Jews. Seventy "weeks" or "units of sevens" were given to the Jews to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to bring in everlasting righteousness, etc. It is the complete reestablishment of Israel as the nation of the world under God's personal blessing. We often call this wonderful future time the Millennium from the Latin "milli-annum" (1000 years). It is a made-up word to describe a biblical truth, and is well-accepted by most true Christians. It is the 1000 years' reign of Christ of Revelation 20:4 and the "world to come" of Hebrews 2:5. I note that the JND translation expands the expression to "the habitable world which is to come."
In relation to these 70x7 or 490 years (as the context proves), God's prophetic clock started according to these verses of Daniel 9, with the command by King Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem in 445 BC (Neh.2:5-8)—a date known to historians.
Note that our verses of Daniel 9 give three periods of time—7, 62 and 1 "week." Until "Messiah the Prince" (v. 25), the Lord Jesus Christ, there would be 7 plus 62 "weeks" or 69 "weeks" or 483 years. This prophecy was fulfilled exactly in 483 prophetic (360 day) years when Christ entered Jerusalem as King (Luke 19:37-44). The religious Jews ought to have known that date! God's prophetic clock stopped when Jesus Christ, Israel's Messiah, was then rejected at Jerusalem.
Then, "after the 62 weeks" (when both the 7 and 62 weeks were fulfilled—v.26), Messiah would be cut off. He was: He was crucified! Then, the people of the Prince-who-is-to-come (v. 26) would destroy Jerusalem. The historical fact is that Roman Empire armies destroyed Jerusalem about 40 years later in AD 70. Therefore, the yet-future "Prince-who-is-to-come" will be from an empire that will occupy the same general land area and political seat as did the ancient Roman Empire at the general time of Christ. The political seat was in mainly Western Europe; or perhaps we should simply say "Europe."
Beginning with verse 27 of Daniel 9, all is future. However, the present Church-Age or Age of Grace, like a great parenthesis, is intervening between the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week. God is not now directly dealing with the nation of Israel, but with the Gentiles, "to take out of them a people for His name" (Acts 15:14)—the Church. By sovereign grace, a few Jews are being saved today and become part of the Church, but the Church is primarily Gentile.
But the Lord will again directly deal with Israel in the near future. At a set time in God's timetable, after the rapture of the Church to heaven, the coming Roman prince will confirm (ratify) a covenant or treaty with the "many" of Israel for one week—for seven years! God's prophetic clock again starts with the signing of this treaty. This one "week" of years—Daniel's last week—is often called the Tribulation from 2 Thessalonians 1:6 (KJV, NKJV) and from the fact that the last half of this "week" is called the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24:21 and Revelation 7:14. Let's look at this in a little more detail.
Isaiah 28:15-18 calls Israel's treaty with the future Roman prince a treaty of death. It begins a series of great and deadly problems for Israel and for the whole world. Two-thirds of the population of Israel will be killed (Zech. 13:9). The Tribulation lasts exactly seven prophetic (360 day) years. It will have two parts, each exactly 3.5 years (1260 days) long. The first part will be a miserable time of political and economic unrest and natural disturbances such as famines, but the second half will make the first seem almost pleasant in comparison. God calls this second half the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21-22).
The second half begins when Satan (the devil, a real fallen, evil angel) is cast out of heaven to earth (Rev. 12:7-9). Yes, according to Job 1:6 and 2:1, along with the above verses in Revelation 12, Satan still has access to the Lord in heaven! But he eventually is thrown out to his great anger! The Great Tribulation ends exactly on time when the Lord Jesus Christ appears out of heaven to earth and puts down all opposition by divine power. We will look at the Tribulation in more detail later.
At the end of this little book is a chart which may help you better understand the seventy "weeks" of Daniel 9. It is taken from my book, Outlines for Christian Youth, which has five chapters on prophecy including an entire chapter on the seventy weeks. It's available from the publishers. See the Believers Bookshelf website at bbusa.org.
The Main Personalities of Prophecy
The first personality of prophecy is the Roman Prince. He is the "beast out of the sea" (Rev. 13:1-10)—the evil, beast-like political-military dictator of Europe (Rev. 17:8-13). The sea speaks of the restless Gentile nations of the world, here specifically of the Roman Empire revived (Rev. 17:15). He receives his power directly from Satan (Rev. 13:2). An image or robot of himself is set up in the future Jewish temple in Jerusalem by the second personality to be discussed below (Dan. 9:27; 12:11; Matt. 24:15; Rev. 13:14-17).
The second personality of prophecy is the Jewish False Prophet or the "beast out of the earth" (Rev. 13:11-18)—from Israel. A study of "the land" or "the earth" will show this to be a picture of the stable nation, even now a nation against impossible odds, in the place God gave them, first to their "father" Abraham (Gen. 13:12-15). No other people have gotten back a nation they lost for 2000 years! This future Jewish "king" is called the "False Prophet" in Revelation 16:13; 19:20 and 20:10. He is the one who will come in his own name and the Jews will receive him (John 5:43), although they rejected their true Messiah. He will actually sit in the future Jewish temple at Jerusalem and claim to be God the Son, so he is called the man of sin or man of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:3-4).
This Jewish "beast" sets up an image or robot of the Roman beast (as mentioned above) and also institutes the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:16-17), probably seeking to honor the Roman beast. This mark, either in the right hand or forehead, may well be some computerized credit card number in a cashless society that gives this wicked leader complete control over all purchases and sales.
The number of the beast's name is 666 (Rev. 13:18). Note that six in the Bible always is the number of rebellious man, as also stated in Revelation 13:18. So, 666 is man in highest opposition against God. You might think the world needs a "7" instead, the number which always speaks of perfection or completeness. Rather, the world needs an "8"—the new-beginning number. Wonderfully, the number of the name "Jesus" is 888 in the Greek. (Note that each Greek letter has a number assigned to it.) He is the Lord from heaven, the Last Adam (1 Cor. 15:45-47).
Along with Satan as the unholy spirit, the above two personalities, the two beasts of Revelation 13, form an evil trinity against the true Trinity. God soon puts a stop to it, as we shall see.
The third personality is the King of the North. He is the king of fierce countenance (Dan. 8:23-25) who is mighty, but not by his own power (Dan. 8:24). There was a historic "King of the North" (Dan. 11:6 and several other times in the chapter). From the many accounts of him as the Assyrian, and knowing the historic limits of the Assyrian Empire, this personality occupied at least part of the land area of modern Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey—Muslim nations who are anything but friendly with modern-day Israel. In the future (as to some degree now), He is backed, at least to the point of supplying arms, by a mightier power, possibly Russia and/or China and/or North Korea, and possibly other nations. He is the Assyrian of Isaiah 10:5-12, 24-27, and "the king" of Isaiah 30:33. At the "time of the end"—during the Great Tribulation—he comes against the "willful king" (the False Prophet of Israel) of Daniel 11:36-39 as an overflowing scourge (Isa. 28:15-18) and as the Desolator of Daniel 9:27.
