We could sum up all that God is doing on Earth, His entire plan of salvation, as ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs all about people.‚ÄĚ We know today He is working with only a few, calling and preparing them now to rule with Christ when He returns. Then, in the Millennium, we will work with a relatively small number, considering that only 10 percent of Earth‚Äôs population will have survived.
Through the Millennium, God‚Äôs Work will greatly expand, with an ever-increasing number of people being called. Yet this number will explode during the Last Great Day, as God will work with the largest amount of people ever, making this the greatest time in His Plan. This should inspire all of us to learn more about this day, the events it depicts, and its importance.
In each of the past several Feast issues of The Pillar, we have studied one of the fall Feast Days. This year, we will study the seventh and last feast commanded by God: the Last Great Day.
This final Holy Day commemorates the time of final judgment and crucial events that follow the millennial rule of the kingdom of God on Earth. Some events include the Second Resurrection, followed by the Third Resurrection, and finally the time of the New Heavens and the New Earth. As we see end-time events unfold, it should be exciting and gratifying to ponder the prospect of qualifying for the First Resurrection, in which we will be pioneers and leaders in the Master Plan that God has laid out for eternity.
(1) Which scriptures show the command to keep the Last Great Day? Leviticus 23:36, 39; Numbers 29:35.
The Feast of Tabernacles lasts for seven days, with the first a Holy Day. The eighth day is separate from the Feast, having its own convocation and offering (Num. 29:36). The Last Great Day is called the ‚Äúeighth day,‚ÄĚ as it immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles.
(2) Are there examples of ancient Israel keeping this day? II Chronicles 7:9. Did Christ keep the Last Great Day, and did He preach on that day? John 7:37-39.
In II Chronicles, the Feast of Tabernacles immediately followed Solomon‚Äôs dedication of the Temple. After the eighth day, Solomon sent the people home, which was the 23rd of the month. The Last Great Day always falls on the 22nd of the month. This is ‚Äúthat last day, that great day of the feast,‚ÄĚ as verses throughout chapter 7 of II Chronicles show. Israel kept this day. In John 7, we read that Jesus preached on this day, teaching its meaning and that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who will be resurrected at a future time. This is also clearly reflected in Ezekiel 37:13-14.
(3) What will occur just before this ‚ÄúLast Great Day‚ÄĚ? Revelation 20:2-3, 7-10. What event follows the casting of Satan and his demons into the Lake of Fire? Revelation 20:11-12; Daniel 7:9-10.
At that time, Satan is released for a ‚Äúlittle season,‚ÄĚ for a few short years. Since time will be cut short at the end of this age (Matt. 24:22; Rom. 9:28), God will allow Satan to complete his specified time of rule over mankind at the end of the Millennium. Once loosed, Satan and his demons will quickly deceive the world. Despite the truth being taught for 1,000 years, possibly millions will rebel and forfeit their opportunity for eternal life. Those who rebel will be destroyed, and Satan and his demons will be cast into the Lake of Fire, where they will no longer influence humanity.
Immediately after this, the Resurrection of everyone who has ever lived, but never knew the truth, will occur. This event is often called the Second Resurrection, or the White Throne Judgment‚ÄĒa time of judgment, not a time of sentencing.
Human beings will live in a millennial-like setting and experience firsthand the abundance and joy of living God‚Äôs Way. This will be their first opportunity to learn the ways that produce peace, prosperity and true happiness. Men will be judged not by what they did in their previous life, but what they do during this 100-year period.
(4) Will this be a physical resurrection? Isaiah 65:20-24; Ezekiel 37:1-14.
These verses discuss the physical resurrection (showing that flesh will be restored to the bones and life given) of the whole house of Israel (vs. 11). This will be a type of all human beings, who are resurrected at that time‚ÄĒthe vast majority who have ever lived, prior to the Return of Christ. It will also include multiple millions of the pre-Flood world.
People will live for 100 years, whether they begin as infants and grow to maturity, or as elderly people with health and vitality restored. This time of judgment will have similar conditions to the Millennium: every person who has never been called to salvation before the Return of Christ will be given his or her first and only chance. Living in this world of peace, abundance, health and happiness, nearly all will overwhelmingly treasure God‚Äôs way of life. This will be the largest number of people ever receptive to the truth and responsive to their teachers.
(5) What is the next event to occur after the White Throne Judgment? Revelation 20:13-14. 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.
The Third Resurrection will be God‚Äôs final act of mercy for everyone who has rejected salvation; they will be eliminated forever. God gave man free moral agency‚ÄĒthe freedom to choose according to his own volition. Tragically, a relative few will reject God‚Äôs Way, choosing to live in rebellion. Such people would be miserable if permitted to live throughout eternity. In His mercy, God allows them to perish in the Lake of Fire‚ÄĒit will be as if they had never existed.
Those who have been accursed are awaiting the fate described in Isaiah 65:20 and Daniel 12:2 (latter part). People consumed in this fire die the ‚Äúsecond death‚ÄĚ (Rev. 20:14), from which there is no resurrection. This is also referred to as the ‚Äúresurrection of damnation‚ÄĚ (John 5:29). Contrary to what false religions of this world teach, Malachi writes that those who are consumed leave ‚Äúneither root nor branch,‚ÄĚ as they ‚Äúshall be ashes under the soles of your feet.‚ÄĚ
(6) What are the categories of people who suffer this fate? Revelation 21:8. As the wicked are consumed, does this fire continue to purge and purify the earth? II Peter 3:7, 10-12.
All who are not written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15) will be cast into the Lake of Fire. But those in the Book of Life will have qualified during the 6,000-year period under Satan‚Äôs rule, in the Millennium, or in the 100 years of the Great White Throne Judgment. People who reject God‚Äôs Way in any of these three phases of God‚Äôs Plan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which will totally consume the earth‚ÄĒtruly the ‚Äúbaptism by fire,‚ÄĚ as described in Matthew 3:11.
(7) What is the next event to occur after Earth is purged with fire? Revelation 21:1. 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. Do we find the ‚Äúnew heavens‚ÄĚ and the ‚Äúnew Earth‚ÄĚ mentioned in other places in the Bible? Isaiah 65:17-19; 66:22; II Peter 3:13.
This world will be replaced with a new Earth, and become the throne of God and the center of the universe. Oceans and seas will no longer be needed, as those who have yielded themselves to God will be changed into spirit beings‚ÄĒborn into His divine Family.
We are able to know‚ÄĒunderstand‚ÄĒthe deep things of God (I Cor. 2:10). Let‚Äôs look forward to the time of the new heavens and the new Earth, which God will bring to pass (II Pet. 3:13)‚ÄĒwhen the last enemy will finally be destroyed (I Cor. 15:26) and death will no longer hold power over members of God‚Äôs Family.
These events depict that largest ‚Äúgeneration‚ÄĚ of the new sons of God‚ÄĒa time we should anticipate. Let‚Äôs prepare now to be teachers and rulers on that last ‚ÄúGreat Day,‚ÄĚ when we will help all resurrected to have their opportunity to know God‚Äôs plan of salvation!