feast: A Millennium of Preparation
Getting Ready for the Next Step of the Plan
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 08-Oct-12; 62 minutes
The following story was excerpted from an article in The Military Times by Sean D. Naylor from an article he wrote in 2006.
They call it the battle of Robert's Ridge. The fifteen hour firefight cost more American lives—seven—than any other engagement to date in the war against terrorism. It was named of the first American to die amid the snowy 10,000 foot mountains of eastern Afghanistan. How many troops performed with such extraordinary courage during that long night and day? It could easily have been named after any one of at least a dozen men.
This is the story of the March 4, 2002 battle and one of those heroes. It was approximately 3 a.m., March 4, when an MH 47E Chinook, code-named “Razor Three” approached Tokker Gar Mountain, known to US forces as “Objective Ginger.”
The dug-in Al Qaeda forces there had proven impossible to dislodge in the forty-eight hours since the US troops had launched operation ‘Anaconda.” But as the pilot from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment brought the Chinook in to land, the helicopter was met with the fusillade of enemy machine gun and rocket propelled fire that severed a vital hydraulic line. The pilot jerked the helicopter up and away without inserting the field team. It was then that the crew realized in the chaos one of the Seals, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts had fallen out of the helicopter. Within minutes of falling from the copter, Roberts was captured and taken away by Al Qaeda guerrillas. Major-General Hagen Beck, the commander of all US forces in Afghanistan approved the urgent request from the remaining seals on Razor 3 to return and look for their buddy/ Meanwhile, leaders at Bogram Air Force Base ordered the quick reaction force to launch. Onboard Razor One were about fifteen Rangers, as well as an Air Force tactical air controller, a pair of Air Force combat search and rescue para-rescue jumpers, and another Air Force special operations combat controller, as well as Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, a twenty six-year-old para-rescue jumper on his first combat mission.
Cunningham was a bright-eyed kid from New Mexico who always had a smile on his face. Married with two children, he had only been a para-rescue jumper for 8 months, but his infectious enthusiasm had already made him popular with his fellow PJs. Even among the highly trained professionals of the special operations world, Cunningham’s dedication to his job stood out. . . . He had more motivation than any one man should have. . . . He was all about saving people's lives.
The two years of grueling schooling it took to earn the para-rescue man’s badge requires an airman to become skilled at dealing with mental and physical stresses few others could endure. The washout rate can be as high as ninety percent. Cunningham personified that endurance. Dr. Brian Burlingame the surgical unit air commander said of him, ‘Every time we had a casualty event he was always the first one here offering to help.’ An outcome of Cunningham's time with the surgical team’s doctors was a decision to start sending the para-rescuers out into combat with blood for transfusions.
And just a note: It was controversial because blood is actually an FDA controlled substance and they did not want them going out into the field with that, but apparently Cunningham was very instrumental in pushing that forward. Back to the article:
On Ginger, the Al Qaeda fighters had executed Robert, and the seals’ rescue mission had become a desperate fight for their own lives. By the time Razor One approach Ginger, the sun was rising; the rescue force had lost advantages of surprise, and darkness. Heavy machine gun Kalashnikov and grenade fire erupted from the snowy mountainside as the helicopter came in to land.
At least one rocket propelled grenade hit the aircraft in the tail rotor. With the helicopter still eighty feet off the ground bullets shattered the cockpit glass. A round smashed one pilot’s thigh bone, another knocked his helmet off. To his right a bullet, or a fragment ripped a silver dollar sized hole in the other pilots wrist, while yet another tore into his thigh. Seriously damaged, and with its pilots barely able to control it, the Chinook hit the ground hard just below the peak of the ridge.
Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt in the crash landing. But the helicopter with the troops inside were now taking heavy fire from a series of well protected Al Qaeda positions one-hundred to two-hundred meters up the slope. Two or three Rangers dropped immediately; dead or badly wounded. But the surviving members of the quick reaction force on the ground were putting up a fight. The forces medical personnel had their hands full. The Chinook’s cargo area became a casualty collection point. There, Cunningham went to work, putting into practice all that theory he absorbed, and doing so in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. He was trying to save lives in the back of a helicopter at the top of a bitterly cold mountain under constant fire from enemy forces that had him and his colleagues surrounded.
And just when things seemed as if they couldn't get worse, the forward compartment of the helicopter caught fire endangering everyone if it spread.
