This lesson addresses the last of the seven annual feasts that God has commanded His people to observe. The Last Great Day represents more than one significant event, in contrast to most of the preceding feast days. This final feast commemorates the time of final judgment and crucial events that follow the millennial rule of the kingdom of God on earth. Truly, the millennium is only the beginning of eternity, as the saints of the First Resurrection are trained and prepared for greater things ahead—a time of laying the foundation for even greater joy and achievements beyond the Millennium.
Some of the events that follow the Millennium include the Second Resurrection, followed by the Third Resurrection, and finally the time of the New Heavens and New Earth. At this stage, as we see end-time events beginning to unfold, it should be exciting and gratifying to ponder the prospect of qualifying for the First Resurrection in order to be pioneers and leaders in the Master Plan that God has laid out for all eternity.
The time of final judgment involves a number of events that we will cover in sequence. We now proceed with the lesson on the Last Great Day—an event truly filled with meaning.
Last Great Day
(1) Where do we find the biblical command to observe the Last Great Day? Leviticus 23:36, 39.
Comment: The Feast of Tabernacles lasted for seven days, with the first day as a Holy Day. However, the eighth day was a separate feast day having its own convocation and separate offering. The Last Great Day is called the “eighth day” in verses 36 and 39, since it immediately follows the Feast of Tabernacles and is connected to it in much the same way as Passover is associated with the Days of Unleavened Bread. Just as many have mistakenly considered Passover to be a part of the Days of Unleavened Bread, many have also mistakenly considered the Last Great Day to be the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles. However, to teach or accept this is contrary to biblical fact.
The Feast of Tabernacles is mentioned in numerous places as consisting of seven days. On this basis alone, one would have to acknowledge the Last Great Day as being a separate feast.
Since the Feast of Tabernacles lasts seven days, it continues from the 15th day of the 7th month through the 21st day of that month. The eighth day, or Last Great Day, always falls on the 22nd day of the 7th month.
(2) Is the command to observe this “eighth day” found elsewhere in scripture? Numbers 29:35.
Comment: Here again, a solemn assembly is commanded. Verse 36 defines the particular offering to be made according to the Levitical requirements.
(3) Was this day observed in the times of ancient Israel? II Chronicles 7:9.
Comment: This scripture describes the account during the time of Solomon, in which the Temple was dedicated for seven days, immediately followed by the Feast of Tabernacles. After the eighth day (after the 22nd), Solomon sent the people away.
This eighth day was the Last Great Day, which concluded the fall Holy Days.
(4) Was the eighth day still observed by the Jews after the Babylonian Captivity? Nehemiah 8:18.
Comment: This was the same Last Great Day observed after the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles. Judah had recently returned from captivity, and the Scriptural commands were closely followed under the direction of Ezra, the priest and scribe who was diligent in making sure that Judah properly keep this solemn assembly. Ezra was especially diligent to follow every detail of the Law, as he was “a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given…” (Ezra 7:6).
(5) Did Christ keep the Last Great Day? John 7:37.
Comment: This “last day, that great day of the feast” was clearly the final feast day after the conclusion of the Feast of Tabernacles, as shown in context (vs. 2, 8, 10, 11, 14). Not only was Christ observing the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day, He also spoke before the people and taught on these occasions. Even the message that Christ gave on this day, as recorded in verses 38 to 39, depicted the giving of the Holy Spirit to those who would be resurrected at a future time. This is clearly reflected in Ezekiel 37:13-14.
What the Last Great Day Pictures
We have seen that the Feast of Trumpets pictures the Return of Christ, that the Day of Atonement pictures the putting away of Satan, and that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the reign of the kingdom of God on earth for 1,000 years. After this, we know that other major events are to occur beyond the time pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles. Although the Last Great Day generally depicts the time of final judgment, there are specific events of this judgment that must be covered.
(1) What is the first event to occur at the end of the Millennium? Revelation 20:2-3, 7-10.
Comment: First, Satan is released for a “little season,” which could be a period of only a few years. God has allowed Satan a specified time of ruling over mankind. Clearly, Satan has been at the helm in this age (Matt. 4:8-9; II Cor. 4:4). When that time is cut short (Matt. 24:22; Rom. 9:28), it is redeemed or paid back at the end of the Millennium in order to complete Satan’s allotted time. (More information on God’s 7,000-year plan is explained in Lesson 2.)
