Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We want to understand your word, and we want to live in line with your word. We want to be fully ready to stand before you at the end of this age. We pray in Jesus’ mighty, holy name! Amen!
I’ll always quote from the “New American Standard Bible,” 1995 edition unless otherwise noted. When I quote from my book, “The Mid-Week Rapture,” it uses the 1977 edition.
When we stopped last time, we were discussing “the nations” of Rev. 20:3. I’ll read Rev. 20:1-3; then we will further discuss “the nations.” “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. (2) And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old [see Genesis chapter 3], who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; (3) and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after that he must [according to the plan of God] be released for a short time.” Revelation 15:2-4 is an important cross-reference for God’s salvation of the remnant of the nations that He will leave at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. We will look at those verses when we discuss verse 4.
It is quite significant, but somewhat unexpected, based on most of the teaching of the New Testament, that “the nations” will still exist on the earth after God’s end-time judgment of the world, at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. See the section titled, “A Brief Discussion on what the Rest of the New Testament, Apart from the Book of Revelation, Has to Say Regarding the Millennial Kingdom and God’s Ultimate Salvation Plans for the Nations”; that section is in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22 on my internet site. Based on a large number of prophecies in the Old Testament, however, God’s salvation of the remnant of the nations after His end-time judgment of the world is very much to be expected. For many examples of such prophecies, see my paper titled, “More Regarding God’s Salvation Plans for the Nations” on my internet site; and see my papers on the internet that deal with selected prophetic psalms and selected prophecies from the book of Isaiah. Matthew 25:31-46 is another important cross-reference that deals with God’s end-time salvation of the nations; see my paper on Matthew chapters 24, 25 on the internet site.
The end-time remnant of the nations will be awakened by the things that take place on the earth in the last days, including the ministry of the two prophets; the coming of Christ with the clouds of heaven and the rapture; God’s salvation of the end-time remnant of Israel after the rapture; His judgment and removal of Babylon the great harlot and His judgment and removal of Antichrist and the false prophet and the gigantic multitude who follow them to wage war against the Lord Jesus Christ and against His army; and very much including the fact that He (in His mercy) has left them as a remnant and is now offering them salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be repentant (at least most of them will be repentant), and they will submit to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. They will become believers, but (as I understand it) they will not become part of God’s true Israel. Apparently that door will be closed by the end of Daniel’s 70th week.
Like I mentioned in the last article, the Bible doesn’t tell us everything we would like to know about God’s salvation plans for the nations. For one thing, we don’t need to fully understand this topic at the present time. God will take care of the details, and we will know more as time goes on. There is much room for difference of opinion on some of the details. One important detail is that true Israel will be distinct from the nations throughout the millennial kingdom (of Revelation chapter 20) and in the eternal state (of Revelation chapters 21, 22). All the members of true Israel will be glorified by the time the millennial kingdom begins, and true Israel will be reigning, including reigning over the nations throughout the millennial kingdom and in the eternal state.
The people of the nations will still be living in natural bodies in the millennium, and apparently they will still be having children at that time. Apparently they will live very long lives, but the potential for sin and for death will still exist for them, and we know that there will be a major rebellion by a very large number of the people of the nations at the end of the millennium. That rebellion may involve only the offspring of the remnant of the nations who enter the millennial kingdom. The people of the nations who stay faithful to God throughout their lives in the millennial kingdom will enter the eternal state in glorified bodies, and they will have a glorious existence as people of God. Revelation 21:27 makes it clear that the nations will have access to salvation and God’s new Jerusalem through the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning death: Their names will be found written in the Lamb’s book of life.
The people of the nations will experience God’s glory in a very full dimension in the eternal state, but their glory will be on a lower level than the glory that God has prepared for the people of true Israel. This is not a matter of one group of people being superior to another group, or of inferiority or superiority complexes. Everything will work together for good because everything will be in divine order, including the worship, attitudes, motives, and priorities of all the beings in His eternal kingdom.
