The Last Great Day: Shemini 'Azeret

By COGwriter

The seven day Feast of Tabernacles occurs in the the and is immediately followed by the eighth day. Christians normally call this the ''Last Great Day'' based on statements from Jesus (John 7:37-38). This day is not given a specific name in the Hebrew scriptures other than "the eighth day" (Leviticus 23:36,39). (A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.)

In later times, Jews started to call it Shemini 'Azeret. Shemini, Sh'mini, or Shmini (שְּׁמִינִי) is the Hebrew word for "eighth" and 'azeret means a time of assembly. The Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906 states:


Eighth day of Sukkot, "'azeret" being the name given to it in Lev. xxiii. 36; Num. xxix. 35; Neh. viii. 18; II Chron. vii. 9. The eighth day of Sukkot is not mentioned in Deut. xvi., and is found only in those parts of the Bible known as the Priestly Code. Like "'azarah" (Amos v. 21; Isa. i. 13; Joel i. 14), "'azeret" denotes "day of assembly," from "'azar" = "to hold back" or "keep in"; hence also the name "'azeret" given to the seventh day of Pesah (Deut. xvi. 8). Owing, however, to the fact that both the eighth day of Sukkot and the seventh day of Pesah are called "'azeret," the name was taken to mean "the closing festival."

During the time of the Second Temple, Shebu'ot received the specific name of "'Azarta" (Josephus, "Ant." iii. 10, § 6; Pes. 42b, 68b), said to signify "the closing feast" of Passover (see Pesik. 193a). Commenting upon this fact, the Rabbis say (ib.): "The closing feast of Sukkot ought rightly to have been, like that of Pesah, on the fiftieth day; but, in order not to force the people to make another journey to Jerusalem in the rainy season, God fixed it as early as the eighth day." Another comment upon the name "'azeret" is as follows (ib.): "Whenever the people of Israel assemble in the houses of worship and instruction, God 'keeps in' His Shekinah with them." For the meaning of "'azar" Judges xiii. 15 is referred to. This is further illustrated by the following similitude (ib.): "A king gives to a large circle of friends a banquet which lasts seven days. When these have expired he says to his son: 'During these days of feasting we have had little opportunity of enjoying each other's company. Tarry ["be kept back" = "he'azer"] a day longer, that we may rejoice while holding a simple feast together.' So God speaks to Israel thus: 'During the seven days the Sukkot feast with its seventy bullocks for sacrifice was meant for the seventy nations [see Nations and Languages] of the world. Let this eighth day be a simple feast with one bullock and one ram as a sacrifice to express thy unique relation to Me'" (comp. Num. xxix. 35-37).

The peculiarities of Shemini 'Azeret in the liturgy are the following:

"The present-day celebration of Shemini 'Asseret includes a prayer for abundant rains" (Shemini 'Asseret in the Tenakh. Judaic Seminar Volume 6 Number 60. ;5/20/03).

The Jews also teach "azeret is used in Numbers 29:35. It’s a time for judgment. Its judged for water" (Explaining Shemini Azeret. Hillel’s Joseph Meyerhoft Center for Jewish Learning., June 4 2003).

When is this prayer (or phrase of praise) recited? It is always done on Shemini Atzeret:

Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem" is inserted into the blessing "describing" His indescribable Might, as the Source of life-giving rain. You are eternally mighty, my Lord, the Resuscitator of the dead are You; abundantly able to save" ("Mashiv HaRuach U'Morid HaGeshem" The Jewish Prayer for Wind and Rain (scanned material from ArtScroll Sukkot Machzor), June 10, 2003).

"The Mishnah explains that rain during Sukkot would drench the lattice-roofed sukkah, and so would feel to those who were living there like a curse rather than a blessing. So the prayer for rain should wait till the sukkah dwelling was complete" (SEED FOR WINTER — SH'MINI ATZERET, CHAPTER IV: From Seasons of Our Joy (Beacon, 1990) By Arthur Waskow., June 13, 2003).

Shemini 'azeret basically means the eighth day of assembly in Hebrew. Here is one thing that Jews in Germany have done on it and some other days:


Memorial service, held, according to the German ritual, after the readings of the Law and the Prophets in the morning service on the eighth day of Pesah, the second of Pentecost, the eighth of Sukkot (Shemini 'Azeret), and the Day of Atonement. In memory of a father the following is recited:

"May God remember the soul of my respected father,--, son of--, who has gone to his eternal home; on whose behalf I vow as alms--; may his soul be bound up in the bundle of life [see I Sam. xxv. 29] with the souls of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, and all other righteous men and women that are in the Garden of Eden, and let us say, Amen."

The same prayer is recited in memory of a mother, with a change in gender; he whose father and mother are dead says both prayers. There is another formula for grandparents and for other kindred, and a special prayer for such as have died as martyrs for the faith. (Hazkarat Neshamot. Jewish Encyclopedia of 1906. viewed 09/19/14)

Christians use the term 'the last great day' because of what Jesus said on it:

37 On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." (John 7:37-38)

According to an old, but probably modified in the 4th century document, it seems that Polycarp observed the Feast of Tabernacles in the second century including the Last Great Day:

I will give the narration in order, thus coming down to the history of the blessed Polycarp...

So also he pursued the reading of the Scriptures from childhood to old age, himself reading in church; and he recommended it to others, saying that the reading of the law and the prophets was the forerunner of grace, preparing and making straight the ways of the Lord, that is the hearts, which are like tablets whereon certain harsh beliefs and conceptions that were written before perfect knowledge came, are through the inculcation of the Old Testament, and the correct interpretation following thereupon, first smoothed and levelled, that, when the Holy Spirit comes as a pen, the grace and joy of the voice of the Gospel and of the doctrine of the immortal and heavenly Christ may be inscribed on them. And he said that they could not otherwise receive the impression of the seal which is given by baptism and engrave and exhibit the form conveyed in it, unless the wax were first softened and filled the deep parts. So also he thought that the hearts of the hearers ought to be softened and yield to the impress of the Word. For he said that it unfolded and opened, like closed doors, the minds of recent comers; and accordingly the prophet was bidden by God, Cry out mightily and spare not, Raise thy voice as a trumpet. What must one say, when even He that was gentler than all men so appeals and cries out at the feast of Tabernacles? For it is written; And on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried saying, If any man thirsteth, let him come to Me and drink. (Pionius, possibly. Life of Polycarp (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp.488-506.)

Although it is adjacent to the Feast of Tabernacles, this eighth day is considered a separate Feast (Leviticus 23:36, 39. This eighth day helps picture the coming "Great White Throne Judgment" at which all of humanity that had not previously been truly called will have the chance to hear the real Gospel and accept God's offer salvation (see also Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation and Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants).

It may be of interest to note that the same basic Greek term for 'great' is used in both John 7:37 (for the day) and in Revelation 20:11 (for the white throne). In John 7, Jesus was quoting from the Book of Isaiah 55.

While pagans have had holidays for the dead, the Last Great Day is really the "Day of the Dead." That is those that were spiritually and physically dead will be resurrected to have their opportunity for salvation (see also  Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism and Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation).

The Book of Revelation teaches:

4 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. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6 )

So, the first resurrection is for the true Christians--and the resurrection for the rest of the dead comes 1000 years later.

This holy day points to what happens to those in the second resurrection.

Isaiah wrote:

20 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.
21 They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22 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.
23 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.

24 "It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer;
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.
25 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. (Isaiah 65:20-25)

All not part of the first resurrection, will have one hundred years. All who ever lived will have an opportunity for salvation.

Furthermore, the Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholic saint Irenaeus in the following passage, shows that in the second century, the idea that God would resurrect people and provide an opportunity for salvation was clearly known:

Then, too, Isaiah himself has plainly declared that there shall be joy of this nature at the resurrection of the just, when he says: "The dead shall rise again; those, too, who are in the tombs shall arise, and those who are in the earth shall rejoice. For the dew from Thee is health to them." And this again Ezekiel also says: "Behold, I will open your tombs, and will bring you forth out of your graves; when I will draw my people from the sepulchres, and I will put breath in you, and ye shall live; and I will place you on your own land, and ye shall know that I am the LORD." And again the same speaks thus: "These things saith the LORD, I will gather Israel from all nations whither they have been driven, and I shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the sons of the nations: and they shall dwell in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell in it in peace; and they shall build houses, and plant vineyards, and dwell in hope, when I shall cause judgment to fall among all who have dishonoured them, among those who encircle them round about; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God, and the God of their fathers." Now I have shown a short time ago that the church is the seed of Abraham; and for this reason, that we may know that He who in the New Testament "raises up from the stones children unto Abraham," is He who will gather, according to the Old Testament, those that shall be saved from all the nations, Jeremiah says: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, who led the children of Israel from the north, and from every region whither they had been driven; He will restore them to their own land which He gave to their fathers" (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verse 1. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

Interestingly, when the Roman Catholic Inquisitor Bishop Bernard Guidonis was disposing of heretics in the 1300s, he noted that some believed the following:

Again, they say that after Antichrist's death these spiritual individuals will convert the entire world to the faith of Christ; and the whole world will be so good and benign that there will be no malice or sin in people of that period, except perhaps for venial sins in a few of them; and all things will be common as far as use is concerned; and there will be no one who offends anyone else or encourages another to sin. For there will be the greatest love among them, and there will be one flock and one pastor. According to some of them this period and condition will last for one hundred years. Then, as love fails, malice will creep back in and slowly increase until Christ is, as it were, compelled to come in universal judgment because of it. (BERNARD GUI: INQUISITOR'S MANUAL, Chapter 5. Translated by David Burr, History Department, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. 04/09/07).

