|THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN||
THE SAINTS IN HEAVEN
The Bible indicates that at death, the body returns to
the chemicals (dust) of the soil (Genesis 3:19; Job 34:15) via decomposition.
Thus, the significance of what Jesus said at the point
OLD TESTAMENT SAINTS AT DEATH:
During this time period, prior to the resurrection of Jesus, God placed the spirits of those who died into the "the depths of the earth" (Psalm 63:9-10) in a place called in the Hebrew, sheol and in the Greek, hades.
Luke 16:19-31 indicates that prior to the resurrection of Christ, hades was comprised of three sections.
ORIENTATION TO LUKE 16:19ff
This story is not a parable. It is an actual historical event that Jesus shares with us in order to teach the urgency of adjusting to God's terms for relationship with Him, while one is still here on earth. Hebrews 9:27.
However, even if one believes it to be a parable, that same person must realize that Jesus always used situations of human reality to make His points. Accordingly, whether one chooses to accept the rich man and Lazarus as historical personages is inconsequential. But the fact remains that the nature of the event is true.
Therefore, it is clear that before the resurrection of Jesus, when a believer died, he was carried by angels into a place of comfort called Abraham's bosom. This terminology probably refers to the presence of Abraham and the close proximity that this new arrival experiences, rather than being the actual "title" of this place of comfort.
The official title is "paradise" which is what Jesus called it when he told the believing thief on the cross, "Truly I say to you. Today you shall be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). When the two of them died, they both went into the lower parts of the earth, to the place of comfort in hades (Ephesians 4:9).
In fact, before the resurrection of Jesus, no person had ever entered into heaven (John 3:13).
That is why we find Abraham in the comfort side of hades "in the lower parts of the earth," as is indicated at Luke 16:22-23.
Furthermore, both Enoch and Elijah were also placed into Paradise in hades, when their job was done here on earth. These men simply received a special gathering up from God, and as their bodies were left behind and privately buried by God, their souls interacted with God and the angels in a very special manner. At 2 Kings 2:11, Elijah is NOT taken into "heaven," but into "the heavens," i.e., the sky.
Yet, this "comfort" in hades was not the ultimate salvation blessing anticipated by Old Testament believers. Hebrews 11:13-16 tells us that they were looking for a heavenly city. There was also the promise of physical resurrection given to these believers (Job 19:26-27; Daniel 12:2) although that resurrection would not take place until the 2nd coming of the Messiah.
There needed to be then, a transfer from hades within the earth, to a heavenly abode. This was taught throughout the Old Testament and was accomplished immediately after the resurrection of Jesus, "when He ascended up on high He led a captive company (in hades) into captivity (in heaven). Ephesians 4:8.
The prophecies that speak of this transfer are found at, Psalm 49:15; Isaiah 61:1; Hosea 13:14; Psalm 68:18.
In fact, Jesus actually took the "location" called paradise and all the saints dwelling there, to the third heaven.
It is therefore significant that whereas, Jesus speaks of "paradise" being in the earth (hades), which we know by comparing Luke 16:22-23; 23:43 and Ephesians 4:9, Paul speaks of "paradise" being in the 3rd heaven at 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.
Now, since the resurrection of Christ, whenever a believer
dies, they go into the presence of the Lord in the 3rd heaven which is where
paradise is now located (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians
*Acts 2:34 (NASB/BFT)
The ESV translation reads,
"David did not ascend into the heavens".
And the KJV reads,
"For David is not ascended into the heavens."
This has sometimes been
interpreted to mean that at the time of Peter's message,
And yet, the other translations do not require a "non-ascended David
Peter is telling us that the prophecies are speaking of the Messiah and NOT of
himself BECAUSE - AT THAT TIME (the time of David's death), it was NOT David
who ascended into heaven.
Therefore the prophecy MUST be referring to someone else, ie. the Messiah.
Verse 36, THEREFORE, the conclusion, "Let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord (sovereign deity) and Messiah."
