Most professing Christians do not understand that the Bible speaks about more than just one resurrection. In fact, Scripture reveals three resurrections.
In our “Statement of Beliefs,” we address the three resurrections in the context of God’s annual Holy Days in the Fall or Autumn, as follows:
“The Feast of Trumpets… symbolizes the soon coming return of Jesus Christ to this earth (Leviticus 23:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16), and our resurrection or change to immortality, to be born again into the Kingdom or Family of God (1 Corinthians 15:50-54, 42-49; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 3: 3, 5-8)…
“The Feast of Tabernacles… symbolizes the reign of Christ for 1,000 years, together with His saints made immortal, during which time Satan will be bound and the entire world will be living under the government of God (Leviticus 23:33-35; Daniel 7:27; John 7:2-8, 10-14; Revelation 20:4)…
“The Last Great Day… symbolizes a 100-year period called the ‘Great White Throne Judgment,’ during which all persons who have ever lived and who were never called by God for salvation during this life, will have their first opportunity to accept Christ as their Savior (Leviticus 23:36; John 7:37; Revelation 20:11-12). At the end of that period, there will be a judgment during which all people who have ever lived and who have refused to accept Christ as their Savior, will be finally condemned to eternal death and destroyed in Gehenna fire (Revelation 20:13-15).”
In our free booklet, “Is That In the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation“, we state the following:
“In Revelation 20, we are introduced to the concept of THREE resurrections… Paul was inspired by God to write in 1 Corinthians 15:20–26… that there is an ORDER of resurrections… When Christ returns, only those who died IN CHRIST will be resurrected. They will be resurrected to immortality. However, not all of the dead will be resurrected at that time… This resurrection to eternal life at the time of Christ’s return is described in 1 Corinthians 15:50–54… Those in the first resurrection will become immortal Spirit beings—they will be part of the resurrection of ETERNAL LIFE. They will rule with Christ ON THIS EARTH for a thousand years (Revelation 20: 4, 6; 5:9–10)…
“Following the first resurrection of those who died ‘in Christ’ will be the second resurrection of those who had not accepted Christ when they died. They will come back to live as humans, and will then have their first opportunity to learn the truth and accept Christ. But their resurrection will come LATER—it will NOT occur at the time of Christ’s return. Revelation 20:5, 11–12 describes the SECOND resurrection: ‘But the REST OF THE DEAD [who were not in the FIRST resurrection] did not live again UNTIL the thousand years [the Millennium] were finished… Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it… And I saw the dead, small and great, STANDING before God… And the dead were JUDGED…’
“This second resurrection is not one to eternal life, but to physical life. It is a resurrection to JUDGMENT… Ezekiel 37:7–11 describes the resurrection of the entire house of Israel to PHYSICAL LIFE. They will be resurrected in the SECOND resurrection. When the dead of Israel are brought back again to physical life, God will deal with them as He deals with true Christians today… It is not only the people of Israel who will be resurrected at that time. We read in Matthew 12:41–42 that the men of Nineveh and the queen of the South ‘will RISE UP in the JUDGMENT’ together with people who were alive at the time of Jesus Christ. Compare, too, Matthew 10:14–15 and Matthew 11:21–24, referring to other unconverted people who had died in the past…
“But there will be a FINAL resurrection following the second resurrection. We refer to it as the THIRD resurrection… Unfortunately, there are those who have rejected their opportunity to come to repentance and accept Christ. They have committed the ‘unpardonable sin.’ They once knew and understood perfectly well that they had to submit to Christ, but they refused to do so. They became bitter, hateful, resentful and malicious. They made the irreversible decision NEVER to repent… God will save such a person from eternal misery, by DESTROYING him in a lake of fire. Revelation 20:13–15 describes the THIRD resurrection, which will occur sometime AFTER the judgment period of the second resurrection: ‘The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.’”
In this series of articles, we will be addressing in detail the nature and conditions of the Second Resurrection or the Great White Throne Judgment.
In our free booklet, “Biblical Prophecy — From Now Until Forever,” we state that “As a general truism, when we look at the physical conditions during the Millennium and compare them with the conditions during the Great White Throne Judgment period, we find that the conditions are very similar.”
This observation has great consequences for the understanding of how exactly the people in the Second Resurrection will live.