Here is some of what the late Herbert W. Armstrong taught about the Last Great Day:

This eighth day, technically a separate feast, is called "the last day, that great day of the feast" (John 7:37).

What does this final holy day represent?

Notice what Jesus preached about on that day: "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink . . . out of his belly [innermost being] shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive . . .)" (John 7:37-39).

This was Jesus' sermon giving the meaning of the last great day!

Now turn to Revelation 20. After the Millennium, what happens? A resurrection! The dead stand before God. This couldn't include true Christians today, as they will appear before the judgment seat when Christ returns. . . Those in this resurrection must be those who died in ignorance in past ages! They are not brought to life until after the Millennium (Revelation 20:5).

This is that judgment day mentioned in Matthew 10:15. It is a time when Gentiles who died in ignorance will be given an opportunity to receive salvation. Ezekiel 16:53-55 makes this very plain. Even those in Israel who died in their sins will be given their first opportunity to understand the truth of God and His way (Ezekiel 37). The prophet wrote that God would pour out His Spirit on those resurrected (verse 14). This is precisely the salvation that Jesus mentioned in His sermon on that great day of the feast in the autumn of AD 30.

This eighth day, which immediately follows the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles, pictures the completion of the plan of redemption. It is just prior to the new heaven and the new earth. All parents and children, young and old will be resurrected. Notice that the "book of life" typifying salvation is opened (Revelation 20:12). Revelation presents the final view of the "judgment day" as the present material heaven and earth are perishing and the faithful are receiving their eternal reward at the throne of Christ. The wicked those who disobey are seen perishing in the lake of fire! What a marvelous plan! All will have an equal opportunity (Armstrong HW. Pagan Holidays--or God’s Holy Days—Which?, booklet).

Isaiah prophesied how long the White Throne Judgment period would last. During this time Christ and the resurrected saints will rule. It is the time of the second resurrection. The earth will be as peaceful and productive as the Millennium itself. Children who died will live again for one hundred years, building character through the power of God's Holy Spirit. Older people who had died without knowing God's plan for them will also be resurrected to live for one hundred years. The close of the one-hundred-year White Throne Judgment is pictured by John in Revelation 20:11-12…100 years of testing…Isa. 65:20. (Bible Correspondence Course, Lesson 39. 1954, 1965 Edition).

A major reason that I became part of the old Worldwide Church of God (the group that took over WCG stopped observing biblical holy days) and remain part of the genuine Church of God is that in addition to proving all things from the Bible, I truly believe that since "God is love" (1 John 4:16) that He has a plan of salvation that will ultimately result in everyone being called and nearly every one who ever lived being saved.

Two must read books to demonstrate the truth of those doctrines are Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism and Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation.

The Elect are Those Being Saved in this Age

God has a plan.

Revelation 21:6 shows:

6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts..."

Does this sound like Jesus intends that salvation will be available to all or only a relative few?

2 Corinthians 5:14-15, Paul teaches:

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

Notice that Paul clearly teaches that Jesus has died for all. Not a few elect (like the Calvinists teach), not the relative few that accept Christ in this age (as most Protestant/Baptist/Evangelicals teach), not a minority of humankind (as most Roman Catholics teach).

For Jesus to die for all, ALL must have an opportunity for salvation. And since God is all knowing, certainly He knows how to have a plan of salvation where the most possible will be saved.

God is love (1 John 4) and God's plan is one of love. God is wise enough to have a plan of salvation that makes sense and actually works!

But most do not understand God's plan or the timing of it.

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter explains:

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Even though Jesus came so that all could be saved, He was not originally sent to call everyone in this age as He taught in Matthew 15:24:

24 "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Similarly, notice what He taught in John 4:22:

22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

And that this would CHANGE in John 4:23-24:

23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

Acts 3:19-21, Peter states:

19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

Notice that the Bible makes clear that the idea of the times of restoration of all things, the apocatastasis, is not just a term limited to Acts 3:21 (where the Greek term apokatastasis is actually used), but that Peter is teaching that it is what God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began--essentially this is the theme of the Bible--how the God of love will offer salvation to all.

Notice that this time of restoration IS NOT YET here for all. But that it will come to pass.

Luke 1:68-75, notice what Zacharias was inspired to say after the birth of John the Baptist:

68 "Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
69 And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David,
70 As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets,
Who have been since the world began,
71 That we should be saved from our enemies
And from the hand of all who hate us,
72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers
And to remember His holy covenant,
73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:
74 To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.

Please stop, think, and consider that Satan (a word that means enemy or adversary) and other enemies have always been around, but that a time for all is coming where there will not be any enemies of the true faith. This simply has not yet been fulfilled, but will come to pass.

After a section in Isaiah (30:8-17) that Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition calls "Doom of incorrigible sinners," notice what God has recorded in Isaiah 30:18:

18 Therefore the LORD will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.

So, no, this section in Isaiah is NOT about the ultimate doom of sinners, but instead shows that God will have that He may have mercy on them (to learn what happens to those who actually are incorrigibly wicked, please see the article Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up?).

Furthermore, notice this passage in Isaiah 49:13-15:

13 Sing, O heavens!
Be joyful, O earth!
And break out in singing, O mountains!
For the LORD has comforted His people,
And will have mercy on His afflicted.

14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me,
And my Lord has forgotten me."

15 "Can a woman forget her nursing child,
And not have compassion on the son of her womb?
Surely they may forget,
Yet I will not forget you..."

God will not forget, though many act like He does. He will also have mercy. Mercy is so important, ithat the English term "mercy" is shown 282 in the NKJV of the Bible. Notice, for one other example, how Jesus referred to it in Matthew 23:23:

23 ... the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.

The expression "mercy seat" is used 28 times in the Bible (NKJV). Why would God have made so many instructions related to His mercy seat if He planned to pass only eternal condemnation at the white throne judgment of Revelation 20?

Obviously, since there is a mercy seat (cf. Exodus 25:17-22; Hebrews 9:5), this is a clue that God plans to have mercy.

While judgment will happen in Revelation 20:11-12 will happen and people will be found guilty (as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God per Romans 3:23), it will not be eternal condemnation. Why? Notice what James 2:13 teaches:

13 ... Mercy triumphs over judgment.

While God has mercy on some now, God will have mercy on those not called to be firstfruits in this age and this teaching will be hard for many to understand now as Romans 11:30-33 teaches:

30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

So, notice that God INTENTIONALLY is allowing some to be disobedient now, so that they will get mercy later and that those called now (the firstfruits) will have mercy now. And God has done this so that He might have mercy on all--this apparently could not have happened any other way. The only way for God to have mercy on ALL is for salvation to be offered to all in a manner they can properly comprehend.

These concepts are offensive to many. Because of their traditions, miseducation, biases, and pride, many cannot accept that is so merciful. Many who followed Jesus were offended after He spoke and turned away from Him, despite seeing miracles (see John 6:1-66; see also Living as a Christian: Strong Meat). Many will not believe what we in the Continuing Church of God point out that the Bible teaches--this includes most who claim to believe the Bible.

Only those who intentionally reject God's mercy, will be destroyed in the lake of fire, the second death (Revelation 20:14) to put them of of their misery (cf. Revelation 21:4 and section IX).

Reasons like this are why God 'hardened Pharaoh's heart' (Exodus 9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10;14:8). Now Pharaoh actually hardened his own heart a couple of times first (Exodus 8:15,32) as well as at least once after God did (Exodus 9:34), and Pharaoh was not in a place he would truly repent in that age. God, however, had a plan that would be best for not only the Israelites, but also the Egyptians and ultimately Pharaoh himself. The plan included the death of Egpytians (e.g. Exodus 14:8-9), whose hearts God also hardened (Exodus 14:17-18). Yet, God did not view the loss of life of the Egyptians who followed Israel across the sea and got stuck and drowned (Exodus 14:26-28) as truly lost--as He knew His plans for them (e.g. Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 19:19-25). According to Samuel, Pharaoh and the Egyptians hardened their own hearts and Samuel urged that the people should not follow their example (1 Samuel 6:6). Some, however will harden their hearts now and not truly wish to be part of the firstfruits of God's plan, though all should who hear the truth (cf. Acts 17:30).

James 1:18, James wrote about firstfruits:

18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Romans 8:23, Paul wrote the following:

23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit.

Recall that it was the Holy Spirit that was first given on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). And that was a type of the firstfruits of the Spirit.

Who are the firstfruits according to Revelation 14:4-5?

4 These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

But what about Jesus? Wasn't He a type of firstfruits?

Yes, He certainly was. Paul notes in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:

20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

Christ is the fulfillment of the wave sheaf offering in Leviticus 23:10. He is the sheaf of firstfruits. He also fulfilled that role when He ascended into heaven on the Sunday (the wave sheaf offering was on a Sunday) after He was resurrected (John 20:1,17). But neither He nor His true followers observed what is now called Easter.

Does not the concept of a firstfruits specifically imply that there will be later fruits? Also, the Day of Pentecost is also called, "the feast of firstfruits" in the Bible (Exodus 34:22). And even today, it pictures that God is only calling some now, but will call all others later (more information is in the article Pentecost: Is It More Than Acts 2?).

1 Timothy 2:1-6, Paul wrote:

1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time...

Notice that God desires that all are to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Can not God make His desire, His will, come to pass? Also notice that Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for all--not just the relatively few elect--and His testimony will come to pass in due time. Are some improperly judging before due time?

The Former and Latter Rain

The firstfruits are called now, they are part of an earlier rain, but a latter rain will come when it is time:

24 Let us now fear the Lord our God,
Who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season.
He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest. (Jeremiah 5:24)

3 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth. (Hosea 6:3)

23 Be glad then, you children of Zion,
And rejoice in the Lord your God;
For He has given you the former rain faithfully,
And He will cause the rain to come down for you —
The former rain,
And the latter rain in the first (Joel 2:23).

