A Developing Paper

Jesus, Judge of All


Michelangelo (from http://www.christusrex.org/www1/sistine/40-Last.jpg)
Some popular schools of Christian theology suppose that there is a coming single day of judgment for everyone. One finds this view reflected in literature and art through Christendom. However, a careful reading of the Bible indicates that there are at eight or more separate, major judgments of various groups of people recorded in Scripture.

Summary of God's Judgments

1. God is holy and just. He must judge all evil everywhere. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25)

2. The Lord prefers mercy to judgment: He is compassionate and longsuffering, He is, "Not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)

3. Because judgment is often delayed in time (God is longsuffering), many people assume God will never judge us.

4. Judgment is God's "strange work"--however when God does move in judgment He is thorough and even ruthless.

5. More than one single judgment: Some popular schools of theology suppose that there is a coming single day of judgment for everyone. One finds this view reflected in religious literature and art. However, the Bible indicates that there are eight or more separate judgments of various groups of people recorded in Scripture.

6. Judgments at the Cross

A. When Jesus died on the cross the sins of all of mankind were judged. Jesus, the innocent Lamb of God, was the substitute who endured the full wrath and punishment of God for all of the sins of everyone who has ever lived. (Rom. 3:21-26, 1 John 2:2) The judgment of all human sin by God through the propitiatory sacrifice of his Son on the cross has made it possible for all men everywhere to be freely forgiven and thus reconciled to God. For instance, Paul pleads with men to accept God good favor towards them now (2 Cor. 5:14-21). "He who knew no sin was made to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (This does not mean that all men are saved, because God can not violate human freedom to refuse his grace).

B. The judgment of the Adamic nature of believers was carried by Christ on the cross. (Rom. 6:1-10) See "How God Saves Us", on this passage in Romans. This aspect of the work of Christ on the cross with us (not merely for us) is widely overlooked by Christians today!

C. Satan, the chief of the fallen angels, was judged at the cross. This is a vast subject contained within the short statement "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." (Col. 1:19-20, John 12:31) "For it pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Col. 1:19-20)

7. Jesus is Himself the Appointed Judge of all mankind: See John 5:20-30. Jesus raises the dead and He is the final judge of each and every person individually. The Father has ordained that all men shall bow at the feet of Jesus--whether they are his own, or his enemies. "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:11-12 quoting Isaiah 45:23) "...God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

8. God judges every man on the basis of what they know about Him, and by their works (including motives). This basis for judgment applies to all mankind. All are without excuse. But men are never saved by their works, [self-effort] but by grace alone, through faith. "...do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds": eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey righteousness--indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; 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. For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel." (Rom. 2:4-16)

9. The Judgment Seat of Christ. This one judgment applies to Christians only. This judgment is not a judgment for the Christian's sin but of his "works." (John 3:18, 5:24, Rom. 8:1-4, 1 Cor. 3:9-15, 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:9-10, Rom. 14:7-12). It is a "job performance evaluation."

10. The Judgment of Israel: This event comes after the rapture of the church but before the judgment of the nations. (Matt. 24:1-25:46). This is a vast subject! (For starters see Daniel 12:1-3, Ezek. 20:33-44, Matt. 24:29-31, Zech. 12: 10-14, Joel 3, Malachi 3:1-6, Ezek. 36-37, Isa. 63-66, Hosea 5:13-6:3, Rom. 11:25-36, Rev. 14:14-20, Matt. 25:31-46). Jesus is the Avenger of Blood and Kinsman Redeemer, especially for Israel. Jesus has a special and unique relationship with His own people Israel, and they are a special nation as God's model nation. They are to be judged more strictly than the gentile nations for these two reasons.

11. The Judgment of Angels. Christians, working together with their Lord Jesus will judge both angels and the world. (1 Cor. 6:2,3). No details are given.

12. The Final Judgment of the Nations: The gentile nations will be judged immediately following the judgment of the nation Israel, just after the Lord Jesus has returned to the Mount of Olives at the Second Advent. The basis for this judgment is how the nations have treated the Jews! (Joel 3:1-8, Matt. 25:31-46)

13. The Great White Throne Judgment (sometimes called the "Last Judgment"). (Rev. 20:11-15) All the unbelievers of all time, will be judged by the deeds and banished forever from the presence of God. There are degrees of punishment for the wicked. This judgment comes (in earth-history time) at the end of the Millennium, but before the "New Heavens and New Earth."

14. Temporal Judgments: Individuals are also judged during their life-times. For example, some believers leave this life earlier than might have been the case had they been more responsive to God during their lives. Nations rise and fall in the course of history. The fall of any nation is a judgment on that nation. Wars are a judgment from God which applies to both parties . (That is, there are no just wars. See Ten Propositions Concerning War by Ray Stedman). God is engaged in historical judgments of men and nations all down through the course of history. God's role in these judgments usually escapes the notice of the world, but discerning believers will see God's hand in world affairs. "Acts of God" in legalese are "accidents," such as shipwrecks in a storm, where there is no obvious human cause. Since there are in reality no accidents in a universe where God is in full control of all the details, God allows and even causes shipwrecks, and such, but we don't always know why.

15. Avoiding Judgment: We can avoid being judged by God and awe can void being disqualified for the Lord's work--if we judge ourselves, (1 Cor. 9:27, 11:31,32).

Some Details:

Actually when one begins to look at all the many ways God evaluates men and angels the discussion of these would easily fill a big book. This article is therefore a short overview only. I'll follow the summary by Lewis Sperry Chafer in his Systematic Theology. (see notes below)

John's gospel, Chapter 5, is very important to this entire discussion. While in Jerusalem Jesus talks about His close relationship working in partnership with His Father. Then He tells us that raising the dead and the work of judgment has been placed in His hands.

"For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." (John 5: 20-30)

Since God is both holy and just, He must judge evil and vindicate (recompense) those who have been wronged. He does this in accordance with His own time-tables and calendars. In the Lamentations of Jeremiah we learn that God's judgments are undertaken reluctantly after all else fails (see The Therapy of Trouble, http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/adventure/0225.html). God is "slow to anger" and very patient and "longsuffering," but when He does judge He is thorough and even ruthless. (See The Ruthlessness of God, http://ldolphin.org/Ruthl.html).

Ray C. Stedman writes,

The claim of Jesus is that life belongs to him. He only loans it, for a while, to us. Think of that! It cuts right across the philosophy and the propaganda of our day! Television, radio, newspapers and magazines tell you that your life belongs to you, and you can do with it what you want; it is up to you to make of yourself whatever you desire. That is what is fed to us all the time. But that is a lie! Your life is not yours. You did not invent it, you were handed it, you were given it. One of these days you will have to give it back. Those two great facts underscore all of life, yet how easy it is to forget them.

How frequently the world tries to operate on a basis that is not true, that life belongs to us, and it will go on as long as we want it to! One of the reasons we gather here Sunday after Sunday is that we might counteract that lie and remind ourselves afresh that many of the things that are being said to us by the world are not true, they are not based on reality. Sooner or later, an exciting, compelling, terrifying reality is going to crash in upon us and we will have to deal with life the way it really is. That is what this claim of Jesus states. He claims not only to possess the power to give physical life, but spiritual life as well.

"Spiritual" life is what the Bible calls "eternal" life. It is a different level of life. It is not merely, as it is frequently translated (especially in the King James version), "everlasting" life. That conveys the idea that this present, earthly life will be extended infinitely. But that is not what the Bible is talking about when it speaks of "spiritual" or "eternal" life. It is rather describing a quality of life. It is true that it goes on forever, but primarily the Bible is talking about the richness, the fullness, the beauty of life. It is a quality of life that is enduring, true, but it is also enriching; it cannot be diminished by circumstances or ended by death. It is a quality of life that is given to us now. It begins here, not in heaven after you die. The claim of Jesus is that he alone has the power to give that kind of life.

Because Jesus gives "to whom he will," that makes him also the arbiter of the destiny of human beings: He is the Judge of all men. It is his knowledge of who is to receive eternal life, and who is to remain without it, that constitutes him an infallible Judge of human destiny. These two ideas blend together; one grows out of the other. If Jesus gives you life you are on your way to heaven. If he gives you eternal life you will never die, you will never taste the emptiness and awful loneliness of death. You will immediately have a fuller experience of life than you have ever had before. But only if Jesus gives it to you. He is the sole possessor of spiritual life.

If he does not give you life then you remain exactly the way you were, on your way to hell, on your way to frustration, torment, hollowness -- all those negative things the Scripture means when it speaks of hell -- life without God, without blessing, without richness, without fullness.

If this claim of Jesus is, real it clearly makes him the most important Person in anybody's life. If your very physical existence has come from him, and your spiritual destiny is in his hands, then he is the most important Person you will ever have to deal with. More than that, he is the most important Person in the whole world, the central figure in all the universe. This is stated all through the Scriptures.

In the last book of the Bible, which was also written by the Apostle John, there is a tremendous scene described in Chapter 5, where John takes us beyond the limits of earth and shows us the throne of God. The creatures of heaven are gathered around the throne, worshiping God, and in the center of the scene John sees a Lamb that has been slain. Here is his description:

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, "To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" and the elders fell down and worshiped. (Rev 5:11-14)

There is Jesus, sitting at the heart of the universe. Because of this, no Christian can ever put Jesus Christ on a par with Mohammed, Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, the virgin Mary, Moses, the prophets, or any religious leader of any time. This is why we cannot call a Christian one who only accepts the teachings of Jesus, or who adopts his moral standards, or admires him as a social reformer or religious leader. Jesus himself does not allow us that privilege. He is above all of this. He alone has the right to give the gift of eternal life. In his first letter, John has written of him, "This is the record, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life, but he who does not have the Son of God does not have life," (1 John 5:11-12). The relationship you have to Jesus Christ is the most important relationship of your life. It determines your ultimate destiny.

If that is true, the great question before us is, "To whom and on what terms does Jesus give eternal life?" The answer to that is given in one of the greatest verses in Scripture, Verse 24. It is one of my favorite texts, one I have used many, many times. I hope you will memorize these words of Jesus,

Truly, truly, I say to you [remember, that introduction in effect underlines the words that follow, calling attention to the importance of them], he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 RSV)

That verse makes clear that when Jesus says he gives life "to whom he will," it is not a matter of arbitrary selection on his part. He does not point at people in a capricious way, and say, "You and you and you can have eternal life," and so on. It is clear there is a responsibility we are to fulfill.

To whom does Jesus give eternal life? To the man or woman, boy or girl who "hears his words and believes in Him who sent him," to the one who is willing to listen to his claims, believe his credentials, and act on that basis, to follow him and be his obedient disciple. When one hears his words and obeys what he says, notice what happens: immediately Jesus says he "has eternal life;" not, he "shall have" it some day when he dies. He has it, right then. Immediately also all judgment is past. Such a one has "passed from death to life." Our Lord is making very clear to these Jews and to everyone else who reads his words the terms on which one passes from death to life.

All of us are born headed for death. We do not like to talk about it, we put it away from our thoughts as long as possible, but we are all headed for death. Beyond death lies the second death -- unless we have eternal life. Thus the most important question anybody has to settle is whether he has believed in Jesus and received from his hand the gift of eternal life. In Verse 25 Jesus extends this well into the future:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead [the spiritually dead] will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself..." (John 5:25-26)

What does Jesus mean by the words, "the hour is coming"? This is a clear reference to the Day of Pentecost, to the new thing that would happen when the Spirit of God would come in a new, fresh way and this gift of eternal life would be given to Jews and Gentiles alike all over the world and through all the succeeding periods of time. Already the "hour" of which Jesus speaks is over 1900 years long. During that time whoever hears his word and believes on him who sent him receives eternal life.

But, Jesus also says, "it now is," i.e., it was already happening. By those words he is referring to his own giving to individuals of the gift of life. We have already seen this in John's gospel. Nicodemus, the troubled religious leader, came by night to Jesus in an effort to find peace. Jesus said to him, "Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up [on a cross], that whoever believes in him may have eternal life," (John 3:15 RSV). Nicodemus believed and received the gift of eternal life. The Samaritan woman at the well, who was living such an empty life, trying to find satisfaction in five husbands, hoping marriage would satisfy her yearnings, came empty, hungry, and thirsty to Jesus. To her he said, "If you knew who is speaking to you, you would have asked of him and he would have given you a well of water springing up to eternal life," (John 4:10 RSV). Thus he gave her eternal life. She went away so excited she could not contain herself, but soon brought the whole town out to hear this One who could give the gift of eternal life.

So it was already happening, "the hour is coming, and now is," when the spiritually dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. Then he adds that as the Son of God, as the One who is eternally with the Father, he has always had this ability to give life to the spiritually dead. He has this life "in Himself." He is the One who has always given eternal life, in the Old Testament as well as the New. But now he adds something else. Verse 27:

"...and [the Father] has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man." (John 5:27)

In other words, because he has now become a man and understands how we live, how we feel and what we face, he has the right to pass judgment on whether we should have the gift of life or remain in death. It is because Jesus came among us that he understands us. He knows the pressures and the problems we face, therefore he knows clearly when we have reached the place where we are ready to give up depending on ourselves and are able to receive the gift of life.

To receive the gift of life is the only way by which a man can be permanently changed, whether he has a black record or not. The only thing that can transform us right at the very heart of our being, and make us new again, is the gift of eternal life. Those who have it can never be the same again. The growth process can sometimes be very painful, as many of us know, but, when the gift of life is there at the heart of our being, we can never go back to what we once were. That life is in God's Son. But all physical life is also in his hands. Verse 28:

"Do not marvel at this [What does that tell you about what they were doing? They were agog with astonishment that he would speak like this. Their mouths dropped open at the daring claims he made.] for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me," (John 5:28-30)

What a marvelous claim! Jesus says there is coming an hour in history when all the dead, all of them -- bad, good, evil, kind, loving, unloving, murderers, rapists -- all, shall come forth from the grave. He is going to empty the cemeteries of the world. Then, even the bodies of men and women will share in their final destiny.

Those who have "done good" shall experience the resurrection of life. What does "done good" mean? Many people extract this verse from the context and make up their own ideas about what it means to "do good." They say if you have been fairly nice to your neighbor, do not beat your wife too often, speak kindly to people now and then, and try your best to obey the Ten Commandments, then perhaps the good you have done will outweigh the evil and God will let you into heaven.

But that is not what this verse is saying. This is just a few verses removed from what Jesus said about the gift of eternal life. To "do good," of course, means to have received eternal life. Only those in whom the life of God is dwelling can "do good" in God's eyes. In the words of an old hymn, "He died that we might be forgiven, He died to make us good; That we might go at last to heaven, Saved by His precious blood." Those who have obeyed his word, walked in fellowship with him and shared his life -- those are the ones who have "done good."

What does "done evil" mean? Obviously this is referring to those who have refused his life, turned their backs on truth, and shut their ears to the offer of grace from God; those who have denied even the witness of nature, the witness of their own inner hearts. Those are the ones who have all their life "done evil" even though there were times when they thought they were doing good. They will come forth to the "resurrection of judgment."

That is clearly the import of the words of Jesus. No wonder he frightened and challenged the people who heard him on that day, as he frightens and challenges us when we hear his words today. But note his assurance in Verse 30:

"I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just..." (John 5:30a)

There will be no argument against his judgment, no one can complain that it is unfair, because it is the work of both the Father and the Son; the Father who gave us life to begin with and who knows all that is in our hearts; the Son who came among us and knows how we feel and is both our Savior and Judge. We decide which he is going to be by the reaction we have to truth. (He's Got the Whole World in His Hands, http://raystedman.org/john/3844.html).