To understand better what territories the King of the North will occupy, as mentioned above, we will recount a little history and compare it with Daniel 11. In about 320 BC, Alexander the Great's Grecian kingdom was divided among his four chief generals after his death at a young age (Dan. 11:3-4). Only Generals Seleucus and Ptolemy became prominent and established strong kingdoms. They and their descendants often fought back and forth through Israel for about 250 years (Dan. 11:5-35).
The future King of the North will come from the general area occupied by the Seleucid (Dan. 11:6), the area occupied by Alexander's General Seleucus, the historic King of the North. It is the area immediately north and northeast of Israel (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, as we mentioned). As we shall see, he will be punished at the appropriate time by God's display of power (Zech. 14; Isa. 10:12).
Then there is the fourth personality, the King of the South from the area south of Israel (Egypt)—the area occupied by General Ptolemy and the Ptolemies, the historic King of the South (Dan. 11:5, etc). At the end time (toward the end of the Great Tribulation) this king "pushes" at or attacks the Israeli leader (Dan. 11:40), but evidently without much heart in his attack.
Last but actually the greatest Personality is the Lord Jesus Christ, the "Stone cut out without hands" of Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45. In this future day, He alone fights the nations, suddenly destroying the kingdoms of men (Zech. 14; Joel 3:16-17, etc.) and then reigns as Sovereign over the entire earth for 1000 years (Dan. 7:27; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 20:4).
We haven't spoken of the Antichrist. There are only four references in the entire Bible to a personal antichrist (an opponent of Christ), all in John's epistles (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3 and 2 John 7). He denies the Father and the Son (1 John 2:22). Nowhere is this title "antichrist" definitely associated with any of the above personalities, so I won't speculate about this popularized personality, although writers whom I highly respect make him the same as the False Prophet, Israel's "willful king" and the "beast out of the earth."
The Nations of Prophecy
The primary nations involved in prophecy are Israel, the Northern Arab (Muslim) nations, Egypt and the Revived Roman Empire. We have already spoken of the Northern nations and Egypt when discussing the kings of the North and South. And virtually all prophecy centers on Israel. However, the most amazing kingdom is the amalgamation of the nations of particularly Europe into a Revived Roman Empire which we will discuss in the following paragraphs. The seat of Roman Empire power was in the western portion of the empire, although there actually was a longer-lasting eastern arm of the old Roman Empire.
The Revived Roman Empire is the final form of the fourth kingdom of King Nebuchadnezzar's image or statue (which is detailed for us and interpreted in Daniel 2:31-45). This fourth kingdom, the Roman Empire, historically went from a united empire to a divided empire (the two legs of Daniel's statue) and then slowly disintegrated into warring factions and ceased to be an empire, at least in the West, by about 475 AD.
At a yet-future time, the Roman Empire will revive and will be in the condition of ten somewhat loosely united nations led by the "beast," some short time after the Rapture. When the treaty of Daniel 9:27 is signed—a treaty or "covenant with death" (Isa. 28:18), a treaty between the Roman Beast and Israel—the Tribulation begins. The Revived Roman Empire will continue in essentially that condition until the appearing of the Lord as shown by the ten toes made of a mixture of iron and clay (Dan. 2:42-44)—strength and weakness combined. It is also the fourth "beast-kingdom" of Daniel 7, which is the same kingdom simply pictured in a different way. It is also the kingdom of ten horns (Dan. 7:7-8, 19-24). See also Revelation 13:1-2 and 17:7-12. This future revived kingdom wages war with the believers of that time until the Lord "appears" to judge it (Dan. 7:25-26; Rev. 17:12-14).
In Revelation 17:7-13, the Roman Empire is spoken of as a kingdom that was, is not and is to come. Today (not true when the first edition of this book was published), there is an amazingly-united Western Europe called the European Union (EU) with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) supporting it with military might, and with a common currency, the Euro. Many national borders are little more than lines in the sand. This EU seems to be the forerunner of the prophetic ten-nation Revived Roman Empire of the Tribulation. It will only be in its final form after the Rapture and when whittled down to ten nations. When God wants it to, things can happen literally overnight! Think of the forming of Israel in the Promised Land in 1948, virtually overnight! As I write this edition, other amazing things are going on in the Middle East!
Out of this united Europe will arise a beast-like dictator who subdues 3 nations in becoming its dictator (Dan. 7:24; Rev. 13:1-8; 17:12). Therefore, a united Europe under the Beast's rule will begin with more than ten nations. This future dictator is sometimes so closely connected with his empire that it is hard to distinguish the two in some Bible passages.
Russia also is briefly mentioned in prophecy according to the better translations of Ezekiel 38-39. She stays out of the Beast's affairs and apparently only gets involved when she thinks it is safe to do so, and she is in for a major surprise and defeat at the Lord's hands alone.
Possibly the United States is mentioned once. We will look at this later.
The next event in prophecy is the Rapture (John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-53; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). It is the first phase of the Lord's second coming, when He comes to the air for His saints. The term rapture is not found in the Bible, but it well expresses a scriptural truth. The word comes from the Latin for "caught up" and literally means a joyous catching away from one sphere to another, and that is exactly what happens when we are suddenly caught away from this earth to heaven. There is absolutely no prophecy that has to be fulfilled before this imminent event can take place!
This fact is very important! The only thing that stands between us Christians and being instantly caught up to meet the Lord in the air is that the Lord hasn't given the summoning "shout." Why then are we even interested in world events? It is because there are things that need to be fulfilled before the Lord "appears" back on earth, back to the Mount of Olives from where He ascended almost 2000 years ago. When we are permitted to see these things happening even in seed form, that apparently will lead to the fulfillment of post-rapture prophecies such as:
# Israel since 1948 being once again (after over 2500 years) a sovereign nation in the Promised Land of Palestine (Matt. 24:32-35),
# the northern powers becoming stronger with a deep-seated hatred of Israel,
# the forming of a united Europe,
# world-wide turmoil increasing,
# the giving up of much of biblical Christianity for an ecumenical pseudo-Christianity filled with human ideas,
# lawlessness on the rise (Matt. 24:12; 2 Thess. 2:3-7),
# vast increases in travel, knowledge, energy use, etc. (Dan. 12:4),
# apostasy—a massive falling away from the truth of God (2 Thess. 2:3; Matt. 24:11-12),
# the Ecumenical Movement leading to the World-Church of Revelation 17-18. An Ecumenical Movement is an attempt to bring large numbers of different denominations together, often by compromising or ignoring the truth and often with very little attention given on the part of the masses involved,
then we can say how near the Rapture must be because we are seeing the foreshadowing of things that will only be fulfilled after the Rapture! Of course, God can interfere with what Satan and man would like to do to slow up or speed up events to fulfill His perfect timetable, so we should not attempt to set dates.
I remember my father preaching over 65 years ago when I was a young teen, that there would be a nation of Israel formed; that warring European nations (who seemed to hate each other) would form a United States of Europe; that the nations just north of the Promised Land (who were hardly more than warring tribes) would become mighty, etc., but he didn't see how it was possible for any of these things to happen. He lived to see Israel reborn in literally a day! And win decisively an unwinnable war against greatly superior forces! He was amazed! We should be too!
At the Rapture the Lord descends from heaven only to the air. He comes to take all His own to heaven, from murdered Abel (the first believer to die) till the last person saved of the "Church" (1 Thess. 4:15; Heb. 11:40).
