The Study of Last Things
Bringing Truths from Different Books of the Bible into Focus, Perspective, and Understanding.
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All thenations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on the left." Matthew 25:31-33
Table of Contents: A. Israel's Judgment. B.
Gentiles' Judgment. World Court. C. Recapitulation.
There are many today in the radical environmental movement who see population growth as the greatest threat to mankind. They are quiet supporters of any kind of quasi-eugenics movement, including abortion. Thinning down the population is a great good as far as they are concerned.
But they needn’t worry. The seven-year Tribulation Period will radically reduce Earth’s population as God vents His wrath against rebels opposing him and the Messiah across the globe. There will come a time when the fourth seal will be opened (Rev. 6:7-8) and a fourth of the earth’s population will be killed by means of sword, famine, pestilence, and “the wild beasts of the earth!” Later on, a sixth angel will sound a trumpet blast, and four demonic angels bound at the Euphrates River will be released. They will kill a third of mankind (Rev. 9:13-19)!
If one were to combine those two fractions, there is coming a time when fully one-half the world’s population will be destroyed by plagues during the coming Tribulation Period! As of July 1, 2022, there are an estimated 7.96 billion people alive on earth. If these two plagues of the Tribulation period were unleashed on the earth at that time, 3.98 billion people would lose their lives! The numbers are too horrific to comprehend.
Sadly, the people of the earth will not repent of their great evil. The Apostle John, author of the Apocalypse, penned the following sad words, “20And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; 21and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21).
At the end of the Tribulation period, Jesus Christ will return in power. He will destroy enemy combatants who oppose Him in battle (Zech. 12:1-9; 14:4, 12-13; Rev. 19:11-21). Jesus will reign as Messiah / King over the entire earth (Zech. 14:9). As He establishes His kingdom, He will sit in judgment upon all the survivors of the devastating Tribulation period. The issue will be whether or not the earth’s survivors possess righteousness and are qualified to enter Christ’s Kingdom. The judgment of all the survivors of the Tribulation Period is the subject of this essay.
There will be two distinct judgments at that time as described in Scripture. One of these judgments will be a separate judgment for Israelis and Jewish people from around the world. The other will be a judgment upon the non-Jewish nations (Gentiles) of the world. Let us first examine the Judgment of Israel.
1. Ezek. 20:33-38. (For a view of the surrounding context, see the author’s Analysis of Ezekiel, pp. 9-10.)
a. Divine displeasure. Adonay Yahweh declared, through His prophet Ezekiel, both His displeasure and His determination with regard to Israel. He had rescued Israel from Egypt and brought the nation into a land flowing with milk and honey, yet the people had repeatedly rebelled against Him and worshiped the false gods of the surrounding nations (Ezek. 20:1-32). It was for this reason that He had scattered them, in His great displeasure, among the nations (Ezek. 20:23-24)! For the purposes of this discussion, the terms Israel and Israelis refer to all Jewish people all over the globe, regardless of whether they are actually citizens of the modern day State of Israel or members of the Jewish Diaspora and thus residents or citizens of another country.
b. Divine determination. And yet God was determined, in His displeasure, to reign as Israel’s King anyway! He would do so “with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out” (Ezek. 20:33)! The first two phrases, “with a mighty hand” and “with an outstretched arm” are reminiscent of God’s mighty power in accomplishing Israel’s redemption from Egypt, the Exodus (Exod. 6:6; 32:11; Deut. 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; Ps. 136:12). But the last phrase, “with wrath poured out,” paints this eschatological Exodus as a time of refinement and purging. They had rejected Him as their invisible King (1 Sam. 8:1-9), but He would surely seat Himself as their visible King anyway in the person of Yeshua Mashiyach, Jesus, the Anointed King! This will happen at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. God staked His very existence on His determination to seat Himself as their King despite all their past rebellion – “as I live” (Ezek. 20:33)! (See God’s determination also to seat His King on Mount Zion despite all international opposition in Psa. 2!)
c. Resolute retrieval. So determined to seat Himself as their King was God that He would forcibly retrieve His people Israel from all over the globe from the lands where they had been scattered, again, “with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out” (Ezek. 20:34)!
d. Decisive judgment. In His controlled fury, God will bring all Israelis into the wilderness of the peoples, and He will sit in judgment on His disobedient and obstinate people (Ezek. 20:35)! He will do so “face to face” in the person of Jesus the Christ (John 5:22-30)! There will be no separate judicial system with a handpicked jury at this trial. Kings need not be burdened with separate legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Jesus, God-Come-In-The-Flesh, as King, will be all three at once. As Divine/Human King, He will serve as Judge, Jury, and Executioner!
e. First generation. It is not known where this “wilderness of the peoples” is located, but clearly it is outside the land of Israel. Adonay Yahweh compared this eschatological judgment with the exodus from Egypt which He had accomplished centuries earlier (Ezek. 20:36). There in the desert at Mt. Sinai He had entered into judgment with them in that He displayed to them visibly, audibly, and in a tactile manner His great power and majesty and His utter holiness (Exod. 19:16-18; 20:18-21; Deut. 5:5, 23-27; Heb. 12:19)! They saw lightning flashes, a burning fire, and a thick cloud of smoke; they heard peals of thunder, the sound of a very loud trumpet, and the voice of God; they felt the earth quake. They were petrified and feared for their lives! But no one died at God’s terrifying display of Himself at Sinai. Sadly, however, only two people from that whole generation ever entered the Promised Land! Yahweh instructed that twelve men, one from each tribe, should “spy out the land of Canaan” (Num. 13:1-21). Though all twelve spies agreed the land was wonderful (Num. 13:22-27), ten of them brought a dismaying recommendation that Israel could not conquer the inhabitants of Canaan because they were strong, the cities were large and well fortified, and there were giants (Num. 13:28-33). The whole nation wept that night, wished to appoint a new leader and return to Egypt, and even threatened to stone to death not only Moses and Aaron, but Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who plead with the people to believe that God could help them conquer the land (Num. 14:1-10). Yahweh was incensed with the peoples’ rejection and distrust of Himself. He decreed that the wilderness would be littered with the corpses of all the disbelievers twenty years old and upward (Num. 14:11-38; see esp. Num. 14:29, 32-35)! Only Caleb and Joshua would be permitted to enter the promised land (Num. 14:30, 38). So, for a period of forty years, God judged Israel outside the land (see the rest of Numbers and Deuteronomy), and only the second generation and Caleb and Joshua were permitted to enter Canaan (see the book of Joshua).
f. Repeat judgment. Just as Yahweh had judged the nation of Israel outside the land of Canaan before allowing them to enter that first time, so Jesus the Messiah will judge all Jewish people outside the land of Israel in eschatological event. He will cause them all to “pass under the rod” outside the land (Ezek. 20:37). “Pass under the rod” (see Jer. 33:13) pictures a shepherd sorting out from a larger flock of sheep or goats those that belong to him from those that do not (Charles H. Dyer, Commentary on Ezekiel, The Bible Knowledge Commentary). Even in this modern day, I have seen cattlemen sorting out cattle with a rod.
g. New Covenant. He will bring them under the bond of the covenant (Ezek. 20:37). This cannot be the Covenant God made with Israel at Mt. Sinai, for it was never able to change the hearts of Israelis, and which they repeatedly broke (Jer. 31:27-32). The Covenant of Ezek. 20:37 undoubtedly refers to the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37), in which Yahweh promised to place His law within them and write it on their hearts; establish Himself as their God and they, the Jewish people as His people; enable all the Jewish people to know Him; and to forgive their iniquity and forget their sin! The blessings of the New Covenant are so great it benefits not only Jewish people, but also all non-Jewish people who trust in Jesus as their Messiah because “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:1-4). (For the application of the New Covenant to all who believe in Jesus, regardless of national origin, see Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; Heb. 8:6-13; 9:11-15; 12:22-24.)
h. Solemn purpose. What is the solemn purpose of God in drawing all Jewish people from all over the globe to this spot in the wilderness of the peoples outside the land of Israel? God said, “and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD” (Ezek. 20:38). God has committed all judgment to His Son (John 5:22-30). So it is clear that Jesus of Nazareth, the Jewish Messiah, will be sitting in judgment on all Israelis upon His return to earth (Zech. 14:1-4). Jesus will make sure that the Jewish rebels who oppose Him and “transgress against” Him will not enter the land of Israel. They will be gathered from all over the world, but they will not be privileged to enter the land of Israel and participate in His Kingdom. Though it is not explicitly stated, the implication is that they will be purged through death. I justify that conclusion by referring to the first exclusion from the land following the abortive espionage of the land. The first generation was prevented from entering the Promised Land by suffering physical death. So, I believe, the Jewish people gathered from all over the globe who are rebels will be prevented from entering the land of Israel by suffering physical death. The result of this decisive sorting out of the wicked from the righteous will be that all Israel will know that Jesus is Yahweh (Ezek. 20:38)!
