Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
Dave, last week we were on the questions that dealt with the last days, and I want to repeat the last question that we had because I think we ought to spend more time on this. I think it’s important. Anyway, the question began: “When speaking of the resurrection of those who believe on him, Christ said that he would raise them up at the last day (John:6:40,44,54). Doesn’t Revelation:20:4-5 teach that the first resurrection takes place after the battle of Armageddon, and couldn’t this be what Jesus meant by the ‘last day?’ Certainly a pre-Trib resurrection couldn’t be on the last day. In view of such scriptures, how can one reconcile a resurrection and its accompanying Rapture at the beginning of the Great Tribulation?”
You know, Dave, one of the things I think we ought to address here is—what about the phrase, “at the last day?” Or we can also use the phrase, “the day of the Lord,” “the day of Christ,” “the day of God,” which we find throughout Scripture?
Dave: Well, it’s obviously not a 24-hour period. Let’s say that this person is pushing for a post-Trib Rapture. Well, that wouldn’t be the last day either, because you have the thousand-year millennial reign of Christ after that. A lot of days—365,000 days after that—so it couldn’t be the last day. The last day, the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ, the Day of God, as you mentioned, is not a 24-hour period. I believe it begins with the Rapture, because we have two statements—one by Paul, one by Peter—that the day of the Lord will “come as a thief in the night.” I think that also ties in with what Christ said: that His coming… Now, we’ve talked about this in the past—two aspects: the Rapture, and then the Second Coming.
Tom: Dave, haven’t we also said on these programs in the past that we think we’re in the last days, but the Rapture hasn’t taken place yet?
Dave: It is the last time. John said in 1 John:2:18, “We know it is the last time because there are many antichrists,” he said. And Paul said, “In the last days,” so that would include days, “that there would be false prophets.” Peter said the same thing, and so forth.
So John said we know we are in the last time because of the many antichrists that are already here, but he said, “The Antichrist is going to come.”
But Christ said that He would come like a thief. In fact, Matthew:24:44-45, somewhere around there, he said, “At such an hour as you think not, the Son of man cometh.” Now, that couldn’t refer to a post-Trib Rapture, because there would be nothing else to expect after the Great Tribulation has been going on all this time and the Antichrist is here—the armies of the Antichrist are surrounding Jerusalem, you know—Israel is about to go down in flames, and you say, “Oh, I don’t think He would come now.” That’s absurd!
So Christ said He’s coming at a time when you wouldn’t expect Him. He said He’s also coming at a time when any idiot knows He’s coming. Even Antichrist goes out to meet Him—we talked about that.
So there are two different aspect to this, and the one—when He comes, the Rapture—when He says, “You had better be watching and be ready, because at such an hour as you think not I’m coming.” That would have to mark the beginning of the Day of the Lord, which comes as a “thief in the night,” exactly what Christ said the Rapture would be, okay?
Now, that’s not a 24-hour period obviously, because Peter, when he says, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night,” he says, “in the which,” this is 2 Peter 3, “in the which the heavens will roll up like a scroll.” The world, everything, all the works will be burned up. Now, that also is in the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord you read of in Isaiah—the day of darkness, the day of wrath, the day of judgment—I think, to put it in simple terms, my understanding would be: this is—and why it would be called the last day—this is the day when God begins to really intervene on this earth. Man has had his flame. Now God begins to pour out his wrath upon the earth, begins to pour out His judgment, and He begins to move in spectacular ways: earthquakes, pestilence, horrible things happening—a third of the waters on the earth turn to blood. It’s like the plagues against Pharaoh. So this is God beginning to move in real power and in obvious intervention on this earth. Now, that would be the Day of the Lord.
Tom: Now, Dave, would that be mid-Tribulation period?
Dave: No. I think it begins with the Rapture, which…
Tom: But God pouring out his wrath—you said man would have his own way. You think that ends…?