Once Satan is turned loose, he and his demons proceed to again influence mankind. Millions will be deceived, despite having been exposed to sound teaching of the truth and being forewarned of Satan’s arrival. As a result of this rebellion, millions will forfeit their opportunity for eternal life.
Since no separate resurrection is mentioned in regard to the many billions who will have lived in the Millennium, it is apparent that they are to be changed into spirit beings at the end of their individual lives.
Finally, the statement in Revelation 20:10 that reads, “where the beast and false prophet are” should read, “where the beast and false prophet were cast.” The verb “are” was placed by the translators, whereas this is describing a past event and the verb should be past tense. The beast and false prophet had immediately perished in that fire, which is carefully explained in our booklet The Truth About Hell. The only beings that survive in the lake of fire are spirit beings—Satan and his demons—where they are tormented by being restrained from influencing mankind.
(2) What event follows the casting of Satan and his demons into the lake of fire? Revelation 20:11-12; Daniel 7:9-10.
Comment: The dead who are resurrected in this White Throne Judgment (the 2nd resurrection) are to be judged primarily according to what they do after being resurrected to a physical life. These people will live in a millennial-like setting and experience firsthand the abundance and joy of living God’s Way for the first time. It is a time of judgment—not a time of sentencing, as many have been misled to believe. The books they are judged by (Rev. 20:12) are the books of the Bible. The Greek term biblia used there is the same word translated “bible.” The Hebrew term used in Daniel 7:10, describing this same event, also corresponds to this Greek word for “Bible.”
(3) How can we be certain that the White Throne Judgment is a physical resurrection? Isaiah 65:20-24.
Comment: These verses clearly show that these are physical human beings who will live a hundred years during this judgment time (whether they begin as infants and grow to maturity, or as elderly people whose health and vitality are restored). They also build houses and inhabit them. Also note that verse 25 shows the change in the nature of carnivorous and dangerous animals, just as occurred in the Millennium. This one-hundred-year time of judgment will have similar conditions as existed in the Millennium, including all the blessings and abundance of that time. All who had never been called to salvation before the Return of Christ will be given their first and only chance. When they are resurrected to this world of peace, tranquility, abundance, joy, health and happiness, the vast majority will overwhelmingly treasure God’s way of life over the misery and sin of their prior existence. The tens of billions (possibly over a hundred billion) in this judgment will be receptive to the truth and responsive to their teachers.
(4) Are there other scriptures describing this unusual event? Ezekiel 37:5-10. (Read verses 1 to 14.)
Comment: These verses discuss the physical resurrection (showing that flesh was restored to their bones and life given) of the whole house of Israel (vs. 11). This will be typical of all humanity who is resurrected at this time—the vast majority of all who have ever lived, prior to the Return of Christ. It will include the billions of pre-Flood people, as well as the overwhelming majority of all who are alive today.
(5) Did Christ ever discuss this physical resurrection? Matthew 11:20-24; 12:41-42.
Comment: Christ was rebuking the cities in which He had performed miracles and other works and the people had ignored His witness. He affirmed that had these same works taken place in ancient Tyre and Sidon, they would have readily repented. Therefore, it would be more tolerable (in the future judgment of the 2nd resurrection) for these ancient cities than for those who ignored Christ’s miracles and works. Likewise, ancient Sodom would fare better than Capernaum for the same reasons. God holds those accountable who have been exposed to the truth and ignored it. Christ’s contemporary generation will have to prove themselves more thoroughly and repent more deeply in the coming judgment due to their failure to heed His words.
In Matthew 12:41-42, Christ contrasted the city of Nineveh—which responded to the warning of Jonah—with His generation in Judah, who dismissed His warnings. Christ also contrasted the Queen of the south (Sheba), who came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, with those of His generation, who were oblivious that One much greater than Solomon was among them.
(6) Why are some called to the First Resurrection, while others have to wait until the Second? Revelation 20:4, 6.