i. Temporary idolatry. Adonay Yahweh continued on with His message to the “house of Israel”: Go on and serve your idols for now. Go ahead and profane my holy name with your gifts and your idolatry. But keep this in mind – the time is coming when you as a nation will surely listen to Me, and you will stop profaning my holy name with your meaningless gifts and your idolatry. And that will be true because I will have cut off all the rebels who do so! Only those serve Me will remain alive to inhabit the kingdom of My Messiah! (Author’s paraphrase of Ezek. 20:39.)
j. Future acceptance. Ezekiel 20:40-42. Because of this future purging, in which all rebels will have been eliminated, Adonay Yahweh declared, the whole nation of Israel would serve Him in the land of Israel on Mount Zion, the high and holy mountain of Israel. There He will accept them and all the sacrificial gifts they have to offer. The obedient Israelis will serve as a soothing aroma to God when He brings them out of all the lands to which they have been scattered. He will prove Himself to be holy among them in the sight of all earth’s nations, and all surviving Israelis will know that He, Jesus, is Yahweh when He brings them into the land He swore to give to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
k. Humble repentance. Ezek. 20:43-44. The Israelis from all over the world who survive this judgment by Jesus will remember the evil deeds in which the nation had been engaged in the past. They will loathe themselves for their defiling, evil deeds (Zech. 20:43). Part of the evil they will remember and for which they will experience incredible remorse will be their execution of their own Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. There will be a time of extreme national mourning for their sin of having killed God-come-in-the-flesh. Through Zechariah Yahweh predicted, “They will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). “In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem” and “The land will mourn…” (Zech. 12:11-14). But Adonay Yahweh predicted, “Then you will know that I am the LORD when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or according to your corrupt deeds” (Ezek. 20:44).
Jewish survivors of this
great Judgment will be full-fledged believers in Jesus of Nazareth as
Messiah. Since all
unbelievers will be
purged, only believers will be left. The
result will be that which the Apostle Paul predicted, “And so all
be saved” (Romans 11:26-27; Isa.
the Hebrew name of Jesus (Joshua) means
“Yahweh is Salvation” (Matt.
future salvation is
2. Daniel 12:1-3. (For a view of the surrounding context, see the author’s Analysis of Daniel, chapters 11-12, pp. 9-10.)
a. In Daniel 11:1-12:13 an angel predicted the future history of Israel from the viewpoint of Daniel, most of whose life was lived in the sixth century B.C. Dan. 11:36-45 describes the rule of a powerful, blasphemous king who comes to power “at the end time” (Dan. 11:40). This malevolent dictator will, for a time, gain control over the whole world. He is identified as “the prince who is to come” (Dan. 9:26-27); “the man of lawlessness” and “that lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:1-10); “the antichrist” (1 John 2:18); “a beast coming up out of the sea” (Rev. 13:1-10, 17-18); a scarlet beast who “comes up out of the abyss” (Rev. 11:7; 17:3, 8-13); and simply, “the beast” (Rev. 13:15, 17-18; 14:9-11; 15:2; 16:2, 10, 13; 17:13, 16-17; 19:19-20; 20:4, 10). Piecing all these Scriptures together, we know that they describe global regime prevailing during the Tribulation period (the term is used in Matt. 24:21, 29).
b. The angel revealing Israel’s future to Daniel continued to describe other conditions in that same time period in Dan. 12:1. He stated, 1"Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands guard over the sons of your people, will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”
1) He noted that Michael the Archangel, special protector of the people of Israel, would rise to prominence during the time of the Tribulation (Dan. 12:1).
2) The angel also indicated that there would be a time of unprecedented distress that would occur on earth (Dan. 12:1). This will be the greatest distress on the globe that has ever occurred since the origin of nations as a sociological entity. That would seem to indicate that nations began as such some time after the worldwide Flood, probably after God’s confounding of human language at the Tower of Babel. This unprecedented distress is none other than the Great Tribulation, so designated in Matt. 24:21, 29. It is also called “the time of Jacob’s distress” (Jer. 30:5-7). Yahweh of Troops will shake the heavens, the earth, the sea, the dry land, and all nations (Hag. 2:6-7a). It will be His “day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty,” a day when men hide themselves from “the terror of the LORD” (Isa. 2:12-22). In Isaiah 13:6-16 it is called “the day of the LORD” which “will come as destruction from the Almighty.” It will be a time during which Yahweh will “make the land a desolation” and “exterminate its sinners.” Stars will be dimmed, the “sun will be dark” and “the moon will not shed its light.” God will “punish the world for its evil and the wicked for their iniquity!” Other Scriptures in Isaiah alone include Isa. 17:12-14; 24:1-6, 17-22; 26:20-21; 34:1-4. See also Matt. 24:4-25; Revelation 6-19.
3) At the same time, Daniel’s people, the people of Israel, would be rescued from this time of global distress (Dan. 12:1). Yet not all the Jewish people would be rescued, but only those “written in the book.” This book evidently refers to the Book of Life, in whose pages are written down from before the foundation of the earth the names of all destined to trust in God and His Messiah.
4) A judgment of Israel, of sorts, is implied here. At the least, there is a sorting out of the righteous and the wicked. Israelis whose names are not written in “the book” will not be rescued during this time of distress (Dan. 12:1).
c. The angel also predicted a resurrection that would take place in connection with that time of great distress (Dan.12:2). Most likely this resurrection will occur at the end of the Tribulation, when all hostilities have ceased.
1) The first group he mentioned that would awake from “the dust of the ground” would be resurrected to everlasting life. Among this number will be Old Testament saints and saints who have died during the Tribulation. These will be resurrected to participate with King Jesus in His Millennial Kingdom here on earth, then, later, in His Eternal Co-Regency with God the Father in the New Earth and the capital city of New Jerusalem. Specific references to resurrected Old Testament saints include Job (Job 19:25-27) and David. (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23-25; Hos. 3:5). On the Mount of Transfiguration, two Old Testament saints, Moses and Elijah, appeared along with Jesus in His glory (Matt. 17:3-4; Mark 9:4-5). This was a preview of Jesus’ coming Kingdom. Obviously Moses and Elijah are merely illustrative of millions of other Old Testament saints who will one day be resurrected and share Christ’s Kingdom with Him.
2) Again, there is a sorting action going on here. While some awake to everlasting life, others awake to disgrace and everlasting contempt. The angel did not reveal the precise timing of this latter resurrection. It seems to be a resurrection that can be tied in with the resurrection of the wicked dead of all ages preparatory to appearing before Jesus the Judge at the Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15. That text seems to indicate that all those who stand before Jesus here, their names not being found written in the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12, 15), are sadly confined forever in the Lake of Fire and Brimstone (Rev. 20:14-15; 21:8). The severity of their punishment is in accordance with the deeds they have committed in their lifetimes. Their deeds have been recorded in another set of books opened at that judgment (Rev. 20:12-13).
d. The angel continued to speak about those who would be resurrected to eternal life. They “have insight,” he stated, and they “will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven” (Dan. 12:3). He evidently spoke of the glory that resurrected saints would display, much like the glory that Jesus, at His transfiguration, displayed to the three disciples, Peter, James and John (Matt. 17:1-2; Mark 9:1-3). Because they have insight, these whose names are written in the book lead many to righteousness. Their glory will be eternal and undiminished. They will shine “like the stars forever and ever!”
e. The angel instructed Daniel to conceal the revelation “until the end of time” (Dan. 12:4). This end time would be a time when transportation of humans would be greatly enhanced and increased, a time when knowledge would expand exponentially. We appear to be in that time of increased transit and knowledge right now. The end is almost upon us.
f. The whole time of distress and the accompanying resurrections serve as a vehicle of judgment (Dan. 12:10). The angel concluded, “Many” – the righteous – “will be purged, purified and refined.” They will have insight because it has been granted to them, and they will understand what is happening. But “none of the wicked will understand.” Because they do not understand, they will persist in their evil ways, and their judgment will be interminable.
g. Finally, the angel gave Daniel parting instructions (Dan. 12:13). He was to continue to live out his life to the end of his days. At that point he would die, ceasing from his earthly labors. But one day he would rise from the grave and fulfill his allotted assignment “at the end of the age.” Daniel’s allotted assignment will resume when he is resurrected at Christ’s Second Coming. Daniel will be assigned certain tasks to fulfill in helping to administer the Kingdom of the great Messiah!