The context at Acts 2:34 indicates that the translation should be,
"for (it was) not David who ascended . . ."
(Yes, "it was" is added, but it is justified because Peter is setting up a contrast between
David and the Messiah).
Thus, literally, "not David ascended" rather than "David did not ascend."
The placement of the negative with David establishes the contrast between
David and the Messiah, which is what Peter is doing in order to demonstrate
that it is Jesus who fulfilled the prophecy.
Since the ESV and KJV do
not place the "not" properly, it contributes to interpretations other
In view of this, our access to heaven is described at Hebrews 12:22-24, as coming to "Mount Zion even the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, AND to myriads of angels (holy ones), a festal gathering, AND to the assembly of the first born, AND to God the judge of all, AND to the spirits of righteous men made complete, AND to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, AND to the blood which speaks beyond the (significance of the blood sacrifice made by) Abel."
In heaven at this time then, there is:
1. The location of our heavenly abode: The heavenly Jerusalem on a "heavenly" Mount Zion.
2. The multitude of angels which is a festal gathering. This speaks of the joy and celebration of the angels concerning the redeemed.
3. The assembly (ekklesia) of the firstborn (the church) which has been enrolled in heaven. This is the body of Christ (the church) already enrolled based on divine foreknowledge and predestination. It would be represented by those of the church already present.
4. God the Father.
5. The spirits of righteous men made complete. This refers to Old Testament saints who were taken to heaven at the "first" ascension of Jesus and were thus, "made complete" but not apart from that "completion" being given to the church (Hebrews 11:40). Furthermore, it is important to realize that the "condition" of these Old Testament saints in heaven is not in resurrection body. The word "made complete" in this context does not refer to resurrection but to the confirmation of the salvation promised in the Old Testament. It was given to them by way of promise as they experienced "comfort" in Paradise, awaiting the arrival and the work of the Messiah. After His victory, these spirits were taken to heaven where their salvation was confirmed (made complete) by their heavenly access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18). No one receives resurrection until Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:23).
6. And Jesus.
7. The blood mentioned, speaks of the basis for access. The work of Christ on the cross as payment for sin.
Thus we see in heaven, both Old Testament and New Testament believers. And although they are mentioned separately, they are certainly mentioned as residing together.
Accordingly, if we were given a glimpse into heaven we
would expect to see represented there, all the parties mentioned at Hebrews
John, "in the Spirit," that is, in his vision, is transported to heaven where he will be shown the events of the future. He "arrives," to a scene in the new Jerusalem as it appears in the immediate environment of the throne of the Father. What he sees is - -
1. God the Father on His throne: Verses 4:1-3
2. 24 "old men" (elders = Greek, presbuteros). John does not see someone and say, "Oh, an elder." What John sees are 24 "old men."
This fact alone indicates that they are representative of people.
(Angels often "appeared" as men on the earth, but there is no logical reason for them to appear as men in heaven).
3. A symbol for the presence of the Holy Spirit. V. 4:5
4. Four living creatures which are probably the seraphim Isaiah saw at Isaiah 6:2-3.
5. The lamb is present: V. 5:6
6. And a multitude of angels: V. 5:11
The only group that could represent the saints is the 24 elders. The gold crowns further indicate that these are humans who have been victorious over the system of darkness. Scripture never shows angels wearing gold crowns. If one chooses to make the 24 elders refer to angels, then the saints in heaven have no representation at all.
It has further been suggested that since these "old men" have gold crowns (stephanos, in the Greek, which is claimed to be a "victor's" crown), it must refer to the church AFTER the rapture (which the pre-trib view places at Revelation 4:1) and the gold crowns represent the rewards to be given at the judgment seat of Christ.
However, the presence of the stephanos crown does not require that it refer to "rewards." The locusts of Revelation 9:7, have gold stephanos crowns and Jesus Himself wears a gold stephanos crown at Revelation 14:14.
The crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus was a stephanos
To view this group of "old men" as saints, gives us no problem when the KJV version is read, and they are singing about the Lamb who "redeemed US to God." But the better Greek manuscripts render the pronouns "us" and "we" in verses 9-10, as "them" and "they." Some suggest, on that basis, that the 24 elders cannot refer to people in that they are speaking of the redemption of the saints in the 3rd person. However, in "song mode," when the singers use the 3rd person, there is no denial of personal participation with the subject of the song. The use of the 3rd person personal pronoun is not foreign to a general proclamation of truth and praise to God for His work. This can be shown via the "Song of the Sea" which is recorded at Exodus 15:1-18.
Exodus 15:13, "You have led the people whom you have redeemed."
Exodus 15:17, "You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance."
The big issue revolves around the significance of the number, 24.
It has been suggested, that since there were 24 orders or rotations to the Levitical priesthood, this number represents the Old Testament believers. If that be true, then the many believers of the church who were in heaven at the time of John's vision would not be represented.
The other suggestion for the number 24 is to correlate it with Revelation 21:12-14, and see a representation of both Old Testament and New Testament saints. There we find in the New Jerusalem (which remember, is PRESENTLY in heaven), 12 gates for the 12 tribes of Israel and 12 foundation stones for the 12 apostles of the Lamb. This indicates that the church and Old Testament believers are together in the new (heavenly) Jerusalem and if that city is representative of the bride's "home," then it is clear that they are both part of the bride.
Accordingly, both groups of saints are together in heaven and share equally not only the future resurrection at the rapture, but the subsequent evaluation of deeds at the judgment seat of God as well.
At first, this appears to conflict with dispensational theology but there is no conflict at all. Dispensations deal ONLY with function here on earth and have nothing to do with status or function in heaven.
Another point of concern is the fact that John sees in his vision both the 24
elders and the raptured church TOGETHER at Rev. 7:9-17; 14:2-3; 19:3-8.
Let me say at the outset, that no one received a resurrection body before Christ and no one has received a resurrection body since Christ. No one will receive a resurrection body until Christ returns at the Day of the LORD. This includes both Enoch and Elijah as well as the believers who were "resuscitated" at Matthew 27:51-53.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 makes it perfectly clear that after
Christ, the firstfruits of resurrection, the next ones to be resurrected
will be those who are Christ's at His coming.
There are only two resurrections of saints mentioned in the New Testament's development of end times events.
1. The resurrection at the rapture: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17
2. The resurrection of "martyrs" after the rapture at Revelation 20:4.
The resurrection program taught at 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, combines the above two resurrections into a general resurrection of the righteous as "those who are Christ's at His coming."
Jesus did the same thing at John 5:28-29 by teaching a "general" resurrection of the righteous and a general resurrection of the wicked.
At Daniel 12:2, the angel taught Daniel that there would be a general resurrection of the righteous and one for the wicked.
Daniel 12:13 speaks of a resurrection at the end of the age.
The resurrection at Revelation 20:4 is very restrictive.
However, before these martyrs are resurrected, we see a group of "previously"
resurrected saints sitting on thrones. This first group, then, refers to
the raptured bride (church and Old Testament believers) who begin to administrate
their promised "judgment" function as joint-heirs with Christ
(Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 6:2a, 3; Revelation 5:10)
It seems quite clear that there are two groups represented
at verse 4.
There is no way to make this involve anyone other than a group of saints who were martyred via the oppressive reign of the beast. It does not include "living" believers nor does it include any who died of natural causes throughout history. It should be clear then, that this does NOT refer to the resurrection that takes place at the rapture. It therefore must refer to those who were martyred after the rapture. And if there is no other resurrection mentioned, then the Old Testament saints must be included in the rapture.
The significance of the phrase, "this is the first resurrection," is that this brings to completion the first resurrection which embraces both the raptured bride of Christ (Old and New Testament believers), who are sitting on the thrones, and the Day of the Lord martyrs, who die for their faith after the rapture and prior to Armageddon.