This latter rain that will come in the future represents a harvest according to James 5:7:

7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.

Others will be called later and we should patiently wait for that time.

In the lead article for the first issue of the Hope of Israel, published by the then Church of God (Adventist) [later renamed Church of God (Seventh-day)], there was a teaching to the effect that Pentecost represented the former rain, but that a latter rain was to come:

The churches of God in Wisconsin, looking for the appearing of the Lord, and the same class of churches in Iowa and some of the same faith in Illinois, have taken their stand upon the word of God contained in the prophets of Jehovah, and the apostles of Christ, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; admitting no other authority for their faith, practice and discipline; yet are we waiting for the latter rain, spoken of by Joel 2:23. If, as Peter said on the day of pentecost, that which then was seen in the apostles was a fulfilling of the prophecy of Joel, surely it was but the former rain; and the latter rain is yet to come, attended with wonders in the heavens and in the earth and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call. (Davison S. Letter from Iowa to H.S. Dille. Hope of Israel, Vol. 1, August 10, 1863, p. 1)

In the 20th century the old Worldwide Church of God taught this related to God’s plan and the former and latter rain:

To keep His children constantly in the true understanding of His great PLAN of salvation, Christ — the Lord of the Old Testament — originally took the yearly agricultural harvests of Palestine as a TYPE OF God's SPIRITUAL HARVESTS of human beings.

In Palestine there are two annual grain harvests. First, produced by the EARLY rain, is the SMALLER SPRING HARVEST. Second, produced by the "latter rain," comes the main harvest — the much GREATER FALL HARVEST.  …

The FIRST THREE festival periods, beginning with the Passover, are MEMORIALS of the first part of God's Plan. They picture only the firstfruits of Christ's labors.

The LAST FOUR festivals look forward to the future and show how God will reap THE LATTER GREAT FALL HARVEST OF BILLIONS OF PEOPLE! (Lesson 33 - The Passover - Christ's Sacrifice Begins God's Master Plan. Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1969)

Now, the latter rain has to do with the coming great harvest that will come after this age. It may involve 60 to 100 billion or so people.

The old Radio Church of God taught:

Joel 2: … The rain spoken of in verse 23 is dual — a spiritual as well as a physical rain which produces great physical abundance. God is now giving the former rain of the Holy Spirit "moderately" — producing the small harvest of firstfruits. There is to be a correspondingly larger "latter rain" of the Spirit to produce the greater spiritual harvest … a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit — and hence, of salvation — is typified by and associated with increased rain on desert areas … Compare also Isaiah 44:3 and John 7:37-39. (Lesson 38 - The Feast of Tabernacles - The World Tomorrow. Ambassador College Correspondence Course, 1965).

Isaiah was inspired to write:

3 For I will pour water on him who is thirsty,
And floods on the dry ground;
I will pour My Spirit on your descendants,
And My blessing on your offspring; (Isaiah 44:3)

The ‘dry bones’ are raised and given their opportunity for salvation (Ezekiel 37:4-10). That day is coming.

The firstfruits are called now, they are part of an earlier rain, but a latter rain will come per Hosea 6:3:

3 Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

This rain that will come in the future represents a harvest according to James 5:7:

7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.

Others will be called later and we should patiently wait for that time.

Before going further, understand that the ecumenical 'latter rain' teaching that certain Pentecostals and others have is in biblical error. For details, see the article: Beware: Protestants Going Towards Ecumenical Destruction! and/or the free online book: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation.

Ephesians 1:10, Paul states:

10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth--in Him.

Notice when He will gather all: in the dispensation of the fullness of the times. Does your church teach this? If not, does it really understand what the Bible teaches.

Psalm 77:7-9 asks:

7 Will the Lord cast off forever?
And will He be favorable no more?
8 Has His mercy ceased forever?
Has His promise failed forevermore?
9 Has God forgotten to be gracious?
Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?

Since the intended answer to all those questions is "no", then it should be obvious that a time for God to be favorable and pour out His mercies will still come.

Isaiah 25:9 teaches:

9 And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; We have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; We have waited for Him; We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation."

Notice that these people are not yet saved. This is a time in the future. When is the time? Actually it is the time the veil over then nations will be destroyed (Isaiah 25:7)--then salvation will come to many!

Isaiah 40:5 teaches about something has not yet happened:

5 The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Psalm 65:1-2 shows that there is a time in the future that all flesh will come to God:

1 Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; And to You the vow shall be performed. 2 O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.

Does your church really understand that ALL FLESH will come to God?

Things Will Change

Psalm 22:27-28 teaches :

27 All the ends of the world
Shall remember and turn to the LORD,
And all the families of the nations
Shall worship before You.
28 For the kingdom is the LORD's,
And He rules over the nations.

Has this happened? Are not many of the original families of the earth dead as nearly all perished in the great flood? Thus, this is something other than the millennium. This is a prophecy for the future when all will truly have an opportunity for salvation.

Psalm 72:4-5 teaches:

4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people;
He will save the children of the needy,
And will break in pieces the oppressor.
5 They shall fear You
As long as the sun and moon endure,
Throughout all generations.

Has this happened? Is this not for the future? Since this discusses "all generations" is it only for a millennium?

Some have asked how Philippians 2:12-13 will apply to those that are called later:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

But many scriptures cited in this paper show that people, at or after the time of the white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-13), will fear (e.g. Psalm 64:9; 67:7; 72:5)--and repentance will be required (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:25-32). And as far as trembling, Hosea 11:10-11 teaches:

10 "They shall walk after the Lord. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, Then His sons shall come trembling from the west; 11 They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, Like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses,"

In the future, they will loathe themselves as Ezekiel 20:43-44 shows:

43 And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. 44 Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name's sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel," says the Lord God.

Psalm 86:8-9 teaches:

8 Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
9 All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.

Since there are nations that died out during the flood and afterwards, how can this be unless God has a time in the future for this to occur?

Notice that while God currently lets the nations weary themselves in vain, Habakkuk 2:13-14 shows that eventually all will have knowledge of God:

13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,
And nations weary themselves in vain?
14 For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
As the waters cover the sea.

The fact that it is of God that they now do not, clearly supports that God will offer salvation when He decides.

Philippians 2:9-11, Paul states:

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Notice that every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord. How can they do that if they did not even hear the name of Jesus Christ in this life? Now it is important to distinguish just acknowledging Jesus is the Christ does not grant salvation--even the demons know (James 2:19). But certainly acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ is an important step and one that is necessary for salvation (Acts 2:38-39;4:10-12).

Lamentations 3:31-33, Jeremiah teaches that God has a plan of compassion for those He has cast off:

31 For the Lord will not cast off forever. 32 Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies. 33 For He does not afflict willingly, Nor grieve the children of men.

He does not afflict willingly, but according to His mercies for the plan which will allow Him to show the most possible compassion.

Jeremiah 16:19-21 shows that Jeremiah asks and then God answers that once God will cause those Gentiles who inherited lies to to come to Him:

19 O Lord, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You
From the ends of the earth and say,
"Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things."
20 Will a man make gods for himself,
Which are not gods?

21 "Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know,
I will cause them to know
My hand and My might;
And they shall know that My name is the LORD.

God will at that time (after "the day of affliction") cause them to know Him. This simply has not yet happened, but will. And notice that this will be a time that people will realize that they have relied on false religious ideas of others (often called traditions). An article of related interest may be Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings.

Ephesians 2:4-7, Paul states:

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Notice that His grace is shown in the ages to come. Has your church judged before the time?

Titus 2:11, Paul states:

11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men (NKJV)

Has the grace of God yet appeared to all men? Of course not. Thus, there is certainly a prophetic implication of this passage by Paul.

What about the expression "has appeared"? Does that mean that God's grace has been seen already by every one? No. There is a mistranslation of word order.

Here is the literal word order:

2014............. 1063...3588..5485. 3588. 2316. <9999 >......... 4992....3956.. 444
hath appeared... For.. the... grace... of.... God...that bringeth.....salvation to (Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright (c) 1994 by Biblesoft).

Thus a more literal translation is that:

It has appeared that the grace of God brings salvation to all men.

The Mace New Testament renders it:

For the divine savour has display'd its salutary effects to all mankind: (Titus 2:11)

Paul goes on to state that for those who now know, they need to living Godly lives in this present age (Titus 2:12).

1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul states:

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.

Notice that God will be praised and that judgement is not be before the time when the Lord comes. Why then do most professing Christians have a judgement that condemns most who have ever lived?

1 Corinthians 15:28, Paul states:

28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.

Notice that this prophesy specifically states that a time is coming when all things will be subject to Him. This will be the time that all who have not had an opportunity will have an opportunity for salvation.

Revelation 21:3 teaches:

3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Notice that there is a future time when they shall be His people.

As the following verses show, the truth of God will be hidden until a certain time:

Matthew 10:26:

26 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.

Mark 4:22-23:

22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. 23 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.

Luke 8:17-18:

17 For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. 18 Therefore take heed how you hear.

Luke 12:1-2:

2 For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.

It should be clear to all that God has His time table for when He will have the truth known in order to call all. And that that time has not yet come. It happens in the "age to come":

Matthew 12:32:

32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

Mark 10:29-31:

29 So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

Luke 18:29-30:

29 So He said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life."

Hebrews 6:4-6:

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

The fact that almost all sins, including blasphemy against Jesus can be forgiven in the "age to come," shows that even current sinners can still be forgiven after the resurrection (see also What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?). The fact that many of the first shall be last and the last first shows that there will be some called later in the age to come. The fact that the time all who blasphemed the Holy Spirit will realize that they are the only ones NOT forgiven in the "age to come" shows that all others can be (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?).

