|By: Dr. Renald Showers; ©1996|
|Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.|
Dr. Renald Showers: Why has God scheduled future events for planet earth? Why will there be a seven-year period of Tribulation, followed by the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus back to this planet, and then His thousand-year reign over the earth? There has to be a reason for these future events because God never does anything without a purpose. But in order to understand why things will take place the way they will near the end of time, we really have to go back to the beginning of time and see some significant things that transpired then. Because what will happen in the future is based squarely upon significant things that happened near the beginning. Back in eternity past God determined to have a kingdom over which He could rule as a sovereign King. That kingdom was to be known as the Kingdom of God. And God determined to create two major kinds of personal subjects to serve Him in His kingdom. First, He created an enormous host of beings that the Bible calls angels.
After He created the earth, He brought into existence the second kind of personal subject to serve Him in His Kingdom and that was man. According to Genesis Chapter 1, verse 26, when God created man, He gave man dominion over everything that God had created and placed here on this planet. Now, the fact that God did that tells us what the original form of government was as ordained by God for planet earth. The original form of government is that which is called a theocracy.
The word "theocracy" means "rule of God." Theocracy is a form of government in which the rule of God is administered by a representative."
When we come to the last verse of Genesis 1, we find that after God had finished creating His Kingdom, He looked at everything that He had made and God’s evaluation was, it was all very good. But tragically, it would not remain that way very long.
Some time after God completed the creation of His Kingdom, the most intelligent, most powerful, highest ranking angel whom God had made, an angel who according to Ezekiel 28 was the anointed cherub who covered the unique presence of God in Heaven, that exalted angel was lifted up in pride over how great he was. And in his pride, he determined that he wanted to be just like God. He saw that God had a kingdom over which He ruled as a sovereign King. He wanted to have a kingdom over which he could rule as a sovereign king. He saw that God had both angels and human subjects serving Him in His Kingdom. If he were to be like God, he, too, had to have both angels and human subjects serving him in his kingdom. But this angel had a problem which God did not have, and that’s the fact that since he was only a creature and not the Creator, he did not have the ability to create other angels and human beings. So the most he could hope for was to persuade God’s angels and human beings to join him in his revolt against God.
When this angel began this rebellion, God changed his name to Satan, which means "enemy" or "adversary," because that’s exactly what this exalted angel had now become: the great enemy or adversary of God. Satan made his approach, first, to the other angels. And the Scriptures make it quite clear that he was successful in persuading a sizeable amount of God’s angels to join him in his rebellion against God.
Well, now that he had angels in his kingdom, Satan then decided to make his approach to man. And we have the record of this in Genesis 3. Angels have the ability to take upon themselves any shape or form or size that they need in order to carry out a task, and so Satan took upon himself the deceptive form of a snake and he entered into man’s perfect environment on earth and tragically was able to persuade Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, to join him in his rebellion against God. And so the fall of man took place away from God.
Now, if we are to understand the purpose of future events, we have to note several tragic consequences of man joining Satan’s rebellion against God. The first tragic consequence is the fact that the theocracy was lost from planet earth. Remember, theocracy is a form of government in which the rule of God is administered by a representative. And now that Adam, God’s representative, had made the fateful choice to join God’s enemy, Satan, in his rebellion against God, God lost His representative and therefore the theocracy was lost from planet earth altogether.
A second tragic consequence of man joining Satan’s rebellion is the fact that Satan was now able to usurp the rule of the world system away from God and the Scriptures make it quite clear that Satan and his forces have been dominating and controlling the world system ever since.
But there was a third tragic consequence of man joining Satan’s revolt against God back there in the Garden of Eden, and that is the fact that all of nature was put under a curse. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve had fallen away from God, and God came down to the earth to confront Adam, Eve and Satan with their roles in the fall of man, this is what God said to Adam: "Cursed is the ground for your sake. From now on, it will be by the sweat of your brow that you will till he ground to grow food to sustain life."