The language at Daniel 12:13, "at the end of the age," need not refer to the exact end of the age of Israel, ie., the exact end of the 70th week. It can very easily refer to the general time period known as the end of the age, which would be the 70th week itself. Accordingly, the resurrection of Old Testament saints and their inclusion in the rapture "during" the 70th week, ie., at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus before the 70th week comes to an end, does not violate Daniel 12:13.
Nor does the resurrection of Old Testament saints with the saints of the church violate any "functional" distinctions between them in a dispensational context. In fact, Old Testament saints all looked forward to salvation and resurrection through the sin sacrifice of the Messiah.
And it is that sin sacrifice of Messiah Jesus which brought both into a covenant of peace with God (Ephesians 2:13-16). Furthermore, New Testament believers are made fellow citizens with the Old Testament saints and are joined with them into God's household (Ephesians 2:19).
It is clear then, that Old Testament saints are placed into union with Christ through their heavenly association with Him based on their faith in Him as the promised Messiah Savior.
In addition, Hebrews 11:39-40 suggests that the "perfection" of relationship with God in heaven (Hebrews 12:23), is shared together by both Old and New Testament believers. They both live in the same heavenly city, the New Jerusalem (Hebrews 11:16; 12:22).
The issue at this point is whether or not the "rapture" passages will support the inclusion of Old Testament saints. Each of these passages then, need to be evaluated separately from this perspective.
First, we have 1 Corinthians 15:51, "Behold, I tell you a mystery."
Some would say that this passage on resurrection at the rapture cannot include Old Testament saints because it is "mystery" doctrine. However, the "mystery" aspect of this is NOT resurrection, nor the time of the resurrection, but the fact that the resurrection will include "living" believers (those who have not died physically). That is the mystery of it.
This passage does indeed speak of a general resurrection with the language, "the dead will be raised, imperishable and we shall all be changed." verse 52. There is no language that excludes Old Testament saints but in fact, it agrees with the idea at Daniel 12:2 of a general resurrection of the righteous.
Earlier in chapter 15, we find at verses 22 and 23 -
The terminology, "in Christ" and "those
who are Christ's," does not exclude Old Testament believers based on
what was established before. Old Testament saints have been joined with
the church into one body according to Ephesians 2:13-19.
Related to this is the language at 1 Thessalonians 4:14, "fallen asleep in Jesus" and verse 16, "the dead in Christ shall rise first."
Concerning verse 14, the Greek uses the preposition "dia" to indicate agency and association. The translation "in Jesus," for this preposition is not valid. It should read, "Those who have fallen asleep (died) THROUGH Jesus." The faith of Old Testament saints was directed toward the promised Messiah.
Moses certainly understood the significance of association
with the Messianic promise as well as the Messianic people (Israel) as reflected
at Hebrews 11:26,
They looked forward to His sacrifice on behalf of them as well as on behalf of future generations. Isaiah 53:5-12
1 Peter 1:10-11 states,
The point is, that these too died with their faith in Jesus the Messiah and as has been shown, were joined together into one body with those who actually witnessed the Messiah's arrival and the generations that followed.
Concerning V. 16, "the dead in Christ," once again the union of both Old Testament and New Testament saints into one body (Ephesians 2:13-19) places them both "in Christ."
The subject of the saints in heaven would not be complete without a discussion on the possibility of what some have designated as an "interim body." The interim body theory suggests that in the after life, prior to resurrection, the soul is given some kind of physical body which provides for both physical sensations and physical expressions.
The theory originated to explain several passages where it appears that such sensations and expressions occur.
At 1 Samuel 28:11-19, God allowed Samuel the prophet to come out of paradise in Hades in order to communicate God's message of divine discipline to King Saul. Saul did not see Samuel but he appeared to the witch who was allowed to see him.
Necromancy has never been acceptable to God and has always been condemned as demonology (Deuteronomy 18:10-12). This incident with Samuel was not necromancy. Necromancy is the practice of calling upon a yiddoniy demon to imitate the form and voice of a dead person in order to give special knowledge and advice for making future decisions.