 Two Different Paths in Life

People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, "If you keep a lot of rules, I'll reward you; and if you don't, I'll do the other thing." I do not think that's the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice, you are turning the central part of you, the part that chooses, into something a little different than what it was before. And, taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature; either into a creature that is in harmony with God and with other creatures and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God and with its fellow creatures and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heavenly, i.e., it is joy and peace and knowledge and power; to be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us, at each moment, is progressing to the one state or the other. (C.S. Lewis)

Judgment is based on our Knowledge and by our "Works"

It is Jesus who is seated at the judge's bench in God's courtroom. Everyone on earth, everyone who has ever lived, will get a fair trial. All the facts of each case will be brought to light--God's "recording angels" keep perfect accounts. According to Romans Chapter 2, God judges all men on the basis of the truth they have received and their actions (deeds) in life. (The works that count in the life of the Christian are the acts of Christ in and through us--the result of our faith). All men are without excuse. This is established in Romans 1.

"...do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. (Romans 2:4-16)

In Chapter One of Romans we learn that the active, ever-present "wrath" of God "is [continuously] revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who repress the truth in unrighteousness." "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)

In Romans chapter 2 we are introduced to the "stored up" aspect of the wrath of God. When the "stored-up" wrath is unleashed it can not be stopped. For example, "The iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great, and the land is full of bloodshed, and the city full of perversity; for they say, 'The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see!' "And as for Me [the Lord] also, My eye will neither spare, nor will I have pity, but I will recompense their deeds on their own head." (Ezekiel 9:9-10)

When we judge and condemn others we are playing God. We have neither the knowledge nor the right to sit in judgment on others. Therefore our judgmental attitudes are serious sin. (Judging others in order to make ourselves look good is not the same as discernment which we need in order to help and encourage others).

Motives matter. "Man looks upon the outward appearance, God looks upon the heart." At the judgment of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25:31ff men are evaluated, basically, on the basis of loving their neighbor in practical ways. The Sermon on the Mount intensifies the demands of the Law of Moses by showing that the motives of the heart are as important as outward conduct. James says, "Whoever keeps the whole Law and fails in any one point, is guilty of all of it."

The standards of God are very high. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." One of the definitions of sin is compared to shooting an arrow at a target and missing the mark. Trying hard is not good enough. Who among us actually lives out the Golden Rule (Mt. 7:12) in our daily lives? The gulf between a holy God and us sinners is an infinite chasm, bridgeable only by God Himself who, in Christ, has made our reconciliation possible.

What is the standard for acceptable human conduct? The standard is actually Jesus Himself. Jesus is God's righteousness. In contrast "...we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

The three-fold work of the Holy Spirit in the world during the age we live in includes convicting the world of its unrighteousness:

"Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I [Jesus] go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged."

Life Styles: People who live outwardly moral and decent lives are usually pursuing goals in life that run contrary to the will of God because they are most likely selfish and self-seeking. From whence comes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or the freedom to have an abortion, or the right to choose one's sexual preferences? Man is a worshiping being by nature and if not serving the true and living God, is automatically serving idols.

Hypocrisy (pretending to be godly when one is not) is actually worse than open immorality.

"These six things the LORD hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Providence and Common Grace: God is kind to all men, "He makes his rain fall on the just and the unjust." His kindness, patience and love to all mankind is for the purpose of bringing us to repentance. The proper response to God's grace is thanksgiving, worship, and commitment.

God's judgment is utterly fair and impartial. He judges us on our actual conduct based on what we do know about Him. God judges according to truth and He takes our motives into account. Doing good occasionally is not enough. A consistent good life marks the path of the righteous.

 Wrath Poured Out

Where is that salvation to be found? If God's wrath is deserved by us, proportionate to our sin, as certain as the calendar, just, and even partially disclosed in the natural unfolding of the effects of sin in our lives, how can it possibly be avoided--since we are sinners? The only place is in Christ, who bore the full measure of the wrath of God in our place. Do we doubt that God's wrath is real and threatening? If we do, we need only look at Jesus in the hours preceding his crucifixion. He was not like Socrates who calmly quaffed the hemlock that was to end his life. Jesus' soul was "troubled" (John 12:27), and he agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking that the "cup" God had prepared for him might be taken away (Matt. 26:36-44). Jesus was not afraid of death. He had as much courage in that respect as Socrates. The reason Jesus trembled before death is that his death was not to be like the death of mere mortals. Jesus was not going to die for himself. He was going to die for others. He was going to take upon himself the full measure of the wrath of God that they deserved. He was to drink the cup of wrath to the very dregs in order that the justice of God might be satisfied and sinners might be spared. And so it was! The time came when Jesus was led away to be crucified. He was hung on the cross, midway between earth and heaven, a bridge between sinful man and a holy God. There he, who knew no sin, was made sin for us. There God's wrath was poured out.

For centuries the wrath that men and women had been storing up had been accumulating-like coins in the attic or water behind a great dam. Oh, here and there a little of the flood of God's judgment had sloshed out over the top as God reached the end of his patience in some small area, and a Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed or a Jerusalem was overthrown. But, for the most part, the wrath of God merely accumulated, growing higher and broader and deeper and increasingly more turbulent. Then Jesus died! When he died the dam was opened, and the great weight of the accumulated wrath of God was poured out upon him. He took God's wrath for us. He bore its impounded fury in our place. No wonder his righteous soul shrank back from the atonement. He had never committed a single sin. He was spotless and without blame. Yet because he was blameless and because he was God, he was able to stand in the breech for us and secure our salvation.

God demonstrated clearly that he had! In Jerusalem there was a temple the central feature of which was a room called the Most Holy Place. God was understood to dwell symbolically in that place. Before it hung a thick curtain, symbolizing the barrier that sin has raised between God in his holiness and ourselves in our sin. For anyone to penetrate beyond that barrier meant instant death, as occasionally happened, for the wrath of God must flame out against any sin that would intrude upon holiness. That curtain was torn in two when Jesus died. For centuries it had hung there, proclaiming that God was holy, that man was sinful, and that the way to God was therefore strictly barred. But now that Jesus had died for sin, taking the place of any who would trust him and receive the benefit of his sacrifice, the wrath of God was expended, the way was open, and there was nothing left but God's great love and kindness.

This is the gospel. It is what is open to you if you will approach God, not on the basis of your own good deeds or works, which can only condemn you, but on the basis of Christ's having borne the wrath of God in your place. That wrath is thundering down the chasm of history toward the day of final judgment, and one day it must break upon you unless you stand before God in Jesus Christ. Martin Luther began his spiritual pilgrimage by fearing God's wrath and then came to find peace in Christ. But he never forgot the reality of the final judgment, and he always warned his hearers to flee from it to Christ. He said in one place, "The Last Day is called the day of wrath and of mercy, the day of trouble and of peace, the day of destruction and of glory." Luther was right. It must be one or the other. If it is to be a day of mercy and peace for you, rather than a day of wrath and trouble, it must because you are trusting in Christ. (James M. Boice, commentary on Romans)

The Main Judgments of God

----work in progress-----

The Judgments At the Cross

1. When Jesus died on the cross the sins of all of mankind were judged. Jesus as the innocent lamb was made to be the substitute who endured the full wrath and punishment of God for all the sins of everyone who ever lived.

"But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed [i.e. under the Old Covenant in all who believed in the promises of God before Jesus came into the world], to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26)

"...And He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world." (1 John 2:2)

The judgment of all human sin on the cross makes it possible for all men everywhere to be freely forgiven and reconciled to God. This is the impetus for Paul's urging us in 2 Cor. 5 to plead with men everywhere that they accept God gracious good favor towards them now:

"For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again. Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

2. The judgment of the Adamic nature of believers was carried by Christ on the cross. Romans 6:1-10 outlines this. By taking us out of the family of Adam and "immersing" us "into Christ" we are each identified fully with Christ in His death burial and resurrection. This enables God to make us totally new persons at the core of our being. Galatians 2:20-21 summarizes this. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." Many Christians realize that Christ died for their sins, but do not appreciate the other side of the coin: each of us dies with Christ in order to be raised to a whole new life. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:22-25)

3. Satan, the chief of the fallen angels was judged at the cross. Satan's judgment also occurs in stages: 1. When he sinned he was evicted immediately from his high office in the heavens.2. He will be thrown out of heaven and down to earth by the Archangel Michael during the tribulation, Rev. 12. 3. He will be imprisoned in the abyss for 1000 years, Rev. 20:1-3. 4. His final end is in the Lake of Fire, Rev. 20:1-9. At the cross Satan was effectively judged for time and eternity. This is a vast subject included within the short statement "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself."

"It pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross." (Colossians 1:19-20)

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out." (John 12:31)

The Judgment of Believers of the Church Age (The Judgment Seat of Christ)

Those who have placed their full trust and faith in Jesus Christ and have entered into a relationship with God and can not come into judgment for their sins since Christ has borne them Himself once for all. "...Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." (Hebrews 9:28)

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:18)

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." (John 5:24)

"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1-4)

However, each and every Christian experiences at death what is called the "Judgment Seat of Christ." This is an evaluation of how the Christian has lived his or her life since becoming a Christian.

"For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."
(2 Corinthians 5:9-10)

This issue here is works which result from saving grace which will survive. All we have done in the strength and energy of the flesh will be burned up. Alternately, we can say that only what Christ does through the believer results in lasting works. All else is hay, wood, and stubble. Nevertheless the Bema, the Judgment Seat of Christ will bring each believer God's expressions of approval--commendation not condemnation:

"Therefore do not judge anything before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise (commendation) will come from God." (1 Corinthians 4:5)

"For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: "As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God." So then each of us shall give account of himself to God." (Romans 14:7-12)

"And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work." (Revelation 22:12)

If one thinks of this present life as a training program which prepares Christians for life in the world to come, then it is obvious that some Christians care little for long-term or eternal goals, and others care more. "Rewards" would therefore seem to be one's capacity to serve God and to enjoy him. All Christians will be free from sin, fully justified, when they arrive in the next life. Some will be well suited for the Master's highest use, others for lesser tasks. One sees this anticipated in Paul's second letter to Timothy:

"In a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work." (2 Timothy 2:20-21) (see Fit to Be Used, http://pbc.org/dp/stedman/timothy/3787.html. See also The Judgment Seat of Christ, http://ldolphin.org/Jseat.html).

The Rapture of the Church will mean that ALL true Christians from the day of Pentecost down to this parousia of Jesus, (the first aspect of His Second Advent), will be raised from the dead, and then be with Him forever in resurrection bodies like His. The total number will surely be a billion or more true Christians? (Given the size of the heavenly city New Jerusalem, the space allotment for a billion people in the heavenly city would average about one cubic mile per person!)

See There's A War On: The Church and the Tribulation, http://ldolphin.org/war-on.html, Aspects of the Return..., http://ldolphin.org/Return.html, The Return of the Landlord, http://www.ldolphin.org/landlord.html, The Coming Cosmic Shakedown, http://ldolphin.org/shakedown.html

The Judgment of Israel

The judgment of Israel takes place after the rapture of the church but precedes the judgment of the gentile nations. This can be seen in the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24:1-25:46). (It is interesting to note that though Israel is judged as a body, as a group, the church is not judged in a similar manner). The judgment of Israel includes all generations of Jews who have lived under the covenants and promises in times past. Believers in Yahweh and his promises who lived before Christ came to live among men, have always hoped for a great Messianic Age on earth. That kingdom age will be ushered in when Jesus Christ returns in power to the Mt. of Olives in Jerusalem. A study of the subject reveals that Scripture provides us with many amazing details of this judgment of historic Israel. But there are also some uncertainties.

At the Rapture of the true church--which precedes the judgment of Israel--Christ will gather the many millions of Christians from the entire ~2000 year time period from the day of Pentecost to the time of the Rapture. Living Christians will receive their new resurrection bodies at the Rapture also. Thus the church as a completed Body will all be together for the Lord.

Most commentators believe that the Old Testament saints will be raised towards the end of the Great tribulation. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews concludes his "hall of fame" description of these Old Testament saints with these words:

"...And all these, (Old Testament saints) having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us (Christians), that they should not be made perfect apart from us." (Hebrews 11:39-40)

On this, Ray Stedman says,

"...Though all those referred to by name or described by action in this chapter received commendation from God even in this life, yet they did not receive the promised city "with foundations" which Abraham sought (vv. 10 and 16). The reference to foundations indicates something material and earthly, rather than purely spiritual. They looked for more than their own personal satisfaction, but still longed to see God's purposes fulfilled on earth. The something better for us denotes the reality we have found already in Christ, which the men and women of faith in the Old Testament would attain only after their earthly life ended. We are already recipients of the blessings of the new covenant. They would not fully know them till the resurrection. The New Jerusalem, come down from heaven to earth, in which God will dwell among us and by which all the supernal vision of the prophets will be fulfilled, blends the two peoples of God together. The hope of being made perfect includes the hope of physical resurrection, as many Scriptures declare. In that "first resurrection" (Rev 20:6-7) believers of both old and new covenants will join. This is the way that together with us would they be made perfect. This is the mystery of God's will which Paul describes in Ephesians 1:9-10 "to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment---to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ." (http://raystedman.org/hebrews2/heb2comm2.html)

How Many Jews?

Israel as a people, nation, has existed since the time of the Exodus, about 3500 years ago. This is approximately 90 generations (allowing 40 years per generation). The total number of Jews who have ever lived would appear to be of the order of at least 100-900 million. Those Jews who have come to know the Lord Jesus during the age of the church have been added to the church. This leaves roughly 40 generations who were born under the Old Covenant, perhaps 50-150 million people (or more?). From the book of Zechariah we learn that at the end of the age we live in now, one third of the Jews who survive the campaign of Armageddon (World War III) will come to know the Lord--perhaps 2 million people. (See Zechariah 13:8, 9. This number is the end time "believing remnant" within the land of Israel and constitutes true Israel--the true people Israel). We do not know how large this believing remnant was, on average, from the time of Moses to the First Advent. But for discussion purposes let us assume the total number of Old Testament saints might be as few as 10 million or as many as 100 million.

At the beginning of the Millennium, after all the Old Testament saints have been raised, Israel will start rebuilding and occupying the promised land with an initial population in the range of perhaps 10-100 million persons. If we add in the number of children below some age of accountability the totals would be much higher. (all these numbers are speculative--for discussion purposes only).

There are other uncertainties. The "sheep" from the gentile nations who survive the tribulation--all believers--will enter the millennium and live in their own native lands, not having yet received their resurrection bodies. They will evidently live out their (extended) lives, die and be raised at a later time? They will marry and bear children. These children all need to be spiritually reborn in order to be part of God's eternal kingdom. Some of these offspring will be saved and others will be lost. That is, the offspring of these people will be children of Adam just as we all were when we were born into the world. The earth will be repopulated during he Millennium starting with the first generation being all believers. But their children will all have the choice of becoming believers or not. This was the situation on earth after the Flood of Noah when the world civilization began all over again through Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives. Under the righteous rule of Jesus (with a rod of iron), with the devil chained in the abyss, life on earth will be far better during the Millennium than it is now. Nevertheless man's fallen nature will still be manifest.

The promises to the Church are not the same as the promises to Israel! Israel has always looked for a plot of land with secure borders, a temple, a king, an earthly kingdom. The church, on the other hand, mostly looks for a heavenly kingdom (i.e., to the heavenly city of New Jerusalem and beyond). There is an obvious overlap after the Second Coming--earth has to be rebuilt and restored and Messiah will rule here on earth a thousand years with the church at His side. The Church assists Christ in His rule over the nations on earth during the Millennium.

The question then is this: Will all the believing Old Testament saints of Israel all have resurrection bodies at the start of the Millennium? Apparently not. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus appeared together with Elijah and Moses who were both in their immortal form. If all of believing Israel were to enter the Millennium in resurrection bodies then will no more Jews be born on earth during this entire thousand year period.

