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Who will Survive the Tribulation?

and other Eschatology Questions

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Question:  Good Morning Dr. Luginbill, It's been a while since I have asked questions, and you are my number resource! Who are the peoples that will go through the Millennium time? Won't Armageddon take out many of the wicked? Will the church be here or raptured? What about the 144,000? Will the judgment on the church be before or after? As always I look forward to your comments. May God continue to bless others with this ministry, as it does me.

Response:  See below for some links on these topics, but as the main treatment of these issues is yet to come in the "Coming Tribulation" series, I will do my best to respond to the specifics of your questions first:

1) Who are the peoples that will go through the Millennium time? Won't Armageddon take out many of the wicked?

It is clear that Armageddon will result in the deaths of countless numbers of the world's unbelieving population (cf. Rev.14:17-20; 19:17-18), but it will not result in the complete elimination of unbelievers from the earth (cf. Is.66:15-16; Ezek.20:32-38). So everyone left alive on earth at the conclusion of Armageddon and the Second Advent at least has the potential of enjoying the Millennium. But we do have to remove from consideration all those slain at Armageddon (a sizeable group). Secondly, just prior to Armageddon, there also will be divine judgment against "Magog" (Ezek.39:6; cf. 2Thes.1:6-10), namely Babylon in concert with the "coastlands" who have henceforth escaped major judgment. This will be a series of just, fiery judgments upon those individuals, groups, and nations who have particularly offended in persecuting believers and Israel during the Tribulation. As other passages of scripture make clear (notably Is.66:15-16), none of these events will result in the complete eradication of all unbelievers from the earth, so some will indeed come into the Millennium. Thirdly, among those of Israel who did not respond to the ministries of Moses and Elijah and the 144,000, there will be a total regathering, but not all will enter the land (Ezek.20:32-38). Many of these will be believers, that it to say, they finally do believe in Christ when they see Him return in glory (in time for millennial blessing but too late to participate in the first echelon of resurrection). Fourthly, there will be a period of transition wherein the world must learn to submit to the King appropriately (cf. Ps.2:10-12), and that is likely to involve casualties among the ranks of the stubborn as well (Zech.14:17-19; cf. Is.19:22). Finally, the millennial "population" will also include all those who are "Christ's at His coming" (1Cor.15:23), namely, all deceased believers from Adam to the end of the Tribulation. This is the Bride of Christ, but we shall be in resurrection bodies at that time, never to see death again.

2) Will the church be here or raptured?

The Church rises to meet our Lord "in the air" as He returns to the earth at the Second Advent (1Thes.4:12-17). This is the first echelon of the resurrection (1Cor.15:23), the Bride of Christ (Rev.19:6-8). Those believers still alive at this time are taken up into resurrection without ever experiencing physical death (1Cor.15:51-52), and the already "dead in Christ" (i.e., those in heaven with Him awaiting this day of days) will rise just before they do (1Thes.4:16) - though every indication from scripture is that this will be a matter of minutes, if that. Where the Lord is, there we shall ever be (Jn.12:26; cf. Matt.24:28; Lk.17:37). So, indeed, we who believe will be with the Lord here on earth during the Millennium, only in resurrection body.

3) What about the 144,000?

The 144,000 are the first casualties of the Great Persecution which begins at the outset of the Great Tribulation (i.e., the second half of the seven year period of tribulation), and which characterizes that three and one half year period (Rev.14:4). They, like all other believers who have departed this life by the time the Second Advent occurs will be resurrected at the return of our Lord and form part of the Bride of Christ (they are accorded special privileges, but that is true of a number of great believers, like Moses and Elijah and the 12 apostles of the Lamb).

4) Will the judgment on the church be before or after?

All of the passages of scripture which speak of our rewards indicate that they will not be given until the Lord returns (Rev.11:18; also compare Ps.110:1-7 with Is.53:12; cf. Eph.4:7-8; and compare Rev.20:11-15 with Dan.12:1-3). The time of the "judgment seat of Christ" must therefore be after our resurrection during the Millennium - and that makes good sense too, for we will surely need to be in our eternal bodies to fully appreciate our rewards (for the time frame, see the link: Eternal Rewards).

Most of these topics are covered or slated to be covered in parts 4, 5, and 6 of the Coming Tribulation series (the events of the second half of the Apocalypse, the Great Tribulation, including the worldwide religion of the beast and the Great Persecution are currently available in part 4, Armageddon and the Second Advent will be in part 5 later this year, the post Second Advent judgments, the Messiah's millennial Kingdom, and the end of history, the New Heavens, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem in part 6 at some point in the future).

I do already have some resources on the site which deal with these issues. Here are some of the main links I mentioned above:

The New Jerusalem and the Eternal State

Restoration II: The Millennium (from SR #5)

The Millennial Jerusalem (from SR #1)

The 144,000 (from CT 2B)

The Martyrdom of the 144,000 (from CT 4)

Eternal Rewards (giving a chronology of the judgment of believers)

Where is Armageddon?

The truth about the rapture in "Tribulational Security" (in Peter #27)

Thanks for your encouraging words!

In our Lord.

Bob L.

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