This study is going to be different from popular viewpoints about 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, and the 1000 years. Try to lay aside preconceived opinions, and then examine the Bible for yourself. As the evidence is presented, I hope you will see it as irrefutable. I myself have spoken on this subject for many years in front of large audiences around the world. Every time, without fail, people come to me and say things like, “The lights just went on!” “Now I understand the 1000 years!” I hope you will have the same experience. Please say a prayer!
As we have previously attempted to prove, Revelation 20:4-6 marks the beginning of the 1000 years with the “first resurrection” of the saints. Both 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17, tell us plainly that the “first resurrection” of the saved takes place when Jesus Christ literally returns with a shout, a voice, and the sounding of the great trumpet of God. At that moment, the dead in Christ are raised, and then together with the living saints they are all “caught up” from off of this earth to meet Jesus in the air.
What happens next? What about those who are not “caught up”? Popular teaching says they will have a second chance during a supposed seven year period of tribulation. But what does the Bible say? Let’s find out. Right after Paul describes believers being “caught up,” he then declares, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. For when they shall say Peace and Safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them … and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Thus, according to Paul, those who are not “caught up” will experience “sudden destruction” and shall “not escape.”
How widespread and extensive is this destruction? Jesus Christ has the answer. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30). In Noah’s day, all who were not in the ark were wiped out! In Lot’s day, everyone except Lot and his family were totally consumed in the fire. Jesus Christ said, “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
Are there other Scriptures that describe such a total destruction of all human beings all over the world at the return of Jesus Christ? Yes, there are many. In this short article I will not quote them all in full, but you can easily open your Bible and see it for yourself.
- Matthew 24:13, 14 – After the gospel is preached to all, “then shall the end come.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:23 – “At his coming, then cometh the end …”
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17; 5:3 – Those not “caught up,” will experience “sudden destruction.”
- 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 – When Jesus comes in flaming fire, the lost will be destroyed.
- Revelation 16:17, 18 – During the seventh trumpet, cities crumble around the world.
- Revelation 6:14; 16:20 – Every island sinks, and all the mountains disappear.
- Jeremiah 4:23-26 – Planet Earth is totally devastated, with “no man” left alive.
- Jeremiah 25:30-33 – Those slain by the Lord lie dead, unburied, all around the world.
- Revelation 19:17, 18, 21 – The birds eat the flesh of every human being worldwide.
All of these verses say the same thing. Those who are not “caught up” will be totally destroyed all around the world. It will be just like the days of Noah. Jesus Christ Himself taught this. “The flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be” (Matthew 24:39).
Now don’t miss this point. The very last sentence in Revelation 19 describes the birds eating the flesh of all men (vs. 21). Immediately following comes Revelation 20 describing the binding of Satan so that he cannot deceive the nations any more during the 1000 years (20:1-3). Why is this? The answer is obvious. Because the nations are all dead! Notice carefully, “that he [Satan] should deceive the nations no more until the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season” (20:3). Did you catch that? Those three words, “no more until” are very significant. Those three words reveal that all these nations are the devils nations. He deceived them before the 1000 years. He deceives them “no more” during the 1000 years (because they are dead). Yet as soon as the 1000 years are over, he deceives them again. How can this happen? Because at the end of the 1000 years, “the rest of the dead” (that is, those who are not in the first resurrection), will be resurrected (20:5).
Notice carefully the connection between Revelation 20:5 and 20:7:
- Verse 5a – “The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished”
- Verse 7 – “When the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison”
Simply put the pieces together. At the end of the 1000 years, the rest of the dead are raised. And at the end of the 1000 years, Satan is loosed. Thus it is obvious that the raising of the “rest of the dead” is the event which “looses” the devil! Satan then goes into these resurrected nations (now in the four corners of the earth), deceives them again, and then gathers them for the grand finale (verses 8, 9).
To be continued…