The Rapture is a split-second event which will begin with an assembling shout which will call all those dead in Christ out of their graves. This is the first part of the First Resurrection, the resurrection-to-life (John 5:28-29; Rev. 20:4-6), when the dead believers will be raised incorruptible (1 Cor. 15:52). Also, we believers who are alive on the earth at that time will be changed to become incorruptible and immortal (1 Cor. 15:52-53), just as have the formerly dead believers. This will be the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23), our final deliverance (2 Cor. 1:10).
From Philippians 3:20-21 (JND) we learn that our bodies of humiliation (which get sick, hurt and die, thus keeping us humble), will be transformed to be like our Lord's body of glory. In His body of glory, after His resurrection, He could do remarkable things as seen in verses such as Matthew 28:1-6; John 20:19-20, 26; Luke 24:31 and Acts 1:9. Our bodies of glory evidently won't need blood as seen from the inference in Luke 24:39. We also will have greatly increased mental capacity (1 Cor. 13:12) to take in the wonders of Christ and His universe for eternity.
Then, after our bodies are changed in an instant, we who are still alive at that time, along with the just-resurrected dead in Christ, will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, to be forever with Him (1 Thess. 4:17). All this happens in "a twinkling of an eye," faster than a blink (1 Cor. 15:52)! The unsaved world will only see the results—first physical, but soon spiritual, as spiritual darkness and evil sweep the world. I'm surely glad I won't be here then!
The time for all prophetic events, including the Rapture, is absolutely set (Matt. 24:36; Acts 17:31). The Lord will not tarry—extend the time (Heb. 10:37). We must not think that anything we do or don't do will alter God's prophetic timetable by even a second.
God also tells us about the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 when speaking about the kingdom—professed Christianity. Tares at first look like wheat. They appear to be Christian but aren't. Wheat speaks of true believers in Christ. In time, angels, not people, bundle the tares preparatory for burning them. Today, in the cults and in the ecumenical movement in many spiritually asleep or spiritually dead denominations, we undoubtedly see the tares beginning to be gathered into bundles, to be completely bundled and burned after the Rapture takes place. The expression "As in the days of Noah" (Gen.6:5-8; Matt. 24:37-39) fits our time like no other time in recent history. The world is ripe for the Tribulation-Judgments. Think too of all the anti-Christian religions added to the tares!
The Believers Will Be in Heaven Before the Tribulation Begins
When we are raptured to heaven as pictured in Revelation 4:1-4 (right after the prophetic history of the Church in chapters 2-3), people representing the Old and New Testament believers (the 24 elders) are seen around the throne of God, worshiping Him (Rev. 4:4; 5:8, 11, 14). The events of Revelation 4 occur between the prophetic end of the Church-age as pictured in the message to the final church of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14-22) and the beginning of the Tribulation judgments. We are not destined for wrath; not destined to go through any of the Lord's earthly Tribulation judgments as seen by Revelation 3:10 and 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; 5:9.
Revelation 3:10, one of God's key prophetic verses, does not say we will be kept safe through that hour of trial which is coming to try those earth-dwellers who prefer earth to heaven. Noah was saved through God's flood judgment and finally deposited on a cleansed earth (Heb. 11:7; Gen.7-8). So he is a picture of the Tribulation-saints who will be kept safe through the Tribulation and deposited on a millennial earth. Yes, there will be people saved after the Rapture, as we will see.
Rather, we believers will be kept from that hour, which is only possible if we aren't around when that hour comes. Like Enoch (Heb. 11:5-6; Gen. 5:22-24), we will be translated from earth to heaven (for some of us, without dying first) before the floods of judgment begin. The Tribulation simply is not for the heavenly company, but for those "earth-dwellers" who reject the Lord's offer of heaven. In fact, the man of sin, the second "beast" of Revelation 13, cannot be revealed until the Holy Spirit (who now hinders the rise of lawlessness) is taken out of the way (2 Thess. 2:3-8), since the Holy Spirit indwells (lives within) us who believe in Jesus as Savior and will abide with us forever (John 14:16; Rom. 8:9, 11; 1 Cor. 6:19). He can only be taken out of the world as an abiding-presence when we are taken out ... at the Rapture!
The Judgment Seat of Christ
When we believers are already in heaven, after the Rapture, we will face the Judgment Seat of Christ. There, the Lord Jesus Christ will judge (in the sense of discerning) what has been done for Him or for ourselves (Rom. 14:10-12). Yet John 5:24 says that we believers will not come into judgment. We won't, but our works will! God wants to praise us and give us everything that is rightly ours (1 Cor. 4:5). We thus will receive rewards for things done in the body while living now on earth (2 Cor. 5:9-10). In fact, the Lord won't even accuse us: we will give account of ourselves to God.
Every day, we are building something on the secure foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11). According to 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, we can build with gold—works that have in view the glory and righteousness of God. Or we can build with silver—works, such as gospel work, that has to do with redemption, with someone's salvation. Or we can build with precious stones—works which care for the saints of God. These items are not harmed by the fire of God's discernment. If anything, gold and silver increase in value and purity when heated and any dross removed.
On the other hand, we can build on the secure foundation with wood—that which is not sinful, but is only for this life on earth. Wood may be very useful, but how it burns! Or we may build with hay or grass—possibly speaking of excessive family cares: hay had many uses around the primitive household including food for animals. Hay is bulky, but is soon destroyed by fire. Or we may build with stubble or straw—that which is left after the ear of corn is removed, what even the world counts as essentially useless, to be plowed under. Again, how it burns and is gone!
Every true Christian "builds" on the secure foundation of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 3:10-11), but the question the Lord asks each person is "how he builds on it" (v. 10). Each believer builds with all these materials as he or she lives the daily life. But the time is soon coming when God's fire, His perfect discernment, will discern everything, whether done for Him or for self, and the "building" will be reduced accordingly (1 Cor. 3:13-15). We will receive our reward according to that which abides (1 Cor. 3 :14). Don't we want a full reward (2 John 8)?
The Tribulation Martyrs Seen in Heaven Awaiting Resurrection
How can there be martyrs after the Rapture? you may ask. First, no one has a second chance. God won't allow it (2 Thess. 2:10-12). Those who heard and neglected or rejected the gospel of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus, essentially rejecting His work on the cross, will be sent "strong delusion" by God, so they will believe "the lie" and be condemned. But there are many whom God alone knows who are not in that condition immediately after the Rapture. God seals 144,000 out of the 12 tribes of Israel (Rev. 7:1-8; 14:1-5). They are called "servants of our God" (7:3). It is sometimes hard in Revelation to know if numbers are actual or symbolic, or both. Also, it needs to be understood that especially the middle part of Revelation is not consecutive time-wise. Also, chapters were added by men (except for Psalms). They are a huge help in looking up references, but the chapter- and verse-breaks may be in the wrong places.
These men preach the "everlasting gospel" evidently brought them by an angel (Rev. 14:6). I doubt if it was preached by an angel, but given to the 144,000 who faithfully proclaim it to "every nation, tribe, tongue and people" (Rev. 14:6-7). There really is only one gospel as to how to be saved, but with a different emphasis, for the Lord will be judging and then reigning on the earth. We hear beginning in Matthew 4 of the "Gospel of the Kingdom" which may be the same as, or very close to the "everlasting gospel": both refer to the time of Tribulation and reigning.
