Revelation Lesson 59 - The Future in Review
This study of Revelation has covered 50 pages of transcript and two chapters of John's prophetic vision. If you need a brief summary of everything that has been covered so far, here it is!
The Future in Review
Selected Passages in Revelation
On Sunday mornings, the 11:00 o’clock ministry for 3rd through 5th graders is called Colonial Corners. It’s an amazingly creative town where actors and actresses – volunteers – act out key truths from God’s word. If you have the idea that it’s fluff and meringue, they recently finished a series of vignettes on the Attributes of God.
Once a year, Scott Wylie, our Children’s Pastor, who serves as the Mayor of this creative little town has an annual “Ask the Mayor” week.
He sent me a list of the questions that came in this past year:
- Was it possible for Adam and Eve to have not sinned in the Garden of Eden?
- What does sin have to do with natural disasters, pain and sickness?
- Can the Holy Spirit leave you?
- What happened to people who died before Christ came to earth?
- Why did God make heaven?
- Can you see earth from heaven?
- Will we eat in heaven?
- Can you see your family from heaven?
- Will there be computers and TV in heaven?
- Will we have churches in heaven?
- Are there mochas in heaven?
- Will there be horses in heaven? Yes – but there won’t be any cats. Yes, you are learning the truth so well.
- When people die, is that what they look like in heaven? Let’s hope not
- Will we live in the new heaven or new earth?
- Does a church have to have a preacher? I wanna know who asked that.
- Why is the Bible called the Bible?
- How do we know the Bible is true?
- Will the tribulation happen before the rapture?
- When is the rapture?
That’s just a few of the questions asked by 3rd through 5th graders. And aren’t you glad Pastor Scott is answering all of them for us?
How many of you heard those questions and thought, I wanna know the answers. Get out a pencil and let me give you Scott’s cell phone number.
Actually, these were intriguing to me . . . in fact, many of the questions had to do with future events.
- Why did God make heaven? To display His glory and grace toward His beloved throughout eternity.
- Can you see earth from heaven? I believe so – in fact, we’re given the implication that deceased individuals like the martyred Tribulation saints not only know what’s happening on earth, they remember what happened to them on earth – and they pray, “Lord, when will you bring vindication on our murderers?”
So, going to heaven doesn’t necessarily erase your memory, but it does give your memory a glorified perspective – much like a mature believer, like Joseph, who told his conniving brothers, “you didn’t send me here, God sent me here (Genesis 45:8)”
Later on he said to them, “You meant what you did to me for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) Had Joseph forgotten what had happened? No, but his perspective ruled over his memory and he had nothing but joy in God’s providence.
- Will we eat in heaven? Absolutely – we’ll learn that fruit trees bear fruit year round for our enjoyment. We just won’t gain weight . . .
- Will there be computers in heaven? I wouldn’t doubt it at all. In the new heaven and earth we won’t be omnipresent – and the systems of communication with each other will be so advanced that we probably can’t imagine them.
Being able to talk with and perhaps even see, someone on the other side of the globe through vastly superior communication systems is not beyond the scope of scripture.
- Will we have churches in heaven? Well, the church will be in heaven – you are the church. We’re not told, but I can easily imagine assemblies meeting at different times all around the new earth – perhaps even on the Lord’s Day to give him praise.
We might be somehow connected with everybody else through technology or travel arrangements to give God our praise.
We’re simply not told how, but we do know that glorifying God through song and verbal praise will be a major component of heaven and it certainly implies we will not only be doing that individually, but corporately.
- One child who evidently has his or her mother run him by Starbucks, asked, “Are there mochas in heaven?”
Again, I have little doubt that what we’ll be able to eat and drink will utterly amaze us. Mochas? I don’t know.
Somebody would have to grow the beans and cultivate them; someone would have to manufacture the machinery unless we just snap our fingers, so to speak, as the resurrected Lord did at the seaside as He called His disciples to eat – he had a charcoal fire going and fish frying and fresh bread and they ate. (John 21) We may be able to do that as well.
Peter illustrated the changes that will one day be commonplace when He got out of the boat and walked on top of the water to Christ. Perhaps we will have that ability as well throughout the millennial kingdom and the coming new heaven and new earth as glorified immortals.
A mocha coffee doesn’t sound that difficult does it?
- Another question that came in to Colonial Corners was; “Will there be horses in heaven?” Absolutely – we’ve come riding back to earth on white stallions (Revelation 19:14).