3. Malachi 3:1-6. (See the author’s outline of Malachi chapter 3, pp. 3-4.)
a. Through the prophet Malachi, Yahweh directed a profound message to Israel since immortalized by George Frederick Handel in his sublime oratorio, “The Messiah.” The opening salvo in Malachi 3:1 seems to be a mixture of both the first coming and the second coming of Christ. The messenger God was going to send referred to John the Baptist at Jesus’ first coming. This messenger also may well be Elijah himself prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. It is altogether possible, for example, that one of the two witnesses spoken of by John the Apostle (Rev. 11:3-14) will be Elijah.
b. The statement (Mal. 3:1), “And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple,” refers to none other than Jesus Christ at His Second Coming. “The messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming” stands in synonymous parallelism to the first statement. The identity of the first is the identity of the second. So the “messenger of the covenant” is also Jesus Christ, again, at His Second Advent. The covenant of which Jesus is the messenger is, most likely, the New Covenant (Jer. 31:27-34; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:1, 6-13; 9:15; 12:24). The temple to which He will suddenly come may identify first of all the Jewish temple which will be rebuilt in the first half of the Tribulation period, then defiled by the Antichrist (Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thess. 2:3-4); it may also refer, in the second place, to the Millennial Temple, described in great detail in Ezekiel 40:1-46:24 (see the author’s Analysis of Ezekiel, pp. 21-25).
c. A joyous beginning abruptly assumes ominous overtones. God, through the prophet Malachi, asks rhetorically, “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears?” (Mal. 3:2). God immediately explained the cause of this human apprehension – “For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap” (Mal. 3:2). In other words, Christ will serve as judge at His Second Advent. Just as the refiner’s fire purges away dross and leaves pure metal, and just as fullers’ soap washes away dirt from fabric, so Christ will purify the dross from the people of Israel.
d. Yahweh of Troops continued on about the Messenger He will send: “He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the LORD offerings in righteousness” (Mal. 3:3).
1) So the purifying process will begin with the religious leaders of the nation – the priests and the Levites. Those who survive the judgment of Christ will be as pure as gold and silver. With their spiritual purity they will be able to offer sacrifices from the people to Yahweh out of pure and sincere hearts representing a purified people who have soft hearts wanting to follow God and His ways. All of these Jewish people who survive this judgment will be Messianic Jews, all believing that Jesus of Nazareth is their anointed King and Great High Priest. The offerings that these Messianic Jews will offer will be blood sacrifices that will be memorial in nature. These sacrifices will memorialize the finished work of Christ throughout His reign. These sacrifices and the Millennial Temple in which they will be offered are described in great detail in Ezekiel 40:1-46:24.
a) An angel described for Ezekiel in great detail the architectural specifications of the Millennial Temple in Ezek. 40:1-43:27.
b) He gave Ezekiel instructions for the Levites and Levitical priests, who would offer sacrifices and teach the people in Ezek. 44.
c) He gave instructions for allotting the land adjacent to and surrounding the Temple to the priests, Levites, and the princes in Ezek. 45:1-8.
d) He also specified offerings that should be offered during the Millennium in Ezek. 45:9 – 46:24.
e) He described the amazing, life-giving water that will spring from the Temple and flow in ever-increasing quantity and depth into the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:1-12). This river will support prolific fruit trees and even fish in the (previously) Dead Sea!
f) The angel proceeded to specify the boundaries of the twelve tribes of Millennial Israel in considerable detail (Ezek. 47:13-48:35).
2) In these chapters of Ezekiel 40-48 there are repeated references to the Levites who will be purified and who will be offering Millennial sacrifices for redeemed Israelis. These references include Ezek. 40:46; 43:19; 44:10-11, 15-16; 48:10-13, 31.
e. The net effect of the purified Levites will be as follows: “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in the days of old and as in former years” (Mal. 3:4). Out of purified leadership and purified people, religious worship and sacraments will be pleasing to Yahweh and to Jesus the King throughout His reign.
f. Jesus’ judgment of Israel is further described in Mal. 3:5. Jesus will draw near in judgment. With severity He will judge sorcery, adultery, perjurers and liars, oppressive employers, and those who take advantage of the vulnerable, including widows, orphans, and aliens. These evil ones are those who do not fear God, here militaristically identified as Yahweh of troops.
g. In fact, the sons of Jacob are fortunate indeed that Yahweh does not change (Mal. 3:6)! If He were a changeable God, He long ago would have reneged on His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He would have destroyed the entire nation! The fact that God remains faithful in His election of Israel despite her interminable rebellion against Him (Jer. 31:31-37) is a source of monumental encouragement to the elect of the Church! We in the Church Age, whom God has chosen as His own, have responded to Him in faith. We can take enormous solace and confidence in the secure knowledge that God will always be faithful to us and will never place us under eternal judgment (John 3:16; 5:24; Rom. 8:1, 26-39).
h. In fact, the converse is also true. If God cannot be trusted to adhere to His election of the nation of Israel, how on earth can He be trusted to make good on His election of the Church? The logic of supersessionists, who claim that the Church has fulfilled all the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, escapes me. I am baffled by those who insist that the elect in the church age are eternally secure, but yet deny that same election to the nation of Israel! The truth is that “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). To believe otherwise is to be arrogant against the natural olive branches who were cut off so that we wild olive branch Gentiles might be grafted in to the place of God’s blessing and salvation (Rom. 11:17-18). The truth is that “a partial hardening has happened to Israel” until the full complement of Gentiles have been admitted to the Church (Rom. 11:25). It is humility that we Gentile Christians need, not arrogance!
i. After this judgment by King Jesus of the entire nation of Israel, beginning with the Levites, at His Second Coming (Mal. 3:2-3), all the rebel Israelis will have been put to death, and only Israelis who have placed their faith in Jesus as their Messiah will be left to inherit His Kingdom upon the Earth. Then it will be true that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26)! The Deliverer will have come from Zion, and He will have removed ungodliness from Jacob and will have taken away their sins according to His covenant (Isa. 59:20-21; Rom. 11:26-27).
4. Matthew 25:1-13. Jesus compared “the kingdom of heaven” “to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (For a view of the surrounding context, see the author’s Analysis of Matthew, p. 23.)
a. In what we have come to know as Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:3), He gave His disciples extensive revelation concerning end-time events. He used ten virgins to illustrate the necessary criteria for entrance into His coming Kingdom, which He designated as “the kingdom of the heavens” (lit. translation) (Matt. 25:1).
b. There were ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom on the occasion of his wedding. It seems safe to identify Jesus as the bridegroom. The Church is to be identified as the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-8), unmentioned in this parable. The nation of Israel is represented by the ten virgins. The elect among Israel are to be identified as those who are ultimately invited to the wedding feast (Rev. 19:9), represented in this parable by the five wise virgins.
c. Unfortunately, five of these virgins were foolish, and only five were wise (Matt. 25:2-4). The foolish virgins took no supply of olive oil with them, but the prudent virgins provided adequate supply for themselves. It would be safe to identify those virgins who possessed an adequate supply of oil as those who possessed the Spirit of God (1 Sam. 16:13; Zech. 4:1-9). In New Testament terms, they were saved, or redeemed by virtue of their faith in Jesus as their Messiah. It was Jesus Himself who stated that unless one was born of water (natural birth) and of the Spirit (spiritual birth), he could neither see nor enter into the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3-8). The foolish ones did not possess oil, meaning they did not possess God’s Spirit. In short, they were not believers in Jesus as their Messiah.
d. At midnight the bridegroom was about to make his entrance. All ten virgins arose from their slumber and began to trim their lamps. But the lamps of the foolish were going out. When they asked for oil, the wise virgins refused, fearing they would not have sufficient for themselves. Instead, they suggested the foolish virgins go purchase their own oil (Matt. 25:5-9). A word is in order. It is impossible for any person to borrow faith from someone else. Faith in Jesus is a personal transaction each person must make. No father can lend his faith to his son, nor can any daughter borrow her mother’s faith. Only those who have faith in Jesus possess the Holy Spirit and are prepared for His return.
e. Predictably, while the foolish virgins were off to the merchants, the bridegroom came. Those who were prepared entered the wedding feast with the bridegroom. The wedding feast is symbolic of the joys of the kingdom, headquartered on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. I believe there will also be a literal feast, however (Isa. 25:6; Rev. 19:7-9). The saved of both Israel and of the Gentiles will enter the Kingdom of Jesus originating from the heavens. The virgins with oil represent the saved of Israel who are guests of honor at the wedding of the Messiah and His bride, the Church; these saved Israelis will enter the Messiah’s Kingdom. Once they had entered, the door was shut (Matt. 25:10).
f. Later, the five tardy virgins sought entrance into the wedding feast (the Kingdom). They said, “Lord, lord, open up for us.” They were seeking admittance into the Kingdom (Matt. 25:11). But he (apparently Jesus) said to them, “Truly I say to you, I do not know you” (Matt. 25:12). Jesus’ warning to His disciples was succinct: “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour” (of His return) (Matt. 25:13).
g. Several observations are in order.
1) It is both possible and necessary to make adequate preparations ahead of time to enter the Messiah’s Kingdom.
2) Possession of the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for entrance into the Messiah’s kingdom.
3) There will come a time when many Jewish people will desire to enter the Kingdom of the Messiah.
