Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Last Great Day, and How Righteousness Will Fill the Earth

Sunset tonight starts the Last Great Day, the last of God's yearly festivals and holy days, a festival separate from the Feast of Tabernacles, yet connected with it. It has an individual meaning, and is technically not part of the Feast of Tabernacles, because the Feast of Tabernacles is called a seven day Feast (Leviticus 23:34). Yet it is closely associated with the Feast of Tabernacles because it is called the "eighth day" and the "last day" of the Feast (Leviticus 23:36, John 7:37-38).

Like all of God's annual festivals, it has great meaning in the true gospel, meaning which the Church of God understands because we believe and obey God by keeping these festivals, but the world and traditional churches do not understand because they do not believe and obey God by keeping these festivals and instead keep pagan, worldly holidays like Christmas and Easter.

The Last Great Day represents a time and an event, which can be called the white throne judgment or the general resurrection of the dead, when all the billions who have lived and died without an opportunity to hear the true gospel and to have their minds opened to be able to understand and believe the gospel and to repent, will be brought up out of their graves and given their first real chance to be saved (Ezekiel 37:1-14, Revelation 20:11-15).

Except for the few that God calls to salvation in this 6,000 year age of man (John 6:44, 65, Acts 1:16), the world is blinded by Satan and is not able to understand and believe the gospel and to repent and be converted even if they hear the true gospel (Matthew 13:10-17, Mark 4:11-12, Luke 8:10, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Revelation 12:9), and most of the world has not heard the true gospel.

Yet, it is not God's will that only the few be saved, but all of mankind, the majority, except for the few who knowingly and willfully reject the gospel. God will offer salvation to everyone. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Yet, only by the true gospel and through Christ can anyone be saved (Acts 4:10-12).

This is something the world of traditional, mainstream Christianity does not understand. Many traditional Christians think that the billions who have lived and died in the past without hearing the true gospel are condemned to be lost in the Lake of Fire. Compounding their error, they also believe men have immortal souls and will suffer in pain forever.

Thus they paint a picture in their minds of a harsh, unjust God who tortures people forever, never having given them the opportunity to avoid such torture. They paint God as a monster, in other words. But they don't acknowledge that outwardly. They call God good, but believe He practices cruel injustice.

For this very reason, some atheists and agnostics reject religion. They see the error of the mainstream churches, but they don't see their own error.

Yet both atheists and traditional religious people are deceived. This illustrates one of Satan's strategies. He deceives both groups (and many other groups) into accepting extreme positions, then he plays one group against the other to reinforce each group's belief that they are right and the other group is wrong. The truth is lost in-between.

The truth is, God will give everyone a chance for salvation. The Last Great Day and its meaning complete God's plan for the salvation of all mankind. This day represents the resurrection of the billions who lived and died without a chance for salvation before. This includes the people who lived before the flood, the people who lived from the flood to the time of Christ, and the people who have lived from the time of Christ till now who never heard the true gospel or never had a chance to escape Satan's deception and believe the gospel and repent. They will all be brought back to physical life, not immortal life, and will stand on the earth again, alive as they were before.

They will be brought back to life at a time when Christ and the saints are ruling the earth and Satan will be put away, and for the first time they will hear the true gospel without being blinded by Satan. They will be able to hear, understand, repent, and be saved.

"Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it," says the Lord' " (Ezekiel 37:12-14).

"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" (Revelation 20:13).

These people will be judged for what they have done in their past life. They will be pronounced guilty, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). But then they will learn that they can be forgiven, if they repent, because Christ died to pay the penalty for their sins. I am sure that with Satan put away and Christ and the saints ruling the earth and teaching the true gospel, the majority will believe the true gospel and repent and accept Christ as their savior and be saved.

Both the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day represent periods of happiness and peace on the earth. Both represent times when Christ and the saints rule the earth. Both represent the great harvest of souls, compared to the harvest of crops that takes place in the fall. The white throne judgment period follows the millennium as the Last Great Day follows the Feast of Tabernacles.

The peace and happiness that exist on the earth during the millennium will also exist during the white throne judgment period. It will exist during both periods because righteousness and the knowledge of God will fill the earth. "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:34).

That righteousness will come three ways. First, Christ and the saints will rule the earth in righteousness. They will teach the right way of life. Peace, truth, and justice will be enforced. "He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; 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" (Micah 4:3).

"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations - 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels' - as I also have received from My Father" (Revelation 2:26-27). "And though the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers will not be moved into a corner anymore, but your eyes shall see your teachers. Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:20-21).

Mankind will live righteously because righteousness will be taught as a way of life all over the earth. Peace and justice will be enforced, and rebellion, war, and false teaching will not be permitted.

