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Satan bound

Revelation 20:1-6

Revelation 20 - Quick Links

  • Satan Bound
    Revelation 20:1-3

  • Resurrection of Believers
    Revelation 20:4-6

  • Satan Deceives the Nations
    Revelation 20:7-10

  • The Great White Throne Judgment
    Revelation 20:11-15

  • Revelation 20:1-3


    Revelation 20:1 - Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.

    At the end of the last chapter, we saw that the unholy trinity of Satan, the beast, and the false prophet send out demonic spirits to deceive the armies of the world to gather to make war against Christ:

    Revelation 16:13-14 - And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.
    Revelation 19:19-21 - And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh.

    When Jesus returns to set up His kingdom after the Tribulation, Christ and His armies kill those who gather to make war against Him, and the beast and false prophet are captured and cast into the lake of fire - the Lord evicts the rebels and those who deceived them. Satan is next in line for eviction, as an angel prepares to capture and bind him and cast him in the bottomless pit. The bottomless pit is literally: the "pit of the abyss," which is in the inner part of the earth:

    Ezekiel 26:19 - "For thus says the Lord GOD: 'When I make you a desolate city, like cities that are not inhabited, when I bring the deep upon you, and great waters cover you, then I will bring you down with those who descend into the Pit, to the people of old, and I will make you dwell in the lowest part of the earth, in places desolate from antiquity, with those who go down to the Pit, so that you may never be inhabited; and I shall establish glory in the land of the living.'"
    Ezekiel 32:18, 24 - Son of man, wail over the multitude of Egypt, and cast them down to the depths of the earth, her and the daughters of the famous nations, with those who go down to the Pit... There is Elam and all her multitude, all around her grave, all of them slain, fallen by the sword, who have gone down uncircumcised to the lower parts of the earth, who caused their terror in the land of the living; now they bear their shame with those who go down to the Pit.

    The bottomless pit is found in the lowest parts of "Hades," which is the Greek word for the holding place of souls inside the earth. "Hades" in Hebrew is "Sheol" and translated as "Hell" in many English translations. Hades, or Sheol, is sometimes called "the pit," which includes the "bottomless pit," or the abyss, but also encompasses other compartments of Hades:

    Isaiah 14:15 - Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit.
    Proverbs 1:12 - Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit.
    Isaiah 38:18 - For Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You; those who go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth.

    The passage below describes some of the different compartments of Hades:

    Luke 16:23-26 - And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.'"

    The compartments of Hades described in this passage are: "Abraham's bosom," "a great gulf," and "torments," also called "Gehenna," named after a valley in Jerusalem the ancients used as a garbage dump that continuously burned with fire. The fallen angels have their own compartment called "Tartarus" (2 Peter 2:4), which many believe is the deepest part of Hades, known as the abyss, or the pit in the center of the earth.

    The Hebrew word for "pit" can also be translated as "cistern," which is a narrow pit that is dug and sealed to hold something like water, or in this case fallen angels, or demons (Luke 8:27-31). The center of the Earth is in fact "bottomless," as every direction from the center is "up."

    Jesus went to the bottomless pit, also known as the "heart of the earth," or the "abyss" for the three days His body was in the grave:

    Matthew 12:40 - For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
    Romans 10:6-7 - But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'"(that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, "'Who will descend into the abyss?'"(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
    Ephesians 4:8-10 - Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended" - what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

    Below is a schematic of Hades and its different compartments:

    hades

    The angel has the key to the bottomless pit. In a sense of irony, the last entity who had the key was Satan, the fallen "star," or angel (Luke 10:17-20, Isaiah 14:12-15) who released the tormenting locusts from the bottomless pit in the fifth Trumpet judgment:

    Revelation 9:1-3 - Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.

    But the Lord has authority over the keys to Hades, which would include the key to the bottomless pit:

    Revelation 1:18 - I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

    Jesus paid the ransom and penalty for our sin and conquered death through His resurrection, giving Him authority over the "keys" to Hades and Death:

    Hebrews 2:14-15 - Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
    Hosea 13:14 - "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes."
    1 Corinthians 15:54-57 - So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory" The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    So, it is Jesus who gives the angel coming down from Heaven the key to the bottomless pit. This unnamed angel also has a great chain in his hand. This chain is a bond or restraint strong enough to incapacitate spiritual entities like the fallen angels who are already bound in chains awaiting final judgment:

    2 Peter 2:4 - ...God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment....
    Jude 1:6 - And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day....

    Revelation 20:2-3 - He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while.

    After taking hold of Satan and binding him with a great chain (Revelation 20:1), the angel casts Satan into the bottomless pit for a thousand years, the length of the Lord's earthly kingdom. The angel sets a seal on him, showing that he makes Satan's imprisonment secure. The word translated "seal" might also allude to the angel having the Lord's authority to shut Satan into the bottomless pit (source). Earlier, in the middle of the Tribulation, Michael the archangel and his angels had cast Satan out of Heaven and confined him to the earth:

    Revelation 12:7-9 - And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

    It is striking that after the battle with the mighty angel Michael and his angelic army that a mere unnamed angel is able to bind Satan and cast him into the bottomless pit, showing how Satan has always been subject to God's authority and power, and he can be easily reduced as a dominant force at the Lord's direction. When Christ takes His authority to reign, Satan's authority is withdrawn. The following passage describes Satan, or Lucifer's diminished status and power when he is cast down into the pit - the bottomless pit in Sheol, or Hades:

    Isaiah 14:9-15 - "Hell from beneath is excited about you, to meet you at your coming; it stirs up the dead for you, all the chief ones of the earth; it has raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. They all shall speak and say to you: 'Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us? Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, and the sound of your stringed instruments; the maggot is spread under you, and worms cover you.' "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit."

