From the Garden of Eden to the Tower of Babel, the destruction of Sodom to the Exodus from Egypt, God has always investigated before taking action. Now, before His return, Jesus is investigating the lives of everyone who ever lived, revealing the choices that led to salvation or destruction. God wants to make clear and transparent to the watching universe that no one reaps a fate they did not choose.
The ancient Hebrew sanctuary rituals were merely a reflection of Jesus’ work in heaven, and every offering a foreshadowing of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice. Now, Jesus, our true high priest, offers the merits of His sacrifice to all who accept His grace. Because He endured every temptation we face, we can trust Jesus to understand our struggles and strengthen us when we need help. Jesus is our mediator, forgiving our sins and restoring our sin-shattered relationship with God. The first covenant condemned us to death, yet Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant whose sacrifice set us free.
The unconscious nothingness of death separates us from God and those we’ve lost. Only God is inherently immortal, yet the free gift of salvation is eternal life. We look forward to Jesus’ Second Coming, when Jesus will resurrect His saved from the dead so they can live forever.
The first thousand years after Jesus’ return will be a time of reconciliation and renewal in heaven. We will be able to investigate the lives of the lost, exploring how their choices led to salvation or destruction. The Earth will be empty of people, home only to Satan and his angels, exiled with no one to mislead or destroy.
After a thousand years, God and the saved will return from heaven to Earth with the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. God will resurrect the unrighteous dead so they can witness the final phase of God’s judgment. Each person will face the record of his or her life, and all will see the true justice and fairness of God. Then God will destroy sin and sinners forever.
As God recreates the Earth, love, joy and harmony will at last be restored to the universe. Fear, suffering and death will only be a memory. We will know God face to face, and be free to create and explore without end.
Christ's Ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary
Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice gives us confidence to approach God, knowing we are forgiven. Now Jesus is reviewing our lives before returning, so there’s no question that His judgments are made in love.
There is a sanctuary in heaven, the true tabernacle that the Lord set up and not humans. In it Christ ministers on our behalf, making available to believers the benefits of His atoning sacrifice offered once for all on the cross. At His ascension, He was inaugurated as our great High Priest and, began His intercessory ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the holy place of the earthly sanctuary. In 1844, at the end of the prophetic period of 2300 days, He entered the second and last phase of His atoning ministry, which was typified by the work of the high priest in the most holy place of the earthly sanctuary. It is a work of investigative judgment which is part of the ultimate disposition of all sin, typified by the cleansing of the ancient Hebrew sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In that typical service the sanctuary was cleansed with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the heavenly things are purified with the perfect sacrifice of the blood of Jesus. The investigative judgment reveals to heavenly intelligences who among the dead are asleep in Christ and therefore, in Him, are deemed worthy to have part in the first resurrection. It also makes manifest who among the living are abiding in Christ, keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus, and in Him, therefore, are ready for translation into His everlasting kingdom. This judgment vindicates the justice of God in saving those who believe in Jesus. It declares that those who have remained loyal to God shall receive the kingdom. The completion of this ministry of Christ will mark the close of human probation before the Second Advent.
The Second Coming of Christ
We look forward to Jesus’ promised return, when He will resurrect His saved children and take them to heaven. Though we cannot know exactly when He will come back, we can live in joyful anticipation.
The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is near. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times.
Death and Resurrection
The unconscious nothingness of death separates us from the God of life, yet Jesus’ defeat of death means the saved can look forward to resurrection and living forever.
The wages of sin is death. But God, who alone is immortal, will grant eternal life to His redeemed. Until that day death is an unconscious state for all people. When Christ, who is our life, appears, the resurrected righteous and the living righteous will be glorified and caught up to meet their Lord. The second resurrection, the resurrection of the unrighteous, will take place a thousand years later.
The Millennium and the End of Sin
While the saved reconnect with God, Satan and his followers are trapped on Earth by themselves. After a thousand years God will resurrect the lost for the final judgment before destroying sin and sinners.
The millennium is the thousand-year reign of Christ with His saints in heaven between the first and second resurrections. During this time the wicked dead will be judged; the earth will be utterly desolate, without living human inhabitants, but occupied by Satan and his angels. At its close, Christ with His saints and the Holy City will descend from heaven to earth. The unrighteous dead will then be resurrected, and with Satan and his angels will surround the city; but fire from God will consume them and cleanse the earth. The universe will thus be freed of sin and sinners forever.
The New Earth
God will recreate our once-stained world, and live with us forever. We will finally achieve our true potential, living in the love and joy for which God created us.
On the new earth, in which righteousness dwells, God will provide an eternal home for the redeemed and a perfect environment for everlasting life, love, joy, and learning in His presence. For here God Himself will dwell with His people, and suffering and death will have passed away. The great controversy will be ended, and sin will be no more. All things, animate and inanimate, will declare that God is love; and He shall reign forever. Amen.