OUR BLESSED HOPE

A Scriptural Examination of What Happens After the Tribulation

 

Contender Ministries


 

We have several articles on the site that cover the tribulation period, but we’ve received quite a few e-mails asking questions about the events that take place after the tribulation and in eternity.  The purpose of this article is to lay out for you the events that will take place following the tribulation, and to explain the millennial kingdom and God’s plan for a prophesied heaven on earth to follow the millennial kingdom.  Many wonderful things will happen before Christ’s glorious appearing and during His reign on Earth.  Too often, these future events are not expounded upon in Sunday sermons.  We teach often on the topic of God’s wrath and judgment on a lost world, and forget to teach believers of the reward and eternity that awaits them when Christ wins the final battle.  I hope this study of scripture will leave you with a renewed hope in what awaits us after the rapture, when we will dwell with God for eternity. 


THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST

 

In chapters 17 and 18 of the book of Revelation, John describes the impending doom that will come upon the earth and all it’s inhabitants during the tribulation.  Then in chapter 19, as the tribulation is coming to a close, he gives us a view of the rejoicing in heaven, because God’s judgment will finally be settled on earth.  At this point the Old Testament Saints and the Church Age Saints are all gathered together before the final battle to celebrate the coming reign of Christ on Earth. 

 

There is some debate on the timing of the judgment seat of Christ.  It will happen either after the rapture and take place in heaven before the marriage supper of the Lamb, or, as some believe, it will take place on earth after the glorious appearing.  Most who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture believe that, because at the marriage supper of the lamb the bride (the church) is made ready through her righteous acts (Rev. 19:8), these acts must be judged before the marriage supper in heaven.  Ephesians 5:27 also indicates that the bride will be presented to the bridegroom (Jesus) without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  Since this condition will exist only after the judgment of Christ when believers have been completely cleansed and the Church is made whole, they believe the judgment seat of Christ happens during the tribulation, and before the marriage supper of the Lamb.  

 

The other point of view teaches that the judgment seat of Christ will take place after the Glorious appearing when Christ separates the unbelievers from the believers and throws the unbelievers into the lake of fire.  They believe that Jesus then judges all the saints before He establishes the millennial kingdom.  This point of view includes tribulation saints in the judgment, where the first point of view holds that the judgment is just for the church. 

 

I tend to subscribe to the view that our judgment will take place in heaven after the rapture.  For the purposes of this article, I will take things in that order.  However, I encourage you to study this for yourselves and come to your own conclusions.  Of one thing we can be certain - we will come before Christ to be judged, and this will happen before Christ establishes His millennial kingdom. 

 

With that said, we’ll begin our study at a point in time when the church is gathered in heaven to go before the judgment seat of Christ where believers will be judged for their works and rewarded for their service to God. 

 

2 Corinthians 5:9-10 “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 

 

You may be surprised to hear that believers will come before a judgment seat.  Our churches are very good about making sure we know our works do not save us, and that we are saved by faith alone.  However, they tend to spend less time on the importance of works in our lives as Christians.  Perhaps if the doctrine of judgment and reward were expounded more from our pulpits there would be more attention given to living a life of holiness and obedience. 

 

Revelation 19:8 tells us that the Saints are made ready for the marriage supper of the lamb by their “righteous acts”.  The judgment seat of Christ is where these righteous acts, or lack of righteous acts as the case may be, are judged.   

 

It is the clear teaching of the Old Testament and the New that a time of final judgment for everyone is coming.  The Bible does not teach that only the unsaved will be judged.  We will all be judged, but the saved and unsaved will be judged differently and separately. 

 

Ecclesiastes 12:17 “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.”

 

The purpose of God’s judgment is to impose the death penalty for sin on those who did not accept Christ’s forgiveness (Romans 6:23), OR to reward those who have been forgiven for their service to God (Matthew 25:14-30). 

 

Romans 2:16 “The day will surely come when God, by Jesus Christ, will judge everyone’s secret life.” 

 

"This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart." Then every man will receive his commendation from God. (1 Cor.. 4:1-5) 

 

Notice we will receive commendation, not condemnation, when God judges us.  Christians don’t escape judgment by accepting Christ as their Savior.  However, their judgment will be completely different than the judgment for unbelievers.  Unbelievers will be judged for their sins and condemned.  Christians have had their sins forgiven and been declared not guilty, so it is our works that will be judged and, rather than being condemned, we will be rewarded. 