4) But those Jewish people who are not prepared to meet their King will be excluded from the kingdom. He will be forced to tell them, “I do not know you!” No sadder words will ever be heard.
h. Are you as a Jewish person prepared to enter the Kingdom that is coming from the heavens to exist here on earth (Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 10:7; 25:1)? Would you like to be? Let me outline for you as clearly as I can from your own Scriptures what which you need to do to prepare to meet your King. I am placing the following in the first person, not because I am Jewish, for I am not, but because I love you Jewish people enough to identify myself with you. I myself affirm the following.
1) I must admit that I have a problem in that I am not acceptable to God. “All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way” (Isa. 53:6a). “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it” (Jer. 17:9)?
a) I have placed other gods before the true God (Ex. 20:3).
b) I have constructed my own idols, things that are more important to me than God (Ex. 20:4).
c) I have committed idolatry, worshiping things other than God (Ex. 20:5-6).
d) I have used the name of Yahweh, my God, for insincere purposes (Ex. 20:7).
e) I have violated the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11).
f) I have dishonored my father and my mother (Ex. 20:12).
g) I have murdered others, if not with a weapon, at least in my mind (Ex. 20:13).
h) I have committed immorality, if not physically, at least in my mind (Ex. 20:14).
i) I have taken property that belongs to others (Ex. 20:15).
j) I have misrepresented the truth to others (Ex. 20:16).
k) I have coveted the possessions of others (Ex. 20:17).
2) God told our first parents that disobedience to the revealed command of God results in death (Gen. 2:16-17). Death means first of all a spiritual death – separation from God, which happened to Adam and Eve immediately when they disobeyed (Gen. 3:1-13). Because our first parents died spiritually, they later died physically (Gen. 5).
3) The Lord’s hand is not shortened to save, nor is He so hard of hearing He cannot hear our prayers, but our sins have separated between us and our God, and our wrong-doings have hidden His face from us so that He does not hear us (Isa. 59:1-2).
a) Here is a catalog of sins that separate all of us from God: Isaiah 59:1-8.
b) Here are the tragic consequences we experience because of our sins (Isaiah 59:9-15).
4) Yahweh looked for someone to bring salvation for His people, but He was astonished that there was no one to intercede on our behalf. So His own arm brought salvation (Isa. 59:15-17)!
5) He promised that a Redeemer would come to Zion, and to all those who turn from transgression in Jacob (Isa. 59:20). And He made an irrevocable covenant that He would place His Spirit upon those who repent (Isa. 59:21; Jer. 31:31-34).
6) What is the identity of this Redeemer? The Redeemer would be
a) A descendant of Abraham (Gen. 22:18). (See Matt. 1:1; Luke 1:34.)
b) From the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10). (See Matt. 1:3.)
c) An heir of King David (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Isa. 11:1-2; Jer. 23:5-6; 1 Chron. 17:10-14). (See Matt. 1:1; 9:27; 15:22; 21:9; Rom. 1:3.)
d) To him, a man, are ascribed names, titles, and attributes that are true only of God (Isa. 7:14; Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 5:2; Zec. 12:10; Psa. 110:1-7). (See Matt. 16:16; 18:20; 26:61-64a; 28:18; Luke 7:48; John 1:1-3, 48; 5:25-29; Heb. 1:8.)
e) He would be the son of God (Psa. 2:7-12; Prov. 30:4). (See Matt. 27:54; Mark 1:1; 3:11; 15:39; Luke 1:35; 22:70; John 1:34, 49; 20:30-31; Rom. 1:4.)
f) He would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14) in Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2). (See Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-7.)
g) A messenger would announce his coming (Isa. 40:3-5; Mal. 3:1). (See Matt. 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-11; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:1-36.)
h) He would be anointed with the Holy Spirit (Isa 11:1-2; Isa 42:1; Isa 61:1-2). (See Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-12; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34.)
i) Though Israel’s King, he would ride into Jerusalem in humility, mounted on a donkey (Zech. 9:9-10). (See Matt. 21:1-5; Mark 11:7-10; Luke 19:35-38; John 12:12-15.)
j) He would present himself as Israel’s Messiah 483 years after the decree of Artaxerxes Longimanus to rebuild Jerusalem (Neh. 2:5-8; Dan. 9:24-26). (See Luke 19:28-44.)
k) He would be sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13). (See Matt. 26:14-16; 27:1-10.)
l) He would suffer a violent, scorned death, pierced through to bear our sins (Isa. 53:3-8, 10-12; Psalm 22:6-8, 12-18; Zech. 12:10). (See Matt. 27:26-50; Luke 23:13-49; Mark 15:1-41; John 19:16-37.)
m) He would be resurrected from death (Psalm 2:7; 16:8-11; Isa. 55:3). (See Acts 2:22-33; Acts 13:33, 34, 35-41.)
n) He would ascend to heaven and there wait until he was authorized to establish his kingdom on earth (Psalm 110:1, 2-7; Dan. 7:9-14, 27; Psalm 2:5-9). (See Acts 2:33-36; 5:30-32; Matt. 24:23-31; 25:1-46; 2 Thess. 1:6-10; Rev. 19:22-21.)
7) We need to look upon Him whom we have pierced. We need to mourn over Jesus our king bitterly, as we would weep over the death of our first born son (Zech. 12:10).
8) We need to place our trust in the Son and submit to him (Psalm 2:7, 10-12). (See John 3:16; 6:40.)
9) We need to ask God, on the basis of His New Covenant, for a soft heart of flesh and His empowering Spirit to enable us to follow His commandments and statutes and serve Him whole-heartedly (Jer. 31:27-37; Ezek. 11:19-20; 36:22-28).
10) Only then will we experience personal peace and a connection with the Almighty (Isa. 9:6).
11) We need to recruit both Jewish and Gentile peoples everywhere to submit to the King (Ex. 19:6; Psa. 2:10-12).
12) We must prepare for the return of the King (Zech. 14:1-9; Psalm 2:6-12; Ezek. 20:33-44; Psa. 24; Ezek. 43:1-12; Isa. 2:1-4; 9:6-7; 11:1-16).
5. Matthew 25:14-30. A Man, His Journey, and His Three Slaves. (See the author’s Analysis of Matthew, pp. 23-24.)
a. Jesus also compared the kingdom of heaven to a man who, about to leave on a journey, entrusted his possessions to his slaves each according to his own ability.
b. The man in this story represented Jesus Himself and His impending departure for heaven after His rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection. In his absence he entrusted to three different slaves wealth commensurate with their abilities – five talents, two talents, and one talent (Matt. 24:14-15). This was no small amount of money. A talent then was worth fifteen years’ worth of labor (Matt. 18:24 see footnote a). As of July 24, 2008, the federal minimum wage in the U.S. was set at $6.55 per hour. (A new federal minimum wage will be instituted on July 24, 2009.) A year’s wages based on a forty-hour work week would amount to US $13,624. Fifteen years’ wages would amount to $204,360. The three slaves were given, respectively, $1,021,800, $408,720, and $204,360. Then the man left. The two faithful slaves each doubled their master’s earnings. Their efforts represent what faithful believers will do for Christ during their lives here on earth while awaiting His return from heaven. Faithful believers will serve Christ as best they can in this life, commensurate with the abilities He has given them.
c. When the man returned, he called his slaves for an accounting. The first two slaves he commended as being faithful. Since they had been “faithful in a few things,” he would put them “in charge of many things” (Matt. 25:19-23). Faithfulness in serving Jesus is the criterion at stake in this judgment. When Jesus judges these Jewish survivors of the Tribulation, He will reward their faithful service during their lives with greater and more important responsibilities during His Kingdom. This means that Jewish believers faithful in serving Jesus in this life and especially during the years immediately prior to His Second Coming will be granted greater responsibility and authority with which to serve Him in His Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:4-6) and in His Eternal Co-Regency with the Father in New Jerusalem in connection with New Earth (Rev. 22:3-5).