All the Jews on earth who are alive when Jesus returns will be gathered together by the Lord and evaluated. Only those who are believers in Jesus (Yeshua) will enter the Millennial kingdom. These surviving believers will not yet have their resurrection bodies. They will live out their lives in Israel, bring children into the world, and die ("full of years"). They probably will be given resurrection bodies at the close of the Millennium? (The "tribulation saints" will be raised at beginning of the Millennium, see below). So it would seem that those Jews living at the time of the Second Coming, who receive Jesus Christ as Lord will enter the Millennium and live in Israel, marry and raise children but not have resurrection bodies when the Millennium begins. Thus the initial population of Israel will consists of a couple of million Jewish survivors of Armageddon (all believers) and many more millions of their forefathers who will have their resurrection bodies and will be entering into the Millennial promises they had been promised before they died.

If Christ raises all the Jews who have ever lived near the end of the tribulation period (Daniel 12), then all unbelieving Jews will probably be judged at that time since only believing Jews can enter the Millennial Kingdom. This would mean our Lord will be managing a flock of not 10-100 million (but perhaps 100-300 million) Jews in the time period just proceeding His public appearance on the Mount of Olives (the "Second Coming."). This possibility could fit Ezekiel 20:33-44, below. But is is also possible that all unbelieving Jews down through history will instead appear at the Judgment of the Great White Throne.

As noted below, Jesus will be on earth in the time interval between the Rapture and the Second Coming. We, the church, will be with Jesus the whole time--but we shall have our resurrection bodies and thus be dwelling "in heaven" at the same time.

Jesus presides as Judge of Israel. He is Israel's Kinsman Redeemer and Avenger of Blood. (See Jesus the Avenger of Blood, http://ldolphin.org/avenger.html). In a broader sense Jesus is every believer's Kinsman Redeemer because He has grafted gentile believers into the true olive tree of Abraham's faith, (Romans 11).

Daniel the prophet anticipated this final regathering of all of Israel:

"At that time [the time of the end, "the time of Jacob's trouble"] Michael [the archangel who is over Israel] shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever." (Daniel 12:1-3)

Ezekiel clearly indicates that God will judge the entire nation of Israel through all of her long history, and He will separate believers ("true Israel") from the non-believing majority.

"As I live, says the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, I will be king over you (Israel). I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out; and (then, after that) I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you, says the Lord GOD. I will make you pass under the rod, and I will let you go in by number. [The term the wilderness of the peoples, v35, as used in the Bible often refers to Edom. The term pass under the rod appears in Leviticus 27 and symbolizes a separation of the consecrated and the unconsecrated animals of the flock.]

I will purge out the rebels [apostates] from among you, and those who transgress against me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn (Edom?), but they shall not enter (back into?) the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD. "As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: Go serve every one of you his idols, now and hereafter, if you will not listen to me; but my holy name you shall no more profane with your gifts and your idols. "For on my holy mountain, the mountain height of Israel, says the Lord GOD, there all the house of Israel, all of them, shall serve me in the land; there I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings. As a pleasing odor I will accept you, when I bring you out from the peoples, and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will manifest my holiness among you in the sight of the nations. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the country which I swore to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all the doings with which you have polluted yourselves [see Zechariah 12:10-14]; and you shall loathe yourselves for all the evils that you have committed. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I deal with you for my name's sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel, says the Lord GOD." (Ezekiel 20:33-44)

The regathering of Israel will involve the supernatural agency of angels. The coming of Jesus to the Mount of Olives will bring about Israel's national repentance:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken; then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect [Israel] from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:29-31)

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo." (Zechariah 12: 10,11).

See The Power and the Glory, http://raystedman.org/olivet/oliv08.html.

Malachi Chapter 3 also is about the judgment of Israel at the end of the age,

"Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner's fire And like launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem Will be pleasant to the LORD, As in the days of old, As in former years. And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien-- Because they do not fear Me," Says the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob." (3:1-6)

Isaiah 11 also contains further suggestions concerning the events of the end time and the Millennium:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

In that day [at the end of the tribulation] the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the [rest of the] dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall swoop down upon the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt (the Suez Canal); and will wave his hand over the River [the Euphrates?, Rev. 16:12] with his scorching wind, and smite it into seven channels that men may cross dryshod. And there will be a [new king's] highway from Assyria for the remnant which is left of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11)

See The Near East in Prophecy, http://raystedman.org/misc/0270.html.

But I had concern for my holy name, which the house of Israel caused to be profaned among the nations to which they came. "Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations will know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

Ezekiel says the following about God's mercy, grace and compassion coming on the nation of Israel at the close of the age:

For I will take you [Jews] from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. [Then] I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. [This is an announcement, similar to Jeremiah 30, of God's intention to bring the people of Israel into the New Covenant which Jesus put into effect with his 11 disciples at the Last Supper.]

You [Jews] shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses; and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominable deeds. [Here is the national repentance seen also in Zechariah 12:10-14.]

Ezekiel then describes Messiah's reign over all the nations, from Jerusalem, and the millennial prosperity He will bring to all mankind, through Israel:

It is not for your sake that I will act, says the Lord GOD; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. "Thus says the Lord GOD: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, `This land that was desolate has become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now inhabited and fortified.' Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, the LORD, have rebuilt the ruined places, and replanted that which was desolate; I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do it. "Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their men like a flock. Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men. Then they will know that I am the LORD." (Ezekiel 36:21-38)

Regarding the believing remnant, they are gathered under the care of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep at Bozrah,

"I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the LORD at their head." (Micah 2:12-13)

The Lord's return (at the parousia)--to care for his remnant at Petra/Bozrah and his leading them safely back to Jerusalem by way of Bozrah is then compared by Isaiah with God's care for the Jews through the wilderness in the Days of Moses:

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel which he has granted them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, Surely they are my people, sons who will not deal falsely; and he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence (compare 1 Cor. 10:3) saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So thou didst lead thy people, to make for thyself a glorious name.

Now follows a prayer of the remnant of Israel calling on Yahweh for deliverance:

"Look down from heaven and see, from thy holy and glorious habitation. Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion are withheld from me. For thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is thy name. O LORD, why dost thou make us err from thy ways and harden our heart, so that we fear thee not? Return for the sake of thy servants, the tribes of thy heritage. Thy holy people possessed thy sanctuary (the Third Temple) a little while; our adversaries have trodden it down. We have become like those over whom thou hast never ruled, like those who are not called by thy name." (Isaiah 63)

Ezekiel also presents us with the well-known Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones. Many commentators do not consider this passage to speak about a literal resurrection. However in light of what has been said about the judgment of Israel here, I believe this will could be a literal resurrection of all of Israel. This event will take place before the second coming of the Lord in glory (His epiphaneia).

In all of these considerations concerning the Tribulation period, note that the Lord Jesus will be on earth, during the entire seven years of the tribulation period leading His angelic armies and His 144,000 evangelists. The coming of the Lord for His church--His parousia means His "coming and remaining with" His people. (See The Time of Harvest, http://raystedman.org/revelation/4206.html and The Church and the Tribulation http://ldolphin.org/war-on.html).

 

 THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS

COMMENTATORS HAVE OFTEN portrayed the second coming of Jesus as a single dramatic event (Matt. 24:21, 29), following the Great Tribulation, where the Lord will suddenly appear in power and great glory, visible to every eye (Rev. 1:7). The church will be caught up to meet Him and will then return with Him to earth (1 Thess. 4:13-18) where He will judge the living and dead. This either establishes His millennial kingdom or ushers in the new heaven and new earth, depending on which millennial view the commentator holds.

This scenario has numerous difficulties connected with it, however, not least of which are the several promises in the New Testament that the true church will not be present during the Great Tribulation. A key to understanding the teaching of the New Testament on this subject is the Greek word parousia. This word is commonly translated "coming," which in the mind of the reader projects the vision of the single dramatic appearance described above. But parousia should properly be translated "presence." This is the mean-ing given first by both Thayer and Arndt and Gingrich lexicons and includes the idea of an entrance, a consequent duration, and either an exit or a continued presence. It is not, therefore, a single event (V), but a continuum (I---------I) of unspecified duration.

This meaning is the only way to make sense of Jesus' revelation in Matthew 24 of His return to earth in the last days. There He describes a coming in power and glory immediately following the terrible time of trouble that He calls "the great tribulation" and the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars from heaven (Matt. 24:28-30). But it would be impossible for such a coming to take anyone by surprise who knew of our Lord's description. For in the same chapter Jesus speaks of His coming as unexpected and sudden as the flood came upon the people of Noah's day; and He likens it to a thief creeping into a household at night, without warning, and surreptitiously removing its treasure (vv. 36-44). Yet how could His coming be both unexpected and preceded by such cosmic events of dramatic character?

The only answer is that one passage describes His initial, totally unheralded and unexpected appearing while the other describes the disclosure of His presence by a dramatic display of power and glory after the Tribulation has run its course and the sun, moon, and stars have done their predicted thing.

Jesus' coming like a thief would be a fulfillment of I Thessalonians 4:13-18: He would catch up His true church to Himself and then remain on earth during all the events of the Tribulation, but in the same conditions He manifested during His forty-day post-resurrection ministry when He appeared and disappeared at will. After the darkening of the sun and the moon He would disclose His presence to the entire earth in fulfillment of Matthew 24:28-30 and Revela-tion 1:7. Thus His initial, thief-like coming, His continued presence behind the scenes on earth, and His final revelation in power would all be covered by the term parousia. It is noteworthy that where Paul refers to the public revelation of Jesus in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, he calls it "the splendor of his coming" (NIV), which literally means "the epiphaneia ("out-shining") of his parousia ("presence").

But what happens to the church after it is caught up to meet the Lord in the air, as I Thessalonians 4:13-18 describes? The answer of Scripture is "so shall we ever be with the Lord." Wherever the Lord is, there the church will be also, sharing with Him in His work whatever it will be. But some may object, "I thought the church was to be in heaven with the Lord."

And indeed it will-but what and where is heaven? It is certainly not another place in the cosmos, within the time-space continuum with which we are familiar. In the light of the new physics of Einstein and others, many are coming to see that heaven is a term for another dimension of existence. It need not be spatially removed from us at all, but may be as present on earth as it is anywhere else. When Jesus ap-peared and disappeared in the course of His post-resurrection ministry, He was simply stepping in and out of the invisible dimension where spiritual realities exist-heaven. Yet all the time He was in some sense on earth, for He said that He had not yet ascended to His Father.

While I admit that this may be somewhat speculative and mysterious, it is supported by several passages of Scripture. It simply implies that the church (consisting of believers with glorified bodies) will accompany the Lord in His behind-the-scenes directing of the events of the Tribulation. It is this same church that the apostle John sees under the symbol of a glorious city, coming from heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. The marriage supper of the Lamb will already have taken place in those invisible realms while the events of the Tribulation rage on earth. (Ray C. Stedman, Waiting for the Second Coming, Appendix, Discovery House Publishers, Grand Rapids, 1990).

At the middle of the seven-year tribulation, the man of sin will desecrate the Third Temple in Jerusalem--and in that temple he will declare himself to be God. In discussing this future event (see Matthew 24:15-21) Jesus warned that all Jews living in Judea should flee at the time--most likely to Petra where they will be safe for the three-and-a-half Great Tribulation (The Times of Jacob's Trouble). See http://ldolphin.org/kingdom/ch11.html

The church will be with the Lord during the tribulation, having been caught up with the Lord and given new resurrection bodies at the parousia. (see Aspects of the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ, http://ldolphin.org/Return.html).

Ray Stedman says,

"During the close of the age, the disciples (or as Jesus calls them 'the elect') will be what we might call 'Post-church Christians.' The church has been removed from the world, at least from any visible participation in world affairs. Since we know that Christians will be given glorified bodies like their Lord's (and Paul says that, once removed from this life, the church will be forever 'with the Lord'), it seems highly likely that church Christians will join the Lord Jesus in this ministry behind the scenes during the tribulation. They will be like Moses and Elijah who appeared with the transfigured Christ on the Mount. The picture then is clear. Jesus will come for his church and take the members into a new relationship with him. Then he, with them, will remain throughout the 'end of the age' period, appearing only to those whose hearts are ready to believe in him. Rumors of his presence will continually be spread abroad, so that men will be saying in that day as they said during the forty-day period, 'Where is he?' Authorities will search for him and will not be able to find him, but false prophets will claim to know where he is. (The Secret Presence, http://raystedman.org/olivet/oliv07.html)

Ezekiel 37 seems to be closer to a description of the literal resurrection of Israel than commentators have thought. Note that Ezekiel 37 says that the whole house of Israel will be raised from the dead and then brought into their land. Concerning Ezekiel Chapter 37, J. Vernon McGee says this:

In this chapter we have the vision of the valley of dead bones which served as the basis for a Negro spiritual written some years ago, entitled, "Dem Bones." The interpretation of this chapter concerns the future restoration of Israel. That restoration has to do both with the national entity of Israel as well as the spiritual revival or restoration which the Lord announced in the preceding chapter. We have here a remarkable vision, and I would like to make it very clear that this vision does not have to do with the resurrection of the dead saints of the church. That is the giant leap in interpretation made by the many who spiritualize the prophetic section of the Old Testament. My friend, when we take prophecy literally, it will make sense. We are talking here about the nation Israel, and we are not talking about a spiritual or physical resurrection of individuals. In my notes I have labeled this chapter, "The Resurrection of Israel," and I think that is a good title, but it is sometimes misunderstood. Some think that I am referring to the raising of the dead from Abraham on. It has no reference to that, but it definitely refers to the nation of Israel. God gives to Ezekiel a real living parable and to do so He takes him to the valley of dead bones:

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones [Ezek. 37:1].

Before Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, Ezekiel was transported to Jerusalem (see chapter. 8), and I do not believe God had any difficulty doing that. If man today can make a jet plane which can carry him halfway around the world in half a day, I see no reason why God cannot do something which is commensurate with who He is. So I don't think that God had any difficulty getting Ezekiel up and taking him to Jerusalem. Here again, I believe God literally moves Ezekiel. When Ezekiel says that He "carried me out in the spirit of the LORD," he is saying that the Spirit of the Lord carried him out to the valley which was full of bones.

And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, 10, they were very dry [Ezek. 37:2].

Back in 1849, Lewis Manly and his partner by the name of John Rogers crossed Death Valley in California to bring back supplies to the stranded Bennett-Arcane party. The Bennett-Arcane group had mistakenly wandered into Death Valley and would have perished if these two men had not crossed the valley to rescue them. They were actually the first white men to cross this valley and gaze upon its grand scene of death and desolation. Few men have seen such sights, but what Ezekiel saw some twenty-five hundred years earlier must have been even more bleak. He saw a vision of another "death valley," more desolate, more fearsome, and more awesome than Death V alley, California.

The valley which Ezekiel saw was filled with dead bones, and the thing which characterized them is that they were very dry and they were scattered.

And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, 0 Lord GOD, thou knowest [Ezek. 37:3].

These bones scattered all over the place are human bones, and the question that is put to Ezekiel is, "Can these bones live?" Ezekiel answers, "O Lord GOD, thou knowest." In other words, he said, "I don't see how they could. It's beyond me--You alone know whether these dead bones can live or not!"

Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, 0 ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD [Ezek. 37:4].

This is something rather ironical and even humorous. I have always insisted that God has a sense of humor, and here is an illustration of that. If you can't see where it's funny, that's all right--just pass it by. But imagine Ezekiel now as God says to him, "Prophesy on these bones. Start out by saying, 'O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD.'" I have a notion Ezekiel said, "Now, Lord, you really don't mean for me to start talking to these dry bones here! The man with the white coat and the net will be out looking for me if I do that!" Really, that isn't a very good sermon introduction is it? No preacher would begin by saying to his Sunday morning congregation, "Oh, you dry bones!" A friend of mine (who also has a good sense of humor) said to me, "You know, I have a congregation with which I'd like to begin as Ezekiel did--the bones I speak to are as dry as Ezekiel's--but I don't dare do that."

