Eschatology - The Doctrine of Last Things
OUTLINE FOR CHAPTER IX
I. Physical Death.
V. The Antichrist.
VI. The Tribulation.
VII. The Battle of Armageddon.
VIII. The Millennium.
IX. The Judgments.
X. After the Millennium.
XI. The Future of the Wicked.
Eschatology is the doctrine of last things.
I. PHYSICAL DEATH
The Bible always gives sufficient information for the faith of the
believer. The Bible was never proposed merely for his curiosity. God
teaches finite beings to walk by faith in the unexplained infinite.
Thirty-five hundred years ago Job asked, If a man die, shall he live again? This question has been asked for millenniums. It is still a universal question. It is a subject of perennial interest. That those whom we love should die and be buried does not seem right; and it is not! God never made man to die; He created him to live and to have fellowship with Himself. But sin brought death and the grave, thus separation from God.
Should the Lord tarry, everyone reading these words, the author included, shall die, for death has passed upon all men (Rom. 5:12).
A poem lasts longer than the poet; the voice on the recording tape can be heard years after the recording artist is dead; pictures of dead loved ones remain, even after the loved ones are gone.
Things on this earth are not equal. The rich have always oppressed the poor; the wicked have always prospered over the righteous. Human justice demands an equalization of all things in a life after death. We are living in a changing world. The robins build their nests, even as they did in the garden of Eden, and animals possess the same characteristics as they did at the beginning. However, man does not live as he used to, even as he did twenty-five years ago. Although this be true, the inquiring mind of man remains the same, still asking the question, If a man dies, will he live again?
There is a universal belief in a life after death. If you go to the darkest part of Africa, where Christ has never been preached, you find that people there believe in a life after death. Why do some heathens burn their wives? Why do some bury food with the corpse? They believe that the departed one must have a companion and food on his journey beyond the grave. The Egyptians furnished a charter, a book for the journey, and placed it with the corpse. Why do the birds fly south? Instinct in them proves there is a southland. The heart of man, and his inward instinct are proofs that there is a life hereafter. Both physiology and philosophy maintain there must be a life after death.
There are two great reservations:
1. Reservation for the Christian. Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . hath begotten us . . . to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (I Peter 1:4). In Philippians 1:23 the Apostle Paul used the word depart as describing death. By this he did not mean that he would cease to exist. Depart means to depart. Did he mean to depart to the grave with Christ? Of course not, for Christ is not in the grave; He is in heaven. II Corinthians 5:8 makes the meaning of departure even clearer when it says, We are confident . . . and willing ... to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord The word present means to be at home with. The death of a Christian, therefore, is pictured as a ship pulling up anchor and setting sail for home; in other words, the death of a Christian means going home.
2. Reservation for the Ungodly. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (II Peter 2:9).
B. Death Is Not Soul Sleep.
The word sleep in Scripture, concerning the dead in Christ,
means rest. It does not mean unconsciousness.
The body may die, but the soul and spirit will never die. In the resurrection
it is the body that is raised, not the soul and spirit. The Scriptures
clearly state that the soul is absent from the body, present with the
Lord; and that the souls and spirits are fully awake and aware of things
round about them. A perfect illustration of the above truth is found
in Revelation 6:9, 10: When he had opened the fifth seal, I saw
under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God,
and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice,
saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge
our blood on them that dwell on the earth? Here we see the disembodied
souls, alive, and reasoning with God.
C. Death Means Separation.
Death in Scripture always means separation. Physical death
is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death
is the eternal, complete, final separation from God (Rev. 21:8).
II. THE BODILY RESURRECTION
1. Anticipated in the Old Testament. Such terms as in the latter days, awake and live, are indications of a resurrection. The Old Testament contains many types of the resurrection. Joseph was counted dead, but he came back to his father; Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights, and then was released; Daniel was placed in the lions den, a place of death, but came out alive; Israel died in the wilderness, and a new Israel went in Canaan. All of these are figures of the resurrection. The following Scriptures verify the resurrection. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead (Is. 26:19). See also Job 19:26, 27; Psalm 16:9, 11; Daniel 6:23; 12:2; Matthew 12:40.
2. Revealed In the New Testament. As in Adam all die, even so
in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22). [I] have
hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall
be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust (Acts
24:15). See also Matthew 22:30-32; Luke 14:13, 14; 20:35, 36; John 5:28,
29; 6:39, 40, 44, 54; I Thessalonians 4:14-16: II Timothy 1:10. Christ
did not come to save my soul only, but all of me: my soul, spirit, and
body. All of me is to be saved.
