Goodnews Christian Ministry
"On him was conferred sovereignty, glory and kingship, and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants. His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed." ---Daniel 7:14
""Then I saw the souls of all who had..witnessed for Jesus and preached God's word...
they came to life, and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
This was the first resurrection;
the second death cannot affect them..."
John said that the two 'reigns' of Christ will be tied to two resurrections. (Rv.20:5). The first of these two rebirths from death, he said, will launch the thousand year reign of the Gospel and the second will result in God's eternal rule in heaven.
John does not elaborate further on these two ascensions except to inform us that the 'thousand years' itself will separate the two. According to John, the first will inaugurate the millenium and the second will take place on the Day of Judgement (after the millenium ends).
These resurrections are surrounded in mystery. Precisely when the first of them took place is a matter of great interest. John said that it happened just after Satan was placed in his jail in the Abyss. He gives no date for this, but we can assume that it took place some time between 30 A.D. and 95 A.D.
Satan's imprisonment had not yet occurred when Christ was preaching in Galilee. This we know, because Satan himself personally tempted Jesus after his baptism at the Jordan river. (Mt.4). But he was gone by 95 A.D. when John wrote this quotation in the Book of Revelation: "The beast you have seen, once was and now is not..." (Rev.17:8).
The pagan Roman empire was still in existence in 95 A.D., so John could not have been referring to it when he wrote: 'and now is not'. So his words show a millenium that seems already to be in progress by that date.
The 'beast' which had disappeared by 95 A.D., therefore, had to be either Satan or Nero -- or more likely, both. Nero died in 68 A.D. If the imprisonment of Satan and the death of Nero both occurred at the same time, the first of the two resurrections described by John probably took place very soon afterwards. Very likely in the year 70 A.D.
There are so many other events which happened around this time, that this year stands out boldly from the rest.
If this is the case, it would mean that God has tied both resurrections to the death of a 'beast' -- with each specifically related to a 'rule' of Christ.
The first resurrection (tied to the death of the beast Nero) was related to the millenium (Christ's rule on earth), and the second (tied to the death of the Lawless Rebel at the End) will be related to the coming of the kingdom itself -- to Christ's eternal rule in heaven.
The first war against the Church reached a peak of sorts during the reign of Nero. It was at his directive that Peter and Paul and most of the apostles died.
Nero's assault on the Church of Christ was devastating. He specifically targeted its leadership and went after that elite corps with a vengeance unequalled by any of his predecessors or descendants. Nero sparked a reign of terror against Christianity that was equal to and in many ways greater than anyone who has ever followed him.
With his death, an arch-image of the beast died -- an Antichrist who bitterly persecuted the Christian Church -- the man John has pinpointed as the 'sixth head' of the beast.
The most critical events that launched the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth -- the death of Nero, the first resurrection, the deaths of most of the original apostles, and the incarceration of Satan in the Abyss -- all seem to coalesce around the year 70 A.D., the same date that Jerusalem and its temple were being destroyed by the Romans.
In fact, the very day that Herod's temple was burned down may itself be significant, because it occurred on August 29th (the 10th of Loos in the Hebrew lunar calendar), the same day the temple of Solomon was burned down by Nebuchaddnezzar when the first exile to Babylon began.
So both temple losses and both exiles to Babylon occurred on the very same calendar day -- a fact which seems to further underscore the divine relationship between them.
This one year and day, then, stand out more than any of the others. It was on this same date (August 29th, 70 A.D.) that the Pharisees and Sadducees all disappeared, that the Sanhedrin became defunct, that the High Priest vanished and the 2000 year Jewish diaspora truly began.
Even though intense battles raged afterward, the end of the first war and the beginning of the millenium seem to coincide with events surrounding the death of Nero and the destruction of the Jewish temple.
For all these reasons, it is probable that the first resurrection occurred in 70 A.D., and took place before the end of August that year.
A later date cannot be ruled out, of course. The Church has long celebrated a type of 'resurrection day' on November 1st, for instance, memorializing all Christians who have died in the faith of Christ. It is called 'All Hallow's Day', i.e., 'all who are holy'.
Because in God all things look ahead, perhaps the significance of November 1st is locked to an event that is still to come -- i.e., the second and final resurrection. It is possible, of course, that both events are scheduled to share a similar date. We have learned through past experience that God has tied the most significant calendar moments in Hebrew and Christian history together.
A compelling final indication that the first resurrection occurred before 95 A.D. came from Jesus himself when He told John the Apostle that he (John) had to stay behind until He Himself came back. To the others, Jesus said, 'follow me'. (Jn.21:20-23).
When the Apostles questioned him about this, Jesus said to them, "If I want him to stay behind until I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me." (Jn.21:21-22).
Christ's 'coming back' of course, refers to the 'Second Coming' an event which still lies in our future. It is interesting to note that John did not die with the other apostles, but went into prison on the island of Patmos where he wrote the Book of Revelation.
By the time he did die (sometime after 95 A.D), not only had Satan been locked in the Abyss, and Nero passed away, (events John himself confirmed) but the first resurrection had apparently already come and gone.
