“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:12)
THE END OF HISTORY as we know it will come with a flurry of the most incredible events ever confronted by humankind. After that, we will enter eternity, which is beyond human imagination. The apostle Paul said of eternity, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Paul wrote the above before God gave the apostle John a small preview of eternity in the Book of Revelation. The things we do know about the future are so appealing they should motivate anyone to prepare for eternity at once, by personally receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior. The Book of Revelation captures a rare glimpse of one of the dimensions of this beautiful place, where we as believers are destined to spend eternity. It is a place of great perpetual worship. It is also a place of high authority – God Himself is there. Jesus is there, and there is a throne. Those who have gone before are there. It is a place of great understanding and revelation. A place where we will finally grasp the greatness of God and how utterly dependent, we all are on Him.
It is like a sneak preview through a window into the timeless, matchless, and majestic aspect of heaven itself. Oh, the joy that lies before us. Perhaps the greatest happiness will be just knowing that we are in the presence of God Himself.
It is critical to understand the events that pertain to our eternal salvation. In preparation for the glory to come, we must know the what, when, where, and how we fit into God’s plan. These events are essential, not only for our position in Christ but also for our witnessing to the unsaved.
God’s Word has all the instructions we need for our earthly journey. The truth sets us free to follow His instructions in pursuit of everlasting life. Studying scripture will help us to know what to do, what not to do, when do we do it, and when do we receive our rewards for going through the trials of life.
Our diligence will equip us to do those good works that survive the fire. Knowing how to store our treasures in heaven will build a firm foundation as we move toward eternity. Also, there will be no surprises when we stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ.
Finally, knowing when these events take place, where they take place, how we fit in, and what to expect will increase our faith and make firm our witness.
The Book of Revelation has a divinely inspired outline included! Jesus Himself has supplied the key to the structure of the book.
HE TOLD JOHN TO WRITE:
The following timeline of the unfolding of events supports my interpretation and belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture view. That is Christ, taking His church out before the seven years of tribulation on earth. Christ comes in fulfillment of His promise in Revelation 3:10 to keep His church from “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
PRE-TRIBULATION IS THE PREVAILING VIEW.
“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”
(1 Corinthians 15:55).
If we have a position on various Scriptures that are not related to Doctrine, it will not interfere with our Salvation. For example, many debate the Rapture of the Church. When does Christ come for His Church? Pre-Tribulation, Mid-Tribulation, or Post-Tribulation. Our position doesn’t matter in God’s Plan of Salvation. God will take His Bride out in His time. It will happen when it happens; we only need to be ready. Not even Jesus knows the day or the hour.
Our views on reality might be different from mind to mind, but our opinion doesn’t give us a pass on eternal matters. We must still have our Salvation worked out before the coming of the Lord. Remember, there are no do-overs once we leave this world.
Here is an effective way of thinking when contemplating the rapture:
Where it’s right to hold an opinion, it is not right to let that opinion hold you.
The pessimist sees the glass half empty, the optimist sees the glass half full, but the Psalmist proclaims, “My cup runs over…” (Psalm 23:5).
We must clarify a few events taking place in two phases before looking at our timeline. These twofold events take place for two reasons and two peoples.
When carefully examined, the 300-plus Bible references to the second coming, it becomes clear that there are two phases to Christ’s return. These passages have far too many different activities connected with His return. Thus, merging them into a single coming is impossible.
Since we know there are no contradictions in the Word of God, our Lord must be telling us something here. Most scholars who take the Bible literally whenever possible believe He is talking about one “coming” in two stages.
FIRST, He will come suddenly in the air to RAPTURE His church and take believers to His Father’s house, in fulfillment of His promise in John 14:1-3. There, they will appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8-10) and take part in the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:1-10).
SECOND, Jesus will finish His SECOND COMING (The Glorious Appearing) by returning to earth gloriously and publicly in high power to set up His kingdom.