Dave: Oh yes, yes. Exactly when that begins during the seven-year period, I don’t know.
Tom: Because you have the two witnesses there and you have those evangelizing. I don’t think God would pour out His wrath during that particular time, do you?
Dave: Well, I think He very well could. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, it’s poured out in different ways in different parts of the earth.
Tom: That’s true.
Dave: But anyway, I believe the Day of the Lord goes on throughout eternity. Now, it begins with the Rapture, it goes through the seven-year tribulation, through the millennial reign of Christ, and it includes the destruction of the entire universe and the creation of a new universe.
Tom: Dave, let me read that verse. This is 2 Peter:3:10—it says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night [which you quoted]: in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
Dave: Mm-hmm. So that’s…
Tom: Now, this is not a wrath thing of God, this is God just creating new heavens and a new earth.
Dave: Right, new heavens and a new earth. Now, I think that goes on.
Why it’s called the “last day?” Because after that there will be no more time. We are in eternity. God does not dwell in time, He dwells in eternity. So, when you go to Genesis:1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” that’s also the beginning of time, because time is part of this physical universe. There’s no time in eternity. That’s hard for me to understand. There will be no sense of passage of time in heaven.
The hymn says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun,” and so forth, I don’t think we will have any sense of being there 10 thousand years. There will be just one eternal now, and I don’t know how to understand that because it seems that you have to have time for there to be motion, at least in this construct, this physical universe. This will be something entirely different, and I think that’s part of what it means, the “last day.”
So it’s in this whole period (not a 24-hour day) called the Day of the Lord, the Day of Christ, the Day of God, and so forth, that this is going to occur. Now as for the specific question about the resurrection…
Tom: Right. It says, “Doesn’t Revelation:20:4-5 teach that the first resurrection takes place after the battle of Armageddon, and couldn’t this be what Christ meant by the ‘last day?’”
Dave: Yeah, well, we addressed—that would be within the last day, but that’s not on the last day. There is no 24-hour last day, okay?
Dave: So now the next problem is it says this is the first resurrection. So how could that be the first resurrection if we say there is a pre-Trib rapture and the dead in Christ were raised and caught up together? Well, we know that that happened, because there’s been a wedding in heaven. This is chapter 20 in Revelation. In chapter 19, we have the saints in heaven. There is a wedding up there, and they are clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And then they return with the armies of heaven to bring judgment upon the Antichrist and to set up Christ’s kingdom on this earth. And that—it is at that time that time, at the Second Coming, that we have this resurrection.
Now, why is it called—why do they say this is the first resurrection? I think it’s to show that these people are part of the church. There’s not going to be another resurrection other than…I mean, who would be resurrected at this point? Only those who have been killed by Antichrist. And so that’s what it says: it very clearly says, “those who have been beheaded for their faith.”
Now, what about Paul? Well, he was beheaded, but not by Antichrist. What about my mother and father? What about Daniel? What about David and Abraham? Jesus said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.” He was not beheaded by Antichrist. Now, I think “beheaded” means killed. They may be killed in various ways.
So if this is the first resurrection, and the only resurrection after that is at the end of the thousand-year reign, and that is the resurrection “not unto life but unto damnation,” and they are still called the dead (“small and great stand before God,” and so forth), there must have been a Rapture. And the dead in Christ, who had died with faith in Christ up to that time, have been resurrected, united with their bodies, transformed, resurrected, glorified bodies.
Then (we talked about it last week) we read of the souls under the altar who have been slain. Great company comes out of this tribulation. Now, they’ve been slain for their faith, and they’re crying out, “How long until you avenge our blood?”
“Not until all of your brethren have been killed.”
So during the seven-year period we have many people who are killed by Antichrist for their faith. They will be resurrected. Why does it say this is the first resurrection? I think to show that they are a part of the church, that they are participating in this resurrection which occurred at the Rapture. Just as there are two phases in the return of Christ, so there are two phases in the resurrection. Otherwise, nobody could be resurrected! If they were killed by Antichrist they couldn’t be resurrected, because you already had a resurrection of the Rapture. No, they will be resurrected also.
