New Earth, Eden Restored


52 It is Done!

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. John 19:30

The covenant must finish its work on earth. The time must come when the people of God fully display His love and grace. Those who refuse God’s grace and love demonstrate the character of Satan. All people on earth will have made their final decision, and Christ has fought and been victorious in the final battle (Rev. 16:16-21; 19:11-21). His people are ready to be gathered to Him. During this end time, Jesus completes several significant actions.


The Gospel to the World

The church, in its first love, spread the news of Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection (1 Cor. 2:2; 15:3, 4), and His return in glory throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. To His disciples Jesus had become a much-loved friend. They looked for His soon return. Nothing else mattered. They sold their properties to support the new church. They could not stop talking about Him; they talked about Him so much that the people in Antioch began to call them “Christians,” a name they gladly accepted!

Jesus commissioned the church to preach the everlasting gospel to the world (Matt. 28:18-20; 24:14); but even better, under the power of the Holy Ghost, they were to be witnesses of what Christ had done (Acts 1:8). They almost reached this goal in the first century.

Their task was not always easy. There was trouble and persecution-from the unbelieving Jews, from the pagans, and then from the apostate Christian church. Not only was there persecution, but there were divisions and heresies that entered the church. Nonetheless, for 1260 years, the church in the wilderness kept the light of truth burning (Rev. 12:14).1

As the disciples began to die, they realized that Jesus was not going to return in their lifetime. They were to look first for a “falling away,” when pagan philosophies would bring unfortunate changes to the church.2 In spite of this, there would always be a remnant who would make Jesus first in their lives and follow the true faith as they understood it (Rom. 11:5; Luke 18:8).


A Renewed Commission

As the Middle Ages passed, Christ led His church step-by-step back to the true faith. The churches published the Scriptures and made them widely available. They established missionary societies. The people prospered and supported these activities. God’s people learned again about the end-time judgment and Christ’s soon return.3 These doctrines cut across the beliefs of many Christians, causing opposition within the church. Through the prophecies, God commissioned those who believed to bring the truth of the Gospel, true worship, and the judgment before every nation, tribe, tongue, and people before Jesus could come again (Rev. 10:11; 14:6-12; 18:1-4).

This appeared to be an impossible task. The devil opposed Christ at every turn, brought on trouble, and raised prejudice against God’s people. He attacked the Bible and the law of God. He claimed that grace is not sufficient to save and that Christians are no better than those who make no profession, while the population of the world was increasing faster than conversions to Christianity.

Christians can only weep that there is truth in some of these claims and pray that God will show Himself strong for His people. However, we look for a time when the honest in heart will renew their consecration and take a new interest in His Word. The Holy Spirit will come in even greater power than at Pentecost.4 Where human agents cannot penetrate, God will send His angels to bring truth to His people.

The gospel commission was to “teach all nations to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”5 Not only must the gospel go to all the world, but it must come in full measure to the heart of every one of God’s people.6 The final issue, the seal of God and the mark of the beast, is the dividing line between those who choose to serve God and those who do not. The people of God make their decision by faith, and are finally prepared to see Jesus come again. The 144,000 are sealed as the first fruits, showing the completion of the work of grace in the lives of humanity. The restoration of God’s people to the image of God is finished. The people of the world, choosing the easy, popular way or making no decision at all, are given the mark of the beast and are lost.


Trouble, Turmoil, and Plagues

As trouble increases on every hand, we can know “the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Rev. 12:12). God’s people will experience the fellowship of suffering for Christ. God’s people will be tested by the two phases of a time of trouble. The first is a time of intense activity by the church to carry the gospel to the world, which will lead to persecution and martyrdom (Matt. 24:1-21; Rev. 20:4).

In the time of the end, God’s people will be blamed and persecuted for the increased turmoil everywhere. As trouble increases, people will determine to destroy the people of God-choosing a date to accomplish this purpose in one massive effort (Rev. 13:15).

The second phase comes after probation has closed and God has sealed the 144,000. At this time, every person has made his or her decision for or against God, and there is no more evangelism. The wicked will threaten God’s people, but holy angels will protect them (Dan. 12:1; Ps. 91). The angels will then pour out the seven last plagues (Rev. 16), but God will protect His people from these, too. Through all this, Jesus has promised, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).


A Time to Search the Heart

Meanwhile, Jesus continues His daily ministry in the heavenly sanctuary, applying His blood for the forgiveness of sins. In ancient Israel, there was also a Day of Atonement once a year. The sanctuary was cleansed of the sins accumulated during the past year. This pointed forward to divine judgment at the end of earth’s history.

The true “Day of Atonement” began in 1844 (Dan. 8:14) and was preached by William Miller in New England from 1831 to 1844. He preached that the sanctuary to be cleansed was this earth and that Jesus would come October 22, 1844. Of course, Jesus did not come. After further study, it was found that the sanctuary to be cleansed was the heavenly sanctuary.

