In our last message, we discussed creating “bins” into which we could sort the prophecies of Scripture predicting events in the future. We had used the book of Revelation to establish four future time periods that are set forth in Scripture. From this study, we constructed the following chart showing these time periods in order:

Daniel’s Seventieth Week

      The       Millennium

The     Little     Season   

The             New Heavens and          New Earth   

       

      1                               2                               3                               4                               5

As we noted last time, the second coming of Jesus Christ takes place at line 2, and the release of Satan from his imprisonment takes place at line 3. At line 4, the heavens and earth are renewed. The Bible does not take us beyond the new heavens and the new earth. It could very well be that this period will have no real end, though there could be changes within it as God’s plan continues to unfold.

We have examined these four future time periods, all of which can be “bins” into which we can sort the future prophecies of the Scriptures. All of these take place after the dispensation of grace, the current time period we live in. If we have properly identified all the future “bins” into which prophecies can be sorted, then we should be able to fit any future prediction we find in the Bible into one of these four bins.

Let us focus in, for a little while, on the character of that time period I called above the “Millennium.” If we have a good idea of what this time period will be like, we will better be able to know when a predictive prophecy of the Scripture should be sorted into this time period. First, let us look at Matthew 13:40-43.

40. Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41. The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42. and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!

This passage, as we can see from verse 36, is part of the Lord Jesus’ explanation of His parable of the wheat and the tares. After explaining the meaning of the various elements used in the parable, this is His conclusion. This is something that He says will take place at the end of the age. Yet we need to understand this phrase a bit better.

First of all, the word “end” here is not the usual Greek word for “end,” telos, but rather is the word sunteleia, which means a consummation, not just an ending. For example, if a couple is dating, and that dating relationship moves into courtship, and the courtship ends in a marriage, we do not say that that relationship has ended with the wedding. The courtship has not merely ended. Rather, it has consummated. An end to the dating and courtship would be a break-up. The marriage is not an end. It is a consummation. It was the ultimate goal of all the relationship that came before. When that relationship reached its goal, that was the consummation. In the same way, the Lord is not speaking of the end of something, as if that thing came to an end. Rather, He is speaking of the consummation of it. It has come, not to completion, but to consummation.

We also must reconsider the meaning of this word that is translated “age.” This is the Greek word aion, which we can make more English by calling it “eon.” This Greek word does not mean an age. It is not a word that delineates a period of time. Many have made it to mean this. Yet just because a word covers a period of time does not mean that that is the basic meaning of the word. For example, in the United States, a Presidency lasts for four years. Yet to say that that is a definition of a Presidency, that is, that a Presidency is a four-year period of time, would be entirely wrong. I cannot properly say that I went to high school for a Presidency, though I did go to high school for a period of four years. In that same way, I do not believe that an aion is a time period. “Age” is not a good translation of this word. The word aion meant that which flows. This meaning is still preserved in the name “The Avon River,” for “avon” is just a slightly modified form of aion, and the “Avon River” means the flowing river. This word aion is often used by God to describe His works with men. He flows out to men in power and revelation, and men must respond to that flow. God’s great flow to men, we read here, consummates at a certain time, which I believe is at the second coming of Jesus Christ and the beginning of that time period I have called above “the Millennium.”

So we are discussing the consummation of God’s flow, when the Son of Man sends out His angels. The word “angel” in Greek means messengers. Whether these are supernatural messengers or human messengers must be determined from the context. In this passage, which is meant is not clear. Yet we do know that at this time these angels remove everything that causes offense from the government of God. In his Emphasized Bible, Rotherham translates this, “All the causes of stumbling.” In his version, Weymouth translates this, “All causes of sin.” In other words, anything that would tempt any man to sin is removed. This includes Satan himself, as we read in Revelation 20:1-3. Then, it says that all who practice lawlessness are also removed. They are cast into a furnace of fire, where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. This phrase signifies great sorrow and great regret. Then, we read, the righteous will shine forth in the kingdom of their father.

Let us think about what these statements will mean when they take place. If the things listed above were done, if all who do sin and all things that would cause anyone to sin were removed from the earth, then we could say that it would be like the Garden of Eden, only without the Tree of Knowledge. With no sinners, and nothing to cause men to sin, there would be no sin, and if there was no sin, there would be no death. This is what the result would be if God did the things He says He will someday do in this passage.

Now to ensure that this is indeed what this passage is talking about, and to establish that we have correctly identified the time when these things take place, let us look at a passage that speaks of Christ’s second coming, the event that begins the thousand years of the Millennium. Let us examine II Thessalonians 1:7-10.

7. and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8. in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10. when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.