Samuel is the only one to have ever come back from the dead in this manner. Our concern is whether the form he manifested was given by God just for this occasion or whether it was his interim body. One thing is certain. He appeared with the very physical features recognizable by the witch and identified by Saul (1 Samuel 28:14).
MOSES AND ELIJAH
There are two others who, after having died, were made visible to living men on the earth. They are Moses and Elijah and the incident occurred as recorded at Matthew 17:1-9. Again, based on the facts already stated, this appearance by these two men was not a resurrection body and probably not a resuscitation. Although it is possible to ascribe to these men the possession of an interim body, there is an alternate possibility.
I have already established as fact, the incident recorded at Luke 16 regarding the after death experience of the rich man and Lazarus.
Here we find three men (Abraham, the rich man and Lazarus) existing with some kind of physical form which allows physical sensations such as "comfort" and "torment" as well as personal recognition via physical features. Clearly, the experience of at least 3 physical senses (sight, sound, touch) is demonstrated by this incident as well as some manner of communication.
SOULS UNDER THE ALTAR
Revelation 6:9-11 tells of the martyrs who are under the altar in heaven awaiting Divine timing for the administration of God's justice on the unbelieving world. They are not yet in resurrection body, for according to the pre-wrath view of the rapture, the Lord's gathering of his saints will not occur until the 6th seal which is related at Revelation 6:12-17.
And yet, we see these "souls" wearing white robes. This suggests some kind of physical form and agrees with what has been noticed before.
24 OLD MEN
Revelation 4:4-11 tells us about the 24 "old men" whom John sees in the heavenly scene before God's throne which is probably in the New Jerusalem which is located in heaven at this time (Hebrews 12:22).
I have previously discussed these "old men" and determined that they must be representative of the saints in heaven. Accordingly, once again, we see these saints prior to resurrection, with some kind of physical "body" or structure which allows for physical interaction and sensations. We see them seated, wearing robes and crowns, holding harps and bowls, bowing to the ground and speaking.
It seems reasonable therefore to view the theory of the interim body as having substance although the reality of it one way or the other does not affect any area of doctrine. It is simply a device to assist us in understanding the passages in question.
However, the language involved, although certainly suggestive of the possession of some kind of physical body for the soul after death, does not demand it.
The actual "substance" of the soul is totally unknown to any of us. The human soul has never been seen by anyone physically alive except the witch of Endor, since it seems that Saul was not allowed to see Samuel, and the three disciples who witnessed the presence of Moses and Elijah. We really have no idea what "substance" it possesses. Point being, that the "physical" characteristics observed by scripture of souls in the afterlife, might very well be the actual structure of the soul, and all the interaction, sensations and expressions are normal for that soul structure.
Furthermore, according to 2 Corinthians 5:3, our soul is in a condition of "naked" since it is not in the promised resurrection body. If there were an interim body, it seems likely that the term "naked" would not apply.
Having thus considered all of these issues, it is my conclusion that there is no interim body. At death, the soul leaves the physical body and remains in a "naked" condition until resurrection. In that "naked" condition, souls interrelate, experience physical sensations and manifest physical expressions, but this is all normal for the function of the soul in that spiritual environment.
To complete this discussion it is necessary to point out that, whereas, some attempt to use 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 as support for an interim body, it can be clearly demonstrated that this passage has the future resurrection of the saints in view and not an interim body.
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF GOD
The next concern is the time and nature of the evaluation for the works of the saints. As has already been demonstrated, the Old Testament and New Testament saints have been positionally joined together into one spiritual body in union with Christ. The evaluation of these believers as to the nature of their works here on earth will accordingly, take place at the same time which is called the "reward" seat of Christ.
Statement of Fact: Each believer will take personal responsibility for his every decision made here on earth.
