Jesus Christ and the Future Kingdom of God Part Three
In previous articles, we saw that in order to fulfill His purpose for history, God must do three things before the history of this earth comes to an end. The first of these things will involve God’s crushing of Satan by ridding the earth of him and his entire kingdom. The Scriptures reveal that God will do this through the combination of the seven-year Tribulation (70th week of Dan. 9:27) and the Second Coming of Christ to the earth after the Tribulation. This article focuses attention on this combination.
Jesus Christ will play the key role in crushing Satan. His work of redemption through His death on the cross in His First Coming gives Him the authority to do this future work as mankind’s Kinsman-Redeemer (Heb. 2:14; 1 Jn. 3:8).
Seven years before His Second Coming to earth, Christ will take the sealed scroll (the deed of purchase for mankind’s forfeited inheritance of tenant possession of the earth) from God’s hand in heaven. He will begin to open the scroll by breaking its seven seals one at a time. He thereby will unleash three series of divine judgments on planet Earth: first, seven seal judgments (Rev. 6–7); second, seven trumpet judgments (Rev. 8–11); and third, seven bowl judgments (Rev. 12–18). These judgments will involve an outpouring of God’s wrath on Satan’s domain. They will wreak havoc on large areas of the earth and great masses of humanity. Just as a modern-day armed force inflicts a heavy, prolonged bombardment on an enemy’s domain before invading it, so Christ will inflict this heavy, seven-year bombardment on Satan’s earthly domain in preparation for His invasion of it at His Second Coming.
In conjunction with this, the Apostle John recorded a dramatic event that will occur when the seventh trumpet judgment is administered. The seventh trumpet will consist of the entire third series of judgments (the seven bowls). This is significant because when the seventh trumpet is administered, it will unleash the last series of judgments that will complete the bombardment and culminate with the Second Coming of Christ, the complete end of Satan’s rule, and the establishment of God’s future theocratic kingdom on earth.
Because of the significance of the seventh trumpet, when God’s creatures in heaven see it unleashed they will be so excited in anticipation of the dramatic change it will trigger for the world that they will burst forth with a cry of victory: “The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). The verb translated “is become” is a proleptic aorist (Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8–22, p. 106). This means that, although God’s theocratic rule over the world system will not be established until after this last series of judgments has run its course, it will be so certain to happen that God’s heavenly creatures can regard it as already accomplished.
The Second Coming
After Christ’s Tribulation bombardment of Satan’s earthly domain ends, He will invade that domain by coming from heaven to the earth with His holy angels in His glorious Second Coming (Mt. 24:29–30; 25:31). He will come initially to complete the work of crushing Satan by ridding the earth of him and his entire kingdom. Thus, He will come in righteousness to “judge and make war” (Rev. 19:11).
As a result of having broken all seven seals during the Tribulation, Christ will have the scroll deed open by the time of His Second Coming. At that time He will read the contents of the scroll publicly as the legal evidence that He is the true Kinsman-Redeemer of mankind’s forfeited inheritance and, therefore, has the right to evict Satan and his kingdom and to take tenant possession of the earth (Ps. 2:7–9; Rev. 5:4–5). After presenting this evidence, Christ will fully exercise that right. His work of evicting Satan and his kingdom from the earth will involve three phases.
Satan’s Political and Military System Crushed
First, He will rid the earth of all the political and military aspects of Satan’s world system. When the sixth bowl judgment is poured out on the earth, Satan, the Antichrist (Satan’s ultimate political world ruler), and the False Prophet will send demons (evil angels) throughout the world to prompt the political rulers of all Gentile nations to gather together with their armed forces to one location—the land of Israel (Rev. 16:12–16). Zechariah 12–14 indicate that these rulers and forces will come against Jerusalem and will begin to destroy it. The sixth bowl will be the next-to-the-last judgment of the Tribulation. Therefore, these rulers and armed forces will not begin to gather to Israel until near the end of that seven-year period.
Satan will want the combined might of the rulers and armed forces of the entire Gentile world gathered together in the land of Israel at the city of Jerusalem by the end of the Tribulation for two reasons. First, as a result of Christ’s bombardment of his earthly domain throughout the Tribulation and his confinement to the earth for the second half of that seven-year period, Satan will recognize that his time is growing short before Christ comes to finish his judgment (Rev. 12:7–12). Zechariah 14:3–4 reveal that when Christ comes in His Second Coming, He will descend first to the Mount of Olives in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem. In light of this, Satan will want the combined might of the rulers and armed forces of the Gentile world gathered in the very vicinity to which Christ will come to help him try to prevent Christ from returning to earth. He knows that if Christ gets back to earth, his rule on this planet will be finished. Thus, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, the political rulers, and the armies of the entire Gentile world will be gathered together to make war against Christ and His heavenly army (see Ps. 2).
