Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29- On That Day

December 29, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Zechariah 14:1-21; Revelation 20:1-15;
Psalm 148:1-14; Proverbs 31:8-9

"...for the day of the Lord is coming..."  ~Zechariah 14:1
Zechariah 14:1-21

As we have read the Bible this year, we have seen the undeniable relationship between God and the nation of Israel.  Abraham received the promise that the world would be blessed through him.  His son, Isaac, had twin sons and Jacob, the younger son, received Isaac's blessing as the son who would be blessed by God.  Jacob wrestled with God and would not let go until God blessed him.  Jacob's name became Israel and from this man the twelve tribes of Israel came to be.  Thousands of years later, Zechariah is given a prophecy that reveals that God intends to deal with the nation of Israel until the end of time on this earth.  Today's prophecy contains information on events that are only in the future.  None of the events in today's chapter have taken place yet.  Zechariah ends his writings with the information on how the millennial kingdom comes about.  Reading the prophetic literature in the Bible gives us some details of how God's promises will come to pass.

The Day Of The Lord

We have already discussed that "the day of the Lord" is a time period that begins with the rapture of the Church and includes the Great Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon, and the millennial reign of Christ on the earth.  Today, Zechariah gives information about the end of the Great Tribulation and how the Battle of Armageddon is ushered in. He also gives some details of what Christ's millennial kingdom will be like.  Let's take a look.

The Battle of Armageddon

We learn from Zechariah that the Battle of Armageddon is prompted with the invasion of Jerusalem.  Satan has prompted the Antichrist and the False Prophet to turn against Israel and all the rulers of the earth are convinced by evil spirits (three frog-like spirits out of the mouths of the three-see Rev. 16:13) to come in battle against Israel. I will list specifics given by Zechariah about this event:
  • The people of Jerusalem will have their possessions plundered. Vs. 1
  • God is directing that all the nations of the earth will gather to fight against Jerusalem Vs. 2   Please note that God controls even evil spirits.  They cannot act without His allowing it.
  • Houses will be plundered and women raped. Vs. 2
  • Half the population will be taken away and half will be left in the ruined city. Vs. 2
  • The Lord (Jesus Christ) will go out and fight  against the nations. Vs. 3
  • He will stand on the Mt. of Olives and there will be an earthquake that levels the land. Vs. 4
  • Jesus will send a plague on those who fought against Israel. Vs. 12
  • Jesus will cause his enemies to fight against each other on the battle field. Vs. 13
This ends the description of the Battle of Armageddon given to Zechariah.  Let me say that the Battle of Armageddon is the climax of God's indignation against Israel and their rejection of their Messiah.  It also is the culmination of God's indignation against the rebellion of all of mankind against their Creator.

The Earthly Millennial Reign Of Christ

Now we have the information that Zechariah is given in conclusion about God's promise to reign on the earth from the city of Jerusalem in the nation of  Israel and fulfill His promises to be their king and live among them.  Here is what he says:
  • The sun will act differently and there will be continuous day. Vs. 6
  • Healing water will flow out of Jerusalem and it will be a port city of water. Vs. 8
  • The Lord will be the king over all of the earth. Vs. 9
  • He will also be worshiped throughout the earth. Vs. 9
  • The land around Jerusalem will be a vast plain. Vs. 10
  • Jerusalem will finally be safe, never to be destroyed again. Vs. 11
  • People who survived the Battle of Armageddon will go up to Jerusalem each year to worship the Lord in person. Vs. 16
  • There will be the possibility of some rebellion allowed on earth during the millennial reign of Christ and this testing of people under God's perfect rule will be punished. Vs. 17-19
  • Egypt is used as an example of this. Vs. 18-19
  • Everything will be set apart and holy to God on earth during Jesus' reign, even the mundane objects on earth will be holy and purposeful in that day. Vs. 20-21
What a beautiful picture of Christ coming to earth and fulfilling his promises.  Are you surprised that he is going to allow unbelief during his earthly reign?  He allowed it during his first coming.  The millennial reign of Christ will be a time of testing of mankind under perfect conditions.  Just as in the Garden of Eden, some people will not be called to God, even in a perfect political and religious environment. Such is the way of this fallen planet.

Revelation 20:1-15

We learned from Zechariah's prophecy that the millennial reign of Jesus on this earth will be a time when people are not compelled to believe in Jesus, even though they will see him rule perfectly on the earth.  Now, the Apostle John is given a prophecy that explains more about this one thousand year reign of Christ on earth.  Here are some details:
  • Satan is bound by an angel and thrown into a bottomless pit for the one thousand years that Christ is reigning on earth. Therefore, Satan is not actively deceiving people on earth while Christ is ruling. Vs. 1-3
  • Believers from the first resurrection are on thrones and have authority in the millennial kingdom to reign with Christ and rule with him on earth for one thousand years. This will include the Old Testament saints, the age Church believers, and Tribulation saints, who were martyred and resurrected. Vs. 4-6
  • At the end of Christ's one thousand year reign on earth, Satan is unleashed from his chains and let out of the bottomless pit to come back to earth and deceive some people into rebelling against Christ. Vs. 7
  • Satan will lead a group from the descendants of Magog (see the Table of Nations in Genesis) to gather and fight against Jesus and his followers.  Once again, Jerusalem is the sight of a mighty battle between good and evil. Vs. 8-9
  • Fire comes down from heaven and consumes the attacking armies. Vs. 9
  • Satan is thrown into the lake of fire, which is where the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet have already been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Vs. 10
  • The Great White Throne judgment occurs, where every deed ever done by those who have not loved God and whose names are not written in the Book of Life are judged by God. Vs. 11
  • The second resurrection is the resurrection of all who have died apart from belief in Christ. They come to stand before the living God.  Books are open that have recorded all that has been done by every person who has ever lived.  There is also the Book of Life, which contains the names of those who have believed in Jesus Christ. Vs. 12
  • The dead are judged according to what they have done on earth. Vs. 12-13
  • Death is destroyed and the holding place for those who have died (Sheol, Hades, the Grave) is destroyed by being thrown into the lake of fire.  The lake of fire is a second death for those who are doomed to separation from God and all that is good. Vs. 14
  • All whose names where not listed in the Book of Life are thrown into the lake of fire. Vs. 15
We have some interesting concepts to deal with in this prophecy.  It gives us a much clearer picture of God's plan for the end of time on this planet. 