6. Luke 19:11-27 – The Nobleman, His Kingdom, His Ten Slaves, and His Hateful Citizens. (For a view of the surrounding context, see the author’s Analysis of Luke, p. 18.)
a. This parable of Jesus is very similar to that of Matthew 25:14-30 with some minor exceptions. Jesus told his disciples this parable for a specific reason: He was near Jerusalem, and His disciples “supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11).
b. Jesus identified Himself clearly in this parable as a nobleman, a man of royal birth (Luke 19:12). He will be leaving the earth shortly for a distant country (heaven), there to wait until He is granted His Kingdom on Earth (Psalm 110; Psa. 2:8-9; Dan. 7:9-14; Zech. 14:9; Rev. 20:1-6).
c. The King-in-Waiting called ten of his slaves and gave them ten minas to invest during his absence (Luke 19:13). These slaves represented Jewish individuals who accept Jesus’ authority as Messiah. In the parable in Matthew 25:14-30, the man had left slaves with differing amounts. Presumably his policy there was based on his understanding of each slave’s ability. Here in Luke, each slave is given the same amount, perhaps signifying equal opportunity. All of Jesus’ followers have equal opportunity to serve Him, even if they do not all have equal ability. A mina was equal to about 100 days’ wages. Based on the US Minimum Wage standard of $6.55 per hour set on July 24, 2008 and an eight hour day, that would amount to $5,240 per slave. This is not a large amount, but it is not insignificant, either.
d. Tragically, the citizens of his country hated him. They sent a delegation after him telling him they did not want him to reign over them (Luke 19:14). This is a sad reference to the nation of Israel in particular and Jewish people in general. With a few exceptions, Jewish people have rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Joel C. Rosenberg and Arnold Fruchtenbaum are examples of Jewish individuals who have embraced Jesus as their King.
e. Eventually the nobleman in Jesus’ parable returned, having received His kingdom (Luke 19:15). This looks ahead to the time, still future, when Jesus will return to earth, having received authority from His Father to sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem on Mount Zion and rule over Israel and the entire earth. When He does so, He will summon Jewish people from all over the world to appear before Him for evaluation. Included among these will be Jewish people who, by all appearances, have placed their confidence in Jesus as their Messiah and rightful King. He will call them for an accounting of how they have invested lives in serving Him in His absence.
f. The first slave called had gained an additional ten minas during his master’s absence. The initial sum which he had been given, $5,240, he had invested so diligently that the total amount now was eleven minas, or $57,640. Jesus will commend that slave. Because the slave had been faithful in investing money, a relatively small thing, King Jesus would give him jurisdiction over a much greater matter. Jesus would grant him authority to rule as governor over ten cities as part of His own worldwide rule (Luke 19:16-17).
g. The second slave had invested his mina in such a way that it was now worth an additional five. Jesus will commend this follower for his faithfulness and grant him authority to rule over five cities in His Kingdom (Luke 19:18-19).
h. It is worth noting that Jesus envisions Himself returning to earth to rule over a political kingdom. There will be cities that need administration, and there will be groups of cities that need governance. This is a clear rebuke to supersessionist thinking – the notion that the Church has forever replaced Israel, and that Christ’s kingdom is merely spiritual. His kingdom is spiritual, and it will always be that. But the time is coming when it will be much more than that. It will be a political kingdom here on earth with Jerusalem and Israel the focal point of that world-wide kingdom. Jesus did promise His apostles that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, they would sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). The kingdom of God from its very inception has always been about His establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth. There will always exist a nation of Israel and a political, earthly kingdom, whether it be on Millennial Earth or on New Earth clear into the distant reaches of eternity.
i. The third slave mentioned (evidently the other seven did not figure into Jesus’ parable) did not fare so well as the first two (Luke 19:20-21). He had failed to invest his mina at all. He had bound it up in a cloth because, he said, he was afraid of his master. He described his master as an exacting man, one who takes up what he did not lay down and who reaps what he had not sown. The master judged him by his own words, calling him a worthless slave. Why had he not at least put the money in a bank, where it would have at least drawn a minimal amount of interest (Luke 19:22-23)?
j. He ordered the bystanders to take the money away from the slave and give it to the one who had earned ten. The bystanders protested that he already had ten. Why should he be given more (Luke 19:24-25)? These bystanders remind me of progressives today whose idea of fairness is to insist that everyone receive equal outcomes, regardless of the disparity in their effort or success. The king in the story rejected their protests out of hand (Luke 19:26). He said that whoever possessed more by dint of diligent effort on behalf of the King, to him more would be given. He declared also that whoever had earned nothing for the King would be deprived even of the small responsibility he had shirked.
k. It is clear that Jesus, during His absence from His followers expects them to work diligently on earth on His behalf while He is in heaven. There will be some Jewish people (the point of this parable) as well as people from among the nations who give lip service to supporting the King, but whose actions belie their words. They will have no opportunity whatever to serve the King in any capacity during His Kingdom here upon earth. Precisely what happens to them is not the subject of this parable. But clearly, those subjects of Jesus who serve Him faithfully in a relatively smaller area during their lives while He is in heaven will be granted opportunity to serve Him in a much greater capacity when He returns to reign. This is a highly motivating concept by which each of us must live. Here is an eternal truth: He who is trustworthy in a small matter will be deemed trustworthy to assume responsibility over a greater matter.
l. Jesus did not leave the fate of the hateful citizens to speculation. The returned king stated abruptly and with determination, “But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence” (Luke 19:27). The sad conclusion is that when King Jesus returns to this earth to establish His kingdom, the Jewish people and Israeli citizens who did not wish Him to be their King will be denied entrance into His Kingdom. In fact, they will be put to death in His presence.
m. If there are any Jewish people who are reading this essay, I urge you to do what millions of Jewish people will one day do – look on Jesus whom you have pierced, and mourn for Him! Mourn for Him as you would your firstborn and only son who was suddenly taken away from you in death! May God pour out upon you His Spirit of grace and supplication so you may do so (Zech. 12:10).
7. Summary. All Jewish people who survive the Tribulation period can anticipate being drawn inexorably to some place outside the land of Israel. There they will all be judged by Jesus, the King. Somewhere in the process a great many Jewish people will have become aware of their culpability in rejecting and executing their own Messiah. They will weep with unmitigated remorse. Their Messiah will forgive them and give them hearts of flesh and fill them with the Holy Spirit. They will survive the judgment and be preserved alive to inherit the Kingdom of the heavens. Meanwhile other Jewish people will remain rebels against Yahweh and against their Messiah. These rebels will be rooted out in the process of the judgment. They will not be allowed to enter the land of Israel, and they will die, just as the rebels in the first generation Exodus all died without entering the Promised Land. And so it will be at the end of the judgment that all Israel will be saved (Isa. 59:20-21; Rom. 11:25-27), the nation of Israel will have been resurrected symbolically and literally (Ezek. 37), the people will be restored to their land, and Israel will take its rightful place as God’s most favored nation with His blessing (Isa. 60).
B. The Judgment of the Nations (the Earth’s Gentiles)
1. Judgment of Gentiles in Battle. There are a number of passages which speak of Gentile nations gathered in Israel meeting Divine judgment.
a. Zechariah 12:1-9. (For the appropriate context of the passage see the author’s Analysis of Zechariah, p. 8.) The events of this passage coincide with the end-time Tribulation period.
1) Yahweh declared that He will “make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around.” The metaphor is that the nations will become so drunk with flexing their muscles against Israel that they will become disoriented and make foolish decisions politically and strategically (Zech. 12:2).
2) In another metaphor, Yahweh will “make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples.” Many with gather around Jerusalem to try to lift this stone for their own perceived benefit. But God will make the stone of Israel so heavy that all the nations who attempt to lift it will severely injure themselves (Zech. 12:3). Many years ago I bought a big container of sand to take home for a sandbox for my children. As I lifted the container I felt something tear in my abdomen. Ever since I have been living with a hernia condition that restricts what I can do. The nations who attempt to lift Jerusalem and reposition it for their own advantage will severely damage themselves. That will be God’s way of judging them for their bias against and antipathy toward Israel, God’s chosen nation. This antipathy will not be localized. It will be world-wide Anti-Semitism. “And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it” (Zech. 12:3). According to Charles Ryrie (The Ryrie Study Bible) the phrase “in that day” occurs sixteen times in the last three chapters of Zechariah and it refers to the future campaign of Armageddon (Rev. 16:13-16).
3) We are given some indication of Yahweh’s method of injuring the nations that attack Judah and Jerusalem. “In that day” Yahweh will “strike every horse with bewilderment and his rider with madness” (Zech. 12:4). He “will watch over the house of Judah,” but He will “strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.” This double and very specific reference to horses cannot be ignored. It is possible this refers to modern day warfare in terms understandable to the readers of Zechariah’s day. In my view, however, there is no reason why this judgment cannot be taken literally. The Book of Revelation refers to a religious / political entity centered in Babylon (Rev. 17-18). For a time this entity will control the movements of the Antichrist and his allies around the world (Rev. 17:1-15, 18). But the Antichrist and his allies will finally weary of their subjugation to this religious / political entity of Babylon, will hate her, desolate her, cannibalize her and burn her with fire (Rev. 17:16-17). Revelation 18:1-19 describes the devastating effects of burning this religious / political entity headquartered in Babylon. Incredible opulence will be destroyed. The destruction of this entity will be so catastrophic that mariners will be unable to move their cargoes around the world, and kings and merchants and mariners around the world will bemoan their loss (Rev. 18:9-19). The only thing that makes sense to me that could accomplish such global economic distress is the strategic sabotage of all the oil fields of the Middle East. When that fiery inferno occurs, there will be a global shortage of petroleum. If my working hypothesis is correct, that will necessitate the use of horses in battle, just as Zechariah predicts.