The church was commissioned to “prophesy again” (Rev. 10:11). God’s people must learn and accept the true faith and consent to the full work of grace in their lives. The gospel and the judgment-hour message must be given “to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6). The name of every person who has entered into the service of Christ is listed in the Lamb’s book of life. In the Day of Atonement, the record of pardoned sins is blotted out, and, where sins are not forgiven, the names are blotted out. It is a time of judgment. In the book of life, the names of God’s people show no sins, only an uninterrupted record of victory in Christ.

When Jesus comes, He takes His people to live and reign with Him for “a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). This is a time for the judgment of the wicked, for when Jesus comes, He brings His reward with Him “to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:12). This is the time when God’s people have every question answered. As some who were apparently wicked are saved, and some who were apparently righteous are lost, every man and angel must see that God is a God of mercy and justice. It is only when the redeemed are finally brought into the new earth that God wipes away all tears from their eyes and that the reign of sin is forgotten for eternity (Isa. 65:17; 25:8; Rev. 7:17; 21:4).


Armageddon: a Spiritual Battle

Just before the end, the world is divided into just two classes. The Holy Spirit seals the righteous remnant, and they are safe for eternity. The unbelieving, deceived majority, through choice or neglect, receive the mark of the beast. Every person makes his final decision to serve or not to serve God. Then probation closes for all.7

The holy angels pour out the seven last plagues as judgments against the wicked (Rev. 15; 16). The plagues are both real and symbolic in some of their details. This is especially true regarding the seventh plague-the Battle of Armageddon. The logistics of gathering the world in the rather small valley of Megiddo are impossible and unnecessary. It will not be a battle with guns and tanks.8

The conflict at this time is not with the small nation of ethnic Israel but is rather the final contest between Christ and Satan. The followers of Satan work to destroy the righteous, but God delivers them (Dan. 12:1). The death of God’s people after probation has closed would not be a witness to people who have already made their decision not to follow Christ. There will be no more martyrs for there are no more decisions to make!

Christ then comes with power and magnificent glory. It is the glory of “all” the angels (100 million is the largest number Bible writers could conceive of). The glory of Jesus Christ outshines them all. Imagine that! The wicked try to hide themselves in the rocks and the mountains. The righteous gladly welcome their Lord.


Cleansing and Restoration

As Jesus looks at the unnumbered multitudes of the saved, He feels “the joy that was set before him” for which He endured the cross. He is rewarded for the sufferings of His life on earth by “the glory that should follow,” and He is satisfied.9 Jesus welcomes His people.

When Jesus comes the second time, the everlasting covenant has achieved its purpose. Grace has changed the lives of those who have consented to its work. Jesus Christ confirmed the covenant by His sinless life and His sacrifice on Calvary. The gospel in which Jesus has taken our place before the judgment so that we might live has been given to all people. The 144,000, who have made the deepest commitment to Him, are sealed. More than any others, they are like Christ. The work of grace on the hearts of sinful people has been demonstrated to all, as sinful people have been transformed by looking into God’s glory. “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18, ASV).

After the New Jerusalem comes down to the earth, heaven is where God is. Happiness again reigns in heaven and earth. All creation, in unshadowed beauty and perfect joy, declare that God is love.

I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Rev. 21:3)


Endnotes

1. It was prophesied that there would be a falling away in the church before Christ’s second coming. The church was accepted into society, became popular, formal, and increasingly worldly. Pagan doctrines and practices were brought into the church. There was a true, persecuted remnant that kept the light of truth burning for 1260 years until the Reformation dawned and the study of the Bible was revived (2 Thess. 2:3; Dan. 7:25; Rev. 12:13, 14; 13:5).

2. Paul prophesied a falling away in the church before Christ returns (2 Thess. 2:3).

3. Daniel prophesied the end-time judgment (Dan. 7:9-10; 13-14; 26-27; 8:14). Soon Christ will return to earth (Matt. 24:14; 27-31; 1 Cor. 15:51-55; Rev. 1:7; John 14:1-3).

4. God promised that He will pour out His Holy Spirit in the end time to finish the work of proclaiming the everlasting gospel (Joel 2:23, 28-32; Rev. 14:6-12; 18:1-4; Rom. 9:28; Acts 17:31).

5. Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). The meaning of “preach” is to “proclaim openly” (Strong’s). The message of Christ is to be proclaimed throughout the world. The angel told John after the bitter disappointment following the sweet experience of understanding the little book of Daniel, “Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and It is Done! 295 kings” (Rev. 10:11). This occurred after the great Advent awakening of 1840-1844. The message of judgment was given in many places, though not at that time to all peoples. The message was rejected by the popular churches.

“And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Rev. 14:6, 7). The timeframe for Revelation 10:11 and Revelation 14:6 is the same.

6. God’s people are changed (2 Cor. 3:18; 5:17; Gal. 5:22; 2 Peter 1:3-8).

7. Following the death decree for those who do not receive the mark of the beast, probation will close for all (Rev. 13:14-17; 14:9-12; 22:11).

8. The battle of Armageddon is described in Revelation 16:13-21. At last, God will say: “It is done” (Rev. 13:17).

9. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2; 1 Peter 1:11; Isa. 53:11).