Death is never set forth as the hope of the believer. In Corinth (I Cor. 15) some had declared that there was no bodily resurrection, but in the above chapter Paul rebukes them for this false doctrine and proves to them that there is a resurrection (by Christs own resurrection): if one does not believe in mans resurrection, then it is impossible to believe in Christs resurrection; and if Christ had no resurrection, there is no Gospel, and if no Gospel, we are not saved.
Satan has always been against the Word, and he has many weapons trained
on it. The revelation he most despises is that of the resurrection.
Materialism denies the resurrection altogether. Spiritualism denies
the bodily resurrection. We are never to doubt the resurrection. I
forgot God when I said, How can this be? Whether man believes,
or understands the resurrection means little; it is true, nevertheless.
One Scripture used by those who believe only in a spiritual resurrection is I Corinthians 15:44: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. Notice that the verse does not say a spirit body, but a spiritual body. The natural body is controlled by the soul; the spiritual body shall be controlled by the Spirit; hence, a spiritual body.
1. Theories Proposed.
2. Truth Believed. The resurrection is by Divine Power! God giveth a body as it has pleased him, and to every seed his own body (I Cor. 15:38). Jesus Christs own resurrected body was proved to be flesh and bone. When Christ appeared unto the disciples, He remarked, Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24:39). Christ did not say that there were no spirits, but that a spirit does not have flesh and bones. Ezekiel 37 pictures the resurrection of Israel; flesh, bones and spirit are mentioned, but no blood. The law demanded the shedding of blood, and Christ shed his blood to pay for that demand. In the resurrection, all will be raised without blood; life will be in the spirit of man.
[The Lord Jesus Christ] shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (Phil. 3:20, 21). Our bodies, the same ones that may be planted in death, will pass under a great transformation and be raised. If we should plant a lily, a lily will come up; if we plant wheat, wheat will come up; if we plant tares, tares will come up; if we plant human bodies, glorified human bodies will come up. God looks upon the cemeteries as nothing but harvest fields. The seeds in these harvest fields are the bodies of the dead, and the harvest is the resurrection.
And we shall be changed (I Cor. 15:52c). Yes, a great transformation
will take place, but it will be the same body, for the resurrected body
of Christ proves that it will be the same body, as He bore in His resurrected
body the print of the nails.
C. The Time of the Resurrection.
As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (I Cor. 15:22). All men shall be raised from the dead, but not all at the same time. The Scriptures plainly declare that there are two resurrections, and not a general resurrection. They are the first, and the last resurrection (Rev. 20:5, 6).
1. The First Resurrection. The first resurrection includes Christ,
and all believers of all ages. Their resurrection occurs at different
intervals. Christ at one time; the Church at the Rapture (before the
Tribulation); and the Old Testament saints and Tribulation saints after
The resurrection of the Church was revealed to the Apostle Paul; it will occur before the Tribulation. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10). See also I Thessalonians 1:10.
There has been over nineteen hundred years since Christ the Firstfruits
has been raised. The time of the resurrection of the Church is not known.
2. The Last Resurrection. The last (or second) resurrection occurs after the Millennium, and shall include all the wicked dead. They shall be raised to stand before the Great White Throne. The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years (Rev. 20:5, 6).
III. THE INTERMEDIATE STATE
Where are the dead? is the question on the lips of all mankind. The
only true and correct answer is given by the Word of God. Other answers,
such as those given by spiritualism, are nothing but a babel of voices.
Various cults have preyed upon unsuspecting souls, taking them captive
at the Devils will.
1. These words are never found in the plural.
2. Sheol and Hades are never located on the face of the earth.
3. The Bible never speaks of an individuals Sheol.
7. The Bible never speaks of a body going into Sheol, but with one exception, and the exception proves the rule. Korah (Num. 16:28-33) defied the leadership of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron, and influenced many in Israel against them. God showed His displeasure by causing the earth to open up its jaws and swallow Korah and his family. The King James Version says that he went down alive into the pit, which should be translated Sheol (Num. 16:33).
In Luke 16:19-31 we have the true account of Lazarus and the rich man both dying and existing in the intermediate state. There are some who claim that this story was only a parable. The Word does not so state. In all of His parables, the Lord never mentioned proper names, as He does here. If it were a parable, it would be true, for every parable that He spoke was built upon the truth (Matt. 13:3).