Let’s go on to Rev. 20:4. We’ll discuss this important verse in some detail. The time setting here is the end of Daniel’s 70th week. “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony to Jesus and because of the word of God, and those [[I’ll stop for a minute. The second use of the word “those” here confuses the meaning of this sentence. I would omit this word in the translation. The Greek doesn’t have the word for “those” here, and the KJV, NKJV, and the NIV do not include this word. The entire sentence is speaking of the souls of the Christians who will be martyred because they stay faithful to God throughout the second half of Daniel’s 70th week. I’ll start the sentence again and omit this word.]] And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony to Jesus and because of the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast [Antichrist] or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
Let’s discuss the words at the beginning of verse 4, “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.” The words “I saw thrones” probably build on Dan. 7:9. (Daniel 7:18, 22, and 27 go on to speak of the saints reigning. Daniel chapter 7 is discussed in some detail in chapter 6 of my book, “The Mid-Week Rapture.”) Ultimately all the saints (all the people of God’s true Israel) will reign on these thrones, and John sees many glorified saints seated on these thrones already, but as this verse continues it shows that some of the saints haven’t been resurrected and glorified yet, or begun to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints must be resurrected and glorified before they begin to reign.
The saints who are seated on the thrones and who are reigning already are the ones who were resurrected, glorified, and raptured in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. (Of course the saints who are living on the earth when Christ returns in the middle of the seven-year period will not need to be resurrected.) As we have discussed, the book of Revelation shows that these saints have been reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ since the time of their glorification and rapture. But the book of Revelation also shows that some of the people of God’s true Israel (centering in the end-time remnant of the nation Israel) will not become Christians until after the rapture. They will go through three and one-half very difficult years, and there will be many martyrs, but the martyrs will be resurrected and glorified and begin to reign with the Lord Jesus Christ by the time the millennial kingdom begins. John goes on to speak of those martyrs as he continues with verse 4.
I’ll read the first part of the verse again, but this time I’ll give a more literal translation of the Greek, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them, and the souls,” and he goes on to speak of the souls of the saints martyred during the second half of Daniel’s 70th week because they stayed faithful to God and would not worship Antichrist. The Greek (which just has the verb “I saw” once in this verse) shows that the glorified saints on their thrones are different people than the souls of the saints who haven’t been resurrected and begun to reign yet. As this verse continues, John tells us that these souls come to life (that is, they are resurrected and glorified), and he mentions that they begin to reign. After those members of God’s true Israel are resurrected and glorified at the end of Daniel’s 70th week, they will begin to reign along with the other members of God’s true Israel who began to reign in the middle of the seven-year period.
We still need to discuss another important group of people, the Christians (the members of God’s true Israel) who will still be alive on the earth at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. There is no doubting that the devil, Antichrist, and the false prophet would kill every Christian living on the earth during the second half of Daniel’s 70th week if they could (see Revelation chapters 12 and 13, for example), and we know that there will be many martyrs, but God will substantially limit the number of Christians they will be able to kill. See Rev. 12:6, 14-16 and 13:10. I’ll read those verses, Revelation 12:6, “Then the woman [The woman is God’s true Israel. In this context, right after the birth and rapture of the male child in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week in Rev. 12:5, the woman represents the Christians converted after the rapture.] fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days [which equals the second half of Daniel’s 70th week].” I’ll read Rev. 12:14-16, “But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place [which builds on the fact that God enabled Israel to escape from Egypt into the wilderness on her way to the promised land (see Exod. 19:4, which mentions God’s bearing Israel on eagle’s wings at the time of the exodus).], where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time [for three and one-half years], from the presence of the serpent [the devil]. (15) And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood. (16) But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth.” And I’ll read Rev. 13:10 from the NIV, “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” Our sovereign God is the One who determines such things as who will be killed and who will not be killed. The fact that He permits some to die as martyrs does not at all mean that He cares less for those Christians, not at all. It isn’t defeat to die as a martyr in the will of God. God is glorified and it will work for good, including the good of the Christians martyred.
There are two cross-references that are especially helpful to show that all the members of God’s true Israel will be glorified by the time the millennium begins, very much including the saints who will still be alive on the earth at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. First we will look at Rev. 15:2-4; then we will look at Isa. 66:7, 8. (Revelation 15:2-4 are discussed in some detail in my book and in my paper on Revelation 14:6 through chapter 19 on my internet site; Isaiah 66:1-8 are discussed in chapter 16 of my book.)
I’ll read Rev. 15:2. “And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God.” The time setting is the end of Daniel’s 70th week. The victorious, now-glorified saints pictured here in heaven came off victorious over Antichrist by staying faithful to God to the end: to the time of their martyrdom, or to the end of seven-year period for those still alive at that time. There is no basis to limit the saints pictured here in Rev. 15:2 to martyrs. It will be very obvious that these saints were victorious over Antichrist when the scene pictured in 15:2 comes to pass. They will be in heaven before the throne of God, and Antichrist and his followers will have been removed by God’s judgment. Revelation 4:6 helps us understand that the “something like a sea of glass” that John saw here in 15:2 was before the throne of God. The fact that the sea of glass was mixed with fire probably pictures the refining fires that these believers had just come through. On the refining fires that these saints will endure throughout the second half of Daniel’s 70th week, see Dan. 12:7, 10; Zech 13:9, for example.