Because he did not participate in this first resurrection, John had to wait 'until Jesus came' -- until the 'Second Coming' for his own resurrection. "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were over." (Rv.20:5).
This suggests that John will rise with us when Jesus returns. It would seem fitting perhaps, that not only would God lead us into the kingdom of heaven with Apostles, but that he would have one following behind us as well to keep up the rearguard -- the one he called his favorite. It would further fulfill what Jesus, Himself, said, "The first shall be last and the last first."
Except for these first few who died early in the faith, and who are now reigning with God in heaven, most Christians will rise in the second resurrection. John and all those who came after him (ourselves included) will not come to life until Jesus returns. (Rv.20:5).
Until that day (which is now very close) arrives, all the souls of those whose bodies died during the millenium of the last 2000 years will remain near the altar of God, wearing white robes and waiting for the final roll to be completed. (Rv.6:9-11).
One thing is certain. The Christian era does have two resurrections -- the first of which occurred just as the millenium started.
This would seem strong evidence that the Apostles, early disciples, friends and family members of Jesus are all alive today in heaven reigning with God right now just as the prophecy in the Book of Revelation's states -- actively participating with Jesus in the management of His millenial rule on earth.
"They came to life and reigned with God for a thousand years." (Rv.20:4). Their duties and assignments during this period are unknown. Can they plead for mercy on our behalf? The Holy Spirit has told a great many Christians that they can and do.
No one really knows for sure; but considering the majesty of the offices awarded them, and the supreme authority bestowed on them, it seems quite likely that God has given all these Apostles and disciples great power to continue working on behalf of our salvation.
Since prayer is a petition, and not worship, it could do no harm to ask them for their assistance in our struggle against the forces of Satan. In essence, prayer is conversation with God and His angels.
Knowing that Jesus' Apostles are there with Him and actively working with God on behalf of our salvation, many Christians, especially Roman Catholics, petition them in same way that we might talk to people in official positions here on earth. Whether that helps or not, depends on the duties they have been given by God.
But it is fascinating to think that we might be able to actually communicate with Peter or Paul, for instance, or even with Mary, Christ's own mother. Considering the fact that almost none of us can ever hope to personally meet the Pope or talk to Billy Graham or speak with Mother Theresa or Paul Crouch in our own lifetime, the thought that we could have a personal audience with Jesus' closest associates in a simple prayer seems incredible and marvelous beyond belief.
On earth, such audiences are granted mostly to the great, but when the vision of Mary appeared to the children of Medjugorje, she told them that the only reason that she could manifest herself to them was that they were not special. She explained that if they were special, God would not have permitted her to appear to them.
If the vision is true, this suggests that God has emplaced around us a divine communication network in which the common man has access to those of far greater import than do the kings and potentates of this world who speak so freely with the current religious leaders who reign above us.
"God is near to the broken-hearted, he helps those whose spirit is crushed." (Ps.34:18). "I live in a high and holy place, but my heart is with the contrite and humbled spirit, to give the humbled spirit new life, to revive contrite hearts." (Is.57:15).
In the last chapter we saw that God has structured His millenium in the concept of daylight -- two days having been made into one. There is another aspect of this principle (two days in one) that takes place in the natural world and it also may interact with biblical prophecy as well.
It can be used to solve the mystery surrounding the Last Supper of Christ and the Passover meal which that dinner should have overlain (to satisfy the Law of Moses).
Few will tolerate the use of natural principles, discovered centuries after God may have used them invisibly, as an instrument of His hand in keeping scripture. But we will recount the concept here anyway because the possibility is compelling, and it shows that most of the works of God really are invisible.
It proves that God has ways to fulfill prophecy far beyond our imagining.
When we look at the day, we consider it to be the same everywhere on earth. But that is not true. The fact is, as science has shown us, two days always exist on earth at the same time.
They are superimposed in our one day, but they are very separate and very real.
Where they meet, two days coexist almost simultaneously, so that a person can take a single step and go ahead or back in time 24 hours. Not in real time, of course, but as far as the calendar and the clock are concerned.
It was, remember, the calendar and the clock that ruled the Law of Moses.
That place is called the International Date Line and it now lies along a jagged line drawn through the Pacific Ocean.
Since it is something that any of us can do whenever we want, natural law does not have to be violated for us to take this leap into the future (or into the past).
While the line itself may be artificial in its placement, what it designates is a reality that world leaders have learned they must deal with.
Because the world is round, this line has always existed; but the fact of its existance was not discovered until Magellan's crew returned to Spain from a trip around the world in 1522.
The existance of such a line at the time of Christ, although a fact of nature -- was unknown to the inhabitants of the world. But still, it did exist.
Mankind did not designate a location for this line until the 18th century. Before that, it's positioning was in the hands of God.
And since God is the Alpha and Omega (the Beginning and the End), such a date-line would most logically lie along a plane that intersected the presence of God. That would put it (at the time of Christ) in Jerusalem.
In the 18th century, long after Christ had emplaced God inside human hearts (spreading His presence all across the world) the line could be arbitrary because God was then acknowledged to be everywhere.