Here, we read of the time when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels. We learn that He comes in flaming fire, taking vengeance. All who do not know God and who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ are destroyed. This is important, so let us take careful note of it. The Lord Jesus, when He is revealed from heaven, comes in flaming fire, taking vengeance on all who do not know God. It is too late, at this time, for anyone to seek to know God. It is too late, at this time, for anyone to attempt to establish a relationship with Him. Anyone who does not already know God is subject to “everlasting destruction” at this point. And the same thing is true of obedience to the gospel. Anyone who does not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is likewise destroyed. It is too late to promise to obey it. It is too late to intend to obey it in the future. If one does not, at this point, already have a track record of obeying that gospel, he will be destroyed by the Lord Jesus Christ at this point. This takes place at what is commonly called Christ’s “second coming.” We cannot weaken this, although many would like to. We need to believe it, and consider and accept what it means. It is clear from this passage that there is no blessing in Christ’s coming for anyone who does not already know God, and who does not have a track record of obeying the gospel. For them, Christ’s coming will not be wonderful. For them, Christ’s coming will only signal destruction. And there can be no doubt, in the dark and sinful world we live in, that if Christ’s coming were to take place today, as so many preach, that the vast majority of men would be found not to know God nor to obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus would be destroyed with fire. We may think this sounds harsh, but this is what the Bible teaches about His coming. Yet before we find this too disturbing, let us note the prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6 before we continue.

5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet 
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 
6. And he will turn 
The hearts of the fathers to the children, 
And the hearts of the children to their fathers, 
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.

So, there is a plan in God’s future program to ensure that the earth will not need to be cursed when Christ comes. But we will examine this prophecy in more detail later in this study. For now, let us sum up what we have discovered so far. We have learned that these things will be true of the Millennium:

1. No one who does not know God, and who does not also have a track record of obeying the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, will be allowed to enter the Millennium.

2. Nothing that would cause anyone to sin, including Satan, will be allowed to enter the Millennium.

3. The result of this will be that, though death is still possible, none will die, and though sin is still possible, none will sin. It will be like the Garden of Eden with no tree of knowledge! And it will remain that way until Satan is loosed for the little season.

Sorting Prophecies

Now that we have our “bins” established, and have defined the character of that bin I have called the “Millennium,” let us work on sorting other prophecies. Let us keep in mind that, if these bins cover all of God’s plans for the future, we should be able to sort all the predictive prophecies we come upon in Scripture into one of them. Let us see if we can actually do this, or if we can find any prophecies that will not fit.

First of all, let us examine the great prophecy found in Isaiah 60:1-12.

1. Arise, shine;
For your light has come! 
And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. 
2. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, 
And deep darkness the people; 
But the LORD will arise over you, 
And His glory will be seen upon you. 
3. The Gentiles shall come to your light, 
And kings to the brightness of your rising. 

Here, a time is set forth when great darkness covers the earth. This is not the absence of physical light, but rather the absence of truth, the absence of knowledge, and the absence of understanding of God, the things of God, and the ways of God. The world is in darkness at this time, much as it is in darkness today. But we see that things do not remain this way. A light shines out upon “you.” Who is being spoken to here? Clearly this is speaking of Israel. It is upon that nation and upon that people that a great light shines. Yet we read that the light does not stop with Israel. The Gentiles will come to this light, and the kings of the earth to the brightness of their rising. The Gentiles here are the nations. They see what God is doing for Israel, and they want in on it. Like the queen of Sheba in the days of Solomon, the kings of these nations come to Israel to share in the light God has given them.

4. “ Lift up your eyes all around, and see: 
They all gather together, they come to you; 
Your sons shall come from afar, 
And your daughters shall be nursed at your side. 
5. Then you shall see and become radiant, 
And your heart shall swell with joy; 
Because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you, 
The wealth of the Gentiles shall come to you.

Now, the passage speaks from the point of view of an Israelite in the land of Israel. One could say that this is almost the land itself being spoken to. The land sees its sons and daughters returning to it from far away, now to dwell within its borders. No more will they be scattered abroad across the earth. Then the inhabitants of the land are full of joy because of the “abundance of the sea” turning to them. The “sea” is often used as a figure for the nations of the earth. These all turn to Israel in this day of the rising up of the land and the people. The result of it is that the wealth of the nations comes into that land. In the time of Christ, we know that Israel was very poor. Yet this will not be the case when this great renewal comes.

This entire passage should be read in this context, but for the sake of time we will move on now to verses 10-12.

10. “The sons of foreigners shall build up your walls, 
And their kings shall minister to you; 
For in My wrath I struck you, 
But in My favor I have had mercy on you. 
11. Therefore your gates shall be open continually; 
They shall not be shut day or night, 
That men may bring to you the wealth of the Gentiles, 
And their kings in procession. 
12. For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you shall perish, 
And those nations shall be utterly ruined.

Here we see that the nations are now helping Israel. They build up the walls, that is, the defenses of the land. The rulers of other lands minister to them. Their gates are open continually, meaning that they are never shut from fear of siege or the enemy. Israel is at total peace, with no fear of attack by any other nation, at this time. All the nations are helping Israel, not harming them. Those who refuse to do so, who will not serve Israel, will perish. When applied to a nation, this would mean that the nation would be destroyed and would no longer have its own sovereign identity.

