1. BEGINNING THE THOUSAND YEARS
a. What event takes place at the beginning of the thousand years (millennium)? Revelation 20:5.
b. Who is raised at this first resurrection, and when does that happen? Revelation 20:6 (first half); 1 Corinthians 15:22, 23. What should the reality of the resurrection cause each of us to consider prayerfully?
“Christ appears in His glory, and calls forth the righteous dead. The living saints are changed, and, with the resurrected dead, are borne away from the earth by angels to meet their Lord in the air. The earth is left like a desolate wilderness.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 83.
“People may claim that they have great faith in Jesus and that there is nothing you can do but that Christ will do for you. Now, when Christ shall call forth the dead, it depends wholly upon your course of action whether you have a resurrection to life eternal or a resurrection to damnation.”—Faith and Works, p. 55.
2. THE RESURRECTION OF THE RIGHTEOUS
a. What distinctions characterize the righteous as they resurrect at Christ’s coming at the start of the millennium? Revelation 20:4–6.
“Christ . . . looks forward to the time of His second coming. Then the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous shall be translated to heaven without seeing death.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 530.
“The Life-giver will call up His purchased possession in the first resurrection, and 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 hour is coming,’ Christ said, ‘in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.’ That voice is to resound through all the habitations of the dead; and every saint who sleeps in Jesus will awake and leave his prison-house. Then the virtue of character we received from Christ’s righteousness will ally us to true greatness of the highest order.”—Sons and Daughters of God, p. 359.
“It is only the blessed and holy who will be ready for the first resurrection; for when Christ comes, He will not change the character. . . . The word of God declares that we must be found blameless, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Now we are to learn obedience, submission to the divine will, that God may work in us to will and to do of His good-pleasure, and that we may work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. But our own efforts are of no avail to atone for sin or to renew the heart. Only the blood of Christ can atone for us; His grace alone can create in us a clean heart, and enable us to obey God’s law. In Him is our only hope.”—The Signs of the Times, February 9, 1891.
b. Review the manner in which Christ returns for those who have loved Him. 1 Thessalonians 4:13–16.
“Christ claims all those as His who have believed in His name. The vitalizing power of the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the mortal body binds every believing soul to Jesus Christ. Those who believe in Jesus are sacred to His heart; for their life is hid with Christ in God.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 271.
3. THE HEAVENLY HOME
a. What will happen to the living righteous, together with the resurrected saints? 1 Thessalonians 4:17.
“[Christ] was charged with blasphemy, and was condemned to a cruel death, but He burst the fetters of the tomb, and rose from the dead triumphant, and over the rent sepulcher of Joseph He declared, ‘I am the resurrection, and the life’ (John 11:25). All power in heaven and in earth was vested in Him, and the righteous will also come forth from the tomb free in Jesus. They shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead. . . .
“What a glorious morning will the resurrection morning be! What a wonderful scene will open when Christ shall come to be admired of them that believe! All who were partakers with Christ in His humiliation and sufferings will be partakers with Him in His glory. By the resurrection of Christ from the dead every believing saint who falls asleep in Jesus will come forth from his prison house in triumph. . . .
“Jesus Christ has triumphed over death and rent the fetters of the tomb, and all who sleep in the tomb will share the victory; they will come forth from their graves as did the Conqueror.”—Selected Messages, bk. 2, pp. 271, 272.
b. How will they be gathered together and for what purpose? Matthew 24:29–31; John 14:3; 13:36.
“Long have we waited for our Saviour’s return. But nonetheless sure is the promise. Soon we shall be in our promised home. There Jesus will lead us beside the living stream flowing from the throne of God and will explain to us the dark providences through which on this earth He brought us in order to perfect our characters. There we shall behold with undimmed vision the beauties of Eden restored. Casting at the feet of the Redeemer the crowns that He has placed on our heads, and touching our golden harps, we shall fill all heaven with praise to Him that sitteth on the throne.”—Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 254.
“Thank God! It is these mansions that I am looking to. It is not the earthly mansions here, for they are to be shaken down by the mighty earthquake erelong; but it is those heavenly mansions that Christ has gone to prepare for the faithful. We have no home here. We are only pilgrims and strangers here, passing to a better country, even an heavenly.”—In Heavenly Places, p. 354.
4. THE EXPERIENCE OF THE WICKED
a. What happens to the wicked at Christ’s second coming—and why? 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8; 2:7, 8.
“The wicked are filled with regret, not because of their sinful neglect of God and their fellow men, but because God has conquered. They lament that the result is what it is; but they do not repent of their wickedness.”—The Great Controversy, p. 654.
“Christ does not here bring to view a temporal millennium, a thousand years in which all are to prepare for eternity. He tells us that as it was in Noah’s day, so will it be when the Son of man comes again.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 633.
b. Describe this vengeance. Revelation 19:11–16; Isaiah 24:17–22; Jeremiah 25:30–33.
“Now all have made their decisions; the wicked have fully united with Satan in his warfare against God. The time has come for God to vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. Now the controversy is not alone with Satan, but with men. ‘The Lord hath a controversy with the nations;’ ‘He will give them that are wicked to the sword.’ . . .
“The work of destruction begins among those who have professed to be the spiritual guardians of the people. The false watchmen are the first to fall. There are none to pity or to spare. Men, women, maidens, and little children perish together.”—The Great Controversy, p. 656.
c. Describe what happens to all these dead—and the condition of the earth at that time. Revelation 19:17–21; Jeremiah 4:23–29; Isaiah 24:1–4.
“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. . . .
“The whole earth appears like a desolate wilderness. The ruins of cities and villages destroyed by the earthquake, uprooted trees, ragged rocks thrown out by the sea or torn out of the earth itself, are scattered over its surface, while vast caverns mark the spot where the mountains have been rent from their foundations.”—The Great Controversy, p. 657.
a. What have the inhabitants of this earth been doing to incur such wrath from a holy God? Isaiah 24:5, 6.
“For six thousand years the great controversy has been in progress; the Son of God and His heavenly messengers have been in conflict with the power of the evil one, to warn, enlighten, and save the children of men. Now all have made their decisions; the wicked have fully united with Satan in his warfare against God. The time has come for God to vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. Now the controversy is not alone with Satan, but with men. ‘The Lord hath a controversy with the nations;’ ‘He will give them that are wicked to the sword.’ ”—The Great Controversy, p. 656.
b. Is this the complete end? Jeremiah 4:27. How long will they remain in this condition? Revelation 20:5.
“The wicked had been destroyed, and their dead bodies were lying upon its surface. The wrath of God in the seven last plagues had been visited upon the inhabitants of the earth, causing them to gnaw their tongues from pain and to curse God. The false shepherds had been the signal objects of Jehovah’s wrath. Their eyes had consumed away in their holes, and their tongues in their mouths, while they stood upon their feet. After the saints had been delivered by the voice of God, the wicked multitude turned their rage upon one another. The earth seemed to be deluged with blood, and dead bodies were from one end of it to the other.”—Early Writings, pp. 289, 290.
“The revelator foretells the banishment of Satan and the condition of chaos and desolation to which the earth is to be reduced, and he declares that this condition will exist for a thousand years.”—The Great Controversy, p. 658.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What event marks the start of the millennium and how does it occur?
2. What was the Thessalonians’ fear and how do Paul’s words bring comfort?
3. How do the promises of Christ bring us comfort? Which ones specifically?
4. Why are the wicked destroyed with the brightness of Christ’s coming?
5. How thorough is the final destruction of the wicked?