 

Romans 8:1 “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” 

 

Hebrews 12:23 says that God is the judge of all.  However, we’re told in the book of John that The Father has delegated this task to His Son, Jesus Christ. 

 

John 5:22, 23 “The Father leaves all judgment to his Son, so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” 

 

When our Lord challenged us in Matthew 6:20 to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, he was referring to the works we do as believers and the reward we will receive when we are judged at the judgment seat of Christ.  This doesn’t mean that we do good works only to receive a reward.  We do good works because we are eager to please our Lord.  

 

2 Timothy 2:11-12  “Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him.” 

 

These verses tell us that if we endure, we will also reign with Christ.  Faithfully bearing up under suffering and trial and forging ahead with the work of Christ will result in reward when Christ returns.  In other words, our reign with Christ will be determined by how we endure now.  Luke 19:11-17 supports this teaching through the parable of the ten minas.  In these verses Christ is talking to people near Jerusalem who thought the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.  Jesus was going to be leaving them after the resurrection, and he wanted them to be aware that, in his absence, followers of Christ are entrusted with His work on earth.   

 

Ten servants were given one mina each before their master left for a distant country to appoint himself king.  Upon the king’s return he called for the servants to come before him and make an accounting for what they had done with what they’d been given.  The first servant invested his mina and when the master returned he had multiplied his mina by ten.  Upon hearing this news, the king tells the servant that he has done well and because he has been trustworthy in a small matter, he will be given charge of ten cities in the king’s kingdom.  Each successive servant had done less with the mina entrusted to him and he was rewarded accordingly.  The final servant had done nothing with the mina he was given, and he received nothing as a reward from the king.  In fact, his mina was taken away from him and given to the servant who had ten minas.

  

Matthew 13:12 “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him”

 

This verse in Matthew concludes the parable of the sower.  In this parable a farmer goes out to scatter his seeds.  Some seeds fell on the path and were eaten by birds.  Some fell on rocky places where there wasn’t much soil, and plants sprang up quickly, but not having good roots, withered quickly.  Other seeds fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.  Still other seeds fell on good soil, where they produced a large crop.  After telling this parable, Jesus went on to explain the meaning of what he had spoken.  The seeds on the path represent those who allow the evil one to snatch away what was sown in their heart.  The seeds that fell on rocky places represent those who hear the word of God and eagerly receive it, but since they are not rooted in that Word through faithful study, they quickly fall away.  The seeds that fell among the thorns are those who hear the word of God, but the worries of life and the desire for wealth and worldly things choke it out.  Finally, the seeds that fell on good soil are those who hear the Word, understand it, and then put it to use to yield something for the kingdom of God.  As verse twelve says, when Christ returns those who have something to show for their life as a believer on earth will be rewarded.  Those who have done nothing with their lives as believers, while still being saved by their faith, will have no treasures stored up in heaven.

   

The Greek word used by Paul for “judgment seat” is bema.  The bema was the judge’s bench at the Olympic stadium in ancient Corinth in Greece.  When an athlete won the race, he would step up onto the bema to receive his award.2  Because of this, the judgment day for Christians is called the “bema seat” judgment.  It won’t be an examination of our sins, but an examination of the quality of our service to God, and how well we used the gifts, talents, resources, and opportunities God gave us. 

Paul gave another good analogy to explain the nature of this judgment.  He used the building trade to explain the judgment seat.  He described the foundation of a building as solid because it represents salvation in Jesus Christ.  But, the building inspector (Christ) is going to inspect the quality of what we build on that foundation. 

 

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 “But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful.  For no one can lay any other foundation than the one we already have – Jesus Christ.  Now anyone who builds on that foundation may use gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw.  But there is going to come a time of testing at the judgment day to see what kind of work each builder has done.  Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value.  If the work survives the fire, that builder will receive a reward.  But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss.  The builders themselves will be saved, but like someone escaping through a wall of flames.” 

 

What Paul is saying here is that some of the works we do in our lives on Earth are valuable like gold, silver, and jewels.  These works are the works we do for our Lord, and they are the treasures we store up in heaven.  Christ calls us all to serve Him in our lives on earth and our response to that call will be rewarded at the judgment. 

Some things we do on earth are worth nothing because they do nothing to further the kingdom of Christ.  God will not be fooled by our attempts to act religious, or our claims to living a Christian life when in actuality we did nothing to actively serve God and bring others to Him.  These works will not be rewarded. 