Even animal nature was radically changed from that curse. There are implications in the Bible to the effect that before the Fall of man, all animals were completely tame and were vegetarian in diet. But now that the curse of man’s sin came upon them, animals became wild and many of them became carnivorous, tearing at each other’s flesh as a source of food. The Apostle Paul, in Romans Chapter 8, says that "all of creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own choosing." Nature didn’t ask to be put under this curse, but it was subjected to it nonetheless. And Paul goes on to say that "the whole of creation groans and travails in pain" and can hardly wait until the ultimate day of redemption when the curse of man’s sin will be lifted off of nature.
Well, now that Satan had both angels and humans as subjects within his kingdom, his kingdom was established and functioning and so now there were two major spiritual kingdoms functioning in the universe: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. And since Satan’s goal was to become the ultimate sovereign one of the universe and God was already that ultimate Sovereign One, and since there can only be one ultimate sovereign one, this meant that there was going to be all-out war. And Satan, throughout the course of history, has been working to try to overthrow God as the Sovereign Lord of the universe and make himself that sovereign lord.
And it is that continuing warfare between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan that provides us with the key for understanding the ultimate purpose of history. Satan’s purpose is to unseat God as the Sovereign Lord of the universe and make himself that sovereign lord in place of God. But God’s purpose for history, and therefore the ultimate purpose, is to glorify Himself by demonstrating the fact that He alone is the sovereign God of this universe.
Now, the Scriptures indicate that in order for God to accomplish that purpose, there are three significant things God must do before the history of this world comes to an end. Number one, God must crush His enemy Satan and get rid of him and his kingdom rule and his forces from this planet altogether.
The second thing God must do is this. After He does crush Satan, God must restore His theocracy back to this planet in which once again God will have a man, an Adam, as His representative administering His rule over this entire earth. And the Word of God makes it very clear that God has such a man. His name is Jesus Christ.
May I point out to you, this is one of the reasons, not the only one, but one of the major reasons why the Incarnation of Jesus Christ was absolutely essential. One reason, obviously, was so that He could die as our substitute on the cross of Calvary to pay the penalty for our sins. But another reason is, so that in His Second Coming, He can return to planet earth as a man, as an Adam, to function as God’s representative administering His rule. I would like to challenge you sometime to look in the Gospels at the places where Jesus referred to His Second Coming, and almost invariably, He calls Himself "the Son of man" at His Second Coming. He’ll still be the Son of God, absolute Deity, but He’s emphasizing His humanity in His Second Coming because He’s returning as the last Adam to restore God’s theocracy.
But then the third thing God must do to fulfill His purpose for history is this: when He does restore that theocracy through His Son, Jesus Christ, God must lift the curse of man’s sin off of nature and restore nature back to the way it was before the Fall of man took place.
Now, how will God accomplish these three things? Well, He’ll accomplish that first thing through the combination of the seven-year Tribulation period and Second Coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. When you study Revelation, Chapters 6-18, which covers the major events of the future seven-year Tribulation period, you will find that throughout that seven-year span of time, God will pour out three series of judgments here on planet earth. First, there will be seven seal judgments, then, seven trumpet judgments, and finally, seven bowl or vial judgments. Why is God pouring out these judgments upon the earth during the seven-year Tribulation period? This is His means of beginning to systematically attack and tear down or crush Satan’s kingdom rule here on planet earth.
John tells us in Revelation 11:15: "And the seventh angel sounded, and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.’" Does that sound familiar? Handel’s Messiah. And it’s from this particular passage that Handel derived that tremendous refrain. Do you realize what that is? That’s a tremendous cry of victory! God’s creatures in heaven, when they see God unleashing the last series of judgments which will end His enemy Satan’s rule on planet earth, they get so excited in anticipation of what this means that they can’t hold in their excitement. And they cry forth that tremendous expression of victory: "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. And He shall reign forever and ever." It’s almost as they say, "Finally, after God in His sovereignty, for His own purposes that only He can understand, has allowed His enemy and His enemy’s forces to dominate this world that God created for ages, God is bringing Satan’s rule to an end. And God and His Messiah, His Christ, are going to take back the rule of the earth for the honor and the glory of God.