What Will The Millennium Be Like? – VI

June 30, 2014

Isaiah 2:2-4

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

The prophet Isaiah is a great resource for information on What Will The Millennium Be Like?  His ministry was during the reigns of four kings in the southern kingdom of Judah – from about 740 to 680 BC.  It was during this time – 722, 721 BC – that the northern kingdom of Israel was carried away in the Assyrian captivity because of their sins.  And Judah wasn’t much better!  The southern kingdom was defeated by Babylon and experienced three deportations and a 70 year captivity beginning in 605 BC.

In the midst of such ungodliness and upheaval, Isaiah prophesied of a great future Kingdom – the Millennium – in several different passages in his book.  In this blog, we will look at Isaiah 2:2 through 4:

    Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s
    house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted
    above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and
    say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the
    God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.”  
    For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusa-
    lem.  He shall judge between the nations, and shall rebuke many people; they
    shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
    nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any-

Several things from this passage:

•    The kingdom will be ruled by Jesus Christ, centered in Israel, and with its capital at Jerusalem – the place of David’s throne (see II Samuel 7:16; Isaiah 9:6 and 7; Jeremiah 23:5 and 6; Ezekiel 37:22 through 25; Hosea 3:5; Luke 1:30 through 33).
•    All the people of all nations of the earth will willingly seek the favor and blessing of King Jesus. 
•    There will be one true religion – faith in Jehovah God through Jesus Christ the Lord – centered in the temple at Jerusalem, called “…the house of the LORD…” in verse 3.
•    As Jesus reigns over the earth, there will be universal peace, justice and judgment.  It says in verse 3 of our scripture, “For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”  Note that “…the word of the LORD…” in Isaiah is “…God…the Word…” – Jesus Christ the Lord in John 1:1 and 14.

Isaiah uses these future truths to challenge the Jews in verse 5:  “O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Should not these prophecies also challenge us to “…walk in the light of the LORD…”?  In Psalm 119:105, the psalmist writes, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  And in verse 130 of the same psalm it says, “The entrance of Your words gives light….”  Life can get quite dark at times!  But the Lord said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  We get to know Jesus through God’s Word, the Bible.  With the Bible so available – especially in the western world – we have no excuse not to “…walk in the light of the LORD….

This temporal life is – as James says in James 4:14 – “…even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  Should we not be preparing for eternal life, of which the thousand year Kingdom of Jesus Christ – the Millennium – is just the start?  In Matthew 6:20 we are told to “…lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven….”  Even if we only consider the Millennium – a thousand years of what you might say is a rich retirement is a whole lot better goal to pursue than the few years retirement following a working career upon this earth!

May the future surety of the Millennium challenge us to “…walk in the light of the LORD…” – to know the Lord now as Savior so we can be a part of that Kingdom.  And may the wonderful descriptions of the Millennium challenge us to live for Him as our Lord so we can enter into those Kingdom glories more fully.

What Will The Millennium Be Like? – V

June 27, 2014

Isaiah 65:20

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

In the last blog I presented some ideas concerning who will be inhabiting the Kingdom during the Millennium.  King Jesus will rule from David’s throne in Jerusalem – as was prophesied in many passages in both Old and New Testaments.  And we – those who are participants in the first resurrection and are endowed with glorified physical bodies perfectly adapted for eternal spiritual living – we “…shall reign with Him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6).

But there will be another class of human being living during the Millennium – mortal beings with bodies not glorified and immortal.  And how do I know this?  Isaiah has several passages that describe conditions during the Millennium.  One such is Isaiah 65:18 through 25.  Here is verse 20:

    No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who
    has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but
    the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.

Notice two things here:

•    There is human death during the Millennium.  Yes, there will be extended human life, as it was at the beginning when man was designed to live forever.  God had told Adam in Genesis 2:16 and 17,

    “Of every tree in the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of knowledge
    of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall
    surely die.”

Adam did eat, and he did die, but he died spiritually first!  He was separated from God!  It says in Genesis 3:8, when God came to fellowship with His highest creation, “…Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden.”  Mankind has been, as it were, hiding from God ever since!  

