The Good News, in conjunction with the Correspondence Course Department, presents brief monthly excursions into the study of the Bible, delving into topics relevant to the development of future members of the God Family. Bible study is one means by which Christians are renewed daily (II Cor. 4:16), so let's refresh ourselves with more of the precious truths of God's Word!
Instructions: The format of these ministudies is similar to that of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Look up and read in your Bible the scripture references given in answer to the questions. Comments following the questions elaborate on the scriptures just read. That's all there is to it! (These studies are based on the King James Version of the Bible, unless otherwise stated.)
We have seen how those called of God through the ages — especially since the first coming of Christ to the end of the Millennium -fit into God's great master plan.
But what about the billions of people from the time of Adam to our time (including perhaps most of your loved ones) who were not called of God — who never had a chance to know the spiritual truth of God? How are they to learn of salvation and God's purpose for mankind?
The answer is revealed in the final step in God's great master plan.
20. Does the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles end God's plan for humanity? Or is it God's will that all who have ever lived come to the knowledge of salvation? II Pet. 3:9; I Tim. 2:4.
God has, in His loving concern for all mankind, planned for everyone who has ever lived to receive the very same opportunity for salvation and sonship in God's Family that all spiritually called and begotten children of God have been given. And so just as the week is not complete without the Sabbath day, God's master plan is not complete without His seventh and final annual Holy Day.
The number seven in the Bible signifies completion and perfection. Without the knowledge of this seventh annual Holy Day, you can't under stand the perfection of God's great master plan — that God's mercy to mankind extends even beyond the Millenn.ium.
21. Was there an eighth day of worship held immediately following the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles? Lev. 23:34-36. Is it the final festival — the final annual Sabbath of rest? Verse 39.
The last annual high Sabbath is observed immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles. But because of its close proximity to this feast, it was associated with the Feast of Tabernacles and was called the "eighth day. " In the New Testament it is referred to as "the last day, that great day of the feast" (John 7:37).
22. Revelation 20 holds the key to the meaning of the Last Great Day. As we already know, verses 4-6 essentially speak of the resurrected saints ruling with Jesus Christ on earth for 1,000 years. But exactly what is said in the first sentence of verse 5?
These are not the dead in Christ, but simply the dead — those billions who were not Christ's, those who have never been begotten and converted — who may have never even heard the name of Jesus Christ.
The first part of verse 5 in the King James Version is in reality a parenthetical comment. The verse should read: "(But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.) This is the first resurrection."
The sentence, "This is the first resurrection," pertains to the context of verses 4 and 6 and refers to the spiritual resurrection of the righteous dead at Christ's return and just before the 1,000-year period begins. "But the rest of the dead [those who never had a chance to understand God's truth and participate in God's great master plan] lived not again [would not come up in a physical resurrection] until the thousand years were finished." This resurrection, which occurs after the 1,000 years have elapsed, is the second resurrection in time order.
23. How does John further elaborate on the second resurrection? Rev. 20:11-13. How are these people judged? Verse 12.
The Greek word translated "books" in Revelation 20:12 is biblia. It is from this word that we derive our English word bible.
The "books" that are opened are the books of the Bible. They will be opened to the understanding of the billions of people who have never yet heard the name of Christ or been able to understand God's Word because the Father had not yet called them (John 6:44, 65).
This vast resurrection to mortal life begins, their period of judgment. I Peter 4:17 shows that Christians today are now being judged (not sentenced) by how well they live by the Word of God — the Bible. Those resurrected after the Millennium will be "judged" the same way. These individuals will be given enough time to live a life of overcoming and obedience to God, just as Spirit-begotten Christians do today. Those who continue to live God's way of life will then be changed from mortality to immortality at the end of this period of judgment.
24. How did Jesus refer to this special "day," or period of judgment for people who have yet to hear the wonderful message of salvation? Matt. 10:15; 11:20-24; 12:41-42.
25. Where else in the Bible is this second resurrection described? Ezek. 37:1-14. Are these dead clearly raised to mortal, physical life requiring the breath of life to sustain their physical existence? Verses 5-10.
26. What is God's promise to these resurrected peoples? Verses 13-14. Isn't this obviously the same outpouring of God's Holy Spirit that Jesus Christ spoke about in His enigmatic statement on the "last great day"? John 7:37-39.
Recall in chapters 10, 11 and 12 of Matthew that Christ first mentioned the people of Sodom and Gomorrha. Then in order: Tyre and Sidon, Sodom again, Nineveh in Jonah's time and finally the Queen of Sheba. All of these examples (people who lived in different generations) are compared to the citizens living in the cities and towns of Jesus' generation (the vast majority of whom did not understand or believe Christ's message). Jesus tells us that they all are to be resurrected with the generation that lived during His time.
Jesus gave enough examples of generations of people living at widespread and different times in human history to substantiate the fact that most of humanity will be alive at the same time on this earth. There will be pre-Flood men and women, all 12 tribes of Israel, those who lived during the Middle or Dark Ages and the vast majority living now. They will all rise in the second resurrection simply because they had not been called during their previous lifetimes.
This group includes all people of all times everywhere on this earth, except, of course, those who will be in the first resurrection, or those relatively few incorrigibly wicked who will be resurrected in the third and final resurrection to have their part in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15) and become ashes under the soles of those already born into God's Family (Mal. 4:1-3). This incorrigible group understood God's truth and had the opportunity to receive eternal life, but deliberately rejected it.
In this brief three-part Ministudy we learned that God's annual Sabbaths and their related festivals not only teach us and remind us of His plan of salvation, they point us directly to our Savior, Jesus Christ. He is "our passover" (I Cor. 5:7). It is by "putting on" Christ (Rom. 13:14) and His law that we put sin out of our lives, as pictured by the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Christ is the first of the "firstfruits," and it was after His resurrection that He sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was sent to spiritually beget those whom the Father would call, thus enabling them to fulfill His law, grow spiritually and finally become born of God's Spirit at Christ's return.
It is Christ who is going to intervene in world affairs, as pictured by the Feast of Trumpets. As King of kings and Lord of lords, Christ will put down the despotic influence of Satan, the arch-deceiver, as portrayed by the Day of Atonement. With the influence of the devil now gone, all mankind will have the opportunity to become "at one" with Christ and the Father through baptism and the receipt of the Holy Spirit.
Christ is coming to set up His government and to rule the earth for a thousand years, making this world a veritable utopia, as pictured by the Feast of Tabernacles. Millions will be born into the Family of God during this golden age. Spirit-begotten Christians, whom the Bible calls "saints," are now preparing the way for and are representatives of that Kingdom.
Finally, Christ will make salvation available to everyone who ever lived but never heard or really understood the truth. The Last Great Day pictures this last judgment period.
God's Church today has retained the precious truth concerning God's great master plan and purpose here on earth for you! Around the world God's true Church, composed of converted, holy, Spirit-begotten children of God, is faithfully observing all of God's festivals every year.