Theology (part ten): Eschatology, the Study of the Last Things (End Times); Pre-, Post-, & A- Millennialism; Covenants; Israel; Rapture; Tribulation
Eschatology - The Study of Things to Come
The word eschatology is from the word escatoV eschatos which means last or final. So eschatology is the study of last things. We commonly call it the study of end times. Much more is involved in the study of eschatology than the end of the world. Eschotology includes any part of scripture that speaks of events in the future from when it was written. Generally when we refer to the word we use the prophecies that have been fulfilled as a basis to study the prophecies that are yet in the future in our day.
Foundational understanding of the eschatology is built on the covenants that God has established in the past particularly with Abraham, the nation of Israel and David. There is a wide range of interpretation concerning eschatology but as we have studied through church history and theology we have seen that all areas of theology have been, and continue at some extent, to be controversial. The church yet debates on the meaning of the Trinity, baptism, the deity of Christ, the sovereignty of God, the gifts of the Spirit, forms of church government, the authority of scripture and on and on. It is no different with the area of theology we call eschatology. A large portion of the Scriptures deal with future events because God wants us to know where we are going. Eschatology is a source of joy (2 Corinthians 4:17), a reason for holiness (1 John 3:3), a proof of Scripture, a testimony to God’s nature, a revelation of God’s plan and information about who we are and where we are going. Like all Scripture, the study of eschatology is:
“. . . useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of
God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16
A covenant is similar to a contract, a deal, an agreement, a testament. There are two types of covenants that God makes with man: conditional covenant and unconditional covenant.
- Conditional Covenant – is a covenant involves the formula “if you will . . . then I will.” God’s obligation to fulfill the promises he gives in the covenant are based on man doing, keeping or obeying the decrees and expectations set down in the covenant. An example of a conditional covenant in scripture is the Mosaic Covenant made with Israel at Mt. Sinai. This form of covenant was used throughout the ancient world between powerful leaders and a needy group of people and was called a suzerain-vassal treaty.
- Unconditional Covenant – is a covenant where the sovereign God declares an agreement with man and obligates himself with the simple formula “I will”. In this case man is the recipient of what God has promised based simply on the fact that God made the promise. It indicates something God is going to do and it is not based on man’s performance. Examples of unconditional covenants are the Abrahamic Covenant and the Davidic Covenant. This form of covenant was called a Royal Grant Treaty in the ancient world and would occur when a king desired to award something to one of his subjects.
The Abrahamic Covenant is introduced in Genesis 12:2-3 when God said to Abram, the Chaldean from Ur:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The Abrahamic Covenant included these things:
- A great nation
- A blessing
- A great name for Abraham
- People would be blessed or cursed based on their treatment of Abraham and his people
- People would be blessed through Abraham
There were no requirements or time limits. These are things God was going to do. Eschatological we are interested in the establishment of a nation that was going to carry an unconditional promise of being blessed for the purpose of blessing all other people.
In Genesis 15:1-21 the Abrahamic Covenant is actually cut or signed in a covenant ceremony where God clarifies that this covenant also included a section of land:
“On that the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates.” Genesis 15:18
The land God speaks of is the land of Canaan. The land we know as Palestine or Israel plus parts of Lebanon, Syria. So, in addition to an unconditional covenant of blessing the nation coming from Abraham God also unconditionally gave this nation the land of Israel.
The Davidic Covenant is introduced in 2 Samuel 7:11-16 when God speaks to David through the prophet Nathan:
“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son . . . Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be establishes forever.”
This is another unconditional covenant. David receives a promise of son who will reign on a throne in a dynasty from David that will last forever.
The David Covenant combined with the Abrahamic Covenant has established forever:
- A blessed nation which is Israel
- A land for Israel which is to become known as the Promised Land
- A dynasty of the house of David ruling this nation in the Promised Land
Interpreting these covenants and understanding their application are foundational to your views of eschatology. There are three basic views of the end times that are based on interpreting these covenants as figurative or literal. Do these covenants represent something that could be fulfilled with spiritual realities such as believers in Jesus Christ are Abraham’s promised people, the Promised Land is Heaven and the eternal king is Jesus having ascended to heaven. Or do these covenants mean a literal nation from Abraham, in the literal Promised Land being reigned over by an eternal, physical son of David?
