"God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places."
Events on this timeline:
This timeline answers questions like: "Why?", "What's the purpose of life?", "Why do bad things happen to good people?", "If God is really in control, why is there so much suffering?", "Will there ever be an end to suffering and death?", "What's in all of this for me?" (This timeline also shows what God has already done, what He is doing now, and what He is going to do in the future.)
This timeline is also attempting to show how the Universe was at total peace, until Lucifer accused God of being unfair, unjust, and unkind. And it shows that in the end God will have vindicated His name, eradicated the entire Universe of sin, and restored it to total peace once again.
If someone accuses another of wrong doing it must be proven who is telling the truth and who is telling a lie and the only way to do that is to look at the evidence. Of course we call this a "trial". The devil (Lucifer, Satan) has falsely accused God of some pretty bad things and these allegations effectively put God on trial even though God has done NOTHING wrong. We know that Lucifer is going to be judged and punished someday, but in reality God is going to be judged too, by all of His created beings (even if only in their minds). Of course God will be totally vindicated because we, the jury, will see that God, the Judge, has the right to do what needs to be done. We will see that He has been loving and selfless in all He does, and that everything He has done was for our good. But this is a real trial and the entire universe will be the jury.
1 Corinthians 6:3 actually says that someday we will "judge" angels. Isn't that exactly what a jury does, the jury decides who is right and who is wrong, (they "judge") and then pass their findings on to the Judge for sentencing?
Lucifer's claim was that God was not allowing His created beings real freedom because God had Laws that everyone had to follow. Lucifer claimed that no one needed any law and that if there weren't any laws God's created beings all would be truly free. He claimed that God's Law could not be followed anyway and that even God Himself could not follow the Law. (For further study, read Satan's Enmity Against the Law & The Origin of Evil.)
After humans first sinned Satan claimed control of this earth and so God is giving him ample time during the "Trial Period" (seen on the timeline above) to prove whether his accusations against God and His Laws are true, or not. God must be sure that the whole universe sees what really happens when His Laws are not followed so that sin will never return after the wicked are destroyed. (According to the Bible, we are right at the end of the trial period as shown in the timeline above. Also, see the Daniel 12:4 (Knowledge) Timeline.)
All of God's created beings, including the angels of heaven, have been watching (just like at a trial). When Satan showed how much he hated God by instigating the killing of God's Son on the Cross (See A Parable of Jesus & the story of Job) it became very obvious that Satan's accusations against God were total lies. When Jesus allowed Himself to be killed by wicked men, men who were operating under the same principle of hate as Satan, Jesus showed that God does love us, that He could keep the Law and that His Laws are needed for our freedom. You could say that the Trial of God actually ended at the Cross of Jesus, but remember, it's not just God that's on trial. Satan is on trial too, and he is being given a little more time to allow the whole universe to see what would actually happen if he were allowed to be in control. We are being allowed to see the end result of sin for ourselves, the evidence of breaking God's Laws.
"It was God's purpose to place things on an eternal basis of security, and in the councils of heaven it was decided that time must be given for Satan to develop the principles which were the foundation of his system of government. He had claimed that these were superior to God's principles. Time was given for the working of Satan's principles, that they might be seen by the heavenly universe."
By the way, a simple illustration of how laws are needed can be found in our own highway system. As long as the rules/laws of the road are followed we have freedom to move about as we wish, but if we choose to disobey the rules and drive on the wrong side of the road or fail to stop at a red light, someone will get hurt. These rules/laws actually give us freedom, but without them there would be total chaos. (To see God's Laws, click here.)
After the "trial period" is over, when Jesus comes to take His people to heaven, God will allow the righteous saved to be the "jury". For 1,000 years the jury will go over the "books of heaven" to be sure in their own minds that no one will be punished unjustly. God wants these saved people to serve Him because they love Him, not because they are afraid of Him. He wants them to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He has always been just and is being just in what He is about to do. He wants them to know that everything that could have been done to save each and every person has been done and that, for the good of the entire Universe, He has no other option but to destroy those who refuse to obey His Law.
After the "jury" has finished looking into all that has been done it will be seen that God is not only being fair, but just. (At this point in time, God has not completely destroyed the wicked yet. Jeremiah 4:27 says, "For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.") At the end of the 1,000 years all the wicked will be raised from death and will receive their sentencing and the punishment that they have chosen by not trusting in, nor believing in Jesus. At that point it can be said:
"Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created intelligences. The working out of Satan's rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan's own works have condemned him. God's wisdom, His justice, and His goodness stand fully vindicated."
The Punishment of the Wicked
("Will it ever end?")
The punishment of the wicked includes what is commonly known as Hell Fire, and each person will burn until their punishment is complete. (Romans 12:19) This may be almost instantaneous, or it may take many days or even many weeks, but then their end will come. The Bible says that the fire will eventually go out leaving nothing left of the wicked except ashes and smoke. God has said, "the wages of sin is death" and so it will be. They will never live again, they have vanished.
If this is new to you, ask the Lord to keep you from believing something that is not true and to impress you with what is true, then study this subject in your own Bible, or you can use BibleGateway.com or another online Bible if you like. But look up words like: death, hell, ashes, smoke, judgment, stubble, burn, punish, fire, flame, perish, destroy, and "Lake of Fire". Of course not all verses that will be listed will relate to what happens to us when we die, so just eliminate the ones that don't. Or you can just use the texts below and those found on the Death and Hell Timeline to help you get started in your study. This is Bible truth, but it may not be what you have been taught.
