We continue with Part III of the Rapture Chronicles. To this point, we have established two key foundational perspectives. According to Bible prophecy, there are two main streams of Christians that respond to the gospel. However, these two streams are often confused.
As we explained previously, first, there are the New Testament Christians—the Church Age believers— who ALL will be raptured, dead or alive.
Second, there are those that come to accept Christ as their eternal Savior and Messiah during the first half of the Tribulation period. This occurs post Church Age. As we have shown, they are a large number. Since they missed the Rapture, this latter group are those that remain earth-dwellers. It is these “holy people” that were certainly seen in the visions of the Prophet Daniel. We must also remember that the Church is a mystery … and is not directly mentioned in the Old Testament.
According to the Bible, all Tribulation Christians will perish in the flesh. Both Apostle John and the Prophet Daniel (to name only the main support references that we reviewed) mention that the “holy ones” will be overcome by the Antichrist. As we will show, this perspective leads us to the deductive conclusion that the Rapture can occur at no other time than shortly before the start of the Tribulation (or thereabouts).
The second key foundational perspective we had established in the previous Part II was that ALL who come to recognize Christ in the Tribulation period will perish by the mid-point (three and one-half years into the Tribulation or thereabouts). We presented both direct literal evidence as well as deductive arguments. The Bible firmly indicates that ALL who “refuse to take the mark” (these being Christians; see Revelation 13:15; 20:4) will be slain. Also, following the chronology and events of the trumpet and bowl judgments, it is again plainly evident that there could be no Christians alive upon earth during this time—the latter half of the Tribulation.
This writer believes that it is a correct view that all Tribulational Christians—the Post-Church Age gospel recipients—will not endure past the first half of the Tribulation. However, admittedly, this view appears to be shocking to some readers. In the past, we have received much correspondence on this issue. Consequently, a frequent question that we encounter is this: If ALL Christians die, then what humans will survive the Great Tribulation and populate the world during the Millennium?
Therefore, we turn our attention to this question in this Part III. We will next identify all the different sources of people that end up populating the Millennium. We count as many as four groups or streams of people that end up in the Millennium period, according to the Bible. Some will be in physical form—others in a resurrected new-body form that will also reign with Christ.
- Tribulational Christians
They are a large number of martyrs (the Bible refers to them as the Great Multitude, Revelation 7:9). But does the reader know that they will all experience the First Resurrection (Revelation 20:4-5) at the start of the Millennium? This group would also include Messianic Jews, were they to come to Christ during the first half of the Tribulation period.
The Bible says that these martyrs “[…] will reign with him [Jesus] for a thousand years” (Revelation 20:4, 6). They all died during the Tribulation period and therefore have already experienced the First Death (the death of the physical bodies that we have today). Since the Bible says that “man is appointed to die once” (Hebrew 9:27), it would then follow that they are no longer subject to another First Death. (We must take care to note, however, that the Bible mentions a number of one-off individual exceptions to this general rule of “dying once.”)
In any case, Revelation 20:4 and 6 mention clearly that these resurrected ones will reign a “thousand years.” That means they will remain upon the earth for the entire Millennium. These Tribulational Christians are also exempted from the Second Death, as are their Church-Era brethren that were raptured earlier. Says the Bible, “The second death has no power over them […]” (Revelation 20:6). At the end of the Thousand-Year Reign, they will experience the Second Resurrection.
These resurrected martyrs would account for a significant number of earth-dwellers during the Millennium period. How many? The Bible is silent on this question, according to our studies. An open question also remains as to whether the resurrected martyrs will be able to procreate during their 1,000-Year Reign upon earth.
2 & 3. Tribulation Survivors
A second and third group to enter the Millennium period are the small remnants of Jews and Gentiles that survived the Tribulation. No one can know how many people actually perish through the Tribulation or how many survive. Some have estimated only as little as 5% or less of the population living at the onset of the Tribulation survive this period. We can definitely know that not many will remain alive. Says Isaiah: “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. I will make people scarcer than pure gold, more rare than the gold of Ophir” (Isaiah 13:11-12).
At the beginning of the Millennium, all the nations “bow their knees” (Isaiah 45:23) to Christ, as at this point, His Second Coming has occurred. Specifically, this is also the time that the Jews “[…] will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10; cf. John 19:37).
The remnant of Jews will then be forgiven. Here are two texts that affirm this. “But all the descendants of Israel will find deliverance in the LORD and will make their boast in him” (Isaiah 45:25). Also, “‘In those days, at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare'” (Jeremiah 50:20).
Similarly, the remnant of the Gentiles who “bow their knees” will be allowed to enter the Millennium. But not without being put to shame. “They will say of me, ‘In the LORD alone are deliverance and strength.’ All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame” (Isaiah 45:24).