Ezekiel is looking out on this valley filled with dry bones, and he's to speak to them. Every congregation that a preacher speaks to includes those who are saved and those who are unsaved. Those who are saved may have ears to hear, but not hear. And the ones who are not saved are dead in trespasses and sins--they haven't been redeemed yet. The preacher is just as helpless as Ezekiel, for any preacher who understands the real state and condition of those who are lost recognizes his own helplessness in speaking to them. Ezekiel is to say to these bones, "I want you to hear what God has to say."

Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones, Behold I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live.

And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD [Ezek. 37:5-6].

God says, "I want you to speak to them and . tell them I'll be the One who will give them life." That is our condition today-if God . doesn't move, no one has spiritual life. I receive letters from people who say, "You saved me." My friend, I save no one. I just speak to dry bones, giving them the Word of God that's all I do. The Spirit of God is the One who has to bring life. That is the only way life can come. This is the application of these verses; we are going to see that they also have a tremendous interpretation.

So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone [Ezek. 37:7].

"So I prophesied as I was commanded"--this man Ezekiel obeys God.

"There was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone." This is the point where that Negro spiritual, "Dem Bones," is really accurate when the bones start coming together. I'm of the opinion Ezekiel had a rather funny feeling when in his vision he saw all these bones come together!

And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them [Ezek. 37:8].

We have here a method which I want you to notice. The first state of the bones is that they are scattered, dry, and dead. Then gradually they come together, and the sinews and flesh come upon them. This is a process--it is not instantaneous at all. At this point in the vision all you have is a bunch of bodies, actually corpses; it is just an undertaking establishment down in that valley. They are no longer bones, but bodies with flesh upon them. They are human beings even, but they do not have any life in them.

Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, am' they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army [Ezek. 37:9-10].

Ezekiel spoke, and life came into those bodies. What happened here resembles the creation of man at the very beginning. God took man of the dust of the earth; Ezekiel started with bones, but God didn't. God started with just the dirt of the earth, and then He breathed life into man. Now what has happened to these bones has occurred in three stages: (I) they were scattered bones, just as dead as they could be; (2) then they came together, and flesh and skin came upon them--they were bodies, but dead bodies; and finally (3) they were made alive.

We will find in these three stages a real key to understanding Bible prophecy concerning the nation Israel.

Now this verse explains the meaning of the vision:

Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts [Ezek. 37:11].

"Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel." We are not talking here about the church; we are talking about the house of Israel.

"Behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts." You see, the people in captivity had gone from one extreme to another. As long as Jerusalem had stood and the false prophets continued to say they would return, they maintained a false hope. Now that Jerusalem has been destroyed, they go to the other extreme-they have what psychologists call manic depressive psychosis. They are in a bad state: they were high up one day, but now they have hit the very depths. They say, "We have no hope." This vision is being given to them to let them know they do have a hope, and it is for the whole house of Israel.

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel [Ezek. 37:12].

After reading this verse, someone is apt to say, "Wait a minute. You said this vision was not concerning physical resurrection." I still insist upon that. Let's drop down to verse 21:

And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into I their own land [Ezek. 37:21].

This is what God meant in verse 12 when He said, "I will cause you to come up out of your graves." Israel is buried in the nations of the world, and they are to be brought back and become a nation again. I want to say something very carefully now concerning the three stages of the bones Ezekiel saw. I have said they are the key to understanding the future of the nation Israel, and I now want to add that if there is any place we have fulfilled prophecy it is in these three stages. I don't go much for finding prophecy being fulfilled on every hand, but I do see it here. Follow me carefully: The nation Israel was buried and scattered in the nations of the world, and was dead to God, dead to the things of God--that's the first stage of the bones that we saw. Now since 1948 they have come back as a nation, but it is really a corpse over there today. They have a flag, they have a constitution, they have a prime minister, and they have a parliament. They have a police force and an army. They have a nation, and they even have Jerusalem. They have everything except spiritual life. If you walk from the old Arab section of Jerusalem where Islam dominates and come over into the Israeli section, there is no spiritual life. I want to say this kindly, but, as far as I am concerned, there is as much spiritual deadness on the one side as the other. There is a great deal more of that which is materialistic, which is intellectual, and which denotes civilization on the Israeli side, but there is no spiritual life whatsoever. This is symbolized by the second stage of the bones--bodies, but without life. That is where Israel stands today.

In verses 15-28 Ezekiel mentions two sticks. I will not go into any detail here other than to say that they typify the northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdoms which will again become one nation. This means, my friend, that there must not be any "ten lost tribes of Israel"--at least, if there are, God knows where they are, and I am confident that it is not Great Britain which will be joined to them in that land!

And I will make them one nation in the land Upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all [Ezek. 37:22].

God will make them one nation.

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them [Ezek. 37:24].

That one Shepherd is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. When He came, He was born in the line of David. Read Matthew I; Luke 1-2--both very carefully record that He came in the line of David. The One that came in that line is the Shepherd, and He will rule over them. I personally believe that God will raise up David to reign over Israel, either in the Millennium or in the eternal kingdom which will be ushered in immediately following the Millennium. Some commentators say he will reign in the Millennium; others say it will be the eternal kingdom. I believe he will reign during both, that he will serve as the vice-regent of the Lord Jesus Christ down here on this earth.

And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore [Ezek. 37:28].

This is going to come to pass--it has not yet come to pass. "When my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." There will be a millennial temple and an eternal temple down here on the earth. In Revelation where it speaks of there not being a temple, it is referring to the New Jerusalem, which is where the church will be and which is not to be upon this earth. The eternal home of the children of Israel will be upon this earth, and God's temple will be in their midst. Although there is no doubt that Israel is the subject of Ezekiel, and especially of chapters 37-39, we can certainly make an application of it for our personal lives. The world that you and I live in today is a death valley, full of dead bones, dead people, if you please. Oh, people talk about being alive and say they are where the action is, but they are really dead in trespasses and sins. They have no spiritual life. That is the reason they have to have a drink or two, or take some sort of drugs, or do something to liven up the old corpse.

God has made it very clear that "He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5: 12). If you have the Son of God, you have life. If you do not have the Son, you are dead. There are two kinds of people: live people and dead people. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). That means that the person without the Son is dead.

God is saying to you today that you are dead if you are not a Christian. Ye dry bones, hear the Word of the Lord. You can come to life. Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior. This is the application we can draw from this portion of Scripture, but the subject of the prophecy is the nation Israel. (Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Pasadena 1982)

Prayers for Israel From Long Ago: The Hebrew Prophetic Future Verb Tense

Verb tenses are not as clearly specified in the Hebrew language as they are in English. In a number of prophetic passages of the Old Testament the verbs are commonly translated as past tense in our English Bibles. However, the prophetic future tense can equally well be used. (Note: When the Hebrew letter waw is added before a word it means "and." When added as a suffix it means "his." Waw before a verb indicates a change of the tense of the verb from past to future and vice versa (a verb in the past tense with a waw in front of it is to be understood as future tense).

Notice in the passage quoted below how the words of the prophet Habakkuk take on new meaning for the end of the age if one switches the verb tenses from past tense to future.

Habakkuk lived just before Nebuchadnezzar's siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple so he was downhearted and grieved because God was bringing great Israel against the chosen people through a foreign people of even great wickedness. It was a dark hour for history similar to the hour that Israel faces in our own time, so Habakkuk's words and prayers applied both to his immediate situation. Yet his pray would seem to apply equally well to the end of the present age:

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard the report of thee, and thy work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years renew it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.

God will come from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran (i.e., from Bozrah/Petra). His glory will cover the heavens, and the earth will be full of his praise. Selah. His brightness is like the light, rays flash from his hand; and there he will veil his power. Before him goes pestilence, and plague follows close behind. He will stand and measure the earth; he will look and shake the nations; then the eternal mountains will be scattered, the everlasting hills sink low. His ways will be as of old.

I see the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian tremble. Is your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Is your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you ride upon thy horses, upon your chariot of victory? You will strip the sheath from thy bow, and put the arrows to the string. Selah. You will cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains will see you, and writhe; the raging waters sweep on; the deep gives forth its voice, it lifts its hands on high. The sun and moon stand still in their habitation at the light of your arrows as they speed, at the flash of your glittering spear. You will stride the earth in fury, you will trample the nations in anger. You will go forth for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You will crush the head of the wicked (one), laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah. You will pierce with your shafts the head of his warriors, who come like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. You will trample the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.

I hear, and my body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones, my steps totter beneath me. I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds' feet, he makes me tread upon my high places. (Habakkuk 3:1-19)

 

 The Second Coming (Habakkuk 3:1-19)

In this description, Habakkuk [makes] five points concerning the Second Coming of the Messiah. First, he pointed out the place of the Second Coming (vs. 3a), God [will come] from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Teman is in Mount Seir, within the land of Edam or Southern Jordan, which is just north of the city of Bozrah. Mount Paran is in the Southern Negev, across the Arabah from Mount Seir. According to Micah 2:12-13, Isaiah 34:1-6 and 63:1-7, the initial place of the Second Coming will be the city of Bozrah or Petra. He will first come to the city of Bozrah or Petra, and from there He will move on into Israel. This verse gives the route that He will take. He will first go north of Bozrah or Petra till he comes to or by way of the city of Teman. From Teman, He will make His way down Mount Seir, cross the Arabah proper into the Negev Desert, and come by way of Mount Paran, and then into the land of Israel from the southeast. So as to place, He will return to Israel from the direction of Teman in Edam and Mount Paran in the Southern Negev.

Secondly, when the Second Coming occurs, it will come in conjunction with the Shekinah Glory (vss. 3b-5). The Shekinah Glory at the Second Coming is described in five ways: first, the Glory will cover the earth, secondly, the brightness will be the brightness of light; thirdly, rays will issue from His hands, fourthly, there will be a bright light that will hide His power, and, fifthly, the Glory will be destructive against the sinners, because these rays coming out of His hands will ~ be death rays by which He is going to destroy the enemy--the armies of the Antichrist.

The third thing about the Second Coming of the Messiah is the effect it will . have upon the nations (vss. 6-7). It will have two effects: first, the nations will be driven asunder; and, secondly, they will be filled with fear. The fourth thing describes the oath of God (vss. 8-11). The judgment of God will affect the waters, so the question will be raised (vs. 8), "Was it against the waters that the judgment of the second coming came?" The answer will be, "No" (vs. 9). The judgment came because of God's oath to save the tribes of Israel. But (vss. 9-10) the earth and water will be affected by the judgment, and so will the heavens (vs. 11).

The fifth thing about the Second Coming (vss. 12-15) will be the Campaign of Armageddon. Here Habakkuk [makes] four points. First, there will be the marching of the Messiah, and the threshing of the nations (vs. 12; the same point is made in Isaiah 63:1-6). Secondly, the reason why He will thresh the nations at the Second Coming will be for the salvation of Israel (vs. l3a). Before He comes, Israel will be saved spiritually, and when He comes Israel will be saved physically from their enemies. Thirdly (vss. l3b-14a), he describes the fall of the Antichrist: Thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked man.. . Thou didst pierce with his own staves the head of his warriors. The word "head" is singular, so there is only one ruler over all the armies of all the nations. This one head will be the Antichrist himself. That head will receive a deadly and fatal wound. The fourth thing about the Campaign of Armageddon is that it will lead to the fall of the Gentile nations (vss. l4b-15). (Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Habakkuk, http://www.ariel.org)

Isaiah Chapters 24 through 27 are often called "The Little Apocalypse" because of the prophet's description of this end-time period, "the time of Jacob's trouble" for Israel (Jer. 30).

"Behold, the LORD will lay waste the earth and make it desolate, and he will twist its surface and scatter its inhabitants. And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the slave, so with his master; as with the maid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer, so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the creditor, so with the debtor. The earth shall be utterly laid waste and utterly despoiled; for the LORD has spoken this word. The earth mourns and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left. The wine mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted sigh. The mirth of the timbrels is stilled, the noise of the jubilant has ceased, the mirth of the lyre is stilled. No more do they drink wine with singing; strong drink is bitter to those who drink it. The city of chaos is broken down, every house is shut up so that none can enter. There is an outcry in the streets for lack of wine; all joy has reached its eventide; the gladness of the earth is banished. Desolation is left in the city (Jerusalem), the gates are battered into ruins. For thus it shall be in the midst of the earth among the nations, as when an olive tree is beaten, as at the gleaning when the vintage is done..."

The Final Conversion of Israel

Israel's national prayer for their Messiah to come and to forgive them is found in Hosea Chapter 5 beginning at verse 15. Many believe this prayer must be prayed by the nation as a precondition for their national salvation in the coming of Yeshua the Messiah to save them:

I [the LORD] will return again to my place, until they [Israel] acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress they seek me, saying, Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn, that he may heal us; he has stricken, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the LORD; his going forth is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." (Hosea 5:15-6:3).

Earlier we traced the escape of a remnant of some thousands--perhaps tens of thousands--of believing Jews from Jerusalem to Petra which will take at the time of the desecration of the Third Temple at the mid-point of the tribulation period.

As the age comes to a full close many passages of Scripture speak of the national conversion of Israel. We have seen that the imagery of the trampling out of the vineyard and the blood like grape juice flowing as high as a horse's bridle up and down the length of Israel will be Jewish blood as God judges the apostate majority of Jews in the land of Israel. In this terrible time for Israel, millions of men from invading Gentile armies fighting World War III in Israel will also meet their violent end. All the while the terrible judgments from God depicted in the Book of the Revelation will devastate the entire earth. Most of mankind will perish and the great infrastructures of the past thousand of years of civilization will be destroyed.

Yet Paul argues in Romans 11 that in spite of all this, "all Israel will be saved."

Lest you [Gentiles] be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, [to the church] and then all Israel will be saved; as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob"; "and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." As regards the gospel they are [now] enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory for ever. Amen. (Romans 11:25-36)

Paul is careful to make clear that he is not speaking of each and every Jew being converted, but true Israel is limited to those who ultimately believe in Yeshua within the nation. Just how many Jews will be saved at the very end of the age? That is, a "true Jew" is one who has the same faith Abraham had.

Though our own nation, the United States, contains a professing Christian population that appears to number many tens of millions of believers, it is more realistic to say that the "believing remnant" in America today is perhaps only 5 to 10% of those professing faith in Jesus Christ. Thus the future large-scale conversion of Jews to belief in Yeshua at the close of the age will represent a very great work of grace by the God of Israel. A final conversion of one-third of the populace of Israel will surely be very large in percentage compared to the size of the fractional wheat harvest from among the Gentiles. The end result of Yeshua's work in Israel at the end of the age will be a completely righteous nation of believers chosen to be the head of all the nations.

Isaiah wrote these words about 700 BC:

On this mountain (Mt. Zion) the LORD of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of fat things, a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined. And he will destroy on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil [of pride and spiritual blindness] that is spread over all nations. (2 Cor. 4:3,4) He will swallow up death for ever (1 Cor. 15:54), and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth (Rev. 21:4); for the LORD has spoken.

It will be said on that day, "Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation." For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain [Jerusalem], and Moab [Jordan] shall be trodden down in his place, as straw is trodden down in a dung-pit. And he will spread out his hands in the midst of it as a swimmer spreads his hands out to swim; but the LORD will lay low his pride together with the skill of his hands. And the high fortifications of his walls he will bring down, lay low, and cast to the ground, even to the dust.