The result of the preaching is seen back in Revelation 7:9-17. There are a "great multitude" "who come out of the Great Tribulation and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." These obviously go on into the Kingdom. But many other believers are killed. What of them?
In Revelation 6:9-11; 13:15; 14:13 and 15:2-4, we see the spirits and souls of the two halves of the Tribulation in heaven, but not as yet resurrected. However, as seen from Revelation 6:10, they (their spirits and souls) are fully conscious and free to ask questions of their Lord. There is no such thing as soul-sleep. For the believers of all times, to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). For the unbeliever, it is to be in torment (Luke 16:23) in God's prison, awaiting final judgment (1 Peter 3:19) and then hell, the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
As seen from the account of the two witnesses of Revelation 11, the second and last part of the first resurrection raises these martyred believers just before the Lord returns to earth (Rev. 11:11-15). There is then no more resurrection-to-life (John 5:28-29) because no more believers will ever die. Who are the two witnesses? Are they literally two men, or are they representative, symbolic (two giving adequate testimony throughout Scripture) of the 144,000 who can't be killed until God allows it, as seen in chapter 11. You need to read the whole chapter. But (since there is no other resurrection to life) the resurrection of 11:11-15 seems to include all martyred believers of the Tribulation. No other believers will ever die.
The Marriage of the Lamb
After the Judgment Seat of Christ, near the end of the seven years of the Tribulation, the Marriage of the Lamb takes place in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9). The Lord's wife has made herself ready to reign with Him. We believers today who form the true Church, are the future bride and wife of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22-32). As His bride He loves us and displays us to the universe. As His wife we have a new relationship of dignity and also co-administer the kingdom with Him. All has been made "right" for each raptured believer (and apparently also for the martyred Tribulation saints according to Revelation 20:4) at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so the soon-to-be "wife" is seen arrayed in white clothing which God defines for us as those good works done for Him—the "righteous acts of the saints" (Rev. 19:8) as just defined by Him at that Judgment Seat.
There are many who are called to the marriage supper who obviously are neither the bride nor the Bridegroom (Rev. 19:9). They are the friends of the Bridegroom (John 3:29) from "every family in heaven and earth" (Eph. 3:15, JND). These friends include all who have part in the first resurrection (as defined by the three groups of Revelation 20:4), other than the saints of the Church who are the "wife." So these "friends" are the Old Testament believers and the Tribulation martyrs.
Our rewards are given when Christ appears (Luke 19:15-17; 2 Tim. 4:8; Rev. 22:12). The "appearing" of Christ to the earth with His saints (Rev. 19:11-17) ends the time of the Tribulation. Note: Nowhere does it say we actually touch the earth as does the Lord: we are observers of His battle with His enemies. Then we reign with Him over the earth.
Let's now go back in time to the beginning of the Tribulation and observe what goes on down here on the earth.
Back on Earth: The Tribulation
The first half of the Tribulation is the first half of Daniel's last or 70th "week." The Holy Spirit's withdrawal from earth at the Rapture, being the indwelling-possession of His heavenly people, opens the door for every form of evil. The Revived Roman Empire, with its leader, and the Jewish religious-political leadership (each under a leader called a "beast") become firmly established. The "treaty of death" is signed between Israel and Europe, beginning the Tribulation (Dan. 9:27).
As we saw previously, 144,000 Jews are sovereignly saved, sealed (protected) and sent worldwide to preach. The Tribulation begins a time of ever-increasing deception (Matt. 24:5,11), of belief of the lie or of "what is false" (2 Thess. 2:10-12). We emphasize, God will not allow those who today have intentionally rejected or neglected the gospel and who do not have the love of the truth, to be saved after the Rapture. They are the living doomed, although we must realize that He, not us, draws the line between having and not having an opportunity to be saved in the Tribulation. Now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). There is no assurance of a tomorrow.
Then there will be unrest and war (Matt. 24:6-7; Rev. 6:4); famine (Matt. 24:7; Rev. 6:5-6); disease and earthquakes (Matt. 24:7; Rev. 6:7-8); and the wicked one revealed (2 Thess. 2:8). He is the false prophet, the beast out of the land (Israel), as the context shows. Note that the full character of both "beasts" will not be revealed until the middle of this "last week." At first, they are looked upon as great men who are "saviors" of their respective kingdoms (Europe and Israel).
Continuing, there will be political conquering as seen by the rider who had a bow but no arrows (Rev. 6:2): widespread death (Rev. 6:8-11); national upheavals (Rev. 8:8-9, etc.); and the world-church set up (Rev. 17:1-6). This world-church seems to be closely associated with, or absorbed into Roman Catholicism of that day, involving the seven-hilled city of Rome (Rev. 17:9, 17). Along with the political restructuring of the Western world after the disruption caused by the rapture and related events, the so-called "christian church" restructures from the unsaved remnants of man's denominations and cults. It is pictured as a great prostitute or great harlot, for it only has political gain as its goal, not the interests of Christ whom it claims to represent. Also, it is spoken of as that great city Babylon, which means confusion. It wields great political and economic power and influence in the Western world (Rev. 18).
The Great Tribulation
The Great Tribulation will last exactly 1260 days or 3.5 prophetic years which are 360 days long. It is the last half of Daniel's last week (Dan. 7:25; 9:27; 12:7; Rev. 11:2; 12:14; 13:5). It is called the time of Jacob's trouble because of its special effect on Israel, but it severely affects the whole world (Jer. 30:7; Rev. 3:10). Its widespread evil will be so bad that no time before or after will equal it (Matt. 24:21; Mark 13:19). The intense evil is the result of Satan being cast from heaven (where he now has access—Job 1:6-8; 2:1-2) to earth, and being full of wrath because he knows his time of freedom is short (Rev. 12:7-12). The two beasts are then energized directly by Satan (Rev. 13:4, 14-15) and begin their reign of terror. Unless those days were shortened—not allowed to run their natural course—no people would be left alive (Matt. 24:22). There will be extreme demon activity everywhere, causing great hardships.
The abomination of desolation, the image or robot of the Roman beast, is set up in the Jewish temple. Yes, a new temple will have been built by that time and is even now in the planning stage according to news articles. Only the presence of Islam's Al Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock on/near the ancient temple site, currently hinders reconstruction. As we said, God uses circumstances to delay things till His timing is perfect.
The two "beasts" receive widespread worship, and Satan thus is worshiped through them (Matt. 24:23-27; Rev. 13:4,8). The mark of the beast is instituted (Rev. 13:16-18). Possibly, this body-implanted personal identity code was in use before as a "convenience," but now it is used to totally control peoples' lives. I've read of technology that will flash-burn a code onto skin without pain and without leaving a visible mark. But we don't know the technology that will be used then.
Many will faint and be close to death simply from extreme fear (Luke 21:26). People will beg for mountains to fall on them (Luke 23:30) to swiftly end it all, and they will hide in rocks and caves from the Lord when He reacts in fury (Isa. 2:19) and also from the evil of the beast (Matt. 24:15-20). The world-church is overthrown by the Roman beast because he hates anything that is "christian" even in name, and because that "church" was interfering in his supremacy of political power (Rev. 17:15-18; 18:1-24).