Postmillennialism, Premillennialism and Amillennialism
The word millennium refers to a period of time spanning 1,000 years. The Scriptures do not use the term “millennium” but they often speak of the kingdom, the day of the Lord, a reign of the Messiah or Christ and in Revelation 20:2-7 the reference to a period of a thousand years is mentioned six times. Different groups of Christians approach the concept of a 1,000 year millennial reign of the Christ, the royal son of David from these three basic positions:
- Postmillennialism – “post-” means “after and indicates that Jesus will return at the end of this long period of peace and prosperity which is figuratively spoken as a thousand years. During this “thousand years” the world will eventually be Christianized, and through the church the world will experience the triumph over evil both in the world and in the heart of man. The church will produce a golden age on earth. The church is spiritually fulfilling the physical promises given to Abraham, David and the Jews thus satisfying the unconditional covenants. The church age is the reign of Christ in a spiritual kingdom. Jesus will be seated in heaven during this time but will return at the end of the “millennium” at the second coming to judge the world.
- History of postmillennialism – In the 1100’s it was presented that there were three ages of history: Adam to John the Baptist (the age of the Father), Jesus to St. Benedict (500 AD) (the age of the Son) and St. Benedict to the predicted year of 1260 AD when righteousness would begin to triumph. In the 1600’s a Unitarian heretic, Daniel Whitby, taught that the world would be Christianized, the Jews restored to the Promised Land and the pope and the Muslims (Turks) would be defeated. Then there would be a period of peace for a 1,000 years before Christ returned. This was popular through the 1700 and 1800’s. As the industrial age continued into the1900’s society continued to advance. Postmillennialism seemed to be happening right before people’s eyes. There was talk of utopia and world peace. But, the events of the 1900’s beginning with World War I and the disasters that followed caused most people to reconsider postmillennialism.
- Scriptural support – Rom. 1:16; 11; 1 Tim. 2:4; Matt. 13:33; Rev.7:9-10; Ps. 2:8; 22:27; 47; 72; Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:6-9; Jer. 31:34; Dan. 2:35, 44; Micah 4:1-4
- Premillennialism – “pre-” means “before” and indicates that Jesus will physically return to the earth before the thousand year kingdom age begins Jesus will reign on David’s throne in the earthly city of Jerusalem. This view understands the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants as literal, but yet, unfulfilled today. Every literal promise in the unconditional covenants and the promises and predictions spoken through the prophets must literally come to pass. During the church age the church is advancing God’s program to all nations but this age will end when Jesus Christ returns from heaven and brings about the resurrection of the believers from all time. There will be a restoration of Israel to the Promised Land and Jesus will reign for 1,000 years in Jerusalem and will lead the world to unheard of peace and prosperity.
- History – It is debated if the early church believed in a premillennial return of Christ followed by a millennial kingdom on earth. There is evidence that this was the teaching of the church in the first century and continued up until the time of Origen around 220 AD in Alexandria, Constantine in the 300’s and Augustine in the 400’s. The allegorical hermeneutic practices of the Bible school in Alexandria snuffed out much of the literal interpretation of Scripture. This practice continued through the dark ages. The reformers of the 1500-1600’s did not advance the study of eschatology but maintain their Roman Catholic position. The Anabaptists and the Huguenots began to teach millennialism which set the stage for the development of heretical teachings which led to the cults of the 1800’s. In church history, the false teaching of the heretics force the establishment of the orthodox canon of Scripture, definition of the Trinity, definition of the Deity of Christ, etc. So was the case with eschatology. In the 1800 and 1900’s a systematic approach to Premillennialism has been highly developed and finely tuned and appears to match the current trends of history and the nature of mankind.
- Scriptural support comes from a literal interpretation of the verses dealing with the covenants, the kingdom, the nation of Israel, the Promised Land, the royal line of David, the Messiah coming in the flesh as Immanuel, the suffering servant of Isaiah being a real man who actually suffered, died and rose again, etc.