I’ll read Rev. 15:2 again, and this time I’ll also read verses 3, 4. Verses 3. 4, and especially verse 4, are important verses to confirm that God will leave a repentant remnant of the nations at the end of Daniel’s 70th week to enter the millennial kingdom. I won’t comment on verses 3, 4 here, but these verses are discussed in my book and in my paper on the internet site. “And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name [the number 666], standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. (3) And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! (4) Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, BECAUSE YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED [my emphasis].’ ” God’s righteous acts of saving and judging will have been revealed.
I’ll read Isa. 66:7, 8 (These verses also demonstrate that all the members of God’s true Israel will be glorified by the time the millennial kingdom begins), “Before she travailed, she brought forth; Before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. (8) Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.” These verses are extremely important! We have already discussed Isa. 66:7 when we discussed Rev. 12:5. The birth of the male child in Rev. 12:5 is the same glorious event as the giving birth to a boy here in Isa. 66:7. The male child embraces all the members of God’s true Israel who will have become believers before the time of that glorious birth. True Israel, the glorious woman of Revelation chapter 12, gives birth in the sense that those believers (those members of God’s true Israel) will be born into the fullness of the eternal life and glory of God’s eternal kingdom. All the believers (including the believers from Old Testament days and all true Christians) who will have died before the time of that glorious birth will follow the Lord Jesus Christ in that birth. He is called the “first born from the dead” in Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5. The believers who will be living on the earth when the Lord returns will not need to be resurrected, but we will need to be born into the fullness of God’s eternal life and glorified. Galatians 4:26 says that Jerusalem above is our mother. As born again Christians we have already been born of heaven in a preliminary sense, but we will not be born into the fullness of the eternal life and glory of God until the Lord returns.
What do the words “before she travailed” and “before her pain came” here in Isa. 66:7 refer to? As we have discussed, many verses prophesy of the very difficult times that the saints living on the earth will have to endure throughout the second half of Daniel’s 70th week.
I’ll read the last line of Isa. 66:8 again, “As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons.” For Zion (true Israel) to bring forth her sons at the end of Daniel’s 70th week refers to her sons being born into the fullness of the eternal life and glory with a birth exactly like the birth of the boy in Isa. 66:7. As we have discussed, the people who become Christians after the rapture will center in the elect end-time remnant of the nation Israel. They will be glorified at the end of Daniel’s 70th week. Those who have died before the end of the seven-year period will be resurrected and glorified (as pictured in Rev. 20:4). The Christians who will still be alive will be glorified. Many verses prophesy of the city of Jerusalem’s also being transformed and exalted (glorified) at the end of Daniel’s 70th week in preparation for the millennial kingdom (see, for example, Isa. 2:2-4; 11:1-10; 60:1-22; and Zechariah chapter 14).
Let’s go on to Rev. 20:5, 6, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
First let’s discuss the words, “the rest of the dead.” The time setting here is the end of Daniel’s 70th week. All the believers (all the people of God’s true Israel) who will have died before the end of Daniel’s 70th week will have been resurrected. The “rest of the dead” embraces all the people who will have lived and died from the days of Adam and Eve until that time who were not part of God’s true Israel. As I have mentioned, true Israel embraces all the believers from Old Testament days and all true Christians. Gentile Christians have been grafted into God’s true Israel.
As verse 6 continues, it informs us that the “rest of the dead” will not come to life until the end of the millennium. For them to come to life means that they will be resurrected bodily; it does not mean that they will begin to partake of the life of God. Revelation 20:11-15 show that they will be resurrected at the end of the millennium to stand before God to be judged according to their works at the great-white-throne judgment. Those verses show that those whose names are not found written in God’s book of life will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death.