The following is a common interpretation of this so-called parable:
Rich man the Jewish nation, rich in what God has given him.
There is no gulf between the Jew and the Gentile. No Gentile nation has ever begged from the Jews as Lazarus begged bread from the rich man.
If the Jewish nation died (pictured by the rich man), who were the five brethren who were left? We still contend that this is a true account of two men who died and went to Hades.
A. Before the Cross.
The Cross is the dividing line of many Scriptural truths. We shall discuss the question, where did men go at death before Christ died upon the Cross? We shall show that they all went to the same place Hades (Sheol) but in different parts.
From Numbers 16:33 we learn that Sheol, or Hades, is somewhere inside
the earth. They, and all that appertained to them went down alive
into Sheol, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among
the congregation. From Luke 16:19-31 we see that Hades was in
two compartments: Abrahams Bosom, the place of the departed righteous,
where Lazarus went; and the place of torment, where the rich man went.
A great gulf separated these two sections.
B. At the Time of the Cross.
Under this heading we shall deal with only two persons, the Lord Jesus, and the penitent thief. Upon death, the Lord Jesus went to Hades. We know this from Psalm 16:10, which says, Thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine holy one to see corruption. The Apostle Peter, on the day of Pentecost, quoted from this same passage, but, of course, he used the Greek word Hades, instead of Sheol. These words describe the resurrection of Christ, while fully stating that he went to Hades. We see this by the use of the word leave. The Holy Ghost would not have employed the word leave if he had not gone there. As to the thief on the cross, he went to Hades with Jesus, into the compartment reserved for the righteous dead. Today shalt thou be with me in paradise (Luke 23: 43b). How many days was Jesus in Hades? Three days. On the first of the three days, the thief was to be with Jesus in paradise; therefore, we learn that paradise was another name given to Abrahams Bosom, which was the place of the righteous dead.
C. After the Cross.
Now where do the departed go at death? The unrighteous still go to
Sheol (Hades), awaiting the last judgment.
IV. THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST
A. The Importance of the Doctrine.
It is said that one out of every twenty-five verses of the New Testament speaks of the Second Coming, while in the Old Testament there are eight verses concerning the Second Coming to every verse concerning the First Coming. In the promise of a Redeemer (Gen. 3:15), the Second Coming is mentioned before the First Coming. It shall bruise thy head [occurs at the Second Coming], and thou shalt bruise his heel [occurred at the First Coming, upon the Cross].
1. Testimony of Our Lord. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also (John 14:3). See also Matthew 24, 25; Mark 13; Luke 21.
2. Testimony of Angels. Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:11).
3. Testimony of Peter. He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you (Acts 3:20). See also I Peter 5:4; II Peter 1:16.
4. Testimony of Paul. I thank my God always on your behalf . . . that in every thing ye are enriched by him . . . so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:4-7). See also Romans 11:26: I Corinthians 15:23; II Corinthians 5; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:4; I Thessalonians (all); II Thessalonians 1:7, 10; I Timothy 6:14; II Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 9:28.
5. Testimony of James. The prophets, quoted by James, represent the Lord as saying, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up (Acts 15:16). See also James 5:7.
6. Testimony of John. Beloved, now are we the Sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is (I John 3:2). See also I John 2:28, and the Book of Revelation.
7. Testimony of Jude. Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints (Jude 14).
B. The Meaning of the Second Coming.
C. The Events of the Second Coming in Relation to the Body of Christ.
As we deal with the Rapture of the Church, we recognize the fact that the word rapture is not a Scriptural word. The Rapture is, however, a Scriptural fact.
1. The Resurrection of the Dead in Christ. The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first (I Thess. 4:16). The very first thing that happens is the resurrection of the body of Christ. Certainly this will include all who die before reaching the age of accountability, such as babes, the mentally retarded, and the like. If Christ does not come, there will be no resurrection, and if no resurrection, then man shall be an eternal spirit. If diamonds can be made from soot, sapphire from clay, and opals from sand, what will God make out of our bodies? It will be wonderful, will it not?