Cunningham decided the cargo compartment had become too dangerous for his patients. Using a small sled-like device he dragged the wounded troops to a safer spot away from the aircraft. But in doing so he crossed the line of enemy fire seven times. The enemy's movements forced Cunningham and a fellow medic to move the casualties to a second, and then a third location outside the helicopter, exposing themselves to enemy fire each time. During the last movement the medic was shot twice in the abdomen. Shortly thereafter at 12:32 p.m. Cunningham's luck ran out. An enemy round hit him just below his body armor as he was treating a patient. The bullet entered low from the right side traveled across his pelvis causing serious and severe internal injuries. Cunningham must've known that he was in serious trouble.
But despite his worsening condition, he continued to treat patients and advised others on how to care for the critically wounded. One of the two blood packages he had brought saved the badly wounded Ranger. The medics gave the other packet to Cunningham himself whose life was slowly flowing out in a red stream onto the white snow. As the hours in the snow lengthened Cunningham grew increasingly weak from loss of blood. Seven hours after he was hit the other medics began to perform CPR on Cunningham. They continued for thirty minutes until it was clear that nothing more could be done. There were other lives to save.
At about 8 p.m., March 4, Jason Cunningham became the first para-rescuer jumper to die in combat since the Vietnam War.
Sharp though the pain of Cunningham's death was to those who knew him at Bogram, they also know that he is one of the main reasons why Dr. Burlingame only had seven, not seventeen, body bags to open. Cunningham's colleagues consoled themselves with the knowledge that their friend died doing the job he loved. He was right in the thick of it, doing it right up to the end.
One of his colleagues named Scott, said, ‘Jason was right where every PJ wants to be. He was where guys needed him, and he was saving lives.
In another article reporting his burial, the author wrote that his commander, Major Vincent Sabino said, “He spent his whole life preparing for that one moment. He was a great man. I know several soldiers were alive today because of him.” For his extraordinary heroism Jason Cunningham posthumously received the Air Force Cross, an award second only to the Medal of Honor. His is quite a story of courage under fire, devotion to duty to his comrades, and to saving lives.
Now, consider Major Sabino’s description of airman Cunningham: “He spent his whole life preparing for that one moment.”
Jesus spent His whole life preparing for His great sacrifice, and we spend our lives preparing for God's Kingdom. I contend in this sermon on this eighth day of the Feast, that those who live during the Millennium will not only spend their lives preparing for eternal life, but also preparing for the resurrection of billions in the Great White Throne Judgment so that they can serve them.
This idea of preparation—we could call it, “Working toward a goal,” or we could also call it, “Being ready for an eventuality,”—something that is going to take place in the future—is a consistent biblical theme. This is so because God is a Being of purpose who designed a great master plan that He is putting into play. He does not simply exist without a goal. He is not like the deist’s god who made things, and just went away, but He is One who has a plan, and is working, as we know from what Jesus said, “I work, and my Father works.
So God has an awesome goal toward which he bends all His mind with all His might to bring it about. And He is doing that right now. We know from the revelation of His Word that His is the greatest of all purposes. He is creating a divine, ruling, eternal family of billions of children in His image, and He is working it all out over millennia of time.
Isaiah 46:9-11 Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it.
God is very confident, here. He has a plan that He has been working on for ages—from the beginning. And He has declared what that “end” is. We see it in Revelation in the Bible. Even though these things are not yet done, and as men we could say, “What are the odds that He could bring it about,” because there are just so many millions and billions of not only people but other factors that are coming together to destroy that plan. But, God says, “No. It doesn’t matter what men can do.” He is able, as He says, to call a bird of prey from the east. He means like a nation with a great army that He is going to bring against Israel, or against Judah, or at some point in time change the course of history because He has made a decree that something needs to be done. He could then also call a man, like a prophet as we heard this morning, to execute His counsel. He could call Him from anywhere—from a far country, like He says here. It all works to bring about His purpose. So He says confidently, right here at the end of verse 11, “I have spoken it. I am going to bring it to pass.” He is a Being of His word. He will not lie. He cannot lie. It is against His nature.
If He has revealed a plan, He is going to bring it about exactly as He has purposed it from the beginning.
Let us look at a few parts of this plan, and just think about the idea of preparation, and people being involved. Turn to Genesis 1. Here we have the first indication in His Word about what He is about—what He is doing.