- One of the kids asked; “When people die, is that what they look like in heaven?” I certainly hope not.
I’m counting on some major improvements.
Our glorified bodies will be perfected and whole and healthy and never-aging. Our glorified bodies will be capable of handling all the activity of heaven.
All our joints will work without pain; our bodies will be without any disabilities or hindrances – more than likely reverting back to the created state and age of Adam and Eve – perhaps they were similar in age to the glorified age of our Lord in His early 30’s. We’re not told for sure.
One author supposedly died and went to heaven and then came back to life and wrote about it. I couldn’t help but laugh at the naivety of his vision – and rather disappointed at the approval by so many people who read it – I skimmed through it and found among other things, everyone he met looked exactly as he remembered them. Even his grandfather still looked like his grandfather. I thought, poor grandpa; he doesn’t get a new body.
- One child asked, Will we live in the new heaven or new earth? Both. In fact, as we’ll learn together, the Father’s house – what we read about when we study heaven – will actually be on a newly constructed planet earth.
There will be a new universe . . . and a new earth to explore and discover and maybe even cultivate forever.
- Another child asked, “Why is the Bible called the Bible?” The word Bible is simply the word Biblion . . . transliterated, Bible. The word Hagios was attached early on which means holy, or sacred. So we call this book, the Holy Bible.
- Yet another child asked, “How do we know the Bible is true?” Because the author of it, moving through the prophets and apostles, is God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The scriptures are God–breathed through His servants. And God always tells the truth.
- Will the tribulation happen before the rapture?
You know the answer to that – in fact, we’ve noted the absence of the church during the Tribulation and the purposes of the Tribulation which are not to purify the church – the church his already purified without ever having to experience the wrath of God.
We don’t believe in some protestantized version of the Catholic doctrine of purgatory – and yet I’ve talked to evangelicals who unknowingly support it as they defend the basic idea that the believer really ought to be purified through suffering before being allowed to enter heaven.
The Bible clearly states we are purified – justified – now – completely – through the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1) and we have been promised to be kept out of the coming wrath of God (Revelation 3:10) which will literally pummel the earth and mankind in judgment as God prepares the nation Israel, primarily, for the coming King and His Kingdom.
- Last question – when is the rapture? And the answer is, sooner than it’s ever been.
What amazing questions from 3rd graders and 4th graders. How thrilled we can all be that even in our elementary grades, answers to these questions are being provided from the truths of scripture.
As we have been studying our way through the Millennial Kingdom, I’ve also gotten quite a bit of feedback and questions related to our study.
So I thought we’d quickly review our timeline of future events and specifically answer some questions that have surfaced.
So far we’ve covered the rapture of the church as the church age ends and the Tribulation period begins.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 and verse 13. But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.
The word sleep is a metaphor for death – the body looks like it’s sleeping.
But Paul made it clear that at death, the body might lie motionless and lifeless, but the soul of that person is just as alive as ever. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, he wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:8.
The soul/spirit – that immaterial part of you that lives inside your shell of a body immediately goes to be with Christ.
The unbeliever’s soul immediately goes to Hades – a place of torment where he awaits the final judgment (Luke 16:23).
So the believer’s soul is immediately transported at death into the presence of Christ.
And Paul says this in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
In other words, when the rapture of the believers takes place, we’re not going up before those who’ve already died in Christ.
Paul explains in verse 16, For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
So Christ is going to give a command. It’s probably the same command He gave when He interrupted every funeral he ever attended by saying, “Rise” . . .and the dead body came back to life.
So Christ will command the dead bodies of believers will come out of their graves and they will rise first to meet Him in the air – which means their bodies will be glorified on the way up – reconstituted and perfected and re-inhabited by their souls which, all along, have been with Christ. It will all take place in an instant.
Then, Paul writes in verse 17, We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
Are you comforted by these words, or convicted? Do you know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior right now.
Are you concerned about this news, or confident?
One of our secretaries shared her testimony at our last Christmas program and I was struck by her decision – and her husband’s – to have written on their tombstone this statement of faith – here are the words they will have written on their tombstone – And they lived happily ever after.
Wherefore comfort one another with these words!
So Paul describes a physical resurrection of the bodies of New Testament believers as the rapture whisks the bride of Christ away to be kept from the hour of great trouble – the wrath of God, poured out on planet earth during the Tribulation.
We have studied that period of 7 years, according to Daniel’s prophecy, at length.
