The Age to Come

Many prophecies refer to the nation of Israel being gathered from among the nations and returned to their land, as we have seen previously. A first step toward setting the stage has already taken place, since the modern state of Israel was established in 1948. But they have not yet turned their hearts to God as a nation and accepted Jesus as the Messiah, although individuals within that nation have done so (especially the majority of the first Christians). Yet it is prophesied that a remnant of national Israel will repent and be saved, when the temporary blindness is ended. This will be when the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled (Romans 11:25).

The Prophets, especially Daniel, described events that will take place leading up to the end of the present evil age and the start of the Age to Come. Jesus confirmed the prophecies, and referred to the Abomination of Desolation spoken of by Daniel as taking place in the Temple. For this to happen, the Jews must be in the land and have re-established the daily sacrifices in the Temple. The Antichrist will break the covenant he will have made with them, put a stop to the sacrifices, and set up the Abomination. These events were said by Jesus to be the signal of the beginning of the Great Tribulation.

Immediately following the Great Tribulation there will be signs in the heavens, and the Son of Man will be seen coming in glory. At that time, Christ will return and defeat the Antichrist, and all of the faithful throughout history will be raised from the dead. This will include those Old Testament believers who looked forward to the coming of Messiah, as well as those Christians who have died. In addition, those believers who are alive at the time will be caught up to meet them in the air.

After defeating Israel's enemies, the Kingdom of God will be established on earth. The glory of Israel will be restored, and they will fully receive the land promised to Abraham (Jeremiah 23:5-8; Ezekiel 34:13-14). Christians have also been given the marvelous privilege of sharing in Israel's promises (Galatians 3:29; Ephesians 3:6). The "saints of the most high," referred to in Daniel 7 as receiving the kingdom, will include all who have trusted in God's plan of salvation, whether by looking forward to the coming Messiah, or by believing that Jesus of Nazareth is that Messiah.

Once the kingdom is given to the saints, a new age will begin, and these immortal saints will rule with Christ for a thousand years.

Revelation 20:
1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
[see NASB]

Today we do not see the devil bound. He is still very hard at work deceiving the nations. But when the Lord returns, Satan will be bound for a thousand years. At that time all the faithful will have been resurrected, and the immortal saints will rule over those that are left of the nations after the great battle and the wrath of God. The nations will still be mortal, but they will live much longer (Isaiah 65:20). All nations will worship God and the center of worship and government will be at Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-4; Jeremiah 3:16-18; Micah 4:1-3). They will go up to Jerusalem from year to year to worship and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19).

Jesus Christ the King will rule all the nations, and his judgment will be absolutely just (Isaiah 2:4; 9:6-7). He will have perfect wisdom and understanding, and be able to render right decisions at the right times (Isaiah 11:1-5). His righteous judgment will bring abundance of peace (Psalm 72; Isaiah 32:16-18). People then will no longer walk after the stubbornness of their evil hearts (Jeremiah 3:17-18). God will pour out His spirit on all flesh, and put His Word in their hearts, in complete fulfillment of the promised New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Isaiah 59:21; Ezekiel 36:25-27; Joel 2:28-29). The world will be free of evil (Isaiah 16:4-5; Zephaniah 3:13-15). Men will have peace with each other, animals will have peace with each other, and men and animals will live in peace together (Isaiah 11:6-10; 65:25).

The curse that was put on earth will be reversed during the thousand years (Revelation 22:3), and the land will again yield its abundance (Joel 2:18-27; Amos 9:11-15). The earth will once again become a paradise as it was in the beginning (Ezekiel 36:35; Revelation 2:7; Romans 8:19-23). The deserts will blossom and sickness will be eliminated (Isaiah 35:1-10; 33:24). There will be no more war, and the weapons of war will be turned into tools of agriculture (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). The wealth of the world will come to the people of God, and the Lord and His people will be exalted (Isaiah 60:1-22). It will be a wonderful new world (Isaiah 65:17-25). "All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD" (Numbers 14:21), and "the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).

Isaiah 25:
6 And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.
7 And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.
8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.
9 And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Isaiah 55:
12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
[see NASB]

After the thousand year reign, the devil will be loosed for a short season, and will deceive the nations. Those who were born and raised during the millennium and had never known his deception will experience it for the first time. Many of them will be deceived enough to try to attack the saints, but they will be destroyed.

Revelation 20:
7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
8 And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
9 And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
[see NASB]

After the devil is cast into the lake of fire, all the rest of the dead are raised and judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. Notice that it says "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." This implies that there will be some among these dead who are in the book of life. The Bible does not say much about those who never had a chance to hear the Gospel, but this reference would allow for those people to be dealt with justly and fairly. God is a righteous judge.

When the final judgment is complete, and all of the enemies of God and of His Christ are overcome, Jesus hands over the Kingdom to God.

I Corinthians 15:
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
[see NASB]

Jesus must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet. Those who do not want to be ruled by him will be destroyed, and then the last enemy to be destroyed is death. At that point the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven.

Revelation 21:
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
[see NASB]

At this point all will be fulfilled. Everything that God ever wanted for those who love Him will be complete. For the rest of eternity, there will be unending perfect fellowship between man and his Creator. The whole purpose for creation will be complete. God has set His marvelous plan in motion to bring about His ultimate desire. He paid for it with the price of His only-begotten Son. It is going to come to pass, no matter how many people try to hinder God's purposes. He invites all of us to participate in His restoring the world to its original glorious state. All we need to do is believe the Good News and repent. That is, change our agenda to His, make His goals our goals. When we do that, God promises to give us everlasting life in the coming age, as well as a foretaste during this life. No wonder we are told to pray "Thy Kingdom come." What else can I say but echo the words of John in Revelation 22:20, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"

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Mark Clarke