From “And Jesus Wept,” by Pastor K. David Oldfield
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Using your imagination, let us pretend that as a child you never learned how to ride a bicycle, but now for medical reasons, you’ve determined to give it a try.
It might prove to be embarrassing, learning to ride a bike at your age. Very small neighborhood children might stare as you foolishly swerve and weave in and out in the middle of a perfectly empty street. The older children might openly laugh. The local adults would peek at you from behind their curtains and talk about you behind closed doors, half-heartedly applauding you for your gumption, but not encouraging you or joining you in public.
Your doctor and cycle salesman might suggest that you start with an inexpensive bike-with “training wheels” to keep you upright. After a few weeks of practice, and plenty of near misses, you probably would be able to lay the training wheels aside. In other words, one day, if you stick to it through the jokes and snickers, you would be able to sit proudly atop your expensive ten-speed or powerful mountain bike. The assurance of that “some day” could be just what you need to keep you going.
Pain could be like training wheels on the bicycle of the neophyte. It could be an embarrassment that might make you give up and hibernate for the winter, or it could keep you from falling on your face and help you learn a new way of seeing the world.
In addition to new sights and adventures in your life, there is one more thing that keeps those embarrassing little wheels temporarily on the back of your bike. It is the realization that training wheels are meant to come off when they have accomplished their purpose.
God Shall Wipe Away all Tears
The Bible teaches that the next major events on the calendar of the Lord are the return of Christ in the air and the translation of His saints. This is commonly called the “rapture” – a “premillennial rapture.” For all practical purposes this will mark the end of suffering for the saints.
But not everyone is a saint – a child of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26). For these people following that translation, and prior to the Millennium (the thousand year rule of Christ upon earth) there will be new lessons in the art of pain infliction. At that time will commence the seven year “Time of Jacob’s Trouble”, commonly called “The Tribulation” or the first segment of “The Day of the Lord.” Lost soul, pray that you will not be living during that period!
It is beyond the scope of this treatise to deal in length with either the Tribulation or the Millennium, but let us touch on some of the highlights.
“Behold the LORD maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof” (Isa. 24:1). “Behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isa. 26:21). “Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (Joel 1:15). “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:21-22). “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (I Thess. 5:3).
Scripture is filled with assertions of God’s prepared wrath for the sinners of earth. God’s wrath means the ultimate in pain. Men will be permitted to slaughter men (Rev. 6:4). A quarter of the people of the globe will die through murder and war, starvation, disease and the attacks of wild animals (Rev. 6:8). Earthquakes, bursts of energy from the sun and out of deep space will scald and kill more (Rev. 6:12). Men will feel such pain that they will plead for death to take them (Rev. 6:16; 9:6). Hail and fire shall be rained down upon earth, mingled with blood, killing a third of the plant kingdom, polluting the waters of the planet and killing much life there as well (Rev. 8:7-11). Poisons will take the lives of hundreds of thousands (Rev. 8:12). Incredible new creatures will abuse the remnant of man, whose “torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man” (Rev. 9:3,5). There are multitudes of scriptures which go on describing the plagues and pains of the seven-year Tribulation period.
Then, as quickly as the time of the Tribulation shall start, it shall end. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matt. 24:30). When the Lord Jesus shall return to earth it shall mean the end of tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom of Christ. It will be the complete fulfillment of all the covenants that God has made with Israel: the Abrahamic covenant; the Davidic, the Palestinian and even the New covenant. The earth will enjoy a thousand years of righteousness and peace under the rule of the Son of David.
Although we can’t dogmatically say that all suffering and pain will cease at that time when Righteousness shall be enthroned, without question most pain will never be heard from again. The Millennium will be characterized by such things as joy (Isa. 9:3; 12:3-6; Jere. 30:18-19), comfort (Isa. 49:13; Zeph. 3:18-20; Rev. 21:4); the end of the curse (Isa. 11:6-9; 35:9; 65:25) with peace existing between all living creatures; the end of sickness (Isa. 33:24; Jere. 30:17; Ezek. 34:16); other kinds of healing (Isa. 29:17-19; Jere. 31:8: Mic. 4:6-7: Zeph. 3:19); the end of oppression (Isa. 14:3-6; 42:6-7); the end of the problems of old age (Isa. 65:20); and the end of the troubles linked to economic pressures (Isa. 4:1; 65:21-23; Mic. 4:1,4; Amos 9:13-14). “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” (Rev. 21:4). Scriptures could be multiplied in each of these cases.
No wonder then, “The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:19-23).
It is not theologically accurate to say that today’s born-again child of God will skip the Tribulation and Millennium, for he will participate in at least two, and possibly four separate judgments, including the judgment of his own works. He also will have authority and certain responsibilities given to him by Christ during the Millennium. Yet, as far as the question of pain is concerned, at the translation of the saints, with only limited exceptions, an eternity of painlessness will begin.
Why? Because with the gradual removal of the last vestiges of sin, the remains of pain will melt away forever.
At the rapture the dead in Christ shall arise from their graves and the living saints shall be changed and caught up to meet the Lord (I Thess. 4:13-17). It will be then that “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (I Cor. 15:53). In other words, our sinful bodies will be changed into glorified bodies, completely without any sin. (See also II Cor. 5:1-4). Never again will we hurt ourselves or others, and never will the Lord be forced to punish us.
Once enrobed in our newly glorified bodies we will go on to take up residence in our Father’s house, which Christ has gone to prepare for us (Jn. 14:1-5), and we can move into eternity, where “…there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).
The only other pain that we might experience, looking at eternity, will be in regard to those not joining us in that bliss. There is some reason to believe that at the time of our judgment (I Cor. 3:13-15; II Cor. 5:10), despite our glorification, the shame of our earthly sin and neglect might bring us the pain of heavenly shame. Then too, at the Great White Throne Judgment of the lost (Rev. 20:11-12) when the lost are told of their eternal fate-being cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Rev.20:15), our hearts might tear open one more time, out of human sympathy and remorse. (I say “might,” because in the light of the glorious Christ, we may see only His ultimate will and perfection.) But whether we ache or not, we have one more promise in the word: “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” (Rev. 21:4).
Christian, the point is this: one day; one day every soon, pain will be no more. It will not be a cessation brought about by death, for how can one pain end another. Rather it will be the termination of pain and death when they are both swallowed up by the perfection and glory of our Redeemer. Death shall be swallowed up in victory! (I Cor. 15:57)
Oh, let us give thanks “to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57).