The first 3 ½ years are relatively peaceful. A smaller, simpler version of the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem and the Jewish people who’ve re-gathered will attempt to reconstruct their Old Testament sacrificial system.
It will barely get off the ground when the Antichrist gains enough power and charisma with all kinds of false signs and wonders that he makes the claim to be god incarnate.
He places in the Holy place of the temple an idol of himself and demands the worship of the world (Revelation 13).
The great persecution of Israel begins as well as the hunt for those Jews and Gentiles who’ve placed their faith in Jesus Christ as the only true and living God.
All the while the Lord is pouring out His wrath upon the earth in one cataclysmic disaster after another.
Still, most of the world will not repent, even though they recognize that these natural and cosmic upheavals are coming from the hand of God (Revelation 16 and 17)
Eventually the armies of the world coalesce and march against the returning Messiah who appears and descends with the hosts of heaven and His redeemed ones, riding upon white horses (Revelation 19:11)
One word from Christ and the Antichrist’s capital city of Babylon is destroyed as the city of God descends.
The armies that march against Christ are slaughtered and the Antichrist and the false prophet are sent to hell – the very first inhabitants of this eternal lake of fire (Revelation 19:20-21)
Satan likewise is bound for a thousand years in a deep abyss – (Revelation 20).
The first time Christ appeared in the sky, in 1 Thessalonians 4, He was coming for the believers. The second time Christ appears in the sky in Revelation 19, at the end of the Tribulation, He is appearing with the believers.
And the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth begins.
I’m convinced the average Christian today thinks of his future only in terms of the rapture and/or death and then heaven.
There is this incredible epoch of drama and joy and glory and development and economy and business and art and industry and nature and discovery waiting to play out on the stage of human history called the Millennial Kingdom.
And as Christ establishes His kingdom, there is another resurrection – this is the physical, bodily resurrection of Old Testament believers as well as the physical bodily resurrection of Tribulation martyrs.
They are not left out of the Kingdom and they will be given glorified, immortal bodies and they will, with us, reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4)
We immortals will reign over the mortals – both Jews and Gentiles who believed the gospel and survived the Tribulation. They will enter the Kingdom as subjects over which we will govern.
Now I had one woman come up to me and say, “You know, this idea of “ruling” has absolutely no appeal to me or my husband. In fact, my husband would rather be fly fishing for trout than working in a government post.
I said, “Tell him that he just might be the one in charge of the entire industry of fly fishing.” He might be the person who tests out the newest equipment and determines the best seasons to fly fish at the best places.
He may very well get to enjoy fly fishing expeditions with Peter and Andrew and they can share their fish stories – only they’ll be telling the truth.
We have no idea how and what our rule will entail.
If the Lord returns while our nation still exists as it does, then in the Kingdom, Chicago will still be Chicago; Cary will still be Cary. The mortals will experience life much like we do now – there will still be traffic jams and school exams and shopping malls – unfortunately . . . clothing designs and business deals; musical concerts and sporting events. One of you must might be the future commissioner of baseball – overseeing the athletic contests of the mortals.
Farmers will still plant crops and drive tractors and milk cows and ship produce around the globe and build houses and roads, bridges and boats.
The mortals over whom we rule and reign will be normal people just like you and me. However, they will live a very long time.
In fact, I had this question asked me last week, where do mortals who enter the kingdom as believers go when they die.
There is not one verse in the Bible that tells us they will die. Conditions will revert back to the early days of creation and they will live as long as Adam and Methuselah who lived 900 years plus.
While their bodies are remarkable improved – and healed, at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom, according to Isaiah’s prophecies – they will still have their sinful natures and have to battle against sinful temptations.
Having believed in Christ during the Tribulation, they are secure in Christ, but they’ll have to develop the same disciplines that we have to develop in our own lives.
Conditions for them will be more encouraging – sin will be repressed as truth is exalted; Satan will be bound and his influence nullified; Christ will be physically visible on the throne (Revelation 20:4).
The Spirit of God will be globally, unusually active among the nations of believers according to Joel chapter 2 and visions and prophecies will supplement the ministry of the gospel in that kingdom era like never before.
That work of the Spirit that was partially unveiled at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 will have center stage in the Kingdom according to in Joel 2 and Ezekiel 36.
Another aid and encouragement to worship will be the newly constructed Millennial Temple.
Ezekiel’s prophecies inform us that the glory of the Lord will fill the temple (Ezekiel 43:5) and everyone who comes to observe the enactment of the sacrifices will leave in awe of the glory of Christ and the grace of the gospel.
