The Final Destinies of the City of God and the Earthly City – part 2

Since the beginning of the commingled history of these two cities, God has judged the citizenry – beginning with Adam and Eve. This continual judgment could have been avoided had the citizens adhered to the word of God. But alas, we have human weakness and a proclivity towards self-indulgence:

…no man acts rightly save by the assistance of divine aid; and no man or devil acts unrighteously save by the permission of the divine and most just judgment. – St. Augustine

‘For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jer. 29:11 AMP

God’s plan is bigger than we can fully comprehend. We see some good people live difficult lives while we also witness many of dubious character live lives of wealthy excess with a continual satiation of sinful appetites – where it seems that no apparent penalty is being applied. 

In spite of what looks like an unresolved imbalance, (which somehow fits into God’s design), at the end of all present things, God has wondrous things in store for His children in the city of God, of whom all receive His promised eternal rewards:

And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to HIs plan and purpose. Rm. 8:28 AMP

So, regardless of our difficulties in this earthly life, we must do our best to stay on Jehovah’s path:

…in these days of vanity it makes an important difference whether he resists or yields to the truth, and whether he is destitute of true piety of a partaker of it – important not so far as regards the acquirement of the blessings or the evasion of the calamities of this transitory and vain life, but in connection with the future judgment which shall make over to good men good things, and to bad men band things…For whosever has real existence is this, is a keeper of God’s commandments; and he who is not this, is nothing. For so long as he means in the likeness of vanity, he is not renewed in the image of the truth… – St. Augustine

When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments, of this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, every hidden and secret thing, whether it is good or evil. Eccl. 12:13, 14. AMP

To better understand that end, we must visit the events in the book of Revelation. Accordingly, however you view the concept of the ‘rapture,’ there will be a time when many of God’s children will be sequestered from the tumultuous events during the tribulations. In addition, there will be some holdouts that come to salvation through Christ as that time.

Thus, the city of God, (which we must remember is also the ‘kingdom of God’, exists in the present, but has its full realization at the end of time), is co-existing with the city of the earth during the tribulations. 

The resurrection of the ‘two witnesses’ signals the end of the tribulations, and the last chance for any of the city of the earth to change citizenship is then lost…

Following will be the ‘first resurrection,’ that is when the elders, the dead and still living saints, the Jewish converts to Christ, the ‘great multitude’ and the two witnesses come to reign with Christ on the earth for 1000 years

Note that nations are still existing on the earth (those unbelievers that managed to escape death during the tribulations – still having babies). All other dead unbelievers will stay dead during this ‘millennium.’  So, in effect, the city of God is again co-habituating this earth with the living remnant of the citizens of the city of the earth, all of whom are existing in their ‘soul state.’

During this 1000-year period, remember that the devil is bound up with the rebel angels in the abyss. (Rv. 20:1-3). And so, he has no direct influence in this time.

Thus, all without exception, were dead in sins, whether original or voluntary sins, sins of ignorance, or sins committed against knowledge; and for all the dead there died the only person who lived, that is, who had no sin whatever, in order that those who live by the remission of their sins should live, not to themselves, but to Him who died for all, for our sins, and rose again for our justification, that we believing in Him who justifies the ungodly, and being justified from ungodliness or quickened from death, may be able to attain to the first resurrection which now is. 

For in this first resurrection none have a part save those who shall be eternally blessed; but in the second, of which He goes on to speak, all, as we shall learn, have a part, both the blessed and the wretched. The one is the resurrection of mercy, the other of judgment. – St. Augustine (see Jn. 5:28,29.)

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love… Col. 1:13 NKJV

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. Rv. 20:6 NKJV

After the 1000 years have elapsed, the devil is loosed, whereupon he seduces those outside of the church to make war against Christ and His followers. Thank God, the devil and his minions lose this final battle in a big way and are devoured by divine fire.