People will generally do whatever they can to avoid confrontation with the true eternal God!  And if this is not rectified this side of life, they will enter eternity forever being cut off from their Creator – which is eternal death in hell!  The only solution to this dilemma is by faith accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior – trusting in His blood to wash away your sins! Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).

But back to Adam – and the early patriarchs in the Bible:  It took a long time for disease, sickness and death to catch up with perfectly designed humanity.  That’s why it is recorded that “…Adam lived…nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.” (Genesis 5:5).  Concerning the longest living man in the Bible, “…all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred and sixty-nine years; and he died.” (Genesis 5:27).  But die they did, just as God had said!

In the Millennium with the curse lifted, man will once again reach great ages in life.  But there will be death – among hundred year old children at least, according to the above Isaiah passage!  That would have to mean these human beings in the Kingdom are not glorified and immortal!

•    In the same Isaiah passage above, it mentions “…the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.”  Glorified human beings, according to I John 3:2, “…will be like [Jesus]…for we shall see Him as He is.”  This will be at His return in glory when our corruptible bodies shall be raised from the dead and changed to be incorruptible (see I Corinthians 15:51 through 54).  Jesus “…committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth…” (I Peter 2:22).  If we are made like Him, then we will have no sin nature!

So the sin mentioned by Isaiah in the Millennium cannot come from those who are transformed to be like Jesus!  It must be from those who are mortal subjects of the Millennial Kingdom!

One more bit of evidence from Revelation 20:7 through 9:

    Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his
    prison, and 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 num-
    ber is as the sand of the sea.  And 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.

This is just after the Millennium.  The mortals who have lived in perfect earthly conditions are led into the final battle against God by His arch-enemy, the devil himself.  This means they still have something within them – the sin nature – that will respond to Satan’s leading.  So they cannot be glorified immortals!

What Will The Millennium Be Like? – IV

June 25, 2014
Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20:6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Let’s continue our study of What Will The Millennium Be Like?  We looked at the first two aspects of this one thousand year reign of Jesus Christ in our last blog:

•    Since creation was good at the beginning (see Genesis 1:31), it will be returned to that state during the Millennium.
•    The world – and all creation – will be delivered from Satan’s control!  The devil will be imprisoned – according to Revelation 20:1 and 2 – for that same thousand years Christ will be reigning on earth.

Today let’s look at a seldom-studied aspect of the Millennium – just who will be a part of that thousand year kingdom upon the earth?

•    Jesus Christ will be the supreme ruler of God’s earthly kingdom!  He will rule over all the nations from the throne of David which is centered in Jerusalem.  Isaiah 24:23 says “…the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously.”  And the famous passage of Isaiah 9:6 and 7 says this:

    For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will
    be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
    Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His
    government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and
    over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from
    that time forward, even forever.

In Revelation 12:5, the woman Israel “…bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.”  So, obviously, Jesus will be the major personage in the Millennium!

•    We Christians – and all those who are part of the first resurrection – will help King Jesus administer His Kingdom.  It is written in Revelation 20:6,

    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.

But being part of the first resurrection does not mean you have to die and be resurrected.  Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:51 through 53:

    Behold, I tell you a mystery:  We shall not all sleep [die], 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 corruption must put on incorruption, and this
    mortal must put on immortality.

This refers to the Rapture (see also I Thessalonians 4:13 through 17) – the catching away of the Church just before the 7-year Tribulation breaks upon the earth.  Although there will be some who will not die, all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be physically transformed into immortal human beings with bodies designed for eternal spiritual living!  This is all part of the first resurrection.

Here is something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand.  We “…shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years….”   But over whom or what shall we reign?

Not all human beings entering the Millennial kingdom will have experienced being changed physically from mortal to immortal!  Jesus taught the Parable of the Sheep and Goats in 25:31 through 46.  Here are the first four verses of this longer passage:

    When the Son of Man comes in His glory…then He will sit on the throne of
    His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate
    them one from another, as a shepherd divids his sheep from the goats.  And
    He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the
    King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father,
    inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….”