Under Christ, we will teach the people the true gospel and God's law and way of life directly. We will be able to teach it because we will have learned that way of life ourselves, now, and have lived it.

Secondly, the people will be taught that they are to live by every word of God, and the people will be able to read their Bibles and learn from God's word directly, as we do today. Satan will not be around to deceive them about the Bible, nor will false teachers twist scriptures anymore, but they will be taught the true meaning of the scriptures, and without Satan around they will be able to see the truth of what the Bible says without being deceived, and they can learn righteousness that way.

Thirdly, God's Holy Spirit will be made freely available to all who repent. The vast majority of mankind will probably choose to believe and obey God and be converted, and they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help them understand spiritual knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:11-16). The Holy Spirit will enable the people to live righteously (2 Timothy 1:7).

These three things, the direct rule and teaching of Christ and the saints, the Bible correctly taught, and the Holy Spirit, will teach and empower the human race to live righteously. The earth will be filled with God's righteousness, and that righteousness will produce peace, justice, and happiness all over the earth.

What a time to look forward to!

Here are links to posts in this blog that are also related to the meaning of the Last Great Day:

"A Stumbling Block - The Fate of the Billions Who Never Heard of Christ", dated May 21, 2008, link:

"Why God Is Not Trying to Save Everyone Now ", dated October 26, 2008, link:

"God Is Not Trying to Save Everyone in this Age", dated November 8, 2008, link:

"The World's Loved Ones Are Not Lost", dated September 29, 2010, link:

"The Millennium Prepares for the White Throne Judgment", dated October 17, 2011, link:

"The Last Great Day Shows God's Mercy and Justice", dated October 18, 2011, link:

"Learning Love by Doing in the Millennium - Preparing for the White Throne Judgement", dated October 5, 2012, link:

"The White Throne Judgement Is a Blessing for the Church of God", dated October 8, 2012, link:

"The Bible's Main Readership", dated September 22, 2013, link:

"The Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, and the Kingdom of God", dated September 25, 2015, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:

The Last Great Day - the White Throne Judgment, Chapter 2

Friday, October 2, 2015

A Peaceful Atmosphere, and Scriptures to Read

Imagine you took a time machine to travel to the future, to around the middle of the millennium, maybe about 500 years from now. You could only stay there for about a couple of hours, and then you would have to return to the present day. You would still be physical, and you would not have much time, but you could walk around for a while.

Perhaps you would be in or near a small village or in the country someplace among farms, maybe walking down a country road.

What would you notice?

I think the first thing and the most impressive thing you would notice would be a deep sense of peace. Why?

There will be one dramatic difference between the world of the millennium and today's world you and I have experienced all our lives, and that difference would be apparent even if you did not have much time or opportunity to talk to anyone in the millennium.

Satan will not be around.

You and I have lived our whole lives in Satan's world. Satan is called the "prince of the power of the air (emphasis mine, Ephesians 2:2). It is in Satan's capacity as prince of the power of the air that he broadcasts evil thoughts and moods into our minds and the minds of all human beings on earth, thoughts and moods of discouragement, resentment, anger, fear, lust, greed, vanity, pride, and hatred.

Mr. Armstrong likened Satan's broadcasting to modern TV and radio broadcasting, but with this difference: while TV and radio stations broadcast in words and pictures, Satan broadcasts in thoughts, moods, and attitudes.

If you could visit the world in the millennium for just two hours, for the first time in your life you would know what it is like to be totally free of Satan's evil influence on your mind. I think that one change alone would create a sense peace and joy. You wouldn't want to come back.

That freedom from Satan's broadcasting of discouragement and every evil mood, attitude, and thought is what the whole human race will experience. Then, add to that the wise and loving rule of Christ and the saints to bring justice, to stop war, to heal every sickness, and to produce prosperity. No wonder the earth will be filled with joy.

I have compiled a list of Old Testament scriptures, in the Psalms and many prophecies, that seem to describe the happiness that will exist all over the earth after the return of Christ and the putting away of Satan. These passages paint a word picture of the state of the earth and the joy that will exist at that time, both during the millennium and afterwards in the white throne judgment.

Psalm 24.

Psalm 29.

Psalm 47.

Psalm 48.

Psalm 66.

Psalm 67.

Psalm 72.

Psalm 85.

Psalm 87.

Psalm 96.

Psalm 97.

Psalm 98.

Psalm 99.

Psalm 100.