4) Zechariah continued his prophecy from Yahweh. “In that day” Yahweh “will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them” (Zech. 12:8). So Yahweh will, at a certain point, grant tiny Israel supernatural power in that day to obliterate all the enemy nations attacking her. Yahweh continued, “And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9). What an incredible judgment that will be upon the forces of the nations who survive the Tribulation, but oppose Israel and Jesus Christ at His return!
5) Israel will not escape these catastrophic end-time battles unscathed. Two thirds of the population of Israel will be destroyed (Zech. 13:8-9). But the third that survive will be refined as gold and silver. They will call on Yahweh’s name, and He will answer them, saying, “They are My people,” and the survivors will respond, “Yahweh is my God.”
b. Zechariah 14:1-15. Zechariah 14:1-15 describes in graphic detail God’s judgment of the nations invading Israel. (For a view of the context of that event, see the author’s Analysis of Zechariah, pp. 10-11.)
1) In the days immediately preceding Jesus Christ’s return in power to this earth. Israel will be under enemy attack. Yahweh Himself will gather all nations, who have united to solve, once and for all, the Arab-Israeli conflict. They will ignore diplomacy. Nations from all over the world will join in a brutal attack against Israel (Zech. 12:1-9). This will be the United Nations at its Anti-Semitic worst. This terrible conflict will be the culmination of the War of Armageddon (see Rev. 16:12-16). As we have already seen, this conflict will include a devastating refinement of Israel (Zech. 13:8 – 14:2). Two thirds of Israelis will be killed. Jerusalem will be plundered (Zech. 14:1), but only temporarily. The UN troops will plunder the houses of Israeli citizens. They will not abide by Geneva Conventions. They will rape Israeli women. In violation of international law, they will engage in ethnic cleansing. Fully half the city will be carried off into exile to an undisclosed location (Zech. 14:2). But the U.N. troops will not long maintain possession of all the Israeli property they seize. For when all hope seems lost for the Israelis, help will suddenly arise, and the Israelis will regain possession of their confiscated wealth (Zech. 14:1).
2) Suddenly, the UN troops will encounter resistance from an unexpected source. Yahweh Himself will arrive on the scene. He will fight on behalf of Israel as He did in the days of General Joshua and King David. Yahweh was the Unseen One who in those days made Israel invincible. In this future battle on behalf of Israel He will seize victory from the jaws of defeat (Zech. 12:2-9; 14:3)!
3) Jesus Christ Himself, Yahweh Incarnate, will descend to earth on the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4), the self-same spot from which He ascended to heaven over two millennia earlier (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:12). The Mount of Olives will split in two along an east-west fault line. This will provide an unexpected avenue of escape for Jewish citizens (Zech. 14:5).
4) Jesus, with legions of angelic troops at His disposal, will return and wage war against the U.N. troops (Zech. 14:3, 5). The Apostle Paul also described Jesus’ return. He spoke of a time “when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:7-8).
5) Zechariah described the utter devastation that will befall the enemy troops waging war against Jerusalem: “Now this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. It will come about in that day that a great panic from the LORD will fall on them; and they will seize one another's hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance. So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps” (Zech. 14:12-15).
6) It is clear that incalculable numbers of United Nations troops will lose their lives, both during the course of this battle and at its conclusion. In a judgment from God against the blatant Anti-Semitism of nations from all over the world, God will bring withering destruction of their troops. What an appropriate judgment against the nations of the world and their rulers, who take their stand and their counsel together “against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us’” (Psalm 2:1-3)!
c. Revelation 19:11-21. The return of Jesus Christ and His destruction of enemy troops on Earth. (See the author’s Analysis of Revelation, p. 14 to view the context of the passage. See the author’s Expanded Analysis of Revelation, pp. 136-141 for detailed notes on the passage.)
1) John the Apostle witnessed in a vision the awesome but ghastly conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon. He saw heaven opened, and he saw Jesus the Messiah sitting upon a white horse. His name is called “Faithful” and “True.” He will return to judge the earth and to wage jihad (Holy War), for He will judge and wage war in righteousness (Rev. 19:11). Admittedly there is symbolism in the book of Revelation. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish that which is symbolic from that which is actual. Will Jesus actually descend to earth on a white horse? John MacArthur, in his commentary (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Revelation 12-22), argues that the white horse is solely symbolic of Christ’s victory and of His own spotless character. He states, “The horse, like the crowns (Rev. 19:12), the sharp sword (Rev. 19:15), the rod of iron (Rev. 19:15), and the wine press (Rev. 19:15) is symbolic.” That the white horse is merely symbolic is possible, of course. On the other hand, the armies of heaven are also said to be riding astride white horses (Rev. 19:14). Are they also symbolic? Furthermore, the birds are commanded to eat the flesh of horses ridden by humans on earth (Rev. 19:18). Are they symbolic? Furthermore, John refers twice more to Jesus, the One who sat on the horse (Rev. 19:19, 21). In these latter two verses Jesus evidently is on the earth. So it seems more logical to me to conclude that, though the horse does symbolize victory and truth, it is a real horse on which Jesus will descend to earth.
2) In John’s vision of Christ, Jesus’ eyes blazed like a flame of fire and He was wearing many diadems on His head. He possessed an unknown name, one of great majesty and authority (Phil. 2:9; Rev. 19:12).
a) The blazing eyes speak to us of Christ’s piercing vision. The written word of God can discern thoughts and motives in the human heart (Heb. 4:12). Christ, the Living Word of God, is able to do the same (Isa. 11:3-4). When He returns to earth, He will not evaluate by outward appearances. Because He is Omniscient, He will know the absolute truth in every matter. None of the wicked will be able to escape His terrifying judgment!
b) The many diadems speak to us that Christ will be the supreme ruler. He will rule on earth above every other human power. As we are told, He will be King of the entire earth (Zech. 14:9)! Not only will His authority extend over all the earth, but over every spiritual power (meaning all angelic beings) (Phil. 2:9-11). In this regard, Jesus Christ, in keeping with the will of God the Father, will arrange that Satan (and presumably all his demonic forces) are absent from the earth during His Millennial reign (Rev. 20:1-3).
c) Jesus’ name, written on Himself, known only to Him, signifies His transcendence and His unique identity. Elsewhere in this chapter Jesus is called “Faithful” and True” (Rev. 19:11), “the Word of God” (Rev. 19:13), “King of Kings,” and “Lord of Lords” (Rev. 19:16). Elsewhere in this book Jesus promised to give him who conquers a white stone with a name written on it which no one but the recipient knows (Rev. 2:17).
3) John recorded that He saw Jesus clothed in a robe dipped in blood (Rev. 19:13). There are many who believe that the robe dipped in blood refers to Jesus’ sacrificial death for all sinners. While there may be an element of truth there, the context here is one of judgment and vengeance. This imagery is actually taken from Isaiah 63:1-6. There someone comes marching from Bozrah in Edom (modern day Jordan) (Isa. 63:1) with red apparel (Isa. 63:2). He has trodden the wine trough alone in great wrath and anger (Isa. 63:3), and his garments are stained with the lifeblood of those people whom he trod down (Isa. 63:3, 6). The one who will tread the wine trough in great wrath is none other than Jesus Christ upon His return to conquer His enemies upon earth. Redemption (Isa. 63:4) and salvation (Isa. 63:5) are both present here, but the point is that in order for Jesus to save His people and redeem them from evil and set up His kingdom, vengeance must be dealt out – all evil people must be destroyed. That is why Jesus returns to earth with a robe dipped in blood. The blood-dipped robe He is wearing at His descent tells us what He will do when He arrives upon earth. The robe is both proleptic and actual.
4) The rider descending from heaven does have a name. He is called “The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13). Christ’s name, the Word of God, is most explicitly revealed in John 1:1-3 and 14. In the Old Testament the pre-incarnate Christ was often identified as the Angel (Messenger) of Yahweh (Gen. 16:7-14; 21:15-19; 22:11-18; 31:11-13; Ex. 3:1-10; Judges 6:11-27; 13:2-3; Zech. 3:1-7). In the New Testament He is the Supreme Word (Message) of Yahweh (Hebrews 1:1-3).