- Amillennialism – “a-“ in the Greek is a prefix that means “not” or “un-“. Advocates of this position believe in “not-millennialism” or “un-millenialism” which is to say amillennialism means no millennium on this earth in this sin filled world. Any reference to the kingdom or the reign of Christ is happening right now as Christ reigns from heaven with the dead saints. This present age will be followed by Christ’s return, the end of the world, a general resurrection, a general judgment and Christ continued reign in the New Heaven and the New Earth forever. In this view the Israel is spiritualize to mean the church. Any Scriptural reference to reigning or ruling the earth occurs today through the church.
- History – It began with Origen (185-254) and the allegoriacal style of interpretation in Alexandria Egypt. Origen turned the covenants and promises into a future spiritual kingdom. The church age did not begin with Pentecost in Acts but with Adam in the garden. Augustin (354-430) took Origen’s concept of Israel’s covenant’s referring to a future spiritual kingdom and associated them instead with the present age church in this earth. Thus, all of Israel’s covenants and promises were interpreted to refer to the spiritual church in the present age. The millennium is the age in which we live. Though Augustine spiritualized the covenants he believed the current millennial age of the church would last a literal 1,000 years. Of course this caused problems when history advanced past 1000 AD and into the second millennium. Theologians who followed Augustine, which was most of Roman Catholicism, corrected this by simply spiritualizing the thousand years to mean the total period of time between Christ’s first and second coming. Martin Luther and the other reformers followed Augustine and the Catholics in being amillennial. Luther’s eschatology in the 1500’s placed himself in the final days of the sixth one thousand year period since creation which he believed to be the days of the great tribulation against the anti-christ which he identified as the pope. John Calvin, along with Luther, believed the next eschatological event was the Second Coming of Christ which would result in the resurrection, the final judgment and the eternal state. Calvin taught consistently that Israel and the church were the same thing. He could read an Old Testament prophecy referring to Israel being restored to the Promise Land and clearly see it say the Church was going to be restored to God’s presence in Heaven. Calvin did not like the concept of a literal millennium as was beginning to be taught by some groups in his day (Anabaptists, Huguenots) calling it “fiction,” intolerable blasphemy, a “dream” and an “insult.”
- Scriptural Support – 1 Cor. 15:24; 15:25, 50; Rev. 1:5-6, 9; 20:4; Acts 2:30-32; Luke 17:21 18:17; Matt.13:37-38; 24:14; 28:18; Col. 1:13; Rom. 15:12; John 14:27.
Praeterist – One other descriptive word should be presented here. There are some who hold to the Praeterist view. Praeterist is a Latin word that means pre- or before in fulfillment. This view believe that almost all, if not all, Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled in Christ and in events that followed his first coming. One of their key points is that Jesus and his apostles taught that his coming and the end of all things was near. Events in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are believed to have already occurred and that Jesus’ return occurred in 70 AD.
A Premillennial Sequence of Events
Rapture of the Church
The concept of the rapture of the church comes from these verses:
“I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” John 14:2-3
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52
“We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17
“Now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2
Beginning in the 1800’s these verses began to be compared with other verses speaking about the Lord’s return at the Second Coming. Verses that speak of the Lord’s return to the earth as King of kings indicate he will return to the Earth, physically land on the Mt. of Olives, overthrow the anti-christ, judge the nations, enter Jerusalem and sit on his throne. Among other things the verses mentioned above contrast the Second Coming since they:
- Speak only of the church, Israel is not mentioned
- Describe church doctrines such as complete sanctification, glorification, physical resurrection, the command of the Lord as head of the church.
- Involve a resurrection
- State that Jesus meets the believers in the air not on the earth
- State that Jesus returns to where he was after he appears in the sky
- State that believers are taken to where Jesus returns to
- Refer to a mystery indicating it was a truth not revealed in the Old Testament and belongs to those who are from the mystery age which is the church age
The Rapture involves this order of events:
- Jesus descends from his Father’s house (John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:16)
- Jesus comes to get the believers (John 14:1-3)
- The believers in the church age who died will return with Jesus coming from heaven (1 Thess. 4:14)
- The Lord will give a loud command (1 Thess. 4:16) which is possibly the command, “Come up here.” (Rev. 4:1)
- The voice of the archangel (4:16) which in the Old Testament was the guardian of Michael who may be returning to begin Israel’s tribulation operations for the final seven years or Daniel’s 70th ‘week’
- There will be the trumpet call to assemble (1 Thes. 4:16)
- The dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thes. 4:16-17)
- The believers who are still living will also be changed into imperishable and immortal bodies without passing through the phase of death (1 Cor.15:51, 53).