Genesis 1:26-28 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
Genesis 1:31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Here we have the exposition of a major step in the plan of God being put into action, and being completed up to a certain point, that is, that He created a physical man and woman after God’s own image. He made them of the God-kind. But, He made them physical so they could die. But He made them to be like Him, so there could be a relationship with Him, so there could be, at some point, a transformation of mankind into the God-kind. We know this from I John 3:2 where it says very plainly that we will be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Only another God-being could really understand another God-being. That is the opportunity we have been given—as well as all of mankind will be given this opportunity in due time, once everything is said and done.
So, this was only one step—a very significant, and major step in God’s plan. But, we know that since God is such a planner, this step was not something that He took lightly, and did on the spur of the moment. No, this is something that He thought about, designed, and worked out all the kinks over long ages—millennia. Who knows how long a time He was planning just this step (not even considering the remaining steps to come after, in time).
Think about it—the human body is a very intricate piece of machinery. But it all works so well, even now after 6000 years of reproduction, and sin, and all the things we have done to poison ourselves. We still come out pretty good generation after generation. We are self-replicating. And, we still work pretty well, and that is an amazing thing. DNA, itself, is an amazing thing. How long did God think about just DNA, and how to get all that information on that eensy-weensy, teeny-weeny little string? It is just an amazing thing to think about. We cannot even see it. We can look at ourselves, and we can just see the big parts. We do not see all the other parts that are in us. Yet, God designed all that absolutely, perfectly to work together with all the other parts and pieces that we have. And that is just us!
He had to do this, too, with all the animals, all the fish, all the birds, all the little creeping things that we do not like, and step on as soon as we see them; and He did it with bacteria, too. It is an amazing thing. If you take away bacteria from this world, everything else would die. Bacteria are that important to the way things are. We would not have any decomposition; our bodies would not work properly, because we have trillions and trillions of bacteria in us, helping us to do our bodily functions. God designed that too.
God designed everything, and He designed not only each thing individually, but He designed symbiosis so that they could all work together, too. And we live on a planet that is only just so far from the sun—not too close, and not too far; not too hot, not too cold. If we were like the planet Venus, well, bye-bye. If we were as far out as Mars, well, we would be quite cold and uncomfortable.
Then, all those other intricate things that make the earth move, make the solar system work, make the galaxy work, and make the whole universe work, because it all works together to make an environment for us.
This was a huge step in His plan! But, it was not something that could be done instantly. Six days was pretty instant for these things. But rather, He took many millennia to think this all through, because He was planning for you and me.
God is a planning, preparing God. And you know, this step does not exist alone. This step is in itself part of His preparation for fulfilling an even greater goal that He has thought about just as long, and maybe even longer, because this part was just physical. He is really interested in the spiritual part that comes later.
Hebrews 4:1-3 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: "So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest,'" although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Now, it is this last bit, that last clause at the end of verse 3 that I am really interested in right now. I wanted you to see the context of it here, because it is important to understand what that clause really means. Paul is showing that since faithless Israel did not enter God’s rest—we have no indication that very many of them were converted, and as Paul shows here, most of them died in the wilderness; their bodies were strewn throughout the desert, and so, they could not enter into the Promise Land—having died in the wilderness, that promise is still valid. Somebody has to enter that rest. So, it falls to spiritual Israel, which Paul calls the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16)—His church made up of believers, us—to enter in. It falls to us, and all of those whom God has called and converted throughout history.
So, while it appears from what took place that God altered His plan, the author, Paul, wants to assure His readers—us—that this is not the case. God never altered His plan. That is what he is saying. That is what this last clause indicates.
I want to paraphrase what this says. First, here it is again from the New King James Version: “They shall not enter My rest, although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” Here is my paraphrase: “God said this, (meaning, ‘You shall not enter my rest,’) even though His plans for what He would do were complete from the time that He created the world.” Paul is saying that when God finally decided on how His plan would work out, it was before the creation of the world when this happened, and everything has been going according to plan like clockwork. Everything has been going according to plan. There has been no alteration.
This is interesting too—there has been an idea in the churches of God that in the Garden of Eden when Eve took of the fruit and ate of it, that God had to suddenly switch to plan B. We can use this same argument. But, no, He did not. He knew exactly what He would do, and that both Adam and Eve would sin. Therefore, there would be a need for a Savior, and all that has gone on since then.
