By David James
In eternity past, the triune God determined to establish a kingdom of righteousness in which his glory, his holiness, his justice, as well as his grace, mercy and love would be on display throughout all eternity. So, he created the physical universe as the realm of his kingdom, with this earth being the focal point. Then he created the angels and mankind to be his subjects in the kingdom.
The highest angel, who is now known as Satan, “the adversary,” in pride determined to set himself above God and swept a third of the angelic host along in his rebellion. Then he turned his attention to Adam and Eve, who were to be God’s regents over the earthly realm of his kingdom. He successfully enticed them to fall into sin and when they disobeyed God, they brought spiritual and physical death upon themselves and all their descendants, while plunging the entire creation into chaos. As a result, Satan became the temporary ruler of this world.
Genesis chapter three through Revelation chapter twenty is a historical and prophetic record of God’s gracious and loving plan to bring redemption to mankind and restoration to the creation. The Scriptures also reveal that Satan has desperately tried to prevent God from establishing His kingdom upon the earth.
As part of his plan, God raised up a new nation to be his people, the nation of Israel, through which the Redeemer would come-His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, God-in-the-flesh. The opportunity for man to be restored in his relationship with God came through Christ’s death on the cross as he became the substitutionary sacrifice for the sins of mankind, and his resurrection would guarantee eternal life to all who turn to him in faith. During the present phase of God’s plan, Christ is building His church, which is made up of all believers in Him. One of the primary tasks of the church is to take the gospel, the good news of this offer of salvation, to all the world. Then, at the end of this age, Christ will catch up all believers in Him (born-again Christians), both living and dead to meet him in the air, to be with him forever. This is known as the rapture of the church and is the next event on God’s prophetic calendar.
The rapture will be followed by a seven-year period of time, when Satan will make another attempt to establish his own kingdom on the earth, using a man whom he will empower, known as the antichrist. During this sevenyear period of tribulation God will pour out his wrath upon the earth as judgment against mankind for their rebellion against him.
But God will once again turn his attention to the nation of Israel, to bring her to repentance and to use the nation to call the world to repentance as He prepares to establish his kingdom on the earth. Many Jews and Gentiles will come to salvation during those seven years, but when Christ returns to the earth at the end of that time, those who have refused to turn to the Him will be taken away to judgment.
Immediately after the Lord’s return, Satan will be bound for 1000 years, during which time Christ will establish his kingdom, ruling from the throne of David in the rebuilt temple of God in Jerusalem.
At the end of Christ’s millennial reign, Satan will be set free briefly and he will incite a final rebellion of the nations against God, which will be crushed instantly as God rains fire down upon them. Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire as the unbelievers from all the ages are brought before a great white throne to be judged. After all unbelievers are judged guilty by God, they, too, will also be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. After the final judgment, God will destroy the present heavens and earth, replacing them with a new creation, with a new Jerusalem, in which he will establish his eternal kingdom of righteousness, where his people will enjoy him forever.