The most exciting good news ever is God's gift of eternal life for mankind. The bulk of humanity doesn't know this truth; most of those who lie in their graves never knew it. Many modern Christians wonder if they will ever see their close relatives again. They will. We already know we will.
Knowing that we will one day see our loved ones is at once a secure feeling and a sobering one. It's sobering because we know that this is our day of salvation, the only time we are being judged for eternal life (1 Peter 4:17). Our day of salvation begins when we are baptized and given the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14; Acts 5:32). Those who endure to the end will be saved (Matthew 24:13).
God's holy judgment on the Church is good because it allows us to become more like God and it also proves to God that we love His way better than the world's way. God gives eternal life to those who want to live His way of life—forever. God gives immortality to those who judge themselves and who allow God to judge or evaluate them (1 Corinthians 11:31-32).
The White Throne Judgment
The Great White Throne Judgment corresponds with the Last Great Day of the Feast or the eighth day of the Feast (Leviticus 23:36; Nehemiah 8:18). This festival symbolizes and prefigures a second and incredibly great resurrection of human beings that takes place after the 1,000-year period (Revelation 20:4-6). Revelation 20 shows two different resurrections. Verses 4, 5b and 6 all speak of the first resurrection. Verse 5a speaks of the second resurrection. If this verse is read without understanding of God's plan to save mankind, it can be confusing.
Other scriptures help fill in the picture concerning this otherwise subtle distinction between the first and second resurrections. We who know the truth do so by comparing spiritual things with spiritual (1 Corinthians 2:13). We know that at the end of the 1,000 years is when the second resurrection takes place.
The Bible is written like a jigsaw puzzle, so to speak. If it were written like an ordinary science book, people who read it would at least know academically what you and I know today. That would make them accountable for their actions, susceptible to committing the unpardonable sin, reserving them for the lake of fire. But God is merciful and He allows the bulk of humanity to remain blinded to His plan of salvation until all things are fulfilled (2 Corinthians 4:4; Matthew 13:14-15).
The fall Holy Days (laid out for us as fulfilled in Revelation 19 and 20) reveal the time of Christ's intervention in world affairs (Feast of Trumpets, Revelation 19), the incarceration of Satan and the demons (Atonement, Revelation 20:1-3), the 1,000 year reign of Christ and His saints (Feast of Tabernacles, Revelation 20:4, 5b, 6) and the Great White Throne Judgment.
Those resurrected at the beginning of the Great White Throne Judgment include all those who lived from Adam to Christ's second coming but who were never called by God. These will be resurrected to a physical life and given a period of time to be judged (Last Great Day, Revelation 20:11-13), as we are being judged today (1 Peter 4:17).
Isaiah suggests that the period of judgment might last 100 years for every human being: "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed" (Isaiah 65:20). When we carefully read the context of this chapter from verses 17 through 25, the setting is like that of the 1,000-year period...a period of peace and prosperity.
Some get confused with the first part of verse 17 (called 17a). This appears to set the prophecy during the times of the new heavens and the new earth. However no human procreation will take place in a state of immortality. As Christ said, "For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven" (Mark 12:25). First, verse 17 should be rendered "I will create..." (not "I create...")—something to happen beyond the context of a physical setting, as the physical precedes the spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:46).
Verse 17a looks ahead to the time also talked about in Revelation 21:4 when all the former things have passed away. We know that Revelation 21 and 22 deal with human beings changed to a spiritual state, a former physical humanity now immortal. Secondly, the Bible is clear that there will be no ongoing "spiritual gardeners," no unending physical procreation. All human beings will either be made immortal or cease to exist: "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). This is not possible if human beings remain alive at this time period (Hebrews 9:27).
When you put all the scriptures together on the subject of the Great White Throne Judgment, it becomes clear that our relatives who haven't been called (and all peoples of all time) will rise in the second resurrection, after the 1,000-year period. This great resurrection is depicted in Ezekiel 37, the whole of mankind personified by one nation, that of Old Testament Israel, rising from its graves, having had no hope in their lifetimes (verse 11).
The key to this article is this: the Great White Throne Judgment is great because of its overwhelming numbers who will be resurrected to a physical state of life. This great resurrection depicts the end of Christ's harvest of human lives.
Make no mistake: there is an end to God's harvest of human lives. (What God has planned within His new heavens and new earth is not revealed in Scripture.) The majority of human beings will be given eternal life, made immortal. The fact that there will be a global lake of fire tells us that some will refuse God's way of life and immortality, as unthinkable as that might be. Even the memory of them will be forgotten (Obadiah 16). At that time, those who will be immortal spirit beings will see this terrible event but will be unaffected by this great conflagration. They (and we) will be spirit and impervious to any physical damage.
Billions Are Waiting on You and Me
In a sense, the billions of human beings who have died without knowing God, Christ and the truth are waiting in their graves for God's plan to unfold, for it to come to fruition. The Last Great Day or the eighth day of the Feast is their day of salvation. This is the time God has set aside for them to be judged and to be saved.
Now here is where we come into the picture. Matthew recorded a familiar and interesting promise made by Christ. That promise includes you and me and the end of the age, if we live until Christ's return to this earth. "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened" (Matthew 24:22). Notice how Christ says that the horrible days of the Great Tribulation (verse 21), involving all of mankind on earth (Revelation 3:10), will be cut short because of His elect. We are His elect. In effect, Christ is telling His saints that they have their part in the unfolding of His great plan of salvation.
Scripture shows that God does things in an orderly way and that one event does not begin until the last one ends: the Great Tribulation (and Day of the Lord) precedes His second coming. Christ's second coming inaugurates and establishes the 1,000-year period of peace and prosperity. At the end of the 1,000 years Christ releases Satan and the demons and then removes them from His presence and ours (Revelation 20:10; Jude 6, 13). Only then will Christ raise billions upon billions of humans to their day of judgment. This is a period of time in which they have the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to live God's way of life They shall be saved as we are, through Jesus Christ's sacrifice and His life (Romans 5:10). Christ will judge those many billions throughout their physical lives by the law of liberty (James 1:25, i.e., the Ten Commandments) and save them by His grace (Ephesians 2:8).
Billions of human beings now dead and buried are waiting for us to complete our part in the orderly progression of God's master plan of saving all of mankind for all time! We do not save them. Christ will save them. Yet those billions of human beings now dead and buried are, in a sense, patiently waiting on you and me, "each one in his own order" (1 Corinthians 15:23). We dare not fail in our day of salvation. For, "We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us" (Romans 8:37). UN