2. The Renovation of the Living in Christ. Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. . . . and we shall be changed. . . . And this mortal must put on immortality (I Cor. 15:51-53). The Christian is one who is not looking for death, but for the conqueror of death. The words we shall not all sleep mean we shall not all die. What a glorious hope this is! What a shout that will be that day! O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (I Cor. 15:55). Isnt it a blessed hope that it is possible for us to go without dying? No man, not even a Christian, wants to die. That is natural. The Christian, however, is one who is not afraid to die. The Christian is the only person who has a hope of never seeing death. Yes, we know the Scripture says, It is appointed unto men once to die. But the Scripture does not only say all men! The changing of us who are alive and remain at His coming is not death, for we shall not all die!
3. The Rapture of All in Christ. Now we beseech you, brethren,
by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together
unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind . . . as that the day of
the Lord is at hand (II Thess. 2:1, 2). The above Scripture, and
the phrase, we all shall be changed, eliminates the possibility
of a partial rapture. The entire Body of Christ will be raptured (caught
up); it will be a rapture, and not a rupture. The Body of Christ will
be complete. No member of His Body will be left to go through the Tribulation.
Some say, How can this be? God took Elijah up without death;
He can take a million, or ten million up just as easily.
We should live soberly, righteously, and godly . . . looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). What do we mean by looking for Christ? It does not mean that we believe that He may come at any moment, but that we are looking for Him to come. Are you looking for Him today? Are you looking for Him tonight? That is what the Scripture means by looking for Him.
V. THE ANTICHRIST
I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Gen. 3:15). While this verse speaks of Christ as the seed of the woman, it also prophetically declares the Antichrist as being the seed of the serpent. The seed of the serpent, the Antichrist, is mentioned first in the first book of the Bible, and described fully in the last book of the Bible; it can be traced in between as well. This is very significant.
A. His Person.
The Early Church taught that Nero was the Antichrist, and that when he died he would be raised from the dead. In the eleventh century the Waldenses, Hussites and Wycliffites declared that the Roman Catholic Church was the Antichrist. The Roman Catholic Church, in turn, declared that Napoleon was the Antichrist. During World War I Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was thought to be the Man of Sin. Many men will be proposed for this office, but it is useless to speculate, for he will not be revealed until after the Rapture of the Church (II Thess. 2:1-12).
He Is a Man! Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is six hundred three score and six (Rev. 13:18). Notice the Scripture says he has the number of a man. Mans number is 6. God says his number is 6-6-6: he is a man; he is a man; he is a man! He is not the Roman Catholic Church; he is not a system; he is a man. He will rule in Jerusalem, and not in Rome.
1. He Will Be a Jew. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers (Dan. 11:37a). God of his fathers means Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am come in my Fathers name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive (John 5:43). The word another implies another Jew. The name Antichrist is a Jewish title, and the Jews will not accept a Gentile as their Messiah.
2. He Will Be a Genius. He will be the most remarkable man the world
has ever seen apart from Jesus Christ.
B. His Titles.
1. Man of Sin. This is the most important and most terrible of all his titles. All the sins of man will be embodied and headed up in him. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition (II Thess. 2:3).
2. Son of Perdition. The above Scripture declares him to be the son
of perdition, also (II Thess. 2:3).
4. The Lie. God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a [the] lie (II Thess. 2:11). Jesus Christ is the Truth; the Antichrist is the Lie. John 8:44 says that the Devil is a liar and the father of it. It refers to the lie.
5. The Antichrist. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time (I John 2:18).
6. King of Babylon. Babylon is always the seat of Satan. Babylon shall be revived in the last days, and the Antichrist shall reign over it (Rev. 17 and 18).
7. The Little Horn. Out of one of them came forth a little horn which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land. . . And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up (Dan. 8:9, 23). See also Daniel 7:8.
8. The Willful King. The king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done (Dan. 11:36).
9. The Assyrian. O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation (Is. 10:5). See also Isaiah 10:12, 24.
10. The Beast. (Rev. 13, 17, 19).
C. His Forerunners.
Some are seen in the Scriptures, and some out of the Scriptures.
2. Nimrod. His history preceded the calling of Abraham to the Promised Land. The Antichrist will precede the call of the seed of Abraham and enter into the Promised Land the second time. Nimrod means rebel, While the Scriptures speak of him as being a mighty hunter, in reality he was not a hunter of animals, but a hunter of souls. He was a mighty man against the Lord. So the Antichrist will be.
3. Saul. This king of Israel was demanded by the people, but he was against the anointed of the Lord. The Antichrist will be the choice of the people also, and he will be against Gods anointed.
