March 26, 2010

Is man about to destroy himself? Is the end of the world in sight? What does the future hold? What is going to happen next? These are typical of many questions asked the writer today.

There is “order” in the plan and purposes of God, and so far as the Scripture is concerned, the next great prophetic event will be the rapture of the saints. A close study of Hebrews 11 reveals the order in which things are to take place in regard to Christian experience and the consummation of the age. Since all the characters mentioned in this chapter are not enumerated in their chronological order, it is evident that the order speaks of their typical fulfillment.

Abel, with the blood sacrifice, typifies the Christian coming under the blood of Christ through faith. This sets forth the beginning of this age as the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The next event listed in Hebrews 11 is the translation of Enoch, which typifies the truth that after the shedding of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the next great prophetic event is the translation of the saints. After Enoch comes Noah, and the judgment of God upon the world. This, then, sets forth a type about which there can be no uncertainty: the great tribulation follows the rapture. This establishes as a certain fact, in the light of many concurring Scriptures, that the next great prophetic event is the rapture.

Two or three Scriptures describe this event. In I Cor. 15:20-23, we see Christ as the Firstfruit. Then, whenever man is raised, it is in his own company. They that are Christ’s shall be raised at His coming. These are divided into two distinct groups according to I Thess. 4:16,17. The dead in Christ rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. There is no room here for a split rapture or a division of the saints because the above verse of Scripture says that ALL the dead in Christ and ALL the living Christians are caught up.

There are two major events in the life of a Christian as related to this earth. The first one is that moment when he is born from above, and the second is when he is caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

In looking at the major events relative to the end time, first there is the rapture, or the raising of the dead in Christ and the translation of the living Christians. Immediately after the rapture there are events transpiring on the earth, and at the same time, events are taking place in heaven.

The first event to take place in the heavens with the raptured saints is the judgment seat of Christ. This is the time and place when Christians are called to a personal accounting of the life they have lived after they are saved. There will be rewards, honors, positions of prestige, and glory for the faithful. There will be loss, shame, chastisement and grief for the unfaithful. There is no escaping the issues of this judgment. It will be one of absolute justice, and Christians will get just exactly what they deserve on the basis of their works — nothing more, nothing less. Do not be deceived by the false teaching that Christians will not reap the evil deeds done after they are saved.

The judgment seat of Christ is followed by the marriage of the Lamb. The issues of the judgment seat determine who will constitute the bride. Rev. 19:7, 8 gives the truth that the bride is composed only of those Christians who have a wedding garment; and this garment is made up of the righteous acts of the saints. If the judgment seat of Christ reveals that a Christian has no good works, he will suffer loss and therefore have no wedding garment, neither will he be a part of the bride of Christ, even though he has eternal life by the grace of God. One would do well to study an Oriental wedding and see that there are many other parties at a wedding ceremony other then the bridegroom and the bride. The marriage of the Lamb has only to do with New Testament saints, and these will be further divided into many groups other than just the bride.

The marriage of the Lamb is followed by the wedding feast, which does not include all of the wedding party. The Scripture speaks of the blessedness of those who are invited to the feast (Rev. 19:9).

Now, in turning our attention earthward, the first thing to take place on the earth after the rapture of the saints is the sealing of the 144,000 Jews who will preach the gospel of the kingdom to the Gentiles during the tribulation (Rev. 7).

As soon as the sealing of the 144,000 is completed, the antichrist is made manifest. His appearance marks the beginning of the tribulation, a period of seven years, the latter part of which is known as the great tribulation. This period is described in the Revelation from chapter 6 through chapter 18. During this time great multitudes of Gentiles will be saved, many of whom will be martyred. The great majority of the nation of Israel will be destroyed when the antichrist makes war against the Lord’s chosen people. This entire period of seven years is called the time of Jacob’s trouble and is spoken of as a time of suffering, the like of which the world has never seen nor will ever experience again. The only Jews who will be spared during this period is that remnant which will be saved when they look on the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of His descent to the earth. This is the event we shall discuss next.

Rev. 19:11 opens up the events of the end time in chronological order as Jesus comes with His holy angels to reap vengeance on the earth dwellers and to establish His reign of one thousand years. The Scripture teaches that the first thing to take place when Christ returns to the earth is the salvation of all the living Jews (Zech. 13:6-9; Rev. 1:7; Rom. 11:25-27). Very likely at this same time there will be a resurrection of the dead Jews in their bodies of flesh, blood and bones who, with the above mentioned Jews, go into the Millennium as God’s earthly people (Dan. 12:1; Ezek. 37:11-14).

The Lord Jesus Christ will then gather all the Gentiles before Him and will divide them into two groups known as the sheep and the goats. The sheep will be the nations who believed the gospel of the kingdom and were saved. The goats will be the ones who did not believe the gospel of the kingdom. The fact of their salvation will be manifested by their good works, especially by their treatment of the brethren of our Lord (the Jews). The unsaved ones (goats) will be the vast multitude to be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon. The saved ones, known as the sheep, will constitute the Gentile nations who go into the Millennium also as an earthly people.

We see how that the location of the peoples for the thousand-year reign of Christ is as follows: The New Testament saints will be in the new Jerusalem located in the heavens. They are the heavenly people of the Lord. This group will be made up both of Jews and Gentiles saved between Pentecost and the rapture. The people of the earth will be the whole house of Israel. They will be made up of the Old Testament saints who died and are raised from their graves to possess the land, and the living Jews who are saved at the return of Christ to the earth and are restored to the land of Palestine. The Gentile nations saved during the tribulation, together with the above, make up the people who will live here on the earth.

The binding of Satan may well be the next event to transpire when he shall be cast into the abyss for the duration of the Millennial reign.

Christ will then set up His kingdom with Himself as the King of kings (Rev. 19:16). David will be raised to reign over the house of Israel (Ezek. 37:24, 25; Jer. 30: 9; Hos. 3:5). The twelve apostles will be given positions of authority over the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28); and the Christians who qualify, will reign over various cities (Luke 19:16-19).

At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be loosed for a season, and with the vast number born during the Millennium who will not confess Christ as Saviour will make war against Him and the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 20:7-9). Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where, with the beast and the false prophet who are cast in at the beginning of the Millennium, he will be tormented forever and ever. The present heavens and earth will then pass away — be completely annihilated.

Next is the appearance of the Great White Throne before which will be gathered the unbelievers of all ages as well as the fallen angels. Their portion in the lake of fire will be made known on the basis of their evil deeds; and all whose names are not in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Then shall appear the new heavens and the new earth. The new Jerusalem, the home of Christ and His saints, will come down to earth as the capital of the new earth. The saved among the Jews and the Gentiles who came though the Millennium will come into the new earth as Jews and Gentiles; so it seems that the new earth will be peopled by the New Testament saints as one group, the redeemed nation of Israel as another group, and the redeemed Gentile nations as another.


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