The Dilemma for Post-tribulation Rapture Only?
A question that eventually comes up after studying end time prophecy long enough is who is going to be left to populate the earth during the Millennium, especially the start of it. The question arises from two discoveries:
- The righteous go up to heaven in the rapture and then come back glorified to rule.
- The unrighteous go through God’s terrible wrath (which means being subjected to hundred pound hailstones among other things – Rev 16:21) and seem to all die from many verses (1Th 5:3; Ps 2:12; Zeph 3:9; Mal 4:1; 2Th 1:7;2:12)
For pretrib rapture believers, who position the rapture seven years before #2 above, they believe some of those left behind after the rapture become righteous (such as Jews) and survive into the Millennium. They argue that the post-tribulation rapture must be false because, with it coming at the end, there is no time between the rapture and the start of the Millennium for any unbelievers to be converted and saved
The Surprising Solution
Despite many verses that on their own seem to point to utter destruction of all unbelievers in God’s wrath, there is a very clear verse which pretribbers overlook specifically talking about survivors from Armageddon:
Zechariah 14:16-18 (HCSB)— 16 Then all the survivors from the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths. 17 Should any of the families of the earth not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of Hosts, rain will not fall on them. 18 And if the people of Egypt will not go up and enter, then rain will not fall on them; this will be the plague the LORD inflicts on the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Festival of Booths.
How can this be?
First, while the Battle of Armageddon will result in complete destruction of the Beast’s armies (God’s enemies) as Zechariah clearly depicts (Zec 14:12), this is only the armies who come against Jerusalem. The rest of the people left behind in the nations where the armies came from will not be destroyed by God at the Battle of Armageddon.
Secondly, even with hundred pound hailstones that fall before Armageddon comes, some of these people left behind will find cover and survive. Zechariah 13:8 suggests that as many as one third will be left after God’s wrath.
What About the Mark of the Beast?
There is still another problem with the unrighteous survivors of the tribulation which many will think of. Everyone on earth (who is not raptured and is not martyred) will have the Mark of the Beast within five months (Rev 13:7-8)—except for the 144,000 who have the seal of protection from the locusts (Rev 9:4) that allows them to witness unhindered for the entire Great Tribulation).
At first glance, it seems that those who took the mark and worshiped the Beast’s image will be tormented forever (Rev 14:11). This naturally reminds Christians of hell. However, the passage does not explicitly say the torture itself lasts forever. It only says the smoke of their torment rises forever which is impossible and cannot be meant literally.
What’s the difference? It is an idiomatic expression which is used previously in the OT. It is found in that form and others such as the worm of the dead not dying (Isa 34:10; 66:24). Similarly, Revelation says later about the destruction of Babylon that her smoke rises forever, too. We understand that Babylon is not destroyed, burning or tortured forever. The hyperbole about smoke rising forever seems to convey the seriousness of the judgment.
Where it says that those who worship the Beast have no rest day or night, that’s talking about how bad the cup of the wrath of God (Rev 14:10) will be that they must face. It’s not talking about hell. The lake of fire comes over 1000 years later at the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev 20:11-14).
Thus, the implication of Zechariah 14 that survivors will come up to worship (or receive no rain) is that the mark of the beast that was on all of them was removed when the Kingdom of God begins to reign. Satan is bound at that time (Rev 20:1-3) and it stands to reason the mark and enslavement of people it brought is also terminated.
Why the Marked Don’t Deserve Damnation
This releasing and forgiveness of the marked would only be fair of God when you consider the circumstances. People who take the mark will have been deceived into thinking the Beast is God himself (2Th 2:4). They will also be coerced into taking it by the fact that they cannot buy or sell without it (Rev 13:17). Plus there are the locusts that are unleashed at the start of the Great Tribulation on people (Rev 9:4-10). They torture people with pain like from the sting of a scorpion for five months (Rev 9:10). Probably only those who have resisted taking the mark receive this torture. (For more on the locusts and what they probably are read my Mark of the Beast article.)
As you can now see, there will be survivors who make it through the Great Tribulation, the wrath of God and the mark of the beast. These survivors, although not righteous or believers, will become the subjects of the Kingdom during the Millennium. The point about there being punishment if they disobey God’s instructions fits the fact that these people are not starting out as believers or even welcoming of Jesus. They will no doubt have resistance to the new king of the Earth who has just arrived and changed everything without their consent.
5 thoughts on “Who Will Be Left For Us To Rule in the Millennium?”
How is it you say and the bible says the scorpion sting us a plague and we have establied that it is than why would people who refused the mark be stung this is a contridiction in your doctrine because for this to happen you are say Satan had the right to send this plague against those who refuses the mark
I don’t know where you see the scorpion stinging is a plague. It’s not. It’s actual attacks by these creatures. What doctrine does that contradict? Why don’t you believe Satan will be allowed to send locusts on resisters when he already has the right to bring fire down from heaven (Rev 13:13), make an statue of himself speak (Rev 13:15), force a mark of mind control on people (Rev 13:16) all to convince everyone he is God (2Th 2:4)??
Thanks Tim for the light shed on GT survivors. This feels close to where I am trying to go with Ps. 22:26-31. The verses seem to me to be speaking of the meek inheriting the earth and of the nations worshiping the Lord, sounding like Zechariah 14:16â€“18. If that is possibly true, then my focus is on who is the “seed” in verse 30. Verse 31 seems to mean that a seed or remnant witnesses to the new post Trib first generation of the Millennium, that is, as in a first hand witness accont by believer survivors (big question would be which end time group do they fit in) to a generation not yet born, of the things the Lord did do in the 70th week and thereafter. Of course, the Psalms 22 verses could also be speaking of the post Millennium Kingdom … at least to me as neophyte in these matters.:)
I personally reckon the locust/scorpion army’s sting is for the unsaved who have accepted the mark of the beast on their forehead & right hand because they are told not to hurt any green tree or plant but only humans who don’t have the seal of the 144000 on them & also they were not given the power to kill any human but only to torture.
It does not matter if you are saved or not for a locust from the abyss to get you; it matters if you are in the place God will call the faithful to or you are one of the 144,000. See http://escapeallthesethings.com/mark-of-the-beast and http://escapeallthesethings.com/144000-woman and http://escapeallthesethings.com/faith-to-escape-tribulation