The Greatest Story Ever Told
By David Brandt Berg
The basic events, characters, and conditions of the future have already been revealed in the Bible and by His prophets, the foretellers of the future. (Ephesians 1:9; Isaiah 42:9; Numbers 12:6) God has already revealed them in His Word and prophecies—some of which have already come to pass and been fulfilled, proving that God’s Word is true. Therefore we can just as surely expect that the remaining prophecies of God’s Word about the future will be completely fulfilled, too, just as those in the past have been. (2 Chronicles 20:20b; John 16:4a; Isaiah 34:16, 40:8; Ezekiel 33:33)
There are thousands of prophecies in the Bible which have already been fulfilled, including prophecies about the history of nations, the rise and fall of empires, even the names of great kings and the amazing fulfillments of prophecies in the little land of Israel, particularly those concerning Jesus Christ, the Messiah, about whom hundreds of prophecies in the ancient writings of the prophets have all been fulfilled in His birth, life, and death for you and me. (Isaiah 44:28; Daniel 8:20–21; Isaiah 9:6; 11:1–5; 53:2–4)
His was a life of love! Born in love, living in love, and dying in love for you and me, so that we too might live in love for Him and others. (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9–10; Ephesians 3:19; Romans 8:38–39; 1 John 3:16) But His story does not end there, because He rose again! And He made many other promises and predictions to His disciples before He finally ascended on high, caught up in the clouds in the air to depart to be with His Father God in heaven and His precious Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:1–7, 18–20; Mark 16:16–18; John 11:25, 26)
Before He went away, He promised His disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am, there ye may be also.” For He said that “In My Father’s house are many mansions, and if it were not so, I would have told you.” ( John 14:2–3) That place that He is going to prepare for us, that heavenly city is specifically described in detail in His holy book, the Bible, in its last book, the book of Revelation. (Revelation 21–22)
Dear John, the beloved disciple, Saint John the Revelator, described it in prophecy exactly as being 1,500 miles long, 1,500 miles wide, and 1,500 miles high—the greatest, most enormous city ever built, that could only have been built by God Himself. It is surrounded by a beautiful over-200-foot-high wall composed of 12 layers of precious jewels and having 12 gates, each gate a single gigantic pearl, and filled with beautiful dwelling places for His beloved children who have loved Him and been saved through faith in Jesus’ death for them on the cross.
Only they will be permitted to live within it, in its heavenly beauty of gorgeous splendor and paradise! Free forever from pain or sickness or death or evil, to live with Him and each other forever in eternal happiness. (Revelation 21:4; 22:5,14) Only they can walk its crystal golden streets and dwell in its gorgeous mansions in the presence of God forever. (Revelation 21:24, 27)
Each gate is guarded by a mighty angel, for outside, upon the surface of a new earth without seas but watered by rivers and lakes, there are still nations with kings, populated by people who are not yet ready to enter that beautiful city. (Revelation 21:24–26) They are not yet prepared for its purity and holiness, as they at first did not receive Jesus as their Savior because they had never heard of Him. (John 1:12; 3:16–17; Acts 4:12; 10:35; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 11:13, 16) They are the resurrected good of all ages who did not rise in the first resurrection at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in the beautiful rapture of His saints, the bride of Christ, after the terrible Tribulation. (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Revelation 20:4–5)
They are the unsaved dead of the first 6,000 years of world history who have been brought back to life and placed upon the earth’s new paradisiacal surface because their names were found written in the Book of Life and therefore deserve their first chance to hear the gospel of Jesus and His love and of the wonderful love of God, His Father, who created all things and made all things for our benefit and our pleasure to know and to love Him.