 

While we will each be judged, it’s important to know that we will not be competing against each other.  We will be judged not in comparison to other Christians, but by how we used the opportunities, resources, and talents God gave us.  For example, if we have the opportunity to share the gospel with family and friends, did we take that opportunity?  Did we use the gifts God gave us for our own gain or for His glory?  As the king in the parable of the minas asked, Jesus might ask us at the judgment seat, “What have you done with what I have given you?”  We should all ask ourselves how we will stand on that day.  Will we stand before Christ with confidence, or will we be ashamed of a life wasted on earthly pleasures.  For some on that day, the judgment seat will be a most solemn occasion, for others it will be a day of great reward for a job well done.  The reminder of this day in our future should be incentive enough to awaken even the most slumbering Christian. 

 

You might be wondering, what kind of rewards we will receive.  No one knows for sure what rewards the faithful saints will be given at the judgment seat of Christ.  Many Bible Scholars believe that the rewards will be some type of privileged service to God, such as ruling in a position of authority during the millennial kingdom.  Others believe that part of our reward will be the crowns believers will wear and then cast before the throne of Christ (Rev. 4:10).  The five crowns mentioned in the Bible are as follows: 

 

(1) The Crown of Life or "Martyr's Crown" (Js. 1:12; Rev. 2:10).  The believer must love the Lord even more than his own life and be faithful unto death if he is to receive the crown of life.  Jesus said, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mk. 8:35).  Norman H. Camp notes, "During the coming Great Tribulation many will receive the crown of life because they will be slain for the Word of God and for the testimony which they hold (Rev. 6:9-11)."

(2) The Crown of Glory or "Pastor's Crown" (1 Pet. 5:2-4).  This is for the pastor who feeds the flock and does not lord it over "God's heritage."  He is an example to others and not in the ministry for profit or financial gain.  It will be awarded by the
"chief shepherd" when He appears.

(3) The Crown of Rejoicing or "Soul Winner's Crown" (1 Thess. 2:19, 20; Phil. 4:1). This crown is given to those who win souls for the Lord.  The winning of souls should be every Christian's responsibility.  The Apostle James explains:
"He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins" (Jas. 5:20). 

(4) The Crown of Righteousness for those
who "love His appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8). This is the crown for those who are looking for the "blessed hope," the return of the Lord for His own at the Rapture.  They are living "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Tit. 2:12).

(5) The Incorruptible Crown or "Victor's Crown" (1 Cor. 9:25-27).  This is the crown for those who practice self-control over their impulses and desires.  Paul was careful to keep his body in subjection
, "lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul was not afraid that he might lose his salvation, but that he might be (adokimos) "disqualified for the prize" (NIV).  Here Paul is thinking of rewards that would be given at the judgment seat of Christ. 1 

 

THE MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB 

 

Following the judgment seat of Christ and just before the Glorious Appearing, the marriage supper of the Lamb will take place in heaven.  This event is described in Revelation 19:7-9. 

 

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)  Then the angel said to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’”  And he added, “These are the true words of God.”

  

Jesus used marriage suppers in his parables often throughout the New Testament.  The bridegroom at this marriage is Jesus Christ.  From many verses in scripture we know that Jesus is the lamb, and in John 3:29, John refers to Jesus as the bridegroom.  The identity of the bride is found in Ephesians 5:32 where Paul likens the husband in a relationship to Christ and the wife to the Church.  2 Corinthians 11:2 also says, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy.  I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.” 

 

In Revelation 19:9 we also find that there will be guests at this marriage.  The guests can’t be the Church because the bride is never considered a guest.  From John the Baptist, who lived before the death and resurrection of Christ, we know that he was a friend of the bridegroom (John 3:29).  The Old Testament saints and those who lived before Christ’s sacrifice but had faith in God are the friends of the bridegroom that make up the guests who are honored and blessed to be invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.  I want to point out here that this does not mean the Old Testament Saints are somehow inferior to the Church.  These saints will also have promises fulfilled and enjoy a special relationship with the Lamb that we will not share in.  The marriage supper of the Lamb is simply a special blessing reserved for the Church. 

 

THE GLORIOUS APPEARING 

 

It was customary in Biblical times, as it is today, to have a celebration or reception following a wedding.  John’s vision is no different.  Following the marriage supper, John describes the glorious appearing of Christ when he will come to establish His kingdom on earth. Furthermore, in Matthew 24:27-31 we read “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.  Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.  “Immediately after the distress of those days” ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’  “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.” 