Notice that God is willing to forgive all iniquities for those blinded who will respond in Isaiah 43:8-9 and 25-26:

8 Bring out the blind people who have eyes, And the deaf who have ears. 9 Let all the nations be gathered together, And let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, And show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; Or let them hear and say, "It is truth."

25 "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. 26 Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted.

Notice the following parable in Mark 4:30-32:

30 Then He said, "To what shall we liken the kingdom of God? Or with what parable shall we picture it? 31 It is like a mustard seed which, when it is sown on the ground, is smaller than all the seeds on earth; 32 but when it is sown, it grows up and becomes greater than all herbs, and shoots out large branches, so that the birds of the air may nest under its shade."

Most simply do not understand that Jesus was teaching that although His kingdom would start off small, that eventually it would encompass the world--He was teaching that salvation would be available to more later than when He spoke (more on this parable can be found in the article Parable of the Mustard Seed).

Ephesians 3:8-11, Paul mentions that he was going to be able to preach things hidden to some of the Gentiles:

8 To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord,

Colossians 1:26-28, Paul says about the same thing:

26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

The mystery has to do with God's plan to offer salvation. It was HIDDEN from generations, hence there was no way that most could have had salvation prior to Christ. And it is still a mystery that most do not know even today.

Jesus made it clear that the purpose of the parables was so that most would not be able to understand the MYSTERY and be converted today in Mark 4:11-12:

11 And He said to them, "To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, 12 so that 'Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.'"

Now let's look at Isaiah 65:19-20:

19 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.

20 "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.

Notice that the above shows that there will be some who after things are restored who will be accursed. Thus while most will accept the offer of salvation, some few sadly will wish to remain in their sins ("sin is the transgression of the law," 1 John 3:4, KJV).

1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul tells Christians:

5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.

Notice that the time of final judgment has not yet come.

But, because most who claim Christ do NOT keep the biblical holy days, they do not understand God's plan.

Will Salvation Be Offered to All?

Will people who were dead and not in Christ be resurrected to the flesh with an opportunity for salvation? Yes!

1 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. 2 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. 3 And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

4 Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 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."'"

7 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. 8 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.

9 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."'" 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

11 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!' 12 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. 13 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. 14 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.'" (Ezekiel 37:1-14)

Will salvation be offered to all who ever lived?


Notice what the New Testament and the Old Testament plainly teach:

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)

20 Our God is the God of salvation. (Psalm 68:20).

10 And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

Since most who claim some version of Christianity believe that what they teach is at least partially supported by scripture, the free online book Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation which contains a listing of hundreds of verses in the Bible supporting apocatastasis, as well as related comments, may be helpful for those who wish to receive their doctrine from the Bible.

People will do more than seeing the salvation, such as viewing the glorified Jesus.

Jesus clearly taught that all would hear God and those who respond would be raised on the last day:

40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day. ... 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' (John 6:40, 44-45)

Isaiah was inspired to write:

13 All your children shall be taught by the Lord,
And great shall be the peace of your children. (Isaiah 54:13)

This has not yet happened--it is for the future. All shall be taught by God! That includes those who have long been dead.

Those Gentiles Who Have Been Subject to Condemnation Will Have an Opportunity for Salvation

Micah 7:18-19 teaches:

18 Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
19 He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.

Is your God going to pardon iniquity for a few or nearly all of the guilty? Does God retain His anger forever? No. Does He delight in mercy? Yes. Will He later give His truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham? That is what the Bible teaches. Is this what your church teaches?

Ezekiel 11:16-20 and 36:24-38 both record that God is going to convert many sinners so that they will walk in His statutes:

16 Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Although I have cast them far off among the Gentiles, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet I shall be a little sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone." ' 17 "Therefore say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel." ' 18 "And they will go there, and they will take away all its detestable things and all its abominations from there. 19 Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My judgments and do them; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God..."

24 For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. 29 I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. I will call for the grain and multiply it, and bring no famine upon you. 30 And I will multiply the fruit of your trees and the increase of your fields, so that you need never again bear the reproach of famine among the nations. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations. 32 Not for your sake do I do this," says the Lord GOD, "let it be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel!" 33'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. 34 The desolate land shall be tilled instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass by. 35 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.' 36 "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." 37'Thus says the Lord GOD: "I will also let the house of Israel inquire of Me to do this for them: I will increase their men like a flock. 38 Like a flock offered as holy sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem on its feast days, so shall the ruined cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they shall know that I am the LORD." ' "

Notice that the above has never been fulfilled by Israelites going back to the Middle East as God has YET to give them a new heart. Surely God has a plan to offer salvation to those who many now feel are lost.

Notice Daniel 12:2-4:

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase"

The above passage shows that death is like sleep. It also refers to a resurrection to everlasting life and resurrection to shame and to everlasting contempt. Notice that those who are wise will shine and still, after they shall awake, turn many to righteousness. Since they cannot turn those who are raised to everlasting contempt to life, who are they turning to life?

Obviously, those who were dead and not dead in Christ are those that are among the many that are turned to righteousness. Thus, the Bible clearly shows that there is a future offer of salvation past this current life and many will be turned to righteousness--many are then converted.

Jesus taught in Matthew 10:15 that those in Sodom and Gomorrah will do better than those who intentionally reject the message:

14 And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. 15 Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!

If the fate of Sodom is already eternal condemnation, how could it be better for them than for others?

Matthew 11:20-26, notice what Jesus stated:

20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."

25 At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. 26 Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight."

Notice the Jesus clearly teaches that some, like Sodom, will still have a chance and that this knowledge is hidden to many of the wise of this world.

Ezekiel 16:55 teaches that it was known that Sodom would return:

55 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate (KJV).

What does your church teach is the fate of Sodom? Does it teach that they will have an opportunity for salvation? If not, how do they explain Ezekiel 16:55?

Matthew 12:38-42 teaches:

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, "Teacher, we want to see a sign from You." 39 But He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.

Notice that contrary to the views of what passes as mainstream "Christianity," there will be a difference in judgment in the end.

Now God destroyed Sodom for its wicked works (Genesis 18:20;19:24)--wicked works, that according to Paul's writings make it impossible for them to inherit the Kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). If what most Protestants believe is correct, then all in Sodom will be destroyed and will be no better off than those in Capernaum--but that is a clear contradiction of what Jesus taught.

Luke 10:8-15, Jesus taught:

8 Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. 9 And heal the sick there, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.' 10 But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 11 The very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.' 12 But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that Day for Sodom than for that city. 13 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14 But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. 15 And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be thrust down to Hades.

Notice that Jesus is holding those to a higher standard who saw miracles and should have understood His message, than those who were idolaters, pagans, and sexually immoral (including those that lived in Sodom). Jesus makes this concept clear in many other passages.

Does your church teach you that it will be more tolerable for certain non-Christians at the judgment than for others? If not, does it really understand the Bible?

Mark 6:10-11, notice what Jesus taught:

10 Also He said to them, "In whatever place you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. 11 And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!"

God completely destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins. Yet, Jesus says that it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than those who had some understanding but would not accept it.

Psalm 90:3 teaches:

3 You turn man to destruction, And say, "Return, O children of men."

God is teaching that He turned humans over to destruction--He allowed sinners to die--yet notice that He teaches that He is going to have them return. Does your church teach anything like this?

Twenty-six times in its twenty-six verses, Psalm 136 states:

For His mercy endures forever.

Why would God have to repeat that so much if He did not have a plan involving His mercy for more than this age? The expression "His mercy endures forever" is found 41 times in the NKJV and the version "his mercy endureth for ever" is found 33 times in the Douay-Rheims Bible. God wants ALL to realize that He really is merciful. Many who profess Christianity do not understand God's mercy.

Notice that Psalm 107:1-3 teaches:

1 Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
3 And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

Thus, God is going to have mercy to those turned over to the enemy (the devil) because God's mercy endures forever--Ambrose of Milan referred to this verse--and stated "this is the privilege not only of a few" (see article Hope of Salvation). When scripture refers to those gathered from all over in this manner, it often is referring to those who have died. Jesus also alluded to this verse in Matthew and Luke:

10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 8:10-11)

29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last. (Luke 13:29-30)

Jesus was teaching that Gentiles will be part of the kingdom. And, I and others believe this means more than just a few.

Psalm 145:14 teaches:

14 The LORD upholds all who fall, And raises up all who are bowed down.

It should be clear that is God intending to raise up more than a few who fall.

Psalm 25:8 reveals:

8 Good and upright is the LORD; Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.

Is He only intending to teach a few sinners or all sinners? God is not a respector of persons (Acts 10:34 KJV).

Hebrews 8:11-12, states:

11 None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

Notice that the time is coming when all shall know the LORD. And notice that God is saying that He will forgive their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more. Does your church understand this?

Isaiah 46:12-13 teaches:

12 "Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, Who are far from righteousness: 13 I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, For Israel My glory.

Note, according to the marginal reference in the Nelson Study Bible, page 640, the word linger is perhaps better translated as "delayed." Hence, God is teaching that those who were "far from righteousness" will have a time when God will not delay salvation, but bring it. This is not just a reference for Gentiles who will come to accept Christ in this age, this is a reference to an age to come.

One of the psalms, Psalm 66:3-4, teaches:

3 Say to God, "How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. 4 All the earth shall worship You And sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.

Notice that this is a prophecy. All the earth has not yet worshipped God. All the enemies who would have been alive when that verse was written thousands of years ago have long since died. But this passage shows that they will submit to God. This is considered to be an awesome work through God's great power. Does the God you worship have the power to offer salvation to all so that even His enemies will submit to Him?

