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The End-Time Scenario

When will the resurrection occur?

 

The timing of the resurrection is pivotal in the end-time scenario.

Jesus repeatedly emphasized that He will raise believers on the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54. See also John 11:24 and 12:48. In John 7:37 the last day of the feast refers to the final, great day of the feast, just as the last day of this earth points to the final, great day of history).

The last day is not equal to the last days (Acts 2:17, 2 Tim. 3:1, 2 Pet. 3:3).

Please read the texts mentioned above. The phrases differ in both content and language.

The phrase, "the last day," (singular) points to one event, the resurrection, on a specific day. The phrase, "the last days," (plural) mentions many events occurring between the first and second coming of Christ.

In Greek, there is an eight letter difference between the two phrases  (the last day = té eschaté hémera; the last days = tais eschatais hémerais). The plural affects the article, adjective, and noun. It is not a mere slip of the pen. Martin Luther expressed the difference in meaning in his German translation. He used "am Jüngsten Tage" for "on the last day" (singular), and "in den letzten Tagen" for "in the last days" (plural), except for John 7:37.

The literal interpretation of the last day has solid scriptural support. Daniel (12:2), Jesus (Matt. 25:31-34, 41, John 5:28-29), Paul (Acts 24:15), and John (Rev. 20:12-13) affirm one resurrection for the saved and the doomed.

This one resurrection will occur at Christ’s return according to Matthew (24:30-31), Mark (13:26-27), John (6:39, 40, 44, 54, 1 John 3:2), and Paul (1 Cor. 15:23, 52, Phil. 3:20-21, 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Jesus clearly puts His return after the tribulation and cosmic disturbances (Matt. 24:29-31). Christ does not mention the rapture in his prophecies about the end time (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21).

The resurrection on the last day eliminates the notion of any earlier resurrections of deceased believers. (Those brought back to life by Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, Peter, and Paul stayed in their old bodies and later died again). Putting the resurrection 1007 years before the last day contradicts the words of Jesus in John 6:39, 40, 44, and 54.

It is as simple as 2 + 2 = 4.
Because Jesus said the resurrection will occur on the last day, the resurrection Paul referred to
(in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 and 1 Cor. 15:51-55) must also occur on the last day. Paul did not contradict Jesus.

Accepting one resurrection on the last day demands a spiritual explanation of the first resurrection (Rev. 20:5).

Christ made reconciliation between God and man possible by His redemption. When people—dead in their sins—are saved by Christ, the Bible depicts the event as a spiritual resurrection (John 5:24-25, Rom. 6:4-7, Eph. 2:5-6, Col. 2:13). By conversion (the first resurrection), Christians escape hell (the second death, Rev. 20:1-5).

Christ’s reign of a thousand years, known as the Millennium, must be understood in the light of these perspectives.

As the eternal Son of God, Christ reigns all the time (Ps. 2, John 1:1, 14, 8:58, Matt. 28:18, Col. 1:15-17). Though He humbled Himself temporarily for our redemption, He resumed His position as Lord when He returned to heaven (Phil. 2:5-11, 1 Cor. 12:3). He reigns from heaven with the triumphant church (Rev. 4:4, 5:5-10, 20:4). The saved are made priests and kings for God (1 Pet. 2:9, Rev. 3:21, 5:10, 20:4).

Jesus repeatedly declined a political kingdom in the present world.

Satan tempted Him in vain with this kind of worldly kingdom (Matt 4:8-10). When the Galileans tried to crown Him king after He miraculously fed five thousand, He walked away (John 6:15). Pontius Pilate asked Him whether He was a king; He replied that His kingdom was not of this world (John 19:33-37). Just before Jesus' ascension, His disciples prompted Him about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel, but He shifted their focus to the spiritual kingdom that the Holy Spirit would establish in and through them (Acts 1:7-8).

In the light of Jesus’ rejection of earthly kingdoms, it seems highly unlikely that He will return to set up a political kingdom on the old earth. When He returns, He will be in a hurry to get rid of the old sinful systems and to start His marriage with His bride (Rev. 19:7).

Therefore, it seems to me in line with the entire Scripture that the Millennium is spiritual, not political, and that "first resurrection" is spiritual, not physical.

By the way, there is a vast difference between the spiritual and allegorical  interpretations of the Bible. There is a deeper spiritual meaning in Jesus’ parables, but we should not explain these allegorically by attaching arbitrary meanings to elements in the parables (such as giving names to the birds that pick up the seeds in the parable of the Sower).

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Will the church be in the Great Tribulation?

Some believe that Christians will be taken out of this world by the rapture before the start of the Great Tribulation. They ground their expectations on the words of the apostle Paul: “God did not appoint us to wrath” (1 Thess. 5:9, NKJV). There seems to be confusion between wrath and tribulation. How does the Bible use the two terms?