 

When the Lord returns, all will see Him.  The sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the Earth will mourn.  They will finally realize, although too late, that they are not prepared for His coming.  It is at this point that the second “installment” of the rapture will happen.  Those believers who accepted Christ after the rapture of the church will be gathered together and raptured just as the church was before the tribulation.  We know this cannot be a description of the rapture of the church because the return of Christ is not described in this way when the Church is raptured.  Also, as we’ve just read, the marriage supper of the Lamb is celebrated prior to Christ’s second coming, therefore, the Church has already been raptured when this second installment of the rapture takes place. 

 

Having gathered to him all believers throughout time, Christ comes to an earth peopled by the unsaved.  He returns with His saints to execute judgment on those who did not accept Him.   

 

Jude 14-15 “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 

 

THE BATTLE OF THE GREAT DAY OF THE LORD 

 

The final battle between good and evil, and between God and Satan, will be fought in one day and will consist of several battles.  Rather than detail each battle, I will list below each battle that makes up the great and terrible day of the Lord, and where you can read about each of them in scripture. 

 

The Battle of Armageddon – The armies of the world will be gathered against Jesus in the Valley of Megiddo where He will destroy them.  Revelation 16:12-16; Ezekiel 39:17-22; Revelation 19:15 

 

The Battle of the Valley of Jehoshaphat – More armies of the nations will battle Christ.  He will reap a judgment harvest on the nations of the earth for their persecution of the nation of Israel.  Joel 3:1-2; 9-17, Revelation 14:14-20. 

 

The Battle of Jerusalem – The final battle in the war of the Great Day of the Lord.  Satan will make one final attempt to destroy Jerusalem.  In this final battle Satan, the Antichrist, and his armies are defeated.  Zechariah 12:1-9, Revelation 16:17-21. 

 

The only remaining evil in the earth after these battles is the source of evil itself - Satan and his two henchmen, the Antichrist, and the False Prophet.  Chapter 20 in the book of Revelation describes their destruction, starting with the beast and his co-deceiver.   

Revelation 19:20 – “But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf.  With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshipped his image.  The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” 

With the Antichrist and the False Prophet judged and condemned, that leaves only Satan to be dealt with. 

 

Revelation 20:1-3 – “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that, he must be set free for a short time.” 

 

During the Millennial Kingdom, Satan will be bound and the world will no longer be tempted by his evil, or deceived by his lies.  This kingdom, where Christ will reign for 1,000 years, will be the Utopia we’ve always longed for, and the world human governments were never able to build.  The majority of people living during this time will be believers.  However, Satan will be loosed one final time for the final deception before Satan is destroyed. This will be discussed in further detail later. 

 

After the Antichrist’s armies are dealt with, and Antichrist, the False Prophet, and Satan have been judged, Jesus will judge the nations.  During this time when Satan is bound and evil is defeated, the tribulation saints – those believers killed during the tribulation – will be raised.  With all believers from throughout time present, the unbelievers from the tribulation will be judged. 

 

Matthew 25:31-34, 41  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world……Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” 

 

With the believers separated from the unbelievers, believers on the right and unbelievers on the left, those who had followed the Antichrist and persecuted the saints throughout the tribulation will be thrown into the fiery pit for eternity, leaving only those who followed Christ and were saved.  Now begins Christ’s reign with His church in the Millennial Kingdom. 

 

THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM 

 

The Earth is destroyed three times in the Bible.  The first being the flood in Noah’s time, the second being the renovation of the earth by fire before the millennial kingdom, and the third being before the new earth that will follow the millennial kingdom. 

Isaiah 65:17 "Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind."

 

This verse comes just before the Millennial Kingdom is described telling us that God will create a new heaven and earth before setting up his kingdom.  In 2 Peter 3:1-16, the Apostle predicted that the Day of the Lord will be a time of great change on the earth.  The earth’s surface will be destroyed before Christ sets up his kingdom.  Referring to this time, Peter says in 2 Peter 3:11, “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?  You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God.”   

 

Some Bible scholars identify the destruction in Isaiah 65:17-20 and 2 Peter 3:4-14 with the destruction after the Millennial Kingdom in Revelation 21:1.  However, this presents some problems.  The verses in Isaiah speak of death and the judgment of the nations, so could not be referring to the destruction after the millennium, and the verse in 2 Peter refers to the Day of the Lord, which happens before the millennium. 

