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We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

the light of Bible prophecy

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A Future and a Hope

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For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29.11.

 

When we look at current world events in the light of Bible prophecy we have to recognise that the outlook on the human level is gloomy. However Jesus told the disciples, Now when these things (i.e. the signs of his coming) begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near. (Luke 21.28) As far as unbelievers are concerned these things coming on the world are a sign of approaching doom. As far as believers are concerned they are a sign of approaching deliverance at the return of the Lord:

 

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17.

 

If we have faith that Jesus died for our sins and rose again from the dead, we can therefore look at what is happening in the world with tremendous hope, trusting that the promises of God will be fulfilled, no matter what men say or do. If we do not yet have faith we can receive it right now:

 

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Gospel. Mark 1.15

 

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 9.9. For those who do this the future is so wonderful that it is beyond the power of human words to describe or human minds to comprehend:

 

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2.9.

 

When will this happen?

 

The event described above, the Lord coming for his people, will be unexpected and could come at any time. Paul goes on to describe the timing of it:

 

But concerning the times and the seasons brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 1 Thessalonians 5.1-3.

 

For unbelievers this will be followed by God bringing judgement on the world in the events of the great tribulation. A passage in Isaiah can be seen as a prophecy of this in the Old Testament:

 

Your dead shall live; together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in the dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a moment, until the indignation is past. For behold the Lord comes out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity. Isaiah 26.19-21.

 

The sequence of events in this passage is: the dead rise first, then the living believers are taken to a place of safety. Then the Lord punishes the unbelievers for their wickedness. This lines up with the sequence of events in the New Testament.

 

For believers this will be followed by the glorious reunion described in the Book of Revelation, the Marriage of the Lamb:

 

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us rejoice and give him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, Write: Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb! Revelation 19.6-9

 

This tremendous event will gather together all those who have trusted the Lord throughout all ages for the greatest celebration which has ever been known. The Lord will then prepare us for his physical return to the earth with his saints.

 

What we must do now is make sure that we are ready for the Lords return:

 

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and that day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21.34-36.

 

So for believers the event of being caught up to meet the Lord will be followed by the Marriage of the Lamb (Revelation 19.6-9). For unbelievers it will be followed by the terrible judgements of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 6-18). This period will end with the armies of the world gathering together at Armageddon (Revelation 16.12-16). That time of trouble will be so severe that if God did not intervene all life on earth would be destroyed:

 

For then there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And if those days had not been shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elects sake those days will be shortened. Matthew 24.21-22.

 

Significantly this verse says that unless the days were shortened no flesh would be saved, not no soul would be saved. We could be sitting under a nuclear bomb and if we are believers our souls will be saved, but there would not be much left of our flesh! By mentioning flesh in this context Jesus makes it clear that his return will save physical life on earth from destruction.

 

The return of Jesus to the earth will be with the believers who have already been caught up to meet him in the air:

 

Then I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse. And he who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. ... He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called the Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed him on white horses. Revelation 19.11-14

 

Revelation 19.8 tells us that the fine linen represents the righteousness of the saints thus identifying this army with the believers in Jesus. (N.B. In the New Testament the word saint means anyone who believes in Jesus as Saviour and Lord).

 

Zechariah 14 is a parallel passage to this and also tells us that the Lord will come with the saints at the height of a world wide conflict over Jerusalem. This event will bring about a swift and sudden end to the world wide tyranny of the trinity of evil, the rule of the beast and the false prophet who are given power by the dragon (Satan).

 

Now out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should strike the nations. And he himself will rule them with a rod of iron. ... And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war against him who sat on the horse and against his army. Then the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. Revelation 19.15, 19-20.

 

While the beast and the false prophet are thrown straight into the lake of fire, the dragon, Satan, is bound in a pit for a thousand years during which time he will be unable to deceive the nations. (Revelation 19.20-20.3).

 

The believers who were previously caught up to meet the Lord in the rapture of the church will return and reign with him in the Messianic kingdom or Millennium which follows. Those who turned to the Lord and refused the mark of the beast during the tribulation and were martyred for their faith will then be resurrected and also reign with Christ (Revelation 6.9-11, 7.9-17, 14.1-13, 20.4).

 

During this time God will demonstrate how the earth should be run. After the devastation caused by the tribulation period, living waters will flow out from Jerusalem to clean up the earth (Zechariah 14.8). Weapons of war will be destroyed and all military training will cease:

 

He shall judge between the nations and shall rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2.4. See also Isaiah 9.5, Ezekiel 38.9.

 

The nations will go up to the redeemed Jerusalem where the Messiah Jesus will teach them the ways of the Lord. There will be universal peace and even the animal kingdom will be affected with meat eating creatures becoming vegetarian. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11.6-9)

 

This glorious time will be a Sabbath of rest for the earth. If we take a literal view of creation and reckon the second coming of Christ to be not too far away, this gives about 6000 years from creation to the end of this age. The Millennial period will last 1000 years according to Revelation. In 2 Peter 3.8 we read that a day with the Lord is as 1000 years. So we have a parallel with the creation account: 6 days of labour followed by the Sabbath day of rest; 6000 years of travail and sin on the earth, followed by 1000 years of rest and peace.

 

In this time Messiah Jesus will rule with a rod of iron, but also with absolute justice (Isaiah 11.4-5). The benefits will be obvious to all, especially those who have experienced the horrors of the great tribulation. Children will be born during this time in the natural way to survivors of the great tribulation who enter the Messianic kingdom. They will not have the opportunity to sin in the way we have today, Satan being bound and unable to influence the nations, and Jesus ruling with power on the earth.

