Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.
by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.
The greatest banquet in the history of the world will occur at the beginning of Christ’s 1,000-year kingdom in the Holy Land. The menu was announced 2,700 years ago (Isa. 25:6), and our Lord confirmed that the beverage would be the “fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29, KJV).
Not only the menu but also the actual timing of the banquet seems to be indicated in relation to other prophetic events. Seventy-five days after the second coming of Christ to the earth, the final purging and cleansing of the earth will have been completed. It was in 536 B.C. that the pre-incarnate Christ told Daniel the prophet: “Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days” (Dan. 12:12; cf., 10:1; 12:7).
The horrible abomination of desolation which the false prophet will supervise during the last three-and-a-half years (i.e., 1,260 days) of the great tribulation (Rev. 13:11-18) will be purged 30 days after the second coming (i.e., 1,290 days from the time the Temple will be desecrated, Dan. 12:11). Similarly, godly king Hezekiah took 30 days to cleanse the Temple from the abominations of his father, Ahaz (2 Chron. 30:2-4).
But even then, the great banquet will not be ready. During an additional 45 days (i.e., 1,335 days from the mid-point of the 70th week of Daniel), all remaining unbelievers will be removed from the earth. This vanishing will include Jews (Isa. 4:3-4; Ez. 20:33-38; Mal. 3:1-6); Gentile leaders (Matt. 25:31-46); and every remaining man and woman (Matt. 24:40-41).
Then, and then only, can our Lord’s promise be fulfilled: “But he that shall endure unto the end (i.e., of the 1,335 days), the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13). (Similarly, only those who endured to the end of the flood were saved [Matt. 24:36-41; 2 Pet. 2:5] ). For the Jews also, only at that point can it be said that “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26). Daniel himself looks forward to that day, for our Lord concluded His marvelous revelation to him with these words: “But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days” (Dan. 12:13).
Who will be the blessed ones participating in that stupendous celebration? First, the glorified church will participate, having just descended with Christ from heaven (Matt. 26:29; Luke 22:30; Rev. 19:14). Second, glorified Old Testament saints and Tribulation martyrs will do likewise (Dan. 12:1-3; Rev. 20:4-6). And finally, those few who survive the Great Tribulation and will repopulate the world will be there (cf., Zech. 14:1-5, Matt. 24:21-22). Thus, untold millions of people will behold and clearly identify the One who died for them and rose again in a body that is perfect and permanent. “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). At last, as the prophet Joel predicted, Israel’s God “will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten… And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied” (Joel 2:25-26).
Sadly, many theologians throughout church history have rejected the idea of an inaugural banquet in the kingdom because it appears to them to be “carnal” and thus beneath their spiritual dignity. Largely because of this, the whole concept of a 1,000-year kingdom on the earth has been rejected. Thus, the great church father Augustine (354-430 A.D.) stated that the idea of a 1,000-year reign with Christ on the earth “would not be objectionable, if it were believed that the joys of the saints in that Sabbath shall be spiritual … For I myself, too, once held this opinion. But, as they assert that those who then rise again shall enjoy the leisure of immoderate carnal banquets, furnished with an amount of meat and drink such as not only to shock the feeling of the temperate but even to surpass the measure of credulity itself, such assertions can be believed only by the carnal” (quoted in Ronald E. Diprose, “Israel and the Church: The Origin and Effects of Replacement Theology” [STL Distribution: 1-800-289-2772], p. 161).
But our Lord’s promises are not so easily evaporated! Many of his people still believe what He said. May we be counted among them!
|Dr. John C. Whitcomb has been a professor of Old Testament and theology for more than 50 years and is widely recognized as a leading biblical scholar. He taught at Grace Theological Seminary (Winona Lake, IN) from 1951-1990 and gained much recognition for his work on The Genesis Flood (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company), which he co-authored with Dr. Henry Morris in 1961. That book has been credited as one of the major catalysts for the modern Biblical creationism movement. His ministry homepage is Whitcomb Ministries, and his sermons are available at SermonAudio.com.