 

Isaiah 65:20 describes the Millennial Kingdom this way – “Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach one hundred will be considered accursed.”  When the millennium begins, the world will be peopled with believers, and Satan will be bound, unable to tempt the children of God.  This leaves only the temptation of the flesh to those who are alive in the flesh during the Millennial Kingdom.  Those believers who lived through the tribulation and are still alive in the flesh will continue to have children, and will populate the millennial kingdom.  There will be a huge population explosion because people’s life spans will parallel that of people from Adam and Eve to the time of the flood.  Those alive at the start of the millennium and those who accept Christ during the millennium will live until the end of the 1,000 years.  Couples will be able to have children not only during the first one hundred years but also for hundreds of years thereafter.  During this time of unprecedented blessing and food supply, couples will be able to have as many children as they want.   

 

Those born in the millennium, having free will, must choose to follow Christ just as the church did, and most of them will.  However, if someone fails to accept Christ before he reaches one hundred years old, he will be considered accursed and will die.  This puts the lie to the secular teaching that people are born inherently good and it’s their environment that makes them bad.  Even while living in a heaven on earth, some will still rebel against Christ.  During the unbelievers’ 100 years of life, they will no doubt propagate a generation of unbelievers who will follow Satan when he is once again released for a time at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:8).  Remember Satan will be loosed to wage one final rebellion against the Lord.  Those unbelievers who have not yet reached 100 will side with Satan in his final battle and defeat. 

 

In God’s grand design, however, the majority of human kind will receive salvation during the millennial kingdom.  There will be far more people saved than condemned during this 1,000 years.  God, in his infinite wisdom, did not cast Satan into the lake of fire after the tribulation as he did the Antichrist and the False Prophet.  Instead he bound him in the abyss.  Because of God’s great love he gives every chance for as many to become saved as possible before the final judgment at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. 

 

THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT

 

The great white throne judgment will take place at the end of Christ’s thousand-year reign on earth.  Revelation 20: 5 says, “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.”  The rest of the dead are those who died in unbelief throughout the ages, including those who were cast into the lake of fire at the end of the tribulation.  These resurrected unbelievers will be judged at the great white throne judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15. 

 

“And I saw a great white throne, and I saw the one who was sitting on it.  The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide.  I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne.  And the books were opened, including the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to the things written in the books, according to what they had done…And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” 

 

This judgment is for those who never accepted Christ and died in their sin.  Verse 13 says, “The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.”  Even those who died at sea and their remains scattered will have their bodies raised.  Just as believers were judged for their righteous acts, the dead in their sins will be resurrected, reunited with their soul from its place in torment, and stand before the Great White Throne.  

 

Judgment of the condemned’s works is followed with judgment from the Book of Life (Rev 20:15).  This is referring to the Lamb’s Book of Life, not the book of life that all names are written in.  The New Testament refers to the Lamb’s Book of Life eight times.  If their name isn’t found in the book of life, and of course it won’t be, they are cast into the lake of fire for eternity (Rev 20:15).  You might be wondering why these people’s works would be judged if they are condemned already.  Remember the Bible tells us we will ALL have to make an accounting for what we have done.  The condemned are included in this.  With all unbelievers from throughout all time judged and condemned for eternity, this leaves only believers from all time to live out their eternity with God.

 

THE NEW HEAVEN AND NEW EARTH 

 

When Christians speak of people going to heaven, they are speaking of our souls.  Our souls go to heaven when we die, however we will be returned to our new glorified bodies at the rapture and glorious appearing.  Our eternity will be spent in these glorified, perfect bodies on a new earth with God. 

 

Revelation 21 introduces this eternal future and the ultimate purpose God has for the human race.  This is the eternity that all believers have to look forward to.  And what a blessed, beautiful thing it will be.   

 

When the new heaven and earth are created after Christ’s 1,000 year reign, Jesus turns the kingdom over to God the Father. 

 

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 “After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having put down all enemies of every kind.  For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.  And the last enemy to be destroyed is death…Then, when he has conquered all things, the Son will present himself to God, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.” 

 

Revelation 21:2,3  “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” 

 

Chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation reveal seven things that will be a part of our eternal state. 

 

1.  A new heaven (21:1)

2.  A new earth (21:1)

3.  A new Jerusalem (21:2)

4.  New things (21:5)

5.  A new paradise (22:1-5)

6.  A new place for God’s throne (22:3)

7.  A new source of light (22:5) 

 

As already discussed, the earth will be destroyed a total of 3 times, once during the flood, then again in the destruction by fire following the tribulation, and a final time when the earth is destroyed after the Millennial Kingdom. 