The appearance of Christ in the air to rapture His church is a separate event happening before the seven-year Tribulation period. His second coming will occur at the end of the Tribulation, after which the Lord appears gloriously on the earth. There is no doubt that there are two separate phases to our Lord’s coming because so many Bible passages refer to one or both events.
God will judge His creation. He will also renew the creation and resurrect all humanity, some to everlasting life and the rest to eternal death. We have talked about living in the power of His resurrection, which is different from the two resurrections discussed here.
What Are the Resurrections? We find the concept of future bodily resurrection throughout the Bible. The word resurrection solely refers to the raising up of the physical body. There is no such thing as a spiritual resurrection. When the Bible speaks of the spiritual newness or a new believer in Christ Jesus, the scripture uses the imagery of new birth, not of resurrection.
When the New Testament speaks of a believer having been “raised” with Christ, it speaks of one’s position in Christ at the right hand of the Father, not a resurrection.
The resurrections in Scripture fall into two categories: the first resurrection, or the resurrection of life; and the second resurrection, or the resurrection of judgment.
“But 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 Christ and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:5-6).
The first resurrection includes the redeemed of all the ages. The timing of these individuals varies, depending upon whether they are an Old Testament saint (Jew or Gentile), a Christian living before or at the time of the Rapture, or a Christian martyred during the Tribulation. All these people will take part in the “resurrection of life” (John 5:29). This first resurrection is the granting of resurrection life in resurrection bodies to all those dead in Jesus.
The “second resurrection of judgment” will include the unredeemed of all the ages raised at the end of the Millennium, judged before the Great White Throne, and cast into the Lake of Fire. These people do not have a part in the first resurrection, they are under the power of the second death, and they are without privilege.
The 1000-year period (millennium) separates these two events because the rest of the dead will not receive their resurrection bodies until the end of the thousand years.
The difference between the judgment seat of Christ and the great white throne of judgment: The First Judgment Involves Believers. Christ will evaluate the actions of every believer for rewards. The Second Judgment Involves Unbelievers. Here He assesses the lives of all unbelievers.
God’s Word teaches that all people—whether saved or not—will stand before Jesus one day. Believers will answer for their deeds at the judgment seat of Christ, and the lost will face Him at the Great White Throne.
Scripture is clear, for those who have placed their trust in Jesus inherit eternal life (John 3:16). However, at the First Judgement, the Judgment Seat of Christ, He will determine the degree of eternal rewards believers deserve, based on their deeds.
The Second Judgment Involves Unbelievers—Those Who Lived independently of the Lord. It takes place after the rapture, the judgment seat of Christ, tribulation, millennial reign of Christ, and the battle of Armageddon (Revelation 20:4-11). It evaluates the deeds of those who never accepted Jesus’ offer of a new life in Him.
The Books of Man’s Works: Revelation 20:12 says, “And books were opened…and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” God owns a complete set of books that archives every person’s deeds, waiting for judgment day. These are the books of man’s works.
The Book of Life: The psalmist speaks of the righteous as having their names written in “the book of the living” (Psalm 69:28). So we perceive that it is a book in which righteous people have their names written.
Revelation 13:8 tells us about a similar book, “the book of life of the Lamb.” “The Lamb” is, without doubt, the Lord Jesus Christ, for only He is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” The Lamb’s Book of Life is the book of Jesus Christ in which the names written there, have received Him as Lord and Savior.
“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).
The Book of Life seems to hold the names of all living people.
The Lamb’s Book of Life includes only the names of those who have called upon the Lamb for salvation.
“I AM that I AM”
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”
The Rapture of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 – Revelation 19:11-18). The Rapture is that moment when, in “the twinkling of an eye,” Christ will shout from heaven and “the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
“Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all.”
The Judgment Seat (Bema) of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Immediately after the Rapture, every Christian will stand before Christ in judgment. This judgment has nothing to do with salvation, for only the saved will be there. The purpose of the Bema judgment is not to determine whether an individual enters Heaven or not. ; this was secured while on earth. Furthermore, the Bema judgment is not to punish believers for sins committed either before or after their salvation
Our appearance is necessary for the appointment of places of leadership and authority with Christ in His role of “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Some believers will be made rulers overCities, some over Nations, Thousands, Hundreds, the Fifties, or Tens of people. The most specific passage of Scripture related to this upcoming event is 1 Corinthians 3:9-15.
