I wrote this in response to a comment. I am including it for your benefit as misconceptions and false teachings run rampant. I rarely talk to anyone who has a firm grasp on what happens after the seven years of wrath. I hope you find this beneficial, and yes, it is long.
Well, here it is three years since you wrote your comment and I am finally responding to it. I wish I could tell you why but I cannot remember now. Perhaps I can chalk it up to not having enough time at that point, but as I had only recently been fired from my last job back then, you might think I had nothing but time. Perhaps I did not have a clear answer and needed to develop a concrete response; or, maybe I just forgot. Regardless, another comment, just a few days ago – three years later, has brought your comment to my attention once again.
Let me add, that in the process of learning how to deal with my thoughts on “paper” and then subject myself to potential criticism, was quite challenging. I can tell you that I did not handle criticism well back then; I am not sure I manage it well now, but I certainly deal with it differently now. Having read another bloggers advice I have responded, deleted and blocked several caustic and religious “Christians.” However, I did not do that with yours as you were not hostile. I also felt that people who are reading my blog needed to see what the other questions are.
Your question/and interpretative challenges you put forth are not new to my world. Recently, as I sat among the men in Monday mornings “Bible study” the leader, unprovoked by me, proffered this very assumption, and he did so as though it was doctrine. As I have done with you I challenged his premise from the Word of God; however, he disregarded it. Considering how we are to make the Word of God the final authority on questions and challenges, our morning teacher chose to ignore what the word of God had to say and added, then I am stating my opinion, and that is all that matters. While opinions can often be important and valid, they are not all that matters, especially when you are alone with that idea. Fortunately, all these interpretative challenges will become clear someday as they are tested with fire before the Bema seat of Christ.
For now, let me offer a response.
You said, “Are we not told in Revelation, that when Jesus returns and throws the anti-Christ and false prophet into the lake of fire that He kills “the rest” with the sword from His mouth?”
While you are correct, it does say that, but the hypothesis is misleading because you ignored the context, which we find in Revelation 19:19.
Allow me to explain.
Revelation 19:15-19 NASB 15) From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. 16) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” 17) Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying to all the birds which fly in mid-heaven, “Come, assemble for the great supper of God, 18) so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.” 19) And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.
What do we see here?
Jesus, with a sword in his mouth.
With that sword He will strike down the nations, AND, He will rule them with a rod of iron.
Why would there be a need to rule them if it is only believers that go into the Millennial kingdom? Remember, we believers were changed in the twinkling of an eye.
Yes, I noted your comment that apparently only believers enter the Millennial reign.
I have covered this in more detail toward the end.
An angel invites the birds to come and eat the flesh of kings, commanders, and so on, at the great supper of God.
And finally verse 19, the most telling of all as it says, “And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.”
So, who is fighting against Jesus at this point in time?
Is it all the nations, with all their citizenry? NO, it is the beast; the kings of the earth, and their armies. Why do I know this, because the context tells us precisely who is involved and therefore killed.
For the sake of context let’s go ahead and use Revelation 19:20,21 as well.
Revelation 19:20, 21 NASB And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone. 21) And the rest were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
Based on what we see in Revelation19:19, we know that there is a large army amassed against Jesus and the saints with Him. It is evident from Revelation 19:20 that only two persons are thrown into the lake of fire at this point; the beast (known to us as the Antichrist,) and the false prophet who deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. And, they are thrown alive into the lake. Therefore the remainder: kings; commanders, and the army are those that are killed; no one else.
Assuming that we could not perceive the context, could we then build an argument on logical thought and patterns?
When you look at Revelation 19:21 NASB, it unquestionably states that the rest were killed, and that sounds compelling doesn’t it? And yet, the word rest/loipoi means remaining ones: – other, which remain, remnant, residue, rest.
The word rest, when we look at the Greek definition, is not so definitive because it allows for others remaining, which can easily include those from Israel if I don’t follow the context. But there is a context, and it specifically points to those armies collected to fight against Jesus Christ.
Some of that “logical” evidence and pattern shows up in Zechariah’s prophetic word, as God has gathered the nations against Jerusalem for punishment.