Satan’s second reason for wanting all the Gentile rulers and military gathered together in Israel by the end of the Tribulation will be to use them as his instruments to try to totally annihilate Israel. Zechariah 12–14 indicate that God will not fully crush Satan, end his evil rule, and establish His theocratic kingdom rule over the world until the nation of Israel repents by recognizing and trusting Jesus Christ as its Messiah and Savior (Acts 3:12–21). To Satan’s way of thinking, if Israel must repent before God fully crushes him, then he can prevent God from crushing him by totally annihilating Israel before it repents.
Through the gathered political and military powers of the Gentile world, Satan will destroy two-thirds of the Jews in the land of Israel (Zech. 13:8). It will look as if all the Jews there will perish. However, before that can happen, Christ will come out of heaven in His glorious Second Coming. When the one-third remnant of Jews left in the land looks upon Him and sees the wounds of His crucifixion in His resurrection body, the survivors will repent (change their minds) toward Him. They will recognize and trust Him as their Messiah and Savior (Zech. 12:10–14), and God will cleanse them of their sin (Zech. 13:1). Then Christ will go to war (Zech. 14:3, 12–15). He will cast the Antichrist and False Prophet into the Lake of Fire and destroy the Gentile rulers and military forces (Rev. 19:21).
Removal of the Ungodly
The second phase of Christ’s eviction of Satan and his kingdom will involve the removal of all the human members of that kingdom. All unsaved people alive on the earth at Christ’s Second Coming will be taken from the earth in judgment. None of these people will be permitted to enter the future theocratic kingdom of God. Christ clearly taught this truth in two of His Matthew 13 parables of the kingdom.
In the parable of the tares, the good seed represents “the children of the kingdom [the saved people who will be alive on the earth at the Second Coming]” (v. 38). The field where they are located represents the world. The tares represent Satan’s spiritual children (the unsaved who will be alive on the earth at the Second Coming). The harvest represents the end of the age (literal translation of the Greek text). This parable refers to the end of the present pre-messianic age when Christ comes in His Second Coming, not the end of the world (see Mt. 24:3). The reapers represent Christ’s holy angels who will accompany Him at His Second Coming. Christ declared that just as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so at His Second Coming at the end of the age, His holy angels will gather the living unsaved and cast them into a place of fiery judgment. Then the living saved will enter God’s theocratic kingdom (Matt. 13:24–30, 36–43).
In the parable of the dragnet, Christ taught that in His Second Coming at the end of the age, His holy angels will separate the unsaved people who are alive on the earth at that time from the saved. They will cast the unsaved into a place of fiery judgment where they will wail and gnash their teeth (vv. 47–50).
Christ taught this fact again in Matthew 24:37–41. There He indicated that the order of things at His Second Coming will be the same as the order of things in Noah’s day: All the unsaved who were alive were taken from the earth in judgment by the flood, and all the saved (Noah and his family) were left on the earth in the ark to enter the next period of world history. Christ said, “So shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (v. 37). Then He indicated that at His Second Coming all the living unsaved will be taken from the earth in judgment, and all the saved will be left on the earth to enter the next period of history—the future theocratic kingdom age. Luke 17:37 makes it clear that those taken at His Second Coming will be taken into the realm of death, and their dead bodies will be devoured by flesh-eating fowl.
Banishing Satan and His Angels
The third phase of Christ’s eviction of Satan and his kingdom will involve the removal of Satan himself and his evil angels (demons). In conjunction with Christ’s Second Coming, Satan will be bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit for the entire thousand-year theocratic kingdom age (Rev. 20:1–3), and the evil angels (“the host of the high ones”) will be imprisoned in the pit for the time during which the Lord reigns in Jerusalem (Isa. 24:21–23).
Through His activities in conjunction with the seven-year Tribulation and His Second Coming, Christ will complete one of His responsibilities as the Kinsman-Redeemer of mankind’s lost inheritance. He will crush Satan, the usurper of that inheritance, by ridding the earth of him and his entire kingdom. He will thereby accomplish the first future thing that God must do to fulfill His purpose for history.