Free Bible Study Guides

Series 4 - God's Plan for You and the Entire World: Unlocking the Secrets of God's Festivals

Hi, friends! Welcome to this lesson about the meaning of the seventh festival of God, the one we call the Last Great Day. This Holy Day pictures the incredible culmination of the great plan of salvation God is working out for every person who has ever lived. The meaning of this day answers so many of the challenging questions that have faced religious people for centuries. Examine for yourself the biblical passages that reveal this great mystery, and you will be astounded and encouraged by God's love and wonderful plan.

May God bless and inspire you through your study of His Bible. If you have any questions, please let us know. We would love to hear from you and serve you in any way we can.

Lesson 9: Last Great Day: Hope for All Who Have Ever Lived

Billions of people have died without ever having a chance for salvation. Could a loving God allow so many to be lost? The last Holy Day and the last step in God's plan of salvation reveal surprising and encouraging answers.

Last Great Day: Hope for All Who Have Ever LivedThe Bible tells the stories of many who have encountered God and His plan, but it also shows that many people have not had this opportunity. Jesus pointed out that there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, but Elijah was sent to only one widow, and she was in the gentile area of Sidon (Luke 4:25-26). Only she experienced the miracles described in 1 Kings 17. What is God's plan for all the others?

Another story of a widow of the same region hundreds of years later raises similar questions. Consider Matthew 15:21-28:

"Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

"And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.'

"But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, 'Send her away, for she cries out after us.'

"But He answered and said, 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'

"Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Lord, help me!'

"But He answered and said, 'It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs.'
"And she said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.'

"Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour."

Jesus was not being rude to the woman, but this passage does show that God's plan includes a time order. Some are called at one time, and some at another. Only God knows when is best for each person. But knowing that Jesus Christ loves everyone and doesn't show favoritism, we must wonder, What about those who never had a chance in their lifetimes? What is in store for them?

Someday all the widows of Tyre and Sidon, and everywhere else, will have the opportunity to experience the mercy of Jesus Christ. The final festival helps explain how our loving God will extend the opportunity for salvation to everyone at the right time.

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What Does the Bible Say About the Eighth Day?

What is the seventh and last of God's annual festivals and Holy Days?

Leviticus 23:36, 39
"For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it...
"Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest."

In previous lessons we have discussed the first six festivals of the year. The final festival and Holy Day is closely related to the seven-day Feast of Tabernacles. Since it occurs immediately afterward, it is called the Eighth Day, but it is a separate festival with a special meaning. Among Christians today, this final festival has come to be known as the Last Great Day.

After the children of Israel went into captivity for neglecting God's Sabbaths, including the annual Sabbaths (see Ezekiel 20:23-24), did the returnees learn to again celebrate all of them, including the Eighth Day?

Nehemiah 8:18
Also day by day, from the first day until the last day, he read from the Book of the Law of God. And they kept the feast seven days; and on the eighth day there was a sacred assembly, according to the prescribed manner.

Resting from our regular work and meeting together are common elements of all of God's Sabbaths and annual Holy Days.

 

Solving a Mystery: Are Most People Lost?

Before examining the specific meaning of this Holy Day, first let's consider one of the greatest questions religious people have faced through the ages. If God is all powerful and all loving, why does it seem so many are missing out on salvation? Why are so many people "lost"?

Can anyone be saved without knowing and believing in Jesus Christ?

Acts 4:9-10, 12
"If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole...
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

The apostle Peter made it clear that without knowing Jesus Christ, no one can come to salvation. Yet throughout history billions of people, through no fault of their own, never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone understood His sacrifice and His way of life. What happens to them?

In God's plan of salvation, is Satan allowed to "win"? If the majority who don't know or accept Jesus Christ's name are "lost," hasn't Satan won?

1 Timothy 2:3-4
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Hebrews 2:10
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

God wants everyone to repent, to be saved and to become one of His many children! God is all powerful and all loving, so we can be sure He hasn't given up on the majority of humanity. He will not let Satan win.

Does God have a plan for each person?

Romans 2:10-11
But glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

1 Corinthians 15:22-23
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.

Even though God's plan reaches different people at different times, God does not show favoritism or partiality. All will eventually have a chance at salvation. But how?

 

What Does the Last Great Day Mean in God's Plan of Salvation?

We saw in the last lesson that the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the prophesied Millennium. What prophetic event comes after the Millennium?