Zechariah tells us that at least one-third of Israel makes it through the onslaught. I, however, cannot comfortably say that these Jews are those that have gone into hiding, and the reason for that is verse nine as you can see by this statement, “I will bring the third through the fire, Refine them as silver.., and test them..” This refining is not an example, in my mind of people in hiding. Now if I compared the plight of these Jews with someone like Corie Ten Boom, a woman who helped many people avoid the wrath of the Nazis, many, not knowing the whole story, might think that she escaped and did not have to go through the “fire.” But, we are aware from her testimony that she was caught, tortured in the prison camp, and lost family members to the Nazis.
Zechariah 13:8-9 NASB “It will come about in all the land,” Declares the LORD, “That two parts in it will be cut off and perish; But the third will be left in it. 9) “And I will bring the third part through the fire, Refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are My people,’ And they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.'”
Isaiah 66 tells us of what appears to be the same scene, and yet, it is not all but many.
Isaiah 66:15-16 NASB For behold, the LORD will come in fire And His chariots like the whirlwind, To render His anger with fury, And His rebuke with flames of fire. 16) For the LORD will execute judgment by fire And by His sword on all flesh, And those slain by the LORD will be many.
Still trying to define who “the rest” would be, there is this:
Zechariah 14:1-4 NASB Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2) For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3) Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4) In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.
Since we know that this is an important and defining battle will every person including women and children come and join in the fight?
The obvious answer is NO. We already see examples of this when we look at the Islamic world. Children are taught from the age of understanding, to hate and kill the Jew and anyone who is not a Muslim. The news used to show us young boys about age seven learning to shoot AK 47s’, but it is not practical to place children on the front lines of battle. So, while there will be those with a violent hatred against anything that represents a god other than say, Allah; not all will come to battle and therefore not be included as a combatant, and not killed.
There is no struggle to understand this, and, I don’t have to go looking for other scriptures to prove my point any further because I stayed true to the context.
Consider, if you haven’t already, that death is separation from God, and is much more than the cessation of breathing, as the spirit ever lives on.
Before I move on to another aspect of your note to me I have to address this statement more fully, You added a defining factor when you continued with: “That is, everyone who took the mark of the beast.”
You said this in conjunction with this statement: “Are we not told in Revelation, that when Jesus returns and throws the anti-Christ and false prophet into the lake of fire that He kills “the rest” with the sword from His mouth?“ This implies that only those with the mark are destined for separation from God, and it also implies that those receiving the mark desired to be in compliance with the beast, but that is not the case as most are merely trying to save a life, their own.
The passages from Revelation 19 that initiated this response, tell us in verse 20 that they were deceived. There is no reason to believe that the deceived are doing anything but weeping at the realization of their fate. You can see from the same verses you referenced that no one else is thrown into the lake of fire at this time, and, there is no denying that at some point those who received the mark and worshiped the image of the beast, are judged, but that is not done here in Revelation 19:21.
What if this is not a government, like the USA, and most people in America assume, that is imposing this mark upon people?
(By the way, taking the mark does not condemn you to hell’s flames; it must include the worshiping of the beast and the image of the beast.)
Islam does a modified version of this marking already, as they victimize conquered peoples.
They call it a Jizya tax, and you are made to wear an identifying band around your arm or head. Without paying this tax you cannot buy or sell under their regime, and it is intentionally made impossible. Allegedly, there is a way around this tax, and that is to convert to Islam. To do so, you must deny Christ, His deity, and proclaim that there is no god but Allah and that Mohammad is his messenger. Often they, at this point, treat you as an unworthy coward and kill you anyway.
So, let me ask you a question.
Do Muslims have to take this mark? In most cases, as with women, they are mandated to wear a burka out of compliance, but all of us can see that this is not standardized.
Therefore, I can safely assume that it is only those outside of Islam that must comply like this.
Perhaps I am being far too presumptuous in attributing this designation to Islam, but what other groups, outside of governments, have the capability and desire to globally mark a specific group of people?
I offer you the passage that shows that this taking the mark we speak of is a three-part equation.
Revelation 14:9-11 NASB 9) Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10) he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11) “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Even as I read Revelation 14:9-11 I can see that there is a point at which those who “ worship the beast and his image and receive a mark on his forehead or on his hand,” will drink the wine of God’s wrath, and they will be tormented with fire. I think it is safe to presume that this is the lake of fire seeing as it matches the description we have of the lake of fire and its purpose.
