June 10 - 16
The Millennium, the End of Evil, and the Beginning of the New Earth
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Isa. 65:21-25; John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 19:11-16; 20:6-15; 21:2, 8.
MEMORY TEXT: "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away"' (Revelation 21:3, 4, NKJV).
KEY THOUGHTS: The millennium will be preceded by the second coming of Christ and followed by the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of the new earth. These events will restore the universe to harmony with God.
WORTH THE WAIT AND THE CLIMB. Backpacking in the high mountains can be an "enjoyable" family activity. You start out in the valley on a hot and dusty trail that leads to the wilderness you intend to hike. You sweat, your muscles ache, you sleep on the damp ground. You pretend to enjoy your meager rations of food, slightly seasoned with soot and sand. Your lungs bum from lack of oxygen. You ask yourself, Who in his or her right mind would ever think of doing this again!
Then you reach the top. Before you lies an awesome landscape shared only with the few who have gone before. Trials and tribulations of the journey are forgotten. IT IS WORTH THE WAIT AND THE CLIMB!
Though not a biblical term, millennium almost always refers to the one-thousand-year period mentioned in Revelation 20. Chapters 19 and 20 describe events from the Second Coming through the millennium and to the establishment of the new earth.
How does John describe Christ's return to the earth at the beginning of the millennium? Rev. 19:11-16.
"Accompanied by the angel armies of heaven (ch. 19:14), Christ is seen descending from heaven as King of kings (v. 16) in power and majesty to deliver His faithful people from those who are bent upon their destruction. . . The scene described in vs. 11-21 is the climax of 'the battle of that great day of God Almighty,' often called the battle of Armageddon."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 873.
As we saw last week, two groups of people will be present at the second coming of Christ those who worship Christ and those who live under the control of Satan (Matt. 25:31-46). Jesus returns to gather the elect of the earth (Matt. 24:31). The righteous dead will arise in what Scripture calls the first resurrection; then the living righteous will join them in joyously greeting Christ as He arrives from heaven (1 Cor. 15:51-54; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17). The happy throng will then go to live with their Savior for a thousand years. No wicked are part of that great procession through the stars! They lie dead upon the earth, destroyed by the radiance of the Lord whose rule they rejected.
"At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth-consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the City of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants. 'Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof.' . . .
"The whole earth appears like a desolate wilderness. The ruins of cities and villages destroyed by the earthquake, uprooted trees, ragged rocks thrown out by the sea or torn out of the earth itself, are scattered over its surface, while vast caverns mark the spot where the mountains have been rent from their foundations."The Great Controversy, p. 657.
|How do I view the future events associated with the Second Coming? Are these merely facts to be studied for curiosity's sake or to be anxious about? How should I view them from Christ's perspective: "Let not your heart be troubled. . . . I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also"? (John 14:1-3, NKJV).|
Where does Satan spend the millennium? Rev. 20:1-3.
What will the earth be like during the millennium? 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 6:14.
"At the beginning of the millennium occurs also the binding and confining of Satan, represented in the vision by the dragon's being chained and cast into the bottomless pit 'that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled' (Rev. 20:1-3). These symbols SDA's believe will be fulfilled in the confinement of Satan to this earth, which has been desolated by the judgments of God (16:17-21), and in the restriction of his activities, caused by the depopulation of the earth as a result of the removal of the redeemed to heaven and the destruction of the wicked."SDA Encyclopedia, p. 888.
"In like manner, when the work of atonement in the heavenly sanctuary has been completed, then in the presence of God and heavenly angels and the hosts of the redeemed the sins of God's people will be placed upon Satan; he will be declared guilty of all the evil which he has caused them to commit. And as the scapegoat was sent away into a land not inhabited, so Satan will be banished to the desolate earth, an uninhabited and dreary wilderness."The Great Controversy, p. 658.
What will the righteous be doing during the millennium? Rev. 20:4; 1 Cor. 6:2.
"During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. The apostle Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent. 'Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.' 1 Corinthians 4:5. Daniel declares that when the Ancient of Days came, 'judgment was given to the saints of the Most High.' Daniel 7:22. At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God."The Great Controversy, pp. 660, 661.
|How does it make you feel to know that the righteous will help judge the wicked during the millennium? What does this tell you about God's character?|
Christ and Paul speak of two main resurrectionsfor those who have followed Christ, the resurrection of life; and for those who have rejected Him, the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15). Since the resurrection of the righteous is the "first resurrection" (Rev. 20:5, 6), we may refer to the resurrection of the wicked as the "second resurrection."