4. Absalom. Absalom means father of peace; yet he denied his father. He posed as a man of peace and tried to steal the kingdom. So will the Antichrist.
6. Antiochus Epiphanes. He was the mad man who sacked Jerusalem, killing four hundred thousand Jews. He took a sow and burned it upon the altar. The Antichrist, too, shall profane the altar.
7. Alexander the Great. He was known as the Unsatisfier. He was a military genius who never suffered defeat. He sought to be worshiped as the Son of God. The same will be true of the Antichrist.
8. Caias Caligula. This Roman Emperor was considered mad. No doubt he was possessed by a demon. The Antichrist shall be fully possessed by the Devil.
9. Nero. During his life he was thought to be the Antichrist by the early Christians. Many believed that when he died he would be raised from the dead. The Antichrist shall be raised from the dead.
10. Charlemagne. This man was considered a great warrior and statesman. The Antichrist shall he considered the same.
11. Napoleon. He thought to revive the Holy Roman Empire. This figurative empire is considered to comprise those countries whose lands are washed by the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Napoleon planned a new Jewish kingdom and Sanhedrin. The Antichrist will accomplish many of these same plans.
12. Kaiser Wilhelm. This leader of the German Empire had the same objective as Napoleon. It is said that every general carried a map of the Holy Roman Empire.
13. Mussolini. There were no doubts as to the objectives of this man. At one time he made a map of the old Roman Empire and included England in it. England protested, but the map remained. The Antichrist will not only make a map, but he will make a kingdom with all empires in it.
D. His Work.
His work shall be motivated by Satan, ruling the world and trying to destroy the Jew (Is. 10:12-27).
F. His Career.
No doubt he comes to the ascendancy of world rule in the seventieth week of Daniel. He demands to be worshiped as God at this time, and thus he marks the beginning of The Day of the LORD.
F. His Time.
He has not yet been revealed, but it is possible in the light of present-day events, that somewhere in the world he is alive today. He will not appear as the Antichrist until the old Roman Empire is revived, composed of the ten-toed kingdom of Daniel 2 and the ten-horned beast of Revelation 13 and 17. Another thing that must come to pass before he is revealed is the Rapture of the Church.
G. His Appearance.
He shall be a Jew by birth, a Roman by citizenship, and a Syrian by nationality. Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land (Dan. 8:9). He marches on to conquer the nations of the south, and the east, and the west, He does not conquer the north, for that is where he shall come from Syria!
H. His End.
Then shall that lawless one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (II Thess. 2:8). See also Revelation 19:20.
VI. THE TRIBULATION
There are three distinct tribulations in the Scriptures, and unless they are distinguished from each other, confusion will result. While the Word says that the Body of Christ is enduring tribulation, it also says that Israel shall have tribulation. Then there shall be three and one-half years of great tribulation, such as the world has never seen. At this point many get confused by the combination of these three into one tribulation. They are distinctly separate, however. First, there is the Tribulation of the Church, which is for the Body of Christ and is now present. Second, there is the Tribulation known as Jacobs Trouble, which lasts seven years and is future. Finally, there is the Great Tribulation, which commences in the midst of Jacobs Trouble and lasts for three and one-half years. The first Tribulation is for the Church and is brought about by Satan. The second Tribulation is upon Israel and is brought by God. The Great Tribulation is pronounced upon Israel and the world and is brought by God through Satan.
A. The Tribulation of the Body of Christ.
There is no denying that the Church is enduring tribulation. For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know (I Thess. 3:4). Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12). It is the nature of the Church to suffer. The world lieth in the hands of the wicked one; we being of heavenly origin, are bound to be persecuted by Satan and his cohorts. The Church is a Body; as it is natural for it to suffer, one member may be suffering while the others are not; yet, one member cannot be hurt without the entire body suffering.
Paul, in speaking to the Colossians, said, [I] now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his bodys sake, which is the church (Col. 1:24). Notice that the word afflictions is the Greek word thlipsis, meaning tribulation. This is the same word that is used of the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation. Also, we call attention to the words afflictions of Christ: the definite article should appear before Christ, making it read the afflictions of the Christ. Thus, it is the Tribulation of the Christ, or the Body of Christ, the Church. As it is natural for the Body to suffer, and as the Colossians were not suffering, Paul had to make up for what was lacking on the part of the Colossians. He so states in this verse. If this were not so, how could he be suffering for the Colossians? He had never been there; he only knew a few of the Christians there; he was in Rome, hundreds of miles away from them, How could his suffering in Rome be effective for them in Colosse? The only answer is that he had to make up for the lack of suffering on the part of the Colossians. In Colossians 1:13 Paul speaks of the Church as being the kingdom of Gods dear Son, and then in verse 24 he emphasizes its sufferings, or tribulation.
