The book of Revelation reveals everyone who has ever lived will be resurrected and given their opportunity to learn about God and receive eternal life. This is the wonderful lesson of the Eighth Day of the annual fall festivals.
The seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles are followed by another annual festival, as briefly outlined last week. This eighth day is the Last Great Day of the fall festival season and represents the final step in God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
Instead of all those who have never had a chance to understand and obey the teachings of the Bible being cast into an ever-burning hell, the Scriptures consistently teach each person who dies remains in his grave, having no consciousness or pain (Ecclesiastes 9:5; Psalms 6:5) until God resurrects them.
Revelation 20:4-5 mentions this resurrection of “the rest of the dead [who] did not live again until the thousand years were finished” after describing the previous resurrection of those who had obeyed God and rise to meet the returning Christ in the air in what John called “the first resurrection.” This first resurrection is also described in I Thessalonians 4:16-17.
In verses 12-15 of Revelation 20 John goes on to give more detail about this later resurrection of all those who have ever lived who still remain in their graves. It will involve God bringing many millions of people back to physical, perishable life, and is also graphically depicted in Ezekiel 37:1-12. In this resurrection, according to Jesus, the dead of all past ages—people such as the Queen of the South (or Sheba) from Solomon’s time, the inhabitants of the ancient Assyrian stronghold of Nineveh from Jonah’s time and the people of Christ’s time—will all be resurrected together (Matthew 12:41-42).
This judgment will take place over time as these people hear and learn God’s truth for the first time. Those who rise in this resurrection and repent—and the Scriptures indicate that most of them will repent—will receive God’s Spirit. “Then you … will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live … Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD” (Ezekiel 37:13-14, NIV). In this resurrection our loving God will give everyone who has ever lived their opportunity for salvation—an opportunity they never had before.
Finally, this time of judgment will conclude when the incorrigibly wicked—those who, after receiving their opportunity to repent, still refuse to accept God’s ways—are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).
The Bible Study Course: Lesson 12