He goes on to say in the following verses that the basis of their being invited into the kingdom is that their works – how they treated His followers during the Tribulation – showed them to be on God’s side.  So they will enter the kingdom as mortal beings, dwelling for the next thousand years in a creation that has been freed from the curse.

How do I know that they are mortal and not immortal?  Learn that in the next blog!

What Will The Millennium Be Like? – III

June 23, 2014
Genesis 3:17-19; Romans 8:18-23

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

What Will The Millennium Be Like?  As explored in Friday’s blog, it will be a restoration of conditions before sin entered into the world through Adam (see Romans 5:12).  As a result of man’s sin, God cursed creation.  Jesus Christ is called “…the last Adam…” (I Corinthians 15:45), “…the second Man…” (I Corinthians 15:46), and “…the heavenly Man…” (I Corinthians 15:47 and 48). The Hebrew word ‘adam’ means ‘ruddy’ and so by implication, ‘a human being.’  The word is translated ‘man.’ in the Old Testament far more times than ‘Adam.

Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:49, “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly man.”  When will this happen?  I John 3:2 says, “…we know that when He [Jesus] shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”  We will be restored to God’s original design for human beings – like unto Adam before he fell into sin, and like unto the second Adam, Jesus Christ!

But it is not only human beings which will be restored.  All creation was infected and affected by sin.  So all creation will be restored!  God told Adam in Genesis 3:17 through 19:

    Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of
    your life.  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall
    eat the herb of the field .  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you
    return to the ground.  For out if it you were taken; for dust you are, and to
    dust you shall return.

Creation is still enduring that curse.  It was never lifted and will not be until, as John said, “…He shall appear….”  This refers to His Second Coming, as it says in Revelation 1:7, “Behold, He is coming with clouds; and every eye will see Him….

Paul enlarged on that theme in Romans 8:18 through 23 (NIV):

    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory
    that will be revealed in us.  The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons
    of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its
    own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation
    itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious
    freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been
    groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Not only so,
    but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we
    wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

So if all creation was subjected to the curse, and the curse will be lifted upon Jesus’ second coming, and creation will then be returned to its original state – what was it like before the curse? 

•    First of all, creation was good!  After God finished the six days of creation recorded in Genesis 1, it is stated in verse 31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.

•    Second, The world will be delivered from Satan’s control!  The devil is called “…the prince of this world…” in John 12:31; 14:30 and 16:11.  He is called “…the god of this world…” in II Corinthians 4:4.  This is because he wrested the dominion of creation from Adam when our first father chose to obey Satan’s leading rather than God’s (see Genesis 1: 26 through 28; 2:16 and 17;  and 3:5 and 6).  It is written in Luke 4:5 and 6 – the second of three temptations Jesus experienced at the beginning of His ministry:

    Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the king-
    doms of the world in a moment of time.  And the devil said to Him, “All this
    authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and
    I give it to whomever I wish.

He could never offer to give that over which he had no control!  Otherwise it would not have been a valid temptation that Jesus endured!

But it is also recorded just before the Millennium starts that the devil will be bound for a thousand years – the duration of the Millennium (see Revelation 20:2 and 3), and an angel announced in Revelation 11:15, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever!”  So worldwide rule – actually creation-wide rule – will be taken from the one whose purpose is “…to steal, and to kill, and to destroy…” (John 10:10), and given to the One who will rule in righteousness and justice (see Psalm 9:7 through 9).

We will continue to explore What Will The Millennium Be Like? in Wednesday’s blog.