In that day this song will be sung in the land of Judah: "We have a strong city; he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks. Open the gates, that the righteous nation which keeps faith may enter in. Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee. Trust in the LORD for ever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock. For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust. The foot tramples it, the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy." The way of the righteous is level; thou dost make smooth the path of the righteous. In the path of thy judgments, O LORD, we wait for thee; thy memorial name is the desire of our soul. My soul yearns for thee in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks thee.

For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness. If favor is shown to the wicked, he does not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he deals perversely and does not see the majesty of the LORD.

O LORD, thy hand is lifted up, but they see it not. Let them see thy zeal for thy people, and be ashamed. Let the fire for thy adversaries consume them. O LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us, thou hast wrought for us all our works. O LORD our God, other lords besides thee have ruled over us, but thy name alone we acknowledge. They are dead, they will not live; they are shades, they will not arise; to that end thou hast visited them with destruction and wiped out all remembrance of them. But thou hast increased the nation, O LORD, thou hast increased the nation; thou art glorified; thou hast enlarged all the borders of the land (of Israel). O LORD, in distress they sought thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them. Like a woman with child, who writhes and cries out in her pangs, when she is near her time, so were we because of thee, O LORD; we were with child, we writhed, we have as it were brought forth wind. We have wrought no deliverance in the earth, and the inhabitants of the world have not fallen. Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For thy dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades thou wilt let it fall.

In the midst of Isaiah's description of the terrible judgments during the time of Jacob's trouble, the prophet gives a call for the remnant to hide themselves for a season:

In that day the LORD with his hard and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will slay the dragon that is in the sea; [these creatures symbolize our human pride, inspired by Satan in the hearts of men].

In that day: "A pleasant vineyard [Israel], sing of it! I, the LORD, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest any one harm it, I guard it night and day; I have no wrath. Would that I had thorns and briers to battle! I would set out against them, I would burn them up together. Or let them lay hold of my protection, let them make peace with me, let them make peace with me." In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit. Has he smitten them as he smote those who smote them? Or have they been slain as their slayers were slain? Measure by measure, by exile thou didst contend with them; he removed them with his fierce blast in the day of the east wind. Therefore by this the guilt of Jacob will be expiated, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin: when he makes all the stones of the altars like chalkstones crushed to pieces, no Asherim or incense altars will remain standing.

For the fortified city (Jerusalem?) is [now] solitary, a habitation deserted and forsaken, like the wilderness; there the calf grazes, there he lies down, and strips its branches. When its boughs are dry, they are broken; women come and make a fire of them. For this is a people without discernment (those who remained in Jerusalem after the flight of the remnant?); therefore he who made them will not have compassion on them, he that formed them will show them no favor.

In that day from the river Euphrates to the Brook of Egypt the LORD will thresh out the grain, and you will be gathered one by one, O people of Israel. And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come (back) and worship the LORD on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. (Isaiah 24-27).

The post-exilic prophet Zechariah had much to say about the close of the age we live in as well as details about both the identity and character of both the true Messiah and the Antichrist.

An Oracle The word of the LORD concerning Israel: Thus says the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: "Lo, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the peoples round about; it will be against Judah also in the siege against Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it shall grievously hurt themselves.

The term "on that day" is a clue that the passage is referring to the Day of the Lord, i.e. the great tribulation period:

And all the nations of the earth will come together against it [Jerusalem]. On that day, says the LORD, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But upon the house of Judah I will open my eyes, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.

Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, `The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the LORD of hosts, their God.' "On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves; and they shall devour to the right and to the left all the peoples round about, while Jerusalem shall still be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem. "And the LORD will give victory to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over that of Judah. On that day the LORD will put a shield about the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that the feeblest among them on that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the angel of the LORD, at their head. And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

Israel's National Mourning for Yeshua

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land shall mourn, each family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.

"On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. "And on that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, so that they shall be remembered no more; and also I will remove from the land the prophets and the unclean spirit. And if any one again appears as a prophet, his father and mother who bore him will say to him, `You shall not live, for you speak lies in the name of the LORD'; and his father and mother who bore him shall pierce him through when he prophesies. On that day every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; he will not put on a hairy mantle in order to deceive, but he will say, `I am no prophet, I am a tiller of the soil; for the land has been my possession since my youth.' And if one asks him, `What are these wounds on your back?' he will say, `The wounds I received in the house of my friends.'"

Yeshua, the Church, and the Remnant (true Israel) return from Edom to Jerusalem

Behold, a day of the LORD is coming, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in the midst of you. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women ravished; half of the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle.

On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. And the valley of my mountains shall be stopped up, for the valley of the mountains shall touch the side of it; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD your God will come, and all the holy ones [saints, i.e., the church, his holy angels, and the believing remnant from Edom] with him.

On that day there shall be neither cold nor frost. And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the LORD), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter. And the LORD will become king over all the earth; on that day the LORD will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft upon its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall be no more curse; Jerusalem shall dwell in security. And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will smite all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet, their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from the LORD shall fall on them, so that each will lay hold on the hand of his fellow, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other; even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the nations round about shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the asses, and whatever beasts may be in those camps.

Messiah will Reign from Jerusalem and the Nations will come to Pay Tribute

Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem [the sheep of Matthew 25:31-46] shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then upon them shall come the plague with which the LORD afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the feast of booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the feast of booths. And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "Holy to the LORD." And the pots in the house of the LORD shall be as the bowls before the altar; and every pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the LORD of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and take of them and boil the flesh of the sacrifice in them. And there shall no longer be a trader in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day. (Zechariah 12-14)

The Wine Press of Wrath upon the Jews

Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe. So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped."

The first sickle and the references to the reaping of the harvest of the earth indicates the reaping of the wheat and the tares from the nations, Matthew 13.This is a final separation of the believers in the nations other than Israel divided and differentiated from the unbelievers they are co-mingled with.

And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth (Israel), for its grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God; and the wine press was trodden outside the city (Jerusalem), and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse's bridle, for one thousand six hundred stadia. (Revelation 14:14-20)

This series of events is also foretold by the prophet Joel. First Joel discusses the judgment of the nations on the basis of their treatment of the God's people the Jews. This is the same judgment we know as the "Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats" from Matthew 25:31-46.

"For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it.

"What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken."

Joel now announces the assembly of the nations to the Battle of Armageddon. It is God who draws these armies into His land.

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, "I am a warrior." Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there.

Next, Joel invokes the Lord to come down with his armies of heaven to fight against the nations:

Bring down thy warriors, O LORD.

Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. [Again, this is the sheep and goat judgment of Matthew 25:31-46. The Valley of Jehoshaphat is most probably the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives]

Likewise, Israel is to be judged and that is next. Wine and grapes are symbols of Israel.

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great.

Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.

The Lord makes His open appearance upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem in the midst of the battle:

And the LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake. But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. "So you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who dwell in Zion, my holy mountain. And Jerusalem shall be holy and strangers shall never again pass through it.

The return of the Lord leads at last into the conditions of peace on earth under Messiah's long-expected reign:

"And in that day the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the stream beds of Judah shall flow with water; and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the LORD and water the valley of Shittim. "Egypt shall become a desolation and Edom a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the people of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land. But Judah shall be inhabited for ever, and Jerusalem to all generations. I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty, for the LORD dwells in Zion." (Joel 3)

Although quoted earlier in this chapter, a clear description of this same event---the coming of Messiah to the Mount of Olives in power and glory---is described by the aged Apostle John:

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, followed him on white horses.

From his mouth issues a sharp sword with which to (a) smite the nations, and he will rule [lit: shepherdize] them with a rod of iron; he will (b) tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, King of kings and Lord of lords. Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly in mid heaven, "Come, gather for the great supper of God, to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great." And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who sits upon the horse and against his army. And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had worked the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest were slain by the sword of him who sits upon the horse, the sword that issues from his mouth; and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. (Revelation 19:11-21)

Notice that the armies of the world originally gather to battle at Megiddo---to fight one another. In the midst of that battle, ominous portents from outer space---visions and signs of the approach of Yeshua---cause the armies of the world to turn and fight against God and His armies!

Isaiah's Prayer for the Soon-Coming of Messiah:

O that thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at thy presence---as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil---to make thy name known to thy adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains quaked at thy presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides thee, who works for those who wait for him. Thou meetest him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou wast angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one that calls upon thy name, that bestirs himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast delivered us into the hand of our iniquities.

Yet, O LORD, thou art our Father; we are the clay, and thou art our potter; we are all the work of thy hand. Be not exceedingly angry, O LORD, and remember not iniquity for ever. Behold, consider, we are all thy people. Thy holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins. Wilt thou restrain thyself at these things, O LORD? Wilt thou keep silent, and afflict us sorely?

Messiah's reply to the prophet:

I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, "Here am I, here am I," to a nation that did not call on my name. I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and burning incense upon bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine's flesh, and broth of abominable things is in their vessels; who say, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am set apart from you." These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. Behold, it is written before me: "I will not keep silent, but I will repay, yea, I will repay into their bosom their iniquities and their fathers' iniquities together, says the LORD; because they burned incense upon the mountains and reviled me upon the hills, I will measure into their bosom payment for their former doings." Thus says the LORD: "As the wine is found in the cluster, and they say, `Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,' so I will do for my servants' sake, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah inheritors of my mountains; my chosen shall inherit it, and my servants shall dwell there. Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny; I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter; because, when I called, you did not answer, when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes, and chose what I did not delight in."

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, my servants (the remnant) shall eat, but you (apostates) shall be hungry; behold, my servants shall drink, but you shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but you shall be put to shame; behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart, and shall wail for anguish of spirit. You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse, and the Lord GOD will slay you; but his servants he will call by a different name. So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hid from my eyes.

"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. No more shall there be in it an infant that lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the child shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD, and their children with them. Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent's food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, says the LORD."

Thus says the LORD: "Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house which you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the man to whom I will look, he that is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word. "He who slaughters an ox is like him who kills a man; he who sacrifices a lamb, like him who breaks a dog's neck; he who presents a cereal offering, like him who offers swine's blood; he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like him who blesses an idol. These have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations; I also will choose affliction for them, and bring their fears upon them; because, when I called, no one answered, when I spoke they did not listen; but they did what was evil in my eyes, and chose that in which I did not delight." Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: "Your brethren who hate you and cast you out for my name's sake have said, `Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy'; but it is they who shall be put to shame. "Hark, an uproar from the city! A voice from the temple! The voice of the LORD, rendering recompense to his enemies! "Before she was in labor she gave birth; before her pain came upon her she was delivered of a son. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her sons. Shall I bring to the birth and not cause to bring forth? says the LORD; shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb? says your God.

"Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her; that you may suck and be satisfied with her consoling breasts; that you may drink deeply with delight from the abundance of her glory." For thus says the LORD: "Behold, I will extend prosperity to her like a river, and the wealth of the nations like an overflowing stream; and you shall suck, you shall be carried upon her hip, and dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem. You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice; your bones shall flourish like the grass; and it shall be known that the hand of the LORD is with his servants, and his indignation is against his enemies. "For behold, the LORD will come in fire, and his chariots like the storm wind, to render his anger in fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. For by fire will the LORD execute judgment, and by his sword, upon all flesh; and those slain by the LORD shall be many. "Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating swine's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, says the LORD. "For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD. "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain. From new moon to new moon, and from sabbath to sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, says the LORD. "And they shall go forth and look on the dead bodies of the men that have rebelled against me; for their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh." (Isaiah 64-66)

The Judgment of Angels, Judgment of the World System

Christians will participate with the Lord Jesus in these judgments--the details of which we presently know very little.

"Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Cor. 6:2,3)

The Tribulation Saints Raised

---to be added----

The Judgment of the Nations

The gentile nations will be judged immediately following the judgment of the nation Israel and after the Lord Jesus has returned to the Mount of Olives. The basis for this judgment is how the nations have treated the Jews! (See The Unconscious Test, http://raystedman.org/olivet/oliv13.html). The nation Israel was given a special role as God's model nation. In spite of their past failures as a group, God intends to see them living out their place in future history as the chief of the nations. Jesus, by the way, is called "true Israel" in Isaiah. The nation failed, but their Messiah did not. It is Yeshua who gives Israel her righteous identity in the end.

The prophet Joel prophesied about the final judgment of the gentiles in this way:

'For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it. 'What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken.' (Joel 3:1-8)

The "Valley of Jehoshaphat" is probably the Kidron Valley between the Temple Mount and The Mount of Olives. This valley runs through the wilderness of Judea down to the Dead Sea. Joel's words are consistent with the teaching of the Lord Himself in the Olivet Discourse:

When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, "Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?"And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." Then he will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?" Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-46)

The "sheep" at this judgment will be individual believing gentiles from the nations of the world who have survived the tribulation. They will be allowed to enter into the Millennial kingdom. But they will not receive resurrection bodies until after the Millennium. They will marry and raise children each of whom will have every opportunity to be regenerated and to know the Lord Jesus. Those Jews allowed to enter into the Promised Land at the beginning of the Millennium will also all be believers, but apparently will not have their resurrection bodies until after the Millennium. However all Jewish believers down through Israel's history will evidently be part of a great resurrection immediately following the second coming of the Lord to Jerusalem. This means that the "goats" (unbelieving gentiles) and unbelieving Jews who survive the tribulation will be put to death and then face the Judgment of the Great White throne at the end of the Millennium.

Paul in writing to the Church at Corinth reminds them that "the saints will judge the world." This is also suggested in Psalm 149. When the Lord Jesus returns to earth at the Rapture, the true church (that is "the Body of Christ"--with Christ the Head) will engage in a vigorous offensive to retake the planet from earth men and evil angels so that Christ's kingdom can come on earth. Traditionally we think of the work of judgment as being entirely in the hands of the Lord Jesus, but evidently His saints will work with Him.

  Psalm 149

1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, And His praise in the assembly of saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.

5 Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7 To execute vengeance on the nations, And punishments on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings with chains, And their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 To execute on them the written judgment-- This honor have all His saints. Praise the LORD!

During the tribulation period, the efforts of 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be instrumental in bringing many thousands (millions?) of people into a relationship with God. Most, possibly all, will suffer martyrdom. These "tribulation saints" will evidently be raised from the dead at the beginning of the Millennium.

From Ray C. Stedman,

I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Rev 20:4-6 NIV)

We must notice three distinct groups that are mentioned here: First, John sees thrones, and seated on them are those "who had been given authority to judge." Who are they? This ties in with a strange promise that Jesus made to his twelve disciples, found in Matthew 19:28. There Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the restoration of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Clearly he gives them authority to judge! The twelve disciples are specifically to judge the nation of Israel, and they are linked, in this Revelation passage, with restored Israel. "I saw thrones," says John, "on which were seated those given authority to judge." But that phrase includes more than the twelve disciples, because more than they are "given authority to judge" by our Lord. It also includes the "overcomers" of the present age of the church. These are described in the letter to the church at Thyatira, found in Chapter 2:26. Jesus said to them, "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery." Thus, associated with the reign of Jesus over the nations are the believers of the present age, the true, born-again believers in Christ. That is why Paul writes to the church in First Corinthians, Chapter 6, and says, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Cor 6:2 NIV). And he even goes further, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" (1 Cor 6:3 NIV). His argument is, "If we are going to do all this judging and we are learning how to do it now, for heaven's sake can't you settle those little disputes in the congregation now!"

There is also a second group here -- the martyrs of the tribulation -- those "who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and ... had not worshiped the beast or his image or received his mark ... on their hands." This is the same group we saw in Chapters 6 and 7 who were put to death because of their faith in Christ. They refused to bow before the authority of the Antichrist or to worship him. They will live again, we are told, and reign with Christ a thousand years. But there is still a third group. They are only mentioned here but are not dealt with, and we will see why in a moment. In a parenthesis, in Verse 5, John says, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended." That is a reference to the unbelieving dead, who will appear before the Great White Throne which is described at the end of this chapter. We will look at that before we are through. Leaving out the parenthetical expression, John is saying that all those who reign with Christ are included in what he calls "the first resurrection."