But before this change (i.e., when Mosaic tradition ruled the people of God) the line had to intersect Jerusalem.
If God wanted Him to, Jesus could have put this natural principle to work at the time of the Last Supper, walking back and forth across a date-line known only to Him and to God and in the process bring the days and dates of the Last Supper, the Crucifixion and the Passover into harmony with one another.
Thus Jesus could offer his already crucified body to his apostles on the night after he was crucified, for instance, or celebrate the Passover on the correct night as far as the Sanhedrin was concerned.
All of this would have been invisible to the Jews, and even to the rest of us, for centuries -- until our knowledge of celestial mechanics gave us the ability to see that it was all scientifically feasable and in accordance with natural law.
Jesus, while He walked the earth had not yet been glorified, so any such line would intersect the location of the Father, not the Son.
This might explain why Jesus and his apostles traveled such an extended distance from the Mount of Olives all the way across Jerusalem to the far western side of that city to celebrate the Last Supper on the night before he was crucified.
This was an exceptionally long walk and it suggests that God and the holy cortege that surrounded Him (Ez.1:4-28) dwelt somewhere above Mount Zion -- the peak of Jerusalem's western hill.
We know that God was not in the temple on Mount Moriah at that moment. Jesus had emptied Herod's temple a few hours earlier with His whip.
And Ezekiel shows us that God actually departed the temple far earlier (Ez.10:15-19) -- at the time of Nebuchadnezzar when Jeremiah took the word of God out of the temple and hid it in a cave.
The missing 'Word' which Ezekiel shows had departed the temple about 587 B.C., did not return to that edifice until Christ appeared; and since Jesus was not permitted to take His place in that temple, the structure remained empty.
The Bible tells us that God is Word. And history shows us that the temple leaders would not allow the Word in.
Since the Gospel indicates it was very important to God that Jesus not violate the laws of the Torah when he came down to earth, it seems likely that God would instruct His Son to use the rules of nature if they could help him achieve in greater perfection scripture's holy directives.
Walking west across the dateline on the eve of the Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples would have passed from sundown Thursday into sundown Friday, allowing Jesus to distribute to His disciples at that meal, his already crucified Body.
Not in real time, of course, but by the calendar -- the calendar that was so incredibly important to the Jews, and on which so many of the rules of the Torah were based.
This would have allowed Jesus to offer to His disciples the Last Supper on the actual calendar date of the Passover which began at sundown on Friday, just hours after Jesus died on the cross.
Returning to the Garden at Gethsamane, which was some distance to the east, Jesus and His disciples would then have been able to pass back across the dateline into the night of Thursday to complete the mission of God.
If nothing else, such unseen principles show how God has hidden power to override our literal interpretations of the times and dates of scripture.
The foregoing descriptions are perfectly harmonious with the rules of nature, so the question here is not one of whether natural law had been violated.
The issue is one of perspective. Has God used the nature He has created to further His truths or does He allow theological opinion to make Him an adversary of that nature?
Has God made truth a prisoner of narrow perspective?
No. Not even when that limited perspective is issued by holy people with impeccable religious credentials.
The descriptions given above work, and they work with the nature God has made. Nature does not have to be remade in order to make them work -- at least, not until the day nature itself is destroyed and the elements interchange their qualities to refashion a new nature in the image of God.
That is what the Bible is really trying to tell us. Nature and God are not enemies. It is sin that is God's enemy, not nature.
But sin is bringing this world to an end and there is nothing God can do about that except to rescue us from the death that is coming.
The millenium described by John, the thousand-year reign of the Church, has already come -- and is now almost gone. There are no additional 'thousand years' of glory in this earth's future -- only catastrophe.
The world has already started to rebel against Jesus and when this rebellion becomes full grown, the planet will not be able to survive it's consequences.
Those who do survive will do so only because they have obeyed Jesus.
Ushered by God directly into the highest heaven itself, these survivors will find no way-station to block their procession -- no half-way house of limited years.
It is clear in John's words that the millenium's end will bring us to the time of the second resurrection and, with it, the moment of the great wedding feast -- a procession that will open the gates to the kingdom of God and to its glorious city, Jerusalem, which has been rebuilt by the deeds of the saints.
This is the real meaning behind those mysterious words written in the Book of Revelation. They tell us about the two great wars against the people of God masterminded by Satan, and of the thousand-year reign of the Church which lies between these two conflicts.
A thousand-year reign bordered by two resurrections of God's faithful.
They are all about the warfare of Satan, the peace of Christ and the judgment of sinners. And for those who have wrapped themselves in Jesus and His Gospel of righteousness, resurrection to eternal life.
Dressed in gowns of brilliant white, holding palms and singing the praises of God (Rv.7:9-10), those whom God has chosen will pass, not into a temporal court, but through heaven's own portals into the majestic eternal kingdom itself .
They will reign with Jesus, not just for a thousand years, but forever.
And when that happens, no one will have to stay behind in the lower sea to spend a transitional 'millenium' waiting for the true eternal kingdom to come.
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