So, what he is saying here is that God has had this all planned out to the most minute detail from the very beginning—from before He created the world.
In other words, in this particular context in Hebrews 4, God never planned for Israel to enter His rest at that time (1400BC). That was not the plan at all. He knew what Israel would do. He knows us, our frame, our nature; He knows Satan the Devil, and his abilities; He knew that they would fail. He had always planned—always planned!—for His firstfruits, those who are part of the first resurrection, to enter His rest first. He had always had the plan of having a church of those specially called-out ones that He would train to be firstfruits to enter that rest. And that is for us to do. Israel would be converted later. They were merely a type that was allowed to exist under His covenant for a long time to give us instruction, and to show us the things that we need to understand for our conversion, and growth toward our change.
The overall point of what we have seen so far is that God is a planner, and a preparer. God takes the time to sketch things out, and to get them absolutely, perfectly right, and then executes them perfectly from the beginning to the end. He is a planner and a preparer.
Each step—here is another interesting point—of the plan is a preparation for the next step in the plan. They all happen in order, so one thing happens, and then it has set up the next thing. And then that thing happens, and it sets up the next one. This just keeps on going and going. Each thing is built, one upon the last until the end is reached.
And it follows—and this is an interesting point that we should understand for the rest of the sermon today—that those physical people who are involved with Him, in any one of those steps, have the job of helping Him to prepare for the next step; that God recruits them to bring about not only the step they are currently in, but to make preparations for the step to follow. Or, they themselves are prepared by God to help Him in the next step.
So, there are two things there that those physical people who are involved with Him in that step have the job of helping Him prepare for the next step; or they themselves are prepared to help Him in the next step.
Let us start to see this.
Galatians 3:19 What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.
Galatians 3:23-25 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
This passage has got the Protestants totally bewildered. They cannot understand this because they do not understand the covenants, the purposes of the covenants, or the purpose of the law.
The law, here, refers to the Old Covenant, because if it meant God’s eternal law, as shown in the Ten Commandments, then Paul would be contradicting Christ's statement in Matthew 5:17 that He did not come to destroy the law. So, it has to be something other than the law itself. It has to be something that could be nullified or destroyed without nullifying the law itself, because the law is eternal. That is the way that God lives, and that is the way that God decrees for everyone under Him to live. So, it cannot be the Ten Commandments, and the other parts of the eternal law. But, it is the Old Covenant.
So, He did come to nullify the Old Covenant. He died. As one of the Signers who ratified the Old Covenant, His death did away with it. It ended. Its time period was over. So, what He did by His death, His blood, ratified the New Covenant. By dying He both ended the Old Covenant, and started the New Covenant.
Let us return to Galatians 3. What these verses tell us is that the Old Covenant’s purpose was to keep the people of Israel under guard, or under a tutor. It was to keep them together, and for them to function under a godly system that would allow them to maintain themselves as a distinct people until Christ came.
Of course, there are other reasons, too, but this is the one that Paul is zeroing in on here. So, they had to remain together, especially the Jews, because the Christ is of Judah. There had to be a distinctive people made up of this particular line from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, down through Judah specifically, that had to extend all through the time until the Son was born, so that He could be born among His people, who were still living approximately under that system that He had given them.
We know that by this time, they had already developed what we know as Judaism today. But, it was close enough, and there were still some people who kept the law in a more perfect way than what Judah does now, that He was able to come to, and learn under, and find disciples in, that He could then use as His apostles to the world.
So, how does this fit in with our subject? The whole Old Testament period, in a general way, was preparation for the birth, ministry, and sacrifice of Christ. Do you remember what Jesus told the apostles after His resurrection? He said that He opened up the Scriptures and showed Himself in them, that all those things spoke about Him. We see, then, that the Old Covenant period was a spectacular preparation for the life and death of Christ.
I needed you to see how that part of the plan prepared for the next part of the plan. And in reality, some of those people in that part of the plan such as John the Baptist were actually participants in the ministry of Christ. So, they were not only part of that Old Covenant period, but they also were taught and prepared so they could do their part in the ministry of Christ.
Do you see how all these things worked together so that God is continuously preparing His people for the next step? It just keeps on going, too.
