Last Great Day
by Martin G. Collins
Forerunner, "Bible Study," September-October 1996
This study concludes the series on God's annual holy days. We have seen that Passover, the first festival, memorializes Jesus' sacrifice for man. The Days of Unleavened Bread instruct Christ's disciples in holy conduct. Pentecost pictures God's Holy Spirit given to His church. The Feast of Trumpets warns mankind of impending war and the return of Jesus Christ. Atonement depicts Satan being restrained and man finally becoming one with God. The Feast of Tabernacles pictures Christ's thousand-year reign of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
The final festival is the Last Great Day. It looks forward to a time after the Millennium when an awesomely wonderful period of salvation will take place. During this time the majority of mankind—rich and poor, young and old, men and women—will be resurrected and have an opportunity to inherit eternal life. Billions will qualify to enter the God Family! On the other hand, those who will not repent, who will not submit to God and His way, will be cast into the Lake of Fire and die the second—eternal—death. What a fair and merciful God we have!
1. Why is this festival called "the eighth day" and "the last day, that great day of the feast"? Leviticus 23:34-36, 39; Numbers 29:35; John 7:37.
Comment: This seventh holy day is observed immediately following the Feast of Tabernacles. Biblically, seven symbolizes perfection. It is also the eighth day of the Feast, and the Hebrew word for "eight" is related to another meaning "fatness," implying abundance, fertility—even resurrection and regeneration. According to Jewish tradition, on the Last Great Day, they finished reading what they started when Tabernacles began. Though intimately connected to the Feast of Tabernacles, it holds a distinct meaning of its own. It is part of it, yet separate.
The offerings required on this day in the Old Testament were the largest of all, typifying Israel's thankfulness to God for all He provided. Today, God's people keep this day with praise and thankfulness—spiritual sacrifices (Hebrews 13:15)—for His abundant spiritual gifts.
2. What does the Last Great Day foreshadow? Isaiah 65:20-25; Revelation 20:11-15.
Comment: This holy day represents the Great White Throne Judgment period. The prevalent conditions of the Millennium—God's government, peace, prosperity, etc.—will continue into this time, just as the Last Great Day follows the Feast of Tabernacles. From Isaiah 65:20, some speculate that this judgment will last a hundred years, the life span of a healthy individual.
3. What resurrections will occur during this period? Revelation 20:4-6, 11-15.
Comment: The first part of verse 5 inserts a parenthetical statement that refers to a second resurrection, described in verses 11-15. After the Millennium, God will raise up to physical life all those who have never had an opportunity for salvation. Christ will judge all those who lived throughout human history yet have not been called. Ezekiel 37:1-14 prophesies of God resurrecting all Israel. At the same time (see Matthew 12:41-42), He will raise all the Gentiles and extend to them the same offer He does to Israel (Romans 2:7-11; I Timothy 2:4). If they satisfy God's judgment, He will at some point grant them eternal life and give them spiritual bodies (I Corinthians 15:44-49).
After all have had their opportunity, God will perform still a third resurrection. Those who will not repent of their rebellion against the Almighty will be raised to physical life and cast into the Lake of Fire, which provides a merciful, permanent death (see Matthew 25:41).
4. Does God judge everyone by the same standard? I Peter 4:17-18; Romans 14:10-12; I Corinthians 3:8, 13; II Corinthians 5:10.
Comment: God judges true Christians today by how well they live by His Word, and He will judge those who rise in the second resurrection exactly the same way. They will be given enough time to live a life of overcoming and obedience, just as God's firstfruits are doing in this age.
5. Why is this a great day? John 7:37.
Comment: As the God of the Old Testament (John 1:1-3, 14), Jesus personally instituted the Last Great Day to symbolize the Great White Throne Judgment. As Judge of mankind, Christ is great in all His attributes; He is the perfect Judge of all (John 5:22, 24-30). We can also see the greatness of this period in the huge number of people who will be mercifully and lovingly judged and granted eternal life.
6. Why did Christ speak of the Holy Spirit during His proclamation on the Last Great Day? John 7:37-39.
Comment: His words revealed that a day—the White Throne Judgment—would come when all humanity would have free access to the "living water" of God's Holy Spirit (John 4:13-14; Matthew 5:6; Revelation 22:17). Jesus is not only Judge of all, but also the One who dispenses the Holy Spirit to all of His disciples.
7. What occurs after this period? Revelation 21:1-4.
Comment: Following this time of judgment, God will create "a new heaven and a new earth"—a clean, pure world fit for God the Father Himself. For all eternity, "there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." All those who have accepted God's way will have been glorified as members of the God Family, and they will live forever. Like God, they will create, beautify and spread God's rule over the entire universe! With this wonderful potential ahead of us, we can eagerly echo the apostle John's words in Revelation 22:20: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"