This is the last installment in my series on the End Times. Previously, I discussed the second coming of Jesus along with events leading up to His return. I have attempted to show that the gathering, a.k.a. the Rapture, of the elect really takes place after Jesus’ return because of the four preconditions that I presented earlier.1
Interestingly, nineteen of the twenty-two chapters in the book of Revelation deal with events preceding Jesus’ return and the myriad of judgments that are prophesied against the unbelieving world. Only three chapters are dedicated to Christ’s thousand year reign, a.k.a. The Millennium; God’s final judgment; the new heaven and new earth; and the New Jerusalem.
Speaking of judgments, isn’t it peculiar that even in the midst of all the terrible judgments being inflicted upon the earth, people will still refuse to believe and repent as indicated in the following verses:
(20) The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk;
(21) and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.
(9) Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory.
(10) Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened; and they gnawed their tongues because of pain,
(11) and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds.
According to Revelation chapter 16, verses 9 and 11, men clearly knew who was responsible for causing the plagues they were suffering—it was God. How much more evidence do they need? Even so, they refuse to believe; so much for the saying “seeing is believing.” Just as there were many who did not believe Jesus when He appeared the first time two-thousand years ago, there will be many who will not believe Him at His second appearance, even though they will see Him with their own eyes!
Before I get into the topics planned for this post, I’d like to clarify the statement I made in my last post where I said that I hold to a “literal interpretation” of Revelation. This is somewhat of a bold statement since most of the language in Revelation is obviously figurative. Well…maybe not so obvious. For example, in Revelation chapter 8, verse 8 it says, “The first sounded, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were thrown to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.” I interpret “hail and fire, mixed with blood” as figurative but the results of a third of the earth, trees, and grass being burned up as literal. Another example of this type of literary device is the description of the locusts from the bottomless pit in Revelation chapter 9, verses 8 through 10:
(8) They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions.
(9) They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle.
(10) They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months.
I interpret the description of the locusts as figurative but their ability to hurt men for five months as literal. In both of these examples, as well as many others that can be found in Revelation, I believe that the means are figurative but the results are literal.
The Millennium refers to Christ’s thousand year reign on earth which begins after the beast and false prophet are defeated along with their armies; and Satan is bound and thrown in the abyss. (Rev. 19:17-19) (Rev. 20:1-3) For the beast and false prophet, their judgment is swift; they have the distinct privilege of being the first to be thrown alive in to the lake of fire. (Rev. 19:20) Contrary to what you may have been told, Hell, or Hades, is not the final place of torment for unbelievers, it’s really the lake of fire.
During Jesus’ thousand year reign on earth, who will He reign over and will He reign alone? I believe that those that He will reign over are those that did not take the mark of the beast for whatever reason. I derive my theory from Matthew chapter 24 and Revelation chapter 19:
Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.
From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.
Jesus clearly indicates, as recorded for us by Matthew, that there will be survivors of the “tribulation” of those days. But why for the sake of the elect? Could it be that those who survive and are still alive will be those that Jesus and His elect will rule over “with a rod of iron” for a thousand years?
After the thousand years are over, Satan is unleashed and he immediately goes out to incite the nations to attack the “camp of the saints” (Rev. 20:9) but the attackers are all wiped out by fire that comes down from heaven and Satan is thrown in the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:10) As has been proven again and again, unregenerate people will never accept Jesus as their ruler as prophesied in the parable, “But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’” (Luke 19:14)
The Final Judgment
The Great White Throne Judgement is where all the unbelievers will find themselves after the thousand year reign of Christ is over. Except for the elect, no else is left alive on the earth, all have died.
After death and Hades, or Hell, are emptied of their inhabitants, they are both thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:14) Another interesting fact to note here is that not only is Hades, a real place, thrown into the lake of fire but death as well. Death is certainly a reference back to the curse God pronounced on His creation as a result of Adam’s transgression. The curse that God pronounced in Genesis is removed but not eliminated in that it is assigned to the lake of fire. In the end, all those who appear at the throne of God in judgment will not have the curse removed from them; they will have to endure it in the lake of fire continuously forever. (Rev. 20:10)
The New Jerusalem
I clearly remember being taught on many occasions that the Church is the bride of Christ. Jesus’ parable of the wise virgins as recorded in Matthew chapter 25 is frequently used to teach that the wise virgins are a metaphor for the Church and since they went in with the bridegroom (Jesus) to the wedding feast, they must be the bride. The problem with this interpretation is that Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins in Matthew chapter 25 is really about being ready for His second coming, and not about the bride of Christ’s identity. However, the bride of Christ’s identity is revealed for us in Revelation chapter 21:
(9) Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, ‘Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.’
(10) And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,
(11) having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper.
Besides, isn’t it true that the bride is the one who sends the wedding invitations, not the one who receives the invitation? Clearly, the Church is not the bride but the guest.
The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
Gerard Sczepura, “The End Times: Jesus’ Return According to Revelation,” Theological Ruminations (blog), July 15, 2015, http://gerardsczepura.com/?p=650. ↩