We have now come to the end of time, the day of the LORD, judgment day. Those citizens of the now eternal city of God are not subject to a ‘second resurrection,’ but enter into their eternal promise with their new immortal, incorruptible bodies, living on a new earth, resting in new heavens, in the city of God, New Jerusalem, which has come down from heaven.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not come to mind. Be glad and rejoice in whatever 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.” Is. 65:17 – 19. NKJV

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, arrayed like a bride adorned for her husband; and then I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them [as their God,] and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Rv. 21:2 – 5. AMP

Now they themselves, when they have been purified, shall be sacrifices of complete and perfect righteousness; for what more acceptable offering can such persons make to God than themselves? – St. Augustine

Unfortunately, those who have steadfastly rejected the Father and the Son, are resurrected for a second time – to judgment, damned to the ‘second death.’ They do not get incorruptible bodies, but rise with bodies that are changed in such a way that they cannot truly die, but must suffer eternal anguish:

“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me” – this is the LORD’s declaration – “so you offspring and your name will remain. All mankind will come to worship me…they will see the dead bodies of those who have rebelled against me; for their worm will never die, their fire will never go out, and they will be a horror to all mankind.” Is. 66:22 – 24. CSB

Yes, this is the final judgment, where everyone meets Jesus:

For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment [that is, the prerogative of judging] to the Son [placing it entirely into His hands]… Jn. 5:22 AMP

It is at this point that the two cities are finally separated into two distinct final destinies: the city of God to heaven on earth, and the city of earth (now the city of the devil), to Satan’s damnation. How does that look? We’ll take a look see next time…

Goodnight and God bless. 

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The Book of Revelation Revisited 11: Eternal Bliss

The Millennium:

Last time, we saw that Jesus was triumphant in the battle of Armageddon, and that Satan was bound in a bottomless pit for 1000 years. (Rv. 20:1 – 3.)

As you would expect, there are varying biblical scholarly interpretations of the meaning to this last interval before the end of time.

Some see the Millennium as a symbolic time span, representing the space between the first and the second coming of Christ. I disagree with this viewpoint, as it would invalidate the entire book of Revelation up to this point.

Others believe this will be a literal 1000 years – a time of great peace as Christ comes back to preach the gospel again.

Still others subscribe to a more literal application of the scriptures, (what a concept), maintaining that Jesus physically returns to the earth and rules over it, along with the resurrected saints. We have seen that the devil is taken out of the earth realm for 1000 years, so his influence can no longer hold sway over the inhabitants of this new realm.

Nations are still existing on this earth, so we can also infer that they would be populated by some unbelievers who were not part of Satan’s army and who managed not to get killed in the second half of the tribulations. It is here where the apostle John’s vision continues:

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image ad had not received its mark on their foreheads or on their hands. The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with Him for a thousand years. Rv. 20:4 – 6. ESV

Thus, Jesus reigns with the elders, (Mt. 29:28; Lk. 22:30); and the saints (the church and the martyrs who came to accept Christ during the tribulations (Dan. 7:22; 1 Cor. 6:2) for 1000 years. The ‘first resurrection would include the dead saints (1 Thess. 4:16), the raptured of the living church (1 Thess. 4:17), the 144,000 Jewish converts (Rv. 14:1 – 5), the great multitude (Rv. 15:1 – 3), and the ‘two witnesses.’ (Rv. 11:12)

The rest of the dead consist of the wicked that rebelled against God until the very end.

During the Millennium, the world is a changed place. (Is. 65:17- 25; Ezek. 40:1 – 48:35.) It has to be because it was not fit to live on after the final seven judgments of God were released.

Earth is now the physical kingdom of Christ – a place where all of the troubles of the saints will be removed and forgotten, a realm of perpetual joy. They will also have direct communication with the Father and the Son, like returning to the Garden of Eden, where even the animals revert to their original vegetarian state.

There will also be people present who are not saints, still having children, still growing old and dying, and still persisting in sin – even though Christ is in their midst and the devil is not…

The devil takes his last shot:

John’s vision remains focused earthward, but now shifts forward in time to the ‘post-millennial period:

When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the the four corners of the earth, God and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. And they come up on the broad plain of the earth and surround the camp of the earth and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rv. 20:7 – 10. NASB

Think about this! Christ Himself is present reigning upon the earth. It’s a paradise where the saints are still doing God’s work – trying to bring unbelievers to salvation, those who still persist in rebellion. That is one merciful God! (2 Pt. 3:9)

But the devil does his dirty work all over again – even in paradise! ‘God and Magog’ are symbolic for Satan’s armies (new ones, because all the others the devil pre-millennially amassed, are dead). He and his armies surround the saints, who are living in a ‘restored’ millennial city of Jerusalem. Yet just as Satan was about to strike, God devours his armies with fire, and rids us of the devil forever. (2 Pt. 3:10)