Then as the Great Tribulation nears its end—some think more toward the beginning of this terrible time—Israel is attacked! The King of the South half-heartedly "pushes" at Israel while the King of the North attacks with great fury (Dan. 11:40). He is called "His" [the Lord's] "army," and as a result, some competent writers believe this attack begins the Day of the Lord; others also competent believe it starts with the Lord's feet on the Mount of Olives. The difference of opinion is at worst, a couple of years and not worth arguing over.
The attack of the King of the North—those Muslim armies from countries just north of Israel—comes as an overflowing scourge and, because it is so swift and because most of Israel falls, it annuls or makes of no value Israel's treaty with the West (which is slow to react). The King of the North, evidently angry with the Egyptians (the King of the South) for only their halfhearted support, keeps on going south and captures Egypt (Dan. 11:42-43). But he hears of tidings from the north and from the east, and quickly heads back north toward Jerusalem in great anger (Dan. 11:44-45).
The tidings from the north apparently are that a large Western force led by the Roman beast, has arrived at the plains of Megiddo—Armageddon—about 100 km (60 miles) north of Jerusalem. The tidings from the east apparently are that a very large force of the "Kings of the East" have crossed the Euphrates River and are heading for Jerusalem (Rev. 9:14-16; 16:12). So we see huge Western, Eastern and Northern (Chaldean-Arab, primarily Muslim) armies moving toward Jerusalem—a city in an apparently hopeless condition (Zech. 14:2).
The Appearing of Christ
Suddenly, Christ's feet stand on the Mount of Olives just to the east of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:3-4). He appears! The "appearing" is a biblical term (Col. 3:4; Titus 2:13; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:8). The "appearing" occurs a little more than seven years after the Rapture, exactly at the end of Daniel's last week. It fulfills the prophecy of Acts 1:11 that the Lord would return as He left: visibly (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:30); as a Man, although now in power and glory (Matt. 24:30-31; Mark 13:26); with clouds (Mark 13:26) and to the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4). This is the second phase of His second coming.
We believers will come with Him (Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 3:13; Rev. 19:14) and will be like Him (1 John 3:2), being in bodies of glory and being truly conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29). However, nothing indicates that we will be more than observers or that our feet again stand on earth. His vesture is dipped in blood; our clothing is white and clean (Rev. 19:13-15). The Lord then goes out from Jerusalem (Joel 3:16) to fight the Battle of Armageddon and the Battle of Jerusalem as Israel's Redeemer (Isa. 59:19-20), with fire and sword (Isa. 66:15-16; Rev. 19:15). It is a swift and decisive fight!
The Battle of Armageddon
Armageddon means "mountain of slaughter" and speaks of the huge plains east and west of the city of Megiddo, about 100 km NNW of Jerusalem. The word Armageddon is only used in Revelation 16:16, but like the word "antichrist," it has been popularized beyond its scriptural usage. This battle involves the Lord and the armies of the Western beast—Europe, and possibly the kings from the East. We know European armies are there because the Roman beast is there leading his armies with the help of other kings, his allies (Rev. 19:19). God calls all the birds to come to eat the dead flesh that will result from this battle (Rev. 19:17-18).
The Jewish False Prophet also joins the Roman beast (Rev. 19:20), evidently leaving his people to ensure his own safety (he thinks) from the Northern and Eastern armies approaching or attacking Jerusalem. He is called the "worthless shepherd who leaves his flock" in Zechariah 11:15-17. The two "beasts" are captured by the Lord and immediately cast alive into the Lake of Fire, into hell (Rev. 19:20), as its first two inhabitants. The Western (and perhaps other) armies are slain by divine power alone and the birds are filled with their flesh (Rev. 19:21).
The Battle of Jerusalem
"All" nations are gathered against Jerusalem—all those nations of prophecy who had scattered Israel. The armies of the King of the North and perhaps other armies meet at the valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2, 12-13) which is between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem, with the one purpose to destroy Jerusalem. See Isaiah 44:28 and 45:4 which shows that if God can name a person before he was born, He can name a valley before it was known by that name. "Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:14).
When the Lord's feet stand on the Mount of Olives, it suddenly splits in half, forming a great valley, and the remnant of Jerusalem safely escape through that valley (Zech. 14:4-5). It reminds me of the great valley formed at the Red Sea that allowed Moses and the Children of Israel to flee to safety from Pharaoh's armies (Ex.14:21-22). The Lord as Deliverer roars out of Jerusalem (Joel 3:16; Rom. 11:26) and fights for His people (Zech. 14:3; Ps. 2:9; Rev. 19:13-15).
There is a devastating destruction of these Western, Northern and Eastern armies from Armageddon to Jerusalem. The Lord punishes the Assyrian (Isa. 10:12). The "Great Winepress of the Wrath of God" is trodden outside the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 14:20) and a figurative or literal river of blood snakes its way down from the city (Rev. 14:20), which is on high ground geographically. God squeezes out their blood as a person treading grapes would squeeze out the grape juice. No birds are needed here: the flesh is consumed off the bones of the millions of troops around Jerusalem by divine fury, even as they stand at their positions (Zech. 14:12-13). A great spoil is left for the Israelites (Zech. 14:14-15).
There is then a 75 day "transition period" (Dan. 12:11-13) so the chaff of man's resistance can be removed and things can be cleaned up. From Matthew 25:31-46, we hear of a judgment often called "the sheep and the goats" (vv. 32-33) that appears to be connected with the Lord's coming in glory and sitting on His throne (v. 31). It has to do with how the individuals of at least the nations of prophecy treated the Israelites evidently during the Tribulation. It could take place during this 75 day period, but we aren't told. Some believe it to be a progressive judgment as God deals with the nations in the battles mentioned above, but it doesn't seem to be a judgment of soldiers, but, as we've said, of individuals in those nations. We simply have to leave it there.
Then begins the 1000 year reign of Christ which we often call the Millennium. The word is Latin for 1000 years. It fulfills the promise to David (2 Sam. 7:16). Christ the seed (offspring) of David (Rom. 1:3) sits on the throne of David (Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5; 33:15-18). The Stone-Empire of Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45 which destroyed Nebuchadnezzar's statue (picturing the world-kingdoms) by striking the feet, the ten toes, and itself became a great Mountain (Empire) and filled the whole earth, begins! See Revelation 11:15-17. Note here that a mountain represents symbolically in prophecy a nation—another key.
For Israel, the Lord comes as the "Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings" (Mal. 4:2). In contrast, when the Lord comes at the Rapture, He comes as the Morning Star (Rev. 2:28; 22:16; 2 Peter 1:19). The time of the morning star is at or just before the darkest part of the night, shortly before the sun rises. The darkest time, prophetically, is the Tribulation: the sun rising speaks of the dawn of the millennial day. So the Lord becomes King over all the earth. The people will see the King in His beauty (Isa. 33:17) and He will be exalted among the nations and in the earth (Ps. 46:10)—quite a contrast to His rejection nearly 2000 years ago!