How large could the population of Tribulation survivors become? They have not yet been resurrected and still have the bodies of flesh and blood that we have today. As such, they likely would be able to have children. There is nothing in the Bible that refutes that children would be born to them in the Millennium. Also to consider is that since “Elijah comes and will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11) during this time, this may indicate that lifespans will again lengthen to pre-Flood times.
Over the thousand years of the Millennial Kingdom, these remnant groups could therefore become quite large. These “earth-dwellers” would have bodies that are still subject to natural death (First Death) and, as mentioned, will bear children. Most certainly so the Jews. The LORD says, “I will add to their numbers, and they will not be decreased” (Jeremiah 30:19).
Eventually, even though they would have bodies that are still subject to natural death (First Death), these populations may outnumber the resurrected Tribulational “great multitude.” If the beginning of this period is indeed the time that “Elijah comes and “[…] restores all things,” then it is very possible that the human lifespan may again lengthen to what it was in pre-Flood times. The average age of the pre-Flood Patriarchs that the Bible mentions was 960 years … very near a millennium.
- The 144,000 Hebrews
What happens to the 144,000 (Revelation 7:4)? These had been sealed against harm during the Tribulation and may possibly also go into the Millennium. No further information is given to us in the New Testament that expressly speaks to their future following the Tribulation period.
It may be possible that since the 144,000 “servants” are Jews (Israelites), that the Prophet Daniel may have seen them in his end-time visions. Could they be referred to as “those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3) or among those “whose name is found written in the book?” (Daniel 12:1).
Admittedly, this possibility is conjecture, and we cannot be certain of this identification. In any case, since the Bible does not tell us whether the estate and purpose of their election changes after the Tribulation period, it may not be unreasonable to assume that they enter the Millennium. Perhaps significant is that they all are shown to be on earth (on Mount Zion) with Christ in Revelation 14:1. Mount Zion definitely is situated upon the earth.
Another question would concern what type of bodies these “servants” will have. If they had been sealed against harm during the Tribulation period, will their bodies also be impervious to harm and death during the following Millennial period as well? Thus, it remains unclear whether the 144,000 will enter the Millennial kingdom on earth.
One characteristic of the 144,000 seems sure. Were they to reside on earth during the Millennium, they most certainly would not procreate. The Bible says that they are all males “[…] who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins” (Revelation 14:4a).
Why would this change? If they are indeed “firstfruits” (see Revelation 14:4b), then this would confirm that they will already have bodies that do not die. Could, in fact, the 144,000 be comprised of resurrected Hebrews from history, pre-Christ? They are said to be “redeemed from the earth” (Revelation 14:3). Christ is also named a “firstfruits” from the dead.
As such, could it be that they are the first major group of Old Testament Jews to be translated as firstfruits (in this case, as an earlier 2nd Resurrection)? They indeed are identified as firstfruits.
In conclusion, ruminate as we may on these possibilities, there is little that can be confirmed about the destiny of the 144,000. We cannot be certain if they will enter the Millennial period.
Will the Raptured Return to Earth?
Readers, no doubt, may be wondering about the possibility of a fifth group. Here, we are thinking of the raptured who were snatched up. The Bible says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable […] We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:50-53).
Given that the raptured Christians are already imperishable and immortal at this point, we conclude that this group will remain with Jesus in the heavenly realms—being found wherever He is. It would seem retrograde to consider that they would live upon physical earth with their heavenly bodies.
Thoughts to Ponder
The above interpretations reconcile with this statement by Apostle Paul: “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power” (1 Corinthians 15:22-24; cf. Luke 14:14; John 5:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Daniel’s statement also aligns: “There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered” (Daniel 12:1).
It stands to reason that there will be many inhabitants upon the earth by the end of the Millennium. The fact that ALL Tribulational Christians will be slain in the Tribulation does not invalidate that conclusion.
Finally, we again briefly state the significant positional differences between those Christians who are raptured and those who later become Christians during the Tribulation period. While Christ is the “firstfruits” raised from the dead, He is the forerunner of all those who have “fallen asleep” during the Church Age (1 Corinthians 15:20-21). These “dead in Christ” saints are raptured first.
Then, those who are living—a unique and small group—are raptured. This latter group faces neither the First nor the Second Death (physical death nor spiritual damnation), but a translation to a new body.
What a wonderful reward to the Christians of the apostate, hostile world that exists at the time of the Rapture! These saints have prevailed and are being kept “[…] from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
The only other “firstfruits” group that is given a similar special dispensation (in part) is the 144,000 prophets. They are sealed, being already redeemed as a type of firstfruits (what we take to mean as resurrected with eternal bodies). Therefore, wherever their location—heaven or earth—they will not perish during the Tribulation.
Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst, research director for a major Wall Street investment bank, and head of Canada’s largest global investment operation, his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His 2002 book The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free accurately anticipated and prepared its readers for the Global Financial Crisis. A following book, Global Financial Apocalypse Prophesied: Preserving true riches in an age of deception and trouble, looks further into the prophetic future.
Contact Wilfred at: email@example.com