Let’s study about the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation, through the truth Jesus taught to His disciples, and find out the way to participate in the resurrection of life in this age.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Jn 5:28–29
Through the words of Jesus, we can understand that there are the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation. The Apostle Paul too testified that there would be two types of resurrection.
. . . and I have the same hope in God as these men, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Ac 24:15
Then, when will the resurrection of life and the resurrection of condemnation occur?
The Bible prophesies that at the end of six thousand years of God’s redemption work, the resurrection of life will occur, and that one thousand years after that, the resurrection of condemnation will do.
. . . And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. Rev 20:4–6
Those who will rise to live are the ones who will be resurrected on the Last Judgment Day after they once die physically and the living saints who will be changed alive without experiencing death at the last day (1 Co 15:51–52; 1 Th 4:16–17). They will reign with Christ for a thousand years after they rise to live. And the words, “The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended,” refer to those who will not participate in the first resurrection, that is, those who will rise to be condemned, which is the second resurrection. They will be resurrected to be condemned a thousand years after the resurrection of life, which is the seven thousandth year since Adam.
On the Last Judgment Day when the six thousand years of redemption work is ended and the resurrection of life is fulfilled, the devil will be seized, bound and thrown into the Abyss, where he will be locked up for a thousand years.
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. Rev 20:1–3
In order to understand the principle of the devil’s being locked in the Abyss when the six thousand years of God’s redemption work is finished, we need to study about the scapegoat that appears in the regulations for the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament times, the animals that were offered on the Day of Atonement were the bull and male goats. As for male goats, the priest took two and cast lots: one for a sin offering and the other for the scapegoat that would be sent to a solitary place in the desert.
The bull was offered to make atonement for the priest and his household. The goat was offered for the sin offering of the Israelites. The ceremony of the Day of Atonement, as a shadow of what was going to happen, represented that Jesus the High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary would enter the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary by making atonement through His blood instead of the blood of the bull and the male goat which were the sin offerings in the earthly sanctuary.
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made (that is in heaven), that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves (which are sin offerings in the earthly sanctuary); but he entered the Most Holy Place (in heaven) once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption . . . For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself . . . Heb 9:11–24
Between the two goats which were the offerings for the Day of Atonement, the male goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat was left alive. After the blood-shedding sacrifice was finished, the priest laid both hands on the head of the live goat and confessed over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites and sent the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task (Lev 16:20–22).
The bull and the male goat, the offerings for the Day of Atonement, stand for the sacrifice of Christ; and the scapegoat stands for the devil that will finally take on the sins of all mankind. Through the feasts of God including the Sabbath, people’s sins are carried onto Christ who is represented as the sanctuary, and on the Day of Atonement their sins are finally carried onto the devil who is referred to as the scapegoat. Just as the scapegoat was sent to a solitary place in the desert, carrying all the sins of the Israelites, the devil that sinned from the beginning will take on all the sins in the last days and will be locked in the Abyss for a thousand years.
Why is it that the devil is locked for a thousand years? We can find the answer from the laws of the Old Testament. Among the laws of the Old Testament, there was the sabbath of rest on the seventh day after working for six days and the sabbath of rest on the seventh year after sowing and planting crops for six years. On the seventh year, the land had a year of rest.
For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD . . . The land is to have a year of rest. Lev 25:3–5
When the people of Judah were taken captive to Babylon, the land had a rest for seventy years just like having the sabbath year. Since Judah kept no sabbath year from Saul the first king of Israel until Judah was taken captive to Babylon, God forced them to have the sabbath year at once. Likewise, the earth has no rest for six thousand years since Adam. So, when the six thousand years of God’s redemption work come to an end, the earth will have rest for a thousand years. Through the creation work in six days and the rest on the seventh day, God shows us that the earth will have a rest for a thousand years after six thousand years of God’s redemption work.
When the devil is locked in the Abyss, the resurrection of life will occur. While the devil is being locked in the Abyss for a thousand years, God’s people will rise to live and reign with Christ.
. . . And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years . . . they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. Rev 20:4–6
Those who died after they had been in the truth of the New Covenant, and those who remain in the New Covenant in the last days will participate in the resurrection of life. Those who are redeemed through Christ’s blood by keeping the Passover of the New Covenant will become immortal because they have the forgiveness of sins.
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 1 Co 15:56
Having eternal life means becoming a sinless and perfect being who is no longer controlled by the law of death.
Therefore, those who are redeemed through Christ’s blood of the New Covenant will neither be controlled by the law of death nor commit sin again.
Like this, those who rise to life will become the royal priesthood in heaven and judge angels who are their people.
. . . Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? . . . Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 1 Co 6:1–3
The fact that those who are saved will judge the angels means that they judge their people in the position of king. Just as the people in the Old Testament times were judged by their king, the incomplete angels will be judged by the complete beings. Therefore, it is said that even angels long to look into the gospel we’ve received.
. . . they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. 1 Pe 1:12
What will happen after a thousand years, that is, after the period of time when the devil is locked in the Abyss and the saints rise to live and reign? There will be the second resurrection, that is, the resurrection of condemnation, and the devil will be released from the prison and will deceive the wicked.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle . . . Rev 20:7–8
These words mean that after a thousand years, Satan will be released from his prison and deceive the wicked to stand against God. To explain it according to the way of the world, it is just like an on-the-spot inspection. Just as a criminal reenacts the crime he committed on the spot before he is judged, the devil too reenacts how he tempted the wicked to oppose God. After that, the fire of God will come down to devour them.
. . . But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur . . . Rev 20:9–10
In order to be judged in this way, the wicked will come to the second resurrection.
The first resurrection is the resurrection of life, which takes place on the last day when the six thousand years of redemption work comes to end; and the second resurrection is the resurrection of condemnation, which takes place a thousand years after the resurrection of life. Therefore, after seven thousand years since the redemption work started, the devil and the wicked will be thrown into the lake of fire and be destroyed.
Then, what will happen to those who rise to live after reigning for a thousand years? The Bible prophesies that those who are saved will reign for ever and ever.
. . . they will reign for ever and ever. Rev 22:5
They will reign for ever and ever, but Revelation chapter 20 says that they will reign for a thousand years. This is because it takes a thousand years for the devil and the wicked to be thrown into the lake of fire.
According to the six-day creation in Genesis chapter 1, there is no mention of the following expression regarding the seventh day: “There was evening, and there was morning—the seventh day,” unlike other six days. It is because the seventh day represents the eternal rest. Those who are saved will enter the eternal rest after resting for a thousand years.
So far, we have studied the truth about the resurrection of life which the saints of the early Church had, as well as the resurrection of condemnation. After God’s people rise to live and reign for a thousand years along with Christ, they will reign in glory for ever and ever, while those who come to the second resurrection will be judged and thrown into the lake of fire.
Then, how can we participate in the resurrection of life? In order to reign with Christ, it is essential to follow the teachings of Christ. Especially, we must eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood in order to rise in the resurrection on the last day, just as Christ has promised us (Jn 6:53–54; Mt 26:17–28). Additionally, we must follow in the footsteps of Christ. According His example and teaching, we should obey God with faith in Him, observe His commands, and preach the gospel while considering others better than ourselves and serving them in humility. By doing so, we will be able to participate in the resurrection of life.