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Love's Joyful Reunion

It is now, in the hour of utmost extremity, that the God of Israel will interpose for the deliverance of His chosen.

With shouts of triumph, jeering, and imprecation, throngs of evil men are about to rush upon their prey, when a dense blackness, deeper than the darkness of the night, falls upon the earth. Then a rainbow, shining with glory from the throne of God, spans the heavens and seems to encircle each praying company. The angry multitudes are suddenly arrested.

Signs and wonders follow in quick succession. The wicked look with terror and amazement upon the scene, while the righteous behold with solemn joy the tokens of their deliverance. Everything in nature seems turned out of its course. In the midst of the angry heavens is one clear space of indescribable glory, whence comes the voice of God like the sound of many waters, saying: “It is done.” Rev. 16:17.

That voice shakes the heavens and the earth. There is a mighty earthquake, “such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.” Rev 16:18. As the firmament appears to open and shut, glory from God's throne flashes through. The whole earth heaves and swells like the waves of the sea. Its very foundations seem to be giving way. Great hailstones, every one “about the weight of a talent,” [60-80 lbs.] are doing their work of destruction (Rev. 16:19, 21). Earth's proudest cities are laid low. Lordly palaces crumble to ruin. Prison walls are rent asunder, and God's people, who have been held in bondage for their faith, are set free.

Jesus approaches
Soon there appears in the east a small black cloud, about half the size of a man's hand. As it draws nearer the earth, it becomes lighter and more glorious, until it is a great white cloud, its base a glory like consuming fire, and above it the rainbow of the covenant. Jesus rides forth as a mighty conqueror. With anthems of celestial melody the holy angels, a vast, unnumbered throng, attend Him on His way. No mortal mind is adequate to conceive its splendor. As the living cloud comes still nearer, every eye beholds the Prince of life. A diadem of glory rests on His holy brow. His countenance outshines the dazzling brightness of the noonday sun. “And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Rev 19:16.

Upon the rejecters of God's mercy falls the terror of eternal despair. “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every freeman, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Rev 6:15-1 7.

The righteous cry with trembling: “Who shall be able to stand?” The angels' song is hushed. After a period of awful silence, the voice of Jesus is heard, saying: “My grace is sufficient for you.” The faces of the righteous are lighted up, and joy fills every heart. In joyful strains the saints exclaim: “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us.” Isa. 25:9.

Amid the reeling of the earth, the flash of lightning, and the roar of thunder, the voice of the Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. He cries: "Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!” Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live.

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep. but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." 1 Cor. 15:51-53.

All the redeemed come forth from their graves with the freshness and vigor of eternal youth. Christ's faithful ones, free from all blemishes and deformities, will appear in "the beauty of the Lord our God,” in mind and soul and body reflecting the perfect image of their Lord.

The living righteous are changed “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.” At the voice of God they were glorified; now they are made immortal and with the risen saints are caught up to meet their Lord in the air. Angels “gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” Little children are borne by holy angels to their mothers' arms. Friends long separated by death are united, and with songs of gladness ascend together to the City of God.

A Crown of Glory
Before entering the New Jerusalem, the Savior bestows upon His followers the emblems of victory and invests them with the insignia of their royal state. The glittering ranks are drawn up about their King, whose form rises in majesty high above saint and angel. His countenance beams upon them full of love. Upon the heads of the overcomers, Jesus with His own right hand places the crown of glory. For each there is a crown, bearing his own “new name” (Rev. 2:17), and the inscription, “Holiness to the Lord.” In every hand are placed the victor's palm and the shining harp. Then, as the commanding angels strike the note, every hand sweeps the harp strings with skillful touch, awaking sweet music in rich, melodious strains.

Before the ransomed throng is the Holy City. Jesus opens wide the pearly gates, and the nations that have kept the truth enter in. There they behold the Paradise of God, the home of Adam in his innocency. Then that voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, is heard, saying: “Your conflict is ended.” “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Adam Meets Jesus
As the ransomed ones are welcomed to the City of God, they see the Son of God standing with outstretched arms to receive the father of our race-the being whom He created, who sinned against his Maker, and for whose sin the marks of the crucifixion are borne upon the Savior's form. As Adam discerns the prints of the cruel nails, in humiliation he casts himself at Jesus' feet, crying: “Worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” Tenderly the Savior lifts him up and bids him look once more upon the Eden home from which he has so long been exiled. Faithfully did the fallen Adam repent of his sin and trust in the merits of the promised Savior. Now, through the work of the atonement, he is reinstated in his first dominion.

