What shall be swallowed in victory? When, and what victory? The sad experience of death and its consequences are all over in the world. Scientists, researchers and many other people have been trying to prevent death and sickness, but in vain. Men, animals, and trees, die. Just this past year, 2019, the Congo Union lost more than eight members and 12 interested souls. In East Congo, 4 members and 11 interested souls perished in one day. In South East Congo two dear sisters lost their lives in one day in an accident after the death Brother Kiambe Mbayo Charles. These experiences inspired me to think about this topic. This article is based on the many questions people have regarding death such as, why is death our enemy? Shall it ever be removed? How can we be sure this is true?
The question about whether there is really life after death has been pondered by multitudes around the world for centuries. The desire to know the answer has led many far and wide to search for the truth about death. This desire burns especially in the hearts of those who are grieving over the loss of loved ones. Crying and weeping they ask “No, No. . . shall we see him/her again?” Where can they go to find the answers that will bring them comfort during such difficult times?
Jesus said “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28–29. Here we read that the wicked are reserved somewhere until the day of judgement.
“We believe that, at the return of Jesus Christ, the righteous dead will be resurrected in an immortal state and, together with the living saints, will be translated by the Lord Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; Romans 6:5; 1 Corinthians 15:51–53; Revelation 20:6. The wicked will be resurrected a thousand years later to receive their final judgment. Revelation 20:5, first part.” –Principles of Faith, N.36. Do you also believe this? This question was asked by Jesus in the first century (John 11:25–26).
In the first article it was clearly shown what the Bible teaches about death. We saw that since death was the result sin, when there will be no more sin in the universe, death will be removed forever. Death is our enemy. Jesus will soon defeat the last enemy, which is death. Death entered this world because Satan deceived Adam and Eve to sin, and Christ’s ultimate victory will occur when He defeats this last remaining enemy. Then “death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:54
The Bible states that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23). In death man knows nothing. Jesus compared death to a sleep (John 11:11–14). All mankind, whether good or evil, are in an unconscious state at death. Ecclesiastes 9:5–6; Job 14:12. Only God, who alone has immortality, will give eternal life to the redeemed at the resurrection. 1 Timothy 6:15–16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17; 1 Corinthians 15:51–55
RESURRECTION: WONDERFUL HOPE
Many people do not believe in the resurrection of the dead. In many traditions and some religions, they do not expect that one will come to life again after they have died. “The Sadducees. . . did not believe in a resurrection of the dead. Producing so-called science, they had reasoned that it would be an impossibility for a dead body to be brought to life. But by a few words from Christ their theory had been overthrown. They were shown to be ignorant both of the Scriptures and of the power of God. They could see no possibility of removing the impression made on the people by the miracle.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 538
How would you answer the question that Jesus asked Lazarus’s sister, “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?” John 11: 25–26. The prophet Isaiah believed this and was inspired to write: “Thy dead men shall live; together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isaiah 26:19
“For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” 1 Corinthians 15:16–22
In other words, without the resurrection the dead in Christ will perish forever. If we hope for a reward only in this life, then we are of all men most miserable and pitiable. We may as well eat, drink, and enjoy life because all we have to live for is that one day we will die. This is exactly what the Humanists believe today. “If the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.” 1 Corinthians 15:32
But Paul goes on to tell us in 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” The fact that we will be raised one day is what gives us the assurance that our labour for the Lord is not in vain. If there is no resurrection, then why steadfastly abound in the Lord’s work? Why self-denial, why sacrifice our own time, money, etc.? Since there is a resurrection, then even death cannot prevent our reward being granted us. In fact, if there is no reward after death, then there is no real justice!
The wonderful message of the Bible is that both good and evil people are sleeping in their graves after they have died. They are waiting until the resurrection day. At that time all are brought forth to receive either a reward or punishment according to their deeds. Now, consider how confusing it would be if the reward and punishment were being meted out to the dead today. What purpose would the resurrection serve? Each soul would already have a determined fate, and the idea of some final judgment would be totally meaningless. But in plain and simple language the Bible clearly reveals that all the dead are resting in their graves until the judgment occurs and their reward figured out, which will be given to them at the resurrection. There will be two different kinds of rewards—eternal life or eternal death—so there will be two different resurrections.
“…there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” Acts 24:15
Many good people suffer in this life just as much or more than evil people. Sometimes wicked people have prospered far above the upright ones. Many criminals and sinners have neither been caught nor punished. Therefore, justice demands a resurrection so that the righteous will finally be rewarded, and the wicked will be ultimately punished. Thus the resurrection serves as a day of reward! Jesus assures us all: “Thou shalt be recompensed [rewarded] at the resurrection of the just.” Luke 14:14. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall reward every man according to his works.” Matthew 16:27. This is what we read in Hebrews 11:39. This means that none of the righteous dead have yet been rewarded with eternal life. They are still waiting in their graves for the judgment and the end of the world. In one of the final verses in the Bible we find confirmation of this truth.: “And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his works shall be.” Revelation 22:12
THE 1000 YEARS AND THE DEAD: TWO GENERAL RESURRECTIONS AND THE SECOND DEATH
The apostle Paul wrote the following: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:14–18
The Bible plainly declares that after Christ comes again and the first resurrection has taken place, there will be a period of 1000 years when the earth is broken and empty. None of the wicked will be resurrected back to life until after these 1000 years are over!
During this period of time, the Devil (Satan) is bound on this desolate earth, and he cannot escape! (See Revelation 20:2–3). This mighty tempter who has been deceiving the earth’s inhabitants throughout some 6000 years of history is now left completely alone with absolutely no one to tempt! He will have plenty of time to think, and to view all the destruction which he was responsible for.