After things are settled, the Lord appoints a prince (Ezek. 44:3; 45:7; 46:16; 48:21; etc.) who evidently reigns physically in the new millennial temple while Christ joins us, His Church, His bride and wife, in the heavenly Jerusalem hovering above the earth (Rev. 21:10). Ezekiel 40-48 detail the new millennial temple, its land area and the new and larger borders of the 12 tribes of Israel. Evidently, the millennial temple will be north (some say south—not important) of Jerusalem on a much larger land area than used for previous temples. Possibly the Tribulation temple and its land site were destroyed in the earthquake (Rev. 11:13) that evidently split the Mount of Olives and possibly changed much of the topographical features of the whole area.
Satan is bound, locked up, for the entire 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-3) and his demons are locked up with him (Isa. 24:21-23). Righteousness reigns (Isa. 32:1)! The Lord will judge the world in righteousness (Ps. 9:8).
Our Reign with the Lord
According to Revelation 20:4, three groups of believers will reign with Christ for 1000 years, when we will "judge the world" (1 Cor. 6:2). First, we have those on thrones—the raptured saints of the Old and New Testaments (Rev. 4:4; 5:10). Then we have the resurrected martyrs of the first half of the Tribulation (Rev. 6:9-11), spoken of in Revelation 20:4 as "the souls of those beheaded on account of the testimony of Jesus and on account of the Word of God" (JND), and finally those of the last half of the Tribulation (Rev. 13:15)—"those that had not done homage to the beast nor to his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and hand" (JND). The resurrection of these three groups ends the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5), the resurrection-to-life of John 5:28-29 because no other believer will ever die.
We believers today of the Church will be "heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17-18; Rev. 3:21). He will share with us all He has earned as Man, although we can never share his divine glory. We will have the unique place in the Millennium of being the bride, the Lamb's wife (Rev. 21:9 — 22:5). The bride, the true Church (which includes ourselves, if saved) is pictured as a beautiful city, holy Jerusalem, descending from heaven to a position over the earth (Rev. 21:10). As we said before, being His bride has the thought of His affection for us and His desire to display us to the universe (2 Thess. 1:10). Being His wife has the thought of our new official place of dignity and our joint-administration of the Kingdom with Him.
While there will be something physical coming down from heaven since we will be there, we shouldn't think of the description in Revelation 21 and 22 as describing merely or even primarily a physical city. These chapters use symbolic language to describe the glory and functioning of the Church in its millennial reign with Christ, its Bridegroom. A city has order and provides every service its inhabitants need. Our reign with Christ will be perfectly orderly, and every need the world has will be provided from this heavenly position.
We are not alone there: the word-description indicates there are those other than the Church (Rev. 21:12, etc.). The friends of the Bridegroom (John 3:29; Rev. 19:9) also are there, for all who have part in the first resurrection reign with Him (Rev. 20:4). In the KJV, NKJV, NASB, it speaks of us reigning "on the earth" (Rev. 5:10). The JND translation, backed by the prophetic scriptures, has "over the earth."
Our degree of blessing, our position in our Lord's reign, depends entirely on our present faithfulness to Him. Each of us has been given a pound or mina (Luke 19:11-27) which speaks of our responsibility to use for Him what He has given us. We are to earnestly do spiritual business with what He has given us, until He comes (v. 13). By how faithful (dependable, responsible) we are now, we then will have authority over "ten cities" (v. 17) or over "five cities" (v. 19), and so forth. Our millennial reign won't be equal, but "if we endure, we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tim. 2:12): all will have some part in that reign (1 Cor. 4:5). The loss we will suffer during that 1000 years may be incalculable (1 Cor. 3:15; 2 John 8). Yet many people go on in disobedience, seemingly not to care, content with simply being out of hell-fire! To me, it is one of the saddest things I know—to know what God expects of us and yet do something that is more pleasing to the flesh, the sinful nature, not caring about what loss they will experience!
I note in passing that we have a similar parable (a teaching-story) in Matthew 25:14-30. There, we have the sovereignty and wisdom of the Giver who gives spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:8-13, etc.) according to the various capabilities of His servants. In Luke 19 we have the responsibility of the servants with what we have equally. In both cases we are to do spiritual business and are rewarded according to our success.
There will be a combination of judgment and blessing for those still living at the time of the Lord's return. Israel will be terribly afflicted for her sin, but not forever (1 Kings 11:39). All Israel—the remnant—will be saved (Deut. 30:3-6; Rom. 11:26-27) in one day (Isa. 66:7-9; Zech. 3:9; 13:9). The "all" refers to the one-third who survive the Tribulation (Zech. 13:9; Ezek. 20:36-38). The remarkable change from rejection to reception will occur when "they look upon the Lord whom they have pierced" (Zech. 12:10-14). The Lord will sovereignly put His law into their hearts (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:24-28; 11:19-20), giving them a new heart and putting a new spirit within them. This is sovereign grace!
Israel and Judah will again become one nation under Christ (Ezek. 37:19-25; 39:27; 20:40; 34:11-13, 22-24; Isa. 11:12; Jer. 3:18; 23:6). Israel disarms and dwells safely without walls (without defensive systems), with the Lord personally protecting them (Zech. 2:4-5; 14:11).
The Invasion of Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog seem to refer to the northern tribes of mankind. Some of that can be traced out in Bible dictionaries. Gog appears to mean "top" and Magog, "overtopping." It could refer to the nation of Russia being at the top of the world, or their audacity to attack when Christ is reigning. I can't give more information than these few thoughts, but the point of Ezekiel 38 and 39 is an invasion of Israel by Russian forces, as we shall see.
Suddenly, Russia and her allies invade Israel (Ezek. 38 — 39:24). Contrary to popular belief, the prophecy in these two chapters concerns Russia, not the King of the North. The ones addressed are Rosh (Russia), Meshech (Moscow) and Tubal (probably Tobolsk) as seen in Ezekiel 38:2-3 and 39:1 (NKJV, NASB, JND, etc.). Rosh means "chief” and was so translated in the King James Version (KJV) because the translators evidently didn't realize it was a proper name. This has caused much confusion among those who only read the KJV.
This prophecy is about a nation from the "uttermost north" or the "remotest parts of the north" or "far north" (Ezek. 38:15; 39:2, JND, NASB, NKJV). While the King of the North is just to the north of Israel, Russia is the most northerly nation north of Israel. If you follow the map straight north of Jerusalem, your finger will go through Moscow after roughly 2500 km (1600 miles)!
Russia and her allies (Ezek. 38:5-6) attack Israel in great force, evidently thinking they can take over a great prize without much resistance, but they want to be sure. After all, they have heard reports of other armies destroyed. But in reality, they are brought down to Israel by God to magnify Himself and set Himself apart in the eyes of the nations (Ezek. 38:16, 23; 39:7). Up till then, Russia had probably escaped the hand of God during the Tribulation, so they now have to learn to bow under the hand of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
When does this attack occur? Most popular teachers have it occurring near the end of the Tribulation when the King of the North attacks, because they mix up the two nations. Rather, it is when Israel "dwells safely," but godless Russia doesn't know it (Ezek. 38:14; cf. 38:8, 11-14). So the attack occurs after Christ has come to reign, probably very early in the Millennium.