- This change is not a long process but an instantaneous one that happens in the twinkling of an eye and in the smallest fraction of time that can be measured (1 Cor. 15:52)
- Both the resurrected dead and the resurrected living will be “caught up” which is from the Greek word harpazo which means to be taken by force, carried away or snatched (1 Thes. 4:17)
- Every believer from the church age will meet the Lord and see him in the air (John 14:3; 1 Thes. 4:17; 1 John 3:2)
- We will go with the Lord back to his house or into heaven (John 4:3; 1 Thes. 4:17)
Eschatological events for the church that follows will include:
- The judgment seat of Christ for evaluation and rewarding for service (Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5:10)
- The marriage supper of the Lamb (Matt. 24:21; Revelation 19:6-9)
- The return with the Lord at his Second Coming as the armies of the Lord “dressed in fine linen, white and clean” (Revelation 19:14). The “fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.” (Revelation 19:8)
Comparing the Rapture with the Second Coming
Jesus meets believers in the air
Jesus returns to earth with believers
Believers are raptured
No mention of rapture. People watch from earth
Believers are taken to heaven
Saints are resurrected for inheritance on earth
No judgment is mentioned
Judgment is key - Sheep and Goat judgment
Focus is the church
Focus is the kingdom
Believers are changed; mankind is not
All of mankind is involved or affected
Believers meet and see him as he is
Every eye will see him
Satan is never mentioned
Satan is bound
Anti-christ is not mentioned
Over throw of the anit-christ is a main focus
No prophecy needs to be fulfilled before
Multitude of prophecies need to be fulfilled first
No signs prelude it
Multitude of signs are given
Imminent – Paul was waiting for it
Occurs after seven year tribulation
Occurs before the wrath
Occurs after tribulation
Bema seat of Christ and rewards in heaven
Church is not judged; nations judged on earth
Church taken to marriage supper
Church, the bride, returns with Jesus
After rapture the tribulation begins
After Second coming the Kingdom reign begins
Second Coming Verses
John 14:1-3 Romans 8:19
1 Cor. 1:7-8;
Phil. 3:20-21; 4:5
1 Thes. 1:10; 2:19; 4:13-18; 5:9, 23
2 Thessalonians 2:1
1 Timothy 6:14
2 Timothy 4:1,8
1 Peter 1:7, 13; 5:4
1 John 2:28-3:2
Daniel 2:44-45; 7:9-14;
Mark 13:14-27; 14:62
Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21
1 Thess. 3:13
2 Thess. 1:6-10; 2:8
1 Peter 4:12-13
2 Peter 3:1-14
22:7, 12, 20
Pretribulation, Midtribulation, Pretribulation and Partial Rapture Theories
The distinction of these rapture theories is the timing of the rapture. The pretribulation rapture ends the church age and is followed by seven years of tribulation on the earth. The midtribulation rapture takes place at the half-way point, which is the three and a half year mark, of the tribulation. In this theory the church is part of the first half of the tribulation. The posttribulation rapture occurs when Christ returns at the second coming. The church would participate fully in the tribulation. As Christ returns to the earth the believers are raptured to meet him in the air and instantly return to the earth in their glorified state. In the partial rapture theory there are several raptures of believers through out the tribulation of different groups depending on holiness, nationality or a ministry. This is similar to the amillennial view of the rapture. It is difficult to support a doctrine that does not address the verses of scripture describing the rapture but there are a variety of times it can take place.
The Tribulation is the seven year period right before Jesus’ Second Coming. It is a time when Israel is severely tested, the anti-christ appears and God’s wrath is poured out on the earth forcing men to make a decision concerning their fate. The tribulation is spoken of in detail in the Old Testament, which is the first clue it is not part of the Church age or a time experienced by the church. People who say the church must go through this seven year Tribulation for a time of testing and purification need to study church history and the conditions the church faces today outside the Western world. Thousands upon thousands of Christians have lived lives under oppression, persecution and faced martyrdom over the last two thousand years. It is recorded that more people died as Christian martyrs in the 1900’s than all the years of the church age leading up to the 1900’s.