Isaiah 2:1-5

Isaiah 4:3-6

Isaiah 11:1-16

Isaiah 12:1-6

Isaiah 14:1-8

Isaiah 19:19-25

Isaiah 25:6-9

Isaiah 29:17-24

Isaiah 30:19-26

Isaiah 32:1-4

Isaiah 33:17-24

Isaiah 35:1-10

Isaiah 40:1-5

Isaiah 42:1-13

Isaiah 43:1-7

Isaiah 44:1-5, 21-23

Isaiah 49:8-13

Isaiah 60:1-22

Isaiah 61:1-11

Isaiah 62:1-12

Isaiah 65:17-25

Isaiah 66:7-24

Jeremiah 31:1-14, 23-40

Jeremiah 33:4-16

Ezekiel 34:20-31

Ezekiel 36:22-38

Ezekiel 37:1-28

Daniel 2:26-45

Hosea 2:14-23

Hosea 14:1-9

Joel 2:18-32

Amos 9:11-16

Micah 4:1-8

Zephaniah 3:9-20

Zechariah 8:1-23

Zechariah 10:6-12

Zechariah 14:6-11, 16-21

Below is a link to another post that explains the meaning of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day:

"The Feast of Tabernacles, the Last Great Day, and the Kingdom of God ", dated September 25, 2015, link:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

We Will Enjoy Our Work in the Kingdom of God

One of the differences between the Catholic/Protestant views of the ultimate reward of Christians and our views in the Church of God is that we know that in the Kingdom of God, we will be active, doing the work of God, helping Christ to rule. The concept I grew up with, being raised Catholic, was the vague idea that somehow I would be in heaven and be idle, not doing anything, but being happy just because I was with God.

But we know that in the millennium we will be kings and priests with Christ and will help Christ to rule the earth, to rule the human nations, to teach God's law to mankind, and to save mankind and bring happiness to the earth (Revelation 1:4-6). Beyond the millennium will be the white throne judgment period when we will help teach and save the billions who will come up in a general resurrection. And beyond that will be the eternity of ruling the universe and helping Christ accomplish whatever creative projects the Father has in mind for the entire universe.

We will be working.

But we will enjoy our work. We will enjoy it forever.

Some people in the Church may wonder if they will like being a ruler, a judge, or a priest. Some may be concerned that they will not enjoy it or not be good at it. Some may not feel comfortable with the idea of judging or ruling over others and making the kinds of decisions they will be making. They may not feel right now that they would be confident in that role.

But things will be different in the Kingdom of God. God will give us the competence, the training, the wisdom, and the power to do every assignment perfectly, and not only that, but to enjoy it.

Probably all of us have experienced having to do some kind of work we don't like. But most of us or all of us have also experienced doing something we enjoy. We have had the experience of doing some kind of work that gave us pleasure, even if it was only a small part of the work.

Not everyone will relate to this, but when I was younger and physically fit, I enjoyed shoveling snow. It was fun. I liked using my muscles. And in my job as a computer programmer, there were times when I enjoyed my work. When I got to write a brand new computer program from scratch, and I could use my knowledge, imagination, and creativity to design and code the program and test it and see it work correctly, it was fun. I liked that part of the job. I might stay overtime and keep working on it, not because I had to, but because I didn't want to stop. Of course, not all the job was like that - sometimes I had to modify an existing program and figure out somebody else's code, and it could be very tedious and frustrating. And there were other parts of the job I didn't like. But I know what it is like to enjoy a task.

Mothers have the job of raising their children. Probably there are many parts of that job that can be unpleasant, but I am sure there are times and parts of that job that can be very pleasurable for a mother. Teaching her child and caring for her child can sometimes be a joy.

But in the Kingdom of God, we will not grow tired. We will not suffer muscle fatigue or brain fatigue. We will be perfectly suited to every job Christ gives us. We will have the abilities to do each job perfectly and we will have the temperament to enjoy each job as we do it. We will not enjoy seeing human beings make wrong choices and reap the consequences, and some will still make wrong choices. But overall, our jobs and responsibilities will be a joy. We will be filled with a sense of accomplishment at every task. We will know that we can successfully do every job Christ gives us to do.

God will give us our assignments (Matthew 20:23). We will be given assignments that we are suited for by temperament and ability, and God is preparing us now, in this life, for those assignments. And God will also give us the power, the ability, the skill, and the help to do every job well, and we will know it.

So if you want to imagine how we will enjoy our responsibilities in the Kingdom of God, think of a job you have performed in the past, some responsibility you fulfilled, that you enjoyed. It will be like that, magnified probably a million-fold, not just for a few things, but for all or almost all of our work and activity. We won't necessarily enjoy punishing someone, just as a parent does not necessarily enjoy punishing his or her child, but we will rejoice at the righteous and peaceful fruits that result.

God will not give us jobs we have to struggle with, jobs that are hard for us, jobs beyond our abilities, jobs that we will not be temperamentally suited for. He will not give us jobs we will not enjoy. He will give us jobs we enjoy, and He will give us the ability to enjoy those jobs. God has all power and all wisdom, and He will not withhold anything good from us that we will need to enjoy doing God's work in the Kingdom of God forever.