“It would thus seem that the 1000 years is began with only believers.”
Since I already know that many Jews survive the wrath of God, can I also assume that they too are believers?
There several problems with the idea that the thousand years is begun with only believers and that Jews would be deemed Christians as they enter.
I have to assume from the statement that the Jews are included as believers/Christians.
However, we are never told that there are Christians, living among the nations, that go into eternity.
What we do understand is that there are those who warm seats in church buildings that will not go up when Jesus comes for His church. Since John saw the beheaded around the throne in heaven twice, we understand from what he related that their number was uncountable. These people are given the title of saint. The saints only get that title as they are martyred for their testimony, but their numbers are not included among those going into the Millennial reign.
A defining statement about the saints is made in Revelation 20:4,5, where the martyred saints are brought back to life; this is labeled the first resurrection.
The Jews, on the other hand, will not accept the title of Christian as that is a Gentile creation. What they do accept is Yeshua as the Messiah and they would never, with a free choice, agree to be called a Christian. Should they choose not to receive Yeshua then I suppose they would be intermingled with the nations. However, since God lifts the veil from their eyes and all peoples, we can safely assume that most remaining Jews would come to accept the true Messiah.
Another problem arises as you have these “believers” going into the Millennium and then living the despicable lives we see in Revelation 22:15.
How is that possible that God would allow these fractured believers into the city where no despicable person can enter; only to later go out and do what Satan did – use his free will and choice to act in opposition to God? The logic doesn’t work unless it is the nations going into the Millennial reign along with their vile hatred for God, then Revelation 22:15 makes sense.
The other problem, and it is common in the Western/Gentile church. We ignore or do not realize that there are only three people groups, at any given time, in the world. They are The Jews; the nations, and, the Church.
Yes, some Jews can be considered among the Church, and time will prove that out, as they too will be caught up with the Church when Jesus comes in the clouds. Sadly, the Jews, right now, lean more toward the side of the nations as they too will be the targets for God’s wrath alongside the nations.
The nations and the Gentiles are effectively the same things in God’s eyes. In the Western, “civilized” church, we see ourselves as set apart. However, the only thing that sets us apart is our acceptance of this adoption status we have been given. Simply because the “world” does not accept this adoption status, we presume that forgiveness does not and cannot cover their sins as well, but that is not true. The only thing anyone will be judged for is, what that person did with Jesus. That’s all.
At some point, multitudes of these people (the nations) will come into relationship with God. This is all laid out in scriptures by prophets, like Ezekiel. The key here then is the leaves of the trees of life, for the healing of the nations. Healing is the Greek word therapeía; attendance (specifically medical, that is, cure); figuratively and collectively domestics: – healing,
Since we, the church, with our brokenness; twisted ideas; legalism; and prejudices, are not allowed to bring this junk/sin into eternity with God, then, we will be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and so will those who partake of the leaves that give eternal life.
Consider the process here. The nations, in general, do not have access to the trees of life as that would give them immortality without change. But the entire purpose here is to bring these people on the outside into relationship. However, God is not going to allow them to bring their garbage with them as they come into a relationship with Him during the Millennial reign.
There is coming a day when Jesus will return in the clouds to gather His bride back to himself. As you know we call that the rapture, therefore the “believers” should effectively be gone. You should also realize that not everyone that warms a pew will be caught up to be with the Lord. I know this because the Word tells us that he comes for those who are waiting for Him.
I am assuming that you when you say believers are then referring to those who continue to come and accept Jesus as their hope and salvation during the time of wrath. Calling them believers might make sense but is inappropriate as Scripture never refers to them as believers; it does, however, call them saints.
This idea of saints can and does cause some confusion as it seems the church is also referred to as saints. However, the word is only used in the Revelation and is always used about those martyred for their testimony. After the rapture, grace is gone. What those who come to Jesus have to live with is something comparable to living under the law as Israel did in the wilderness.
Revelation 12:11 NASB “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
It seems like you asked many questions, however, as I looked at your note you have been making statements; statements that do not align with the Word of God, and I felt they needed to be addressed.
The final thing I want to address is what seems to be your question.