    As discussed in Revelation 12:9, Satan is also known as the dragon, serpent of old, and the Devil. These four depictions of the great adversary describe his character:


    Depiction Greek Meaning Character
    Dragon Drakón Serpent, or sea monster Formidable beast like the sea monster Leviathan (Isaiah 27:1)
    Serpent of Old Ophis Serpent or snake who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden Crafty in deception (Genesis 3, 2 Corinthians 11:3, 13-14, Revelation 20:2-10)
    Devil Diabolos Slanderer Throws false accusations against the saints to ensnare or destroy them (Revelation 12:10, John 8:44, 1 Timothy 3:6-7)
    Satan Satanas The adversary Stands in opposition to God and His people and angels (1 Chronicles 21:1, Job 1:6-12, 2:1-7, Zechariah 3:1-2, Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 8:33, 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Revelation 12:7-8)

    The reason Satan is bound and hidden away, or sealed in the bottomless pit is to keep him from deceiving the nations. Satan is called "the serpent of old," which takes us back to the Garden of Eden, where Satan deceived Eve in the form of a serpent, a crafty or cunning creature. The serpent deceived Eve by questioning God's word:

    Genesis 3:1-6 - Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' " Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
    Genesis 3:12-13 - Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

    But Christ, the promised Messiah will return and punish the serpent:

    Genesis 3:14-15 - So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."
    Romans 16:20 - And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
    Isaiah 27:1 - In that day the LORD with His severe sword, great and strong, will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; and He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.

    The Lord will also punish Satan's cohorts - the fallen angels and demons. The fallen angels, who are not already imprisoned in the bottomless pit (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6) are also gathered up and incarcerated there with Satan:

    Isaiah 24:21-22 - It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones, and on the earth the kings of the earth. They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison; after many days they will be punished.

    And as discussed in Revelation 18:2, the demons are bound to the region from Edom north to Babylon, including Nineveh (Jeremiah 50:39, 51:37, Isaiah 13:21-22, 34:11-15, Zephaniah 2:13-14). This same area, including the areas of Moab and Ammon (Isaiah 34:5-10, Jeremiah 25:9-12, 49:13, Zephaniah 2:9), shown on the map below in red will become a continual wasteland of burning pitch after the Tribulation :

    Edom to Babylon demons bound perpetual burning
    Source: Wikipedia

    However, the passage from Isaiah 24:21-22 shows that the fallen angels are imprisoned in the bottomless pit after the Tribulation, but this is only temporary because the final place of judgment for all who reject God, whether a fallen spirit or human, is the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20, 20:10-15), and the passages below show that the demons go to the abyss, or bottomless pit at an appointed time. To reconcile these passages showing the fallen spirits imprisoned in the bottomless pit and also in a specific region on the earth, perhaps the region between Edom and Babylon is going to serve as an entrance or passageway from the surface of the earth where Satan and the fallen spirits are bound and cast into the bottomless pit:

    Matthew 8:28-29 - When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way. And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"
    Luke 8:28-31 - When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and with a loud voice said, "What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me!" For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had often seized him, and he was kept under guard, bound with chains and shackles; and he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the wilderness. Jesus asked him, saying, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion," because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss.

    Satan is released from the bottomless pit for a little while after the thousand years have passed. However, we don't know if the demons and fallen angels who are bound like Satan at the end of the Tribulation are also released with him or not, but the angels already bound in the bottomless pit will be held there until final judgment (2 Peter 2:4, Jude 1:6), so they won't be released. But the scope at which Satan deceives the nations in short order after the thousand years may suggest he has help from his minions, so perhaps they are released too, but Scripture is silent on the issue:

    Revelation 20:7-8 - Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea.

    After the fallen spirits are imprisoned, the Lord gathers all the people who survived the Tribulation and divides the believers, or the sheep, from the unbelievers, or the goats. The believers go into the kingdom, but the unbelievers die and go to eternal punishment:

    Matthew 25:31-34, 41, 46 - "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.... Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.... And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.'"

    Therefore, the Lord's kingdom on the earth will begin with no adversaries and the world will be at peace for a thousand years:

    Isaiah 11:4-9 - But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist. "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den. 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.
    Jeremiah 3:17 - "At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts."

    Revelation 20:4-6


    Revelation 20:4 - And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

    John sees thrones with occupants given authority to administer judgment. The passage below shows that this courtroom is in session after Jesus returns and defeats the beast (Revelation 19:20):

    Daniel 7:9-11 - "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. "I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking; I watched till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame."