What Will The Millennium Be Like? – II

June 20, 2014
Matthew 13:44

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

A lot of Christians know about the redemption Jesus Christ purchased on Calvary’s cross when He offered Himself for our sins.  He paid the price – but for what?  Why, He paid for all the wrongs we have done against God!  True, but don’t stop there!  Don’t miss the truth encapsulated in the short parable of The Hidden Treasure in Matthew 13:44:

    Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man
    found and hid; and for joy over it goes and sells all that he has and buys that

Some interpret this to mean that we – having sought and discovering the Lord Jesus Christ, and salvation in Him – acquire that priceless treasure at any cost!  There are two problems with this interpretation:

•    We do not seek out God!  He seeks us!  Paul wrote in Romans 3:10 and 11 (quoting Psalm 14:1 through 3), “As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one;  There is none who understands, there is none who seeks after God.’ ” And in Luke 19:10, Jesus summarized His whole mission:  “…for the Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  As said before, We do not seek out God!  He seeks us!

•    We do not buy salvation – either the treasure or the field!  In Psalm 49:6 through 8 it is written:

    Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches, none
    of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give God a ransom for him
    — for the redemption of their souls is costly….

    Redemption of anyone’s soul is so costly that only Jesus could ever pay the
    price!  Only He could produce the payment before the Father of a perfect
    life sacrificed to pay for the sin of mankind!

The interpretation of parables is consistent, in that if something is shown to mean a specific thing in one parable, then it holds true in the interpretation of all the other parables!  Jesus gave the meaning in three parables in Matthew 13 – the Sower (Matthew 13:3 through 8, and 18 through 23); the Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24 through 30, and 36 through 43); and the Dragnet (Matthew 13:47 through 50).

In the parable of the Wheat and Tares we discover the man who planted “…the good seed is the Son of Man…” (Matthew 13:37) – Jesus Christ Himself!  In the next verse the Lord explained, “The field is the world….”  Putting it together just from these two bits of information, the interpretation of The Hidden Treasure is this: Jesus Christ Himself discovers a great treasure hidden in the world.  He hides it again and by the infinite price of His own life – costing everything He had – He bought the whole world to gain the treasure!  The treasure is us!  We are hidden, as it were, from the open acknowledgment of the world now, but of inestimable worth to God!

But notice that the Lord did not just pay for our redemption.  The Son of God bought the whole world – actually the whole of creation!  It is written in Romans 8:19 through 23:

    For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of
    the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but
    because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will
    be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the
    children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors in
    birth pangs together until now…eagerly waiting for the…redemption….

The context tells us that at the return of Christ is glory, all creation will be delivered from God’s curse into glorious liberty – said curse being imposed upon creation when man sinned (see Genesis 3:17 through 19).

What has all this to do with What Will The Millennium Be Like?  Jesus Christ came to restore what Adam lost to sin.  The Millennium will be like the earth in the time of the Garden of Eden before sin entered in.  So we can glimpse the future by looking into the past – which we will do in the next few blogs.

What Will The Millennium Be Like? – I

June 18, 2014
Revelation 20:4-6

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

In the last four blogs we have been looking at What Will Heaven Be Like?  There is relatively scant information on ‘heaven’, but there is more on the thousand year reign of Christ upon the earth, called The Millennium.  And there are basically three views in Christianity concerning The Millennium:

•    PremillennialismPremillennialists believe that Jesus Christ – upon His return (as  prophesied in Acts 1:11 and many other scriptures) – will establish God’s kingdom upon the earth and reign from Jerusalem as…KING OF KINGS…” (Revelation 19:16) for literally one thousand years.
•    Postmillennialism – In this view, the Postmillennialist believes that Christianity will spread across the world to the point where the kingdom of God will be ushered into a world made holy by the Church’s work.  After Gods kingdom is established upon the earth, Jesus will return.
•    Amillennialism – In the Greek, an ‘a’ before a word makes it the negative of that word.  Amillenialists interpret the scriptures in such a way to believe that Christ will reign over no literal kingdom upon the earth.

I am a Premillennialist!  And I believe the scriptures show forth this view in the least confusing way of the three views above.