Judgment Day:

The apostle John’s vision shifts heavenward and to the end of time:

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was no place for them. Rv. 20:11 NKJV

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. this is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Rv. 20:12 – 15. ESV

This is the ‘Day of the Lord,’ the end of history and time. The earth and the heavens above it are poised for a radical change. Christ is on the throne. The saints’ names are present in the book of life because they embraced His salvation. Their time in front of Christ’s judgment seat is only for determining the nature of their rewards in heaven, which reflect amount of their godly deeds on earth.

The unbelievers had a multitude of chances over many millennia to get straight with God, but they chose not to. They will be condemned at the judgment seat to the ‘second death,’ waiting for them alone…

A peek at eternity:

John’s vision now straddles both heaven and earth at the gates of eternity:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also, there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for their husband. 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. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Rv. 21:1 – 4. NKJV

The earth, and the cosmos in which it is suspended, are completely transformed into an idyllic home for the saints. (Ps. 102:25 – 27; Is. 65:17 – 19; 2 Pt. 3:12, 13.) Some interpret the loss of the seas as literal; others view it as symbolic for the removal of evil (similar to the ‘symbolic sea’ that the satanic ‘beast’ arose from).

The ‘holy city’ is a city constructed in heaven – a place for the saints to dwell with God, in an environment free of sin and its collateral damage. God is finally completing His covenant with His children, communing with them in complete love, and blotting out all memories of pain, as He restores the immortal life of joy that He foresaw for them before they were physically created.

Now, for the first time in John’s stream of visions, God Himself speaks:

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be His God and he will be My son.” Rv. 21:5 – 7. NASB

God is telling us that His great plan is finished! It is His right to declare it so, because He is the Creative Author of the beginning and end of all things. In His plan’s culmination, He and His Son offer themselves (the ‘spring of the water of life’) freely to those who seek Their presence. Those who do, are the people that rose above the ways of the world to the best of their ability, through the strength imparted to them by their faith in God and His door to salvation (Jesus). Eternity is theirs for the taking. (Eph. 1:2 – 11.)

Not so for those who stubbornly stayed mired in the world:

“But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters, and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” Rv. 21:8 NASB

A great selling point to reveal to anyone who will hear your telling of the gospel. Note that the word ‘cowardly’ is not referring to one who was just fearful, but to one who did not take the risk of following Jesus in a hostile world.

At this point, John’s vision expands upon our heavenly outcome, adding to the previous description of the holy city of New Jerusalem. It will house the church. It’s enveloped by 20-story high walls with a total of 12 gates, each named for a tribe of Israel. The walls will rest upon 12 foundational stones named for each of the 12 apostles. Thus, the children of Israel and the Gentile church are now unified as one people of God.

The city is a 1500-mile cube with jewel-encrusted walls, gates formed of pearls, and streets paved with gold. There is no temple within the city because the entire city is the temple; and the saints all live there with God and Jesus, whose glory illuminates it.

The thrones of God and Jesus are in it, and the water of life flows from them. Also present is the Tree of Life, telling us that Man has come full circle – come home to a new Garden of Eden where the curse of Adam’s original sin is finally blotted out.

At this point, John’s vision of eschatological events come to an end…

It’s up to you:

Now, Jesus speaks directly to us through John:

“Behold, I (Jesus) am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each one according to the merit of his deeds (earthly works, faithfulness). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End {the Eternal One]” Rv. 22:12, 12. AMP

A divine reminder to continually be on the alert and ready for Jesus’ arrival. He’s bringing ‘rewards,’ (not salvation: He’s already provided that for His saints for their service to Him while they lived on earth). Jesus also reminds us of the ultimate authority in which He speaks, as the Alpha and the Omega, the deified Son of God – His Father’s very essence.

Finally, we hear an evangelic appeal from the Holy Spirit and the church, asking for Jesus to come, as well as making a plea to all who desire to come to Christ to claim their salvation:

The [Holy] Spirit and the bride (the church, believers) say “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take and drink the water of life without cost. Rv. 22:17 AMP

Amen.

Goodnight and God bless.