The great God hath made known what shall come to pass here after

by Phillip Wareham

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It would be good at this time to give a broad overview of the seven principal future events relating to the Lord’s coming and his reign. This will serve to give an historical time line and perspective for our main subject – the Lord coming for his bride. So the seven principal events can be summarised, as follows: 2/ The Lord’s judgment upon this earth for seven years 3/ The Lord coming for his bride 4/ The Lord married to his bride 5/ The Lord coming with his bride 6/ The Lord reigning with his bride 7/ The Lord’s final judgment of Satan and this earth 8/ The Lord reigning with his bride on the new earth throughout the eternal ages.

The first event is the seven years of great tribulation on the earth because of man’s sin and rebellion against God increasing to such an extent that they finally receive the man of sin (called the antichrist or the beast) to rule over them. This is the man who will be the full embodiment of Satan. Just as Jesus Christ is God manifest in the flesh (the mystery of Godliness),(1 Timothy 3:16) so the antichrist will be Satan manifest in the flesh (the mystery of iniquity).(2 Thessalonians 2:7) The Jewish nation will receive him as their long awaited Messiah (or Christ) as Jesus told them they would: “I am come in my Father’s name and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive”, (John 5:43) and the nations of the world shall worship him. They will be deceived by his oratory and lies, (Daniel 7:8 and Revelation 13:6) by the wonders and miracles he performs, (Revelation 13:13-14) and by their own love of sin and unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12) This seven year period, which is the seventieth week spoken of in Daniel’s revelation,(Daniel 9:24-27) is detailed for us in Revelation chapters six though to nineteen. It is spoken of by Jesus to his disciples as a time of “great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no nor ever shall be”. (Matthew 24:21) It is a time when over half the world’s people will perish through wars, famines, plagues and the beasts of the earth. (Ezekiel 14:21 and Revelation 6:8) In Matthew chapter twenty four, Jesus compares the lead up to this time with the days of Noah when, “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”, (Genesis 6:5) and God judged the earth then with a great flood destroying every man, woman and child except for the eight souls in the ark (Noah and his family). Peter in his second epistle warns us of scoffers coming in the last days skeptical of the Lord’s promise to return, and who are willingly ignorant, (they don’t want to know,) that God has already judged the earth once through a flood. (2 Peter 3:5-6) In all this, God still maintains his one focus: establishing his Son upon his throne in Jerusalem. He declared this in Psalm 2: “The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed….Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion”. (Psalm 2:2-6) To do this he will overturn this earth and the king that has usurped his throne. “And thou, profane wicked Prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end…..I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he comes whose right it is; and I will give it him”. (Ezekiel 21:25-27)

The second event is the Lord coming for his bride (sometimes called the ‘rapture’).We find this in various scriptures but principally 1 Cor. 15:50-52 and 1 Thess. 4:13-18 where we see the Lord coming to the air together with the saints that have gone before, and the saints, which are alive at the time, being caught up with new resurrection bodies to meet them. And then that glorious sure hope proclaimed “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17) It is this second event that we will look at more closely in the following chapters.

The third event is the marriage of the Lamb to his bride, the Church. This we see in Revelation chapter nineteen verses seven to nine. Little is said about it in scripture, but one can only wonder and imagine at the glory and beauty of such an event with all of heaven invited. The Lord has married his spotless bride, who has made herself ready, whom he has loved and cleansed and finally presented to himself a glorious Church. A bride that will be perfectly one with, and submitted to, her heavenly husband for all eternity.

The fourth event to take place is the Lord’s return to the earth with his bride. He is not coming this time to be despised and rejected, but is coming as King of kings and Lord of lords, with power and great glory, to judge and make war , to put all enemies under his feet, and to establish his kingdom on this earth. He comes with His church at the end of the seven year tribulation period, “with ten thousands of his saints,” (Jude 14) to defeat the armies of the nations who have come up to Jerusalem. This is what we read of in Revelation as “The battle of that great day of God Almighty”, (Revelation 16:14) and the terrible aftermath as the “supper of the great God”. (Revelation 19:17) The armies of the nations come up to Armageddon (or the valley of Megiddo, North West of Jerusalem), (Zechariah 12:11 and 2 Chronicles 35:22) in their final assault against Jerusalem in the “valley of Jehoshaphat”. (Joel 3:12) Two thirds of Israel are killed and the remaining third turn to the Lord with great mourning, as God’s Spirit convicts and reveals to them the true Messiah, Jesus, that they had rejected. (Zechariah Chapters. 12-13) The Lord roars like a lion out of Zion, (Joel 3:16) causes them to turn upon each other, (Ezekiel 38:21 and Zechariah 14:13) rains down great hailstorms, fire and brimstone, (Ezekiel 38:22) and “the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth”.(Revelation 19:11-21) The earth is subdued and the beast and his false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire.