Let me make a statement here: We do not understand all that the Bible teaches!  It says in I Corinthians 13:9, “For now we know in part….”  No one theologian or Bible scholar has all the answers!  My theory of putting together Bible truth is likened to this:  If you put all your knowledge of the Bible together it is like a ball of yarn with many lengths of yarn wrapped up together.  When I pick up this ball and examine it, when the fewest loose ends hang down from the ball – that is what I currently believe!  I say ‘currently’ because my understanding of God’s Word is dynamic.  The Holy Spirit has taught me new things over the 49 years of being a Christian, and He will continue to open to me further understanding of what He authored! (see II Peter 1:21; John 14:26; I John 2:27).  There are always new truths to learn as we read and study God’s holy Word!

Now, the scripture I have chosen for this blog – Revelation 20:4 through 6 – is one of the proof-texts that Premillennialists point to:

    And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was committed to
    them.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness
    of 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 resur-
    rection.  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.

The first resurrection is actually in three parts:

•    The resurrection of Jesus Christ – As it says in I Corinthians 15:20, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  The firstfruits were the first ripened grain, fruit, and baked goods offered to God in thanksgiving and anticipation of a great harvest to follow (see Proverbs 3:9 and 10).
•    The resurrection at the Rapture of Church-age believers (and perhaps Old Testament believers) – In I Thessalonians 4:13 through 17 Paul writes:

    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.

•    The resurrection of those who believe in Jesus Christ and are martyred during the Tribulation – This is what our featured scripture of Revelation 20:4 through 6 is about.

These three are all part of the first resurrection.

We will continue the introduction of What Will The Millennium Be Like? in the next blog.

What Will Heaven Be Like? – IV

June 16, 2014

Revelation 21:1

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

What Will Heaven Be Like?  It might be more appropriate to ask, “What will the new heaven and new earth be like?”  John tells us in Revelation 21:1, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away.  Also there was no more sea.”  In verses 9 through11 of chapter 21 John records,

    Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last
    plagues came to me…saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” 
    And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed
    me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, hav-
    ing the glory of God.

So apparently, this holy Jerusalem is set down upon the new earth which is surrounded by the new heaven.  And although the new earth – coming from God’s creative power – will be perfect, it is separate from the holy Jerusalem.  It says in Revelation 21:24 through 27:

    And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings
    of the earth  bring their glory and honor into it.  Its gates shall not be shut at
    all by day (there shall be no night there).  And they shall bring the glory and
    the honor of the nations into it.  But there shall by no means enter it anything
    that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written
    in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

Looking ahead to Revelation 22:14 and 15 it says:

    Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have right to the
    tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.  But outside are dogs
    and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever
    loves and practices a lie.

So it seems the whole of the new earth is inhabited by the faithful.  Verse 15, quoted above, seems to suggest that this is not so – that there is evil lurking just outside the gates of the holy Jerusalem!  But outside does not necessarily mean just outside the city gates!  It could mean “outside…[the] new heaven and…new earth.”  Bible teacher Oliver B. Green thinks it points back to Revelation 21:8, which says, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  Unrepentant sinners will be excluded from God’s new and perfect creation!  And the only way to properly deal with sin before God is to be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ! (see I Peter 1:18 and 19; I John 1:7; Revelation 7:14).

What will this new creation be like?  And why has God allowed all the old to pass away, as it plainly says in Revelation 21:1 above?  The earth will be destroyed because it will be the scene of man’s final rebellion at the end of the thousand year Millennium.  Read about this battle of Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:7 through 10.  Even after a thousand years of the devil being bound (Revelation 20:2), and the Son of God personally reigning over the earth (Revelation 20:4 and 6) – a perfect and godly environment – man still will follow in rebellion the one who wants to depose the King of kings, and take His place!  II Peter 3:10 through 13 describes this destruction and remaking of creation.

Concerning heaven being destroyed, this refers to the first heaven in Jewish thinking.  It is the realm of the atmosphere and the clouds.  The second heaven is the realm of the sun, moon and stars.  The third heaven – to which Paul was caught up (see II Corinthians 12:2 through 4) is the dwelling place of God.  The atmospheric first heaven has been polluted, and I’m not referring to environmental pollution about which many are concerned today.  Before God, the first heaven has been spiritually polluted!  For it is the dwelling place of the devil and his demons!  Is he not called in Ephesians 2:2,…the prince of the power of the air…”?

