The Soon Coming of Jesus Christ
and Earth’s 1000 Years of Rest
Today there are many different theories concerning the return of Christ to the earth. One of the most popular is the following, which states:
“Christ will come and secretly gather (rapture) His saints just prior to a seven-year period of tribulation. During this seven-year period the antichrist will be revealed and many sinners and Jews will be saved. At the end of the tribulation period Christ will come again and set up His millennial kingdom over the wicked who survive the tribulation and will reign upon the earth for a thousand years.”
In the light of Bible truth, this theory cannot stand. May we take a moment and see what the Bible really says about the return of Christ?
The following study is condensed and fast paced, and by no means covers every detail of these great events. Hopefully, at a later time we can look at the following subjects in more detail.
To begin, let us consider the question: Does Christ come to gather His elect before or after the tribulation? Jesus answered this question when He explained, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:29-31)
Jesus Christ clearly stated that He would return after the tribulation. Now is there anything secret about this? He said the tribes of the earth would see Him and mourn, and He said there would be a great sound of a trumpet at His return. According to Jesus, there is nothing secret about His return.
Did you know that there is no verse in the Bible that speaks of a seven-year tribulation? The principle text used to support this idea, Daniel 9:27, does not speak about the end times at all, but is a prophecy concerning Christ’s first coming, and was fulfilled long ago. There is nothing in the Bible about the antichrist being revealed during a seven-year tribulation period. Then where did this idea originate? A Roman Catholic Jesuit priest, by the name of Francisco Ribera, invented this doctrine in the sixteenth century in order to refute the teachings of Martin Luther and the other reformers. The reformers accurately taught that the papacy of Rome is the little horn of Daniel 7, the antichrist beast of Revelation 13, and the whore of Revelation 17. Most of the modern protestant churches have left the light that was shining so brightly during the reformation, and have adopted an unscriptural and unhistorical view of prophecy. As we have just seen, a “secret rapture” would completely contradict the clear teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Fate of the Wicked at the Second Coming
Now let’s take a moment and see how Christ described His coming and the effect it will have upon the wicked.
The Son of God said, “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30)
Isn’t this rather plain? The Lord will return, the wicked will be destroyed and the righteous will be spared, just like Lot and Noah were spared when the ancient world and Sodom were destroyed. As we read further in the chapter, we see Christ giving basically the same warning that He gave in the parable of the virgins. (See Matthew 25.) Many professed Christians will not be ready when He returns. Do they get another chance after the return? NO! Jesus plainly stated that He would answer them, “Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” (Matthew 25:12) He represented this also in Luke 17:35 and 36 where He said, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” Now some teach that those who are left will remain alive and experience seven years of tribulation. In truth, it is those who are taken that are receiving the “trouble.” Those who are “taken” are those who are not prepared to meet the Lord when He comes, and they are taken in death, just like the wicked were taken in death when the flood came. Of these people, Jesus said they “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:39)
When the disciples heard Jesus say that some would be taken at His coming, they asked, “Where, Lord?” Then Christ answered, “Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles [or vultures] be gathered together.” (Luke 17:37) Here Christ is clearly teaching that those who are taken will be dead; their bodies will be food for the birds. The Bible states that the wicked will be consumed with the spirit of Christ’s mouth, and shall be destroyed with the brightness of His coming. (See 2 Thessalonians 2:8.)
Revelation chapter 19 depicts, in graphic detail, the return of Christ, with Him calling for the birds of the air to “come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great.… The remnant [those who remained] were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” (Revelation 19:17, 18, 21) This description, connected with Luke 17:37, makes it clear that the ones taken are the wicked, who will be taken in death.
Isaiah wrote, “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter.” (Isaiah 34:1, 2)
If a person could only imagine the destruction which the coming of Christ will bring upon the earth, there wouldn’t be a doubt in his mind concerning the death of the wicked. The Bible describes Christ’s second coming by saying, “The kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Revelation 6:15, 16)
During the sixth plague there will be an earthquake like never before. “Every island [will flee] away and the mountains [will not] be found.” (Revelation 16:20) “And there [will fall] upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent.” (Revelation 16:21) Isaiah described this time in the following manner, “For the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth do shake. The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” (Isaiah 24:18-20)
The Condition of the Earth During the Millennium
The Bible states that “the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” (Jeremiah 25:33) Why won’t they be buried? Because there will be no one to bury them! Everyone will be dead. When Christ gathers His people, and they return to heaven for a thousand years, and the wicked are destroyed, then will come to pass the saying, “Behold the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof… The land shall be utterly empty and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.” (Isaiah 24:1, 3)
The earth will be empty and it will be darkened. Jeremiah describes the emptiness of the earth after the birds have fled from the great supper that was depicted in Revelation 19. He wrote, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” (Jeremiah 4:23-27)
At this time Satan will find himself in the abyss (translated “bottomless pit” in Revelation 20) that was once a beautiful lively planet. He is bound by a chain of circumstances; there is no one to tempt, no one to destroy and no soul to steal. The saved are in heaven with Christ. The lost are dead. He is alone with his demons, for a thousand years, to contemplate the destruction of the earth and the coming judgment.
