By Dennis Leap
Have you ever wondered what will happen to the billions and billions of people who have died, never learning of Jesus Christ or His gospel? Many Christian denominations claim those people, by no fault of their own, will burn in eternal hellfire. But would a just and loving God really do this? Does it sound like a fair judgment?
The answer to these questions lies in the seventh and final holy day God reveals in the Bible, the Last Great Day.
The Last Great Day begins at sunset on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles. God commanded Moses, “[O]n the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you … it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein” (Leviticus 23:36). The book of Leviticus refers to this day as the eight day of the Feast because there is no break between the festivals.
Jesus Christ kept this very important holy day. The Apostle John tells us, “In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). Jesus Christ was in Jerusalem teaching in the temple on this day. He set an example for all Christians to follow (Matthew 18:19; 1 Peter 2:21).
Billions to Be Called
This final holy day shows us how God plans to bring salvation to the billions of people who have lived and died since Adam—cut off from God and not judged—neither lost or saved.
These human beings will be resurrected to mortal life immediately after the Millennium. John tells us in the book of Revelation, “But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished” (Revelation 20:5). In this verse John is speaking of the second resurrection. Remember, that the first resurrection occurs at the return of Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:4, 6). If you read through the chapter, after brief description of Satan’s work at the end of the Millennium, John then gives a prophetic vision of this incredible time period.
John writes, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works” (verses 11-12). This resurrection is also described in Ezekiel’s prophecy of the valley of dry bones (Ezekiel 37).
It is important for us to recognize that the second resurrection is not a resurrection to punishment in hellfire. It is a resurrection to opportunity!
Here is what Herbert W. Armstrong wrote concerning this “Great White Throne Judgment” in his book Mystery of the Ages:
After that thousand years shall occur the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-12. All who ever lived from Adam on, who were uncalled by God, shall be resurrected mortal in human flesh and blood as they were in their first life. Then they shall give account for the sins of their former life. The penalty of those sins is death. They shall then learn that Jesus Christ had paid that death penalty in their stead. But on real repentance and faith they shall be forgiven and receive God’s Holy Spirit, begetting them to eternal life.
How long does this judgment period last?
Speaking of the second resurrection Isaiah tells us, “There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed” (Isaiah 65:20). God reveals through Isaiah that this judgment period lasts 100 years.
The Books Opened
What will happen during this very special time? Christ’s message on the Last Great Day and the prophecy in Revelation gives us detailed insight. The billions of people that never heard the gospel or knew of Jesus Christ will get their first opportunity to hear these things (John 7:37). The Bible, or as John refers to it as the books, will be opened to them (Revelation 20:12). The Bible will no longer be a mysterious puzzle for these human beings. They will be taught the truth of God and will have 100 years to prove that they are willing to walk God’s way.
Of course they will have the habitual sins and problems of their first life to overcome. Jesus Christ refers to this day of judgment more than once in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 10:15; 11:20-24; 12:36). It is interesting to note as you study these verses that people from different time periods in history all come back to life in the second resurrection. The people from ancient Sodom and Gomorrah will be in this resurrection with the people of Christ’s day.
This 100 year period will involve a massive re-education effort. This incredible sea of humanity, cut across 6,000 years of human failure and tragic history of sin will have the incredible opportunity to do its life over again the right way. Take the time to study Isaiah 65:20-25. Those people that walk with God (obey Him and submit to His rule) will enjoy the peace, safety, abundance and joy of Christ’s millennial rule. And those that qualify at the end of the judgment period, those who repent, believe and receive God’s Holy Spirit, will be given eternal life.
This final holy day pictures the Great White Throne Judgment—the resurrection of all to whom salvation had not been offered, and their time of salvation or rejection of it!
What a great day of judgment that will be! What a just God we have!