As priests and kings, at this time the righteous will be in heaven reviewing all the cases of the wicked dead—including the wicked angels and Lucifer. In unison with Christ, they will pass judgment upon all the wicked. The wicked will then receive their just reward after the second resurrection (see Revelation 20:6, 4; 1 Corinthians 6:2–3).
We believe that the thousand years span the time between the first and second resurrections. We believe the Lord will make new heavens and a new earth after the thousand years. This new earth will be the home of the redeemed. The New Jerusalem will be the capital city of this eternal kingdom. The King of kings will have His throne there (Isaiah 45:18; 65:17; Revelation 21:1–3). Through the wisely laid plan of redemption, which is based on God’s eternal love, all the redeemed, freed from the threat of sickness, suffering, and death, will rejoice in the eternal presence of God (Isaiah 65:25; 2 Peter 3:13).
The second coming of Jesus marks the beginning of the 1000 years that are spoken about in Revelation 20. “Amid the reeling of the earth, the ﬂash of lightning, and the roar of thunder, the voice of the Son of God calls forth the sleeping saints. He looks upon the graves of the righteous, then, raising His hands to heaven, He cries: ‘Awake, awake, awake, ye that sleep in the dust, and arise!’ Throughout the length and breadth of the earth the dead shall hear that voice, and they that hear shall live. And the whole earth shall ring with the tread of the exceeding great army of every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. From the prison house of death they come, clothed with immortal glory, crying: ‘O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?’ 1 Corinthians 15:55. And the living righteous and the risen saints unite their voices in a long, glad shout of victory.” –The Great Controversy, p. 644
“After the judgment of the wicked dead had been finished, at the end of the one thousand years, Jesus left the city, and the saints and a train of the angelic host followed Him. Jesus descended upon a great mountain, which, as soon as His feet touched it, parted asunder and became a mighty plain. . . . The angels surrounded their Commander and escorted Him on His way, and the train of redeemed saints followed. Then, in terrible, fearful majesty, Jesus called forth the dead; and they came up with the same feeble, sickly bodies that went into the grave. What a spectacle! What a scene! At the first resurrection all came forth in immortal bloom, but at the second the marks of the curse are visible on all. The kings and noblemen of the earth, the mean and low, the learned and unlearned, come forth together. All behold the Son of man; and those very men who despised and mocked Him, who put the crown of thorns upon His sacred brow and smote Him with the reed, behold Him in all His kingly majesty. Those who spat upon Him in the hour of His trial now turn from His piercing gaze and from the glory of His countenance. Those who drove the nails through His hands and feet now look upon the marks of His crucifixion. Those who thrust the spear into His side behold the marks of their cruelty on His body. . . . All are seeking to hide in the rocks, to shield themselves from the terrible glory of Him whom they once despised. And, overwhelmed and pained with His one accord raise their voices, and with terrible distinctness exclaim, ‘Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!’” –The Story of Redemption, p. 416, 418–419
ALL THINGS MADE NEW: NO MORE DEATH, NO MORE MARRIAGE, NO MORE CHILDBIRTH
The apostle saw the New Earth and he states: “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And 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. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:1–5
The Sadducees tested Jesus and they ended by asking: “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Luke 20:34–36 (see also Matthew 22:23–30). “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as angels in heaven.” Matthew 22:30. What does this mean? it simply means in the Kingdom of God, in the new Earth no more marriages or childbearing. . . . No more babies and infancy will not exist. “There shall be no more thence an infant of days.” Isaiah 65:20
Some people honestly believe that there will be marriages in Paradise, the new Eden, the inheritance of the redeemed. But the Lord is very clear in the verses above. And the inspired pen wrote: “There are men today who express their belief that there will be marriages and births in the new earth; but those who believe the Scriptures cannot accept such doctrines. The doctrine that children will be born in the new earth is not a part of the ‘sure word of prophecy’ (2 Peter 1:19). The words of Christ are too plain to be misunderstood. They should forever settle the question of marriages and births in the new earth. Neither those who shall be raised from the dead, nor those who shall be translated without seeing death, will marry or be given in marriage. They will be as the angels of God, members of the royal family.” –Selected Messages, bk. 1, p. 172–173
We will physically grow up into the glorious image of Jesus. We shall eat from the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:2) The redeemed will grow up as calves of the stall. (Malachi 4:2). Worshiping God and Jesus will be our greatest pleasure forever and all mankind will enjoy face-to-face communion with God and Jesus.
The Spirit of Prophecy states: “Then Jesus looked upon His redeemed saints; their countenances were radiant with glory; and as He fixed His loving eyes upon them, He said, with His rich, musical voice, ‘I behold the travail of My soul, and am satisfied. This rich glory is yours to enjoy eternally. Your sorrows are ended. There shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.’ I saw the redeemed host bow and cast their glittering crowns at the feet of Jesus, and then, as His lovely hand raised them up, they touched their golden harps and filled all heaven with their rich music and songs to the Lamb.
“I then saw Jesus leading His people to the tree of life, and again we heard His lovely voice, richer than any music that ever fell on mortal ear, saying, ‘The leaves of this tree are for the healing of the nations. Eat ye all of it.’ Upon the tree of life was most beautiful fruit, of which the saints could partake freely. In the city was a most glorious throne, from which proceeded a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal. On each side of this river was the tree of life, and on the banks of the river were other beautiful trees bearing fruit which was good for food.
“Language is altogether too feeble to attempt a description of heaven. As the scene rises before me, I am lost in amazement. Carried away with the surpassing splendor and excellent glory, I lay down the pen, and exclaim, ‘Oh, what love! what wondrous love!’ The most exalted language fails to describe the glory of heaven or the matchless depths of a Saviour’s love.” –Early Writings, p. 288–289