Now, why is this? Again, in my opinion—this is a controversial subject, but in my opinion—they will be part of the church. I believe that everyone who died with faith in Christ or those who are still alive—there may be some alive, and there will be—but those who have died in faith in Christ before his Second Coming, I believe they’re in the church. Those who are alive, and that would be Jew or Gentile, those who are alive at the Second Coming, “They will look on me whom they have pierced.” We quoted Revelation:1:7, I think, last week. Every eye will see him. I believe there will be many, not just Jews, maybe many others around the world who will, at that moment—they did not reject Christ before, maybe they never heard the gospel, and at that moment they will become believers in Jesus. They will go on into the millennial reign of Christ in their physical bodies and will live on this earth for that thousand-year period. They are part of the kingdom, and I believe that, even in the eternal state, there will be people on this earth, and they will be the ones who will be here. Those who have believed in Christ prior to His Second Coming, when he appears visibly and every eye sees him, they are the bride of Christ, and they will be with Him in the Father’s “house of many mansions” in the new Jerusalem. But then there are the nations, it says, that are living on this earth.
Tom: And we know that at the end of the millennial reign of Christ there is a rebellion. So there will be many who not only joined what the Scripture calls “the second death”—that is, those who will appear before the Great White Throne Judgment of Christ, they’re under condemnation. So you’re saying the believers who go through the millennium, there’s a separate category for that, correct?
Dave: Yes, I believe so. They did not come to faith in Christ until they saw Him visibly. Jesus said…
Tom: Well, they’re not the bride of Christ. But they are believers and they’ll be with Christ for eternity.
Dave: Absolutely, and they will also have to have transformed bodies. The Bible doesn’t go into the details of it, but if this entire universe is going to be wiped out in one huge—I don’t know whether it would be a fusion or fission explosion, one huge atomic explosion, as Christ lets go of the atom. We don’t even know what holds the atom together! It should fly apart as He lets go of the atom and the whole universe is a—one big ball of fire, where are you going to be? Well, they will have to have transformed bodies as well to live on this earth, in the new heavens and the new earth.
Tom: Now, Dave, Revelation:20:6, it says, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.”
But what I want to get at is the second death. The first resurrection, sort of going back over what you said, the first resurrection—and that includes everybody who is going to be resurrected unto life. But the second death, that’s not a resurrection unto life, but it may be referred to as a resurrection. In other words, can that be the distinguishing factor between the first resurrection and then the “resurrection unto death?”
Dave: Well, certainly that’s one distinguishing factor. And here we get into another problem, Tom—maybe I shouldn’t air these things over the radio, but…
Tom: Well, Dave, we want listeners to be thoughtful Christians.
Dave: They can check it out. Right, right.
Tom: People who have written to us, they say that one of the reasons they enjoy the program is because we do get into some things that are—take a little bit more time, a little bit more thoughtfulness and that’s what we want to encourage. Not that…look, this is the Search the Scriptures Daily. You have some opinions, I may bring some ideas out, but we want people to come to an understanding by faith by their own study of the Word, and we just want to encourage them to search the Word.
Dave: Yeah. Well, this resurrection is not unto life, as you said, and I don’t believe that their bodies have been raised. That they stand—what kind of bodies would they stand before the Lord in, and why would He reconstitute their bodies? I believe these are souls and spirits that are standing before the Lord. They are called the dead: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.” The books are opened, and another book is opened, the book of life, and they’re judged out of it according to their works, and so forth. “And I saw a great white throne, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away,” and so forth. So these are the lost, the damned. “Now death and hell gave up the dead which were in them.” Hell, that is, Hades, it used to have two compartments—one called Abraham’s bosom, where the rich man could see Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom; he was in the other compartment. Now, Abraham’s bosom was emptied, Hebrews 7. We had Christ coming as the forerunner—the word is like in the Olympics, carrying the torch—and He brings all of these people who are waiting there, brings them to heaven. Nobody can go to heaven with some exceptions, one of them being Moses, apparently. Enoch and Elijah, I don’t understand about them. Do they have transformed bodies? Apparently.