Adam looks about him and beholds a multitude of his family, redeemed, standing in the Paradise of God. Then he casts his glittering crown at the feet of Jesus and, falling upon His breast, embraces the Redeemer. He touches the golden harp, and the vaults of heaven echo the triumphant song: “Worthy, worthy, worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and lives again!” The family of Adam take up the strain and cast their crowns at the Savior's feet as they bow before Him in adoration.

Now is fulfilled the Savior's prayer for His disciples: "I will that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am.” Christ presents to the Father the purchase of His blood, declaring: “Here am I, and the children whom Thou hast given Me.” “Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept.” Oh, the rapture of that hour when the infinite Father, looking upon the ransomed, shall behold His image, sin's discord banished, its blight removed and the human once more in harmony with the divine!

It will be seen that He who is infinite in wisdom could devise no plan for our salvation except the sacrifice of His Son. And such is the value of the soul that the Father is satisfied with the price paid; and Christ Himself, beholding the fruits of His great sacrifice, is satisfied.

The Millennium

At the coming of Christ the wicked are blotted from the face of the whole earth-consumed with the spirit of His mouth and destroyed by the brightness of His glory. Christ takes His people to the City of God, and the earth is emptied of its inhabitants. It appears like a desolate wilderness. See Isa. 24:1, 3, 5, 6.

Foretelling the banishment of Satan, and earth's desolation, the revelator declares that this condition will exist for a thousand years. After presenting the scenes of the Lord's second coming and the destruction of the wicked, the prophecy continues: “I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.” Rev. 20:1-3.

Bottomless Pit
The expression “bottomless pit” represents the earth in a state of confusion and darkness. Concerning the condition of the earth “in the beginning,” the Bible record says that it “was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Gen. 1:2. Prophecy teaches that it will be brought back, partially at least, to this condition (Jer. 4:23-26). Here is to be the home of Satan with his evil angels for a thousand years. Limited to the earth, he will not have access to other worlds to tempt and annoy those who have never fallen. It is in this sense that he is bound: none remain upon whom he can exercise his power. See Isa. 14:12-17.

Even the wicked are now placed beyond the power of Satan, and alone with his evil angels, he remains to see the effect of the curse which sin has brought (Isa. 14:18-20). For a thousand years, Satan will wander to and fro in the desolate earth to behold the results of his rebellion against the law of God. During this time his sufferings are intense. Now deprived of his power, he is left to contemplate the part which he has acted since first he rebelled against the government of heaven, and to look forward with terror to the dreadful future when he must suffer for all the evil that he has done and be punished for the sins that he has instigated.

During the thousand years between the first and the second resurrection the judgment of the wicked takes place. Paul points to this judgment as an event that follows the second advent. “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts.” 1 Cor. 4:5. Daniel declares that when the Ancient of Days came, “judgment was given to the saints of the Most High.” Dan. 7:22. At this time the righteous reign as kings and priests unto God. John in the Revelation says: “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them.” “They shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Rev. 20:4, 6. It is at this time that, as foretold by Paul, “the saints shall judge the world.” 1 Cor. 6:2. In union with Christ they judge the wicked, comparing their acts with the statute book, the Bible, and deciding every case according to the deeds done in the body. Then the portion which the wicked must suffer is meted out. according to their works; and it is recorded against their names in the book of death.

Satan also and evil angels are judged by Christ and His people. “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” 1 Cor. 6:3. “The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” Jude 6.

Second Resurrection
At the close of the thousand years the second resurrection will take place. Then the wicked will be raised from the dead and appear before God for the execution of “the judgment written.” Thus the revelator, after describing the resurrection of the righteous, says: “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished.” Rev. 20:5.