Return to Hebrews 2. Here we are moving along in time, and speaking of Jesus Christ,
Hebrews 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same [meaning Jesus Christ did too], that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Hebrews 2:17-18 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
What we see here in three verses is that Christ's life was also a preparation, even though He spent His life and His ministry preparing for the great sacrifice that He made, as shown in verse 17, becoming the propitiation for the sins of the people. But verse 18 extends that on out; that His life and the way that He lived it, that part of the plan, prepared Him for work as our High Priest now, after His resurrection. Once He was glorified and went to heaven, then He was able to take all that He had learned in this previous portion of the plan, and put it into practice for us as our High Priest.
So, He is able to help us, because He has been through types of everything that we have. He can say, “Dad, this guy is going through a lot, and I don’t think you realize just what it means when this happens. You haven’t been a man, and you don’t know how devastating this is. Let’s give him some extra time. Let’s give him a bit more juice to help him overcome this.” That is what He does as our High Priest. He is the bridge builder. He is the Mediator between the Father and us, able to aide us when we are tempted because He had been tempted.
Turn to II Corinthians. Now, we are going to talk about us.
II Corinthians 5:4-5 For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life [do we not all want to be eternal spirit beings?]. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
What we see here is that, yeah, all of us want what Paul is talking about here. We want to be clothed with immortality. It is God who is working in us to prepare us for this. And we are cooperating with Him so that all this will work out just wonderfully when the time comes.
Turn to II Timothy 2. Here we will see the cooperation we need to do.
II Timothy 2:19-21 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity." But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter [from the dishonorable things], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.
So, by putting these two passages together, we see that we are also being prepared by God for immortality through the Spirit, and that we are also preparing ourselves to do good works, both now, and in the Kingdom of God. So, we should be able to see that our preparation in this age will not only benefit us, and allow us to be clothed with immortality, but also they will bear fruit in spades in the next age, because the preparations that God is doing with us, and for us now, are not just to get us changed. That would be a fair waste of His time. But, what He is really doing is getting us to the point in our character so that we can be used, and we can do great things for those who come up in the next age, who we will be teaching in the next age.
So, while He is working on us in this age, He is preparing us for the next age. He is already getting things in order and in line for the next step(s) in the plan, putting all His ducks in a row. And, He is doing a great job, though you may not think so, but He knows that He can bring us into His Kingdom. He knows what He can do. He is giving you the education, the experiences, and the understanding so that when you come up in that first resurrection, you will be ready to go. As we say, you will hit the ground running, being able to go where we need to go, and rule, guide, direct, and educate in His way perfectly according to His will.
Now, I think we understand the pattern. God has prepared for long ages; He makes it work out step by step by step. And, in each step of the plan, He is preparing not only for the next step, but preparing those who are going to help Him in the next step.
So now, keep this in mind as we consider those who will live their lives in the Millennium. I will call them the Millennials. There are Millennials in this room, according to the way that current demographers define those who were born after 2000 AD. But, I am referring to the real Millennials, who will live during the 1000 years of Christ's reign.
Please turn to Revelation 20. Not only have we got the history of what happens just after Christ returns, and our part in the Millennium, but we also see what happens during the Millennium, and what happens during the Great White Throne Judgment.
Revelation 20:4-5 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished this [what he mentioned in verse 4] is the first resurrection.
Revelation 20:7-13 Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet were. And they [the Devil and his demons] will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who 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, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
We understand that these thousand years that he is talking about, here, the thousand years of our reign with Christ, is the period of judgment for those people who live their lives at that time. Just as this time is ours, while Satan still rules down here, and we have to learn to overcome him during this time, they will live in that thousand years when Satan will not be around for them to overcome until the very end of that period.
It is interesting that the Millennium—the 1000 years—ends much like ours does, with a Satanic rebellion that God ultimately ruthlessly crushes. It seems like every age has to go through something like that.
But just as we are preparing for our work in the Millennium and beyond, they (the Millennials) will also be preparing for the next age to come after them, though it may be in a different way. There is no indication that they will be given rule, like we will be given. But, then, maybe they will. The Bible does not say. It does not even say when they are going to be changed to spirit. We do not know when that will happen. Perhaps the second resurrection will be a dual-resurrection when the dead are raised to physical life, and those who lived in the Millennium and have qualified for eternal life, will then be changed to spirit. We do not know. It does not say. This is just pure speculation.
So, what you need to get out of this is that there are still steps in the plan that are in the future, and this same pattern will be continued. Just as we are being prepared to help them, the Millennials will be prepared to help the people beyond them.