Here on the surface of the new earth they will be taught to know the Lord. (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; Philippians 2:10–11; Hebrews 13:14) Meanwhile, they live on this paradisiacal new earth with all of its unspoiled, re-created beauty like the Garden of Eden of old. Perfect in every respect, with no evil, no curse, no thorns, no evil varmints and poisonous serpents and insects and the horrors of the cursed earth that had gone before. (Revelation 22:3) Here in this perfect environment they are learning about Jesus and finding Christ as the Son of God. (John 14:3; 1 Corinthians 2:9–10)
But before they arrive in this beautiful paradise of God, several great periods of world history will have passed by. There was the fall from grace of man and woman, Adam and Eve, in the Garden of Eden for disobedience in eating of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 3; Romans 5:12–14) Driven out then into a hostile world full of curses and a difficult environment, they now must eat of their bread by the sweat of their brow, and work hard to earn a living, because they had lost the favor of the Lord through disobedience. Tempted by Satan, the king of evil, they passed on to all mankind the vicious sin of unbelief and disobedience to God. (Genesis 3:19; Hebrews 3:12, 19; 10:35–39; Romans 5:12)
Finally man became so evil that God decided that He must send a great flood of water upon the earth to destroy them all! All, that is, except one man and his family alone. That man was Noah and his wife and his three sons and their three wives. Eight souls in all were all that were saved from that great Flood, in an ark which God told Noah how to build. (Genesis 7; 1 Peter 3:20) After the Flood, over a year later, the ark landed upon the top of Mount Ararat, on the border of Turkey and Russia. And as the earth’s surface became dry enough to walk upon it, Noah and his family and all of the animals that they had saved left the ark and spread down the River Euphrates toward the Persian Gulf.
But they had not gone far or lived long before people had become evil again, this time building a mighty tower which they thought was going to reach up to heaven so that they would be like gods in their pride and their earthly might! God was angry with them for it, and He confused their tongues and their languages and divided them into all the various languages that are spoken upon the earth today. So they could no longer communicate with one another or understand each other to finish the tower. So they left off building the Tower of Babel and drifted on down the River Euphrates and began to spread out further across the surface of the earth in all directions. (Genesis 8, 11:1–9)
And it seemed the more man multiplied and populated the earth, the more wicked he became, so that they even worshipped devil gods and idols and images, and practiced worship of these demons, even including human sacrifice and the sacrifice of their own children to these false gods. (Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 17:14–17; Jeremiah 32:35; Psalm 106:35–39)
Finally God decided He had to do something about these descendants of the two creatures that He had created in the beginning. So He selected a people who would receive His words and write the Bible—the Jews of Israel—and produce the Messiah, Jesus Christ. But then again even the religious leaders of these chosen people, sons and daughters of Abraham the faithful, had the Son of God crucified, who had been sent to them only to show them love and explain God to them! They also tried to destroy His disciples. (Matthew 27:17–25; Acts 8:1) But God blessed Jesus’ disciples, and the Christians multiplied and spread throughout the earth until the gospel had finally conquered the Roman Empire, and Christianity became the official religion of the Western world. (Acts 8:4; 28:30–31)
But as the Christians became rich and powerful and corrupt, they too began to build temples to worship their God, like the temples of other gods, and developed a priesthood who wrote their own laws and rules and traditions. (Acts 7:48–50; 17:24–25; Mark 7:6–13) Again God sent great men of God and reformers such as Martin Luther to preach the truth throughout the world and reveal again the free gift of God’s salvation by grace through faith, and that not of themselves but the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast, but the free gift of salvation paid for by Jesus Christ with His blood shed on the cross of Calvary. (Romans 10:9–10; Ephesians 2:8–9; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5; Revelation 3:20)
These new Protestant Christians began to spread throughout the Roman Empire and throughout Europe and to North and South America and throughout the known world, until there were many Christian missionaries going to heathen nations. And there these missionaries gained many converts and won many of them with the love of God into true faith in the true Messiah, the true Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. (John 14:6; Acts 10:34–35)
However, it seemed that sin and evil will multiply even more rapidly and spread into every nation on earth. Finally the world will choose a completely godless government, an anti-Christ government and an Antichrist dictator, a false messiah who will pretend to be their savior but who will be the Devil incarnate! And he will declare that he is God and that all must worship him or die. (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4) He will establish a worldwide government and insist that there be no other religions but the worship of himself and his own image, which is set up by the rebuilt Jewish temple in Jerusalem where he is on a throne inside, claiming to be God.
This evil tyrant will then begin to persecute all who will not worship him, and kill and slaughter and martyr them, fighting great wars against the religious nations who oppose him, and trying to conquer the entire world, bringing great Tribulation to the earth. (Matthew 24:15, 21; Daniel 11:31–37; Revelation 12:13–17, 13:6–7)
But suddenly there will appear in the heavens the sign of the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, and He Himself will appear in the sky in the clouds. And there will be a great shout and the trump of God and the voice of the archangels calling the people of God to “Come up hither to your heavenly reward to be with your King forever!”
