Revelation 21:5 “…behold I am making all things new….”
Where precisely is the world headed?
That’s exactly the question I asked Chat GPT, and it replied, “It’s crucial to remember that the future is uncertain and subject to change based on various factors and events. The path the world takes will depend on how these and other influences play out in the coming years.” And what were these “influences?” The usual suspects; Technology and Artificial Intelligence, Climate Change, Globalization, Social and Political Dynamics, Health and Ethical Considerations.
Now that’s an intelligent-sounding non-answer answer.
But if God created this world, and currently, many would believe it’s a toss-up between God and Big Bang’s nothingness, wouldn’t He have a say? He’s not even mentioned anywhere in the AI answer above – nowhere.
Yet the Bible mentions many things about the future of the world.
It announces a Second Coming of Jesus Christ:
Acts 1:11: “They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into Heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven.’”
Revelation 1:7: “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.”
It discussed End Times and Judgment:
Matthew 24:21: “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”
Revelation 20:12: “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”
It discusses The Kingdom of God:
Matthew 6:10: “Your Kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Revelation 11:15: “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.’”
It mentions Resurrection and an Afterlife:
John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
1 Corinthians 15:52: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.”
It even announces the creation of a New Heaven and New Earth:
Revelation 21:1: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”
2 Peter 3:13: “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
However, the Artificial Intelligence answer mentions none of this. Did God’s plans get shoved to the side? Or is the world, and even many Christians, simply unaware?
History has witnessed three major Biblical events; Creation, the Fall, and Redemption. God’s final act is – The Restoration.
In Acts 3:19-21, Peter refers to this as “…the period of restoration of all things…,” which includes the defeat of evil and the everlasting physical establishment of God’s Kingdom.
Some of this is described in the Book of Revelation, as detailed in the first of this series. We’ve also reviewed The Covenants, which is how God uses certain agreements as vehicles to accomplish the installation of this Kingdom.
This final prominent Biblical event, this last act, this Kingdom of God, is what Peter refers to in 2 Peter 3:13, “… according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
As we shall see, this New Heaven and New Earth is the physical Kingdom where God, His Holy Angels, and the Redeemed dwell exclusively and eternally, without the presence of sin, or death, or mourning, or crying, or pain.
In this third part of “Finding Clarity and Insight into God’s Ultimate Plan,” we’ll wrap up all the loose ends and conclude with God’s ultimate plan. The plan Artificial Intelligence and much of the world ignore or is utterly ignorant of. The plan that will be set into motion with the Rapture at any minute now.
Why the delay? Is God postponing for a more conservative administration to win the next election? Is He pausing for more communist countries to turn democratic? Maybe for Russia to give up its fight with Ukraine? No, Matthew 24:14 explains the delay, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” 2 Peter 3:9 also announces a nuance of this forbearance, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
Somehow, God is waiting for that very last person to accept Him as Lord and Savior, then He will proceed with His Kingdom, and all the events discussed below will immediately begin to unfold.
The Kingdom of God
Around the time of Christ, the Jews believed that the Kingdom of God would establish the Jews as a military and political powerhouse. Luke 19:11 describes this, “While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable … and they thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately.”
Actually, the Kingdom of God is already presently dwelling in the lives of His redeemed Church, as Romans 14:17 states, “For the kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
But it will also be physically evident both in the 1,000-year Millennium Kingdom and then eternally thereafter in The New Heaven and New Earth.
The Millennium Kingdom is supported by Revelation 20:4, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony … and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Zechariah 14:9 also backs this, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.”
This final Kingdom of God speaks of the creation of a New Heaven and a New Earth and the merging of the two through the New Jerusalem as depicted in Revelation 21:1-4, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first Heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.’”
A note on the New Jerusalem. In the book of Revelation 21, it is stated that the apostle John saw a New Heaven and a New Earth, and he saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God. This city is described as a magnificent and glorious place, adorned with precious stones, having walls made of jasper, and twelve gates guarded by twelve angels. The city is also said to have streets of pure gold and a river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God.
New Jerusalem represents the consummation of God’s plan for the redemption of His people. It is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises and the eternal fellowship between God and His redeemed children. In Revelation 21:15-17, it states: “And the one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal….”
Based on this description, the New Jerusalem is depicted as a massive city with equal dimensions in length, width, and height. It is described as a perfect cube, with each side measuring 1,500 miles. This is the fulfillment of a promise Christ made to His apostles in John 14:2, where Jesus says, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you”
The Sequence of End-Time Events
We acknowledge the history of the Bible; the creation, the fall, the Flood, God choosing and dealing with Israel, and then Christ’s death and resurrection as the act of redemption. We also recognize that we are in the “church age.” With the New Testament, particularly in the book of Acts, we see the birth and early development of the Church. Jesus commissions His devotees to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20), and on the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit empowers believers to fulfill this mission (Acts 2:1-4). Thus the Church was established as the body of Christ, with believers coming together as a community of faith.
