On nearly every Last Great Day of my childhood, my father would take a drive with the family through a local graveyard. One of us would invariably ask, âDad, why are we driving through a cemetery?â He would drive slowly and explain the meaning of the dayâthat God has within His Master Plan an opportunity for all human beings who have ever lived to learn His Way and become part of His Family.
Those touching moments made a lasting impression.
The end of the Feast of Tabernacles can all too often overshadow the understanding and meaning of the Last Great Day. We start to worry about our trips home, returning to work, the long, cold winter ahead, and missing our new friends and renewed friendships. These concerns are natural. But the Last Great Day should fill us with joy, gladness and excitement of what it pictures.
The world of traditional Christianity has unwittingly been deceived by Satan. The majority of its adherents believe that God is trying to save all human beings nowâthat now is their only chance.
Most theologians believe and teach that at death all will be immediately judged by God, and those who are âluckyâ enough to be born in the right country, to the right parents, who go to the right church, and have accepted Jesus as their Savior will go to heaven for eternity. The rest of mankind will be thrown into a fiery hell.
If this were true, how could God be considered a merciful and loving God? Most of His beloved creation would be condemned because of time and chance! Billions of people who have lived since Adamâwho have never even heard of Jesus Christ, the only name under heaven by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12)âwould be condemned!
This deception hinges on an incorrect understanding of the time of judgment. The world believes that now is the time of judgment for all of mankind, but this is simply not biblical.
Time of Judgment
What does the Bible mean by âjudgmentâ? In the New Testament, âjudgeâ often comes from the Greek word krino, which Strongâs Exhaustive Concordance defines as âto try, condemn, punish,â âdistinguishâ or âdecide.â
We must determine how God judgesâwhether on a manâs past actions or on his present ongoing conduct. Also, we must understand when God is judging true Christians, and when He will judge the rest of mankind.
Beginning with Passover, every one of Godâs Holy Days and annual feasts depict specific steps in His Plan of salvation for mankind. They conclude with the Last Great Day, picturing a time when humanity will have the chance to be called, and will then be judged.
Presently, God is only offering salvation to His Churchâthe body of believers who have been called out of this world and have had their spiritual blindness healed from Satanâs deceptions. (The word âChurchâ in the New Testament comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which means âcalled out ones.â)
Why is God only calling a few now? God has temporarily allowed Satan to rule this world. In II Corinthians 4:4, we read that the world is blinded by âthe god of this world.â People will learn that Satanâs way of lust, greed, hatred, murder and lawlessness does not work. They will see that this way of life leads to unhappiness and death!
When Adam and Eve took of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they forsook the opportunity to learn the right way of life from God. They were left to their own devices in determining right from wrongâtheir own waysâactually Satanâs way. History proves that man is incapable of directing his own path!
A tiny few are now being called for specific purposes in Godâs Churchâto do the Work and to prepare to teach the masses when God finally calls the rest of mankind.
Three Phases of Judgment
Two key scriptures clear up the confusion and define the present period, II Corinthians 6:2 and I Peter 4:17.
The apostle Paul wrote, âFor He says, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured you: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvationâ (II Cor. 6:2). Notice that the verse twice states, âthe day of salvation.â The use of âtheâ is incorrect. The original Greek and Hebrew from which the verse is derived do not contain the definite article âthe.â The verse should read as âa day of salvation.â If now is âa day of salvation,â we must then conclude that there is another time God will work with people. But with whom is He working now?
The apostle Peter was inspired to write, âFor the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of Godâ (I Pet. 4:17). This is referring to Godâs Church. Judgment is on those called by God now, not upon people of the world. This judgment is not a mere sentencing, but a lifelong process of evaluation, as God watches us and helps us grow and become perfect (Matt. 5:48).
Ultimately, this will lead God to make a final judgment about our spiritual state. He will determine whether we have wholeheartedly yielded our lives to His will and whether we have developed His holy, righteous character so that we can be rulers with Him in His kingdom.
When Christ returns and establishes the kingdom of God on Earth, this will begin the second phase of judgment. During this millennial rule, all people will know the truth of God (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34; Joel 2:32). This period will differ from today in that everyone will have a chance to receive salvation.
The third phase of judgment is reserved for everyone who lived and died from Adam until Jesus Christâs Return, excluding those whom God called.
The Last Great Day pictures their chance for salvation: âAnd I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their worksâ (Rev. 20:11-13).
This is the Second Resurrection. All who have ever lived will be resurrected to physical life. The âbooksâ (the Bible) will be opened, and all will be able to understand Godâs Word. During this 100-year period (Isa. 65:20), they will have an opportunity to learn Godâs way of life and to know the truth of salvation.
This is the time of judgment for Sodom and Gomorrah, and Tyre and Sidon, as Jesus revealed (Matt. 10:15; 11:22).
Separate from the Feast of Tabernacles
Letâs look at the scripture that shows the command to keep this day. Notice: âSeven days you shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work thereinâ (Lev. 23:36).
The seven days are the Feast of Tabernacles, which include an offering. Therefore, because the Last Great Day also has its own holy convocation and offering, it is separate.
In John 7:37, we find that Jesus kept the Last Great Day: âIn the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.â In verses 38 to 39, we can see that He taught about the giving of the Holy Spirit to those who would be resurrected at that time.
Events of the Last Great Day
The first event to occur after the Millennium is found in Revelation 20:2-3, 7-10. Satan will be released for âa little season,â or a short time.
Godâs Master Plan has allotted 6,000 years for Satan to rule Earth. We know that this time will be cut short for the electâs sake (Matt. 24:22; Rom. 9:28). The remaining time will be given back to Satan so that he can complete his 6,000-year reign.
When released, the devil will proceed to influence and deceive the masses (Rev. 20:8), causing nations to rebel against God. This will come on the heels of 1,000 years of the truth being taught and humanity being forewarned of Satanâs arrival.
This rebellion will be quickly squashed. Satan and his demons will be cast into the lake of fire (and eventually outer darkness as it states in Jude 13), where they will no longer be able to influence and deceive mankind.
Following this rebellion is the White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-12), symbolized by the Last Great Day. Our unconverted family members, friends, colleagues and everyone else will have their eyes opened to Godâs great Plan of salvation!
After the White Throne Judgment, when the vast majority of men will have chosen and qualified to be sons of God, there will be one more resurrectionâthe Third Resurrection, consisting of those who will not submit to God. In mercy, they will be destroyed in the lake of fire, and it will be as if they never existed (Mal. 4:1-3). Death and Hellâthe graveâwill be destroyed as well.
As the wicked are consumed, the fire will continue to purge and purify the entire earth (II Pet. 3:7, 10-12). This paves the way for the last event, the arrival of the new heavens and new earth: âAnd I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I, John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be My sonâ (Rev. 21:1-7).
The beginning of the rest of eternity: a new heavenâa new earthâa new Jerusalemâvirtually every person being born into the Family of God. These are the momentous events pictured by the Last Great Day!