Back to the question at the beginning of this blog – “What will the new heaven and new earth be like?”  The Greek word means freshness, and so newness.  But it is not so ‘other’ that we will not feel at home in it!  But it does say in Revelation 21:1 that “…there was no more sea.”  The land mass of the new earth will be greatly expanded since the oceans cover two thirds of the earth’s surface.  But the seas in the Bible are often likened to sinful humanity (see Isaiah 57:20), and this may give a hint to why the oceans will be gone.

What Will Heaven Be Like? – III

June 13, 2014
Revelation 21:2, 3

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

What Will Heaven Be Like?  Where will we live and what will we do in heaven?  The popular depiction of this eternal place is that we become angels, flitting from cloud to cloud with our newly acquired wings, playing harps or maybe polishing our halos.  Or maybe we think we will be like Clarence the angel in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  In this 1946 movie, Clarence it sent to earth to earn his wings by showing George Baily (played by Jimmy Stewart) that his life is worthwhile by taking the banker through an experience of what life would be like if George had not lived.

First of all, people do not become angels in heaven!  Angels are a separate order of created beings with specific purposes.  And one of their roles – according to Hebrews 1:14 – is shown in the form of a question:  “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to those who will inherit salvation?

As discussed in last Monday’s blog, What Will Heaven Be Like? – I, once our physical bodies are resurrected, we will be like Jesus – glorified physical bodies perfectly adapted for spiritual living!  So where will we live for eternity?  The answer is in Revelation 21:9-11:

    Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
    from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud
    voice out of heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and
    He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will
    be with them and be their God.

The description of the New Jerusalem is too long to reproduce in this blog because it constitutes all 27 verses of Revelation 21.  But here are some highlights concerning the eternal city:

•    Verse 4 – “…there shall be no more death…sorrow…crying…[nor] pain…” in that place.
•    Verse 11 – “…her light was like a most precious…jasper stone, clear as crystal.
•    Verse 12 – It has twelve gates, each made out of a single pearl, and named for the twleve tribes of Israel, and each guarded by an angel.
•    Verses 14, 19 and 20 – Twelve foundations of various precious stones support it, inscribed with the names of the twelve apostles.
•    Verse 16 – The length, width and height or it were all equal – approximately 1,379 miles.
•    Verses 18 and 21 – The wall is of jasper, and the city of transparent gold.
•    Verse 22 – No temple is there.  “… for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
•    Verse 23 – No sun and moon shine there.  “…for the glory of God illuminated it, and the Lamb is its light.
•    Verses 24 through 27 – Although the gates are open by day with no night there, no evil is allowed in that city.  Only the saved will enter, bringing in glory to God.

According to The Lausanne Movement (http://conversation.lausanne.org/en/conversations/ detail/11972#article), there are about 300 million evangelical Christians in the world as of 2010.  If we take double that number of true believers through the centuries, then 600 million will inhabit New Jerusalem.  I one time began a Bible study with this statement, along with the size of New Jerusalem – approximately 1,379 miles on a side.  One man made a comment, “Will we all fit in that place?  Won’t we be too crowded?”  I then began to lay out the logistics of it all:

•    Each side (including top and bottom – and I will get back to explaining why I include sides, top and bottom – is 1,901,641 square miles in area.
•    If we are just figuring the bottom surface of New Jerusalem, it works out to a bit over two acres per person! (1,901,641 square miles ÷ 600 million people x 640 acres/square mile = 2.028416 acres/person).

Could Jesus walk on a wall or stand on the ceiling in His glorified resurrection body?  I mean, He could pass through locked doors, He could appear and disappear at will, gravity seemed to have no power over Him when He ascended into heaven!  If we will be like Him (see I John 3:2), we might comfortably inhabit all four sides of New Jerusalem, and the top as well as the bottom!  That would mean we would have over twelve acres per person!  And it says nothing in the Bible to disprove there might be several levels for habitation within that new city!  The point is, we will not be crowded in the New Jerusalem! 