 

However the possibility of sin will be present during this time: No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. Isaiah 65.20. We also read of nations which refuse to worship the Lord during this time and suffer judgment as a result. Zechariah 14.17-19. At the end of the 1000 period Satan will be loosed for a while and gather together those who are inwardly rebelling against the rule of Christ:

 

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelation 20.7-10.

 

This will actually be the last battle on earth, and like Armageddon, it will end in a moment with Satans forces being routed. It will also be the end of the world, as this earth and everything in it will be destroyed and the final day of judgment before the great white throne of God takes place.

 

Many Christians reject the teaching that there is a literal millennium in the way I have written here. Some say the passages referred to are symbolic or refer to heaven. But many of these passages speak of weapons of war being destroyed or converted into agricultural implements. When were there weapons of war in heaven?

 

Zechariah speaks of the Feast of Tabernacles being celebrated during this time. The Feast of Tabernacles is a festival looking back to the time when the Israelites dwelt in booths after they came out of Egypt and before they came into the Promised Land. The booths represent a temporary dwelling place before the final destination which God has prepared for his people. So the Millennium is a temporary dwelling place for those who have come out of Egypt (symbolising the world system in rebellion against God) before entering into the final rest in heaven.

 

Revelation 19-21 gives a prophetic overview of the events of the end of the world which follows a logical sequence: the battle of Armageddon, the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, his rule for 1000 years, Satans loosing and rebellion at the end of the 1000 years, the end of the world, heaven and hell.

 

Some Christians today who follow the Kingdom and Dominion teaching say that the passages I have written about here refer to the churchs reign on the earth now. They say that there will be such a great revival that the nations will submit to the church which will cause wars to cease and the earth to be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Then Christ will return when we have taken control of the earth first.

 

However in all of these passages it is clear that the return of Christ comes first, then the Millennium follows. Before the return of Christ the earth is full of violence and wickedness as in the days of Noah and Antichrist rules. In fact history has shown that the attempt of the Church to enforce the rule of Christ on earth in this age always ends in disaster. In this age the call is to individuals to Save yourselves from this crooked generation. Acts 2.40.

 

After all this the physical universe in its present form will melt with fervent heat and the earth will be burnt up (2 Peter 2.10). The dead will come before God in judgment:

 

Most assuredly I say to you the hour is coming and now is when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. ... For the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come forth - those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of damnation. John 5.25-29

 

Then I saw a great white throne and him who sat on it from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by their works, by the things which were written in the books. .. And anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20.11-15

 

That judgment will bring about the final division of humanity into two groups, the only division which has eternal significance: those who are saved and those who are lost. Those who are saved through putting their trust in Jesus as Saviour and Lord enter into eternal life in Heaven. Here at last we will experience eternal deliverance from the troubles and pains of this life. Heaven will not end in failure as all the ages of this world have ended in failure, because of human sinfulness and Satanic activity. Only the Lord will be present there and all those who have been redeemed. Satan and those who have rejected this redemption will be unable to enter.

 

In the presence of the Lord the redeemed will have full unbroken fellowship with God, which we can never achieve on earth because of the weakness of human nature. We will have new bodies which will never get old, sick or die (1 Corinthians 15). We will also be recognisable to those who have known us and will preserve our identity. Human relationships will not be on the same basis as on earth. There is no marriage in Heaven for example (Luke 20.37-38). Because there is no death there is no need for a new generation to replace the old. But fellowship between the redeemed will be more wonderful than anything we have ever experienced on earth. The bond of love in Heaven is stronger than the strongest bonds on earth.

 

In Gods presence is fullness of joy. No one is ever sad in Heaven. None of the things that cause unhappiness on earth can enter Heaven. There is no unkindness, no cruelty, no selfishness, no loneliness, no misunderstanding.

 

And God shall wipe away every tear from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain. Revelation 21.4

 

The alternative is too awful for words. While many try to avoid the subject, the Bible is clear that hell exists. It is a place of absolute separation from God for eternity. Jesus made it clear that nothing is more important than making sure we avoid this place of torment:

 

Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but who cannot kill the soul. But rather be afraid of the one who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. Matthew 10.28

 

People often ask, How can a loving God send people to hell? In fact God has done all that he can to save us from hell. According to his justice he must punish sin. In his love and mercy the Lord Jesus left heaven and became man. He lived a perfect life without sin and then endured the punishment we deserve by dying for us on the cross. Being the sinless Son of God his sacrifice was accepted by the Father, so that all who repent (turn from sin) and believe in Jesus as Saviour and Lord are born again of the Holy Spirit, so receiving eternal life.

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. ... He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3.16, 36

 

The eternal one became sin and experienced hell for a moment in order that mortal beings could be saved from hell for eternity. It is not God who sends people to hell as much as we who send ourselves there if we refuse to accept this great sacrifice he has made for us. Another common question asked about this subject is, How will God judge those who have never heard the Gospel? We can safely leave them to the justice and mercy of God (and do what we can to make sure that as many as possible do hear the Gospel). But if you have read this far in this article and not yet made a decision for Jesus it is not an excuse you can make!

 

   How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? Hebrews 2.3

 

For further information about this subject write for the free booklet The Answer to Death by Leith Samuel.

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