Revelation 20:5
But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

Revelation 20:4 and 6 talk about the first resurrection to spirit life, but the first part of verse 5 is like a parenthetical insert that refers to a second resurrection of those who weren't servants of Christ. This includes billions who never heard of or accepted Jesus Christ.

Will the rest of the dead be raised to physical life?

Ezekiel 37:3-6, 11-14
And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."
Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
"'Thus says the Lord God to these bones: "Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live.
"'"I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord..."'"
Then He said to me, "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, 'Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!'
"Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
"'"Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves.
"'"I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it," says the Lord.'"

Though these people are brought back to flesh-and-blood physical life, they will be offered God's Spirit (verse 14). This shows that those who have never had their chance for salvation will be given their full, complete and only chance. It is not a "second" chance.

Besides the people of Judah and Israel, will other nations also be raised to physical life?

Matthew 11:21-24
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
"But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.
"And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
"But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."

Matthew 12:41-42
"The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.
"The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here."

Jesus explained that in the day of judgment at the second resurrection, people from nations around the world and from different time periods will all be raised to life together. How would it be more tolerable for ancient evil cities? This only makes sense if our loving and fair God will give them a chance to repent. To know that they would have repented, yet to never give them that opportunity is the antithesis of the loving God we know (John 3:16).

What is the great white throne judgment, and how will God judge?

Revelation 20:11-12
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.

Our lesson on the "Second Resurrection" explains these verses well:

"The purpose of resurrecting 'the rest of the dead' (verse 5) is so they can experience their time of judgment. In the Bible, judgment does not just mean final sentencing and does not always mean condemnation. It can include an evaluation—a time to demonstrate our conversion.

"Consider how Peter said, 'For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God [the Church]' (1 Peter 4:17). Members of God's Church are being evaluated—judged—now. And in the second resurrection people who have not yet had a chance will have their opportunity—their time to learn spiritual knowledge and then be judged over a period of time for how they apply and obey that knowledge.

"Because of the wording of verse 11, the time of judgment for those who are raised in the second resurrection can be known as the Great White Throne Judgment...

"God will judge them by the same standards as He has judged people at any other time. Those who are raised in the second resurrection will be 'judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books [the books of the Bible]' (verse 12, emphasis added; see also Daniel 7:10; Romans 2:12-13). If they believe, repent, obey and receive God's forgiveness and grace, their names will be written in 'the Book of Life'—which means God will give them His gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23; Philippians 4:3)."

Of course, God will give people then, as He gives people now, free will. That means some few, understanding the incredible sacrifice of Jesus Christ and the offer of forgiveness, will refuse to repent or change from their selfish and prideful way of thinking. See "What Is the Fate of the Unrepentant?" for a brief discussion of the biblical answer.

But as we mentioned earlier, God desires for all to repent, and we believe that the great majority of people will come to see how wonderful God's offer is. When everyone understands God's great plan of salvation as you are discovering through His festivals, we believe most will repent and accept Jesus Christ's sacrifice and seek His help to change and follow God's way. When everyone follows God's law and way of life that leads to peace, everyone will find true happiness, fulfillment, joy and pleasure forevermore as God's children (Psalm 16:11; 1 John 3:1-2)!

 

Apply Now

Make a list of people you would like to teach God's ways in the second resurrection. This could include family members or historical figures who haven't had the understanding or the chance to repent and accept Jesus Christ's sacrifice and to become converted to His way of life. What would be the first thing you would teach them?

Now that you have studied the seven steps in God's plan of salvation, make a plan to rehearse God's plan every year—that's what God created the Holy Days for! Read "How Should We Observe God's Festivals?" to learn more about how Christians around the world are celebrating and rehearsing the great meaning of these annual Holy Days. We are happy to answer any questions or help you find a group celebrating God's festivals nearest you. You can reach us by e-mail at info@ucg.org.

Next Lesson: How to Celebrate God's Festivals Today

Questions about this lesson? Feedback about this lesson?

Related Resources:

The Eighth Day: Eternal Life Offered to All from the booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind

How Eternal Life Will Ultimately Be Offered to All

Beyond the Millennium

Why should Christians celebrate the biblical festival called the eighth day or the Last Great Day?

How should a Christian today celebrate the annual festivals observed by Jesus Christ and the apostles?

Dates for the Annual Festivals of God This Year

The Second Resurrection: Humanity's Opportunity for Salvation!

Hope for Unbelieving Loved Ones

"All Those in the Tombs Will Hear His Voice"