Satan Bound and then Released

This passage indicates that part of God's plan is to rule on this planet without the direct influence of Satan on people's lives.  We learned from the passage in Zechariah that people will be punished if they do not come to Jerusalem to worship Christ.  Mankind has not been redeemed from their fallen state at this point.  Babies will be born during this one thousand years.  People who survived the Battle of Armageddon will repopulate the earth.  Jesus will reign perfectly, but he will reign over fallen people.  God's plan is to test mankind during this time.  God's protection and provision will be abundant on the earth. And yet, people must still trust in Christ and not in their own works to be saved.  Some people will resist. 

God's plan is to let Satan be released after this time of testing on the earth.  Those people who were born and lived on earth under Christ still have the ability to be deceived by Satan at this point and join Satan in a final rebellion against God.  You may wonder why God is allowing this.  I don't know and neither does anyone else.  Why did God let Satan rebel the first time?  Why did God allow Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden?  These are mysteries that we will learn as we spend eternity with God in His presence.

Satan is defeated for the third time and final time (once when Christ conquered death after dying on the cross and then resurrecting, once at the Battle of Armageddon, and now in this final battle on the earth).  God likes to do things in three's.  Have you noticed?  Satan then joins his two other evil cohorts in the lake of fire.  He is tormented, forever. This solves the problem of Satan and rebellion, forever.

The First Resurrection

Now, we learn about a concept called the First Resurrection.  It is important because the people who are involved in the First Resurrection get the privilege of ruling with Christ on earth during the one thousand year reign.  So, who is part of the First Resurrection?  The First Resurrection is not a one time event, but instead is the first resurrection of several groups of people.  Christ, Himself, is the first fruit of resurrection.  He leads the way on this process when he conquered the grave after his sacrificial death on the cross.When Christ resurrected from the grave, he set the captives free (Luke 4) and those who were Old Testament saints, who believed in the coming Messiah, were rescued from the grave and taken to be with the Lord in heaven. This is the first resurrection for all those who died believing in the coming Messiah. After an interlude in history, the Church is caught up/raptured to heaven when the trumpet is blown before the Great Tribulation begins.  This group of believers includes those who died in Christ during the Church Age.  This is their participation in the First Resurrection.  All those who believed in Christ after His resurrection went to be directly with the Lord in spirit after their deaths and their bodies are resurrected now to reign with Christ.  Also, those believers who came to Christ during the Great Tribulation on earth (many of whom were martyred) are brought back to life at this time to reign with Christ on the earth. These groups are all considered part of the First Resurrection.

Once again, believers in God prior to and after the Great Tribulation take part in the First Resurrection and are deemed worthy to reign with Christ on earth.  Some commentators believe that the Church Age believers will occupy the New Jerusalem in heaven during this reign and will freely go back and forth from heaven to earth, while other commentators  belief that the Church reigns on earth with Christ during the millennial kingdom.

The Great White Throne Judgment

Now, we have the Second Resurrection.  All who participate in the Second Resurrection are people who did not believe in Jesus Christ and have died.  They are resurrected in order to be judged based on their works.  The Scriptures clearly establish that man's works cannot save him.  God is keeping detailed records on every one's lives.  Do you feel insignificant? Do you think that no one is watching you or caring about your life?  The Bible teaches a very different concept. God has a cosmic super computer (symbolic) recording all deeds of every created being.  He watches. He cares. He's involved.  The Deists were wrong, my friends. Jesus Christ has earned the place of authority in the Universe.  He is able to judge mankind and we see that Jesus is sitting on the Great White Throne after ruling this earth and destroying Satan.  In the end, God replays the tapes of the lives of those who chose to not follow Him.  They are found wanting. Their works could not save them or compensate for their sins.  They are thrown into the lake of fire with Satan, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.

The Second Death- The End of Death and the Grave

Now, the whole concept of death and the grave (which after Christ's resurrection is a place of torment for those who had died apart from belief in Christ while awaiting the second resurrection) are destroyed.  Mankind was introduced to death in the Garden of Eden.  It occurred when the first animal was killed to be used as a covering for the nakedness of Adam and Eve.  From that point forward, the earth has been a place of death because of sin.  Now, Satan has been defeated, evil is squelched, the wicked have been judged, and the concept of death is no longer going to be a reality in the new heaven and earth that Jesus has promised to those who love him. Wow. Death and the grave are thrown into the lake of fire and will no longer be a reality. They are destroyed. This is described as the Second Death.  People who have already died are resurrected only to be judged and then experience a final death that lasts forever.  The lake of fire is the place of the Second Death.  The first death for unbelievers was called Hades/Sheol/the Grave. The Second Death after Jesus' Great White Throne Judgment is called the Lake of Fire.  Evil and all unbelievers who hated God are consumed in this fire.

These are sobering truths.

Psalm 148:1-14

What a beautiful psalm of praise.  It means so much more as I read the prophecies in Zechariah and Revelation.

Proverbs 31:8-9

The king is admonished by his mother to speak up for the helpless.  Jesus perfectly fulfills this role of the righteous king.

What are you learning?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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