Warning: This is a doctrinally heavy post.
My pastor is preaching through the book of Revelation, which means he’s talking about the end times a lot. His sermon today concerned the doctrine of the Rapture, which is the point at some point in the future where all those who trust in Christ during the church age (from around 27 AD until the rapture) will be resurrected (if dead) or bodily taken out of the world to meet Christ in the clouds and return to heaven where we will spend the 7 year “Tribulation period” before Christ returns to earth at the end of the Tribulation to defeat the nations led by the Antichrist and start His 1000 year millennial reign on earth.
That’s a whole bundle of doctrine, but that’s the summary of what I believe about this particular section of the end times. I know there are many people that disagree with the pretribulational rapture, but that’s what I believe.
Listening to my pastor’s sermon today got me thinking about death, and how it is a part of our life right now. It also made me wonder something, which I will get to later. First, to explain. Assuming Adam (the first man) was trusting in the future redeemer (Jesus Christ) for forgiveness, then he lived his 960 years, and then he died. The moment he died, his life on earth ceased. His body began to decay, and is almost certainly dust at this point, about 5000 years later. The moment he died, his spirit went to paradise. Now he is in heaven with Christ, awaiting the end of the tribulation when he will be reunited with his body like all the other pre-Church age believers.
Believers who die during the church age (like the Apostle Paul, and any other true Christian who has died in the past 2000 years) have pretty much the same thing except they are reunited with their earthly bodies at the beginning of the tribulation, spend 7 years in heaven totally absent from earth, and then return.
There will be people who die on earth during the tribulation. These would be people who were not believers when the rapture happened, but they trusted in Christ during the 7 year Tribulation period. When they die, their spirits go to heaven and their bodies stay on earth. At the end of the tribulation, their bodies are resurrected and reunited with their spirits just like the Old Testament believers. That’s pretty much like now.
But….this is where I started wondering.
You see, ever since the death of Abel (assuming he was the first person ever to die), people’s bodies have been separated from their spirits until a specific point of resurrection. Their spirits went to heaven or hell, and their bodies stayed here. But in the Millennial kingdom, I think it’s going to be different. Let me explain.
At the end of the tribulation all the non-believers will be dead, and every person living on earth will be either a believer from the Church age that has just come back from heaven after the rapture or a believer from the old testament period or the tribulation. All of the Old Testament believers get resurrected bodies. All of the believers who died during the tribulation get resurrected bodies. But all of the Tribulation believers who were not killed during the tribulation will not have resurrected bodies.
So here’s what I’m wondering: what happens to one of these believers when they die during the millennium? They wouldn’t go to “heaven” because Christ will be on earth. So will death at that point be absolutely without meaning for believers?
Let’s say Jim lived during the tribulation period. He trusted in Christ, and somehow made it to the Second Coming of Christ without dying. He enters the Millennial kingdom, gets married, and has children. His son Bill trusts in Christ at the age of 12. At the age of 17, Bill is climbing a mountain when he falls to his death. “Oh no!” we think. “He died!” But if my thinking is correct, his body would instantly be resurrected and transformed. So death would not be the sad occasion it is today.
But those who die during the Millennium without trusting in Christ will not be resurrected until the end of the 1000 years when ALL of the unsaved through the ages are resurrected at the Great White Throne judgment.
Or I could be wrong. In any case, I am trusting in Christ for forgiveness, and therefore I know I will be there during the Millennium. I can’t wait.