Isaiah 29:13-14, teaches:

13 Therefore the LORD said:

"Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths
And honor Me with their lips,
But have removed their hearts far from Me,
And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
14 Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work
Among this people,
A marvelous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden."

Thus, those who have been deceived by human traditions of false worship can be saved. And many have been! (See Tradition and Scripture: From the Bible and Church Writings).

Also notice the following from Jeremiah 30:9-10:

9. But they shall serve the LORD their God, And David their king, Whom I will raise up for them. 10 'Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,' says the LORD,
'Nor be dismayed, O Israel; For behold, I will save you from afar...

In John 7:37-38, Jesus is referring to Isaiah 55. Isaiah 55:1-5 teaches:

1 "Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
3 Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you--
The sure mercies of David.
4 Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
5 Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the LORD your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you."

The above is not simply a reference to Gentiles becoming Christians as most Protestant commentators think. It is David that is the witness to the people. This is the same David that is prophecied to rule over the nations of Israel in the future (Ezekiel 37:24; Jeremiah 30:9). Thus, this is a prophecy for a later time. The simple truth is that even after Jesus came, the statement "nations who do not know you shall run to you" has simply not been fulfilled. I know of not one nation, let alone nations, that have run to become true Christians. What has happened is that after Greco-Roman "Christianity" became the religion of the empire, many were forced to become "Christians" and those that have followed them have almost never followed the Christianity of the Bible.

If some of that confuses you, recall that in Isaiah 55:8-11 God teaches that even though we think different than God that His word will not return void:

8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Furthermore, notice what Isaiah 56:1-2 teaches:

1. Thus says the LORD:

"Keep justice, and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come,
And My righteousness to be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
And the son of man who lays hold on it;
Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil."

If the salvation to come is simply the first coming of Jesus, then should not all Christians keep the Sabbath as both salvation and the Sabbath are part of the same quote? Does your church teach that one is "blessed" who does not defile the Sabbath? (You may also wish to read the verses that follow it, like Isaiah 56:3-8 as it makes it clear that foreigners-Gentiles-also are to keep the Sabbath.)

Also, notice the following from Isaiah 66:23:

23 And it shall come to pass
That from one New Moon to another,
And from one Sabbath to another,
All flesh shall come to worship before Me," says the LORD.

Notice that all flesh will worship God on the Sabbath. This has not yet happened.

In Isaiah 57:16-18 it teaches that God will not always be angry and that He will heal the souls He has made:

16 For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; For the spirit would fail before Me, And the souls which I have made.
17 For the iniquity of his covetousness I was angry and struck him; I hid and was angry, And he went on backsliding in the way of his heart.
18 I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him, And restore comforts to him
And to his mourners.

Thus, even those who sinned that God punished (struck) and hid from, God will lead them back! Does your minister proclaim this?

Isaiah 62:1-5 shows:

1 For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns.
2 The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name.
3 You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God.
4 You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights in you, And your land shall be married.
5 For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.

Notice that salvation is being discussed and that includes Gentiles and lands that were desolate and that God will delight in them. This is not simply a reference to Gentiles who accept Christ in this age, as they were not referred to in the Hebrew scriptures as "Forsaken." Versions of the Hebrew term "azuwbah" translated as "Forsaken" are used many times in the Old Testament to refer to Israelites (NOT Gentiles)--God is apparently using that term because most seem to feel that the Gentiles prior to Jesus' first coming were forsaken--which, however, they were not. Most also seem to feel that most people dwelling in lands that basically do not accept any version of Christ today are in that forsaken category. But again, recall that God states that they are not forsaken. Which means, according to Isaiah 62, that God has a plan of salvation for them.

Also notice that in Isaiah 65:1-5, God declares that even those who eat unclean meat and did not seek God will be called:

1"I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, 'Here I am, here I am,' To a nation that was not called by My name.
2 I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, Who walk in a way that is not good, According to their own thoughts;
3 A people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; Who sacrifice in gardens, And burn incense on altars of brick; 4 Who sit among the graves, And spend the night in the tombs; Who eat swine's flesh, And the broth of abominable things is in their vessels;
5 Who say, 'Keep to yourself, Do not come near me, For I am holier than you!' These are smoke in My nostrils, A fire that burns all the day.

Notice that these people were not originally called. They even provoked God to anger by eating swine (a biblically unclean animal), but notice that they will find God even though they did not seek Him!

Isaiah 66:17-19 teaches:

17 "Those who sanctify themselves and purify themselves,
To go to the gardens
After an idol in the midst,
Eating swine's flesh and the abomination and the mouse,
Shall be consumed together," says the LORD.
18 "For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory.
19 I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles.

Even though He will punish those who eat unclean meat, notice that they will be gathered and declared God's glory among the Gentiles. God's glory among the Gentiles is when He calls them all and offers them salvation. Those who believe in the elitist approach that God is only going to save "good" Roman Catholics and/or Protestants and condemn the vast majority of eaters of unclean meats to fry in torment forever are in clear error.

Romans 8:19-21, Paul states:

19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.

Notice that the creation was not subjected to futility willingly. And that the creation is waiting to be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. The entirety of creation is awaiting apocatastasis.

Hosea 2:23. Here is what a Protestant author wrote on this verse:

God had said that he would name these children as a sign to his people, but there would come a day of restoration:

"And I will have pity on Not-Pitied,
and I will say to Not-My-People,
'You are my people;'
and he shall say, 'Thou art my God.'" {Hos 2:23 RSV}

So that even in this time when God was announcing judgment, his grace also was being shown. (Stedman Ray. O.T. Prophetical Books).

That author is correct on that point. God specifically has foretold a time of restoration through the prophets. And those that were not His people, will become His people.

Romans 11:32-33, Paul states:

32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

Notice that God's plan has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all. Also notice that Paul is teaching that God's mercy and judgment is apparently not easy for most to figure out.

Is it someone's fault that they were born in an area that no one knew or taught Christ?

Notice that God knew that most would not at first obey, but that He has a plan to have mercy on them.

Romans 11:13-15, Paul states:

13 For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14 if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. 15 For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Notice that Paul is teaching that those being cast away can have acceptance after they are given life from the dead (see also vss 26-27). Paul is clearly teaching what is consisting with the CCOG view of apocatastasis.

God desires that all will be saved:

3... God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

Those not called in this age, those who never really had an opportunity for salvation, will realize their guilt in the judgment.  At risk of repetition, it should be pointed out that the Bible teaches:

13 Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

Those willing during the Last Great Day will be called into a covenant with God. Those who refuse by rebelling will not become part of spiritual Israel (cf. Romans 2:29). During this time of judgment, God will plead with people, who by then should realize that they have sinned and need salvation through Jesus Christ--the only name under heaven whereby men can be saved (Acts 4:10-12).

God will be able to contrast His ways with the ways of humankind. When those resurrected see how humans started out with a very good and beautiful Earth, then messed up and nearly completely destroyed it (Revelation 11:18) in their 6,000 years, they will realize that it was not wise for humankind to distance itself from the true God. He will apparently point out Satan’s role in deceiving humankind (Revelation 12:9) as well as show how insignificant Satan really is (Isaiah 14:12-16). He will apparently point out the dangers of individual sin and lust (James 1:14-15) and point out how well humanity did during the millennium.

God will apparently point out that He had to intervene to stop the destruction of all flesh (Matthew 24:22). He will mention that He will have implemented His kingdom for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:4-5). God may also to point out how well humans did during this millennium (Isaiah 35:1-10; 41:20; 51:3). And He will apparently explain that to all that since each individual is unique and can give love in a unique way, that He has a special purpose of each individually (John 14:2-3) to complete God’s plan (cf.1 Corinthians 12:12-27), an eternity so great that is now beyond their comprehension (1 Corinthians 2:9). Nearly all who ever lived will accept God’s offer of salvation—and part of the reason why will be because they will how well humanity did following God’s ways during the utopia known as the millennium.

Some Few Will Willfully Reject God's Generous Offer But Their End Will Be Swift

Jesus taught a parable which shows that the time will come when those on the outside will hear the message:

21 Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' 22 And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' 23 Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. (Luke 14:21-23)

God will plead with humankind. Isaiah 3:13 shows:

13 The LORD stands up to plead, And stands to judge the people.

Ezekiel 20:33-38 states:

33 "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. 34 I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. 36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you," says the Lord GOD. 37 I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; 38 I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD.

Jeremiah 25:31-33 teaches:

31 A noise will come to the ends of the earth--For the LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,' says the LORD." 32 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Behold, disaster shall go forth From nation to nation, And a great whirlwind shall be raised up From the farthest parts of the earth. 33 "And at that day the slain of the LORD shall be from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth. They shall not be lamented, or gathered, or buried; they shall become refuse on the ground..."

Thus while God will plead His case with all flesh and most will listen, those that are wicked will be eliminated and refuse on the ground (see also Malachy 4:3).

Although "the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23), eternal death is not the penalty for most sins. Most sins, but not all, will be forgiven as there is only one sin that truly leads to death, per 1 John 5:16-17:

16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death.

Hebrews 10:26-27 teaches:

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries...

Notice that there are some who will be devoured by fiery indignation because they intentionally are rejecting the sacrifice of Christ. This punishment is the Gehenna fire that Jesus referred to. Thus, while all will be offered salvation, some will not accept it.

Deuteronomy 7:10-11, Moses explains that God will destroy those that will not keep His commandments:

10 and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. 11 Therefore you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.

Do you observe His commandments, statutes, and judgments? (See also The Ten Commandments: The Decalogue, Christianity, and the Beast.)

