1. INCREDIBLE WOE, WOE, WOE
a. When Christ arrives, what reveals the fearful reaction to come upon those who have despised His offer of salvation? Revelation 6:15–17; Nahum 2:10.
“Upon the rejecters of God’s mercy falls the terror of eternal despair.”—The Great Controversy, p. 641.
“When sinners are compelled to look upon Him who clothed His divinity with humanity, and who still wears this garb, their confusion is indescribable. The scales fall from their eyes, and they see that which before they would not see. They realize what they might have been had they received Christ, and improved the opportunities granted them. They see the law which they have spurned, exalted even as God’s throne is exalted. They see God Himself giving reverence to His law.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 6, p. 1069.
b. What will actually happen to them, and why? 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10; 2:8.
“The light of the glory of God, which imparts life to the righteous, will slay the wicked.”—The Desires of Ages, p. 108.
2. THE SPECIAL RESURRECTION
a. From among all who, throughout history, went to their graves trusting in God, which category of believers will have already been raised just before Christ’s arrival? Revelation 14:12, 13; Daniel 12:1, 2.
“Dark, heavy clouds came up and clashed against each other. But there was one clear place of settled glory, whence came the voice of God like many waters, shaking the heavens and the earth. There was a mighty earthquake. The graves were opened, and those who had died in faith under the third angel’s message, keeping the Sabbath, came forth from their dusty beds, glorified, to hear the covenant of peace that God was to make with those who had kept His law.”—Early Writings, p. 285.
b. Who from among the wicked will be resurrected just prior to Christ’s return? Matthew 26:62–64; Revelation 1:7.
“Those who derided [Christ’s] claim to be the Son of God are speechless now. There is the haughty Herod who jeered at His royal title and bade the mocking soldiers crown Him king. There are the very men who with impious hands placed upon His form the purple robe, upon His sacred brow the thorny crown, and in His unresisting hand the mimic scepter, and bowed before Him in blasphemous mockery. The men who smote and spit upon the Prince of life now turn from His piercing gaze and seek to flee from the overpowering glory of His presence. Those who drove the nails through His hands and feet, the soldier who pierced His side, behold these marks with terror and remorse. With awful distinctness do priests and rulers recall the events of Calvary.”—The Great Controversy, p. 643.
c. How is this special resurrection distinct from the resurrections that take place at the voice of Jesus? John 5:28, 29. Compare with Daniel 12:2 (“many” versus “all”).
3. UNSPEAKABLE AWE
a. What will be the initial response of all mortals—including God’s faithful few—as they first behold the arrival of the awesome Creator of the universe seated on His throne in majestic splendor? Jeremiah 30:6.
“The righteous cry with trembling: ‘Who shall be able to stand?’ The angels’ song is hushed, and there is a period of awful silence.”—The Great Controversy, p. 641.
b. What heart-warming assurance promptly comforts those genuinely longing for their Lord’s appearing? 2 Corinthians 12:9 (first part).
“Then the voice of Jesus is heard, saying: ‘My grace is sufficient for you’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). The faces of the righteous are lighted up, and joy fills every heart. And the angels strike a note higher and sing again as they draw still nearer to the earth.”—Ibid.
c. What will Christ’s followers say at the return of Him in whom their hopes have centered, and how should this motivate us now? Isaiah 25:9.
“To His faithful followers Christ has been a daily companion and familiar friend. They have lived in close contact, in constant communion with God. Upon them the glory of the Lord has risen. In them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ has been reflected. Now they rejoice in the undimmed rays of the brightness and glory of the King in His majesty. They are prepared for the communion of heaven; for they have heaven in their hearts.
“With uplifted heads, with the bright beams of the Sun of Righteous-ness shining upon them, with rejoicing that their redemption draweth nigh, they go forth to meet the Bridegroom.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 421.
“Are we preparing to meet the Saviour in peace, or are we absorbed in worldly business and pleasure? Shall we not strive to be among the number who will welcome Christ?”—The Signs of the Times, April 17, 1901.
4. HONORABLE DISCHARGE FROM EARTH
a. Describe the amazing miracle to occur at the resurrection of the just. 1 Corinthians 15:51–55.
“The Son of God . . . looks upon the graves of the righteous, then, raising His hands to heaven, 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.”—The Great Controversy, p. 644.
b. How does this relate to the investigative judgment that had accounted them worthy of eternity, and what should this make us pause to consider? 1 Peter 4:17–19; Luke 20:35 (first part), 36.
“As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. . . .
“All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life.”—Ibid., p. 483.
c. What happens to the righteous—both those who are alive when Jesus returns plus those who are resurrected at His voice? 1 Corinthians 15:49.
“At the voice of God [the living righteous] were glorified; now they are made immortal and with the risen saints are caught up to meet their Lord in the air.”—Ibid., p. 645.
5. THE FIRST AND SECOND RESURRECTIONS
a. Explain the timing of the general resurrection of the just, and describe the joy of it. Revelation 20:1–6 (compare again 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
“Until that triumphant hour, when the last trump shall sound and the vast army shall come forth to eternal victory, every sleeping saint will be kept in safety and will be guarded as a precious jewel, who is known to God by name. By the power of the Saviour that dwelt in them while living and because they were partakers of the divine nature, they are brought forth from the dead.”—The Faith I Live By, p. 185.
b. We studied how the wicked guilty of crucifying Christ are raised up at the special resurrection; but when do the rest of the wicked dead face their Maker before their final destruction, and why is this a sobering thought? 1 Corinthians 6:3 (first part); Revelation 20:4, 5, 12–15.
“At the close of the thousand years, 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 to receive their doom. . . . What a contrast to those who were raised at the first resurrection! The righteous were clothed with immortal youth and beauty. The wicked bear the traces of disease and death.”—Ibid., p. 355.
“Day by day God is testing and proving His people. The inspired Word plainly declares that by our works we are deciding our eternal destiny.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, p. 278.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Who is instantly slain when Christ comes in the clouds, and why?
2. For whom is the special resurrection, and what is its twofold purpose?
3. Am I focusing on the Isaiah 25:9-moment, or am I hoping He will delay?
4. Why must the investigative judgment occur before Jesus arrives?
5. Why must the thousand years occur before the wicked face their doom?