We make the following statements in our afore-mentioned booklet on “Biblical Prophecy—From Now Until Forever”:
“For instance, we read the famous statement in Isaiah 11:6-9 that during the Millennium, wild beasts will be tame and that the wolf and lamb shall feed together. The same conditions are described in Isaiah 65:25, referring to the Great White Throne Judgment period (compare the context in verses 17 and 20), but a few more details are given then; i.e., that ‘dust shall be the serpent’s food.’…
“We know that Christ will come to restore all things on this earth (Acts 3:19-21), and… this includes, of course, the establishment of the government of God here on earth. The restoration must therefore also apply, by necessity, to the time period of the Great White Throne Judgment. Christ’s restoration includes the fact that mankind will be brought to repentance at that time, and that the Holy Spirit will be offered to them… Christ will rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem during the Millennium. His rule will continue during the Great White Throne Judgment period. He will continue to RULE on the throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32-33)…
“Notice Isaiah 25:7-9: ‘And He will destroy on this mountain The surface of the covering cast over ALL people, And the veil that is spread over ALL nations. He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord God will wipe away tears from ALL faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from ALL the earth; for the LORD has spoken.’ As we can see, this is the ultimate goal. This message is partially repeated in Revelation 21:4, when God the Father dwells on the new earth.
“In order to achieve that goal in fulfillment of God’s Will that all men should be saved (even though some will refuse to be saved), Christ’s rule during the Great White Throne Judgment period must allow for that process—including the removal of the spiritual veil which blinds the people to the truth… Even though God will remove the spiritual veil from people’s minds, they still need to be taught the right way, and they have to be encouraged to stay on that right path, as is explained in Isaiah 30:20-21, referring to teachers showing the way. God’s immortal saints will be those teachers, and the God Family will hasten righteousness in mercy on the earth (Isaiah 16:5; Psalm 96:13; 67:3-4).”
It is important to focus on this process of salvation. People will not accept Christ “automatically.” This is not the case today for those who are being called for salvation in this day and age, and this won’t be the case during the Millennium either. Let us focus on a few examples as to how people are being brought to Christ and God’s Way of Life in the Millennium, from which we can deduce how Christ will deal with the people during the Great White Throne Judgment period:
Quoting again from our afore-mentioned booklet on Biblical Prophecy:
“The Bible makes it very clear that after Christ’s return, He will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32) to rule the entire world. But all the nations will not automatically and immediately know and embrace the truth; they will have to be taught and their minds will have to be opened. Their conversion will be a process—the same as ours is today…
“Recall that at the beginning of the Millennium, Asiatic hordes will try to conquer the land of Israel (compare chapters 38 and 39 of the book of Ezekiel). But notice WHY God will deal with the hordes supernaturally, mightily and swiftly: For one reason, He wants to have the survivors of Israel and Judah understand, once and for all, HOW powerful God is, and that He will always defend them, and that there is never a need for them to fight in war. In fact, God wants them to realize that it would always be wrong for them to fight in war.
“Notice Ezekiel 39:22: ‘So the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day forward.’ Compare also verse 7, first part: ‘So I will make My holy name known in the midst of My people Israel. And I will not let them profane My holy name anymore.’ The second part of Ezekiel 39:7 tells us this: ‘Then the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.’
“… when God intervenes for Israel and when He brings the Far Eastern nations into judgment with a great earthquake, pestilence and bloodshed, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:19, 22), so that even the troops of the hostile armies will begin to fight each other (verse 21), then it will become clear to the nations that God is now hallowed in Israel, and that Israel’s former sins have been forgiven. But equally importantly, Israel will know and understand this too (compare Ezekiel 39:27-29)…”
In the Millennium, individuals and nations will not automatically accept the fact that they must cease from war. It will take time to bring about the transformation of their minds to understand the utter futility of war. We read in Isaiah 2:3 about conditions in the Millennium: “Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD… He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.’… He shall judge between the nations, And 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 anymore.”
Those who are being resurrected to physical life during the Great White Throne Judgment period will also have to learn that war is wrong. This learning process will require some time.
In our booklet on Biblical Prophecy, we continue to describe further developments during the Millennium:
“… not every nation is going to be willing to obey God immediately and to keep His Sabbath and His Holy Days. We read in Zechariah 14:16-19, that not every nation will immediately worship God in the right way—some will refuse for a while to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. When this happens, God will deal with them. He will withhold certain blessings—rain in due season, which is necessary for a good harvest—and so they will learn swiftly that it does not pay to disobey God…”
There is no reason to assume that it will be different in the Great White Throne Judgment period. There will be those who won’t easily want to follow God’s Law, including His provisions regarding the weekly Sabbath and the annual Holy Days. So, God will have to deal with them in the same way as He will have to correct the disobedient ones in the Millennium.
It is the same today. God chastens us when we disobey Him (Hebrews 12:4-11; Revelation 3:19). He will do the same in the Millennium AND during the Great White Throne Judgment period. In the next installment, we will continue to see how exactly God will deal with those who will be brought back to physical life in the Second Resurrection.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Norbert Link