John states the same thing in Revelation 1:9 (R.V.): I John, your brother and partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and patience which are in Jesus, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. Verily, the Church is enduring tribulation it is the Tribulation of the Christ.
B. The Tribulation of Israel.
A more familiar term is Jacobs Trouble. Alas! for that day is great. so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacobs trouble, but he shall be saved out of it (Jer. 30:7).
This period lasts for seven years, and is known as the 70th week of
Daniel. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon
thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins,
and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting
righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint
the most Holy. Know, therefore, and understand, that from the going
forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the
Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks:
the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.
And after three score and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not
for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy
the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood,
and unto the end of the war desolations are determined, And he shall
confirm the covenant with many for one week (Dan. 9:24-27).
The Church will not go through any part of this seven-year Tribulation. The fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation fully describe the Rapture of the Church before the Tribulation. Chapters six through nineteen then deal with the Tribulation. The Tribulation is identified when the Antichrist confirms the covenant with the Jews. It is concluded with the revelation of Christ in judgment.
C. The Great Tribulation.
While it is still Jacobs Trouble, judgment shall be intensified the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation. It is marked by the breaking of the covenant by the Antichrist, and by the revelation of the Antichrist as the Lie. In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the over-spreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (Dan. 9:27). The Lord Jesus re-emphasized this truth when He added some details to the above quoted Scripture: When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains. . . . For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be (Matt. 24:15, 16, 21). From the words of Daniel and the Lord Jesus we learn that in the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist breaks his covenant with the Jews, causes the revived sacrificial rites to come to an end, and places himself in the holy place, which is described as the abomination of desolation. II Thessalonians 2:4 describes this event in added detail: the Antichrist opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
During this last three and one-half years, when the Antichrist shall demand to be worshiped as God, man will not be able to buy or sell without his mark (Rev. 13:17).
Many times the question is asked, Will anyone be saved during
the Tribulation (including the Great Tribulation)? Yes, people
will be saved, even during the first three and one-half years of the
Tribulation. The departure of the saints will convince many unbelievers
of the truth of the Gospel; however, these believers will not be part
of the Body of Christ. Some may question these statements by using the
following verses: Then shall that lawless one be revealed, whom
the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy
with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the
working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with
all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they
received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for
this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe
a [the] lie: that they all might be damned who believe not the truth,
but had pleasure in unrighteousness (II Thess. 2:8-12).
The natural question then arises, Will anyone be saved during the last three and one-half years? Revelation 7 declares emphatically that there shall be countless numbers of Jews and Gentiles saved during this period, known as the Great Tribulation. Those saved during the Great Tribulation will be those who have never heard the Gospel and have not taken the mark of the beast. Their salvation will be brought about by the preaching of a great evangelistic movement, which will be composed, we believe, of the 144,000 Israelites (Rev. 7:4-8).
You may ask, How, then, will it be possible for them to be saved
when the Holy Spirit has been taken up out of the world? Let us
turn to Moffatts translation and read: For the secret force
of lawlessness is at work already; only, it cannot be revealed till
he who at present restrains it is removed (II Thess. 2:7). The
Holy Spirit will not be taken up out of the earth, but will take His
restraining hand off sinful man and give him up fully to his sin. The
Holy Spirit will still be here, for He is omnipresent. He will not manifest
himself during the Great Tribulation as He did before the dispensation
of grace. Again we remind you that the Great Tribulation ends with the
coming of Christ to this earth.
Whenever a great battle is fought, people fear that it is the Battle of Armageddon. In order clearly to understand this battle, let us find out first what it is not, and then what it is.
A. What It Is Not.
1. It Is Not World Wars I and II.
2. It Is Not the First Battle of Gog and Magog. This battle is composed of the forces of the Northern confederacy (Russia and her allies). It is not much of a battle, but God rains fire and brimstone upon the armies and country. This occurs at the beginning of the Tribulation.