    The Father has committed all authority of judgment to the Son:

    John 5:21-23 - For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

    But the Son delegates His authority to His saints to execute judgment based on His word:

    Psalm 149:1-9 - Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, and His praise in the assembly of saints. Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. Let them praise His name with the dance; let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute on them the written judgment - this honor have all His saints. Praise the LORD!

    Jesus plainly said that the saints, or overcomers (1 John 5:4-5, Revelation 21:7) will sit with Him on His throne, and He specifically told His disciples that they will judge the tribes of Israel:

    Revelation 3:21 - To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
    Matthew 19:28 - So Jesus said to them, "Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
    Luke 22:29-30 - "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

    Also, Paul said the saints will judge the world and angels:

    1 Corinthians 6:2-3 - Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?

    Recall that the twenty-four elders on thrones in Heaven represent the Church saints:

    Revelation 4:4 - Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.

    So, we see that the court set on the earth are the Church saints assembled from the throne room of God in Heaven. These Church saints are about to judge the "souls" of the Tribulation saints who are dead and in a disembodied form, but not yet resurrected. This is important to point out because the Tribulation saints don't "reign" with Christ until they "live" again, as noted in their resurrection from being dead souls. In other words, the saints on the thrones must already be in their glorified and resurrected state in order to administer judgment in Christ's authority.

    The above conclusion supports the view that the Lord resurrects the Church saints before the Tribulation and not after, otherwise there is no one to judge if all the saints are resurrected at the same time after the Tribulation. Also, there would not be any saints left in mortal bodies to populate the kingdom (Revelation 20:7-8). In addition, the twenty-four elders have crowns, showing that the saints on the thrones have already gone before the Judgment Seat of Christ, as discussed in Revelation 4:4.

    In short, resurrection and final judgment occur in tandem, whether it is resurrection to eternal life, or resurrection to eternal death, but the resurrection to eternal life happens in stages or different events across the dispensations, compared to one resurrection to eternal death, as we will discuss in Revelation 20:5.

    John 5:26-29 - For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

    The souls of the Tribulation saints before the seated court are classified as follows: Those beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God (Revelation 6:9, 12:11,17), and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands (Revelation 13:15, 14:11-13). As discussed in Revelation 7:15, all the Tribulation saints are subject to death under the "great harlot" in the first half of the Tribulation (Revelation 17:6), or the beast in the second half of the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7-17). Except for the remnant supernaturally protected in the wilderness, the rest of the Tribulation saints will not have power to stand up to Satan or the beast, and they will be overcome, with many martyred for their testimony:

    Revelation 12:14, 17 - But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.... And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
    Revelation 13:5-7 - And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue for forty-two months. Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven. It was granted to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue, and nation.
    Daniel 7:23, 25-26 - "Thus he said: 'The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces.... he shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High, and shall intend to change times and law. Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time. 'But the court shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy it forever.'"

    However, not all Tribulation saints die as a martyr for their testimony under the "great harlot" or the beast, since some will die in the Tribulation judgments or of natural causes, even if they do not worship the beast or his image, or take his mark. Therefore, every Tribulation saint is found in one or both of these groups, as follows:

    Martyrs venn diagram

    The word translated "beheaded" literally means to "cut off with an ax," with beheading implied by the translators. While this Greek verb is only used here in the New Testament, the noun form of the word translated as "battle-ax" is found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament passage below (source), from the root word that means to "shatter" or "scatter":

    Ezekiel 9:1-6 - Then He called out in my hearing with a loud voice, saying, "Let those who have charge over the city draw near, each with a deadly weapon in his hand." And suddenly six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his battle-ax in his hand. One man among them was clothed with linen and had a writer's inkhorn at his side. They went in and stood beside the bronze altar. Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer's inkhorn at his side; and the LORD said to him, "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it." To the others He said in my hearing, "Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary." So they began with the elders who were before the temple.
    Time, times, and half a time

    In Ezekiel's vision he saw men wielding battle-axes to kill anyone not protected by the mark put on the foreheads of the faithful remnant who mourned over the sin of the people in Jerusalem by the man clothed in white linen. We saw a similar scene in Revelation 7:2, where an angel sealed the 144,000 witnesses on their foreheads to protect them from the Tribulation judgments. The same root word for "battle-ax," or "shattered" is found in the passage below, where we see that the power of the Lord's people will be completely "shattered" by the end of the Tribulation, particularly the last 3 ½ years, 42 months, or time, times and half a time. Recall that the man in linen is Jesus, as discussed in Revelation 10:6:

    Daniel 12:7 - Then I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever, that it shall be for a time, times, and half a time; and when the power of the holy people has been completely shattered, all these things shall be finished.

    So, instead of the Lord using the battle-ax to kill those not protected by His mark on their forehead, the beast uses the battle-ax to kill or, as implied, behead those who won't take his mark on their forehead or arm. While most beheading historically has been with a sword, using a guillotine is a more efficient manner of execution, and the blade is an axe head which better fits how the Scripture says the martyrs die.

    Beheading as a form of execution has widely been used across the ages and around the world. The commentary below explains some of the reasons beheading was historically used:

      Armies routinely took the severed heads of their enemies back to their capitals as evidence of victory. David's taking the head of Goliath to Jerusalem clearly served this function (1 Samuel 17:54). Taking heads was also a simple and convenient way to record who was killed in battle (like Teumman) and how many were killed. Heads are, after all, much easier to transport than whole dead bodies....