After the Church Age, however, God designed a sequence of events to bring about His eternal Kingdom.
Here is the prophetic sequence with supporting verses:
The next grand event to occur is the Rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up [raptured] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
This passage describes the next event, known as the Rapture, where believers, both those who have died in Christ and those still alive, will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
The Tribulation: Matthew 24:21: “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”
Jesus speaks of a future time of great Tribulation, seven years of intense distress and suffering on the earth due to the wrath and judgment of God and occurring right after the Rapture.
The Second Coming: Revelation 19:11-16: “And I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness, He judges and wages war. … And the armies which are in Heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the winepress of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty….”
This passage from the book of Revelation depicts the glorious return of Jesus Christ to earth, at the end of the Tribulation, in power and glory to judge the nations and finally establish His Kingdom.
The Millennium: Revelation 20:4-6: “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
This passage describes the millennial Kingdom, a period of a thousand years in which Christ and His saints will reign on the earth immediately after the Tribulation and Christ’s Second Coming.
The New Heavens and New Earth and Lake of Fire: Revelation 21:1-2: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first Heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.”
These verses depict the ultimate future state as the new Heaven and new Earth, where God dwells with His people in the holy city, the new Jerusalem. Immediately after the Millennium, Christ will recreate a New Heaven and a New Earth. The city of New Jerusalem will descend from New Heaven and be joined to New Earth.
Temporary Destinations – Heaven and Hell
It is accepted that believers go to Heaven and non-believers go to Hell. We also need to understand how Heaven and Hell intersect with New Heaven and The Lake of Fire.
What most recognize as Heaven and Hell are temporary places. They exist until God creates a New Heaven (and a New Earth) and The Lake of Fire, which He does after the end of the Millennium.
While Revelation 21:1-4 above describes the New Heaven and New Earth, Revelation 20:14-15 describes the Lake of Fire, “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 written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Additionally, in Revelation 20:10, “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.”
There are other depictions of Hell in the Bible. In Mark 9:48, Jesus describes it as a place “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” And Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, states that those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel will suffer “the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.” Even the Old Testament, Isaiah 66:24, warns: “Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched, and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
A note on Births and Deaths. The Bible speaks of two births and two deaths. We are all born physically once, and all (except for example Enoch, Elisha, and those who are raptured) die once physically. However, those who reject Jesus Christ die a “second death” as stated in Revelation 20:14 above, whereas those who accept Jesus Christ and are “born again” (a second birth) only suffer physical death. Jesus spoke of this in John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘… unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.’” Because the second death is permanent punishment in the lake of fire, born again Christians obtain eternal life and are spared from the ultimate consequences of sin and death; the second death.
Thus the axiom “Born once, die twice; Born twice, die once.”
The Authority Given to Christ – Judgments
Hebrews 4:13 teaches, “…no creature is hidden from His [Christ’s] sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” And Hebrews 9:27 states, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for people to die once and after this comes judgment.”
Thus, once men die or are raptured, they are immediately judged. According to the Bible, believers instantly proceed to Heaven, and non-believers go to Hell. But, like any sound judicial system, there is the adjudication phase and the penalty or reward phase. In other words, you are adjudicated immediately upon death, but there are later judicial proceedings that determine the resulting penalty or reward. Additionally, there are extraordinary judgments for Israel, Satan, and the fallen angels.
According to the Bible, here are the various judgments and judicial proceedings:
1.) The particular Judgment of Angels: Jude 1:6 “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.”
This verse in the book of Jude refers to the angels who left their rightful place and engaged in inappropriate relationships with human women before the Flood. As a result, they are being held in eternal bonds under darkness, awaiting the judgment of the great day. This judgment signifies the consequences of their disobedience.
2.) The Bema Seat Judgment: 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
This verse speaks about the believers appearing before the judgment seat of Christ, also known as the Bema Seat, immediately after the Rapture. It emphasizes that every believer will be recompensed or rewarded based on their deeds done in the body. This judgment is not about salvation but about evaluating the faithfulness and works of believers and assigning rewards or the loss of rewards accordingly.
3.) The Judgment of Israel: Ezekiel 20:33-38 “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be King over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,” declares the Lord God. “I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the Lord.”