1. We have no business putting ourselves up in authority over someone else's life.
2. For: gar - God's authority is the only judge and His policy is the only standard.
3. We shall all: every believer.
4. stand: paristāmi - future middle indicative
5. At the bāma of God: bāma is a place where justice is administered. Humanly speaking it is a tribunal or judicial bench as seen at
Matthew 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 12:21; 18:12, 16-17; 25:6, 10, 17.
Here it is called the justice seat of God, but Christ administrates the evaluation and justice (John 5:22-23) so at 2 Corinthians 5:10, it is called the bāma of Christ.
V. 11, Old Testament documentation to establish Divine authority in judgment. As it is written: graphō, perfect passive indicative.
This is a REFERENCE to Isaiah 45:23. It is not quoted word for word, but the doctrinal principle is represented accurately. (Not quoted from LXX either)
The context is the accountability that will be required of mankind after the Day of the Lord judgments and just before the earthly kingdom of the Messiah is established. It does not really deal with the last judgment of Revelation 20:11-15 as that takes place after the 1000 year reign of Messiah. However, the principle of every knee bowing and personal accountability applies equally to that last judgment.
The plea for adjustment to God's justice comes in verse 22
This refers to the gospel message which will be delivered during the Day of the Lord judgments which is mentioned at Revelation 14:6-7,
At verses 23-24, God declares the policy of personal accountability.
The word, affirm, translates the Hebrew, shabha, which has two primary ideas.
1. To asseverate which means to make a positive affirmation or declaration (BDB, page 989).
2. To take an oath.
When this passage is referenced at Romans 14:11 and Philippians
2:10, the word that is used is, exomologeō, which means to confess
1. Every knee shall bow: humility recognition of Divine sovereignty.
2. Every tongue give praise: exomologeō (future active indicative) means to confess agreement. In this case it is a confessing acknowledgment and acceptance of the Divine justice evaluation of the believer's life.
The LXX, which of course, is not inspired, does not use
"exomologeo," but instead uses a Greek word that corresponds with
the alternate meaning for "shabha," omnuō, which means
to take an oath or swear.
The statement of positive affirmation is recorded at Isaiah 45:24,
This affirmation recognizes the absolute standard for acceptability of man's works before God, His righteousness and His strength. It is, of course, the exact opposite of Isaiah 64:6,
This is not only what the living believers will acknowledge before they enter into the 1000 year reign of Jesus, but also what the resurrected believers will acknowledge at the reward seat of Christ. The purpose is to demonstrate God's righteousness and totally expose, reject and destroy man's "human" righteousness. That's why Paul uses this passage to illustrate the believer's personal accountability before God and the basis for approval and reward from God.
Paul explains what is meant by this accountability at Romans 14:12.
1. So then --- us: believers only
2. each one: individual and personal responsibility and accountability for my decisions.
3. Concerning himself: peri + heautos - further emphasis on personal responsibility concerning the issues of light and darkness - good and bad.
4. Shall give account: two words
This evaluation from justice results in loss or reward according to God's standards.
1. 2 Corinthians 5:10, good vs. useless (agathos vs. phaulos).
2. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, perishable vs. non-perishable.
The rewards will be meted out in three categories (1 Peter 1:7)
1. PRAISE: refers to accolades from the Godhead such as, "Well done good and faithful servant."
2. GLORY: refers to one or more of the four crowns which the believer can earn by his faithfulness in living the Christian life.
3. HONOR: refers to the honor of having a "functional" reign with Christ during his 1000 year kingdom on the earth.
But regardless of the degree of failure or success, the believer will be saved as a child of God and not lose his heavenly inheritance (1Corinthians 3:15).
The big question that remains is, when will this evaluation of the believer's works take place? The Bible tells us that it will be -
1. When the Lord comes: 1 Corinthians 4:5, erchomai, aorist active subjunctive.
2. When He appears: 1 Peter 5:1-4, phaneroō, aorist passive participle.
3. On that day: 2 Timothy 4:8, the "time" of His appearing.
4. At His presence: 1 Thessalonians 4:19, parousia
All of these terms refer to the arrival of Jesus at the Day of the Lord but do not require that the reward seat occur immediately at that time.