      Disarticulated heads were also carried in processions, bringing the tangible results of the victory into everyone's view. Lest there be any doubt about the victor, the severed heads of the enemy tell the clearest tale. In the palace reliefs, and more broadly throughout the ancient Near East, the heads of the enemies are often manipulated in ways that are meant to shock and horrify observers. The heads are thus a sign of the celebration of victory and a warning to those who might challenge the authority and power of the king.

      Source: Bible Odyssey

    The following passages show examples of beheading during the years of the first kings of Israel:

    1 Samuel 17:51 - Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. And when the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.
    1 Samuel 31:8 - So it happened the next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. And they cut off his head and stripped off his armor, and sent word throughout the land of the Philistines, to proclaim it in the temple of their idols and among the people.
    2 Samuel 4:9-12 - But David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, "As the LORD lives, who has redeemed my life from all adversity, when someone told me, saying, 'Look, Saul is dead,' thinking to have brought good news, I arrested him and had him executed in Ziklag - the one who thought I would give him a reward for his news. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous person in his own house on his bed? Therefore, shall I not now require his blood at your hand and remove you from the earth?" So David commanded his young men, and they executed them, cut off their hands and feet, and hanged them by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ishbosheth and buried it in the tomb of Abner in Hebron.
    2 Samuel 20:20-22 - And Joab answered and said, "Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy! That is not so. But a man from the mountains of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, has raised his hand against the king, against David. Deliver him only, and I will depart from the city." So the woman said to Joab, "Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall." Then the woman in her wisdom went to all the people. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. Then he blew a trumpet, and they withdrew from the city, every man to his tent. So Joab returned to the king at Jerusalem.

    John the Baptist was also beheaded:

    Matthew 14:3-11 - For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife. Because John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her." And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, "Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter." And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.

    John the Baptist was a witness to Jesus and to the word of God like the Tribulation saints who die of beheading:

    Mark 1:2-4 - As it is written in the Prophets: "Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You." "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.'" John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
    John 1:29-34 - The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." And John bore witness, saying, "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him. I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, 'Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.' And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God."

    Whether the Tribulation saints die as martyrs for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, or die as a martyrs for refusing to worship the beast, or his image, or by rejecting his mark, or die of natural causes or in the Tribulation judgments, all the Tribulation saints will live again and reign with Christ in his earthly kingdom for a thousand years. This is the "first resurrection" to eternal life:

    Revelations 20:5-6 - But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

    The saints will live again, because Jesus overcame death allowing him to redeem His saints:

    Revelation 1:18 - I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.
    John 5:21 - For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will.
    John 14:19-20 - "A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you."
    Job 19:25-27 - For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
    Philippians 3:8-11 - Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
    2 Timothy 2:11-12 - This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him....
    Revelation 5:9-10 - And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

    The resurrected Tribulation saints will reign with Christ in His kingdom. Reigning with Christ in His kingdom is a promised reward for the overcomers (1 John 5:4-5) - the Lord's servants:

    Revelation 2:26 - And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations
    Revelation 3:21 - To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
    Revelation 11:15, 18 - Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!" ...The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth."

    Revelation 20:5 - But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

    In the last section we saw that the Tribulation saints were resurrected and lived again to reign with Christ in His kingdom for a thousand years. Here we see that the rest of the dead will not "live again," meaning they are not resurrected until after the thousand years. This resurrection to eternal life is called the "first resurrection." So, when the rest of the dead rise it is the "second resurrection" to "second death." Therefore, there are two types of resurrections - one of the just and one of the unjust:

    Daniel 12:1-2 - "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt."
    John 5:28-29 - Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
    Luke 14:13-15 - "But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just." Now when one of those who sat at the table with Him heard these things, he said to Him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"
    Acts 24:14-15 - But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

    However, these two types of resurrections are not confined to just two events, but follow the pattern of a harvest. There are three major crops harvested in Israel: barley, wheat, and grapes. God pictures the harvest of souls to the grain and grape harvests:

    Revelation 14:14-18 - Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, "Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. Then another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe."

    We also find harvest imagery in several of the Lord's parables about the "kingdom of Heaven" in the gospels. So, we see that the harvest of the grain and grapes represent harvests of souls for different people groups, and we will shortly determine which people groups they represent. Reaping the soul harvest ends in death, but Jesus is the first fruit of the resurrection to life of the souls harvested for those saved in Him:

    1 Corinthians 15:20-24 - But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.

    Note that there is an order of resurrection of the just, or the righteous, starting with Christ's resurrection and ending when He returns to deliver His earthly kingdom to the Father, thus proving that there is more than one event of saints rising from the dead in the first type of resurrection to life that spans at least 2,000 years. Similarly, the reaper harvests the grain over the course of time, over weeks or months, because crops do not all ripen at the same time.

    Under the Mosaic Law, the Lord commanded Israel to offer the firstfruits of all the produce they harvested in the land:

    Deuteronomy 26:1-4, 9-10 - "And it shall be, when you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, 'I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the country which the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.' "Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.... He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, "a land flowing with milk and honey"; and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me.' "Then you shall set it before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God."