The tribulation is called the “time of Jacob’s trouble” in Jeremiah 30:7. Jesus described it as a time of “great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again” (Matthew 24:21). This indicates it probably wasn’t the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD when we consider the fact that Rome had destroyed many cities before then and there have been many similar, if not more severe, wars since.
- 1,000’s died in Jerusalem in 70 AD
- 6,000,000 died in Nazi Germany
- 20,000,000 died in communist Russia
- The tribulation is going to be the worst ever – and never equaled again
Daniel calls it the 70th ‘week’ or ‘seven’ of the ‘seventy-sevens’ (Daniel 9:24-27) which refers to a total of 490 years (70 x 7). This last ‘week’ or seven years is divided in half when Daniel says “in the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering (Daniel 9:27). This half, or 3 ½ years, is also identified as 42 months (Revelation 11:2 and 13:5) and 1,260 days (Revelation 11:3 and 12:6). It is also defined as “a time, times and half a time” (Revelation 12:14; Daniel 7:25; 12:7) which means “one year, two years, and half a year” (1+2+1/2= 3 1/2 years)
Time of Jacob’s Trouble – Jeremiah 30:7
Seventieth Seven – Daniel 9:27
Lord’s Strange Work – Isaiah 28:21
Lord’s Alien Task – Isaiah 28:21
Time of Distress – Daniel 12:1
Day of the Lord – Amos 5:18, 20
Day of Darkness, Gloom, Clouds, Blackness – Amos 2:2
Day of the Lord – 1 Thessalonians 5:2
Wrath of God – Revelation 14:10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1
Hour of Trial – Revelation 3:10
Great Day of God and of the Lamb’s Wrath – Rev.6:16
Wrath to Come – 1 Thess. 5:9; Rev. 11:18
Great Tribulation – Matthew 24:21; Rev. 2:22; 7:14
Hour of Judgment – Revelation 14:7
The early church fathers believed in the 1000 year millennium:
Papias, "Among these things, Papias says that there will be a millennium after the resurrection from the dead, when the personal reign of Christ will be established on this earth (Eusebius, citing Papias around 120)
Justin Martyr (160 AD), "I and others who are right-minded Christians on all points are assured that there will be a resurrection for the dead, and a thousand years in Jerusalem, which will then be built. . .For Isaiah spoke in that manner concerning this period of a thousand years."
Irenaeus (180 AD), "It is fitting for the righteous to be the first to receive the promise of the inheritance that God promised . . .It is fitting for them to reign in it, when they rise again to behold God in this creation that will have been renovated. . .For it is just that in that very same creation in which they toiled or were afflicted they should receive the reward of their suffering. It is fitting, therefore, that the creation itself, being
restored to its pristine condition, should be under the dominion of the righteous without restraint.
Irenaeus, (180 AD), "The promise of God that He gave to Abraham remains steadfast. . .Yet, Abraham did not receive it during all the time of his journey there. Accordingly, it must be that Abraham, together with his seed will receive it at the resurrection of the just."
Tertullian, (200), "At that time, the manifestation of the children of God will have delivered the animals from evil. For they had been "made subject to vanity." At that time, the cattle will be restored in the innocence and integrity of their nature and will be at peace with beasts of the field. At that time, also,
little children will play with serpents."
Tertullian (207 AD),"We do confess that a kingdom is promised to us upon the earth, although before heaven only, it will be in another state of existence.
For it will be after the resurrection for a thousand years in the divinely-built city of Jerusalem "let down from heaven."
Origen, (225), "Certain persons . . . adopting a superficial view of the letter of the law . . . are of the opinion that the fulfillment of the promises of the future are to be looked for in bodily pleasure and luxury. Therefore, they especially desire after the resurrection to have again bodies that will always
have the power of eating, drinking, and performing all the functions of flesh and blood . . . consequently, they say that after the resurrection, there will be marriages and the begetting of children. They imagine to themselves that the earthly city of Jerusalem is to be rebuilt, . . .Moreover, they think that the natives of other countries are to be given them as the servants of their pleasures. . .The millennialists desire the fulfillment of all things looked for in the promises, all according to the manner of things in this life and in all similar matters. . .However, those who receive the interpretations of Scripture according to the understanding of the apostles, entertain the hope that the saints will indeed eat - but that it will be the
bread of life that can nourish the soul with the food of truth and wisdom."