Would you not think that this would clearly establish the fact that there is more than one resurrection? If you have a first, surely there must be a second. But our amill friends believe there is only one. It comes at the final end of history and therefore must be associated with the Great White Throne judgment, yet to come. They say it will be a judgment of both the righteous and the wicked dead -- raised at the same time and judged in one judgment. Of course, if that were the case, and since Verse 5 says "the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended," they are driven to say that this "first resurrection" here is not a resurrection of the body, but something which happens to the spirit or soul. They say that this refers to spiritual rebirth, or possibly, to the survival of the spirit after death. But that is an extremely weak position because the word "resurrection" literally means "to stand up again." The Dutch have a wonderful word for resurrection: oopstanding, they call it. That word captures the meaning exactly. A spirit cannot stand up; it is immaterial. Neither can a soul. But a body can, and this word "resurrection" is never used in Scripture except for bodies. Therefore, it is indeed a raising of the bodies of the dead that is meant by "the first resurrection."

I do not have time to develop this at length, but there is a passage in First Corinthians 15 that speaks of the order of resurrection and it says of Jesus that he was "the first fruits from the dead." So the first resurrection here reaches back to include the resurrection of Jesus and those raised with him. Matthew 27:52-53 tells us that at the time our Lord was raised "many of the bodies of the saints came out of the tombs." Many people do not seem to know that, although the Scriptures plainly state it. They, too, were part of that sheaf of the first fruits which was offered to God as the initial installment of the first resurrection.

Then the verse in First Corinthians says, "then, when he comes, those who belong to him [will be raised]," (1 Cor 15:23 NIV). When Christ appears, to catch the church to himself, that is the next segment of the first resurrection. Over 2000 years lie between, but time is no factor in an eternal event. Then the verse says, "then the end will come," i.e., the end resurrection, which would be the final one before the Great White Throne. So there are clearly two resurrections taught in Scripture. Jesus himself referred to a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of judgment" (cf, John 5:29 KJV), and in several other passages this is made very clear. Resurrection of individuals will be "each in his own order" (1 Cor 15:23), as Paul says, but the "first resurrection" touches only those who believe in Christ. Thus John says, "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." (http://raystedman.org/revelation/4210.html)

The Millennium

---section to be added---

The Great White Throne Judgment

God can not accommodate His nature to our likings and our tastes. He is who He is. Most of us fear his holiness and His just nature when we become aware of these attributes of God. But God must act justly in the long run. Ray Stedman says,

"All through the Bible we see God's love is manifest to men and women everywhere in urging them to escape this judgment. God in love pleads with people, 'Do not go on to this end!' But ultimately he must judge those who refuse his offer of grace. He says, in effect, 'I love you and I can provide all you need. Therefore love me, and you will find the fulfillment your heart is looking for. ' But many men and women say, 'No, I do not want that. I will take your gifts, I will take all the good things you provide, but I do not want you! Let me run my own life. Let me serve my own ends. Let me have my own kingdom.' To such, God ultimately says, 'All right, have it your way!' "God has three choices: first, he can let rebellion go on forever and never judge it. In that case the terrible things that are happening on earth, all these distressing injustices, the cruelty, the anger, the hate, the malice, the sorrow, the hurt, the pain, the death that now prevails, must go on forever. God does not want that, and neither does man. Second, God can force men to obey him and control them as robots. But he will never do that because that means they cannot truly love him. Love cannot be forced. Therefore, third, the only choice God really has is that he must withdraw ultimately from those who refuse his love. He must let them have their own way forever. That results in the terrible torment of godlessness. If God is necessary to us, then to take him out of our lives is to plunge us into the most terrible sense of loneliness and abandonment that mankind can know. We have all experienced it to some small degree when we get what we want and then discover we do not want what we got! For that sense of bored emptiness to go on forever, is unspeakable torment." (Ray C. Stedman, The Time of Harvest, http://raystedman.org/revelation/4206.html)

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to a judge who is God of all men, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24)

In a few words the Apostle John tells us about he judgment of unbelievers from the nations which will occur after the Millennium. In popular literature this judgment is often called "the Last Judgment."

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.

Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

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. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:4-15)

In his commentary on this passage Ray Stedman says,

We must notice three distinct groups that are mentioned here: First, John sees thrones, and seated on them are those "who had been given authority to judge." Who are they? This ties in with a strange promise that Jesus made to his twelve disciples, found in Matthew 19:28. There Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the restoration of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." Clearly he gives them authority to judge! The twelve disciples are specifically to judge the nation of Israel, and they are linked, in this Revelation passage, with restored Israel. "I saw thrones," says John, "on which were seated those given authority to judge." But that phrase includes more than the twelve disciples, because more than they are "given authority to judge" by our Lord. It also includes the "overcomers" of the present age of the church. These are described in the letter to the church at Thyatira, found in Chapter 2:26. Jesus said to them, "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery." Thus, associated with the reign of Jesus over the nations are the believers of the present age, the true, born-again believers in Christ. That is why Paul writes to the church in First Corinthians, Chapter 6, and says, "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Cor 6:2 NIV). And he even goes further, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" (1 Cor 6:3 NIV). His argument is, "If we are going to do all this judging and we are learning how to do it now, for heaven's sake can't you settle those little disputes in the congregation now!"

There is also a second group here -- the martyrs of the tribulation -- those "who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and ... had not worshiped the beast or his image or received his mark ... on their hands." This is the same group we saw in Chapters 6 and-7 who were put to death because of their faith in Christ. They refused to bow before the authority of the Antichrist or to worship him. They will live again, we are told, and reign with Christ a thousand years. But there is still a third group. They are only mentioned here but are not dealt with, and we will see why in a moment. In a parenthesis, in Verse-5, John says, "The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended." That is a reference to the unbelieving dead, who will appear before the Great White Throne which is described at the end of this chapter. We will look at that before we are through. Leaving out the parenthetical expression, John is saying that all those who reign with Christ are included in what he calls "the first resurrection."

Would you not think that this would clearly establish the fact that there is more than one resurrection? If you have a first, surely there must be a second. But our amill friends believe there is only one. It comes at the final end of history and therefore must be associated with the Great White Throne judgment, yet to come. They say it will be a judgment of both the righteous and the wicked dead -- raised at the same time and judged in one judgment. Of course, if that were the case, and since Verse-5 says "the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended," they are driven to say that this "first resurrection" here is not a resurrection of the body, but something which happens to the spirit or soul. They say that this refers to spiritual rebirth, or possibly, to the survival of the spirit after death. But that is an extremely weak position because the word "resurrection" literally means "to stand up again." The Dutch have a wonderful word for resurrection: oopstanding, they call it. That word captures the meaning exactly. A spirit cannot stand up; it is immaterial. Neither can a soul. But a body can, and this word "resurrection" is never used in Scripture except for bodies. Therefore, it is indeed a raising of the bodies of the dead that is meant by "the first resurrection."

I do not have time to develop this at length, but there is a passage in First Corinthians-15 that speaks of the order of resurrection and it says of Jesus that he was "the first fruits from the dead." So the first resurrection here reaches back to include the resurrection of Jesus and those raised with him. Matthew 27:52-53 tells us that at the time our Lord was raised "many of the bodies of the saints came out of the tombs." Many people do not seem to know that, although the Scriptures plainly state it. They, too, were part of that sheaf of the first fruits which was offered to God as the initial installment of the first resurrection.

Then the verse in First Corinthians says, "then, when he comes, those who belong to him [will be raised]," (1 Cor 15:23 NIV). When Christ appears, to catch the church to himself, that is the next segment of the first resurrection. Over 2000 years lie between, but time is no factor in an eternal event. Then the verse says, "then the end will come," i.e., the end resurrection, which would be the final one before the Great White Throne. So there are clearly two resurrections taught in Scripture. Jesus himself referred to a "resurrection of life" and a "resurrection of judgment" (cf, John 5:29 KJV), and in several other passages this is made very clear. Resurrection of individuals will be "each in his own order" (1 Cor 15:23), as Paul says, but the "first resurrection" touches only those who believe in Christ. Thus John says, "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." (http://raystedman.org/revelation/4210.html)

See also The Great White Throne Judgment, http://ldolphin.org/Gwhite.html

Other Judgments

God also judges nations down through history. Nations ruse and nations fall. This is discussed in Ray Stedman's studies of the parables of Matthew 13, Behind the Scenes of History, http://raystedman.org/behind/, and can be seen in his book Death of a Nation on the book of Jeremiah, http://raystedman.org/jeremiah/. Points in time when God judges an individual or a nation are illustrative of greater judgments which will come later in time. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the Plain is an example of this point-in-time judgment. Jude says, "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." (Jude 6,7) The latter event was a judgment by God at a certain point in time past, about 2000 BC, (Genesis 18-19).

The judgment of the Canaanites whom God ordered Joshua and the incoming Israelites to "utterly destroy" is often criticized by non-Christians as an indication that Yahweh is cruel and arbitrary. Glenn Miller discusses this judgment in an article, How could a God of Love order the massacre/annihilation of the Canaanites? http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qamorite.html

Individuals are also judged. Some believers leave this life earlier than might have been the case had they been more responsive to God during their lives. See Ray Stedman's notes on "the sin unto death," http://ldolphin.org/deliberate.html.

Escaping Judgment

The Apostle Paul suggests he was all too aware of the possibility he might fail to finish the task he was called to--that he might be disqualified. He says,

"But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." (1 Cor. 9:27)

He also says,

"For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged." (1 Cor. 11:31)

and further adds that every follower of Christ can expect corrective discipline from God.

"But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." (1 Cor. 11:32)

The discipline of God for the believer is not punitive but corrective. This is discussed in Hebrews 12:

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: 'My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.' If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (12:1-17)

God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature.

It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it. (C.S. Lewis)


Resource Notes:

Systematic Theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer, Kregel Press, 1976. CHAPTER XXVI: THE JUDGMENTS

OF EIGHT JUDGMENTS announced in the Bible, one is wholly past, two pertain to the present, and five are wholly future. The five, being future, are themes of unfulfilled prophecy. To the end that the entire field of judgment may be appraised under this general division, those judgments which are not predictive in character will be included in this thesis; and the two pertaining to the present, because of their interrelationship, will be considered together. By their recognizance of but one so-called final judgment, theologians in general have laid themselves open to the suspicion that they have not been worthy firsthand students of the Sacred Text. It is here contended that there are various judgments which are widely separated with respect to time, theme, subjects, and circumstances. This body of truth bearing on these judgments is not only comprehensive but free from complications. These judgments are:

I. THE DIVINE JUDGMENTS THROUGH THE CROSS Three features of divine judgment, already indicated under Soteriology, were achieved by Christ's death on the cross. These are (1) the judgment of the sin of the world, (2) the judgment of the believer's sin nature, and (3) the judgment of Satan. These, it will be seen, were perfectly met by Christ when He died.

1. THE JUDGMENT OF THE SIN OF THE WORLD.

Regardless of objections raised by some theologians who have a theory to defend, the New Testament asserts with unqualified assurance that Christ died for the sin of the world (d. John 1:29; 3:16; Heb. 2:9; I John 2:2). It is true that out of at least fourteen objectives in His death Christ had a specific design regarding the sins of the elect, or those who would believe (cp. John 11:11; Eph. 5:25-27; I John 2:2); but His inclusion of the sins of the elect as a particular class does not exclude the essential truth that He also had a world-wide purpose in His death. Though it may not be comprehended wholly by finite minds, the message is to be received, as declared in the Word of God, which asserts that full pardon and deliverance from the penalty of sin has been perfectly secured for all those who believe. Without discussing again the theological implications of this declaration, it may be pointed out that this is a divine judgment for sin which falls upon Another, who bears it as a Substitute. In this judgment unrestricted demands are imposed and these are endured to infinite completeness.

2. THE JUDGMENT OF THE BELIEVER'S SIN NATURE.

Evidence that this important judgment is not extended to the unregenerate is conclusive, since no Scripture relates it to them. The value to the believer of the accomplishment of a sufficient and final divine judgment of the sin nature (d. Rom. 6:1-10) is far-reaching. That value does not accomplish any change in the present vital forcefulness of that nature. This judgment consists rather in a divine reckoning which disposes of every moral objection that the sin nature would otherwise impose upon the indwelling Holy Spirit so as to preclude His control of that nature. Thus the entire possibility of the overcoming power of the Spirit in the daily life of the Christian is involved. Since there is no divine intention that the unsaved shall be empowered to holy living in their unsaved state--having not the Spirit (d. Jude 1:19)-there is neither provision nor promise which extends the value of this judgment beyond the limits of those who are saved. It could not be questioned that Christ's death for the believer's sin nature is a form of divine judgment (d. Rom. 6: 1-10; Gal. 5: 24; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:9-10).

3. THE JUDGMENT OF SATAN THROUGH THE CROSS.

Since it is but partially revealed, to human minds the relationship between God and the angels is incomprehensible. The particular relation between Christ and Satan is equally veiled. Though vast in its scope, some light is gained on the relations existing between Christ and the angels from the protevangelium of Genesis 3: 15, the temptation in the wilderness (Luke 4: 1-13), the war in heaven (Rev. 12: 7-12), the thousand-year reign in which angelic powers are subdued (I Cor. 15:25-26), but more especially from the judgment of Satan by Christ in connection with the cross (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Col. 2:14-15). Thus it is disclosed that the cross of Christ in its threefold outreach is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, of all divine judgments.

II. THE SELF-JUDGMENT OF THE BELIEVER AND THE CHASTENING JUDGMENTS OF GOD

Two distinct judgments are in view under this general head and, as before stated, because of their interdependence. The child in the Father's household and family must understand that God is a perfect disciplinarian. Disobedience must in His own time and way result in chastisement. The central passage on the Father's discipline is Hebrews 12:3-15. In this context it is declared that every son in the Father's household is subject to chastisement as occasion may arise. Verse 6 makes reference to both chastisement and scourging. These are to be distinguished. Scourging aims at a once-for-all conquering of the human will, and when the will is yielded there is no more need for scourging. On the other hand, chastisement may be many times repeated and may be administered to the end that the believer may be strengthened thereby, or to prevent him from going into evil paths. A good man may by discipline become a better man. Christ said, "Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth [pruneth] it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2). As for chastisement which is a correction for wrong, it is written of those who partake of the communion unworthily, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" (I Cor. II: 30). Immediately following this declaration and closely related to it is the added truth that the Christian may avoid chastisement for wrongdoing by making a confession of it to God, which confession is self-judgment. Should the confession be withheld, there must be chastisement. The passage reads, "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (I Cor. 11:31-32). It is in this passage that two aspects of judgment appear with the one dependent upon the other. First, the believer is to confess to God every known sin, and, second, the Father may judge His child by chastisement when the confession is refused (d. I John I :9). The divine provision is gracious to the last degree. When the Christian has sinned, God awaits the confession of that sin. Should the confession be withheld, God, in His own time and way, must correct His child.

III. THE JUDGMENT OF THE BELIEVER'S WORKS

Though in infinite faithfulness--which is based on infinite provisions--the believer cannot come into judgment respecting the sins which Christ has borne (d. John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1, R.V.), it yet remains true that the believer will be brought into judgment concerning his service for God-the use he has made of his ransomed powers after he has been saved. This judgment is to the end that suitable rewards may be bestowed on those who have served in faithfulness. This form of judgment, so far as it is related to believers who have not been faithful, brings it about that such works as they may have wrought will be burned, but with the assurance that, in spite of the burning of the works, the believer himself will be saved. He must remain saved, since his salvation rests not at all upon his works but upon the worthiness of Christ who never changes, He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).