After the Bible study I mentioned earlier, the man who asked the question about being too crowded said, “I sure hope we don’t get too lonely there!  Will we even see another person?!!

What Will Heaven Be Like? – II

June 11, 2014
Mark 9:2-5

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

One question I have been asked concerning What Will Heaven Be Like? is “Will I recognize my loved ones in heaven, and will they know me?”  There is evidence in scripture that answer this question with a definite, “Yes!”  Let’s look at Mark 9:2 through 5:

    Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a
    high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. 
    His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow; such as no launder
    er on earth can whiten them.  And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and
    they were talking with Jesus.  Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi,
    it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles:  one for You,
    one for Moses, and one for Elijah….”

Consider what Peter said: “…let us make three tabernacles:  one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah….”  He wanted to construct three dwelling places for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, and stay right where they were, beholding this preview of glory!  But Peter had never met Moses or Elijah!  They were long gone from the earth before Peter was born!  Moses had died about 1,430 years before and was buried by God in an unknown grave “…in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor…” (Deuteronomy 34:6).  Elijah – about 880 years before – “…went up by a whirlwind into heaven…with…a chariot… [and]…horses of fire…” (II Kings 2:11).  But Peter – and apparently James and John also – immediately recognized these two famous personages conversing with Jesus!

This is a brief preview of glory in Mark 9:1 through 7.  If these three disciples immediately and innately knew people who long before had preceded them to heaven, then it stands to reason – we will know our loved ones in heaven, and they will know us! 

Further, it seems that we will know everyone else in heaven!  Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly; but then face to face.”  What does he mean?  A common mirror in Biblical days was made of polished brass or bronze (see Exodus 38:8).  Once in use, it would get scratched.  You could see a reflection in it perhaps to fix your hair, but certainly the image was not clear enough to remove an eyelash from your eye!  Paul adds in the same verse, “Now I know in part; but then I shall know just as I also am known.”  Then – in glory, how will I be known unto God? – because that is the idea Paul is putting forth here.  I will be known perfectly – even as God knows me perfectly now!  It says in Hebrews 4:13, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

There is good reason why “…all things are [NOT] naked and open…” to us now.  We are sinful creatures, even as Christians.  We still have the sin nature as well as a new godly nature.  And, I must confess it applies to me, and to you also – the thoughts that sometimes come into the mind are not very holy or nice, even if we don’t give them voice because of social restraint!

What would be the reaction of people if they could know our every thought?  For instance, have you ever been cornered by a person who is a bore, a boor or a nonstop talker?  And – as he is jabbering away, and you are smiling and nodding your head as if agreeing – have you ever thought, “I wish he would just shut up and go away!”  If people could read our minds – now, this side of heaven – how may friends do you thing we could retain?!!  But then, in glory, we will be rid of our sinful natures, and all our thoughts will be pure and uplifting!  That’s why Paul says, “…then I shall know just as I also am known.

I believe that in heaven we will be able to fully know anyone and everyone we meet. We will, as it were, be able to read their minds which will be fully open to us with nothing to hide.  And we will be fully open to them!

There is another text in Luke 16:19 through 31 that supports this idea that we will know our loved ones in heaven, and they will know us.  It is the ‘parable’ of the Rich Man and Lazarus.  Many scholars do not think this scripture is a parable because Jesus never used proper names in other parables.  This may be a real event that Jesus knew about.  The rich man recognized not only Lazarus – whom he probably knew by name, since he was laid everyday at his gate to beg.  He also immediately knew Abraham, who had lived and died more than 2,000 years before!

When we get to heaven – and we will get there only because Jesus paid for our sins with His blood – will we know our loved ones?  Yes!  And they will know us!   Praise be to God!  It is just another reason to anticipate going to our heavenly home!  And may we be doing all we can to get our loved ones into heaven with us!