Since "God is love" (1 John 4:16), eternal punishing in torment is NOT His plan.

Matthew 10:28, Jesus taught:

28. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell {Gehenna}.

There would be no need for Jesus to say the above, unless there would be some who refuse salvation. But again, this is a very small amount. And notice that they are destroyed. We in the CCOG do not teach that human souls will be tortured throughout eternity. Notice that Jesus taught that in Gehenna souls are destroyed.

While the punishment is permanent, and in that sense everlasting, it is short--the actual punishment is NOT continual torment throughout eternity.

The wicked who will not repent will be totally destroyed:

1 Do not fret because of evildoers,Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. 2 For they shall soon be cut down like the grass,And wither as the green herb. ...
9 For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord,They shall inherit the earth. 10 For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. ...
20 But the wicked shall perish; And the enemies of the Lord,Like the splendor of the meadows, shall vanish.Into smoke they shall vanish away. ...
28 For the Lord loves justice, And does not forsake His saints They are preserved forever, But the descendants of the wicked shall be cut off. ...
38 But the transgressors shall be destroyed together; The future of the wicked shall be cut off. (Psalm 37:1-2,9-10,20,28,38)

2 As smoke is driven away,
So drive them away;
As wax melts before the fire,
So let the wicked perish at the presence of God. (Psalm 68:2)

1 "For behold, the day is coming,
Burning like an oven,
And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
And the day which is coming shall burn them up,"
Says the Lord of hosts,
"That will leave them neither root nor branch.
2 But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings;
And you shall go out
And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
3 You shall trample the wicked,
For they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet
On the day that I do this,"
Says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 4:1-3)

The Bible calls this the 'second death':

11... He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:11)

6 Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. (Revelation 20:6)

14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:14)

8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (Revelation 21:8)

Thus, it is a type of death, but permanent. It is not eternal torturing like many claim. Jesus came so we would not have to PERISH, but have eternal life:

6 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

(Some have asked about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16. For details, please check out the article The Rich Man and Lazarus.) Since it is appointed to people to die (Romans 3:23), the PERISHING has to do with what happens after the resurrections.

James 5:11 states:

11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord--that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

Permanent torment is not merciful nor very compassionate--but putting the wicked permanently out of their misery is.

Nahum 1:12 teaches:

12 Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more;

Thus, this prophetic book is teachings that there is not a permanent torturing affliction.

Notice the following verses:

25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:25-26)

Related to those verse, Herbert Armstrong commented:

And then there will be no more death. Everyone will be immortal from that time on and everyone who is not made immortal will be put to death and burned up. Perished. Gone. As if they’d never been born in the first place. Just go back to dirt. (Armstrong HW. Bible Study on 1 Corinthians 15. October 3, 1980)

Having no more death (Revelation 21:4), happens after the THIRD resurrection (Revelation 20:13-15). At the third resurrection, repentant people are resurrected immortal and the wicked who refused to repent will arise and those wicked will then be burnt up and become ashes (Malachi 4:3).

Revelation 21:4 teaches:

4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." 5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

There will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain. Thus there will not be an ever burning torment and torture of sinners throughout eternity. All things will become new.

The wicked (those who will not repent) will be burned up and will be ashes (Malachi 4:1-3). This is not an everlasting torment, but a destruction of those that refuse God.

Recall that Jesus taught that the souls of people can be destroyed in gehenna. Here is a different translation of Matthew 10:28:

28 And be not afraid of those killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in gehenna (Young's Literal Translation).

Thus, the wicked (including their soul) can, and will, be destroyed.

Psalm 68:2 teaches:

2 As smoke is driven away, So drive them away; As wax melts before the fire, So let the wicked perish at the presence of God.

Notice that the wicked are to perish.

Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28, Jesus teaches about what is commonly referred to as "the unpardonable sin" (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?):

31 "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

28 "Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they may utter; 29 but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation"

Notice two very important points:

  1. Jesus taught with one exception every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven in this age or in the age to come. Thus, contrary to those who claim that God has passed final judgment upon everyone who died before the white throne judgement mentioned in the Bible (Revelation 20:11-12), God has not already condemned all non-believers. This is also consistent with 1 John 5:16-17, to cite another example.
  2. There is one sin, and one sin only, that will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Therefore, although almost everyone will be forgiven/pardoned and have the opportunity for salvation, there will be some small amount--those who blaspheme against the Spirit--who have been condemned.

And who are those that have blasphemed against the Spirit?

Those who clearly knew the plan of God, but would not humble themselves enough to accept and live it. These are the incorrigibly wicked (to learn what happens to the incorrigibly wicked, please see the article Are The Wicked Tormented Forever or Burned Up?). This is part of why very few really understand now. God is only calling few now so that more will not blaspheme the Holy Spirit and not ultimately be saved.

Yet notice, that the Psalms and Proverbs do show that God will save those He considers to be the humble:

4 He will beautify the humble with salvation (Psalm 149:4).

Apparently all of those who will humble themselves and accept God's offer are able to be saved. But this will not happen until after the seeds of the gospel are laid and come to fruition in harvest in the age to come. Notice Mark 4:26-29:

26 And He said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, 27 and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how. 28 For the earth yields crops by itself: first the blade, then the head, after that the full grain in the head. 29 But when the grain ripens, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come."

Romans 11:23 makes it clear that some who did not originally believe will be saved:

23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

Notice that the above says that "God is able to graft them in again." God is making it clear that a future time of salvation is coming.

Isaiah 29:24 shows that those of the house of Jacob who have erred will learn:

22 Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:

"Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale; 23 But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel.

24 These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine.

This has not yet happened and is for the future!

If you are a Protestant, please ask yourself when and how the above prophecy is going to be fulfilled unless God has a plan to offer salvation after the resurrection?

Paul was even prevented from preaching the gospel in certain areas as Acts 16:6-7 shows:

6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them.

Those people were denied an opportunity then, but will get this opportunity later!

Isaiah 44:17-18 reveals that God has prohibited idolaters to have proper understanding, but in verse 22 He indicates they will be forgiven:

17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, His carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, Prays to it and says, "Deliver me, for you are my god!" 18 They do not know nor understand; For He has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, And their hearts, so that they cannot understand...22 I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, And like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

Thus, is God going to permanently condemn those who worship idols for what He has not let them understand?

Protestant theology tends to say yes.

Those in the Church of God say no. Unless the idolater has committed the unpardonable sin (which is unlikely; see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?) they will be judged as other uncalled people are.

Romans 11:26-27, Paul quotes the Hebrew Bible and states:

26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
27 For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins."

Notice that Paul is teaching that all Israel will be saved. And that the Deliverer (Jesus) will take away their sins. Yet most Jews have never professed Christ. Certainly God has a plan that involves all the Jews and the rest of Israel.

Who is all Israel? It is all who will become spiritual Israel--but this does include most who were Jewish.

Romans 9:6-8,22-24 teaches us:

6 But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, 7 nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called." 8 That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed...
22 What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

Thus, it is not physical Israel, but spiritual Israel who will be saved.

Notice that Romans 2:11 teaches:

11 For there is no partiality with God.

Acts 10:34-35,45 also teaches something of this:

34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him..."And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

Since all Israel is to be saved and God shows no partiality, does not this mean that Gentiles should be part of spiritual Israel?

As Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20 points out, the gospel is to preached ALL nations. And Revelation 7:9-10 teaches that people will be saved from "all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues."

Romans 2:28-29, Paul notes:

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

Thus, most of the promises in the New Testament (and many in the Old) are NOT referring to physical Jews, but for those that God will call to be Christians.

All will have an opportunity for salvation, Israelite and Gentile, and nearly all will accept it. For more information check out: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation Related sermon videos include Universal Offer of Salvation I: God is love  and Universal Offer of Salvation II: The Age to Come and the 'Little Flock' and Universal Offer of Salvation III: All Are to Know Jesus, But When? and Universal Offer of Salvation IV: Will the Guilty be Pardoned? and Universal Offer of Salvation V: All Israel Will be Saved? A version of the main article was also translated in the Spanish language: Oferta universal de salvación: Hay cientos de versículos en la Biblia que apoyan la verdadera doctrina de la Apocatastasis.

Did the Jews Have a Clue?

Did the Jewish sages of old have any idea about this day and the Gentiles?


This eighth day was considered to be the day of rain. The Jewish Talmud includes the Mishnah (the first writing of the claimed oral law) and the Gemara (rabbinical discussion of the Mishnah). The traditions of the Talmud are not required for Christians, but sometimes can provide insights on at least certain Jewish understandings of some matters.

Notice some comments from Jewish sources:

"The greatness of Shemini Atzeres 2. [The Talmud teaches] 'the day of rain is greater then the day that heaven and earth were created.' There is a remez in this teaching to an idea which has been explained [in many seforim] that we need to join together the last days of the Yomim Tovim to Rosh HaShanah*. This is to fulfil the verse, 'to rejoice with fear.' [The rejoicing should be with fear and one should] not make the rejoicing one of foolishness. This teaching of the Talmud, 'the day of rain' is a remez for Shemini Atzeres. This is the day that we make a blessing for rain. [This is a prayer that we make asking HaShem to send rain when it is needed.]' The day that heaven and earth were created' refers to Rosh HaShanah the day on which heaven and earth were created. The day of Rosh HaShanah is also called 'the day of blowing.' The gematria* of the words 'heaven' [Heb. Shemayim] 'earth' [Heb. Aretz] are the same as'blowing.' [Heb teruah] This means that the day of Shemini Atzeres is as great as the day of Rosh HaShanah. (p. 60b sefer Ateres Yehoshua.Teachings of Rebbe Yehoshua of Dzikov.)" [CHASSIDUS BS'D DERECH HaBAAL SHEM TOV Ahavas HaShem, Ahavas Yisroel, Ahavas HaTorah THE WAY OF THE BAAL SHEM TOV,, June 4, 2003].