But it’s called a second death, and now this is the lake of fire, the second death, because, “It is appointed unto men once to die, and after this the judgment.” So no one is appointed to the second death, I don’t believe. No one has been predestined to the second death; it is only appointed unto man once to die. Now, if it had been appointed unto some men to suffer the second death, then you would think that the Scripture would tell us that. So, “It’s appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment.” The second death—that’s horrible beyond our comprehension. Now, it tells us in Hebrews 2 that “Christ tasted death for every man.” I mean, the Bible is so amazing! “He was laid in a new tomb,” it says, “wherein never was man laid.” How did that come about? Because it tells us, Joseph, who’s tomb it was…
Tom: Joseph of Arimathea.
Dave: Joseph of Arimathea. So his family burial was in Arimathea. He apparently moved to Jerusalem, which he must have, and I guess he’s starting a new dynasty—his family there, his descendants living in Jerusalem—so they’re not going to go back to Arimathea to get buried. So somebody is cutting out of the stone a new burial home for them. But Joseph hasn’t died yet. None of his children have died or his wife or whatever, apparently. So this is a new tomb in which no one was ever laid.
Well, that’s also speaking spiritually. Jesus suffered everything. He tasted death—that would include the second death, whatever that means, the horror of the total judgment of God upon sin, Adam’s sin, everybody’s sin. He endured that. So no one was appointed to endure that. Christ is the only one. You remember He said to the disciples, He said to Peter—Peter says, “I’ll follow you wherever you go,” and Jesus says, “Where I go, you don’t know. You can’t follow me now. You can follow me later, but I’m going to suffer a death.”
It wouldn’t have been right for some of the disciples to be on crosses with Jesus. No, He’s up there with thieves, He’s up there with sinners, because He is bearing the weight of the judgment of God against the sin of the world, and nobody can do that with Him. You know what the Catholics say, that Mary, she suffered with Jesus also. She bore some of this pain and anguish and the suffering for sin, and you know that…
Tom: They have to expiate through suffering in purgatory, expiate their own sins and so on.
Dave: And Padre Pio, you remember, he supposedly had the stigmata as he suffered for the sins of the world. That’s blasphemy. No one was appointed to the second death, only appointed once to die. Only Christ could suffer the second death. He tasted death for every man in our place. Those who reject Him as the one who paid the penalty for their sins, they will suffer the second death for eternity.
Tom: And, Dave, just to add on to our controversy here, some people are stunned when you mention the fact that there will be degrees of suffering in the lake of fire. Let me read it. This is Revelation:20:13: “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” What else could that mean? People who were looking for their works to get to heaven—no, that’s not the way it works.
Dave: It wouldn’t seem right that a Hitler should suffer the same as someone else, you know. On the other hand, I cannot determine that. I can’t judge it. I don’t even understand it, what that suffering will be, but I believe it will be beyond physical suffering. It will be pain of remorse, regret. I mean, I think one of the most horrible things for everyone in hell will be the realization they didn’t have to be there, that Christ paid the penalty for their sins and they rejected Him, and it’s by their own choice that they’re there. I mean, that would haunt you forever.
Tom: Yeah. But the good news, as you just said, none of this has to be in the life of anyone listening to us. Christ has paid the full penalty. It’s a gift. It can only be received by faith, and He offers that to whosoever will, anybody who is willing. Jesus said, “You were not willing to come to me that you might have life.” It’s just a matter of being willing to receive what He’s offering.
Dave: And to believe in Him, that He did pay the penalty for our sins.