The fifth event is the Lord establishing his kingdom on this earth for one thousand years with his saints, reigning from Jerusalem. This is what was uppermost in the minds of the disciples, “because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear”, (Luke 19:11) and still they persisted with their question after his resurrection. “They asked him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’ (Acts 1:6) This is the glorious kingdom all their prophets had foretold, of the period that Isaiah had foreseen: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this”. (Isaiah 9:6-7) The descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not realise what a length of time that would need to elapse between the fulfillment of both these two verses. Satan will be bound for this time, (Revelation 20:1-2) the temple and the Land of Israel will be cleansed from idolatry and the aftermath of battle,(Ezekiel 39:11-16) and the nations that remain on the earth will be judged according to their treatment of God’s children before. (Matthew 25:31-46) The Lord Jesus Christ will reign from Jerusalem over all the earth. (Zechariah 6:13-14:9) David will reign over Israel, (Jeremiah 30:9 and Ezekiel 34:23-24) and the twelve apostles of the Lamb shall reign over the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28) And all his faithful servants shall reign over different cities and regions of the earth. (Luke 19:12-19) That which has alluded mankind for thousands of years, that which is inscribed upon the walls of the United Nations building in New York from Micah chapter four verse three, “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore,” shall finally be a reality. A kingdom of peace, because the Prince of Peace is reigning. Not only will men be at peace, but even the animals will be at peace. (Isaiah 11:6-9) The Word of God will go out from Jerusalem to the whole earth, (Isaiah 2:2-3) and the nations shall come up to worship the Lord. (Zechariah 14:16-19) No wonder Isaiah exclaimed “and his rest shall be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)

The sixth event is the final judgment on Satan, the destruction of this world and the universe, and the second resurrection when everyone who has ever lived will stand before the throne of God to be judged. Rebellion is deep in the heart of man. We see it in our children against the proper authority of parents (as we also rebelled against ours), and that seed planted in the heart by Satan of first, ingratitude, then resentment and murmuring, and finally leading to open rebellion. After one thousand years of long life, peace and great blessing, and being taught the Word of God and the ways of God, the nations again rise up in rebellion against Jesus Christ and his church. Satan is loosed and deceives them, convincing them that they are not ‘free’, that they are under ‘tyranny,’ just as he lied to Eve in the garden. They come up to attack the camp of the saints and Jerusalem, and God destroys them with fire from heaven, and casts Satan and his legion of rebellious angels into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:7-11) Man will not destroy this earth. God will. It will not be an excess of fluro carbons into the air, but an excess of sin and rebellion that will bring about the destruction of this earth. Just as God spoke to create the heavens and the earth, so he will just speak again to burn them up. “But the heavens and the earth, which are by the same word, kept in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment, and perdition of ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7) Then the rest of the dead will hear the command of the Son of God to come forth to be judged. (Revelation 20:5 and John 5:27-29) They may have said whilst alive “we will not have this man to reign over us”, (Luke 19:14) but on that day there will be no choice. On that day every knee shall bow to Jesus Christ, then “whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire”. (Revelation 20:15) It is said that William Booth told his troops that he wished they could spend just five minutes in hell and then send them out to pray and preach with such fervor and passion for the lost. Paul said “Woe is me if I preach not the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16) May the Lord fill us with the fire of the Holy Spirit and love for the lost and go labour in his harvest.

The seventh and last event is the creation of the new heaven and earth and the reign of Jesus Christ with his bride throughout the endless ages. Just as the Lord spoke to create the first heaven and earth, and spoke again to destroy them, so he will again just speak to create the new heaven and new earth. We will not have to wait millions of years for them to evolve. As we read the last ten chapters of the prophet Isaiah (as he moves in and out of his present time, the reign of Christ on this earth, and the new heavens and new earth) and the last two chapters of the bible, we get a glimpse into the eternal kingdom. We see elements of Eden restored before the fall: the river of life, the tree of life, no more curse. But it goes far beyond that. This last Adam is our glorious Saviour and King, and his bride has the glory of God, adorned for her husband. “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Isaiah 62:5)

The Lord gives us enough to whet our appetites. He is full of surprises. In Isaiah we read, “For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, besides you, what he has prepared for those that wait for him”, (Isaiah 64:4) and Paul adds “Neither has it entered the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him”. (1 Corinthians 2:9) Isaiah say’s “wait for him”. Paul says “love him”. When we put the two together we get a beautiful thought. If I love the Lord, I will surely wait for him. Like the beloved bridegroom in the Song of Songs, the Lord is ever moving forward, and I’m sure it will take all eternity to come to know the unsearchable riches of Christ. “His servants shall serve him, and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:3-5)