Here are just a few texts related to the punishment of the wicked:
"For yet a little while, and the wicked [shall] not [be]: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it [shall] not [be]." Psalms 37:10
"But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD [shall be] as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away." Psalms 37:20
"Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: [there shall] not [be] a coal to warm at, [nor] fire to sit before it." Isaiah 47:14
"Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life:" Ezekiel 13:22
"For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch." Malachi 4:1
"And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do [this], saith the LORD of hosts." Malachi 4:3
Speaking specifically of Satan and his punishment, the Prophet Ezekiel wrote in Ezekiel 28:
13 "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.
14 "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.
15 "Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
16 "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.
17 "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.
18 "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.
19 "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." (The NIV puts it this way: "you have come to a horrible end and will be no more.")
People often quote Revelation 14:11 which talks about the smoke from Hell rising for ever and ever and use this verse to say that the wicked will live on forever in pain from the fire. But where else can smoke go if it cannot come down? It would be kind of like the smoke from the sun which would keep rising even if the sun stopped shining. When the whole earth is on fire the smoke from Hell will not be affected by the earth's gravity and so it will continue to rise forever.
The same thing can be understood from the rest of that verse. (Remember, we MUST allow the Bible to interpret itself.)
We know from what the rest of the Bible says that the fire WILL go out, and that the wicked will no longer exist. So we have to understand that when Rev. 14:11 talks about the torment will never end it must be talking about something other than the torment from the fire. Knowing that you will be excluded from living at all will be a "torment". Everyone wants to live.
We sometimes forget that John 3:16 says that we either live or we die (we perish), there is no other option given. (Compare the following versions.)
"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.” (KJV)
"This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” (MSG)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)
"For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NLT)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (RSV)
The Reward of the Righteous
("What's in it for me?" )
The Bible says that those who put their trust in Jesus will live forever in a universe without sin. "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." John 3:16 This is considered to be the most well known verse in the Bible, yet many do not realize that God is reminding us that the righteous will LIVE and that the wicked will PERISH.
According to the Bible, living forever in heaven will not be a life of doing nothing, or just sitting on a cloud and playing a harp all the time. In fact, God says that the righteous will plant, eat, build and enjoy the work of their hands. People enjoy doing things, making things, thinking about new things and because we know that God wants us to be happy we also know that we will be doing, making and thinking about things that we can't even dream of knowing and doing right now. We have God's promise.
64:4 For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
65:21-25 And they shall build houses, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them.
They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat: for as the days of a tree [are] the days of my people, and mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
They shall not labour in vain, nor bring forth for trouble; for they [are] the seed of the blessed of the LORD, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust [shall be] the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.
2:9 But as it is written, 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.
21:1 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.
21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
21:3 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.
21:4 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.
21:5 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.
21:6 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.
21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
21:8 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.
21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,
21:11 Having the glory of God: and her light [was] like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal;
21:12 And had a wall great and high, [and] had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
21:13 On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.
21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
21:15 And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof.
21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal.
21:17 And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred [and] forty [and] four cubits, [according to] the measure of a man, that is, of the angel.
21:18 And the building of the wall of it was [of] jasper: and the city [was] pure gold, like unto clear glass.
21:19 And the foundations of the wall of the city [were] garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation [was] jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
21:20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
21:23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof.
21:24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
21:25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there.
21:26 And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.
21:27 And 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.
22:1 And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
22:2 In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.
22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him:
22:4 And they shall see his face; and his name [shall be] in their foreheads.
22:5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.
If you do not resist Jesus and His love He will make you righteous and clean and take you to live with Him. "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." James 4:7 The Bible says that without Jesus we cannot do anything, and of course that is true, but remember, "resisting" is something you do. "Submitting" is just the opposite, it is not something you do. Jesus will change you if you do not resist Him.
(See Steps to Jesus for more information.)
For further study read:
Timeline Printing Instructions:
- Click here to view the sliced timeline ready to print at home. (Several pages make up the whole timeline & each page is 300dpi.)
- Click here to view and download the 300dpi file, ready for printing commercially. (This is much too large to print at home.)
If God is really in control, why is there so much suffering?
Many people have wondered, "If there is a loving God, why does He allow so much suffering and pain? Why does He allow bad things to happen to good people?" The fact that there is so much suffering, pain, sickness and death in this world shows that all of God's created beings need His Laws in order to be truly free and happy. As seen in the timeline above, God is being very fair and very loving by allowing the whole universe to see the end results of sin (sin is the breaking of God's Law, 1 John 3:4). When sin is totally eradicated only then will God make things right once again.
The whole earth is infected with sin and the whole universe MUST see this end result or there would be no end to sin, which means that there would be no end to suffering and death. If God were to immediately destroy all those who disobey Him, created beings would serve Him because they are afraid of Him rather than serving Him because they love Him, but God wants our love. He wants us to admire who He is and what He is.
The fact is that God does hates sin (Psalms 45:7) and what sin does to His creation or He would not have paid such an enormous price to save us from it and to rid the Universe of it. God wants us to hate sin too, and the only way that we will come to hate it as much as He does is if we are allowed to see the results of sin: loneliness, disease, pain, suffering & death. When we compare the results of living by God's Laws with the results of living without God's Laws we will come to love God more. We will begin to really trust Him and we will come to actually love His Laws.
God wants our attitude to be like His!
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus." Philippians 2:5
"...tradition and misinterpretation have obscured the teaching of the Bible concerning the character of God, the nature of His government, and the principles of His dealing with sin." The Great Controversy, page 492
For further study, read: