God has a plan

War, terrorism, crime, hatred, greed, poverty... it is perfectly reasonable to wonder why God would allow the world to be the way it is. Why, if God loves us, does He allow the hardship and suffering to continue? Will God intervene? If so, what is God waiting for? Perhaps it seems like God doesn't care.

God has a plan; on this page we will look at some scriptures which reveal that God has a plan and which show what the plan is. Along the way we will find answers to many of the hard questions we have. We'll explore why God is allowing evil to continue, and we'll see when and how God will put an end to evil. We'll see what happens to those who choose not to fit into God's plan. And we'll see how all those who have died without knowledge of His plan will be given a fair opportunity to attain salvation and be part of His plan.

Evidence of a Plan

The Bible shows that certain events - past, present and future - are part of a plan put in place long ago. On a previous page, What Does God Promise Us?, we saw one of those verses:

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34)

In this prophecy Jesus - at His return - welcomes into His Kingdom those who are in the first resurrection. And as we have seen, they will reign with Him right here on Earth for the next thousand years. The kingdom had been "prepared" for them - planned - "from the foundation of the world."

 Here is another example. The apostle John described Jesus as "...the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Revelation 13:8 also refers to Jesus describing Him as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."  These are references to Jesus' death on our behalf, planned "from the foundation of the world" to pay the penalty for our sin and thus redeem us to God if we are repentant. The apostle Peter also mentioned Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf, showing it was "foreordained before the foundation of the world":

...ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you (1 Peter 1:18-20)

Bible prophecy gives more information in two ways. It shows what mankind will do, for example the rise and fall of certain kingdoms and powers, and it shows what God has planned to do as events unfold. On the What Does Goes Promise Us? page you will find more information about the Kingdom of God: Jesus will return and will rule here on Earth for the following thousand years. We don't know when He will return, but prophecy does show what mankind will be doing at that time. We'll look at that shortly. First, though, let's look at what else will happen during the thousand years.

A Plan for Satan

For the duration of the thousand years God will isolate Satan and prevent him from influencing mankind. Revelation 20:1-3 describes this:

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

 How does Satan "deceive the nations"? The apostle Paul described Satan as "... the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:2). Satan spiritually "broadcasts" evil and selfish thought - greed, hate, revenge, vanity - to all who will receive it.

The thousand years - with Satan removed - will positively demonstrate that God's way brings peace: "they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid... they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Micah 4:4 and Isaiah 11:9).

Tribulation and Intervention

 In stark contrast today's world - under Satan's deceptive influence - is demonstrating that Satan's way of vanity, hatred and greed is wrong and evil, and will bring us to the brink of self destruction. In Matthew 24:21-22 Jesus foretold a time of "great tribulation," a time so bad that "except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved."  But God has planned to intervene and cut short our pending time of "great tribulation."

God's intervention will begin with a display of wonders including the darkening of the sun as recounted in Matthew 24:29-30, Mark 13:24-26 and Luke 21:25-26. The intervention continues with direct, visible evidence that Jesus is going to return... evidence so awesome that millions will repent when they see it (Revelation 6:12-17). That will be followed by "the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth" (Rev. 3:10); during this time mankind will be confronted with a choice: to be loyal to God or to be seduced by a deceptive world-ruling "beast" as described in Revelation 13:3-18 and other scriptures. Jesus' actual return ends the reign of the "beast" at a battle near Armageddon, as described in Revelation 19.

God is not trying to "save the world" right now. Rather, it appears that God will allow the world to come to the "great tribulation" - the brink of self-destruction - before intervening. Why will God do this? There are no scriptures that directly say why. We can only speculate. Perhaps God waits to prove a point - to us and to Satan - that Satan's way is wrong and leads to harm and destruction. We would probably never believe it unless it was proved to us and we proved it to ourselves. Meanwhile, in this current age those who are called (and are responding) are being sanctified or perfected through their struggle against evil, as Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].

Why would God want to prove this point? To attempt to answer this we need to review some scriptures about Satan. The prophets Ezekiel and Isaiah described Satan's original beauty, his subsequent sin, his rebellion against God and his aspiration to take God's place:

Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned... (Ezekiel 28:12-16)

For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. (Isaiah 14:13-14)

Revelation 12:4 shows that about one third of the angels followed Satan in his rebellion against God. Again we could speculate: there is little doubt that God could have crushed their rebellion immediately, but that would have proved nothing, other than that God is more powerful. It would not have proven that God is right and that Satan is wrong. God has always had the means and the power to destroy Satan, but can not righteously do so until there is proof that Satan is wrong. That proof will be provided as Satan works in this present world, deceives it (Rev. 12:9, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 6:12) and leads it to the brink of destruction.  Luke 4:5-8 provides direct evidence that God has - for the time being - given Satan limited control and influence over our world. Here, during his temptation of Jesus, Satan says the kingdoms of the world - and the glory of them - were given to him; Satan has temporarily been granted some authority and influence over this world from God:

And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get the behind me, Satan: for it is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Mankind, deceived by Satan and following his evil ways, will ultimately come to the brink of self-destruction, a time Jesus called the “great tribulation” as mentioned above. Later Jesus will return and Satan will be removed. Satan will be unable to influence mankind during the ensuing millennium. God, with His Kingdom established on earth, will then prove that His own ways are right. Jesus will rule righteously:

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.  (Isaiah 2:4)

The destruction of evil

Those who are alive at the end of the thousand years - the "millennium" - will certainly know that the Kingdom of God has brought peace and happiness to the Earth. But they will be tested: they will be tempted by Satan during the "little season" in which Satan is "loosed" to deceive mankind after the thousand years, as we saw earlier. This, then, will be their time of decision and judgment. Sadly, many will fail and follow Satan as prophesied in Revelation 20:7-9. Those that follow Satan in rebellion against God will die, with no more hope of resurrection: they perish. This is called the "second death" in Revelation 20:14 and 21:8. But those who pass this time of judgment will apparently receive immortal life, much as their predecessors did over one thousand years earlier.

 After leading this final rebellion Satan will be destroyed. Ezekiel describes this in a prophecy directed toward Satan, concluding with the words "thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more":

Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffic; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more. (Ezekiel 28:15-19)

Perhaps you are wondering how Satan, a spirit being, could be destroyed. It is true that a spirit being can't die: only mortals can die. However, a spirit being can become mortal and then die. Jesus is an example. As explained in John 1:1-3 and 14, Jesus was the Word - a spirit being and the Creator - before becoming a mortal being: 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Jesus, a mortal, then died "to give his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Three nights and three days later He was resurrected. Ezekiel's prophecy suggests Satan will also be made mortal: "I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee... I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee... thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more" (Ezekiel 28:18,19). For Jesus there was a resurrection, but for Satan there will be no resurrection: Satan will perish in death. In Hebrews 2:14 the apostle Paul wrote about Jesus' mortality, showing that through His mortality and death He made possible Satan's destruction through death:

 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he [Jesus] also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.

The final judgment

Now to the question about so many people having died with no fair chance for salvation. There is good news: everyone gets a fair chance. Here's how:

Shortly after the thousand years of the Kingdom of God on Earth mentioned above, there will be another resurrection: a general resurrection of all who remain in the grave. This second resurrection is prophesied in Revelation 20:5:

But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished...

Yes... all who have died will live again! They have been promised a resurrection. After Satan's final rebellion and his destruction we come to the general resurrection of the dead. Verses 12 and 13 of Revelation 20 describe it:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell [the grave, from the Greek word hades] delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Jesus spoke of this final time of judgment in John 5:28-29:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

After this final judgment no one will remain in "hell" - the grave - awaiting a resurrection and judgment: all will have been resurrected. No one will be left in the grave, and in that sense the grave will not exist any more: the grave will be destroyed. And after this final judgment there will be no more mortals: each mortal will already have either received eternal life or suffered the second death. Since there will be no more mortals, death will not happen or exist anymore; so death, like the grave, will be destroyed. Revelation shows the symbolic destruction of both death and the grave in the lake of fire:

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. (Revelation 20:14-15)

To be "cast into the lake of fire" is symbolic of permanent destruction, the same as the second death. Having been cast into "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8) neither the wicked, nor death nor the grave will exist anymore. The apostle Paul wrote confirming the end - the destruction - of death: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26). As we have seen, this will occur after the wicked, including Satan, are destroyed through death.

Please note that those who reject God are not tormented forever in some kind of fiery "hell"; they are simply destroyed through a second mortal death after which there is no promise of resurrection or hope of life. To eternally torment someone would be merciless and sadistic, and God is neither merciless nor sadistic. Could it be that Satan, the original liar, who "deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9), would like you to believe God would do such a thing as torment you forever without mercy? Might such a lie alienate you from God?

Perhaps you recall that in the Garden of Eden, the original liar, Satan, said "ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4) - suggesting that we have eternal life no matter how we live: good or evil. No doubt Satan will die still believing this. The truth is that there is an alternative to eternal life: that alternative is permanent death and destruction - not eternal life - not even eternal life in torment. Here are a few verses illustrating this point: we live forever, or we perish in death:

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Jesus, in John 3:16 )

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Paul, in Romans 6:23)

 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Jesus, in Matthew 7:13)

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (Jesus, in John 10:28)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (Jesus, in John 5:24)

But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption (Peter, speaking of the wicked in 2 Peter 2:12)

After the final judgment Satan, the rest of the wicked, death and the grave will have been destroyed. Then a new age will begin for mankind, for all who have received eternal life.

Thy Kingdom come

Jesus "went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him" (Luke 8:1). The paragraphs above have outlined the gospel of the coming Kingdom of God.  I hope the following familiar words have a clearer meaning now:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven... (Matthew 6:9-10)

Sadly, most professing Christians today are unfamiliar with the gospel of the kingdom; they have never learned the truth about God's promises and His plan. Although they have been taught things about Jesus, most are unaware of His message - His gospel or good news - about the coming Kingdom of God. This is just as Jesus prophesied:

 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)

 How could so many Christians around the world be deceived about the gospel of the kingdom? "That old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world" (Revelation 12:9) has been very successful. Regrettably the resulting confusion has led many to resign any hope of knowing and understanding God's plan. Yet when you understand God's plan, you see that it is merciful, and fair, and complete, and meaningful. And there is no need to worry about all those who have died never knowing the truth. They have not lost their chance for eternal life. God has planned a time of resurrection and fair judgment for every one of them.

What does God want?

We have come back to where we started on the home page. Where does God's plan lead, after the thousand years of His kingdom here on Earth and after the final resurrection and judgment? What is the ultimate goal, when all is said and done? Revelation 21:1-8 shows that there will be a recreation of the universe - Earth and heaven - and that God will come to dwell with us forever:

And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

God's plan is to dwell with us. God wants - and is creating through the sanctification process - men and women He can live with forever. God wants us as family! Before He grants eternal life to anyone, God will be sure that that person can be depended upon to relate to Him properly: with love and obedience… not with hate and rebellion, as is the case with Satan. Now it becomes clear why Jesus, when He summarized the commandments, stressed loving God above all things:

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)

God is looking for people He can live with forever. Without the right relationship with God in place, we cannot be part of His plan.

To know and love God, and to be known and loved by Him, is the highest fulfillment we can attain: it is the water of life. "I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely" (Jesus, in Revelation 21:6). All the things we so easily covet and idolize - money, possessions and power - are nothing but mirages. Jesus summarized, saying "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

What is in store for us when God comes to dwell with us? The apostle Paul wrote:

... Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  (1 Corinthians 2:9, from Isaiah 64:4)

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