What Will Heaven Be Like? – I

June 9, 2014
I Corinthians 15:20

(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)

Over the 42 years of being a pastor, I have been asked many times, “What Will Heaven Be Like?”  Christians – especially when they have either lost a loved one or are facing death themselves – are curious where the believer goes upon death, and what he or she might then be doing.  One of the main questions is “What will I be like in heaven?”  Some might answer that we will have to wait to see, but I say we can know a great deal about heaven now by what the Bible says about it.

This series of blogs that we are starting is entitled, What Will Heaven Be Like?  Let me say at the beginning that we will have to wait and see to completely understand heaven in its fulness.  For Paul writes in I Corinthians 2:9 (quoting Isaiah 64:4), “But as it is written:  ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ”  We have never seen anything like heaven!  We have never heard of anything like heaven!  We have never even imagined anything like heaven!  But God has given us some wonderful hints concerning the place where we will spend eternity with Him.

One of the most important hints that God gives us is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  We will start with I Corinthians 15:20:  “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  Notice first that the believing one who dies is referred to as having “…fallen asleep.”  That’s because death is not the final state for the Christian.  We are fully conscious upon physical death and with the Lord.  And our bodies will rise again!

What are firstfruits?  The Hebrew uses two different words, both of which can mean the first ripened fruit given as an offering – and these two words occur 49 times in the Old Testament.  The New Testament uses just one Greek word with the same meaning as in the Old – and occurs 8 times.  The Israelites would bring the first bundle of grain or the first loaf of bread baked made with that first grain, or the first honey gathered or olive oil squeezed – and all were offered to the Lord in anticipation of a much larger crop to follow – firstfuits!

Now apply this concept to Jesus.  He – rising from the dead – is the firstfruit of those who have died believing in Him.  They also will rise from death!  And it says in I John 3:2,

    Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it has not yet been revealed
    what we shall be, but we know that when He [Jesus] is revealed, we shall be
    like Him; for  we shall see Him as He is.

It is beyond our understanding to completely know what Jesus was like after He rose from the dead.  But there are some deductions we can make:

•    He went into the tomb a tortured, beaten and crucified mess!  It says in Isaiah 52:14
(NIV), “…His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and His form marred beyond human likeness….”  He didn’t even look like a human being after the Romans and Jews were done with Him!  But when He came out of the grave three days later, Jesus Christ was whole and perfect – and vibrantly alive! 

We also – we who have put our faith in the Son of God as our Savior – will be whole, perfect and vibrantly alive, just like Jesus!  It does not matter how sick or incapacitated you might be.  It says in Revelation 21:4 that “…God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

•    Upon being resurrected, the Lord had a physical body, but one adapted perfectly for spiritual living.  That He was physical is shown in Luke 24:39, when Jesus told Thomas, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself.  Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”  We too will have physical bodies perfectly adapted for spiritual living.

Now, upon death, the human body goes into the ground (or is burned to ashes if cremation is chosen), but the soul enters either into the presence of God, for the Christian, or into hades – the place where the unbeliever waits for the final judgment (see Luke 16:19 through 31).  Upon resurrection, the soul and body will be reunited to either enjoy the eternal presence of the Lord or suffer forever in hell!

•    Jesus was not limited by the physical restraints that we know now in this life.  For
instance, He appeared in the midst of His followers in the upper room, the doors being locked! (see John 20:19 through 29).  He also disappeared from the presence of two followers in Luke 24: 30 through 32.  He could withhold Himself from being recognized by those who knew Him (see Luke24:15 and 16, John 20:14 through 16). One more thing – gravity seemed to have no hold on His resurrection body as He ascended up into heaven (see Acts 1:9).

We will not be limited in heaven in ways we are upon earth.  Jesus seemed to travel as if just by thought, so we will be able to do the same in our resurrected bodies.

This is only a bit of what is to come for us.  Even if we dedicated a hundred blogs to What Will Heaven Be Like?we will not exhaust the glories of what is to come for the followers of Jesus Christ!  But we will continue on Wednesday with What Will Heaven Be Like? – II.