E W Rogers, Oxford
It must not be supposed that the millennium will be a perfect state. There will be
A Further Rebellion
Some of its subjects will yield only feigned obedience. Rebellion there will be, but it will be visited by summary punishment; see Psalm 18. 44 marg.; Isa. 65. 20. The millennium, as a matter of fact, is God’s final test of man. Man will then no longer be able to blame the devil for his wrongs, for the devil will have been incarcerated for one thousand years in the abyss. Nor will man be able to blame the system of rule, since he will have for that long period an inflexibly righteous King Isa. 32. 1. But it will reveal that “that which is born of flesh is flesh” and is incurable under the best of circumstances. So that at the end, when Satan is released, mankind will flock to his standard and rebel against the best King that the earth will ever have had. But the rebellion will be short-lived, and conclude disastrously for the rebels; see Rev. 20. 7-10.
The Dissolution of Heaven and Earth
We read “the earth and the heaven fled away”, Rev. 20. 11, which is the seer’s way of expressing what Peter describes at greater length in 2 Peter 3. The hands that “hold together” creation now, Col. 1. 17 R.V. marg., will then release the hold and the elements will become disintegrated. The elements will “melt” and “be dissolved”, two English words representing but one Greek word and implying the unloosing of the bond that holds all together now. The globe is stored with fire, but this is restrained until the restraint is removed when the works of the earth will be burned up. This disintegration of the elements will result in a new heaven and a new earth, where- in righteousness will make its permanent abode. In the millennium, righteousness will reign, but there will be factors which will call for repression; no such contrary elements will exist in the eternal state. It is the writer’s view that Revelation 21. 1-8 describes the eternal state, while the remainder of the chapter describes millennial conditions.
The Great White Throne
We do not need to repeat our warning that the various judgements should not be confused one with the other. The Great White Throne is the final judgment. Revelation 26. -11-13 describes this dreadful scene which should be pondered on one’s knees. God save us from speaking of it without anguish of heart for the lost. It is subsequent to the intermediate state described in Luke 16. 19-31. All the lost in that state are here raised in their bodies to be cast “soul and body into Gehenna”, Matt. 10. 28 R.V. marg. Mark 9. 48 presents dreadful words, but these were uttered by Him who died that none might perish. We must beware lest we construe the word “perish” wrongly. It does not mean annihilation. Reference to the consistent usage of this word in the New Testament will satisfy anyone as to that. Besides, in English we do not imply annihilation when we say that a thing has perished; we mean that it is no longer serviceable for its original purpose.
John 5. 24 is a general statement, applicable to all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus, thus assuring them of absolute exemption from appearance at the Great White Throne. They may have boldness at that time, for “as he (the Lord Jesus) is, so are we in this world”, 1 John 4. 17. He is on the other side of judgment which is eternally past for Him, and for us also who are in Christ. The enemy of God and man now has his agents who appear as “angels of light” and, by plausible arguments and pathetic appeals, alleging acquaintance with the original languages, seek to deceive people into believing that the punishment of the Christ-rejecter is not “eternal”. We cannot occupy space in rebutting such arguments1 but, suffice it to say,, that if the word is admittedly “eternal” as to “eternal life”, then it certainly is so as to “eternal punishment”; see Matthew 25. 46 R.V., and all other places where the word is found in the New Testament.
If these lines should be read by any one not yet saved, let him remember “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”, 2 Cor. 6. 2. It is too late after death.
The Eternal State
The grandeur of this can only be described in terms that are understood on earth, so that we may apprehend in but a small way, based on our present limited experience, the marvellous joys that await the redeemed. There will be no more death, nor tears, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. Let the reader examine Revelation 21. 7-8 and enquire in his heart in which class he is, for there are only two - the sons of verse 7 or the lost of verse 8. There is no neutral ground.
As the writer has been writing these papers he has been only too aware that almost at every turn now-a-days the things here presented are either challenged or denied. We have not dealt with the several objections raised by those who are not enemies of the truth but who are honestly perplexed. We can only invite our readers to remember the words of Paul to the recently converted Thessalonians; “despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil”, 1 Thess. 5. 20-22 R.V. And again, “Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things”, 2 Tim. 2. 7.
In reading the prophetic scriptures, we should endeavour to approach them, as far as we can, free from all preconceived ideas. Present teachers are not infallible and so we should test all that which we have been taught. Even the Bereans tested what Paul taught in the light of Scripture, and we have no Pauls today. The writer may refer the reader to his book Concerning the Future in which a chapter is devoted to the interpretation of prophecy. It may help in the further pursuance of this entrancing topic.
End of the Series.
1 See the author’s article “Eternal Punishment” on page 130 of the September-October 1962 issue of Precious Seed.