The Blessed Ones
Revelation 14:13 reads,
13 And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on! Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
The Greek word translated “blessed” is makarios, which refers to a state of blessedness, rather than an act of blessing. It is the same word used in the Beatitudes of those who are “blessed.” Why are these people “blessed” if they “die in the Lord from now on”? What does “now” mean? To what time frame is this referring?
First of all, these “blessed” ones are those “who die in the Lord.” In other words, John was speaking of believers, and no doubt this refers to “the saints” in the previous verse. Yet the time frame, “from now on,” has to do with the time of judgment when the nations “drink of the wine of the wrath of God.” This is the time when the beasts have concluded their contract with God to rule the earth and are finally brought to judgment for misusing their God-given authority.
During the time that the saints rule the Kingdom, those who are raised in the first resurrection will be immortal, so verse 13 could only refer to them if this refers to the brief interval between the fall of Babylon and that first resurrection. More likely this refers more generally to all believers, otherwise John would have used the term from the previous verse, “Blessed are the saints who die from now on.” But the phrase “the dead who die in the Lord” probably refers more generally to all believers during the thousand years lying ahead.
Conditions During the Thousand Years
In Dan. 2:35 the fall of the beast systems of government comes about from the great stone kingdom that strikes the image on its feet and then grinds it to powder. Then we read,
35 . . . But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
In Daniel’s interpretation in verse 44 we read,
44 And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever.
In other words, this thousand-year Tabernacles Age is the time when the Kingdom of God will start to fill the whole earth. The implication is that this will not all happen immediately, but will take more than a thousand years to accomplish. It will be done under the ministry of the overcomers who will have the full anointing of the Feast of Tabernacles—that is, the fullness of the Spirit.
The “saints” who reign with Christ during this Age will continually take more and more ground as the Kingdom of God grows and the kingdom of darkness shrinks. When Rev. 14:12 says, “Here is the perseverance of the saints,” John uses the term hupomeno, a compound word that is almost impossible to translate into English. Hupo means “under,” and meno means “to abide, to dwell.” Compounded together, it means “to gain more and more ground, as in warfare.” This describes the continual increase of the Kingdom in the Age to come.
At the start of this Age, as the first nations declare Jesus Christ to be their King, those who oppose His rule “shall be cast out into the outer darkness” (Matt. 8:12). Many have supposed that these will not be able to enter the Kingdom, even if they repent, because they usually equate this “outer darkness” with a “hell” from which there is no escape. However, the outer darkness contrasts with the Kingdom of Light, which is described in Rev. 21:23-26,
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it. 25 And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed; 26 and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
Yet John makes it clear in the next verse that no unbelievers will be able to enter this “city,” that is, the New Jerusalem. In other words, “the nations” will enter as believers seeking the light and knowledge of the law and ways of God. As the Kingdom of Light increases its territory over the earth, many will be converted and gain citizenship in the Kingdom.
Isaiah 2:2, 3, 4 tells us that many nations will come to (prophetic) Zion to learn the laws of God. “All the nations will stream to it,” Isaiah says. So it can hardly be said that once men are cast out of the Kingdom, there will be no further opportunity for salvation. The primary purpose of the growth of the “stone” is to encompass all nations and incorporate all men under the rule of the rightful Heir and King of the earth.
Yet from Rev. 20:7-9 we see that even at the end of the thousand years the Kingdom of God has not filled the entire earth, for when Satan is loosed, he is able “to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.” From this we understand that there will be unbelievers in the earth virtually until the time of the Great White Throne judgment. Only then, when all are arrested and brought to trial, will every knee bow. Meanwhile, as Rev. 22:15 says,
15 Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.
Though life spans will be greatly increased, there will still be death during that thousand-year period of the Tabernacles Age. Isaiah 65:20 describes it,
20 No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his days; for the youth will die at the age of one hundred and the one who does not reach the age of one hundred shall be thought accursed.
This verse describes the blessed state of those “who die in the Lord from now on.” It is only after this thousand-year Age of Tabernacles that death will be abolished (Rev. 20:14). Death will be the last enemy abolished—not the first, as is often taught.
There will yet be many “enemies” of Christ (those not yet reconciled to Him) during the Tabernacles Age. These will not be subjected fully to the authority of Christ until the time of the Great White Throne judgment. Yet when they are brought to court, they will not be able to resist and will lose all right to sin, for then Jesus Christ will claim the whole earth by the Law of Creator’s Rights.