The doctrine of rewards--treated elsewhere in this theology at length--must be considered an essential companion doctrine to the doctrine of saving grace. Since the saved one is in no way allowed to contribute to the ground of his acceptance, it becomes certain that his service is not credited to his salvation; therefore, his service is subject the rather to rewards, which are the divine acknowledgment of the sacrifice and service rendered. This judgment is wrought at the bema, which is "the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Cor. 5: 10). Scripture bearing on this form of judgment may be considered, in part.

1 Corinthians 3:9-15. "For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." In this passage, the believer who is once-for-all established on the Rock, Christ Jesus, is said to be building on that Rock either of materials that are subject to burning by fire or of materials which are purified by fire. There is no reference here to "character building" since Christian character, under the economy of grace, is produced in the child of God as a fruit of the indwelling Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). It is the believer's works or service which he is building, that are in view. These are the works foreordained that he should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

1 Corinthians 9:27. "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." Having dwelt at length upon the truth that rewards are in store for believers who are faithful and having borne testimony to his service for Christ (vss. 16-26), the Apostle expresses fear lest his own service should be adokimos--disapproved. The exact meaning of adokimos is disapproved and not castaway, as in the A. V. It is the negative form and its positive is rightly translated in 2 Timothy 2: 15, "Study to shew thyself approved [dokimos] unto God." The disapproval which the Apostle dreaded is none other than the burning of unworthy works of service (d. 2 Cor. 5: 11).

2 Corinthians 5:9-10. "Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." Here, as before intimated, the word bema is translated "judgment seat" and it is definitely declared that all believers must appear before the judgment seat of Christ (d. Rom. 14:10). The judgment is in heaven and raises neither the question of whether the believer shall enter heaven nor of whether he shall remain in heaven. It cannot be too strongly emphasized that this judgment is unrelated to the problem of sin, that it is more for the bestowing of rewards than for the rejection of failure; and it is clearly asserted in I Corinthians 4:5 that, in spite of all failure, every (Christian) man shall have praise of God. Additional Scriptures bearing on this particular judgment are Romans 14:10; Ephesians 6:8; 2 Timothy 4:8; Revelation 22:12.

IV. THE JUDGMENT OF ISRAEL

In the order in which the future judgments occur, the judgment of Israel is next. It occurs in connection with the second advent of Christ. That the judgment of Israel precedes the judgment of the nations is indicated by the fact that these judgments are recorded in that order in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1-25:46); however, both of these great judgments are related to the second advent and occur at the end of the tribulation. Quite in contrast to the experience accorded the Church (cf. John 5:24), the nation Israel must be judged, and it is reasonable to believe that this judgment will include all of that nation who in past dispensations have lived under the covenants and promises. Therefore a resurrection of those generations of Israel is called for and must precede their judgment. The glorious Messianic kingdom has been the hope of the Old Testament saints and in conformity It this hope they ordered their lives. In the same immediate context in which a resurrection of Daniel's people is promised, Daniel is himself told that he would "rest" and "stand" in his lot at the end of the days. Of those raised he declares, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting con. tempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Dan. 12:2-3). Some in Daniel's day, as in all of Israel's generations, are written in the book. Malachi declares of the Israel of his day what was equally true of all of Israel's generations, "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth not" (Mal. 3:16-18; d. Dan. 12:1). Their rewards will be for them when they "return," which term anticipates the day of Israel's regathering.

Three major passages set forth the future judgment of Israel, and attention is called to these:

Ezekiel 20:33-44. This portion of Scripture should be read at this point. Only a part of this prediction is quoted here, "As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: and I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD" (vss. 33-38). In this Scripture it is revealed that this judgment will occur in "the wilderness of the people" evidently the very place where Jehovah pleaded with the fathers when they came out of Egypt. This pleading will be "face to face" and the judgment will result in a separation of the rebels and those that transgress from the rest of the congregation of Israel. These, it is said, shall not enter the land of Israel. This announcement of an oncoming judgment is not only a prediction which is to be fulfilled at the time of Israel's return to her land, but concerns that generation to whom Ezekiel wrote and all generations of that people. Therefore, it may be concluded that this judgment is not restricted to the last generation alone who will be on the earth at the time of this judgment.

Malachi 3:2-6. "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts. For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."

In Malachi 3:1 there is a distinction between "my messenger ," who is John the Baptist, and "the messenger of the covenant," who is Christ the Messiah. The question about "who may abide the day of his coming?" is not of John, therefore, but of Christ, and, while the prophet saw no distinction between the first and second advents, the passage describes the final judgment of Israel that will occur when the King returns.

Matthew 24:37-25:30. This entire context, too extended for quotation, should be read at this point, bearing in mind (1) that it is an address to Israel, (2) that, up to 25: 13, it is a warning to that nation of the unexpected character of the return of their Messiah-a passage which, like many others, will come to have its primary application in the time of the great tribulation. It is declared in 24 :33 that Israel may be aroused to expectation "when ye shall see all these things." Certain Scriptures are related to events which are wholly past, while other Scriptures--and this is one of them--are wholly related to that which is future. In the day when these things begin to come to pass (d. Mark 13: 28-29; Luke 21: 2 9-31), Israel will welcome these direct words of instruction and be held responsible for heeding them.

The parable of the householder (Matt. 24:45-51) asserts that the servants will be judged according to their faithfulness, and the unfaithful, so far from being admitted into the grace and presence of their Master, will be cut asunder and consigned to the portion of the hypocrites. There shall be "weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Similarly, the parable of the virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) teaches the importance of preparation as well as the unexpectedness of the King's return. Israel is enjoined to watch. Certain features of this passage have been indicated on earlier pages. The virgins are Israel (d. Ps. 45:8-15); according to certain Greek manuscripts the value of which is unquestioned, these virgins go forth to meet the Bridegroom and the Bride (cf. Luke 12:35-36). The event is the return of Messiah to the earth, and it is Israel's portion to welcome Him and to enter with Him and His Bride into the marriage feast here on earth (cf. 25:10, R.V.). It is clearly declared that a large portion of the virgins will be refused entrance into the feast, which is equivalent to failure to enter the kingdom. Hence they are told to watch (25:13).

Again, and finally, entrance for Israel into her kingdom is made to depend upon the right use of talents (Matt. 25:14-30). In this parable the verdict is certain. It is written that Christ said, "For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (vss. 29-30).

If no other evidence were present that would demonstrate that Matthew 24:37-25:30 refers to Israel, it could be shown in the twofold fact that the Church is not to be judged, and that the nations are judged (not with Israel but separately) according to the context which immediately follows (cf. Matt. 25:31-46).

If the Church is never judged and if the nations are not judged until after the judgment recorded in Matthew 24:37-25:30, it is evident that this prior judgment must be of Israel (cf Ps. 50:1-7). It may be added that the portion of Israel represented by the five wise virgins--those who pass this national judgment--become the final representation of that nation--those who are appointed to enter the kingdom. These are referred to in Romans 11:26-27, "And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins."

V. THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS

The period designated as "the times of the Gentiles," which times but for the intercalary age of the Church extend from the Babylonian captivity to the close of the great tribulation, ends in judgment upon the nations. Unlike other judgments which reach backward to include past generations, this judgment falls only upon the then existing generation of Gentiles upon the earth. This is an equitable arrangement since those involved are to be judged for their treatment of Israel during the seven years of the tribulation. But one generation is thus involved. God has judged individual nations in the past because of their treatment of Israel and it has never failed to be true that a curse has rested upon those nations which have cursed Israel, and a blessing has rested upon those nations which have blessed Israel (cf. Gen. 12: 3); but a specific curse and a specific blessing await the nations who in the great tribulation have either cursed or blessed Israel. In like manner, the judgment of one generation of Gentiles does not take the place of the final judgment at the great white throne of all nations and peoples of all the ages who have rejected the counsels of God. So, likewise, when at the judgment of the nations some are dismissed to the lake of fire (d. Matt. 25:41), it need not be implied that they are thus doomed solely because of their treatment of Israel in the tribulation; it is rather that they, like all Christ-rejecting peoples, are consigned to the lake of fire. The time of that consignment is probably at the close of the millennium and among all others at the great white throne (cf. Rev. 20: 11-15; Matt. 13 :30).

The basis of the judgment of the nations will be recognized only as it is seen that the one nation Israel is chosen of God above all the nations of the earth. For this elect people God has an unchangeable and imperishable love and purpose. No right approach will be made to an understanding of the divine program for the earth unless the sovereign, divine favor toward Israel is acknowledged. If that sovereign favor is acknowledged, little difficulty will arise respecting the issue upon which the nations are judged at the end of the tribulation.

The judgment of the nations includes not only their appearance before the King on His throne (Matt. 25:31-32), but also the defeat of those nations when they rise up in opposition to God. The utter subjugation of all nations by the returning Messiah is predicted in various Scriptures (d. Ps. 2:1-10; Isa. 63:1-6; 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Rev. 19:11-21). It is when these nations have been thus vanquished by the returning Christ that they stand in awful silence before the throne of His glory and there receive the sentence respecting their divinely appointed destiny. Two extended passages describe the incomparable time when the nations are judged-Joel 3:9-16 and Matthew 25:31-46. Joel pictures Jehovah as both the judge of the nations and the hope of Israel in that hour. Matthew records the King's own prediction in which He describes the assembling of the nations before Him, the ground of their judgment their treatment of His brethren, Israel-and the verdict which invites some into the kingdom prepared for them by the Father and dismisses others to the lake of fire.

VI. THE JUDGMENT OF ANGELS

Having conquered the nations at the time of His return to the earth, Christ will then undertake the stupendous task of subduing angelic powers, and this will be extended over His entire millennial reign. It is predicted that, before the end or final resurrection of the wicked dead, Christ must put down all rule and authority. The passage reads, "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death" (1 Cor. 15:24-26). Satan the chief of the fallen angels must be consigned to the lake of fire with all his angels, and this after the thousand years in the abyss and after the last revolt (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:7-10). Thus the activities of Christ in subduing angels which have been extended for a thousand years will be consummated before the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. Both Peter and Jude refer to the judgment of angels and especially of those that have been reserved in chains of darkness until the day of their judgment: "For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment" (2 Pet. 2:4); "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6).

VII. THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT WHITE THRONE

This, the final judgment which consummates the judgment of the cross and the judgment of all people who are unredeemed, occurs at the close of the millennium. These people will be raised for that judgment and will be judged according to their works. These works are a matter of divine record in books which are opened at that judgment. The book of life is also in evidence, but probably with a view to demonstrating that no errors have been made and that those gathered before the great white throne have not the gift of God which is eternal life. The doom that awaits them is terrible beyond comprehension; but it is the last word of a holy God respecting sin and all unrighteousness. In view of the general tendency to confuse the judgment of the nations with that of the great white throne, the distinctions between them should be observed. At the judgment of the nations three classes are present--"sheep," "goats," and Christ's "brethren," while at the judgment of the great white throne there is but one class--the wicked dead. In the former the scene is on earth, while in the latter it is in space. In the former the issue is the treatment of the Jew, while in the latter it is the evil works of those being judged. In the former some enter the kingdom at its inception and some go to the lake of fire, in the latter all go to the lake of fire.

From the foregoing it will be seen that the theological assertion that there is but one general judgment is a great error; and it will be recognized, as well, that the whole theme of divine judgment is not only far-reaching but vital in the right understanding of all prophecy.


Notes on Various Major Various Judgments, by Dr. David R. Nicholas

Although one general judgment into which several other judgments are merged is often assumed by Christian theologians whose Biblical interpretation is influenced by amillennial presuppositions, a thoughtful, inductive study of Scripture reveals a minimum of seven major divine judgments and up to 12 well-defined judgments, depending on where one begins.

Postmillennialism, for example, holds to a general judgment of all people while Historic Premillennialism (nondispensational premillennialism) generally splits the general judgment into two phases, the second coming judgment and the judgment at the end of the tribulation. Two passages of Scripture have been cited to support this position (Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15), and it is often concluded that the judgment of the nations, for example, is synonymous with the Great White Throne judgment.

Expressing his doubts as to the legitimacy of this assumption, Chafer cites the account of a young man who when he was asked the identity of the sheep in the judgment of the nations, replied, "the saved people, of course." In response to the question, "and who are the goats?"--he answered, the unsaved people." Then, when asked to identify those called "my brethren," he was speechless. According to Chafer, the young man undertook a more careful study of Scripture and became a "most exceptional and useful Christian." Thus, the task of identifying and hermeneutically supporting the validity of these well-defined judgments has fallen to dispensational premillennialists. Walvoord, for example, lists seven major divine judgments. Hoyt lists twelve categories of final judgment. Chafer holds that there are eight "well-defined judgments presented by the Word of God." And Ryrie lists seven future judgments. However one chooses to describe or enumerate the various judgments God has revealed in His Word, a responsible, literal interpretation of Scripture unequivocally teaches multiple judgment events which take place at different times in God's eschatological program. The following is a breakdown of various judgments generally acknowledged by dispensational premillennialists:

1. The Judgment at the Cross: According to John 12:31-33, the judgment of the cross qualifies as a final judgment. It resolved the matter of sin (John 19:30); it took place at the end of the ages (Heb. 9:26-28); and it sealed both the doom of Satan and the world. As Chafer puts it, "the believer has been in court, condemned, sentenced, and executed in the Person of his Substitute, the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:24; Rom. 5:9, 8:1; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Heb. 10:10, 14-17; 1 Pet. 2:24).7 The cross, therefore, stands as the supreme foreshadowing of all final judgment, for it reveals the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 3:25) and sorts humanity into two categories (Jn.3:14-18).

2. The Judgment at the Rapture: Immediately following the Rapture (the snatching of the saints from the earth), the Church (composed of all true believers) will stand in heaven before what is described in Rom. 14:10 and 2 Cor. 5:10 as the "judgment seat of Christ." The fact that Rev. 19:8 pictures Christ's bride, the Church, as already rewarded when He returns to earth at His second coming indicates that this event will be subsequent to the Rapture but before the Second Coming. The Greek term bema, used to describe this judgment, portrays a seat or raised platform where a judge sits to adjudicate a case (e.g. Matt. 27:19; Jn. 19:13; Acts 18:12). The Greeks employed the same term to describe the platform on which a judge or referee sat during the Isthmian or Olympic games at Corinth. Here the winners of the various athletic events received their rewards. No doubt the Apostle Paul had such a scene in mind when he used the phrase, "judgment seat of Christ." Thus, the contexts and the historical background of the term imply that the bema is for believers a place and time of rewarding rather than punishing. Both Rom. 14:10-12 and 1 Cor. 3:10-4:5 support this view. It is those who have built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ (the Church Age believers) who will participate in the "judgment seat." No unsaved people or Old Testament saints will be present.