So some think the Talmud says that this holy day is as great or greater than the day God created the heavens and the earth. Thus, perhaps Jewish writings suggest that the eighth day is perhaps the greatest day! The NIV uses the expression "the last and greatest day" in John 7:37.

Why might the ‘day of rain,’ the last high day, be the greatest of all days?

Although I am not certain why the Talmud indicates that, the Bible states, "The end of a thing is better than its beginning" (Ecclesiastes 7:8).

Could it be that some Jewish leaders, those who are supposed to have understood more than they often did (c.f. John 3:10), had some clue into the meaning of this date?

From a physical perspective, it makes no sense that the ‘day of rain’ would possibly be more important than the creation of heaven and earth. However, from a spiritual perspective, it would seem that the opportunity for the Holy Spirit would be more important than the physical creation. Hence the Church’s understanding that Jesus spoke on the eighth day and cried, " ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39) is consistent with why the ‘day of rain’ would be greater than any day of physical creation.

But there are other interesting statements in the Jewish literature about the eighth day:

"R. Joshua declared: The whole universe drinks from the water above the firmament.... The clouds swell and ascend to the firmament, where they open their mouths like a bottle and receive the rain water.... The clouds are perforated like a sieve and distill water to the earth. Between each drop of rain there is no more space than the breadth of a hair, which is to teach us that a day of rain is as great before the Holy One, blessed be He, as the day on which heaven and earth were created." (Taanit 9b /6/03).

The statement above is similar to the one previously quoted, though it suggests that, ‘a day of rain’ is only equal in greatness to the day of physical creation.

The sage Rabbi Abahu said: The day of rain is greater than the resurrection of the dead, because the resurrection of the dead benefits only the righteous, but rain benefits both the righteous and the unrighteous. (Babylonian Talmud, Ta'anit 7a) 6/6/03)

Rabbi Tanchum Bar Chiyah said: A day of rain is greater than the day on which the Torah was given. For the giving of the Torah brought joy to the Israelites, whereas a day of rain brings joy to all nations and to the entire world, including the animals and beasts (Midrash Shocher Tov on Tehillim 117). 6/6/03)

These quotes from the Jewish literature suggest, that at least from a Jewish perspective, that the eighth day, it truly the great, and possibly greatest, of all days. '

Now the New Testament teaches that there will be the first resurrection for the saints (Revelation 20:4-5) and the rest later (Revelation 20:5,12-13). Jewish writings seem to realize that something will happen to those not part of the first resurrection, that it will involve basically all others, and that something is good about it. Why else would they consider the eighth day the greatest of all days if it were not somehow very good?

Is This a Heretical or Orthodox Teaching?

Historically, most Protestant theologians tend to teach that having a future opportunity for salvation is heretical.

But that is not the case. It was written about in early religious literature in the first few centuries.

Furthermore, while the Church of Rome moved against this teaching in the 6th century and replaced it with the non-biblical doctrine of purgatory, many in the Eastern Orthodox still have some, at least limited, understanding of this.

Here is some of what Eastern Orthodox bishop Ambrose of Milan wrote in the late fourth century:

Isaiah also, proclaiming the resurrection to the people, says that he is the announcer of the Lord’s message, for we read thus: “For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, and they shall say in that day.” And what the mouth of the Lord declared that the people should say is set forth later on, where it is written: “Because of Thy fear, O Lord, we have been with child and have brought forth the Spirit of Thy Salvation, which Thou hast poured forth upon the earth. They that inhabit the earth shall fall, they shall rise that are in the graves. For the dew which is from Thee is health for them but the land of the wicked shall perish. Go, O my people, and enter into thy chambers; hide thyself for a little until the Lord’s wrath pass by.” How well did he by the chambers point out the tombs of the dead, in which for a brief space we are hidden, that we may be better able to pass to the judgment of God, which shall try us with the indignation due for our wickednesses. He, then, is alive who is hidden and at rest, as though withdrawing himself from our midst and retiring, lest the misery of this world should entangle him with closer snares, for whom the heavenly oracles affirm by the voices of the prophets that the joy of the resurrection is reserved, and the soundness of their freed bodies procured by the divine deed. And dew is well used as a sign, since by it all vital seeds of the earth are raised to growth. What wonder is it, then, if the dust and ashes also of our failing body grow vigorous by the richness of the heavenly dew, and by the reception of this vital moistening the shapes of our limbs are refashioned and connected again with each other? And the holy prophet Ezekiel teaches and describes with a full exposition how vigour is restored to the dry bones, the senses return, motion is added, and the sinews coming back, the joints of the human body grow strong; how the bones which were very dry are clothed with restored flesh, and the course of the veins and the flow of the blood is covered by the veil of the skin drawn over them. As we read, the reviving multitude of human bodies seems to spring up under the very words of the prophet, and one can see on the widespread plain the new seed shoot forth...

this is the privilege not only of a few: “For many shall come from the east and from the west, and the north and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God,”giving expression to the enjoyment of perpetual rest since the motions of their souls are stilled. We have seen, then, how grave an offence it is not to believe the resurrection; for if we rise not again, then Christ died in vain, then Christ rose not again. For if He rose not for us, He certainly rose not at all, for He had no need to rise for Himself. The universe rose again in Him, the heaven rose again in Him, the earth rose again in Him, for there shall be a new heaven and a new earth (Ambrose of Milan. Book II. On the Belief in the Resurrection, verses 67-69,101-102. Online edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight).

Even though it is not entirely clearly to them how, most of the Orthodox still teach that most may be saved according to some of its current leaders:

What exactly is the condition of souls in the period between death and the Resurrection of the Body at the Last Day? Here Orthodox teaching is not entirely clear...The majority would be inclined to say that the faithful departed do not suffer at all. Another school holds that perhaps they suffer, but if so, their suffering is of a purificatory but not an expiratory character. Yet a third group would prefer to leave the whole question entirely open: let us avoid detailed formulation about the life after death...There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God...several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is a legitimate hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day come, we must not despair of anyone's salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception (Ware, pp. 255,262).

The theory of apokatastasis has unofficially cost Gregory of Nyssa for many centuries recognition as a theologian of the rank of Basil, Gregory of Nazianzos and John Chrysostom, and was one of the reasons Origen was anathematized. Yet in some ways it can also be found in the theology of Maximos the Confessor, a Father of the Church who has often been considered the measure of orthodoxy in doctrinal matters and the summit of Orthodox theology. The ideas of Maximos can be connected to the concept of apokatastasis in three different ways. First, he has written some passages that pertain explicitly on the apokatastasis. Second, some issues examined in his writings can be connected with the apokatastasis, and this association has been drawn by certain scholars, but Maximos refuses to discuss them in detail, in the apophatic expression he borrowed from pseudo-Dionysios, "honoring the truth by silence". Third, Maximos' entire theological system of cosmic salvation and his views on what exactly is restored in the kind of apokatastasis recognized by the Church, can give us a good insight to his views on the possibility of a final restoration of all...

This kind of restoration presents an interesting point for us: to what extent did Maximos share Gregory's (and Origen's) view of final restoration of all as an eschatological certainty?

First, Maximos seems to compare the restoration of the soul to the resurrection of the body: that would mean that this kind of restoration applies to all and not only to the ones who have progressed sufficiently in the course of virtue. It is an ontological restoration then, something like a consequence of the resurrection of the body. Second, restoration of the souls seems to suggest the annihilation of evil, because the effects of sin are healed. This will be achieved by the expulsion of evil from the souls in the continuation of the ages. Finally, all restored souls will come to know God and see that he is anaitios tês hamartias, not responsible for the existence of sin, which is the same as saying they will know the true nature of good and evil. The "perverted" powers of the soul will then cast off the memories and the effect of evil, and in a way similar to the thought of Gregory of Nyssa, this involves punishment and purification. Maximos leaves the issue there: His restoration account goes as far as to state that every soul will have knowledge of "good things" (agatha – probably the energies of God), but not necessarily participation in them (Andreopoulos A. Eschatology and final restoration (apokatastasis) in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximos the Confessor. Theandros, An Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy. Volume 1, 3, 2004).

The Orthodox leader Maximos died in 662.  Thus, though they lack clarity about it, it appears that leaders within the Orthodox Church have held positions close to the genuine Church of God on the idea that salvation will be eventually offered to all, but not accepted by all. And even today, the Orthodox Church seems to believe in some version of restoration, which has sometimes been termed apocatastasis (see also Acts 3:21, which uses the Greek word apokatastasis). 

Eastern Orthodox Bishop Timothy Ware (who is now called Bishop Kallistos) wrote:

"What exactly is the condition of souls in the period between death and the Resurrection of the Body at the Last Day? Here Orthodox teaching is not entirely clear...The majority would be inclined to say that the faithful departed do not suffer at all. Another school holds that perhaps they suffer, but if so, their suffering is of a purificatory but not an expiratory character. Yet a third group would prefer to leave the whole question entirely open: let us avoid detailed formulation about the life after death" (Ware, p.255).

"There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God ... several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is a legitimate hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day come, we must not despair of anyone's salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception" (Ware, p. 262).