3. It Is Not the War in Heaven. This battle is described in Revelation 12:7-17. It concerns the forces of Satan being defeated by Michael and his army.
4. It Is Not the Second Battle of Gog and Magog. This is the concluding battle of all battles, whether physical or spiritual. It is fought after the Millennium, when Satan is loosed for a season and deceives the Gentile peoples (Rev. 20:7-9). Fire comes down from heaven and destroys them.
B. What It Is.
1. The Participants. I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army (Rev. 19:19). This is the seed of the serpent fighting against the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). It is the conflict between Christ and the Antichrist.
2. The Place. The plain of Esdraelon is the place of this battle.
It is an ancient battleground. Gideon fought there; Saul and Jonathan
were killed there; Josiah was killed by Pharaoh there; the Greeks and
Romans battled there; and Napoleon suffered his first defeat there.
4. The End. The end of this battle results in the complete annihilation of the Antichrists army. The Antichrist and the False Prophet are then cast alive into Hell. The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev. 19:20).
VIII. THE MILLENNIUM
The Millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ immediately following the Great Tribulation. Millennium is not a Scriptural word, but it is a Scriptural truth.
A. The Fact of the Millennium.
1. The Lord Has Decreed It (Ps. 2).
2. Christ Taught It (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).
3. The Scriptures Teach It (Is. 2, 11).
4. The Psalmist Described It (Ps. 72).
6. The Transfiguration Pictures It (Matt. 16:28; 17:1).
7. A Gospel Outlines It (Mark 6:45-56).
8. The Apostles Preached It (Acts 2, 3).
9. Nature Longs For It. (Rom. 8).
B. The Description of the Millennium.
1. The Thousand Years (Rev. 21:1-7).
3. The Day of the LORD (Rev. 6:12-17; Joel 2:10, 11,30, 31; Hag. 2:6,7;
Matt. 24; Zech. 14:1-5).
5. The Restitution of All Things. (The Lord] shall send Jesus
Christ. . . . whom the heavens must receive until the times of restitution
of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets
since the world began (Acts 3:20, 21). Some use this verse as
meaning the restitution of Christ-rejecting sinners, and even the Devil.
But notice that the above verse says, which God hath spoken by
the mouth of all his holy prophets. The prophets say nothing of
the restitution of the Devil and sinners.
6. The Regeneration of All Things (Matt. 19:18; Is. 32).
1. The Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25).
D. The Conditions During the Millennium.
1. The Church, It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him we also shall live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (II Tim. 2:11, 12). Wherever the Lord shall be, there we shall be with Him (I Thess. 4:17). We shall reign, and we shall judge over angels and the world. I Corinthians 6:2, 3 says, Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world. . . . Know ye not that we shall judge angels?
2. Satan. Satan shall be sealed and bound for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-7). The Antichrist is cast into the lake of fire before that (Rev. 19:20).
3. Israel. She shall become the head of all nations again, and will not remain the tail as she is today (Is. 2:1-4; 11:3, 4; 61:5; Zech. 8:23; Deut. 28:13).
4. The Nations of the World. All nations will have to come up to Jerusalem
year by year and worship Jehovah there. If they do not keep the yearly
Feast of Tabernacles, God will cause no rain to fall upon that nation
(Zech. 14:16; Is. 2).
IX. THE JUDGMENTS
A. Judgments of the Christian.
1. Judgment on Sin. When did this occur? For the Christian this is a past judgment, for all of our sins were judged at Calvary. Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit (I Peter 3:18). Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (I Peter 2:24). See also Galatians 3:13; John 3:16; Isaiah 53:5,6.
2. Judgment on Christian Service. No Christian will have to be judged
for his sins; they have already been judged upon the Cross of Calvary.
The Christian will have to answer to God for his works. We must
all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive
the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether
it be good or bad (II Cor. 5:10). Yes, the Christian has escaped
the future judgment of the wicked (Verily, verily, I say unto
you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me hath
eternal life, and cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death
into life John 5:24, R.V.), but he shall stand before the
judgment seat of Christ to receive rewards for the deeds done in the
body. The words, judgment seat, are from the Greek word
Bema, better translated Rewarding Stand. This
will be set up when Christ comes. Behold, I come quickly; and
my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall
be (Rev. 22:12).