Please turn to Ezekiel 37. This is the Valley of Dry Bones chapter.
Ezekiel 37:1-14 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord GOD, You know." Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 'Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. "I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD."'" So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live."'" So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!' "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. "Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'"
From what we know, and what we understand, this prophecy foretells the resurrection of Israel to physical life. And as we know, not just Israel will be raised, but it will be all the dead. That is what Revelation 20 was saying in verses 12-13. All of the people who were dead in the seas, and all the people who have died—all the graves will be opened; all those who have not had a chance for salvation, and they will live.
So God, then, as we see here, shows that He will give them access to His Spirit (verse 14), and they will live a lifetime, much as we have, to be judged according to their works, again as we saw there in Revelation 20. To them, it will seem like they are being given a second chance, because they will be coming up saying, “We don’t have any hope,” and suddenly they have life again. But, we know that they never had their day of salvation. This will actually be their first chance—their day of salvation.
Isaiah 65:17-25 "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people; the voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, nor the voice of crying. 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. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, and My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, nor bring forth children for trouble; for they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," Says the LORD.
This is the passage for which we speculate that the Great White Throne Judgment will last for 100 years, because the child dies at 100 years old, and the old sinner dies at 100 years as well. So, what we have understood from this is that all of the dead shall rise, as told you from the last passage, and then have a century to repent, and prove their submission to God. So the Great White Throne Judgment will probably be about 100 years long.
I do not know if any of you remember me saying in previous years, that I have speculated on this section that from verse 17 through verse 25 it might actually regress through time. This is not a progress where it moves forward, but the descriptions seem to show a regression. What I mean by all this is that verses 17 through 19 describe the new heavens and the new earth, because he says specifically that this is the new heavens and the new earth. And He talks about rejoicing, and Jerusalem being created—that would be the New Jerusalem, would it not? And then in verse 19 he talks about no more weeping and crying. Is that not what He says in Revelation 21:1-6 or so, that there will be no more crying, no more tears? So, this seems to imply that same new heavens and new earth period.
Verse 20 seems to be specifically about the Great White Throne Judgment—the 100 years. And then, verses 21 through 25 describe the Millennium. See what I mean? It is going backwards through time.
Now, we can read it like it is, and get a lot from it, but it is one of those prophetic things that need to be unlocked. I think that we see the key in Revelation 20 which gives us the proper order of things. So we apply that back to here. It is just like Herbert Armstrong always said that the key to Daniel is Revelation. Well the key to Isaiah is also Revelation. The key to Ezekiel is also Revelation. They key to all the prophecies come at some point from the revelation of Jesus Christ. He put the capstone on things. He is the One that we take our basic understanding of prophecy from. So, if Jesus says in a parable that it is going to be like this, He is the One who unlocks the problems we have in the Old Testament.
So, it is not just Revelation, obviously. The book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. But, there is revelation in the gospels from Christ because He spoke there, too. So, Jesus is the One that we go to first. He is the ground for all our prophetic understanding, and then we apply what we learn from Him to the prophets. He is the Chief Cornerstone.
Remember we are talking about the people in the Millennium, and how they will help the people in the Great White Throne Judgment. So, we will concentrate on verse 21 through 23, specifically, because this is the passage that explains what the people are doing.
The people of the Millennium—what are they doing, here? What are these Millennials doing? Let us look at the verbs—building houses; planting vineyards; building and planting are used again; the work of the hands of the elect—that is us—which shows that we are going to be ones driving all this building and planting. There is verse 23 with the word labor—their labor shall not be in vain; they bring forth children—so we know that this is a time when they are still having children.
So, the verbs are: Build, plant, labor, and bring forth. What does this tell us? These people in the time of the Millennium are working hard, doing a lot, not just for themselves, but we will see that they are doing it for the Great White Throne Judgment. They are busy little beavers doing all this building and planting. God’s elect are seen as enjoying the work of their hands, indicating that we are going to be supervising all of this work. And as I mentioned, children are being born, indicating that this is millennial. They are still bearing children. The generations are still continuing.
But, what we believe in the Great White Throne Judgment is that there probably will not be any births, because God has cut it off at the end of the Millennium, and He is just working with those who were dead, and rise up in that second resurrection.
Now, turn to Ezekiel 36. Here again, notice what these people do during the Millennium. These are the Millennials. What are they doing?