    In the first harvest of souls, the Old Testament saints were resurrected right after Jesus rose from the dead, and many were seen in Jerusalem:

    Matthew 27:51-53 - Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

    After a brief stop on the earth, Jesus brought these saints who were captive in Hades with Him to Heaven:

    Ephesians 4:8-10 - Therefore He says: "When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men." (Now this, "He ascended" - what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

    These saints must have been resurrected to glorified bodies and not resurrected back to a mortal body like Lazarus, because Jesus brought them to Heaven. Since Christ fulfilled all things in the Mosaic Law, then it makes sense that He offered these saints at the heavenly tabernacle as firstfruits of the first harvest of souls. One notable exception of the Old Testament saint's resurrection is David, who was still dead and buried in Jerusalem after Christ's resurrection (Acts 2:29). There are several prophecies in the Old Testament that show that David has a special role in a mortal body in the kingdom, when Christ returns to rule on the earth, as explained in the following article: "King David's Role In The Millennium."

    The first harvest in Israel is the barley harvest. Therefore, the firstfruit of the barley harvest represent the Old Testament saints, the general harvest of barley represents the souls who have died in Christ since the cross, and gleanings of the barley harvest represent those who are alive in Christ when Christ calls the Church saints to Heaven in the rapture before the Tribulation. Note that the gleanings were not reaped at the end of the harvest in Israel:

    Leviticus 19:9-10 - When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

    This command to leave gleanings shows that a part of the barley harvest is not reaped in death, so part of the crop is left alive to the end of the harvest. The following passage shows that the dead in Christ, or the souls reaped in the barley harvest, will precede the souls in Christ that were not reaped and are still alive as gleanings at the end of the barley harvest, when Christ calls the Church saints to Heaven in the rapture:

    1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 - For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

    Incidentally, winnowing is the technique farmers use to harvest barley. The farmer takes a fork-like fan and tosses the grain in the air to separate the chaff. This winnowing technique illustrates Paul's description of the rapture in the passage above, where believers, represented by the grain, will meet the Lord in the air, effectively becoming separated from the unbelievers left on the earth, represented by the chaff.

    In the parable below, Jesus shows that the wheat harvest represents those who become believers in the Tribulation and enter the kingdom at the end of the harvest:

    Matthew 13:24-30 - Another parable He put forth to them, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."

    Jesus says that angels will burn the tares that grow up around the wheat, and then they will gather the wheat into the barn. To harvest wheat, farmers put the grain through a threshing device known as a "tribulum" that beats the grain to separate it from the chaff, which is a tough casing around the grain. Interestingly, "tribulum" is the Latin word for "tribulation." In the parable above, the wheat represents the Tribulation saints who enter the kingdom represented by the barn, and God's enemies are the tares that get burned in the fire which represents Hades. God's enemies are also represented by the grape harvest, whom God will crush like grapes in a winepress, as described in the following passage:

    Revelation 14:18-20 - And another angel came out from the altar, who had power over fire, and he cried with a loud cry to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, "Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe." So the angel thrust his sickle into the earth and gathered the vine of the earth, and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trampled outside the city, and blood came out of the winepress, up to the horses' bridles, for one thousand six hundred furlongs.

    After the barley harvest of souls ends with the rapture of the Church saints, the harvest of wheat and grapes commences in the Tribulation. The main harvest of wheat represents the Tribulation saints who die as martyrs for their faith, and the main harvest of grapes are those who die as unbelievers in the Tribulation. The gleanings of the wheat and grape harvests are those who survive the Tribulation. The Lord judges these gleanings in the "Sheep and Goat" judgment after the Tribulation, where the sheep are the wheat gleanings and the goats are the grape gleanings:

    Matthew 25:31-34, 41 - When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world....' "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"

    Jesus alludes to these two soul harvests having different destinies in the "Olivet Discourse," where two men are in the field and two women are grinding at the mill at the time of Jesus' return, with one of each taken away. Those taken away die and go to await the last judgment (Matthew 24:40-41). Only the gleanings of the wheat harvest will enter the kingdom in their mortal bodies.

    The 144,000 servants are the first fruits of the Tribulation saints, represented by the wheat harvest:

    Revelation 14:1-4 - Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

    The Lord redeems the 144,000 servants from the earth to Mount Zion in Heaven before He pours out His final wrath near the end of the Tribulation. The reason the 144,000 servants are first fruits is because they will get their resurrection bodies first, before the general resurrection of the Tribulation saints after the Tribulation (Revelation 20:4), which shows their resurrection has nothing to do with the resurrection of the Church at the rapture, because the Church is a different harvest. While Scripture is silent about whether the two witnesses are also first fruits of the wheat harvest, they are also redeemed to Heaven before the general resurrection of the Tribulation saints. God calls both the 144,000 servants and the two witnesses to Heaven before He pours out His final wrath after the 7th Trumpet judgment in the Bowl judgments, so perhaps the Lord calls them to Heaven at the same time:

    Revelation 11:11-12, 15 - Now after the three-and-a-half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.... Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!"