Andreas Andreopoulos wrote:

Gregory does not accept the restoration of all and the subsequent forgiveness of all as an inescapable necessity. Nobody will be saved without going through repentance, cleansing and forgiveness, and his view of the apokatastasis is merely the belief that everyone will be able to see truth as it is at the end, and everyone will be given the chance to repent...The restoration of all however, a valid possibility according to the Church, although not a doctrine, has a special place in the hopes of saints who pray for the redemption of their enemies, and it expresses our hope for the charity of God. Possibly the honorable silence expresses this hope, which in spite of the danger of determinism, becomes almost a certainty in this light: If even one human being is able to forgive and pray for the salvation of the entire cosmos, wouldn't God's providence find a way to make it happen? (Andreopoulos A. Eschatology and final restoration (apokatastasis) in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximos the Confessor. Theandros an Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Practice, Volume 1, number 3, Spring 2004. viewed 06/08/09)

Yes, all will have to accept Jesus (Acts 4:10-12) and repent (Acts 2:38) in order to be saved.

The idea that God's has a plan that could result in people accepting salvation at the last day is NOT heretical. And, at least parts of it have been embraced by some Eastern Orthodox leaders over the centuries--and even presently..

White Throne Judgment

The Last Great Day helps picture the Great White Throne Judgment.

During this Last Great Day — during the Great White Throne Judgment — free access to God will be open to all mankind for the first time. Revelation 19 and 20 describe the events leading up to and occurring during this period after the Millennium.

The White Throne Judgment

Back away about arm's length, for a moment, from Revelation 19 and 20. You will notice increments of signal events and times take shape before your eyes. Revelation 19 introduces us to the glorious and astounding return of Jesus Christ to a war-torn, shell-shocked world — to save humanity from itself! And Revelation 20 covers not less than five colossal events in God's salvation of most of humanity:

1) Christ incarcerates Satan and the demons (Rev. 20:1-3).

2) Christ establishes His 1,000-year reign (verses 4-6).

3) Satan is released after this Millennium and deceives the willing wicked, who are then destroyed (verses 7-10).

4) Christ judges the people, now resurrected, who lived during the first 6,000 years of human history on earth. This is the Great White Throne Judgment (verses 11-13).

5) The lake of fire, fueled by God, provides a merciful death for those who refuse to live God's way (verses 14-15).

Let's concentrate on the Great White Throne Judgment. This will be a time unprecedented in the annals of human salvation. At no time before or after will so many be resurrected and judged in such a short period of time! An estimate of the number of people to be resurrected might be about 50 billion!

Can we imagine the breathtaking scene when Christ will, by divine fiat, raise from the dead these untold billions to a vibrant physical existence? This judgment will require a period of time.

Where, in Scripture, is such a period discussed?

A 100-year period

Isaiah 65:20 mentions a 100-year life span that lends itself to the Great White Throne Judgment period. The context does paint a setting identical to that of the 1,000- year period (Isa. 11:6-10, 65:25), yet it appears postmillennial, too.

No other scriptural reference to a millennial setting of peace and prosperity hints of a 100-year life span. We know Jesus Christ will be the great Judge seated upon this Great White Throne (Acts 10:42, Rev. 20:11, 6:14-17). The very existence of the Last Great Day, following the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, indicates a distinct period for judging billions of human beings.

We know the "books" mentioned in Revelation 20:12 are the books of God's Word, the Holy Bible (John 12:47-48). And we know that the names of the faithful saints, those being mercifully judged during the White Throne Judgment, will be recorded and preserved in the book of life (Rev. 21:27). Since Christ will be the great Judge then, and since that same Christ will have ruled and judged for 1,000 years previous to this period, it should not seem surprising that the White Throne setting will be a continuation of the conditions to prevail during the Millennium.

Whether this 100-year life span is the time segment for the Great White Throne Judgment, it is sure that this special judgment does follow the Millennium, just as the eighth day or Last Great Day Festival follows the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles.

The very existence of this final annual festival indicates a separate and distinct period for judging billions of human beings. But how does judgment work?

Judgment misunderstood

Just as the time for humanity's salvation is misunderstood, so is the truth about judgment. Many professing Christians believe that judgment consists of Christ lining up humanity (this would require a very long line!), and pronouncing them either "sheep" or "goats" — deciding their eternal fate. But this is not Christ's judgment process.

Isaiah 65:20 explains how "the sinner... one hundred years old shall be accursed." What else but a judgment time period could account for the possibility that a sinner could live for 100. years under Christ's rule?

Judgment requires a judge, laws, a group ruled by the laws, knowledge of the laws, time to be judged, a verdict and execution of the verdict. Once one understands that godly judgment is not demagogic caprice, but a deliberate evaluation based on love for the participant's benefit, one can see the profound mercy of God (Rom. 5:6-9).

Judgment is a necessary blessing!

Why a white throne?

In Scripture, white can refer either to light or righteousness, which, spiritually, are one and the same (Rev. 19:8, 14). It's fairly plain, then, that the white throne in Revelation 20:11 implies a judgment effected in righteousness. The word throne in Revelation 20:11 means a stately seat or a potentate's seat or throne. It indicates a monarch who rules alone, with uncontested and unequaled power. This truly fits with Scripture, for before the Great White Throne Judgment begins, Satan and the demons will be cast into outer darkness, beyond the reaches of God's whole universe. They will be "wandering stars [fallen angels] for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (Jude 13).

In Isaiah 50:3, God says, "I clothe the heavens with blackness." Satan will not be around to contest Christ's righteous judgment of humanity during the White Throne Judgment! How great a judgment! Why is this particular judgment called a great one?

For two major reasons:

1) Jesus Christ, the Judge, is astonishingly great in all His makeup, purpose, mercy, power and love.

2) This particular judgment is great because of the untold billions upon billions of physical human beings who will be mercifully and lovingly judged at one time. Jesus personally observed the Last Great Day, for it was He who instituted the day to symbolize this very White Throne Judgment (John 1:1-3, 14). What Jesus knew, you can know.

That last and great day of the annual festival days foreshadows the greatest time of salvation for the greatest number of people at one time. How wonderful it is to know the truth! The prophet Ezekiel sheds light on those incredible numbers. The setting in Ezekiel 37 is postmillennial. Remember that the first resurrection, to occur as the Millennium begins, is to spirit essence (Rev. 20:4-6). The resurrection at the beginning of the White Throne Judgment, however, is to a physical state.

Here God resurrects the whole house of Israel, which had lived and died during mankind's first six millennia (Ezek. 37:1-2, 11). Israel may number into the billions themselves. But what of all the greater numbers of gentiles who also lived and died during that same period of time and who, too, will be awaiting their one and only opportunity to be judged and saved (I Tim. 2:4)? They will also be resurrected at that precise time.

The opportunities extended to Israel will also be offered to the gentiles (Rom. 2:9-10, Isa. 19:24-25).

Thank God this is not the only day of salvation (Isa. 49:8, Revised Standard Version).

The eighth day

Numbers in Scripture often carry special significance. The number 7, for instance, symbolizes completion or perfection, while the number 40 indicates trial or testing. The same is true in the case of the Last Great Day, which is referred to as the eighth day of the Feast (Lev. 23:36).

The word for the number 8 is related to a Hebrew word meaning "fatness," and can imply abundance, fertility, resurrection or regeneration. This last and great day of the annual festival days foreshadows the greatest time of salvation for the greatest number of people at one time.

Listen now to God's words of warning and encouragement concerning these latter days: "Give a serving to seven, and also to eight, for you do not know what evil will be on the earth" (Eccl. 11:2).

We are told, "Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days" (verse 1).

This exhortation should ring loud and clear to us in the context of the Last Great Day, for God sets the example, follows His own instructions and inspires us to do the same. God Himself will cast His spiritual bread upon the waters or nations of this earth both during the 1,000-year period, portrayed by the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, and during the Great White Throne Judgment, symbolized by the Last Great Day Festival or the eighth day of the Feast.

Following this White Throne Judgment comes a purging of this earth (II Pet. 3:10-11) and an end to human procreation and existence. But don't be sad — be happy and grateful! Your future spiritual body will be everlasting, while your physical one now is temporary. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (verse 13). What a glorious time! "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Rev. 21:4).

Will you be there?

Will you be waiting and anticipating throughout the millennial rule of Christ, while helping refurbish this earth for those billions to be resurrected at the beginning of the White Throne Judgment? Someone will! And those who will be there at the dawning of that Last Great Day will be waiting as spirit beings — already literally born as spirit-composed children of almighty God and younger brothers of our Savior, Jesus Christ (Dan. 12:3). At Jesus Christ's Second Coming, humanity will be saved from extinction because of a tiny group of "elect" people (Matt. 24:22). A similar lopsided ratio will be apparent at the raising of multiple billions of people at the beginning of the White Throne Judgment. By comparison, the number of those who will already have been born into God's Family, though numbering in the hundreds of millions or billions, will be small.

But those children of God — you among them — will have the tremendous opportunity to help the rest of humanity fulfill its awesome potential and also be born into God's Family. Never will so many owe so much to so few. And they, even now, are waiting for you! Please — be there! (Aust J. What the Last Great Day Means for You. Good News, October-November, 1983)

In its Statement of Beliefs , the Continuing Church of God states:

The Last Great Day helps picture that all who ever lived will have a real opportunity for salvation (John 7:37-38; Isaiah 52:10,13-15; 65:20; Luke 3:6)–an opportunity most will accept (John 7:37-39; Romans 11:25-26; Ezekiel 37:11-14; Hebrews 9:27-28; see also the free online book: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation). The New Testament name comes from the Apostle John who wrote, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37-38).

A sermon on this topic is also available: Shemini Azaret: The Last Great Day.

Two free online books of related interest may include Should You Keep God's Holy Days or Demonic Holidays? andUniversal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation.

Thiel B. The Last Great Day: Shemini 'Azeret. COGwriter (c) 2014/2015/2016/2017/2019 2020/2021/ 2022 /2023 0405

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