What will happen to Satan at the end of the millennium? Rev. 20:3, 7.
During the millennium, Satan is confined to earth. Since the righteous are in heaven and the wicked are dead, Satan has no one to deceive during this period. But at the end of the millennium, Satan will be released from solitary confinement and will again deceive the nations, the evil citizens who have been resurrected.
What does Satan intend to accomplish through the wicked hosts? Rev. 20:7-9. What entity will be the object of their attack? Rev. 21:2.
Although the descent of the New Jerusalem is not mentioned until Revelation 21, it is apparent that the city has already descended by the time Satan prepares for war (Rev. 20:9). According to the scriptural record, he marshals his armies of the damned and surrounds the holy city (Rev. 20:7-9).
What judgment will take place at the end of the millennium, and what will be its ultimate consequence? Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8.
"Satan's work of ruin is forever ended. For six thousand years he has wrought his will, filling the earth with woe and causing grief throughout the universe. The whole creation has groaned and travailed together in pain. Now God's creatures are forever delivered from his presence and temptations. 'The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they [the righteous] break forth into singing.' Isaiah 14:7."The Great Controversy, p. 673.
|Contemplate this most wonderful thought: The day is coming when Satan and His work will be no more! Take a moment to thank God for that.|
Of which death do the wicked partake? Rev. 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8. Do they suffer forever in hellfire? Matt. 10:28; Ps. 37:20.
The Bible reveals that the wicked will be destroyed. They will cease to exist. "And the day which is coming shall burn them up, . . . that will leave them neither root nor branch" (Mal. 4:1, NKJV). The wicked will be "devoured" (Rev. 20:9; Ps. 21:9; Heb. 10:27); "destroyed" (Ps. 145:20; 2 Thess. 1:9); and "nothing" of them will survive (Isa. 41:11, 12).
Several Bible passages refer to "everlasting fire" (Matt. 18:8), "eternal fire" (Jude 7), and smoke ascending "forever and ever" (Rev. 14:11). How shall we understand such expressions? They do not teach that the wicked live on, tormented forever in hell, but that the destruction of the wicked will be complete and final.
"A study of the usage and meaning of the Greek term aionios, as used in connection with the fire of the last days, shows that the emphasis is on its destructiveness rather than on its duration. For example, Sodom and Gomorrah met with the punishment of eternal (aionios) fire (Jude 7). The fire completely destroyed these cities, but became extinct long centuries ago. Jude set forth the destruction of these cities as an 'example' of the fate that awaited the licentious apostates of his day. The term 'unquenchable' may be similarly understood. Jeremiah predicted that God would kindle a fire in the gates of Jerusalem that would 'not be quenched' (Jer. 17:27). This prediction was fulfilled when the city was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 52:12, 13; cf. Neh. 1:3).... Clearly the meaning is that it would not be quenched but would thoroughly destroy."SDA Bible Dictionary, revised edition, p. 475.
How is the earth purified? 2 Pet. 3:10. What is death called, and what happens to it? 1 Cor. 15:26; Rev. 20:14.
"The whole universe will have become witnesses to the nature and results of sin. And its utter extermination, which in the beginning would have brought fear to angels and dishonor to God, will now vindicate His love and establish His honor before the universe of beings who delight to do His will, and in whose heart is His law. Never will evil again be manifest. Says the word of God: 'Affliction shall not rise up the second time.' Nahum 1:9."The Great Controversy, p. 504.
|Consider the two conflicting concepts: an eternally burning hell and the final destruction of sin and sinners. In what ways does acceptance of these concepts affect your relationship with God?|
What gives us absolute confidence in the reality of the new earth? Rev. 22:1-7.
Our sure knowledge of heaven does not come from human imagination but from God's revelation through the prophets and apostles. By faith in God's Word we look forward to "the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb. 11:10, NKJV). Heaven is unimaginable! For "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" (1 Cor. 2:9).
God will make all things new (Rev. 21:5, 6)a new heaven and new earth in which our former trials and tribulations will be forgotten (Isa. 65:17). We can rely upon God's promise of new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness (2 Pet. 3:13). Heaven will be inhabited by the meek (Matt. 5:5; Ps. 37:11). We will never fear footsteps approaching us from behind, for "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" (Rev. 21:27).