The Greek word for wrath (orgé) is used six times in the New Testament (John 3:36, Rom. 1:18, Rom. 5:9, Rom. 12:19, Eph. 5:6, and Col. 3:6) and the word for the anger (thumos) of God is used six times in Revelation (14:10, 14:19, 15:1, 15:7, 16:1, and 19:15). The wrath or anger of God (that is the last judgment) will be poured out on unbelievers, not on Christians.

The Greek word thlipsis  in the New Testament is translated as tribulation (or trouble) by the KJV and the ASV (Mat. 13:21, 24:9, 21, 29, Mark 4:17, 13:19, 24, John 16:33, Acts 11:19, 14:22, Rom 2:9, 5:3, 8:35, 12:12, 1 Cor. 7:28, 2 Cor. 1:4, 7:4, 1 Thess. 3:4, 2 Thess. 1:6, Rev. 1:9, 2:9, 10, 22, and 7:14). In all these cases, tribulation is suffered by Christians. Thlipsis literally means being subjected to pressure.

Obviously, Christians will not suffer God’s wrath but they will suffer tribulation. Jesus and the apostles warned Christians they will have tribulation; therefore, exempting them from the Great Tribulation is not in line with scripture (John 16:33, 1 Thess. 3:9, 1 Pet. 3:15-17, Rev. 7:14).

Jesus said the Great Tribulation will be shortened for the sake of the elect (Mat. 24:22). This  presupposes that some of them will still be on earth during the Great Tribulation. Alleging that the elect refers to Israel only is not scriptural either; this word is used for Gentile Christians too (Eph. 1:4, 1 Pet. 2:9-10). The Greek word ek-lego (choose out) conveys the same idea as ek-kaleo (call out), the word Jesus used to describe church/congregation (Mat. 16:18). Peter uses both words to describe believers of Asia Minor (1 Pet. 2:9).

Jesus prayed to the Father: “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15, NKJV). Daniel and his friends were not saved FROM the lions’ den and the furnace but IN these tribulations. In the Great Commission, Jesus sent His disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations, adding He will be with them to the very end (Mat. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).

Rev. 7:14 describes the great multitude coming out of the Great Tribulation, and who have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. Who can deny they are saved? Who can deny they come out of the tribulation? They are part of the triumphant church.

The passage on which the rapture-theory is based (1 Thess. 4:13-18) is just another description of Christ’s second coming, because it happens with the resurrection, which Jesus repeatedly linked to the last day (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54), not 1007 years before the last day.

Why is this important?
It is far better to be prepared for reality than to live in false security and be caught unawares. When the promised rapture does not happen and the tribulation tsunami hits us, many of the disillusioned may give up on the faith that betrayed them. Those who know what to expect can brace themselves emotionally and spiritually, anchored to the Rock, Jesus Christ.

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This viewpoint on the tribulation, resurrection and the Millennium determines the end-time scenario as listed below. God did not give us all the facts about the end-time. It is best to stick to revealed facts and leave the rest to God (Deut. 29:29).

The end-time events and circumstances will probably overlap. When a new one starts, the existing ones may proceed. They all stop with Christ’s return.

1. The signs preceding the end will occur as birth pains do—with increasing frequency and intensity: wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, tsunamis and storms (Matt. 24:6-7, Luke 21:25, Rev. 6:1-8, 12-17).

2. A growing apostasy will emerge in spite of worldwide evangelization (Matt. 24:12-14, 1 John 4:3, Rev. 10-11).

3. False prophets will arise, compounding a climate of deception (Matt. 24:11, 2 Thess. 2:9-12, Rev. 13).

4. Persecution of the church will increase, leading to the great tribulation (Matt. 24:9, 21, Rev. 6:9-11, 12:12-17, 13:7-8, 15, 17:6).

5. The evil trio—Antichrist, False Prophet, and Harlot—will emerge in their final form (Matt. 24:15, Rev. 13 and 17).

6. Cosmic disturbances in sun, moon, and stars will occur, drastically affecting life on earth (Matt. 24:29, Acts 2:19-20, Rev. 8, 16).

7. Christ will return in glory (Matt. 24:30-31, Acts 1:9-11, Rev. 19:11-16).

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He resurrects the bodies of believers and unbelievers and reunites their bodies and souls (Dan. 12:2, John 5:29, Acts 24:15, 1 Thess. 4:13-18). Living believers are changed instantly (1 Cor. 15:23, 51-52).

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He swiftly conquers and judges His enemies (2 Thess. 2:8, Rev. 19:20, 20:10, 15). This is the final wrath of God (John 3:36, 1 Thess. 5:9, Rom. 8:1, Rev. 6:16-17, 20:15).

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He renews heaven and earth for the eternal sinless existence of believers in His presence at the wedding feast of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7, 21:2).

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He dedicates this new reality to His Father (Phil. 2:9-11, 1 Cor. 15:24-28).

 

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