5) As John observed, “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses” (Rev. 19:14). One would ordinarily interpret these troops as angels. Two hundred sixty six times in the Old Testament, God is designated as “LORD of hosts” (“Yahweh of Troops”) (Isa. 2:12; 13:4; Jer. 25:27; Nah. 2:13; Hag. 2:4-11; Zech. 2:8). We know that angels will accompany Christ at His return to earth (Matt. 13:41; 16:27; 24:30-31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Thess. 1:7). However, the fact that John uses the plural of strateuma indicates a plurality of armies. Does the apparel of these warriors, who were “clothed in fine linen, white and clean,” which closely parallels the description of that of the Lamb's bride (Rev. 19:8), indicate that His bride comprises at least a portion of the heavenly armies? It would seem so. The white apparel has already been identified as signifying “the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev. 19:8). Are the horses of the armies real or merely symbolic? A number of conservative, dispensational commentators do not address this issue. John MacArthur does in his commentary, cited above. He has already stated his belief that Christ’s horse is merely symbolic, so it should be no surprise that he believes the horses on which John saw the armies of heaven riding are also merely symbolic. He could certainly be right. Nevertheless, I prefer to take a literal interpretation wherever possible, unless it seems utterly implausible. So I believe the armies of heaven will, like Jesus, descend to heaven on white horses, and they, unlike Jesus, will be clothed in fine linen, white and clean (Rev. 19:14). Endeavoring to be consistent, I also believe that real birds will eat the flesh of real horses and real men (Rev. 19:17-18, 21). And I believe that Jesus, when He comes to earth, will be seen seated on a real white horse (Rev. 19:19, 21). Time, of course, will reveal whether the horses and the fine linen are actual or merely symbolic.
6) The Apostle John further described what he saw: “From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty” (Rev. 19:15). Here I agree with MacArthur and most commentators that the sword, the iron rod, and the wine press are figurative. I do not believe that when Jesus returns, he will have a long, sharp sword protruding from His mouth. That would be grotesque. Nevertheless, the sword, the rod, and the wine press all have literal meanings. Swords are meant for lethal force, and the rest of this passage clearly states that Jesus will use lethal force to destroy his enemy combatants (Rev. 19:21). The sword represents Jesus’ verbal command (Isa. 11:4; Eph. 6:17; 2 Thess. 2:8), on account of which hundreds of thousands, if not millions of enemy combatants will be slain (Rev. 9:16; 14:19-20; 16:12; 19:19, 21). The “rod of iron” references Jesus’ firm and rigorous rule over all the nations of the earth (Psa. 2:5-9; 110:1-2; Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-5, 9-10; Dan. 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Zech. 14:9, 16-21; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 12:5; 20:4-6). The “wine press of the fierce wrath of God” which Jesus will tread speaks of the terrible blood bath of the judgment of Christ and God upon an evil, rebellious world both during the Tribulation period and at Jesus’ Second Coming (Psa. 110:1-7; Isa. 63:3; Joel 3:13; Zech. 14:12-15; Rev. 14:9-11, 19-20; 15:1, 7; 16:1-21; 19:15).
7) As the rider on the white horse descended to earth, John observed that “on his robe and on his thigh He has a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Rev. 19:16).
a) John had previously recorded that this rider had a name known only to Himself (Rev. 19:12), and that His name was the Word of God (Rev. 19:13) – the very expression of who God is.
b) Here we learn that His name is KING of kings and LORD of Lords (or Master of masters). Whatever earthly kings exist, Jesus is King over them. Whatever earthly masters exist, Jesus is Master over them. These names speak of His impending victory over and subjugation of all peoples on earth under His own supreme authority and control (Psa. 110:1; Zech. 14:9; 1 Cor. 15:25).
8) John, in his vision, saw an angel standing in the sun commanding the birds of the air to assemble themselves “for the great supper of God” (Rev. 19:17). John’s readers were not left wondering what the supper was. The birds will feed on “the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great” (Rev. 19:18).
a) Here we arrive at a terrible judgment in connection with Christ’s return to earth. The reason for this judgment is explained immediately. John “saw the beast (the Antichrist) and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army” (Rev. 19:19).
b) We do not know all the reasons that induced these kings and the Antichrist to assemble troops from all over the world in the holy land. But we do know at least one of them. The world ruler and his minions will have concluded, just as the world has concluded in our era today, that Israel is the greatest obstacle to world peace.
c) God, through the prophet Zechariah, had revealed centuries earlier that He would lure the nations of the earth and their armies into Israel to trap them (Zech. 12:1-9). He would make Jerusalem a cup of intoxicating wine that would completely rob the world of its senses, sending them reeling. He would make Jerusalem a stone so heavy that anyone who lifted it would severely injure himself. So effective will be Yahweh’s lure that He will seduce all the nations of the earth to come to Jerusalem to destroy and deport Israel in their hopes to solve the Arab-Israeli problem once for all.
d) Great damage will be done against Israel. Two thirds of the nation will be destroyed (Zech. 13:8-9). But God will also inflict catastrophic damage against the rebellious nations of the earth. He will “destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem” (Zech. 12:9)!
e) While the United Nations of the world are bent on destroying Israel, they suddenly become apprehensive as they witness the calamitous approach of a steadily enlarging unidentified flying object (UFO). They see “the sign of the Son of Man” appearing in the sky and they become petrified. People all over the world will cry out in fear as they witness Christ’s return (Matt. 24:30). I do not believe that they will understand what is happening at first. In fact I imagine that the light reflected from His glory along with the attendant glory of the legions of heavenly armies returning with Him (Rev. 19:12-14) will cause great consternation first to astronomers who observe their approach from a distance, and then to the entire global population as the UFO nears. As Christ and His troops from heaven arrive closer and closer, eventually everyone will see them.
f) The troops gathered on earth to destroy Israel will suddenly be distracted. They will see an even greater threat approaching them from the heavens. They will finally determine that the UFO is none other than Jesus Christ approaching them with vast armies. I can imagine that they will employ every weapon at their disposal to destroy the invaders from outer space! But their efforts will be utterly futile. We are told in two different passages that all the different clans of the people of earth will wail in grief because of the approach of Jesus and His entourage (Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7). This is not a casual or quiet mourning. The word is from kopto, which means literally to cut. Sometimes people in the middle east would actually gash themselves with knives or sharp stones to demonstrate their fervency (1 Kings 18:28). So why are the peoples of earth going to mourn intensely at Jesus’ return? Are they going to be sorry at how they have treated Him and rejected Him? Sadly, for most of them, I do not think so. Let me illustrate.
i Years ago I received a phone call from a distraught young man in jail. His words were, “I have killed my wife. I am in custody at the police station. Can you come see me?” He was extremely distressed.
ii When I arrived, I talked to him. Of course I had to ask him what happened. He explained to me that he and his estranged wife got into an argument and that there was a scuffle, there was a gun, and he accidentally wound up shooting her. Trying to comfort him, I asked if there was any chance that she could survive. He said no, that he had shot her in the head.
iii He moaned and was crying, and here’s what he asked me: “What are they going to do to me, Jim?” It suddenly dawned on me where this man was coming from. He was crying not because he had lost his wife, but because he was afraid of what the authorities would do to him!
iv That, I believe, is the reaction most people will have when they see Jesus returning. They will cry out and weep profusely, not because they are repenting at how they have treated Him and rejected Him. Rather they will cower and weep in fear because they are afraid of what He will do them!
9) Zechariah predicted that when Jesus arrived, He would descend to the Mount of Olives just east of the old city of Jerusalem (Zech. 14:4). “Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle” (Zech. 14:3).
10) The previously powerless Israelis will suddenly become fighting machines that are unstoppable (Zech. 12:6).
11) The resistance Jesus and His heavenly armies encounter will be powerless to stop them. Immediately, “the beast” (the Antichrist) and his miracle-working, deceiving false prophet will be seized. They will be “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (sulfur) (Rev. 19:20).
12) The rest of the armies of the earth will be killed at Jesus’ verbal command, and all the birds will be filled with their flesh (Rev. 19:21). The graphic and gory details of the destruction of earth’s armies are revealed in Zechariah 14:12-15.
d. So at Christ’s return, there will be a terrible judgment of all the armies of all the nations in the world. They will have assembled in Israel to impose their will on Israel, to punish the nation, kill hundreds of thousands of Israelis and deport the survivors and resettle them elsewhere in the world. But Jesus’ return will turn the tables on them. The rock (Jerusalem) that they attempt to lift will be their undoing, and they will suffer fatal injury (Zech. 12:3). Jesus will strike every horse with bewilderment and blindness, and every rider with madness” (Zech. 12:4). Blood will flow throughout the length of Israel (Rev. 14:19-20). Jesus will even enter into neighboring nations (Jordan) to deal out vengeance against enemy troops and guerilla fighters (Isa. 63:1-6). And the birds of the heavens will gorge themselves on a feast (Rev. 19:17-21). What an incredible judgment against man’s mighty military apparatus!
2. Judgment of Gentiles by Jesus in His World Court – Matthew 25:31-46. (For a survey of the context of the passage see the author’s Analysis of Matthew, p. 24.)
a. The Time of the Judgment. Matt. 25:31.
1) Jesus identified the time of this particular judgment – it will be when He, the Son of Man (a Messianic term) returns to earth in power and glory.