What do the following texts tell you about the relationship between God and the redeemed in the new earth?
1. Rev. 21:2, 3 _______________________________________________________
2. Rev. 21:22-24 _____________________________________________________
3. Rev. 22:4 _________________________________________________________
4. l John 3:2 _________________________________________________________
From Eden lost to Eden restored, we will have come full circle in the plan of salvation. The face-to-face relationship lost through sin will be restored in the new earth. We shall see Him as He is, for we shall be like Him in character. No barrier of sin will disrupt relationships. IT WILL HAVE BEEN WORTH THE WAIT AND THE CLIMB.
What will be our living conditions in the new earth? Isa. 11:6-9; 65:21-25; Rev. 21:4; 22:3. Picture yourself among the redeemed of all ages at the end of the millennium. What would be going through your mind as you enter the Holy City? What choices should you be making right now to ensure your being there?
FURTHER STUDY: Isa. 14:12-17; 24:1-6; 35:10; 66:22, 23; Heb. 12:29; Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14.
Read The Great Controversy, pp. 653-678 (in chapters 34 and 35).
"In union with Christ they [the righteous] judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out, according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death. "The Great Controversy, p. 661.
John wrote his Gospel to convince us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that if we believe, we "may have life in His name" (John 20:31, NKJV). The Gospel reaches a high point when the doubting Thomas confesses his faith in Jesus as the Christ (John 20:28).
The same burden pervades the book of Revelation. John wants us to know that Christ will return quickly (Rev. 22:12), bearing rewards for the righteous. Descriptions of these "gifts" are scattered like jewels throughout the book. The righteous will have access to the healing leaves of the tree of life in the midst of paradise (22:2). They will receive a crown of life (2:10); feed on "hidden manna" (2:17); have power over nations (2:26); wear white garments (3:5); have God's new name written on them (3:12); sit with Christ on His throne (3:21) as kings and priests (5:10); they will never shed another tear (7:17).
Clothed in fine linenthe righteous acts of the saints(19:8), they shall sit as judges and reign with Christ for a thousand years (20:4); escape the second death (20:6); partake of the tree of life, which grows beside the pure river of life, proceeding from the throne of God (22:1, 2); reside where there is no more curse (22:3); see God's face and have His name in their foreheads (22:4); live in His light and reign with Him forever (22:5); have the right to eat forever of the tree of life (2:7); and to enter freely the gates of the Holy City (22:14).
SUMMARY: John tells us that Jesus loved us so much that He washed our sins in His own blood (Rev. 1:5). John prophesied that throughout the ages there would be some who would accept that sacrifice and many who would reject it. He invites us to join the redeemed of all ages to accept Christ's offer of total restoration for all eternity.
When Joe Dugucagi [doon-goo-KAHN-gee] joined the Adventist church in Fiji, he was the only Adventist in his village. He met strong opposition from others when he tried to share his faith, but eventually a few others were baptized.
The believers held evangelistic meetings, and seven people prepared for baptism. But an eight-month drought had left the nearby river dry. Some skeptical villagers jeered at the Adventists, who insisted on baptizing by immersion, even when there was no water. The only alternative was to baptize the new believers in an oil drum. The day before the baptism, the believers carried water to fill the barrel. That evening they gathered for vespers and once more asked God for rain, though the skies were clear.
The next morning Joe saw puddles of water outside his door. He realized that it must have rained during the night, although no one had heard rain, even on his house's metal roof. Excited, he hurried to the river and found the water level was up to his chest! He ran to tell the pastor the good news.
The believers gathered under the clear sky to worship and praise God, then moved to the river for the baptism. It was a glorious day for the little Adventist congregation!
The following morning Joe went down to the river to bathe, but he found only a few puddles where yesterday there had been a full river. He walked some distance to another channel of the same river and found water there. Apparently Friday night's rain had caused the river to change course and fill the river channel nearest the village. When the water receded, the river returned to its normal channel.
The villagers were amazed that the rain had filled the river channel in answer to the believers' prayers, then left it dry the next day. Many who had jeered the Adventists responded with interest.
The church in Joe's village now has about 40 members, thanks to God's blessings and to the believers' answered prayers.
Joe Dugucagi (left) works in Suva, Fiji but spends his weekends in his rural village, where he continues to share his faith.
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