“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 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 by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53.
The preceding verses are examples of the rapture of both the dead and the living in Christ which occurs before the tribulation. These are shown for your information and study.
When we examine the above and following passage we can see the difference between the rapture of the church and the resurrection of the tribulation saints (all who accepted Christ as their Savior during the tribulation).
“Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4b-6.
The rapture before the tribulation is different from the resurrection of the dead after the tribulation.
The rapture is both the resurrection of dead believers who are given immortal bodies and the changing of living Christians from mortal bodies to immortal bodies and both groups entering the presence of Jesus forever.
The resurrection of the dead in Christ after the tribulation is a case of the dead only being given immortal bodies and ruling with Christ for a thousand years.
On the other hand those believers who lived through the tribulation will now live and procreate through the millennium as citizens in the kingdom of God.
“But the rest of the dead [unbelievers] did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.” Revelation 20:5.
The resurrection of the dead tribulation saints is stated above to be part of the first resurrection. The rest of the dead who did not live until the thousand years was completed may well be called the resurrection of the damned.
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Daniel 12:2.
“And I saw the dead [unbelievers on Judgment Day], small and great, standing before God…” Revelation 20:12a.
There are two contrasting thoughts about the rapture and the resurrection of the dead from the tribulation.
It has been said that the resurrection from the dead is merely a continuation of the rapture which occurred prior to the tribulation. As a result it might be said, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.”
Another thought might be put this way; the rapture of the church (the bride of Christ) is an event that happens before the tribulation.
The resurrection of the dead after the tribulation is a separate event, the first of two. The resurrection of the dead in Christ before the millennium, the second would be the resurrection of the damned on Judgment Day after the millennium. This is seen in Daniel 12:2 quoted earlier.
The fact that there will be a millennial reign of Christ, a time of complete peace, after the tribulation and before Judgment Day is clearly taught in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. This was covered at some length in the previous post, “Time’s Epoch” posted on 7-24-21 and 7-28-21.
During this thousand year period children will be born to the Christians who lived through the seven years of tribulation that devastated the earth. These children will also be free to choose Christ as their Savior, or to reject Him.
Those who reject Christ will do so quietly and will move as far away from the center of power as possible, joining with like minded people. All of these unsaved people will chafe under a righteous rule and desire a world more like the one we have now.
“Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison…” Revelation 20:7.
These unsaved folks will be an easy mark for Satan.
“…and [Satan] 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.” Revelation 20:8-9.
This huge group will be the last to descend into hell to await Judgment Day which will happen within a very short period of time afterward.
If you are familiar with the Old Testament you will recognize the names Gog and Magog as being used to describe the Russian Invasion of Israel see Ezekiel 38 and 39.
It is important to realize that these two names have nothing to do with Russia or its invasion of Israel since that incident will have taken place over a thousand years earlier, an invasion which has not taken place in our time yet, but is in the very near future.
Gog means mountain and Magog likely means, the place of mountain. So the two are related and one possible meaning of this may be a reference to the people who live in the mountains (or remote places) which is what it may mean when Scripture says, “…the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog.”
All of this is pretty uncertain, all we can say is that these people will exist though we do not know where, or why they are called by the names Gog and Magog.
For more on the Russian Invasion see, “Flash: Russia Invades Israel” posted here on 10-7-15.
After putting down the army gathered against the saints we then see Satan’s final destination and complete end.
“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 forever and ever.” Revelation 20:10.
This is the torment that was promised more than a thousand years earlier to those who took the mark of the beast, 666.
“Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’” Revelation 14:9-11.
These people too, along with the millennial rebels and all others in hell will face Judgment Day and eternity in the lake of fire where the beast, false prophet and Satan will already be.
“He who believes in the Son [Jesus Christ] has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…” Romans 1:18.
People recoil at words like eternal torment, lake of fire, no rest day or night. Everyone is content to say, “How could a loving God do such a thing?”
This is a form of mockery because when sinful men do horrible things to innocent people, the same people blaspheme His name by saying, “Why doesn’t God do something?”
Well, God is doing something; evil men are cast into hell daily and are awaiting Judgment Day. And the horrors they visited upon others will be paid for in full for eternity.
It is not because they did not know that they were doing evil. It is because they suppressed the truth in unrighteousness.
After Satan is cast into the lake of fire the next verse indicates that shortly after, Judgment Day begins.
“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.” Revelation 20:11.
We will continue this message beginning with Revelation 20:11 in Time’s End, Part B next.
Time’s End, Part A taken from godisrevealed.com posted on 4-29-16, updated on 7-31-21.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.