This can be demonstrated by looking at 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10,
It is clear that the "everlasting ruin" is not administered until the Great White Throne judgment which takes place at the end of the 1000 year reign of Jesus and is the culmination of the Day of the Lord events. But the arrival of Jesus at the inception of those Day of the Lord events is the basis for the "everlasting ruin" and is therefore directly associated with His arrival.
In the same way, regarding the reward seat of Christ, the believers are given a resurrection body, but the evaluation of their works will not take place for several months. According to Revelation 11:18, that time is after the 7th trumpet sounds at the end of the 70th week. The evaluation will take place in heaven during the 30 day period of God's final wrath upon the earth, prior to Christ's victory at Armageddon.
A possible reason for this delay of the evaluation of the saints, is to wait for the two witnesses (Moses and Elijah) to rejoin the body in heaven after their 1260 day ministry on the earth, which ends just before the 7th trumpet sounds.
In the meantime the status and activity of this "body of Christ" in heaven is described at Revelation 7:15-17,
We learn from Revelation 19, that the marriage of the Lamb does not take place until AFTER the 7th bowl judgment.
Immediately after this judgment upon Babylon, the believers who are in heaven at that time (in the future), that is, the body of Christ, will express their joy and excitement at the event (Revelation 19:1-3).
As the 4 living creatures and the 24 old men are observing this on the "vision screen," they too express their praise and excitement toward God (Revelation 19:4).
The vision continues at verse 5 with an exhortation (probably from an angel) for all the believers in heaven to give praise to God.
These are the same ones who were mentioned back at Revelation 11:18 who are waiting to receive their reward.
Verses 6-11 returns to the vision "screen" as we are told that the marriage of the Lamb has arrived. The use of the word, "arrived" indicates that it has not as yet taken place, but is now ready to be completed. Accordingly, "His bride has made herself ready" through the evaluation that takes place at the justice seat of Christ.
The "betrothal" period began for each individual believer at the moment of his salvation through personal trust in Jesus as the Messiah (2Corinthians 11:2).
During the time of the believer's stay here on earth, he is to cultivate God's righteousness in His life through growth and the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is fulfillment of this purpose which produces good works which are acceptable to God (Romans 14:17-18) and which will be rewarded at the Justice Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). The positive result of the evaluation of all believers at this time will collectively constitute the wedding garment of the bride as "fine linen, bright and clean" which is "the righteous deeds of the saints," (Revelation 19:8).
Individually, of course, each believer will be personally rewarded according to the quality of his works as a Christian, whether they be good (agathos) or useless (phaulos), (2 Corinthians 5:10) as we saw earlier.
It is for this reason that Paul writes at 2 Corinthians 11:2,
According to Revelation 19:9, there will be a marriage supper of the Lamb, which would obviously take place AFTER the wedding itself.
Now whether the marriage and/or supper take place before Revelation 19:11, is not clearly stated, but the implication is that Christ will first "destroy those who destroy the earth" at the battle of Armageddon and then participate in both the marriage and the supper at the beginning of His 1000 year earthly reign. There is no clear evidence that the marriage takes place in heaven and the supper, upon the earth. I suggest that both take place AFTER Christ's victory at Armageddon and at the beginning of the kingdom. In fact, it is most reasonable that the marriage "supper" is actually the privilege of living in the kingdom and those who are invited to the supper will be those who are left alive after Armageddon (Zechariah 14:16-21) and who survive the evaluation of the nations of Matthew 25:31-46 as believers in Christ. These will go alive into the kingdom in mortal human bodies to experience the administration of divine righteousness while Satan is bound for 1000 years.
After the 1000 year earthly reign of Jesus, Satan and the demons will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10) and the Great White Throne judgment will take place which assigns all unbelievers to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
There is no mention of resurrection for the Millennial saints but it is reasonable to think that they too shall spend eternity in resurrection body in order to enjoy the quality of life which is described at Revelation 21:1-7 (NASB),
İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com.
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