In this passage, God declares His intention to bring judgment upon Israel. He promises to gather the scattered people of Israel from various lands and bring them into a wilderness where He will judge them face to face. Although the exact timing is not explicitly identified, this judgment fits with the regathering and purification of the nation of Israel, which occurs during the Tribulation. It also links with Malachi 3:3, which states, “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.”
4.) The Judgment of the Nations (also known as) Sheep and Goats: Joel 3:2-3. “I will gather all the nations And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel….” This is also explained in Matthew 25:31-46: “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”
In this passage, Jesus describes a scene where He comes in His glory accompanied by angels. He takes His position on a glorious throne and gathers all the nations before Him. This occurs at the second coming of Christ after the Tribulation and before the Millennium, where Christ will divide those who have survived the Tribulation into followers (sheep) and those who have rejected Him (goats).
5.) There are three Judgments of Satan and his Angels:
-Tribulational Judgment: Revelation 12:7-13 Satan and his angels are thrown out of Heaven and can no longer accuse believers before God’s throne.
-Millennium Judgment: Revelation 20:1-3 Satan is bound for 1,000 years in the Abyss. He is released at the end of the Millennium for one final short revolt against God.
-Final Judgment: Revelation 20:7-10 Satan’s short-lived revolt is immediately put down, and he, and his demons, join the Antichrist and the False Prophet, who are sentenced to the Lake of Fire forever.
6.) The Great White Throne Judgment: Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and Heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 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 written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:11-15 portrays the final judgment scene, where all non-believers are resurrected and held accountable for their actions. Their eternal destinies are determined by their rejection of Christ and the evil deeds they have committed.
What are the Resurrections?
Man is a complex construction of body and soul. Matthew 10:28 states, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Just as Jesus is resurrected, so too will all men be resurrected.
Jesus in John 5:28-29 expounds on this when He states, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” Paul also speaks to this in Corinthians 15:35-38 “But someone will say, ‘How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?’ You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.”
Even the Old Testament was aware of this concept, as Daniel states in Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt,” and Isaiah 26:19 records “Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits.”
The Bible shows that we are recognizable even before our bodies’ resurrection. For example, Matthew 17:1-3 records, “Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.” Prior to the resurrection, Peter, James, and John recognized Moses and Elijah, and we clearly will recognize one another after the resurrection.
The following explains the order of these multiple resurrections:
Christ the first fruits – 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.”
Dead and living Believers in Christ at the Rapture – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air….” Corinthians 15:51-53 confirms, “…we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet….”
Old Testament Believers and Martyred Tribulation Believers (Rev 20:4) upon Christ’s Second Coming – 1 Corinthians 15:23, “…after that those who are Christ’s at His Coming.”
This is the 2nd Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Since the “believers in Christ” have been resurrected at the Rapture, it is now the Old Testament believers who are resurrected along with those martyred during the Tribulation.
Non-Believers – Revelation 20:5, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed….”
John 5:29 refers to this as “…a resurrection of judgment.” Which is the Great White Throne Judgment.
This may be an unfamiliar and extraordinary concept. Still, the upshot of this revelation is that everyone is destined for a resurrection of the body fitted for their eternal destiny.
So what is your concept of the future of the world and the afterlife?
Do you believe all things will continue as they have always been, and the influences of Technology and Artificial Intelligence, Climate Change, Globalization, Social and Political Dynamics, Health, and Ethical Considerations will persist in determining the future of the world?
The Bible doesn’t seem to agree. At some point, God will establish His Kingdom. Mark 8:36 tries to put this into perspective “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”
Do you believe that Hell is one big frat party where the prince of evil, Satan himself, throws continuous mosh parties with free booze?
The Bible doesn’t see it that way. It shows the Lake of Fire as an eternal isolated punishment destination due to the rejection of Christ and with levels of retribution according to all one’s evil deeds. There is no early release program nor any chance of redemption. Finally, your soul will be reunited with your body and fitted for this eternal sentence.
Do you believe Heaven is one big fluffy floating cloud where you sing hymns and learn to play the harp forever and ever in total boredom?
The Bible doesn’t portray this either. It shows those saved as ultimately residing in a glorious city called New Jerusalem which unites with New Earth and in which you possess a glorified body that, like Christ’s body, can instantly move to and from any location in a God-reconstructed New Earth without any need for food or drink but with the capacity to enjoy both. You will be able to recognize and commune with all the redeemed and with God Himself. There is no death, no sin, no sorrow, no pain, no mourning, and no crying. You, as one made in the image of God Himself, possess the ability to create, to manage, to rule, and to judge. This, too, lasts eternally.
So that’s what God is ultimately up to…