    The following table summarizes the relationship between the harvests and the people groups they represent and their fulfillment in the feasts of the Lord:

    Barley Wheat Grapes
    Method of Harvesting Barley is thrown in the air with a winnowing fork to separate the chaff Wheat is threshed or beaten loose on a "tribulum" board before being winnowed Grapes are crushed
    in a winepress to
    extract the juice
    Firstfruits Harvested Spring Late spring to summer Summer to fall
    Firstfruits Feast Feast of firstfruits after the Passover (Leviticus 23:9-14) Feast of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:15-25) No firstfruits feast
    End of Harvest Celebration The barley harvest ends around the Feast of Pentecost, but celebrated later at the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering in the fall (Leviticus 23:33-44) The wheat harvest ends in the summer, but celebrated later at the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering in the fall (Leviticus 23:33-44) Feast of Tabernacles
    or Ingathering
    (Leviticus 23:33-44)
    Firstfruits Offering Prophetic Fulfillment Jesus' Resurrection *
    (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)
    and resurrection of the Old Testament Faithful (Matthew 27:51-53, Ephesians 4:8-10)
    144,000 servants of God redeemed to Heaven before the final harvest of souls (Revelation 14:4) None specified in Scripture
    (Possibly the antichrist and his false prophet)
    General Harvest of
    Souls after the
    Firstfruits Offering
    Church harvest through
    the "age of grace"
    (John 4:35-36)
    Tribulation saints harvested through the Tribulation
    (Revelation 7 & 14)
    God's enemies kill through the Tribulation and gathered in the winepress of God's wrath (Revelation 14:17-20)
    Resurrection of the General Harvest of Souls The "dead in Christ" at the rapture
    (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
    Tribulation saints resurrected after the Tribulation
    (Revelation 20:4-6)
    God's enemies get resurrected to second death in the "lake of fire" after the Great White
    Throne Judgment
    (Revelation 20:11-15)
    Gleanings Believers alive at the rapture Tribulation saints who survive the Tribulation God's enemies who survive the Tribulation
    * Jesus' resurrection is the firstfruit for all who have fallen asleep in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

    In short, there are two types of resurrections. The first resurrection of the righteous to eternal life happens in several different events represented by two harvests: barley and wheat, which represent the Church saints and Tribulation saints, respectively. But the second resurrection of the unjust to eternal death is one event at the end of time. The chart below shows all these resurrections and when they happen compared to the judgments:


    Resurrections and Judgments


    Revelation 20:6 - Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

    As discussed in the last section, all saints take part in the first type of resurrection to eternal life. These saints are "blessed and holy" because they are priests to the Lord, they will reign with Him in His kingdom for a thousand years, and the "second death" will have no power over them. As discussed in Revelation 19:20, the "second death," is the destruction of the soul when it is divided from the spirit. Note the Greek word translated "hell" in the following passage is "Gehenna" which is a valley south of Jerusalem that came to symbolize the final place of punishment of the ungodly (source):

    Matthew 10:28 - And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

    The "second death," or the destruction of the soul takes place in the final place of judgment, the lake of fire:

    Revelation 20:14 - Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

    The righteous, or those who overcome receive eternal bodies in the "first resurrection," or the resurrection to eternal life. The unrighteous "live again" in a "second resurrection" to condemnation, or spiritual death - the "second death":

    John 5:28-29 - Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
    Revelation 2:11 - "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death."
    Revelation 21:7-8 - "He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

    The chart below shows the difference between these two types of resurrections to eternal life and to the second death:

    death and resurrection

    The author of Hebrews describes resurrection of the dead to eternal life as a "better resurrection" because it is not merely a resurrection like Lazarus (John 11-12) to temporal life, but to a "perfect" incorruptible body that all saints will share in eternally together:

    Hebrews 11:35-40 - Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented - of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

    The Tribulation saints will be priests of God. Being a priest in the new covenant means that we minister to God by offering spiritual sacrifices (2 Corinthians 3:6) and not blood sacrifices, as required in the old covenant:

    1 Peter 2:4-5, 9 - Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.... But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

    The Old Testament saints and Church saints will reign with Christ and also minister to Him as priests:

    Revelation 1:4-6 - John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
    Revelation 5:8-10 - Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth."

    It is interesting to note that Isaiah prophesied that the Lord would make priests out of Gentile believers:

    Isaiah 66:19-21 - I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem," says the LORD, "as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites," says the LORD.

    The Tribulation saints also serve as priests during the Lord's thousand-year kingdom on the earth, but do not reign in the same manner of the Old Testament and Church Saints, who will co-rule as kings, and serve as judges, officers, magistrates, and teachers (Job 36:7, Psalm 149, Isaiah 60:17, Psalm 37:29-31, Jeremiah 3:15). Perhaps the Tribulation saints will be like the priestly tribe of Levi whose service focused on the temple duties, which could be in the heavenly tabernacle and/or the temple on the earth.

    Since part of a priest's function in the temple is to act as an intermediary between God and men, it makes sense that there will be no temple in eternity, because God will tabernacle with all redeemed men so there is no need for His saints to act in this role beyond His earthly reign:

    Revelation 21:3, 22 - And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.... But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple."

    John tells us six times that the length of the Lord's earthly reign and the time of Satan imprisonment is a thousand years:

    Revelation 20:1-7 - Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a (1) thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the (2) thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while. And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a (3) thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the (4) thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a (5) thousand years. Now when the (6) thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison....