The Controversy Ends

At the close of the millennium, Christ again returns to the earth. He is accompanied by the host of the redeemed and attended by a retinue of angels. As He descends in terrific majesty He bids the wicked dead arise, and they come forth, a mighty host, numberless as the sands of the sea. Every eye in that vast multitude is turned to behold the glory of the Son of God as Christ descends upon the Mount of Olives. Says the prophet: “The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.” “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof ... and there shall be a very great valley.” “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord.” Zech. 14:5, 4, 9.

New Jerusalem Descends
As the New Jerusalem, in its dazzling splendor, comes down out of heaven, it rests upon the place purified and made ready to receive it, and Christ, with His people and the angels, enter the Holy City. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saving, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Rev 21:2, 3.

Satan sees the multitudes upon his side and marshals them into a vast army, orders an advance, and surrounds the New Jerusalem. By command of Jesus, the gates of the city are closed.

Judgment from the White Throne
Says the prophet of God: “I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, ... And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Rev 20:11, 12.

As soon as the hooks of record are opened, and the eye of Jesus looks upon the wicked, they are conscious of every sin which they have ever committed.

Above the throne is revealed the cross; and like a panoramic view appear the scenes of Adam's temptation and fall, and the successive steps in the great plan of redemption. From the Savior's lowly birth, to His death on Calvary-all is vividly portrayed. The whole wicked world stand arraigned at the bar of God on the charge of high treason against the government of heaven. They have none to plead their cause; they are without excuse; and the sentence of eternal death is pronounced against them.

As if entranced, the wicked have looked upon the coronation of the Son of God. They see in His hands the tables of the divine law, the statutes which they have despised and transgressed. They witness the outburst of wonder, rapture, and adoration from the saved: and, as the wave of melody sweeps over the multitudes without the city, all with one voice exclaim, “Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.” (Rev 15:3); and, falling prostrate, they worship the Prince of life.

Satan seems paralyzed as he beholds the glory and majesty of Christ. Memory recalls the home of his innocence and purity. He recalls his constant efforts to oppose the work of Christ and to sink man lower and lower. He sees that his hellish plots have been powerless to destroy those who have put their trust in Jesus.

Even Satan Confesses
Now Satan bows down and confesses the justice of his sentence. “Who shall not fear Thee, 0 Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev 15:4. The working out of Satan's rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan's own works have condemned him. God's wisdom, His justice, and His goodness stand fully vindicated.

The hour has come when Christ occupies His rightful position and is glorified. He looks upon the redeemed, renewed in His own image, every heart bearing the perfect impress of the divine. Then, in a voice that reaches the assembled multitudes of the righteous and the wicked, He declares: “Behold the purchase of My blood!”

Satan has been constrained to acknowledge God's justice and to bow to the supremacy of Christ, but his character remains unchanged.

It is now evident to all that the wages of sin is not noble independence and eternal life, but slavery, ruin, and death. The wicked see that their exclusion from heaven is just. By their lives they have declared: “We will not have this Man Jesus to reign over us.”

Final Destruction of Sin and Sinners
Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up. See Mal. 4:1; 2 Pet. 3:10. The earth's surface seems one molten mass-a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of the judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. See Prov. 11:31. They “shall he stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts.” Mal. 4:1. All are punished “according to their deeds.” The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah.

Satan's work of ruin is forever ended. Now God's creatures are forever delivered from his presence and temptations. A shout of praise and triumph ascends from the whole loyal universe. “The voice of a great multitude,” “as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings,” is heard, saying: “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Rev. 19:6. While the earth was wrapped in the fire of destruction, the righteous abode safely in the Holy City. See Rev. 20:6; Ps. 84:11.

New Heaven and Earth
“I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” Rev. 21:1, The fire that consumes the wicked purifies the earth. Every trace of the curse is swept away. No eternally burning hell will keep before the ransomed the fearful consequences of sin.

One reminder alone remains: Our Redeemer will ever bear the marks of His crucifixion. Upon His wounded head, upon His side, His hands and feet, are the only traces of the cruel work that sin has wrought.

The earth has been brought back by the great plan of redemption. All that was lost by sin has been restored.

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Copyright © 2002 Family Heritage Books used by permission by Project Restore, Inc. at www.projectrestore.com
Created: 11/15/02 Updated: 05/31/04