Now if we honestly seek to sort this prophecy, I think we would have to admit that we cannot fit it into any of the four bins we have already established. Clearly, this cannot fit into the new heavens and the new earth, for great darkness does not cover the earth at that time. It cannot fit the Little Season when Satan is loosed or the period of seven years preceding the Millennium. And I believe it also cannot fit into the Millennium. This is where most who hold with the four bins I have set forth above would attempt to place it. Yet I do not believe it fits there. The reason is that we are currently living in a world covered by darkness, and Israel is in gross darkness. As a whole, that people have totally rejected, totally set aside, and totally ignored their true Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. There are some Jews who believe, but this is a small minority. Yet when Christ comes back, as we learned, He takes vengeance upon all who do not know God and who do not obey His gospel. This would apply to the vast majority of Israelites at this time. We know that being an Israelite will not shield them from Christ’s wrath when He returns. This is set forth in Romans 2:9.

tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;

According to this passage, the Jews are first in being punished in wrath for their sins. So if the second coming of Jesus Christ, the event that ushers in the Millennium, were to happen before this great event mentioned in Isaiah 60 takes place, we can be sure that all of Israel who are in darkness will be utterly wiped out. There would then be almost nothing left of Israel for the light to shine upon. The Lord cannot give light to those in darkness, as is described in Isaiah 60, in the Millennium, for any who are in darkness, who do not know God, and who do not obey the gospel, will already have been destroyed before the Millennium ever begins. Darkness will never cover the earth and its peoples at any time in the Millennium, even from the very start. Moreover, since all who “do iniquity” will have been purged from the kingdom at the start of the Millennium, none would be left who would not willingly serve Israel at God’s command. Yet verse 12 of Isaiah 60 sets forth the possibility that there will be some nations at that time who will not be willing to serve Israel as they should. Yet this would be an utter impossibility once all who do not know God and all who do iniquity have been eliminated.

So these facts can only lead us to one conclusion: if this prophecy is not fulfilled before the second coming of Christ, it cannot be fulfilled. Conditions in the Millennium, brought about by the events at the second coming of Christ, will be totally unsuitable for any fulfillment of this prophecy to take place. So this prophecy alone requires us to create a new bin along with our four previous bins to sort prophecy into.

Yet let us move on to still another prophecy that may not fit into our current bins. Let us look at Isaiah 2:1-4.

1. The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.
2. 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. 

First of all, we see clearly stated that this prophecy is spoken concerning Judah and Jerusalem. It takes place in a time called the “last days.” We will talk about what this phrase means later. At this time, we read that the mountain of the Lord’s house is established in the top of the mountains. I believe that mountains symbolize nations or governments. So this is stating that God’s government, particularly as it appears over the nation of Israel, will be above all other governments. What a day that will be! Then, we read that all nations flow unto it. Why they do so is revealed in the next verse.

3. 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 Jerusalem. 
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, 
Neither shall they learn war anymore.

So the reason these people come to the capital of God’s government in Israel is to learn of the ways of God, and to walk in His paths. Now, we live in a time when nations follow their own ways. They face many problems and difficulties, and seek to formulate the best plans they can to combat these things. Yet it is clear that most often, nations simply do not know the things that would be best for them, and what would truly lead them to peace and prosperity. Yet once God has arisen, these nations will realize that His knowledge and wisdom is available for them, to help them find the way to peace and prosperity. And so they flow to God’s government, centered in Israel, to learn of His ways so that they can follow them.

4. He shall judge between the nations, 
And rebuke many people; 
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, 
And their spears into pruning hooks;
 

The LORD judges the nations, and many of them are rebuked. We can clearly see many nations today that deserve a strong rebuke. Surely our own nation deserves rebuke for some of the unrighteous things we have done, like our policy regarding abortion. The result of this rebuke, when it comes upon the nations, is that they turn their instruments of war to peaceful uses. We should not think here that the LORD thought that we would still be using swords and spears, or even plowshares and pruning hooks. Swords and spears were the weapons of the day. Plowshares and pruning hooks were the instruments of peace. This prophecy tells us that men will turn the instruments of war and alter them to serve peaceful uses. It is not a prediction of what the common articles of war or peacetime will be when this takes place.

Now, if we try to sort this prophecy, we will again see that it cannot fit into any of the four bins we designated above. Most would try to put this into the Millennium, and yet it cannot fit there. I say this for the following reasons. First of all, we saw in Matthew 13:40-43 that before the Millennium, all things that cause sin are removed by the angels of God. Thus, there would be no instruments of war left for the nations to turn to peaceful uses. This simply does not fit.

Then, we read here that the people of the earth are going to seek to learn the ways of the LORD. There can be no doubt that this is a result of Divine intervention, yet it cannot possibly be that described in II Thessalonians 1:7-10. Christ at that time destroys everyone who does not already know God, and who does not already obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Once he does this, there would be no one left to seek the Lord afterwards. Men at that time must already know God, or else they would have been destroyed in the fiery vengeance that the Lord Jesus brings about at the beginning of the Millennium. So this does not fit for this reason as well.

Finally, I believe that an examination of the phrase, “last days,” shows it does not fit a time that has the character of the Millennium. To back up this statement requires a study of the words “last days,” and so we will undertake this study in our next lesson.

Advertisements