Then God strikes! Christ consolidates His rule by the defeat of the Russian bear. The Russian and her allied troops die on the mountains of Israel before any attack against Israel occurs (Ezek. 39:4) as a result of an overflowing rain, great hailstones, fire, brimstone (burning sulfur) and complete panic among the troops (Ezek. 38:21-22). The birds and also the beasts of the field are called on to scavenge the flesh of the fallen troops (Ezek. 39:4, 17-20). They eat until they are glutted. It takes Israel seven months to bury the bones (Ezek. 39:12), and the Russian weapons and supplies are burned for seven years as fuel (Ezek. 39:9-10).
We have previously mentioned the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats, of the living nations (Matt. 25:31-46). "All" nations are brought before Him (Matt. 25:32). In the light of the words used in Matthew 25:34-46; Acts 2:5; Zechariah 14:1-4, etc., "all" may refer only to those nations directly connected with Israel, for the Lord speaks of "My brethren"—the Israeli people (possibly the sealed 144,000 preachers) in their terrible persecutions during the Tribulation. However, it may mean every nation. The sheep, the believers of that day, are immediately blessed by going into the millennial kingdom, but the goats, the unsaved, are immediately killed and possibly sent directly to hell: at least hell is their sure eternal portion (Matt. 25:34, 41, 46). These people aren't saved or lost as a result of their works, but their works show what is in their hearts. This is the time when two persons will be in the field and one is taken for judgment and the other is left for blessing in the kingdom (Matt. 24:39-42; Luke 17:34-36). People often mix these verses up with the Rapture when the exact opposite occurs. At the Rapture, some are taken to heaven for blessing and others are left on earth for Tribulation-horrors.
The Jewish temple is rebuilt near Jerusalem in unsurpassed beauty and size (Ezek. 40 — 48) and animal sacrifices are reinstated (Jer. 33:17-18, etc.) A wonderful, miraculous river of water flows from this temple (Ezek. 47:1-12) and it brings great prosperity to Israel. Some believe it is a symbolic river because it doesn't act like other rivers, but I see nothing in Scripture to indicate anything but a real river (though miraculous) that brings great refreshing and blessing to Israel in that day (Ps. 46:4; Zech. 14:8)!
The whole earth disarms (Ps. 46:9; Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3). Egypt and Assyria (the realms of the former kings of the South and North) are closely connected to God (Isa. 19:19-25) and along with Israel will be a blessed trio of nations (vv. 24-25). The Lord will be the Light of Israel (Isa. 60:18-20). The nations will be forced to serve God or sustain judgment (Isa. 60:12; Zech. 14:17-21). Many out of fear will pretend or feign obedience (Ps. 18:44; 66:3; 81:15, JND) because those who openly disobey will die and their bodies will be picked up every morning (Ps. 101:8, JND, NASB). Thus crime is kept essentially non-existent (Isa. 13:9-11). Note that even if the judgment of the sheep and goats is so inclusive that only saved adults are left to go into the Kingdom, some children unfortunately will grow up rejecting the gospel and soon the world will have a large unsaved population that requires a firm hand to keep in line, even with Satan and his host locked up. Man's sinful nature doesn't need Satan to make him sin!
The earth becomes full of the knowledge of the Lord (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14) and will learn righteousness (Isa. 26:9). The nations will come to Jerusalem for blessing (Zech. 8:21-23). Jerusalem will become the city of the world.
There will be a long, happy life for those who don't openly sin (Isa. 65:19-20), without infirmities (Isa. 32:3-4; 35:5-6). There will be no hurting nor destroying (Isa. 65:25). The wolf, leopard, lion, etc., will mix with the farm animals and little children will play with them, all in complete safety (Isa. 65:25; 11:6-9). There will be no crying or weeping (Isa. 65:19). The desert will blossom like a rose (Isa. 35:1-2) and the wilderness as a fruitful field without any thorns (Isa. 32:15; 35:6-7; 55:13; Ezek. 34:26-27; 36:33-35). The earth will yield her increase like never before since the Garden of Eden (Ezek. 36:35).
Events after the Millennium:
The Little Season
At the close of the 1000 years, Satan is loosed from prison for "a little while" (Rev. 20:3, 7). He resumes his hateful ways and immediately goes out to deceive the nations (Rev. 20:8) into thinking they can attack God and win. So he gathers a mighty army of all the unsaved, which army is allowed to come into Israel and surround Jerusalem and perhaps the temple area (the "camp of the saints and the beloved city"—Rev. 20:9). Just when Satan thinks he might gain a victory, fire from heaven destroys all of them (Rev. 20:9). In a flash of power, the last unsaved person is gone forever from the face of the earth, and all believers are alive forever, either in heaven or on earth.
Satan then is cast into hell to be tormented forever (Rev. 20:10). Satan is not king of hell, but as indicated by the biblical principle found in Luke 12:48, receives the greatest punishment. Hell was prepared for Satan and his demons (Matt. 25:41), and those demons will not fail to meet their judgment date (Matt. 8:29; 2 Peter 2:4).
The Great White Throne Judgment
Then comes the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15. Please read these solemn verses. All the dead unsaved of all times are resurrected to stand before God—before the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22) who sits on His judgment-throne. White speaks of the absolute purity or righteousness of the justice to be meted out there. There will be neither mercy nor revenge: only justice. Christ is there as the Judge of people, not as their Savior.
The books are opened: an accurate and complete record has been divinely kept of each person. Each person is judged according to his or her works, to determine his or her degree of punishment (Luke 12:48). They have been judged or condemned already as to their persons because they did not believe on the name of the Lord (John 3:18, 36). To prove the truth of this fact, the book of (eternal) life is opened: none are found in it: none have life in Christ. The trial is over.
Each of those condemned and sentenced unsaved is thrown into the Lake of Fire: they surely wouldn't go voluntarily (Rev. 20:14-15). Can you imagine a more terrible picture of hell than being in and surrounded by fire, feeling the intense pain that fire inflicts, and yet not being consumed? How thankful we who are saved should be that we never will come under the wrath of a holy God! How important it is to present God's salvation to those around us, that we can never be accused by them of not warning them of the terrible realities ahead for them if they continue in their sins and without the Savior.
The Lake of Fire is called the Second Death (Rev. 20:14; 21:8). The first death is separation of the body from the soul and spirit which never die (James 2:26). The second death is the eternal separation of the entire person from God (2 Thess. 1:8-10) in hell (Gk: Gehenna) (Matt. 5:21-30; Mark 9:43-49) where the fire of judgment is not quenched and the worm of conscience does not die. There are no friends there: each person is isolated as wandering stars (comets) in the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13), under God's eternal wrath (John 3:36; Rev. 20:10). It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).
The Judgment of the Material Creation; the New Heavens and Earth
At essentially the same time as the Great White Throne judgment, the earth and heaven (not the third heaven, the paradise of God—2 Cor. 12:2-4), the material creation is dissolved with fervent heat. At least that part of the material creation that in any way could carry the marks of sin is destroyed (2 Peter 3:10-12) to prepare for the New Heaven and the New Earth of Revelation 21:1-5 and 2 Peter 3:13.