Victorinus, (280 AD), "They are not to be heard who assure themselves that there is to be an earthly reign of a thousand years. They think like the heretic Cerinthus. For the kingdom of Christ is already eternal in the saints - even though the glory of the saints will be manifested after the resurrection."
You can see that the early church believed in the earthly millennial reign of Christ, but with the introduction of allegorical teaching by Origen and his school of thought in Alexandria, Egypt the church began to leave the literal interpretation of scripture. This opened the door for the entrance of human
ideas through allegorical interpretation.
These are some facts taken from the scriptures that prophecy concerning the Kingdom reign of the Messiah on the earth:
- Satan will be overcome by Christ and bound- Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 24:21; Daniel 7:12; Revelation 20:1-3
- Jesus will rule the earth - Genesis 49:10 ; Psalm 2:6; 22:28; 67:4; 72:9-11; 82:8; 89:21-25;, 27; 96:13; 98:9; 110:1-2; Isaiah 2:4; 9:7; 25:3; 27:5; 45:23-24; 49:7; 51:5; 52:13, 15; 53:12; 55:4; 66:18; Ezekiel 21:27; Daniel 2:35; 7:14, 18, 22, 27; Obadiah 21; Micah 4:3; 5:4; 7:15-17; Zechariah 6:13, 14:9; Matthew 12:21;22:44; Luke 20:43
Acts 2:35; 3:21; Romans 14:11; 15:21; 1 Corinthians 15:24-25, 27-28; Ephesians 1:21; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 1:13;2:5;10:13; Revelation 10:5-7; 11:15-17; 12:5; 16:17; 19:6, 15
- Jesus’ Kingdom will be world wide - Psalm 72:8; Zechariah 9:10
- God's true Israel will permanently repossess the land of Canaan - Genesis 12:7; 13:15, 17; 15:7, 19-20; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3, 4; 28:4, 6, 13; 35:12; 48:4
- Unrepentant Jews will be removed - Zephaniah 3:11
- Repentant Jews will return to Palestine assisted by Gentiles - Isaiah 11:11-12, 16; 14:2; 35:8-10; 49:18-22; 51:11; 55:12; 60:9; 62:10; 66:20; Jeremiah 3:18-19; Hosea 1:11; 2:23; Micah 4:6, 7; Zephaniah 3:10, 18, 19, 20
- God will establish His ultimate Testament of Peace - Leviticus 26:9-12; Isaiah 54:10; 59:21; 61:8; Ezekiel 34:25, 27-28, 30-31; 36:12-15; 37:26; Romans 11:27; 2 Corinthians 6:16
- There will be peace as God restrains all violence - Leviticus 26:6-8; Isaiah 2:4; 9:5, 7; 11:13; 14:3; 26:12; 54:14; 60:18; Jeremiah 23:6, 30:8; 33:16; Hosea 2:18; Joel 2:26-27; 3:17; Micah 14:3; Zephaniah 3:13. 15-16,19, 20; Zechariah 3:10; 8:5-6
- His rule will be in righteousness and goodness - Psalms 67:4; 96:13; 98:9 ; Isaiah 9:7; 11:3, 5; 16:5; 32:1; 42:4; Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15
- He will proclaim deliverance from servitude (type: Year of Jubilee) - Leviticus 25:8-17, 27-28, 30-31, 33, 40-41, 50-52,54; Leviticus 27:17-18
- Crops will be abundant and prosperity general - Exodus 23:25; Amos 9:13-14; Leviticus 26:5; Deuteronomy 28:5-6, 8, 12; 30:9; Psalm 72:6-7; Isaiah 4:2; 61:4; 62:3-7; Ezekiel 34:26-27, 29; Hosea 2:21-22 ; Amos 9:13-14; Ephesians 1:18; Hebrews 10:36; 1 Peter 1:3-6; 5:1
- Those not in resurrection bodies will attain to a full length of life - Exodus 23:26; Zechariah 8:4
- They will enjoy supernatural life spans - Isaiah 63:20-23
- There will be healing of infirmities and freedom from disease - Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:15; Isaiah 35:5-6
- God's people will be characterized by a Spirit-given holiness and obedience, to his commands - Deuteronomy 30:8; Isaiah 4:3-4; 32:1-5; Jeremiah 3:19-23; 31:40; Zephaniah 3:10-13; Zechariah 8:3, 8; 13:2-6; 14:20, 21; Malachi 3:3
- Purpose is that Christ will be glorified in his people - 2 Thessalonians 1:10
- Land of Israel will possess enlarged borders and be divided into East and West strips for the twelve tribes - Ezekiel 47:13-21; 48:1-7, 10-14, 20-29
- The territory of Judah will be leveled but Jerusalem will be elevated - Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1; Zechariah 14:10
- The Center of the Kingdom will be Jerusalem - Isaiah 4:5, 6; Jeremiah 3:17; 31:38-39; Ezekiel 48:35; Joel 3:17; Zephaniah 3:15. 17; Zechariah 8:3; 12:10
- There will be temple sacrifices in Jerusalem - Isaiah 2:2, 3; 11:10: 59:19; Micah 4:1-2; Ezekiel 37:26-28; 47:1; 48:8-9, 10, 21; Jeremiah 33:18(21-22); Zechariah 14:20, 21; Malachi 3:3-4
- A stream will proceed from the temple to bring water to surrounding areas - Ezekiel 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; Zechariah 14:8
- Apostles will sit on thrones to judge the 12 tribes - Matthew 19:28; 20:21, 23; Mark 10:37,40; Luke 22:30