Ezekiel 36:8-12 "But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come. For indeed I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be tilled and sown. I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bear young; I will make you inhabited as in former times, and do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Yes, I will cause men to walk on you, My people Israel; they shall take possession of you, and you shall be their inheritance; no more shall you bereave them of children."
Ezekiel 36:33-36 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will also enable you to dwell in the cities, and the ruins shall be rebuilt. The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. So they will say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the wasted, desolate, and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited.' Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the LORD, have spoken it, and I will do it."
What we see during the Millennium is not just a lot of activity in terms of being farmers, but we also actually see a great deal of urban activities; that the ruined cities are rebuilt; that the great towers are rebuilt; the streets are laid again. All the things that go into making a city habitable once again are done. That is what this passage indicates.
It is multiple, huge building projects that take place making the whole land, and specifically Israel, habitable. I do not think that it takes much extrapolation to believe that this rebuilding of the ruined places will take place all over the world. The world is going to be pretty much destroyed in the Day of the Lord, or beforehand in the Great Tribulation. There is going to be a lot of ruined cities, and they are all going to need to be rebuilt, because God promises that He is going to multiply man and beast on the earth. The population of the Millennium may start out small, but I get the indication from all the blessing that God is going to be giving not just to Israel, but to the Gentiles too as they come into Israel’s sphere of influence, and become converted, that there is just going to be a population explosion like we have never seen before.
So, we are going to need a lot of places for people to live.
So, what we see is a massive effort to house and feed great numbers of people. God is going to so bless this earth that there is going to be fertility like you have never seen, and clearly these cities will be inhabited by Millennials.
But, what happens when the Millennials are not there anymore? There will be hundreds, and thousands of cities that have been built during this 1000 year period, ready to be inhabited by the billions who rise in the second resurrection. That is why they are building so many homes, apartments, cities; because they are going to need them at the end of the Millennium when all these billions come up.
So, what I see happening in the Millennium is a concentrated effort spearheaded by you and me to prepare for the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. We will use the thousand years to build massive cities all over the earth, a great many large cities.
What they say, these days, is that the earth can only support our 7 billion (and some say that it cannot do even that). But really, when God is managing things, it will be able to support many times our own population now. It is going to have to because God is going to raise up all those dead. And it has been estimated that somewhere between 50 and 70 billion people have lived and died on this earth since Adam. We have about a tenth of that right now with our 7 billion population on the earth.
But, we are going to have to oversee the building of these cities, and our workers are going to be those who live during the millennial time. They are not only going to be preparing to enter the Kingdom of God by learning God’s way and repenting and overcoming; but they will also be working to help the “crop” of people—the next harvest. So we are going to have to build those great cities; we are going to have to oversee the building of large systems—education, transportation, water, sewage, communications. We are going to have to do that. The expertise will be there. We will be leaders during this time, and we will be organizing all of that.
And toward the end of the Millennium, the job will really ramp up to produce and store as much food, and clothing, and other necessary products to last at least the first several months of the Great White Throne Judgment, so that all of those billions can have clothes, food, housing, to get their start in real life.
Think of it—all those people—are going to have to be not only housed, and clothed, and fed, but they are going to have to be re-educated as well. And our job, and the Millennials with us, will be to provide them with a physical environment and all their basic needs to help them get a start in their new lives. They will need work to do, because they just cannot sit idle—idle hands are the Devil’s workshop—so they are going to need things to do, and I expect that they will mostly work on growing and producing consumable items—the things that they are going to need for their own use—such as food, clothes, and other such for use during the 100 years.
I am sure that they will be producing other things, but the main job of that time is going to be to convert them. That will be a huge job! But, we will be prepared, because that is what God does. He takes one step of the plan, and He fills it full of things not only for the people who are in that period to succeed to be part of His Kingdom, but also to help the people in the next age, the next step of the plan.
Let us see this in John 14 where we will close. Jesus is talking to His disciples, and He gives them a principle, here. This is to encourage them about what He is going to do in going away, but it is also a principle for us:
John 14:1-2 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions [offices; places of abode]; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
The patterns revealed in God’s Word are beyond wonderful. Jesus Christ as our High Priest is now preparing a place for us, and preparing us for that place. In the Millennium we will be charged, like Christ was here, with preparing places for those who died without hope, who thought they were cut off from salvation.
Do not you just love it when a plan comes together?