Permeating the pages of Scripture, especially in the New Testament, is the expectation of a final culminating judgment day. Many times in scripture this day is called “the Day of Judgment” (Matthew 10:15; 11:22,24; 12:36; II Peter 2:9; 3:7). Sometimes it’s called “the Last Day” (John 6:39,40,44,54; 12:48). Sometimes it’s called “the end of the age” (Daniel 12:13; Matthew 13:39,40,49; 24:3). Sometimes it’s called “the day of the Lord” or something similar like “the day of Christ” (I Corinthians 1:8; 5:5; Philippians 1:6,10; I Thessalonians 5:2; II Thessalonians 2:2; II Peter 3:10). It’s also called “the great day” (Jude 6), or often just “the Day” (Romans 13;12; I Thessalonians 5:4; Hebrews 10:25; II Peter 1:19). Other references to it are “the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Romans 2:5) and “the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30).
Here’s what I see the Bible saying is going to happen on that day. Check the Scripture references in your own Bible to see if these things are so.
On this great last day, life on earth will be going on as usual, like it was in the time of Noah on the day when the flood began, and like it was in the time of Lot on the day when suddenly the sky rained fire and brimstone. People will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage (Lk 17:27; Matt 24:38). People will be buying and selling, planting and building (Lk 17:28). They will be saying “Peace and safety!” (I Thess 5:3). The Judgment Day will come on what will at first seem like just a normal day like today. The cataclysmic events of the day will begin suddenly and unexpectedly, like labor pains upon a woman with child (I Thess 5:3), like the arrival of a thief at night (I Thess 5:2; II Pt 3:10).
The first big surprise
The first big surprise for people on earth will be witnessing the beginning of the dissolution of the physical universe. The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken (Matt 24:29; Zech 14:6; Rev 6:12-13). There will be a roaring of the sea and the waves like never before. The people on earth will be in dismay and perplexity at what’s happening, and men will be fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world (Lk 21:25-26).
The appearance of Jesus
Jesus will then appear in a visible and unmistakable way. He will come in just the same way that the apostles watched Him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). You won’t need anybody to tell you, “Look there!” or “Look here!” (Matt 24:23-26; Lk 17:23). His coming will be widely visible like lightning (Matt 24:27; Lk 17:24). He will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God (I Thess 4:16). All the tribes of the earth will mourn as they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory (Matt 24:30) with many thousands of His mighty angels (Zech 14:5; Matt 16:27; 25:31; II Thess 1:7; Jude 14) in flaming fire (II Thess 1:7).
The resurrection of the dead
At Christ’s coming (I Cor 15:23), all who sleep in the dust of the earth (Dan 12:2), all who are in the tombs (Jn 5:28-29), the righteous and the wicked (Acts 24:15), the great and the small (Rev 20:12), in the same hour will hear the voice of the Son of Man and come forth (Jn 5:28). The sea will give up the dead which are in it, and death and Hades will give up the dead which are in them (Rev 20:13). The bodies we sow to the grave are not the bodies which are to be (I Cor 15:37). For us who are children of God it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him (I Jn 3:2). While the body we sow is perishable, it will be raised imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it will be raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it will be raised in power. It is sown a natural body. It will be raised a spiritual body (I Cor 15:42-44). It will not be flesh and blood, for flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven (I Cor 15:50). In some sense we will shine like the sun (Matt 13:43) and like the stars (Dan 12:3; Rev 2:28; II Pt 1:19; cf Matt 17:2; II Pt 1:16-17; Rev 22:16). And the mortal bodies of God’s people who are still living when this day comes will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (I Cor 15:51-52). The Lord Jesus will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory (Phil 3:21). Death will be abolished (I Cor 15:26,54; Rev 20:14). Death will be swallowed up for all time (Is 25:8; I Cor 15:54). The saying will come about, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (I Cor 15:55).