Now let’s discuss the words at the end of verse 5, “This is the first resurrection.” These words refer to the resurrection of the believers, the people of true Israel. They will be resurrected first; that is, they will be resurrected before the “rest of the dead” are resurrected at the end of the millennium. The first resurrection is contrasted with the resurrection at the end of the millennium. There is no way we can limit the first resurrection to the resurrection of the martyrs at the end of Daniel’s 70th week that we read about in verse 4. The first resurrection definitely includes the resurrection of the very large number of saints who will be resurrected in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. Those resurrected saints are seated on their thrones in verse 4. Those seated on the thrones in verse 4 also include us believers who will still be alive when the Lord returns. We will not need to be resurrected, but we will be glorified and raptured when Christ returns in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week, and we will begin to reign at that time.
In a fuller sense the first resurrection includes the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection of the select number of saints who were resurrected shortly after He was resurrected (see Matt. 27:52, 53). I’ll read 1 Cor. 15:20, 21, and 23, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. (21) For since by a man [Adam] came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. … (23) But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.”
I’ll read Rev. 20:6 again, “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” I’ll read Rev. 20:14, 15 (These verses explain the second death of Rev. 20:6.), “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. (15) And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
The people of God’s true Israel will be functioning as priests to the nations, along with reigning, throughout the millennium (see Rev. 1:6; 5:10). We probably will continue to function as priests to the nations to some extent in the eternal state, but the people of the nations will be glorified when they enter the eternal state, and apparently they will have direct access to God. Revelation 22:5 makes it clear that we (true Israel) will reign forever and ever in the eternal state.
Let’s go on to Rev. 20:7-9, “When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, (8) and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth [in other words, worldwide], Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. (9) And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city [Jerusalem], and fire came down from heaven and devoured them.” And I’ll read Rev. 20::3 again, “and he threw him [the devil] into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”
It is hard to understand how so many people could be so sinful after having the opportunity to learn of God in the millennial kingdom, but it is clear that people who are willing to follow the devil in rebellion against God don’t love Him, His truth, or His righteousness. They wouldn’t want to be part of His heavenly kingdom on His terms, not that they will want the alternative (the lake of fire). It is easy to see why verse 3 said that the devil (according to the plan of God) must be released for a short time at the end of the millennium. God knew what was in the hearts of these people, and He lets them be tested to manifest that they are rebels—they don’t love Him, His truth, or His righteousness. The devil tempts people and deceives them with clever lies, but there is no excuse for rejecting God and His truth and righteousness for the lies, rebellion, and wickedness of the devil. We must always reject the devil’s lies and temptations.
From the beginning to the end, the Bible emphasizes the serious depth of the sin problem in the heart of man. We must humble ourselves before Him and submit to His plan of salvation. He paid an infinite price in the sacrifice of His Son to sanctify the hearts and lives of those who submit to Him and the gospel in faith.
Verse 9 shows that the devil-inspired rebels will come from across the world to attack “the camp of the saints and the beloved city [Jerusalem].” It also shows that God will quickly deal with those rebels with fire from heaven. This has much in common with the enemies of God who were gathered to Har-Magedon (or, we could say, Armageddon) near the end of Daniel’s 70th week to wage war against the Lord Jesus Christ and His people. They too were quickly dealt with by the judgment of God. I agree with the widespread viewpoint that this war at the end of the millennium builds on Ezekiel chapters 38, 39. It is significant, for one thing, that those chapters speak of “GOG of the land of MAGOG” and Rev. 20:8 mentions “GOG and MAGOG.” On the fire from heaven, see Ezek. 38:22; 39:6. Ezekiel chapters 38, 39 are discussed on pages 144-146 of my book, “The Mid-Week Rapture.”
I’ll read the first part of verse 9 again and comment on a detail that has caused some confusion. “And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city.” It seems that “the broad plain of the earth”—it would probably be better to translate “the broad plain of the land”—refers to the broad plain around Jerusalem, but there is no broad plain around Jerusalem, at least not at the present time. Apparently this verse anticipates the transformation of Jerusalem and the land around Jerusalem that will take place about the time the millennial kingdom begins (see Zech. 14:10). That verse prophesies of a rather large amount of land around Jerusalem being changed into a plain and of Jerusalem being raised up.
We’re finished with this article, and this is the last article in this series on the Mid-Week Rapture. We have covered many very important passages of Scripture in these articles, and many more passages (including the entire book of Revelation) are discussed in my book, “The Mid-Week Rapture,” and/or in my papers on my internet site. I recommend getting a copy of the book and spending some time on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). I also recommend reading these 24 articles (or hearing the 24 audio files that contain the same information, which are available on my internet site) before you read the book; they serve as a good introduction for the book, which is packed with important details. God bless you!