The basis for my answer is the assumption there is a resurrection of those who died believing in Christ, which is the first resurrection. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and verse 16 in particular, say,
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.
A first resurrection implies a second resurrection. In Revelation 20:4-7, we read:
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto
them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness
of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the
beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their
foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were
finished. This is the first resurrection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on
such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God
and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of
Since the verse divisions in the Bible are NOT inspired, from the way verse 5 is set up, you might think the first resurrection does not occur until the thousand years are finished. We can see, however, that the ones who take part in the first resurrection reign with Christ for a thousand years. The words "this is the first resurrection" describe what is happening in verses 4 and 6, not in verse 5.
Verse 6 talks about "the second death," which clearly has no power on the righteous, since they reign with Christ for 1000 years. What is this second death? Verses 14 and 15 tell us:
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second
death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was
cast into the lake of fire.
Clearly, there are four groups of people at the Second Coming of Christ: the righteous dead, the righteous living, the wicked dead, and the wicked living.
The Seven Last Plagues
Notice the seven trumpets and seven plagues are, contrary to popular belief, BEFORE the second advent of Jesus. In Revelation 16, the first six plagues are poured out, and then in verse 15 Jesus says,
"'Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.'"
Then in chapter 17, the seventh plague is poured upon Babylon, and verse 18 describes the destruction of Babylon. In Revelation 18:4 Jesus says to the righteous who are in Babylon,
Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
In the seventh plague the people of God are upon the Earth. Chapter 19 is about the marriage supper of the Lamb, which happens immediately after His Second coming (seeMatthew 25:1-13).
The Events in Chronological Order
In order, then, the events are as follows:
- These first six plagues are poured out.
- Jesus prepares to come.
- The people of God come out of Babylon.
- Jesus comes and the FIRST resurrection of the righteous dead occurs. They are taken up to heaven with the righteous living (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
- As described at the end of Revelation 19, the rest are destroyed by the brightness of Jesus. At this point the Earth is left void and bereft of life, and Satan is left to see the results of his uprising.
- The millennium begins, during which the righteous reign and judge with Jesus. Since at this point the righteous are in heaven and the wicked await destruction, I suggest the judgments which the righteous make will show why Jesus' judgments were fair. If, for example, a brother from church is not one of the righteous, we will then see why he is not.
- At the same time, the millennium also starts for Satan, who is bound and therefore unable to tempt anyone.
- The 1000 years are fulfilled and the second resurrection takes place. All of the wicked of all time are raised and deceived by Satan one last time to go to war against God and His Holy City which has come down.
- At the same time the wicked are being raised, the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven and is encompassed by the wicked (Revelation 21:2-3).
- A careful reading of Revelation 20:8 and 9 indicates that as the wicked are about to attack, they are shown their evil works, and they all will then bow down and confess they were wrong (Romans 14:10-12, and Philippians 2:9-11). They do not repent, however. If they could take the city of God by force they would.
- They are then destroyed in the lake of fire and brimstone, which was prepared for the devil and his angels (Revelation 20:10-15).
- The Earth is then re-created (Revelation 21) and we inherit it and repopulate it, as originally planned(Revelation 21; Matthew 5:5; Proverbs 11:31).
In conclusion, Isaiah 66:22 and 23 tell us,
"For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall
remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name
remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from
one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me,
saith the Lord."