The final separation
Christ will send forth the angels to separate all of mankind into two groups, the righteous and the wicked, the blessed and the accursed. They will separate people like farmers separate the wheat from the chaff (Matt 3:12) or wheat from tares (Matt 13:24-30, 36-43), like fishermen separate the good fish from the bad fish in a dragnet (Matt 13:47-50), like shepherds separate the sheep from the goats (Matt 25:31-33). Where it is night on earth there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left (Lk 17:34). There will be two women grinding at the same mill; one will be taken and the other will be left (Lk 17:35; Matt 24:41). There will be two men in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left (Matt 24:40). The separation will divide families and friends and co-workers. The righteous will be gathered by the angels to meet the Lord in the air (I Thess 4:17). They will be gathered from one end of the sky to the other (Matt 24:31).
The rejoicing among the righteous over one another
There will be rejoicing among the righteous who were acquainted with each other on earth as they recognize each other. The Thessalonian Christians will be Paul’s joy and crown of exultation in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming (I Thess 2:19). The Philippian Christians will give Paul more reason to glory on the day of Christ (Phil 2:16). Can you imagine our joy when we stand there with the Lord and we see our children there? Can you imagine our joy when we stand there with the Lord and see people that we had something to do with them coming to know the Lord in their life or something to do with helping them to stay faithful in their lives?
The destruction of this present heavens and earth
The heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (II Pt 3:10). The heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat (II Pt 3:12). The earth and the heavens will perish (Heb 1:10). They will be rolled up like an old garment (Heb 1:11-12). They will be removed (Heb 12:26-27; Rev 20:11).
All will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (II Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10). God will judge the world in righteousness through Christ whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31). God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil (Ecc 12:14). He will convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 15). God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus (Rom 2:16). Every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it (Matt 12:36). The words that Jesus spoke will judge us in the last day (Jn 12:48). His judgment will be impartial to race or gender or social status or any other superficial criteria. There is no partiality or favoritism with God (Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Jam 2:5).
He will render to each person according to his deeds (Rom 2:6; Matt 16:27). To those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, He will render wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek (Rom 2:8-9). He will deal out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus (II Thess 1:8). The severity of each one’s punishment will be according to what each deserves. The one who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Lk 12:47-48; II Pt 2:20-21). The Lord will sentence them to depart from Him into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). The angels of God will cast them into the furnace of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 13:41-42; 49-50; Rev 20:15) in the outer darkness (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30), the black darkness (II Pt 2:17; Jude 13) where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched (Mk 9:43,48; Matt 3:12; Is 66:24). They will go away into eternal punishment (Matt 26:46). They will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (II Thess 1:9).
The new heavens and the new earth
This present heavens and the earth will be changed like a garment (Heb 2:12). There will be a new heavens and a new earth (Is 65:17; 66:22; II Pt 3:13; Rev 21:1). The creation will be set free from its slavery to corruption (Rom 8:21). All things will be restored as God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time (Acts 3:21). The visions in the prophets of paradise regained will be fulfilled. There will be a river of the water of life and the tree of life, yielding its fruit every month, and there will no longer be any curse (Zech 14:8-11?; Rev 22:1-3). No more thorns or thistles, no more disease, no more death (Gen 3:17-19). Everything will once again be very good (Gen 1:31).
To those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, God will render “eternal life.” There will be glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good (Rom 2:7,10). The Lord will praise them, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (Matt 25:21,23; Lk 19:17) and invite them to enter into His joy and to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world (Matt 25:34). They will inherit the new world (Heb 2:5-8; Rev 21:7), an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away (I Pt 1:4) and where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in or steal (6:20). They will all with Christ share a lavish banquet feast together (Is 25:6; Mk 14:25; Matt 8:11; 22:10; 25:10; Lk 13:29; 14:16-24; Rev 19:7-9). For eternity God will dwell among them (Rev 21:3; Jn 14:2-3; I Thess 5:10). They will see His face (Rev 22:3; Matt 5:8). They will serve Him (Rev 22:3). He will wipe away every tear from their eyes (Is 25:8; Rev 21:4). Everything that has blighted people’s lives since sin entered into this world will be no more. There will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4; Is 65:19). They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat (Rev 7:16). They will be glad and rejoice and reign forever and ever (Is 65:18; Rev 22:5).
– James Williams