Comment: The First Resurrection offers an opportunity of being one of the firstfruits called to rule with Christ. But with this opportunity comes trials and tests that most would not be willing or able to endure. In the past, the majority of those qualifying for this goal have suffered martyrdom. This is why verse 4 reads as if all were beheaded—certainly, all who qualify must “love not their lives unto death.” People cannot volunteer for such positions. It is God who chooses and calls those according to His own timeframe. The rewards, responsibility and required training for those in the Second Resurrection will be substantially less than those of the firstfruits. Those who receive salvation during the Millennium (except some in the final generation) and in the Second Resurrection will not have to strive against Satan and his demons.
The Third Resurrection
(1) What is the next event to occur after the White Throne Judgment? Revelation 20:13-14.
Comment: This resurrection takes place in order to eliminate those who rejected the salvation that God offered. God created mankind to be molded and developed into Sons of God in the God Family. Man was necessarily given free moral agency in order to choose according to his own volition. It is inevitable that some few will totally reject this way, choosing to live in rebellion against God. Such people would be miserable if they were to live throughout eternity under God’s rule. In His mercy, God allows them to perish in the lake of fire—it will be as if they never existed. Contrary to what false religions of this world teach, those who perish in these flames will not suffer throughout eternity. Rather, they will be quickly consumed in the lake of fire.
The term “hell” in verse 13 comes from the Greek word hades, which simply means “the grave.” Most of the dead would either be in the sea or in the grave. However, God is able to resurrect the dead, even if no physical remains exist.
(2) Is the fate of burning in the lake of fire the subject of the account of Lazarus and the rich man? Luke 16:24.
Comment: As the rich man was resurrected from the grave, this parable portrays him in agony as he observes the impending flames. This parable shows the reality of the lake of fire as opposed to the false concept of an ever-burning hell. The term “hell” in Luke 16:23 also comes from the Greek word hades and means the “grave.”
Those who have been accursed are awaiting this fate as described in Isaiah 65:20 and Daniel 12:2 (last part). Those who are consumed in this fire die the second death (Rev. 20:14), from which there is no resurrection. This is also referred to as the resurrection of damnation (John 5:29).
(3) Does the Bible reveal that those burned in this fire are totally consumed, in contrast to the false concept of hell? Malachi 4:1-3.
Comment: Instead of being tortured forever, these are burned up, leaving “neither root nor branch” (vs. 1), as they “shall be ashes under the soles of your feet” (vs. 3).
(4) What are the categories of people who suffer this fate? Revelation 21:8.
Comment: Revelation 20:15 shows that whoever is not written in the Book of Life (referred to in verse 12) will be cast into the lake of fire. Those in the Book of Life will have qualified during either the 6,000-year period under Satan’s rule, the Millennium or the 100 years of the Great White Throne Judgment. Those who reject God’s Way in each of these three phases of God’s Plan are to be cast into the lake of fire.
(5) As the wicked are consumed, does this fire continue to purge and purify the earth? II Peter 3:7, 10-12.
Comment: This is truly the baptism by fire described in Matthew 3:11.
The New Heavens and the New Earth
(1) What is the next event to occur after the earth is purged with fire? Revelation 21:1.
Comment: The New Earth will no longer need oceans and seas to sustain physical life. Only spirit beings will inhabit the earth at this time.
(2) Does the Throne of God in the third heaven descend to the New Earth, where God the Father will also dwell? Revelation 21:2-3.
(3) Do we find the New Heavens and the New Earth mentioned in other places in the Bible besides the Book of Revelation? Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:22; II Peter 3:13.
(4) What is the size and shape of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem that descends from heaven? Revelation 21:12-17.
Comment: The measurement of 12,000 furlongs is 1,500 miles. Verse 16 shows that the length, breath, and height are all equal, thus in the shape of a cube or some other geometric shape with equal dimensions.
As God’s Spirit reveals and helps us to search out the deep things of God (I Cor. 2:10), we should focus on and “look for” the New Heavens and the New Earth that God will bring to pass (II Pet. 3:13). This should motivate all who treasure their calling. For more information about this fascinating time, read our booklet Revelation Explained at Last!
To learn more about how God’s Holy Days depict His plan of salvation for mankind, read our booklet God’s Holy Days or Pagan Holidays?
Lesson Thirty: Putting the Pieces Together
This short final lesson will focus on the knowledge you have recently acquired from this course and how God expects you to act upon it. It has been said that knowledge is of no use unless it is acted upon. Surely, there can be no more true application of this principle than with the knowledge obtained in this course.
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