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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Last Ages & the Resurrections


In the Old Testament prophetic books there are many instances of prophecies concerning the wrath of God and the Millennium.  A brief outline of these events is the following:

The wrath of God:
·         The earth is devastated
·         Many people are killed along with most animals and vegetation
·         There will be volcanoes, meteorites, earthquakes, a large rock hitting     the earth, and fire
·         The rapture will occur; the first resurrection; the overcomers; the first fruits or the barley harvest that is baked in oil
·         The battle of Armageddon

The Millennial Age:
·         There will be survivors both good and bad – people will have long lives but they will continue to experience death
·         Jesus will rule with an iron rod, which will most likely be necessary
·         The 1st resurrection people will have glorified bodies and will serve as rulers, judges, and teachers as emissaries of  Christ
·         The principle occupation will be agriculture as it was with Adam and Eve
·         Animals will cease to be vicious or meat eaters as in the garden of Eden

The Post-Millennial Age:
·         The City of God (the New Jerusalem) will be on the earth as the habitat of Kingdom subjects
·         The 2nd resurrection and the White Throne Judgment will occur – This is the separation of the sheep and the goats; the wheat and the tares; the wheat offering that is baked in leaven
·         The sheep and the wheat will be given few stripes (symbolic representation)
·         The goats and the tares will be judged by the laws of the lake of fire (cleansed and purified)

It requires a careful study of the above outline for a Bible reader to comprehend what part of the “end of the age” event is being described by a particular prophecy. 

It is inferred there is an age following the Millennial age.  The length of the post-Millennial age is not known.  Although the City of God (the New Jerusalem) will be the dwelling place of the righteous saints, it could be and will be assumed the earth continues its existence as a post-Edenic habitat as described in Isaiah 65:17-25. 

The Resurrections
To the best of my knowledge, there are only two (permanent) resurrections of human beings referred to in the Bible.  This does not include the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is a model of the resurrection of the saints.  It also does not include those raised from the dead at the crucifixion of Jesus, who most likely died again as did Lazarus.

Some exegetes teach there will be three resurrections but offer no scripture references and thus, give no validity.  This teaching can be found on the internet, but again, no evidence is given.

The First Resurrection
The first resurrection occurs at the second coming of Jesus (sorry pre-tribulation rapture people) as is called the rapture (Latin), the called-up, and the gathering.  This will include both dead and living, righteous, Kingdom of Heaven servants.  As we will note later, this will not include every person calling themselves a Christian or a child of God.  Some Bible scholars call this group “the first fruits” and/or the overcomers.  There will be survivors on the earth after the wrath of God.  These first fruit raptured saints will rule, judge, and teach the survivors during the Millennial age under the Kingship of Jesus Christ, who will rule with a rod of iron.

Revelation 20:4 KJV  And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The Second Resurrection
The second resurrection at the end of the Millennial age at or before the great White Throne Judgment.  This will include both the semi-righteous and various levels of unrighteous.  This resurrection was taught in the parables of the sheep and goats and the wheat and tares.  No one will be destroyed but all will be disciplined by the law of God.  Some with few stripes (probably symbolic) and others with the fiery laws of God as symbolized by the lake of fire of Revelation and the stream of fire of Daniel.

Revelation 20:15 KJV  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Daniel 7:9 KJV  I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

Both Jesus and Paul speak of the simultaneous resurrection of two different classes of people (believers and non-believers)

John 5:28-29 KJV  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,  (29)  And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

The KJV word “damnation” (from the Greek krisis) has an extremely negative connotation.  To my mind, it conjures the idea of condemned, a lost cause, and imminent destruction.  However, the translation should be “judgment” or judgement by the law of God.

Thayer Definition:  krisis
1) a separating, sundering, separation  1a) a trial, contest  2) selection  3) judgment
3a) opinion or decision given concerning anything especially concerning justice and injustice, right or wrong
3b) sentence of condemnation, damnatory judgment, condemnation and punishment

Paul refers to the identical two classes of people:  just and unjust.

Acts 24:14-15 KJV  But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets:  (15)  And have hope toward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.

There are several parables dealing with the two resurrections and their various judgments and punishments, but for now let’s use the one found in Luke 12:42-49.

Luke 12:42-49 NET  The Lord replied, "Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his household servants, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time?  (43)  Blessed is that slave whom his master finds at work when he returns.  (44)  I tell you the truth, the master will put him in charge of all his possessions. 

The faithful and wise servant will be placed in a position of authority at the first resurrection.  This is an example of the overcomers.

(45)  But if that slave should say to himself, 'My master is delayed in returning,' and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat, drink, and get drunk,  (46)  then the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not foresee, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unfaithful.  (47)  That servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or do what his master asked will receive a severe beating. 

The second servant has the attitude “the return of Jesus will not happen in my lifetime so let the good times roll”.  He is still referred to as a slave or servant.  The cutting in two could literally mean cut in half as was supposed to have been done to Isaiah but it can also be defined as severely beaten.  This servant is to be assigned with the unfaithful so it will be assumed he is not cut into two pieces but flogged with many stripes and not necessarily judged by the lake of fire as explained in verse 47.

Thayer Definition:  dichotomeō
1) to cut into two parts of the cruel method of punishment used by the Hebrews and others of cutting one in two
2) cut up by scourging, scourge severely

 (48)  But the one who did not know his master's will and did things worthy of punishment will receive a light beating. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required, and from the one who has been entrusted with much, even more will be asked. 

What about the people who never heard of Jesus or was never taught Biblical truths?  They will be punished in a light manner (according to their response at the judgment – my opinion).

(49)  "I have come to bring fire on the earth — and how I wish it were already kindled!

Jesus speaks of the fire of God; the fire of judgement; and the lake of fire.

There are several scripture references like Luke 12:46 which appears to teach that believers (servants) who do not watch for His coming will not inherit “eternal life”, but that is not true.  In reality, it merely says that such people will not inherit the first resurrection.

In Luke 1:33 it is written that “OF His kingdom there shall be NO END”.  If Luke had used the term aionian (an age of time – not forever) here, he would have been incorrect. The things OF the kingdom shall truly be everlasting without an end, not age-lasting. But the Kingdom reign of Jesus lasts only until all enemies are subdued, including death itself (1 Corinthians 15:25-28). At that point the Kingdom is turned over to the Father, and the perfected universe enters a timeless realm of which we know little.

In the original Hebrew and Greek languages, the words, olam and aionian refer to a limited period of time or an age. This is why most of the early Christian Church scholars understood the lake of fire to be only age-lasting. Augustine was the first to actually advance an argument against this, and he did so on a very flimsy basis, because he did not understand the Doctrine of the Ages and he did not read Greek only Roman.

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