'The Last Day, That Great Day' That's what the Bible calls it. It represents one of the most important and exciting steps in God's plan for humanity. And yet, amazingly, most people have never heard of it!
Uncle Earl? He was one of the most terrific people you would ever want to know. Always jovial and good natured, he would bend over backward to help anybody in need. He was a hard worker, a real asset to his community. But Uncle Earl was not a Christian. He couldn't get interested in the idea that hundreds of disagreeing church denominations could represent God. So he died without ever "accepting Christ." Think about it. Surely you know one or perhaps several individuals just like Uncle Earl. By normal standards, they are "good" people. Yet they make no claim to be Christians. After they die, exactly what happens to them for all eternity? Will God toss them into an ever-burning hell and punish them forever merely because they were disenchanted by what the world calls Christianity? And what about some who, before this day is over, will starve to death in Ethiopia? In all their lives many of them haven't even heard the name of Jesus Christ. Are they forever lost? Remember, before you answer, that the Bible says there is no other door into the Kingdom of God except through Jesus (John 10:1-12). "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
God's plan thwarted?
Where does that put all the billions of humans who have lived and died through the ages without becoming Christians, most without ever so much as hearing the only name by which they must be saved? They constitute the majority of mankind. Yet the Bible talks in terms of God saving — not losing — the majority of mankind: "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world [not just a little fraction of it — the world as a whole — at least a majority] through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). God is "not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9). Consider the ancient Israelites. If you've read the Bible to any extent, you are aware that God chose Israel to represent Him and to be an example of righteousness to all the other nations on earth. But the Israelites, with few exceptions, stubbornly rebelled against God, rejected His ways and through the centuries refused to surrender to Him. But that's not the end of the story. Whereas many theologians would tell you all those Israelites are forever doomed, the apostle Paul wrote that eventually "all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). Yes, all Israel — the overwhelming majority of Israelites — will be saved. How about that? Can God accomplish His goal? Is He mighty enough to save the world? Jesus said: "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many [the majority!] who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few [the minority!] who find it" (Matthew 7:13-14). Why did Jesus say that? Is Satan so clever and powerful that he is able to thwart God's plan and cause the majority of mankind to be lost forever? These are questions most theologians prefer to avoid altogether. They have no adequate answers. "I think" or "This is the way I look at it" is not sufficient. Yet an explanation is definitely called for. If people can be saved apart from accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, of what value or necessity is His sacrifice? On the other hand, if it is essential to be a Christian to be saved, as the Bible says it is, most humans who ever lived are lost, and God's plan certainly falls far short of being a huge success.
Most now blinded
Traditional Christianity has assumed that God is frantically trying to save the world now. Nothing could be further from the truth, as surprising as that may seem! Notice what Jesus declared when His disciples asked Him why He often spoke to the multitudes in parables: "To you [the small group of disciples] it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside [the great majority of people], all things come in parables" (Mark 4:11). Why? To make Jesus' teachings easier for the multitudes to understand, so that they would be converted? No! For exactly the opposite reason: to make the truth difficult to understand and to keep the multitudes from being converted. Jesus spoke in parables "so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn [repent], and their sins be forgiven them'" (verse 12). Did you ever wonder why Jesus, even though He was God in the flesh, was rejected by the masses and only had a little more than 100 followers at the end of His ministry? And this was in spite of the miracles and other evidences that He was the Messiah. The apostle John revealed why: "But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him... they could not believe, because...He [God] has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart" (John 12:37-40). God can use human nature or Satan himself to accomplish this blinding (II Corinthians 4:4), but it is God who is clearly in charge and responsible for allowing it to happen. It all started with Adam and Eve. They chose the way of disobedience to God and His holy laws, rather than the way of obedience. Ever since then, for almost 6,000 years, mankind has been cut off from its Creator and blinded to the great spiritual truths. For more information, read our free booklet A World Held Captive. The only exceptions to this spiritual blindness have been the few persons God has called down through the centuries and whose eyes He has opened (John 6:44). These are the "few" who have followed the strait and narrow way that leads to eternal life. The rest of humanity — the thousands of millions — have been allowed to do what seems right in their own eyes, to form their own governments, to wage and die in their own wars, to create conditions of misery, suffering and unhappiness — in short, to make a mess of everything until they know deeply and for sure that disobedience to God's laws never pays. Then, just when humanity is on the very verge of destroying itself in one final war, God will intervene directly in human affairs. God is dealing with all humanity in the same way He dealt with the ancient Israelites who rebelled against Him, for "God has committed them all to disobedience." Why? Not that He might condemn them all, but "that He might have mercy on all" (Romans 11:32). When? When is God going to have mercy on all those thousands of millions of blinded individuals? When is He going to have mercy on the wretched inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah? When is God going to have mercy on the deceived masses living at the time of the Babylonian Empire, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages or even today? When will God have mercy on all who have spent a brief lifetime on this earth doing what seemed right in their own eyes (Proverbs 14:12) — individuals small and great, mighty and weak, rich and poor, learned and illiterate, blinded to the truth of God? Yes, when is God going to have mercy on Uncle Earl?