    In theology scholars generally refer to this thousand-year period as the "Millennium" or millennial reign. The word millennium derives from the Latin "mille," thousand, and "annus," year (source). We also see a thousand years mentioned in the passages below. From God's perspective, He views a day as a thousand years on the earth:

    Psalm 90:4 - For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, and like a watch in the night.
    2 Peter 3:8 - But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

    The two passages certainly speak of the eternal nature of God and His longsuffering when speaking of a thousand years and a day. However, Peter says a thousand years is a day twice in two different ways. When we see things mentioned twice in Scripture, it is generally expected that there will be a dual fulfillment, or that it has a dual meaning.

    The first meaning in the passage from 2 Peter 3:8 is obviously speaking of God's longsuffering when we look at the immediate context. Upon further study, we find evidence throughout Scripture that God has set a pattern after the creation week for the span of time He has determined for His redemptive work of man. This second meaning fits with the context of the rest of 2 Peter 3:8 about the day of the Lord, or the last thousand years when Christ will rule the earth in the flesh.

    The following two charts show the creation week pattern in the days, weeks, months, years, and millenniums:

    Creation Week
    Creation Week and Human History

    In the creation week, the days begin at sundown. In Genesis 1, we see that every day of creation had an evening and a morning, except the seventh day. Interestingly, during human history we find that about every thousand years there has been an evening of "judgment" that has dawned to a new beginning, or new covenant. Following the pattern God set out at the beginning of time, the last "day" will begin in darkness with the Tribulation and dawn to a new beginning during the thousand-year reign of Christ.

    It is interesting that God told Adam that he would die the very day that he ate of the fruit of the tree of the "knowledge of good and evil" (Genesis 2:17). It is true that Adam spiritually died that fateful day. However, Adam was 930 years old when he died and according to the "thousand years as a day" interpretation, Adam would have been less than a day old in God's sight when he died.

    The thousand-year pattern also fits with resurrection of God's people at the dawn of the "third day" (Hosea 6:2), at the beginning of the third millennium, when Christ will return:

    The Third Day

    The other unit of time that goes along with the "thousand years as a day" pattern is the jubilee, which is a 50-year cycle of liberty and restoration in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 25:10). The Lord told Moses that He would only strive with man for 120 years. Man's life did decrease in length right after the flood, though in Genesis 11 we find many people still lived longer than 120 years. Psalm 90:10 shows the life expectancy of man at that particular time was 70-80 years. Though there have been rough times and places on Earth that have decreased this number for certain populations, in normal conditions the 70-80-year life expectancy has held true.

    The 120 years actually makes more sense in light of the 7000-year time span of man when you look at the jubilee cycle. 120 jubilees of 50 years are equal to the 6000 years of God striving with man's ways before Christ's rule on the earth. The jubilee cycle also brings to light many scriptures that describe the end times, or the 2000 years since Christ, as a woman in child labor. It takes an average of 40 weeks of gestation before a baby is born. 40 jubilees are equal to 2000 years. We are witnessing the groaning of creation, increasing in intensity and frequency like birth pangs, as many signs are converging for the soon return of Jesus (Romans 8:18-25, Matthew 24:6-7, Mark 13:7-8, Luke 21:9-11):

    The Pattern of Jubilees

    Going back to the pattern set in the days of the week, it is not hard to see that humans would have 6,000 years of toil before Christ would come to reign the last thousand years, when He will lift the curse on the earth. Even more interesting is that when God rested on the seventh day there was no evening and morning (Genesis 2:1-3). In other words, the seventh day of the creation week had no end and neither will Christ's kingdom (Isaiah 9:7, Daniel 6:26, Luke 1:33). More patterns like this are covered in my study "Prophetic Patterns in Numbers."

    While Revelation 20 is brief in describing only the Tribulation saints' resurrection and the imprisonment and release of Satan before and after the Lord's earthly reign, the Old Testament is replete with details of this thousand-year period. We will discuss some of these details in the rest of this section.

    God will lift the curse He put on the earth after the fall of Adam and Eve and restore the earth before the Lord's thousand-year kingdom begins. There is an exhaustive description of this thousand-year period in Isaiah 11, 34-35, 60-66, Ezekiel 40-48, Micah 4, Zechariah 8&14, and other brief mentions in other passages. I believe the following passage concisely describes the earth's restoration after the Tribulation:

    Isaiah 65:17-19 - "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying."
    Isaiah 65:20-22 - "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands."
    Isaiah 65:23-25 - "They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. " It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Says the LORD.

    Earth will go through a major transformation at the end of the Tribulation in preparation for the thousand-year reign of Christ, as follows:

    • A great earthquake will divide Jerusalem into three parts (Revelation 16:18-19). The earthquake will occur when Jesus touches His foot on the Mount of Olives. Water will flow out from the city after the great earthquake. (Zechariah 14:4-8). The millennial temple will stand over this river (Ezekiel 47:1-12).

    • Jerusalem will be the highest point on the earth during the Lord's earthly reign. In fact Isaiah 2:2 tells us that the rest of earth, in comparison, will be no more than hills. The great earthquake at the Second Coming of Jesus will level the mountains and make the islands disappear (Revelation 16:20, Isaiah 40:4-5).

