July 31, 2011 on 1:17 pm | In REVELATION AND CURRENT EVENTS | Comments Off on HOW WILL THE WORLD END?

I recently read a feature online entitled, “How is America Going to End? Top 144 Scenarios.” Unfortunately, not one of the 144 listed the true Biblical picture. I confess to being surprised. I thought surely at least one would suggest the Biblical model. But what, then, is the Biblical model? Actually, the Biblical model includes not just America, but the whole world.

The most popular view is that God’s people will be raptured (caught up to heaven) secretly–it won’t be known till after the fact, as planes and cars crash without pilots or drivers, etc., (thus it is sometimes called the “secret rapture”). This is followed by 7 years of tribulation and finally the 2nd coming of Jesus. He comes to earth and reigns during the millennium (1000 years).

The fact is, the Bible knows nothing of a secret rapturing of the saints. But doesn’t it say, “One will be taken and the other left”? Matthew 24:41, 42 do mention that, but the verses say nothing of it being a secret event. Some have assumed what the text does not state. The only rapturing (catching up) of the saints described in the Bible is a very noisy and visible happening. Note 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Note that there is a shout, a voice, a trumpet, a resurrection, and Christ does not settle down on earth, but rather we are caught up to meet Him in the air and go to be with the Lord. This harmonizes with Jesus’ own words in John 14:1-3, when He said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Note that the places He is preparing are in His Father’s house, not here on earth at that time. He comes back to receive us to Himself, in the air as Thessalonians stated, to take us back to heaven to be with Him where He is. In addition, Jesus described His coming this way in Matthew 24:27, 31: “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be…And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

But, someone says, what about the Bible statement that His coming will be like a thief in the night? (Matthew 24:43) It does say that, but it still doesn’t say it will be secret. In fact, when Peter uses that same phrase, it is in the context of a catastrophic meltdown (2 Peter 3:10): “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” That doesn’t sound very secret, does it? There is a great noise and even the elements start melting. Fortunately, God’s people have been caught up to meet Jesus in the air, so they don’t have to suffer through this burning. Revelation 19:11-21 adds to this picture, portraying the enemies of Christ being cast into the lake of fire “and the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse.”

The idea of all this is that His coming has an element of surprise. If you knew that a thief was coming to rob your house on a specific night, you would have the police waiting to arrest him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way–he comes at a time when he is not expected. And that is the major point Jesus consistently makes when He says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.” Matthew 24:44. While His coming is expected because of His promise, the exact time has not been revealed, in spite of man’s best efforts to figure it out. But we wouldn’t use that information wisely if we did know, so Jesus simply tells us to be ready at all times–He will come at a time we don’t expect. And if I should die tonight, that is the same as if He came again, as far as my lifetime of probation is concerned, thus the need to always be ready.

It was mentioned earlier that we are caught up to meet Him in the air–He doesn’t settle down here at that time. Thus Revelation 20:6, “they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” We have already shown that that will be in heaven. Meanwhile, Satan has been bound during this thousand year period (v. 2, 3) “that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished.” Since they are all dead, destroyed at Christ’s second coming, and the saints have gone to be with Jesus during that time, Satan is stuck here in solitary confinement to brood over his coming judgment. Remember that there are two resurrections according to Jesus in John 5:28, 29: “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil , to the resurrection of condemnation.” We saw in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17 that the “dead in Christ” were resurrected at the beginning of the 1000 years when Jesus comes to get His saints to live with Him for the 1000 years (i.e. the resurrection of life). Revelation 20:5 says that “the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.” Now what?

Apparently the New Jerusalem with Jesus and His saints have come back to this earth at the end of the 1000 years as John saw in Revelation 21:1. Two things happen then. Revelation 20:7 says “Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison…” What does that mean? It seems that now those who “did not live again until the thousand years were finished” are now resurrected (the resurrection of condemnation we read about in John 5:29) so Satan “will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” Thus we know that the New Jerusalem is now on earth and Satan and his followers apparently plan to conquer the city. At this time all people who have ever lived are in one place at the same time. The saved are inside the city and the lost are outside the city. There are only these two classes. At this time the final judgment and execution take place as the Book of Life is revealed to everybody (see verses 11-15 of Revelation 20). The righteous, of course, have already been judged worthy and are inside the city. The wicked now see God’s justice and fairness in their cases and they see why they were excluded. But finally verse 15 states, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Verse 9 had already foretold their fate: “And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.”
In Matthew 25:41 Jesus had said this fire was originally “prepared for the devil and his angels.” But Revelation 21:8 adds that “the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murders, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” This is the sad and tragic end for so many and ultimately the final extermination (the second death) from which there is no resurrection. This death is the result of the intense burning. Now the devil and all his followers are no more. There is a clean universe–no need to shy away from some forbidden eternal hell location. Malachi 4:3 says the burning results in ashes. However, Revelation 21:1 describes “a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.”

The rest of Revelation goes on to describe the glorious new earth and city God is preparing for His people. He will live with them and there will be no more crying, pain, death, etc. It will be glorious and bright and we can live forever with One who so loved us He gave His life so that we might live with Him forever. God longs for us to be among those who will be forever saved. It is still our opportunity now to respond in love and trust to such an incredible and awesome God.

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