 

Revelation 21:1  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.” 

 

There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible – the atmosphere of the earth, the stellar heaven (space), and the headquarters of God (2 Cor. 12:2, Rev. 4-5).  This verse is speaking of the atmospheric heaven around the earth.

 

God’s plan for humankind is to inhabit the earth forever in fulfillment of His promises.  After he does away with the old earth, he will create a new heaven and earth far better than anything we’ve ever known, complete with a Garden of Eden.  This new earth will indeed be “heaven on earth”.  It will have a river and an abundance of water, but none of the landmass will be wasted by seas. 

 

Revelation 21:2 “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” 

 

This is the holy city that Jesus went to prepare for his saints in John 14:1-3.  The New Jerusalem will come down from heaven to the new earth, and will be the city of righteousness prepared for the enjoyment of His people.  Revelation 21:3 says, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them”.  God will no longer dwell in the third heaven, but will dwell with us in the New Jerusalem.  It’s exciting to think that we will dwell with God for eternity.  We will be His people, and He will be with us and be our God.  What a wonderful and loving God we have. 

 

There is a great deal said about the New Jerusalem in several places throughout the book of Revelation.  Here, we will only touch on a few of the descriptive passages that speak to the nature of the city.  I encourage you to read Chapter 21 to get a fuller picture of God’s headquarters during eternity. 

 

Revelation 21:15-16  “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls.  The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide.  He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” 

 

In terms we can understand, the city itself would stretch from about the eastern seaboard of the United States to the Mississippi River on one side and from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico on the other.  It would also be this same distance in height.  We’re not told if it will be in the shape of a pyramid or a cube, but suffice it to say it will be plenty big enough for the gathering of saints from all ages.  Tim Lahaye explains it this way in his book Revelation Unveiled

 

Dr. Henry M. Morris, an expert engineer and author, has done the math on this and concluded that given the estimated population of a possible twenty billion residents, each person would enjoy a block of space of approximately one cubic mile, or its length, breadth, and height would be a little over a third of a mile in each direction. 3

 

Wow!  I can’t fathom something that large, but I like the sound of a cubic mile of space in a beautiful city.  It sure beats my little yard in the middle of a less than spectacular and nowhere-near-holy North American metropolis.   

 

Revelation 21:22 tells us that there will be no temple in the new Jerusalem, because God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple, and Revelation 21:22-24 declares that God will be the light for the city, and the city the light for the nations. 

 

Revelation 21:24-26  "The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it.  On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there.  The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it."

 

Just as God maintained a fellowship with Adam and Eve before the fall, God will maintain a fellowship with us on the New Earth.  All of the Old Testament saints, the believers from the church age, the tribulation saints, and the great multitude who followed Christ in the millennium will live out eternity with God.  He will wipe away every tear.  There will be no more death, and there will be no more mourning or pain.

 

Revelation 21:4  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

 

For those who feel the pain of knowing some of our loved ones may not join us in eternity with God, remember verse 4 and take comfort in God’s promise to wipe away every tear.  We will not feel sorrow or pain in eternity.  Perhaps God will remove every memory of those loved ones.  We can’t know for sure.  But, we can know with certainty that we will not experience despair or grief when all things are made new.

This unimaginable peace and happiness that we as Christians will experience for eternity stands in stark contrast to the fate of those who do not accept Christ’s free offer of salvation.

 

Revelation 21:8  “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and the liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.  This is the second death.” 

 

There is no second chance after death.  Verse 7 and 8 reiterate this consistent biblical teaching that our choice must be made before we die.  If you are a believer, you will spend eternity in a heavenly state with God.  If you are an unbeliever, your place will be in the lake of fire for eternity.  I would urge you to examine your life right now.  Now is the time to accept Christ’s free gift.  Revelation 21:6 says that if you call on the name of Christ He will “give to drink without cost form the spring of the water of life”.  If you have any doubt about where you might spend your eternity, now is the time to ask Him to save you. 

 

Revelation 22:17  “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!”  Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life”

 

 

FOOTNOTES

1.  The Judgment Seat of Christ, prophecyforum.com, http://www.prophecyforum.com/judgment_seat_of_Christ.html

2.  Bruce Bickel and Stan Jantz, Guide to the End of the World (Harvest House Publishers Eugene Oregon 1999), pg. 251 

3.  Tim Lahaye, Revelation Unveiled, Alive Communications (Colorado Springs, Co 1999), pg. 361

 

Contender Ministries

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