Note the difference between the judgment seat of Christ and the great white throne of judgment: The First Judgment Involves Believers. Christ will evaluate the actions of every believer for rewards. The Second Judgment Involves Unbelievers. He will assess the lives of all unbelievers.
The Rewarding of the Five Crowns. The Bible specifically talks about five different crowns given to some of God’s people when they enter heaven. These crowns are for work done for God that is beyond the normal scope of what the average Christian may strive to achieve.
These crowns will be a special reward given for excellence and maximum effort. To Christians who were willing to go that extra mile, who were ready to provide that extra special effort in whatever God had called them to do.
These crowns will also be incorruptible and will last for all of eternity. They will be a distinctive mark and a unique token given by our Lord to honor and reward all of those who have faithfully served Him in this life.
THE FIVE SPECIFIC CROWNS:
The Marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7-10). This event occurs in heaven after the Tribulation just before Jesus descends to earth to set up His kingdom.
So filled with praise are the vast multitudes in heaven. For the time has come for the Lamb of God to join with His people. A union so close it can only be compared to the marriage of a man and a woman.
The Glorious Appearing of Christ (Revelation 19:11-18). His second coming is a magnificent event culminating the entire prophetic plan of God, first seen by Enoch, “the seventh from Adam” and last revealed to John. According to Jesus, the glorious appearing will happen “immediately after the tribulation” (Matthew 24:29).
“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14, 15).
Now when Jesus comes, we’re coming with Him. “When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory.”
When Jesus mounts the white horse to come back to the earth, the armies that came with Him also ride on white horses. The church is returning with Christ in power and glory to establish the kingdom of God upon the earth. Enoch prophesied, “Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all.”
The Battle of Armageddon (Revelation 14:14-21; 16:16). This conflict is, “the war of the great day of God Almighty.” Don’t envision this as a single battle; instead, it is a brief war that includes several campaigns. There are Eight Stages of Armageddon.
Armageddon will be the great world war of history, and it will take place in Israel in conjunction with the second coming of Christ. In the final days of the Tribulation, the kings of the world will gather together “for the war of the great day of God the Almighty” in a place in northern Israel about 20 miles south-southeast of Haifa.
According to the Bible, vast armies from the east and the west will gather and assemble on the plain. Threats to the power of the Antichrist will be from the south. He will move to destroy a revived Babylon in the east before finally turning his forces toward Jerusalem to subdue and destroy it.
As he and his armies approach Jerusalem, God will intervene, and Jesus Christ will return to rescue His people Israel. The Lord and His angelic army will destroy the armies, capture the Antichrist and the False Prophet, and cast them into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:11-21).
In a sense, Armageddon is a battle that never really takes place. That is, it does not take place per its original human intent. Its purpose is to gather the armies of the world to execute the Antichrist’s “final solution” to the “Jewish problem.” Jesus Christ chooses this moment in history for His return to Earth-to to thwart the Antichrist’s attempted annihilation of the Jews and to destroy the armies of the world, gathered for another purpose. It seems only fitting, considering humanity’s bloody legacy, that a worldwide military conflict against Israel triggers the return of Christ. So history is moving toward Armageddon.
The World’s Greatest Earthquake (Revelation 16:18). Just before God sets up His kingdom on this earth, an enormous earthquake will occur that will sink the islands of the seas and flatten the entire surface of today’s world.
The Judgment of the Nations (Matthew 25:31-46). Also called the judgment of the sheep and goats. When Jesus separates believers from unbelievers at the end of the Tribulation. The sheep are believers and go into the Millennial kingdom. And the goats are those who have endured the Tribulation and are still unsaved. Thus, sent to “everlasting punishment.”