Revealed in the Holy Days
The answer is revealed in the Holy Days God gave to His Church. They are a reminder of the major steps in the plan He is working out here on earth. You will find these Holy Days listed in time order in Leviticus 23, but they are mentioned many times throughout the Bible. The world, including traditional Christianity, does not observe God's Holy Days — His feasts — and for that reason does not understand how God is working out His plan. We are now approaching the season of the last four feasts of this year, according to God's sacred calendar. They are: the Feast of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:23-25 — September 16 this year, by the Roman calendar), the Day of Atonement (verses 26- 32, September 25), the Feast of Tabernacles (verses 33-38, September 30 through October 6) and one final feast called "the last day, that great day" in John 7:37 (Leviticus 23:36, October 7). What do these Feasts portray? The sequence of future events outlined in the prophecies of the Bible, especially in the book of Revelation, shows us. Our free booklet Pagan Holidays — or God's Holy Days — Which? offers a detailed study, but briefly, here is what they mean: The Feast of Trumpets portrays God's direct intervention in world affairs. It will be announced by angels blowing trumpets (Revelation 8 and 9). When the last trumpet is sounded, Jesus Christ will return to earth and the relatively small number of saints from down through history will be resurrected (Revelation 11:15-18, I Thessalonians 4:16-17). The Day of Atonement depicts the reconciling of humanity with God. Satan, the author of sin, will be bound in a "bottomless pit" for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). This 1,000 years, commonly known as the "Millennium," a time of happiness under the government of God, is portrayed by the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles (verse 6). All the people on earth during the 1,000 years will know God's truth. They will be taught it. They will live it. And world peace and prosperity will result. Now, what about the final Feast, the one called "the last day, that great day," or simply the "Last Great Day"?
The second resurrection
God's plan does not end with the Millennium. Thank God for that! If it did, the small number of people whom God converted during 6,000 years of human rule would indeed be in His Kingdom. And the huge harvest of persons who will be converted during Christ's millennial rule would be in God's Kingdom. But the majority of humans who ever lived — the thousands of millions who, from the time of Adam, were blinded and had no chance for salvation — would be left out. They would remain in the cold silence of the grave. For them, death would indeed be ultimately victorious. But that's not the way God planned it, and that's not the way it will happen. After the 1,000 years, "the rest of the dead" (verse 5) — the thousands of millions — will live again. They will be resurrected. "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all [note it — all!] shall be made alive" (I Corinthians 15:22). What wonderful news this is! This remarkable event is described in Revelation 20:11-13. John, in vision, saw God on His throne. "And," he wrote, "I saw the dead, small and great, standing [in a resurrection] before God, and books [Greek biblia, what we call the "Bible"] were opened [they were no longer sealed shut to the understanding of these multitudes]. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life [they all have an opportunity to receive eternal life]." This second resurrection is not a "second chance" for these masses to have salvation. They didn't have a chance before. This is the first (and only) chance these people will have to understand God's way and to receive His Holy Spirit! Continuing, "And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books." They are "judged" — not "sentenced" — "judged." This "judging" covers a period of time during which these people have God's truth revealed to them.
The second resurrection is the first (and only) chance the majority of humans will have to understand God's way.
Hebrews 9:27 clearly says, though few have noticed it, that "it is appointed for men [mankind in general] to die once, but after this [after they have died and are brought back to life in a resurrection] the judgment." Isaiah 65:20-25 indicates that everyone, from babies to the elderly, who is resurrected to this period of judgment will be given 100 years to learn to live by God's laws. If you have not yet read our reprint article "Is This the Only Day of Salvation?" be sure to read it today.
An exciting time
What a tremendous event this climax to God's plan for humans will be! Masses of people will be brought back to life. It will seem to them but a moment ago that they died, though thousands of years may have passed. Some died in wars, some died from illness, some were murdered, some committed suicide, some died in accidents or in concentration camps. Suddenly there they all will be, alive again, standing before members of the God Family, an enormous variety of cultures, languages and backgrounds. Those who were blind or crippled all their lives will see and walk for the first time. Those who died in bondage will now be free. How surprised they are going to be when they realize what has happened. All these masses are, going to have to be organized and taught God's ways. This will be a joy-filled, action-packed time. After this judgment is over, a few, the minority, who throughout history will have seen and known the truth, and who will have purposely rejected it, will be destroyed in the "lake of fire" (Matthew 25:41). But the majority of persons will join those already in God's Kingdom. They will share whatever magnificent plans God has in mind for the rest of eternity — thanks to God's mercy shed upon them in "the last day, that great day"!