- God's people will enjoy a privileged status of power - Deuteronomy 26:19; 28:1-3, 9-10, 13; Isaiah 14:2; 27:6; 45:14-17, 25; 49:23-26; 60:3-6, 8-12, 14:17; 61:5-6, 9-11; 62:1-2; 66:7-12; Daniel 7:9; 11:45; Micah 19; Zechariah 46; Luke 12:43-44 ; Romans 4:13-14, 16; 5:17; 15:8; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 2 Timothy 6:14-15; Revelation2:26-27; 3:21; 5:10; 20:4, 6
- Feast of Tabernacles will be observed annually - Zechariah 14:16
- The world will not see total conversion of all people - Micah 4:5
- A nation that fails to go up to Jerusalem to worship will have no rain - Zechariah 14:17-19
- Egypt will be desolate because of their former acts of violence - Joel 3:19, 21
- Edom will be desolate because of their violence - Joel 3:19
- Those who escape from Armageddon will evangelize the nations - Isaiah 66:19
- God's truth will be universally taught - Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2; Revelation 20:6
- Nations will experience conversion and be incorporated into Israel - Psalm 47:9; Jeremiah 33:22; Ezekiel 47:22-23
Bema Seat, Sheep and Goat, Great White Throne Judgments
There is a universal understanding both in the Christian world and the Pagan world that there will be a final judgment of mankind by God. The Scriptures give us details concerning this judgment and the various times and groups it is applied to. Scripturally all men, believers and non-believers, will be judged or evaluated.
“He has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.”
There is, of course, a difference between the judgment or condemnation the unbeliever will face and the evaluation and rewarding the believer will face. Here are a few of the final judgments revealed in scripture:
- The Bema Seat – The bema seat judgment comes from the Greek word bema bema in Romans 14:10. Writing to Christians Paul said, “We will all stand before God’s judgment (bema) seat.” Again, in 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul says to Christians:
”We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body , whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
The bema seat judgment of believers takes place immediately after the rapture and has nothing to do with being saved since only the believers are taken in the rapture. With whole church assemble in heaven and the church age closed God will individually evaluate each believer to determine his eternal reward. Details of this judgment can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. The rewards are referred to in these verses: 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20; 2 Timothy 4:8; 1 Peter 5:2-4; Revelation 2:10. This event is followed by the marriage supper of the Lamb in heaven. At the completion of the Tribulation the church, now resurrected, judged, rewarded and clothed in glory, will return to the earth with Jesus as describe in Revelation 19:7-9; 14
- The Sheep and Goat Judgment – When Jesus returns in glory at the Second Coming and is seated on his throne in Jerusalem the people of all the nations that lived through the tribulation will be judged. Read this judgment in Matthew 25:31 that begins this way:
”When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. Al the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
The sheep are given into the earthly kingdom of God but the goats are cast off the earth into outer darkness (likely a reference to Hades, the underworld). The basis of their judgment was their works none by the people from all the nations to what Jesus calls “these brothers of mine”. In context this judgment takes place on earth, after the Tribulation has ended, after Jesus has returned to earth from heaven as the glorious king and by the Jewish man Jesus who said in the gospels several times he would be the man to judge all men (John 5:27). The tribulation will become a time of great persecution of the Jews including them fleeing into the mountains of Jordan for safety . The anti-christ will demand worship and obedience. The Jews then are “these brothers of mine” that Jesus referred to. Anyone who was willing to help feed, clothe, visit or care for the Jews during the later part of the Tribulation had to have an understanding of who the anti-christ really was and faith that the true Christ was the soon coming king. The actions of the sheep indicated their faith and understanding. The people from the nations that help the Jews in the tribulation had faith and are rewarded with entrance into the kingdom age.