It is no problem for God to protect the earthly believers who come out of the Millennium while this earthly restructuring is going on. They, like us, will shortly be going into the eternal state and so will have bodies fit for that condition, although we aren't given those details in the Bible.
In this same time frame, Christ delivers up the Kingdom to the Father, so God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) may be all in all (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Thus the eternal state, the eternity of the future, begins. Then, righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). There is no more sea—neither restless nations nor defilement (Rev. 21:1). We do not know if this is simply figurative of what the sea speaks of (Rev. 17:15) or literal also. Certainly, with His own in bodies of glory and He fully in charge of the new earth, the oceans as we know them are not needed.
The New Jerusalem, ourselves, the Church, is again seen coming down from heaven, still a bride, still deeply loved by the Lord, after over 1000 years (Rev. 21:2). (This city also is seen coming down from God in Revelation 21:9-10, but that "coming down" is over 1000 years before the events of Revelation 21:15. From Revelation 21:9 — 22:5 we go back in time to pick up details of the Church's reign with Christ during the Millennium, as we have previously studied.)
In the eternal state, the eternity of the future, heaven and earth are in close proximity and God dwells together, forever, with all His own of all times (Rev. 21:3). Thus closes God's book of prophecy. The little island of time in the sea of eternity has been crossed. In some unknown sense, we will reign forever (Rev. 22:5) in God's vast universe. What wonders await us! As Paul expressed in 2 Corinthians 12:4, he heard "inexpressible words" when caught up to heaven for a while—words (and sights) beyond the human mind to comprehend. That's why we don't have much detail in the Bible about the future eternity.
Summary of the Two Resurrections
We have discussed two different resurrections and perhaps a little review would be helpful. The key verses are John 5:28-29. "All who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth ... unto the resurrection of life and the resurrection of Judgment.” The First Resurrection is "to life" (Rev. 20:4-6) and involves all who live and reign with Christ: all the dead saved of the Old Testament, the Church and the Tribulation martyrs. You need to read Revelation 20:4 in the JND to clearly see that there are three groups who comprise the first resurrection. Christ in His resurrection was the first fruits (1 Cor. 15:23); afterwards, those who are Christ's at His coming.
His second coming is in two phases. The first phase involves His coming to the air to take to heaven the Old Testament believers and the dead in Christ of the Church (and we who are alive at His coming). This is popularly called the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16-17). Then just before the second phase of His second coming, His Appearing, the saved martyrs of the Tribulation are raised (Rev. 11:9-13; 20:4). They are the last dead believers. Therefore, the First Resurrection ends at that time.
The second resurrection (although never actually called that in the Bible) is to bring all unsaved to final judgment. It thus occurs after all the unsaved are dead, which only happens after fire destroys those who only pretended to be obedient to God during the Millennium. So, about 1000 years after the end of the First Resurrection, the unsaved are resurrected to stand before the Great White Throne for sentencing to an eternity of hell.
The two resurrections and two comings, along with the two final judgments, are shown in chart form at the back of this book. This chart is from my book, Outlines for Christian Youth.
Some may be wondering about marriage relationships for those resurrected. God says in Matthew 22:30 that "in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven." Christ will be our only Bridegroom. We will need nothing more to be completely fulfilled in every possible sense, just as the angels are fully happy with their unique place in God's creation.
IS THE UNITED STATES FOUND IN PROPHECY?
(or North America)
The great and powerful United States might be mentioned in prophecy once, but only as a passing remark, and there is very little agreement on the interpretation of the one passage we will look at in what follows. Revelation 8:8-9 says, "Something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed."
The setting of this portion of Revelation 8 is probably early in the first half of the Tribulation. A great nation or kingdom (a mountain — Dan. 2:35, 44; Jer. 51:24-25) erupts like a volcano, apparently destroyed from within, with great loss of life and disruption of world commerce. We have in our study already seen the fate of Europe, Russia, the Arab-Islamic powers and the Eastern powers. None of these in my opinion fit the description given here. By process of elimination, the only great nation or kingdom left is the USA or maybe North America.
We can see today how this could happen. Millions of believers will be raptured out of the United States and Canada, probably a bigger percentage than with any other nation. Many people in high government offices will be gone. The country will no longer be bound together by the Christian community. The Holy Spirit will be gone (2 Thess. 2:7).
In recent years we have seen the United States fragment to where one is no longer simply "an American," but is a black American, a white American, an Arab American, a German American, a native American, a Spanish American, a male American, a female American, etc. Every little group wants its own power base. Our semi-open borders have brought in millions with no particular patriotic loyalty to the United States or Canada. Being a Christian is a negative to much of the press and academia. Islam is thriving. We have become a debtor nation, owing huge amounts of money to nations not necessarily friendly to us. These divisive forces (racial, economic, religious, sexual, political, geographical) currently are held somewhat in check by the cohesive power of the Christian community — especially the true Church — and the general restraint of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:6-7). Then comes the Rapture! That restraint is gone! The divisive forces erupt and the United States as a world power quickly ceases to exist and world-wide disruption results. The powerbase quickly shifts to Europe, where we know it will be before the middle of the Tribulation.
Fantasy? Some think so, because they interpret these verses as applying to the Western part of the Revived Roman Empire, but I see these verses going beyond that to the greatest Western nation, the United States. I only submit the above as a possible interpretation for your prayerful evaluation. We can thank God for the United States which has freed multi-millions from oppression, has caused the gospel to flow to billions and has had freedom unknown to much of the world. But God looks on to only one kingdom, that of the Lord Jesus Christ when He is "King over all the earth."
A PERSONAL WORD TO THE READER
How has this study affected you? Can you keep going on as you have been? Don't gamble with God: you'll lose! "The heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same Word, are reserved for fire until" [kept for] "the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men ... Since all these things will be dissolved ... what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness" (2 Peter 3:7-11, 14)?
"Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor. 5:11). "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Heb. 2:3). "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).
"I see that," you say, "but how can I be saved from it?" Christ died on the cross that we His creatures can be saved from hell by having every sin forgiven. We then can enjoy eternal blessings with Him. Up to now, God has given us plenty of time, but time is running out. "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. But the day of the Lord will come..." (2 Peter 3:9-10).
The Lord Jesus Christ has provided the only way to heaven by paying the full and righteous penalty for the sins of all who will come to Him, repenting of their sin and taking Him as their personal Lord and Savior. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see" [everlasting or eternal] "life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36). "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Your name can go in place of that "whoever." "If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus" [or, Jesus as Lord] "and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9). "Now is the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).
Finally, a closing word for us who are already saved. Especially in light of the Rapture being so near, are we throwing away a place of honor in the Millennium by our indifference and general lack of faithfulness to God? Are we grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19) by doing what we know we shouldn't be doing, and not doing what we should be doing? If we don't obey our Lord now, think of the present loss of fellowship with Him, the chastening of the Lord we will have to endure (Heb. 12:5-13) and the loss of divine reward in the future millennial day (2 John 8). Is it worth it?
I trust this has been an interesting and helpful study. Please prove all things by Scripture! See you at the Rapture!
Roger P Daniel
Second Edition — 2012