3. The Judgments at the Second Coming: a. The judgment of Israel (Jewish people) at the end of the Tribulation, described in Ezek. 20:34-38 and illustrated in Matt. 25:1-30, concerns Jewish survivors who have been regathered from all over the earth to the land of Israel following Christ's victory over His enemies at Armageddon. The parables of the Ten Virgins and the Talents (Matt. 25:1-13; 14-30) illustrate this event This judgment will determine who is eligible to enter the Messianic kingdom. The righteous of Israel (those evidencing faith in Christ) will enter the Kingdom to experience God's covenant commitments to the nation.10 Those who are proven unfaithful to Christ (rebels) will be purged and cast into outer darkness (Matt. 25:30). Because Israel failed in her appointed role as God's light to the Gentile world, God promised that another Light would light the Gentiles (Isa. 60:1-3). While Christ came as the "true light" (Jn. 1:9;8:12) in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy, God will set Israel apart once again during the Tribulation as His light to the world (Rev. 7:1-8). Thus, at Christ's Second Coming, Israel's individual faithfulness to that appointment will be judged. These Jewish believers will enter the Kingdom in their earthly bodies and will be among the first to repopulate the earth during the millennial reign of Christ. The judgment of the Gentiles will also take place at the end of the Tribulation (Joel 3:1-2; Matt. 25:31-46) at a place near Jerusalem (the Valley of Jehoshaphat). These are the Gentile survivors of the Tribulation who will be judged for their treatment of Israel (probably the 144,000 of Rev. 7) during that terrible period. These may be the "brothers" referenced in Matt. 25:40. The Gentile righteous will be revealed because anyone treating a Jew with kindness, especially during the final 3 12 years of the Tribulation will do so only out of a redeemed heart. Since Messiah's Kingdom rule will be over both Israel and the Gentile nations, and since none who are unsaved will enter the Kingdom, there will be a separating of the saved ("sheep") from the unsaved Gentiles ("goats"), who will be assigned to everlasting punishment. This judgment will be subsequent to Israel's judgment, and will be a judgment of individuals from the nations (Matt. 25:32) not a judgment of national entities. The judgment of Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Dan. 12:2-3; Matt. 16:27; Rev. 20:4-6) will take place as well at the conclusion of the Tribulation period. Both will be raised from the dead and rewarded. Rev. 20:4-6 describes this as the "first resurrection." Some have found this confusing since many believers will have already been resurrected at the time of the Rapture seven years previous. However, "first resurrection" is a reference to a category of resurrected believers rather than a chronological order. "The idea makes the resurrection of the wicked, which does not occur until after the millennium, the second resurrection, corresponding in name to the 'second death,' as noted in Revelation 20:6,14." Here again, the numerical term is a reference to kind rather than sequence. The "first resurrection," includes those who are raised to life eternal (cf. Jn.5:29). "There are several points in time when believers are raised to life eternal, but all would be considered the 'first resurrection'."

4. The Judgments Following the Millennial Kingdom: a. The judgment of Satan was sealed eternally at the Cross. However, it is not until after he is loosed for a season at the end of the Christ's millennial reign for a final fling at deception and rebellion that he will be cast into the lake of fire with the beast and the false prophet to suffer eternal torment (Rev. 20:7-10). Although this is Satan's last judgment, other stages of judgment precede his final fate. Midway through the Tribulation he is cast out of heaven and confined to earth (Rev. 12:7-12). Then, at the outset of Christ's Millennial reign he is to be bound and thrown into the Abyss (Rev. 20:1-3). The judgment of fallen angels will be finalized when they, along with Satan, are judged by both believers (I Cor. 6:3) and Christ (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10) and cast into the Lake of Fire. Jude 6-7 and 2 Peter 2:4 reveal that prior to this time many of the angels who initially joined Satan in his insurrection (Rev. 12:3,4) were cast into the abyss (Tartarus) for confinement until their final judgment. Others have been at large under the direction of Satan serving as his evil emissaries or demons who war against Christ and His servants (Matt. 12:24-27; Eph. 2:2-3; 6:11-12). The judgment of the unsaved dead will take place at the conclusion of Christ's millennial reign but before the eternal state begins. At this time the unbelievers of every age will be resurrected to face what is called the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15) when they will stand before the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 5:22, 26-29). In contrast to believers who are called the "dead in Christ," these individuals are referred to as "the dead." There will be no need to separate believers from unbelievers because all who stand in judgment here will have chosen during their lifetimes to reject God and His Christ. While The Book of Life will be opened at the Great White Throne Judgment, it will not list the names of those being judged. Those judged at this time will be judged from the books of works containing incontrovertible evidence that they justly deserve eternal condemnation because of their inability to meet God's standard of holiness. These books may also be used to establish degrees of punishment. The ultimate fate of the unsaved is to be thrown into the Lake of Fire. This is referred to as the "second death." The judgment of the present heavens and earth is anticipated in several Scripture passages (e.g. Matt. 24:35; Rev. 20:11), while it is specifically described in 2 Pet. 3:10. This destruction is necessary for two reasons: the presence of sin in the universe and the residual effects of the curse placed on creation. While some theologians hold to a renovation of the heavens and earth and others to a recreation, it is clear that the "new" heaven and earth will be a glorious contrast to the first heaven and earth which are to pass away (Rev. 21:1-4).

David R. Nicholas

David R. Nicholas is President and Professor of Theology at Shasta Bible College in Redding, CA. He is an alumnus of the University of Southern California (M.S.) and holds the Master of Theology from Talbot Theological Seminary. He earned his Doctorate in Theology at Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Paul N. Benware, Understanding End Times Prophecy (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995); Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, VII (Dallas Seminary Press, l948); Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology ( Chicago: Moody Press, 1989); Herman A. Hoyt, The End Times (Chicago: Moody Press, 1969); J. Dwight Pentecost, Thy Kingdom Come (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1990); Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986); John F. Walvoord, Prophecy Knowledge Handbook (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1990); Leon Wood, The Bible and Future Events (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973).

End Notes (See web site) http://www.shasta.edu/articles/drnic/various_judgements.htm

 

12/30/03

Revised January 19, 2004, February 7, 2004. This is a DRAFT article subject to revision and change!

Premillennialism in the Old Testament, by Arnold Fruchtenbaum (a tour of the tribulation)


Outline of End-Time Events Predicted in the Bible


From Walvoord and Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Zondervan 1985


I. Events Before, During, and After the Seven-Year End-Time Period (This seven-year period is the 70th "seven" of Daniel, Dan. 9:27.)

A. Events immediately before the seven-year period

1. Church raptured John 14:1-3; 1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:16-18; Rev. 3:10)

2. Restrainer removed (2 Thess. 2:7)

3. Judgment seat of Christ (in heaven, 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 2 Cor. 5:10)

4. Antichrist rises to power over the Roman confederacy (Dan. 7:20, 24)

B. Event at the beginning of the seven-year period Antichrist (the coming "ruler") makes a covenant with Israel (Dan. 9:26-27)

C. Events in the first half of the seven-year period

1. Israel living in peace in the land (Ezek. 38:8)

2. Temple sacrifices instituted (Rev. 11:1-2)

3. World church dominates religion and the Antichrist (Rev. 17)

D. Events perhaps just before the middle of the seven-year period

1. Gog and his allies invade Palestine from the north (Ezek. 38:2, 5-6, 22)

2. Gog and his allies destroyed by God (Ezek. 38:17-23)

E. Events at the middle of the seven-year period

1. Satan cast down from heaven and energizes the Antichrist (Rev. 12:12-17)

2. Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel, causing her sacrifices to cease (Dan. 9:27)

3. The 10 kings under the Antichrist destroy the world church (Rev. 17:16-18)

4. The 144,000 Israelites saved and sealed (Rev. 7:1-8)

F. Events of the second half of the seven-year period These three-and-one-half years are called "the Great Tribulation" (Rev. 7:14; d. "great distress," Matt. 24:21; "time of distress," Dan. 12:1; and "a time of trouble for Jacob," Jer. 30:7)

1. Rebellion (apostasy) against the truth in the professing church (Matt. 24:12; 2 Thess. 2:3)

2. Antichrist becomes a world ruler (1st seal, Rev. 6:1-2) with support of the Western confederacy (Rev. 13:5,7; 17:12-13)

3. Antichrist revealed as "the man of lawlessness," "the lawless one" (2 Thess. 2:3, 8-9)

4. War, famine, and death (2nd, 3rd, and 4th seals, Rev. 6:3-8)

5. Converted multitudes from every nation martyred (5th seal, Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-14; Matt. 24:9)

6. Natural disturbances and worldwide fear of divine wrath (6th seal, Rev. 6:12-17)

7. Antichrist's image (an "abomination") set up for worship (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4; Rev. 13:14-15)

8. Two witnesses begin their ministry (Rev. 11:3)

9. The false prophet promotes the Antichrist, who is worshiped by nations and unbelieving Israel (Matt. 24:11-12; 2 Thess. 2:11; Rev. 13:4, 11-15)

10. Mark of the beast used to promote worship of the Antichrist (Rev. 13:16-18)

11. Israel scattered because of the anger of Satan (Rev. 12:6, 13-17) and because of the "abomination" (Antichrist's image) in the temple (Matt. 24:15-26)

12. Jerusalem overrun by Gentiles (Luke 21:24; Rev. 11:2)

13. Antichrist and false prophets deceive many people (Matt. 24:11; 2 Thess. 2:9-11)

14. The gospel of the kingdom proclaimed (Matt. 24:14)

15. Israel persecuted by the Antichrist Ger. 30:5-7; Dan. 12:1; Zech. 13:8; Matt. 24:21-22)

16. Trumpet judgments (Rev. 8-9) and bowl judgments (Rev. 16) poured out by Cod on Antichrist's empire

17. Blasphemy increases as the judgments intensify (Rev. 16:8-11)

G. Events concluding the seven-year period

1. Two witnesses slain by the Antichrist(Rev. 11:7)

2. Two witnesses resurrected (Rev. 11:11-12)

3. The king of the South (Egypt) and the king of the North fight against the Antichrist (Dan. 11:40a)

4. Antichrist enters Palestine and defeats Egypt, Libya, and Ethiopia (Dan. 11:40a-43)

5. Armies from the East and the North move toward Palestine (Dan. 11:44; Rev. 16:12)

6. Jerusalem is ravaged (Zech. 14:1-4)

7. Commercial Babylon is destroyed (Rev. 16:19; 18:1-3, 21-24)

8. Signs appear in the earth and sky (Isa. 13:10; Joel 2:10, 30-31; 3:15; Matt. 24:29)

9. Christ returns with the armies of heaven (Matt. 24:27-31; Rev. 19:11-16)

10. Jews flee Jerusalem facilitated by topographical changes (Zech. 14:5)

11. Armies unite at Armageddon against Christ and the armies of heaven Joel 3:9-11; Rev. 16:16; 19:17-19)

12. Armies are destroyed by Christ (Rev. 19:19, 21)

13. The "beast" (Antichrist) and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20)

H. Events following the seven-year period

1. Final regathering of Israel (Isa. 11:11-12; Jer. 30:3; Ezek. 36:24; 37:1-14; Amos 9:14-15; Micah 4:6-7; Matt. 24:31)

2. A remnant of Israelites turn to the Lord and are forgiven and cleansed (Hosea 14:1-5; Zech. 12:10; 13:1)

3. National deliverance of Israel from the Antichrist (Dan. 12:1b; Zech. 12:10; 13:1; Rom. 11:26-27)

4. Judgment of living Israel (Ezek. 20:33-38; Matt. 25:1-30)

5. Judgment of living Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46)

6. Satan cast into the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3)

7. Old Testament saints resurrected (Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:1-3)

8. Tribulation saints resurrected (Rev. 20:4-6)

9. Daniel 9:24 fulfilled

10. Marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9)

11. Christ begins His reign on earth (Ps. 72:8; Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 2:14-35, 44; 7:13-14; Zech. 9:10; Rev. 20:4)

II. Characteristics and Events of the Millennium

A. Physical characteristics

1. Topography and geography of the earth changed (Isa. 2:2; Ezek. 47:1-12; 48:8-20; Zech. 14:4,8, 10)

2. Wild animals tamed (Isa. 11:6-9; 35:9; Ezek. 34:25)

3. Crops abundant (Isa. 27:6; 35:1-2, 6-7; Amos 9:13; Zech. 14:8)

4. Human longevity increased (Isa. 65:20-23)

B. Spiritual and religious characteristics and events

1. Satan confined in the abyss (Rev. 20:1-3)

2. Millennial temple built (Ezek. 40:5--43:27)

3. Animal sacrifices offered as memorials to Christ's death (Isa. 56:7; 66:20-23; Jer. 33:17-18; Ezek. 43:18-27; 45:13-46:24; Mal. 3:3-4)

4. Feasts of the New Year, Passover, and Tabernacles reinstituted (Ezek. 45:18-25; Zech. 14:16-21)

5. Nations worship in Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-4; Micah 4:2; 7:12; Zech. 8:20-23; 14:16-21)

6. Worldwide knowledge of Cod (Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34; Micah 4:5; Hab. 2:14)

7. Unparalleled filling of and empowerment by the Holy Spirit on Israel (Isa. 32:15; 44:3; Ezek. 36:24-29; 39:29; Joel 2:28-29)

8. New Covenant with Israel fulfilled Ger. 31:31-34; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:25-32)

9. Righteousness and justice prevails (Isa. 9:7; 11:4; 42:1-4; Jer. 23:5)

C. Political characteristics and events

1. Israel reunited as a nation Ger. 3:18; Ezek. 37:15-23)

2. Israel at peace in the land (Deut. 30:1-10; Isa. 32:18; Hosea 14:5, 7; Amos 9:15; Micah 4:4; 5:4-5a; Zech. 3:10; 14:11)

3. Abrahamic Covenant land grant boundaries established (Gen. 15:18-21; Ezek. 47:13-48:8, 23-27)

4. Christ in Jerusalem rules over Israel (Isa. 40:11; Micah 4:7; 5:2b)

5. Davidic Covenant fulfilled (Christ on the throne of David, 2 Sam. 7: 11-16; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 33:17.26; Amos 9:11-12; Luke 1:32-33)

6. Christ rules over and judges the nations (Isa. 11:3-5; Micah 4:2-3a; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 19:15)

7. Resurrected saints reign with Christ (Matt. 19:28; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 5:10; 20:6)

8. Universal peace prevails (Isa. 2:4; 32:17-18; 60:18; Hosea 2:18; Micah 4:2-4; 5:4; Zech. 9:10)

9. Jerusalem made the world's capital Ger. 3:17; Ezek. 48:30-35; Joel 3:16-17; Micah 4:1,6-8; Zech. 8:2-3)

10. Israel exalted above the Gentiles (Isa. 14:1-2; 49:22-23; 60:14-17; 61:5-9)

11. The world blessed through Israel (Micah 5:7)

D. Events following the Millennium

1. Satan released from the abyss (Rev. 20:7)

2. Satan deceives the nations (Rev. 20:8)

3. Global armies besiege Jerusalem (Rev. 20:9a)

4. Global armies destroyed by fire (Rev. 20:9b)

5. Satan cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 10)

6. Evil angels judged (1 Cor. 6:3)

7. The wicked dead resurrected (Dan. 12:2b; John 5:29b)

8. The wicked judged at the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-14)

9. The wicked cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8)

III. Eternity

A. Christ delivers the mediatorial (millennial) kingdom to God the Father (1 Cor. 15:24)

B. Present heavens and earth demolished (Rev. 21:1) C. New heavens and new earth created (2 Peter 3:10; Rev. 21:1)

D. New Jerusalem descends to the new earth (Rev. 21:2, 10-27)

E. Christ rules forever in the eternal kingdom (Isa. 9:6-7; Ezek. 37:24-28; Dan. 7:13-14; Luke 1:32-33; Rev. 11:15)

Notes

1. Some identify Antichrist's initial rise to power with the first seal judgment (Rev. 6:1-2)
2. Some place the battle of Gog and his allies at the very middle of the seven-year period; others place it later.
3. Some say the 144,000 will be saved and sealed in the first half of the seven-year period. 4. According to some, this apostasy will begin in the first half of the seven-year period.
5. Many premillennarians place the seal judgments in the first half of the seven-year period. 6. Some Bible scholars say the work of the two witnesses will be in the first half of the seven-year period.
7. Some suggest that the two witnesses will be slain and resurrected in the first half of the seven-year period.
8. Some equate these events with the battle of Gog and his allies.


Lambert Dolphin
lambert@ldolphin.org