- The Great White Throne Judgment – at the end of the tribulation all the non-believers will be brought out of Hades to stand before the Throne of God for final judgment. Revelation 20:11-15 records this future event. There are no believers involved in this judgment. The non-believers’ names are not found in the Lamb’s book of life and are thrown into eternal judgment in the Lake of Fire as are Satan, his angels, the anti-christ, the false prophet, death and Hades.
The New Jerusalem and the Eternal State
The writer of Hebrews quotes from the book of Psalms describing the earth as a creation that will wear out and eventually be changed:
“In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Hebrews 1:10-12
After the Millennium the created world, the universe (heavens) and the earth, will be uncreated or destroyed.
“The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare (burned up) . . . That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:10-12
The new universe that God will create for the eternal existence is described in Revelation 21.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.” Revelation 21:1
Some details of this new earth are:
- Satan is removed from history along with death, Hades and other forces of destruction (Rev. 20:10)
- No longer were there any seas (Rev. 21:1) because the salt water in the seas for the purification process of the world. Without sin there will be no need to purify the home of man.
- No death, crying or pain (Rev. 21:4)
- No longer any night (Rev. 21:25)
- No longer any sin or sinners (Rev. 21:27)
- No longer any curse (Rev. 22:3)
- No longer any sun (Rev. 22:5)
- Men will live with God and see God, even his face (Rev. 22:4)
Another feature of the new earth is the presence of the eternal, heavenly city, or Heaven, itself called “New Jerusalem”. (Rev. 21:2; Heb. 12:22-24; 11:10)
KEY POINTS (back to the top)
OTHER SITES (back to the top)
BOOKS from Galyn's Shelf: (back to the top)
Braun, Ralph G., The Categorical Notebook: A Categorical Compilation of the Various Doctrines of the Bible, 1971.
Chafer, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 volumes, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI, 1948, ISBN 0-8254-2340-6.
Ewell, Walter A., Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984, ISBN 0-8010-3413-2
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1985, ISBN 0-8010-3433-7.
Freeman, Drue, Foundations: Building in the Faith, Village Ministries International, 2001
Geisler, Dr. Norman, Systematic Theology, 4 volumes, Bethany House, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 2002, ISBN 0-7642-2551-0, 0-7642-2552-9, 0-7642-2553-7, 0-7642-2554-5.
Guthrie, Donald, New Testament Theology, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1981, 0-87784-965-X.
Harrison, Everett F., Editor, Baker’s Dictionary of Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Raids, Michigan, 1973, ISBN 0-8010-4042-6
Hodge, Charles, Systematic Theology, 3 volumes, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, reprint 1995, ISBN 0-8028-8135-1
House, H. Wayne, Charts of Christian Theology and Doctrine, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992, ISBN 0-310-41661-2.
LaHaye, Tim, Charting the End Times, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 2001, ISBN 0-7369-0138-8.
Oden, Thomas C., Systematic Theology, 3 volumes, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, 1987, ISBN 1-59856-038-7
Pentecost, J. Dwight, Things To Come, Academie Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1958, 0-310-30890-9.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell, Basic Theology, Moody Press, Chicago, 1999, ISBN 0-8024-2734-0.
Thiessen, Henry Clarence, Lectures in Systematic Theology, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1949, ISBN 0-8028-3529-5.
QUESTIONS (back to the top)