    • Great hailstones will pound anything remaining to a pulp (Revelation 16:21). The rapid melting of the hail stones will likely aid in the cleanup of the land in the form of flash flooding. The "grapes," or God's enemies are "trampled" by these large hail stones that rapidly melt, so it is no wonder that the river of blood flowing from the last battle will reach as high as the horse's bridle (Revelation 14:20).

    • Mountains have a large impact on the earth's weather patterns. With the removal of the mountains, the earth's weather will become tranquil. Mountains can form deserts by blocking rain clouds (source). Interestingly, there will be only one mountain that Jerusalem will sit on during that time. So it makes sense that the area to the east of Jerusalem will be a desolate place (Isaiah 34).

    • Since God will lift the curse from the earth, people will be able to live longer like they did before the flood. Isaiah 65:20 suggests that people will have a hundred years to make a choice for Christ. In other words, if they reject Christ and stay in their sin, they will die by their hundredth birthday. This also suggests that death will not come to followers of Christ during His reign on the earth. So those who survive the Tribulation might live in mortal bodies for over a thousand years.

    Jerusalem will be the center of worship during the earthly reign of Christ:

    Zechariah 14:16-19 - And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the LORD strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.

    The passage above shows that it will be mandatory for representatives of all the nations to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem every year. If a nation doesn't attend, they will suffer from drought. So, we see that just because God lifts the curse on the earth at the beginning of His kingdom, He will still use plagues as punishment against nations that rebel against Him. Egypt will be such a rebellious nation. This shows that humans will fail the test of living up to God's standard, even during the thousand years.

    Ezekiel 40-48 also shows that God will re-institute temple worship and sacrifices in the Millennium. Many believe that the purpose for the sacrifices is to commemorate the sacrificial work that Christ did on the cross, since sacrifices are no longer needed as a covering for sin. During the Millennium, death and violence will be rare. Sacrificing animals will likely serve as a stark reminder of the penalty Christ paid in dying for our sins:

    Hebrews 10:3 - But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.

    One purpose of the Millennium is to fulfill the promises God made to Abraham and his descendants concerning inheritance of the land:

    Millennium land divisions
    Genesis 15:18-21 - On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates - the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."
    Ezekiel 47:13-17 - Thus says the Lord GOD: "These are the borders by which you shall divide the land as an inheritance among the twelve tribes of Israel. Joseph shall have two portions. You shall inherit it equally with one another; for I raised My hand in an oath to give it to your fathers, and this land shall fall to you as your inheritance. "This shall be the border of the land on the north: from the Great Sea, by the road to Hethlon, as one goes to Zedad, Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim (which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath), to Hazar Hatticon (which is on the border of Hauran). Thus the boundary shall be from the Sea to Hazar Enan, the border of Damascus; and as for the north, northward, it is the border of Hamath. This is the north side."
    Ezekiel 47:18-21 - "On the east side you shall mark out the border from between Hauran and Damascus, and between Gilead and the land of Israel, along the Jordan, and along the eastern side of the sea. This is the east side. "The south side, toward the South, shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah by Kadesh, along the brook to the Great Sea. This is the south side, toward the South. "The west side shall be the Great Sea, from the southern boundary until one comes to a point opposite Hamath. This is the west side. "Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel."

    Not only will the Jews receive the physical blessing of the land, but the Lord will also bless them spiritually when they return to Him:

    Deuteronomy 30:1-3 - "Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God drives you, and you return to the LORD your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the LORD your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the LORD your God has scattered you."
    Deuteronomy 30:4-6 - "If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the LORD your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live."

    God says in the passage above that He will circumcise their hearts to have a love for Him, and "all Israel will be saved" as a result (Romans 11:26). People from other nations will follow after Israel because they see that God is with them (Zechariah 8:23).

    Another purpose of the thousand years is that God will test man's heart, as He has done since the beginning of time:

    1 Chronicles 29:17 - I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.
    Jeremiah 17:9-10 - "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings."

    Thus far, men have not been able to live according to God's standards. Adam and Eve blamed Satan for their temptation when they rebelled against God. During this thousand-year period, Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit and not be able to tempt or destroy (Revelation 20:2-3). Neither will men be able to blame unbelievers for leading them down the wrong path, as God will have eradicated all unbelievers before the thousand-year reign of Christ begins (Revelation 19:21, Matthew 25:31-46). Also, Jesus will rule on the earth in the flesh, so there will be no more foolish unbelief of God. Men will either choose to follow God, or they will follow their own rebellious heart and carnal mind:

    Romans 8:6-8 - For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

    Even without the excuse of Satan's influence, no excuse of unbelief, and no excuse of environmental factors like geophysical and geopolitical turmoil with a restored earth, and with Christ ruling over them with a "rod of iron" to maintain a peaceful and prosperous world, men will still not be able to live up to God's standards. In other words, it is not external circumstances, but internal enmity with God that is the universal issue across the dispensations (Romans 8:6-8). Before eternity begins, God will deal with the rebellious heart of men. We will further discuss in the next few sections how the final moments of this thousand-year test play out.

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