Worship will center in Jerusalem (Isaiah 1; Jeremiah 3; Micah 5 and Zechariah 8)
The Levites will minister once again in the Temple (Ezekiel 44); the Sabbaths and feasts of Israel will once again be observed as a testimony to what Jesus Christ fulfilled.
I’ve been asked the excellent question, “But doesn’t this violate the finished work of Christ?”
Hebrews 10 that tells us that Christ offered up Himself as a one sacrifice for all time (verse 10) and verse 18, “Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.”
That’s absolutely true. Hebrews 10 is defining the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement through His full and final sacrifice.
His sacrifice on the cross is necessary for salvation and He alone is the path to forgiveness, the resurrection unto life, the Millennial kingdom and the eternal state of heaven.
But, you say, “I’ve accepted Christ as living Lord; I’ve come to that cross and confessed my sin . . . that’s all past tense for me and for all time.”
That’s right – you have come to the cross – you have believed in the atoning work of Christ – but millions of mortals haven’t.
They will hear the gospel of Christ’s sacrifice for them too.
And according to Ezekiel 43, these temple sacrifices are not being performed for the sake of atonement, but as illustrations of atonement.
Today, in the New Testament church we have an illustration of Christ’s atonement through the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine – we partake, not because Christ needs to be sacrificed all over again – which is why we can’t participate in Mass – Christ isn’t being sacrificed again – it was once for all. But He wanted us to participate in the illustration of His sacrifice – He said to His disciples in Matthew 26, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
We call the ordinance of communion.
We’ll get into that big tank up there, filled with water – hopefully it’s heated water, unless the heater isn’t working – and in that case, baptism occurs very quickly. It doesn’t violate Christ’s death, burial and resurrection – it is an illustration of his death, burial – under the water – and resurrection – as we bring the person up for air. And we’ve never lost anyone yet in the illustration.
To re-enact the sacrifices of the unblemished animals in the Millennial Temple – as illustrations of what Jesus Christ, the unblemished Lamb of God did on the cross, will be a powerful tool of evangelism for the lost and a powerful incentive for worship and gratitude for the believers.
There is one more physical resurrection yet to happen on the timeline of human history. We are about there in our study as Revelation chapter 20 comes to a close.
It will be the physical resurrection of the bodies of all the unbelievers who’ve died from all of human history. Their bodies will be immortalized and also reunited with their souls which have been languishing in Hades, awaiting this terrifying moment of judgment.
No other god will be able to save you if you stand before what John calls in Revelation 20 a great white throne. It will be the finale of all unbelief.
The world will discover as they are swept into this awful scene that no matter how religious they were, if they have not been redeemed by Christ, their religion will not be able to help them.
They will discover that all roads do not lead to heaven spiritually anymore than all interstates lead to New England physically.
You can get on I95 South and say over and over again, “I believe this interstate is gonna take me to Massachusetts . . . I believe I95 South is gonna take me to Massachusetts.”
You can say that all you want and even get a carload of friends and hitchhikers who say it with you, but I95 will not take you north to Massachusetts it will take you south to Miami.
You know what the difference is between Massachusetts and Miami? About 100 degrees!
And if you keep going south on I95, you will eventually run off the southern tip of Florida and drown in the Atlantic Ocean.”
So, where are you in this timeline of human history?
Physically, you are in the church age . . . the rapture may just be around the corner.
However, the church age could go on, if God designs it, for another 1,000 years, but you won’t.
So the real question is, where are you spiritually?
Where you are in relation to the cross will make all the difference in the world where you are in relation to the rapture – the tribulation; the second coming, the millennial kingdom and the final judgment.
If you are not in the body of Christ through faith in Him alone, you will not go up with Christ at the rapture, you will not come with Him at His second coming; you will not be His co-regent in the Millennial Kingdom and then enter the new heaven and new earth.
So the questions you need to answer today are not– some of the intriguing questions we’ve answered, like;
- Do we get to eat in heaven?
- Can people see their families from heaven?
- Are there horses or computers in heaven?
- Why did Adam sin?
- And what does sin have to do with natural disasters?
Good questions . . . but here are more fundamentally important questions for you to consider . . . the only questions you must have an answer for today,
- Am I a member of the family of God?
- Have I been born again?
- Is my faith genuinely rooted in the atonement of Christ alone?
- Do I belong to Jesus Christ?”
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