Antichrist and Prophet Cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20-21). Judgment for their evil deeds during the Tribulation. These two men are at once, cast into the Lake of Fire. They will receive the most severe punishment imaginable for committing the worst sin known to man: deceiving other souls about God and the way to God. They will probably be willing accomplices in deceiving more people and damning more souls during the seven years than any two men in history.
Satan Bound 1000 Years (Revelation 20:1-3). The world’s master deceiver will be bound in the bottomless pit so he cannot deceive men about God during the Millennial kingdom.
We come to the resurrection of all Believers (Revelation 20:4). The Rapture is the first phase of the resurrections that takes all believers up to the Father’s house. Some suggest that because the Old Testament saints died in anticipation of Christ’s death on the cross, they appear here as well.
Only believers left to take part after the Rapture will be all those who receive Jesus as their Lord during the Tribulation. These Tribulation saints are both Jew and Gentile.
Christ Establishes His Millennial Kingdom (Revelation 20:1-6). At this point, we find the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies about the kingdom of God on earth. However, not included in this scripture. The only things described here are the location, duration, and the fact that Satan will be bound.
Satan Released One Last Time (Revelation 20:7-9). That God will release Satan after the 1000-year kingdom to deceive men. This release may seem a mystery at first, but it will give people who are born during the Millennium an opportunity, to either rebel against God or receive Him and worship Him.
The Final Rebellion (Revelation 20:7-9). The fact that a vast multitude will choose to follow Satan is evidence that the population during the Millennium will be huge. It will be a “youth movement,” so to speak, for Isaiah 65:20 shows only believers will live past their hundredth birthday.
If everyone who chooses to follow Satan is under 100 and “the number of them is like the sand of the seashore” (verse 8). Then you can imagine the even more significant number of believers there will be in that kingdom.
Satan Cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10). After Satan’s last rebellion against God, he is cast alive into the Lake of Fire. By this time, the Antichrist and False Prophet will already have been there for 1000 years, proving that hell is a place of suffering for eternity.
The Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Only the unsaved will face this judgment. No believers from any age will be there. All unbelievers receive the punishment earned and declare Jesus as Lord.
The Acknowledgment That Jesus Christ Is Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). After the Great White Throne Judgment, unbelievers will have to bend their knee and: confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (verse 11). Had they been willing to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord during their lifetime, they would have escaped this judgment and the eternity in hell that results from it.
The New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21:1). The new heaven and earth, God’s replacement of the old world by new land will more resemble the Garden of Eden than anything we know today.
The Holy City Comes to Earth (Revelation 21:2-8). The incredible house that Jesus is building will descend to become the capital of the new earth. A 1500-mile cube. It will be large enough to accommodate all the people who have ever lived on planet earth. Probably centered on the site of modern Jerusalem, from which Jesus Christ will rule this world in righteousness.
Heaven Described (Revelation 21:8-27). Our future home will be a beautiful walled city. Where the streets are gold (compared to our gravel, blacktop, and cement streets today) and the 12 gates to the town are huge, beautiful pearls. The foundation stones of the walls accommodate every kind of precious stone.
Christ’s Last Call to Mankind (Revelation 22:6-20). After promising to make His ultimate coming, “suddenly,” the Savior says, “The Spirit and the bride says, ‘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” (verse 17).
Here is the last call by God to appeal to them to receive Him personally by faith. Any thirsty soul who wants God in his or her life and his or her sins forgiven through Jesus Christ can “take the water of life without cost.” Salvation is a gift of God, received by faith. Have you received that gift?
“And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” (Revelation 21:6).
Remember to “count it all joy…,” concerning the trials of life you face. Consider your response and obedience during them and apply God’s promises He offers you as a light of comfort. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20-NKJV).
Finally, be happy to know that despite any hardships during your trials and tribulations here on earth, your heavenly rewards will last for eternity where there is no end.
God “will wipe every tear from [our] eyes.” And, “there will no longer be any death.” The specter of death, the natural result of sin, removed.
EVEN SO, COME LORD JESUS – AMEN