Suddenly all those who had died as Christians will rise from their graves with new heavenly bodies and begin to fly skyward, followed by the living Christians, who are instantly changed in the twinkling of an eye at that last trump and will rise together with them to meet the Lord in the air—Jesus with His bride, the true church of Jesus Christ from every faith and denomination all over the world. (Matthew 24:29–31; 1 Corinthians 15:51–52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17)
While they are feasting and rejoicing in their great salvation and receiving their rewards for faithfulness, having done their Master’s will, God is raining judgments and His great wrath upon the wicked left behind on the face of the earth through great scourges and plagues. The Bible says that the ungodly gnaw their tongues for pain and yet repent not of their evil deeds. ( Revelation 19:6–9; Revelation 15–16; Isaiah 13:11–13)
God mounts His children upon heavenly white horses of great power and supernatural strength, and with this mighty army of saints and angels they ride out of the heavenly city through the skies to destroy the evil empire of the Antichrist in the Battle of Armageddon! Until only the good, and the people who had resisted the Antichrist and resisted his mark are left, even though they do not yet know Jesus nor have been saved in the time previous. Yet the Lord is going to give all these living their opportunity to hear the gospel about Jesus and His love and His salvation. (Revelation 19:11–21; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4; Philippians 2:10–11)
He will send His angels and His saints to rule over the earth and clean up the mess that has been left behind by the Antichrist and his reign and all of the remnants of man’s unrighteousness, to make it a new world, a cleansed earth! It is the same earth, but its surface purified and with the curse of God against evil lifted, and the Devil and his demons bound in hell for a thousand years! The earth is again restored to the beauty and perfection of the Garden of Eden. (Revelation 20:1–4) For a thousand years the earth is restored to its original beauty and purity and wonder and pleasure, so that all mankind rejoices in the kingdom of God on earth ruled by its King of kings, Jesus Christ, and His saints and angels. (Revelation 2:26–27; Revelation 5:10, 20:4)
All men still living are given an opportunity to know and love Him and to follow Him, and many are saved and regenerated, made new, living wonderful lives of righteousness and unselfishness and love for one another. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
But even in this perfect world with the perfect King of kings, there are many who still reject Him and resent Him and desire to go their own willful, wicked ways, as they had before. So that at the end of that thousand years, many will still not be regenerated and have rejected the Lord and resented His will. (Isaiah 26:10) So He allows Satan to be loosed from the pit of hell and to come back with his evil angels to go abroad through the earth and deceive as many men and nations as he possibly can, until Satan gathers followers from all nations to follow after him in a great war against the saints of God, the rulers of the earth.
God again rescues His saints from the earth, but this time He finishes off Satan and his followers and demons once and for all and forever, and destroys the surface of the earth and all of Satan’s evil rebels with a great flood of fire which completely burns up the surface of the earth and its atmosphere, the polluted heavens and junk-filled space. (Revelation 20:7–10; 2 Peter 3:10–13)
Then He renews the earth and completely remakes it into a new earth, more beautiful and more perfect than ever. (Revelation 21:1–5; Isaiah 60:19–22, 65:17–25)
Once the surface of the earth is purified and made perfect again, the Lord will see fit to permit His beautiful heavenly city to descend from the heavens and settle upon the earth, so that His habitation could be with His beloved people on this new earth in the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city—their home forever. (Revelation 21:2; Hebrews 12:22–23)
In the great White Throne Judgment of God, He has raised from the dead all of the other people of the earth who have ever died, and, sending the wicked to hell, He saves the righteous to live upon the surface of the earth to learn about Him and His love and His Son Jesus and His wonderful salvation from sin so that they too might be saved. (John 10:16, 27–29; Acts 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:10; 2:7)
And all the saved peoples of the earth and heaven live happily with the Lord and His angels in the beautiful paradise of the new earth and the city of God with Him forever in an eternity of love and life eternal. (Revelation 22:3–5)
That is very briefly the story of God and the earth and man’s history and the endtime of man’s rule on earth, and the establishment of the kingdom of God in the thousand years called the Millennium, and that final destruction of the surface of the earth and its atmosphere and all its pollutions and evil in a flood of fire, only to be remade anew for God and His children and their heavenly city forever!
However, many of the details and actual experiences of His children during some of these periods have not been made completely clear. Some of these secrets have not yet been revealed, of the experiences that we are actually going to live through and feel and see in the wonderful world yet to come. (Deuteronomy 29:29; 1 Corinthians 13:12)
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