B. Judgment of the Nations.
This takes place at the beginning of the Millennium, the thousand year reign (Matt. 25:31-46). A better name for nations is Gentiles. This is the judgment of all Gentiles who come out of the Tribulation alive. There are three classes of people mentioned: sheep, goats and brethren. The brethren are the Jews; the sheep are the righteous; and the goats are the unrighteous.
The righteous (sheep, Gentiles) go into the kingdom, then on to eternal
life. The unrighteous (goats, Gentiles) are sent immediately to the
lake of fire; therefore, they will not be judged at the Great White
Throne. They go there a thousand years sooner than the wicked dead.
The unrighteous nations (goats, Gentiles) are cast into hell because of their unbelief. They rejected the brethren, thus rejecting Christ.
C. Judgment at the Great White Throne.
This great judgment is found in Revelation 20:11-15: I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books according to their works. It is the judgment only of the wicked dead who have been raised at the last resurrection. No born-again believer shall appear here. The wicked dead are not to be tried as to whether they are going to heaven or hell; it has already been determined that they are going to hell, for they died condemned (John 3:18). This judgment is to determine the degrees of punishment, according to their works (Rev. 20:13).
There are two witnesses against them: The Book, and the Books; that is, the Book of Life, and the Book of Works. We do not know what the different degrees of punishment will be.
X. AFTER THE MILLENNIUM
When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breath of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them (Rev. 20:7-9).
This is the war that ends all war. It is the final conflict of the universe.
A. Satan Loosed.
B. Nations Gathered.
We ask ourselves, Who could Satan organize among the Gentiles to fight
against God? None other but those unsaved who are ninety-nine years
old and younger, who have been born during the last century of the Millennium.
C. Army Destroyed.
Fire comes down from heaven and destroys them.
D. Satan Doomed.
He is then cast into the lake of fire prepared for him and his angels.
XI. TH FUTURE OF THE WICKED.
It is not hard to think of everlasting life, but it is hard to think of an eternity in hell; nevertheless, it is true.
A. The Scriptural Teaching.
1. There Will Be a Day of Judgment (Acts 17:30, 31).
3. It Is Eternal (Mark 9:43-48). See also Matt. 13.
4. There Will Be Degrees of Punishment (Rev. 20:12; Rom. 2:5, 6).
5. There Will Be a Resurrection of the Unjust As Well As of the Just
7. All Is Based Upon the Character of God as Righteous.
B. The Terms Used.
The following are the places where wicked human beings and angels are,
or shall be sent to:
5. Tophet. Tophet is the Old Testament Hebrew word meaning the same as Gehenna.
6. Abyss. This is the place of fallen angels, human beings are never placed here (Rom. 10:7).
7. Lake of Fire. This is found only in the Book of the Revelation. Its meaning is the same as Gehenna.
8. Eternal. Sometimes this word is translated everlasting.
The meaning is the same. The punishment of the wicked is eternal.
C. The Theories Proposed.
1. Universalism. This is the belief that all will finally be saved, including the Devil. What would the words judge and judgments mean if they did not mean judge or judgment. When God speaks about eternal judgment, He means eternal judgment (Acts 3:21-24; I Cor. 15:22; Matt. 18:9; John 3:36).
2. Conditionalism. This false teaching was not found in the Early Church, but it first made its appearance in the nineteenth century. It was reasoned that eternal life is based upon the acceptance of Jesus Christ. If one accepts Him, he has eternal life. If he does not accept Him, he will never live; non-acceptance in this life will result in non-existence in the future life. There is no Scriptural foundation for this theory.
3. Everlasting Punishment. This is based upon Biblical truth, which connects sin with punishment. All sins committed are committed against eternity. He who sins by rejecting Jesus Christ shall endure eternal punishment.
The Scriptures teach that there are three heavens:
A. First Heaven.This is the region of the clouds where the birds fly, the atmospheric heaven.
B. Second Heaven. This is the stellar heaven, where the stars are located.
C. Third Heaven. This is the place where God lives; it is the place where Jesus came from.
The Lord Jesus went through the first and second heaven to get to the
third heaven. Having then a great high priest, who has passed
through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession
(Heb. 4:14, R.V.).
Is heaven foursquare? Is it a cube? What will man have for his future home? Will it be a small cubby hole in a square city? Is heaven only fifteen hundred miles square? While the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21,22) is foursquare, this is only a city of heaven, which descends as a present for the Bride.
Those who go there will live in perfect peace and perfect love for all time and eternity. Ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels (Heb. 12:22).