Even those who hold to other teachings concerning the return of Christ, will often liken the thousand years to the Sabbath of the earth; but they do not understand how the earth keeps a sabbath. “Your land shall be desolate, and your cities waste. Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lieth desolate.” (Leviticus 26:33, 34)
The End of the Millennium
God said to Jeremiah, “The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” After the thousand years Christ will return and set His feet upon the Mount of Olives, the same place from which He ascended. “And the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zechariah 14:4) Then the holy city, New Jerusalem, with all the saints safely within its walls, will settle in the newly created plain. (See Zechariah 14:10, 11; Revelation 21:2.)
“When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison.” (Revelation 20:7) How is Satan loosed? you might ask. The answer is found in the same chapter. “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” (Revelation 20:5) With the return of Christ to the earth, the wicked dead are raised. Now Satan is loosed; he once again has people to deceive. The wicked are again subject to the one they served in their previous life. Satan gathers them (the resurrected wicked) “together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city [New Jerusalem].” (Revelation 20:8, 9) As Satan and the wicked are gathered around the beloved city, with their hearts full of hatred, Jesus Christ, the Judge of the universe, appears sitting upon His throne. The knees of the wicked are unbuckled and they bow before the majesty of the Son.
Paul prophesied this when he wrote, “God also hath highly exalted [Christ], and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
The Final Destruction of the Wicked
The lives of the wicked flash before their eyes. They are convicted of their sins, and judged according to their works. “And fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.” (Revelation 20:9) “Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.” (Zechariah 14:12) This is when the Scripture will be fulfilled which says, “The heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” (2 Peter 3:12)
So we see the earth has gone from a green lively planet before the plagues are poured out, to an abyss during the millennium, and now to a lake of fire after the millennium. The wicked are rewarded with torments in the flames of hell fire until they are fully consumed and brought to ashes. Some will be destroyed almost instantly, others will suffer longer; all are rewarded according to their works. The end result of the eternal fire is the same as it was during the days of Sodom.
Jude wrote, “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:6, 7) We see here that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah suffered eternal fire, even though they are not still burning, but have long since been turned into ashes.
Peter wrote about God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah when he wrote, “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.” (2 Peter 2:6)
What was the effect of the eternal fire? It burned them up; there wasn’t anything but ashes left! And notice that both Jude and Peter said this was an example to all them who live ungodly. Even Satan, who will suffer the longest in the flames, will be brought to the same destruction. Note: Forever is translated from aeon, defined as “from age to age.”
God prophesied about Satan’s complete destruction when He spoke to Satan through the prophet Ezekiel, saying, “I will destroy thee, O covering cherub [winged angel], from the midst of the stones of fire,… therefore I will bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.” (Ezekiel 28:16-19)
According to God, Satan will be completely destroyed, never to return. He will share this fate with all his angels and the wicked. The destruction will be so complete that there will not even be a coal left to warm at when it is finished. “Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: there shall not be a coal to warm at, nor fire to sit before it.” (Isaiah 47:14)
A New Heaven and a New Earth
After all this takes place, God will create a new heaven and a new earth. Peter wrote, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13) Once the wicked are destroyed, the sea of fire will be cooled and the earth will be re-created. John saw this in vision and he wrote, “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.” (Revelation 21:1) The earth will once again be perfect, the saved who had safely dwelt in the city, the New Jerusalem, will come forth, and the meek shall inherit the new earth. (See Matthew 5:5.)
Malachi foretold this when he wrote, “And ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked: For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 4:2-3) We look for the time very soon when it can be said, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4)
(Brother Martin Bledsoe writes from his home in Kentucky. If you would like to contact Martin, you can write him at PO Box 1171, Evarts, Kentucky 40828. His e-mail address is: Martinthezman@hotmail.com. Editor)