“I am curious as to where you get the idea that mere compliance, or not getting the mark, will be enough to enter into the 1000 year reign of Christ.”
In response to this question how about, we start with Matthew 25:31-46. This is effectively the same story as Revelation 20 where we see the Great White Throne. The players are all the same but they have different names. The Judge is the same but Matthew conveys him as a gentle shepherd in contrast with the angry God of Revelation. Matthew’s gospel focuses on the outcome of the sheep, while Revelation 20 speaks to those not found in the books.
Matthew 25:31-46 NASB “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32) “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33) and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34) “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35) ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36) naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37) “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38) ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39) ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40) “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41) “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42) for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43) I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44) “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45) “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46) “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In verse 34 he tells the crowd entitled the sheep “to come inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” They obtain this mercy because they acted like the nature and character of Jesus/God. The judge, which is only Jesus, explains:
‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36) naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’
If you have read this, did you ever notice how shocked they were?
When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40) “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’
If these had been deemed as such before the rapture, making them “believers’, then why didn’t they go up with the church?
Another thing that gives me the freedom to talk about non-compliance as an entrance into the kingdom is the process of martyrdom itself. What are the things that define them as God’s possession?
Revelation 6:9 NASB When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained;
The mere fact that these are found underneath the altar is indicative of God claiming them as His own.
Revelation 12:11 NASB “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.
Twice now we have seen the term testimony, but what does mean and what does that look like under extreme pressure?
The word testimony is the Greek word marturía meaning to witness. A witness, certification (Joh_1:7), testimony (Mar_14:55-56, Mar_14:59; Luk_22:71), that which someone witnesses or states concerning a person or thing (Act_22:18; 1Ti_3:7; Tit_1:13).
Paul, while still known as Saul, is told by God to go to Damascus where a devout man, a Jew named Ananias, was sent to Saul. After Ananias prayed for Saul, he received his sight. Shortly after this Saul has a dream/vision. In that vision he is told:
Acts 22:18 NASB and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’
What are the ramifications of this? Saul, in talking about the Messiah Jesus would be subject to death for several reasons: The Jew’s had been taught to reject Yeshua. Some proof of this happened when Herod is told the Magi are coming. Their numbers were large enough to cause some alarm, and so he demands that the Jewish leadership tell him what is going on. They said that the scripture called for the king of the Jews to be born in Bethlehem. While this information got Herod’s attention, the Jews made no effort at all to visit this king of Jews born in a manger. Herod, on the other hand, had all the boys in that region, two and below, killed.
Saul had other problems as well, as he had essentially been a hit man for the Jewish council. Now, this should not have scared the Jews who held to tradition, but converts could have to run for their lives. This Saul was now making converts himself, another reason to kill him.
So what does this idea of testimony look like, especially to a Coptic Christian living in the Middle East?
Let’s assume you are a Christian living in the once quiet little Syrian town of Aleppo. Perhaps our first question is, what is it about these people that tell others they are “Christians”?
Imagine ISIS overruns your quiet little burgh, and you cannot escape. They take you captive, and, after having some fun with you by torturing and raping your wife and children and then dismembering them slowly, they demand that you convert and give allegiance to Allah. After a morning of such wasteful frivolities, they have had enough and needed to move on. A sword is placed to your neck with the command, comply – worship Allah or die. You reply with a simple no. Seconds later your bruised and battered head rolls away from your body.
What just happened?
Did you, by your non-compliance, affirm that there is a God greater than an invented name called Allah? Or, did you, by denying the one accept the other? Is it possible that God is not the least bit interested in our church-related methods of mandated compliance, and does not care if your name is on a list of those who publicly made motions of acceptance in some religious service?
I have an ex-son-in-law who did all that, and yet lives a life of lies and deceit. I am not his judge, and I do not know his heart, but I can tell you that when his fruit falls off the tree, it is already rotten and immediately begins to stink up the yard and the lives of those with which he interacts.
What this tells me, is that God is looking at the heart and the motives, and that, which only He sees, is what matters. I decided long ago, after spending a tortured lifetime in the organized church, that if I must err then let it be on the side of mercy. Funny how that works, for I hear Him constantly telling me, good job and well done because you acted just like I would have.