by Donna Foster
I used to believe that John was making up the story about man’s final destiny. I was reading the Book of Revelation and became fascinated with its story. Some parts made me feel afraid. It kind of reminded me of the movie “Early Edition.”
To read a book and become so enthralled is as if you were a part of its written story. Amazing! The book came alive; it put me in imagination mode. I twitched my lips and used my left hand to cover my face from the hot glaring sun. I rested my head against the back of the chair. I slipped off into deep undisturbed sleep.
I could hear repeatedly the words, “And another book was opened” and “another and another.” Someone called my name. I jumped. What? Oh, I was so embarrassed. I was in a Bible study class, and I fell asleep, again. The teacher was lecturing on eschatology, and I fell asleep. I have a highly imaginative mind, one that causes me to slip into a trance-like stupor. You see, I had to close my eyes to get a better understanding of the information.
Studying “Last Things”
What is eschatology? Eschatology deals with the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul of mankind. I am so scared. I feel like a child who had just watched a scary movie asking mommy to “please sleep with me tonight.” I felt like pulling the blanket all the way up to my head and sliding under, until all parts were covered so that no one could get me. No boogey man.
There is a reason all my family and friends think that the book of Revelation is not cool or that its someone’s fantasy. But let’s get serious. I have been thinking a lot about the different phases to the kingdom and which one I would like to be a part of. But wait, didn’t the teacher say that all three phases are important and that they are interconnected?
Three Phases of the Kingdom
Here is my teacher’s presentation of the three phases. Phase 1 is called “The Present Kingdom.” My teacher says:
The spiritual kingdom of grace exists now as God rules in the lives of obedient believers. The kingdom was announced and revealed through the prophets and the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. We enter this kingdom when we turn from sin to serve God through faith in Jesus Christ.¹
Being Part of the Kingdom
Okay, so I am currently a part of that kingdom? I get it. Phew! For a moment, I felt lost. Because I have confessed Christ, have been baptized and have been taking part in the emblems, I am in the Kingdom already. Yes!
The lesson continues. Now we come to the millennial kingdom, and there is a plethora of interpretations about this kingdom. Let me make it clear that
“Jesus will return to earth in power and glory to resurrect the righteous dead. He will bestow immortality and eternal life upon the resurrected and the living …avenge the saints and be glorified in them. His earthly reign will last for 1000 years. This will be a universal kingdom in which all principalities, powers and enemies are overcome. Ultimately the unrighteous will resurrect to suffer annihilation at the great white throne judgment.²
What Happens to Those Who Are Not Saved?
What is meant by annihilation? The school of thought known as annihilationism as described by the author Millard Erickson, states that, “on the other hand … although not everyone will be saved, there is only one class of future existence. Those who are saved will have an unending life; those who are not saved will be eliminated or annihilated.”³
From this bit of information, I glean that the unbelieving and unredeemed will be wiped out for good. Oh no!
How do we conclude that those who were disobedient and unrepentant will be annihilated? Scripture, study, interpretation, and belief.
And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire … and the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse … and all the fowls were filled with their flesh (Revelation 19:20, 21).
So, that’s no Magic Kingdom or Universal Kingdom stuff? No way! This will be supernaturally awesome. O dear. Hopefully, I will keep my garment clean. Oh, Lord help me, please; sometimes I mess up so badly.
Finally, the teacher is on the last segment. I want to hear about the Eternal Kingdom. My excitement has reached its zenith and my heart pounds, thump!
God’s eternal kingdom will begin when Jesus Christ, having put all enemies under His feet, turns the kingdom over to the father. God will dwell with the redeemed in a new heaven and a new earth where no disappointment, defilement, or death can enter and where righteousness and peace will prevail forever.4
¹This We Believe: Teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day). 12. The Kingdom of God: The Millennial Kingdom of Christ, Pp. 205-6
³Erickson, Millard J., Christian Theology, 2nd Ed., p. 1244
4This We Believe: Teachings of the Church of God (Seventh Day). 12. The Kingdom of God: The Millennial Kingdom of Christ, Pp. 205-6