2) On this occasion, His angels will return with Him (Matt. 13:37-42, 47-50; 16:27; 24:31; Mark 8:38; 13:27; 2 Thess. 1:7; Jude 1:14; Rev. 19:14). They will escort people from all over the earth into the presence of Jesus Christ and His seat of judgment. The net effect of this judgment will be that those who serve as stumbling blocks and who practice lawlessness will be barred from the kingdom and cast “into the furnace of fire” where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
3) The time of this judgment is when Jesus will have vanquished all the military and paramilitary personnel physically resisting His return to earth (Isa. 63:1-6; Zech. 12:1-9; 14:12-15; Rev. 19:11-21). All overt opposition will have been crushed. When victory has been complete, He will sit down on His throne (Matt. 25:31) to judge all the survivors of the Tribulation period (Rev. 6:7-8; 9:15) and the War of Armageddon (Rev. 16:12-16).
4) Jesus will be about to take His seat as King of all the earth (Zech. 14:9). But before He can begin his kingdom, He must purge out all the dissidents, the disaffected and the unbelieving. There is a high bar for participation in Christ’s kingdom.
a) The kingdom of heaven belongs only to the poor in spirit and the poor (Matt. 5:3; Luke 6:20). Thus it is extremely difficult for the wealthy to enter therein (Matt. 19:16-26; Mark 10:17-27; Luke 18:18-27).
b) Only the gentle will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5).
c) Only the pure in heart will see God (Matt. 5:8).
d) The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness (Matt. 5:10-12).
e) Unless an individual’s righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, he will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20).
f) The kingdom is only for those who are willing to have God’s will done on earth the same way that it is done in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
g) Not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who performs the will of His Father, who exists in heaven (Matt. 7:21).
h) Many Israelis and Jewish people who expect to enter the kingdom will be barred from it, weeping and gnashing their teeth in outer darkness. Conversely, many Gentiles who have faith in Jesus will sit at table in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Israel’s patriarchs. Many will seek to enter the kingdom but will be unable to do so (Matt. 8:5-13; Luke 13:23-30).
i) Unless someone becomes converted and becomes like a child, receiving the kingdom as a child does, he will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3; Mark 10:15; Luke 18:16-17).
j) Man cannot enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again. He must be born of both water (natural birth) and of the Spirit (spiritual birth) (John 3:3, 5) through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:16-18).
k) The unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
l) Those who practice the deeds of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God. “19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:19-21).
m) Only those who have been purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ will participate in His kingdom, reigning with Him upon earth (Rev. 5:9-10).
b. The Subjects of the Judgment (Matt. 25:32).
1) All the nations will be gathered before Jesus. The word for nations is ethne, plural of ethnos. A nation is “the largest unit into which the people of the world are divided on the basis of their constituting a socio-political community” (Louw-Nida Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). In the Jewish context here in Matthew, the nations of the world exist in distinction to the chosen nation of the world, Israel. The people here thus constitute all the non-Jewish people of the world who survive the devastation of the Tribulation period.
2) As Jesus described this event, it quickly became apparent that he was looking at the people at this judgment as individuals who happened to be among the nations of the world. Some Bible translations frequently use the word Gentiles to describe these non-Jewish people.
3) So the people who will appear here at this judgment are survivors who are not Jewish.
c. The Sorting at the Judgment. (Matt. 25:32-33)
1) Jesus will separate all these millions of people from one another, much as a shepherd of Jesus’ day would sort out sheep from goats in a flock.
2) He will place the “sheep” individuals on his right hand (the place of honor) and the “goat” individuals on his left hand (the place of dishonor).
3) How long it will take Jesus to sort out the two different categories is not stated. How much interaction there will be between Jesus and each individual is not stated. That was not the point of Jesus’ prediction here.
4) What is clear is that, when the sorting action is finished, there will be two groups. One group (the sheep) will be privileged to enter the kingdom, about to commence on earth, and the other group (the goats) will be barred from it.
d. The King's invitation of the sheep into the Kingdom because of their treatment of the King's brothers as unto Him. (Matt. 25:34-40).
1) The destiny of the sheep (those on the King’s right hand) (Matt. 25:34).
a) First, those addressed are identified as those on the King’s right hand. That is the place of honor and approval.
b) Second, the King states they are “blessed of my Father.”
c) Third, an invitation is extended to them – “Come!” Since the King is on the earth, seated on His glorious throne, He is inviting these, His subjects, to share with Him the joys of His kingdom right there with Him upon the earth.
d) Fourth, they are invited to “inherit the kingdom prepared” for them “from the foundation of the world.”
i The fact that they inherit this kingdom suggests that they are people who are in the family of God, who apparently is their Father, and that the King, Jesus, is their elder brother.
ii The fact that they inherit this kingdom, long prepared, suggests it is none other than the glorious reign of the Messiah heralded in detail in numerous Old and New Testament Scripture passages. This is the reign of the Messiah that will begin on this present earth in what we have come to call the Millennium. After a thousand years upon earth, this kingdom will be consummated in the Eternal Kingdom in New Jerusalem, the capital city of New Earth.
iii The fact that this kingdom has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world suggests that God has known from eternity past those who were his subjects and those who were not, and that He has designed this kingdom specifically with its subjects in mind.
2) The qualifying criteria for entrance into the Kingdom (Matt. 25:35-36). The King is very specific. Of these “sheep” he explains the following criteria they had met:
a) When He was hungry, they had fed Him (Matt. 25:35).
b) When He was thirsty, they had given Him something to drink.
c) When He was a stranger, they had invited Him into their homes.
d) When He was naked, they had provided Him with clothing (Matt. 25:36).
e) When He was sick, they had come to Him and helped Him.
f) When He was incarcerated in prison, they had come to visit Him.
3) The surprise of the righteous (Matt. 25:37-39).
a) For the first time, those on the King’s right hand, the sheep, are described as being righteous people.
b) The righteous people are surprised that they have personally ministered to Jesus. This is the first they have ever laid eyes on Him. How on earth had they helped Him? Calling Him Master, they ask, in effect “When did we feed you, give you a drink, provide lodging, clothe you, help battle your illness, or visit you in prison?”
4) The reply of the King (Matt. 25:40). The King will give a succinct answer to the perplexed Kingdom-bound righteous. He will say, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” It is a matter of critical importance, then, to identify who these “brothers” of Jesus are.
a) Always, when interpreting Scripture, we must give attention to its details. First, the people being judged here (the sheep and the goats) are specifically identified as being earth’s Gentiles, the nations of the earth, as opposed to Jewish people (Matt. 25:32). They are all Gentiles. Furthermore they are all the Gentiles who have survived the cataclysmic, unprecedented time of great Tribulation totally unprecedented in Earth’s history.
b) These Gentiles are identified and judged as being either sheep or goats. So the Gentiles are divided into two groups – the sheep are the righteous ones who are privileged to inherit the Kingdom of the King. On the other hand the goats are apparently those who are deemed to be unrighteous, and they do not inherit the King’s Kingdom.
c) We are not left with many options. In addition to the “sheep” Gentiles and the “goat” Gentiles, there must be a third group of people standing nearby the King. He calls them “these,” using the near demonstrative pronoun, so they are assembled nearby, but not among the “sheep” and “goats,” or Gentiles. He identifies them further as “these brothers of mine.” A charitable deed done toward one of the least of these, His brothers, will have been done to Him. Who are they?
i First, they are identified as Jesus’ brothers. Jesus has clearly identified those who are His brothers – it is every person who does the will of His Father in heaven (Matt. 12:50; Mark 3:35). These individuals are His brother, sister, and mother. So these are believers in Jesus who have themselves not only survived the terrible catastrophes of the Tribulation, but they have somehow also survived the onslaught of the sinister religion of Babylon as well as the evil, totalitarian, murderous, global anti-Christian government of the Tribulation period!
ii Second, these brothers of Jesus cannot be included among the “sheep” Gentiles standing at Jesus’ right hand. Nor can they be included, for obvious reasons, from the “goat” Gentiles on Jesus’ left. They are distinct from the entire group of Gentiles. That can only mean that they are Jewish, the only survivors viewing this judgment who are not Gentiles.
iii So Jesus’ “brothers” must be Messianic Jews, Jews for Jesus who have somehow miraculously survived a global pogrom. By this time, I believe, the Jewish people as a whole will have undergone their own private judgment, and all rebels will have been weeded out. Only believing Jews for Jesus will be left alive to participate in the Kingdom. These will be the spectators left alive to observe the Judgment of the Surviving Gentiles.
d) Keep in mind that, to extend a helping hand toward any Jew, including any Messianic Jew during the Tribulation period will mean putting one’s own life at great risk. To give aid and comfort to a Messianic Jew will be to put oneself at great risk, first, from the religion of Babylon operative in the early part of the Tribulation. Consider the following:
i In the early part of the Tribulation, the religion of Babylon, described as a prostitute (Rev. 17:1-5) with enormous wealth and political influence, will prevail over most of the world. This wealthy religion with enormous political influence will dominate not only the Revived Roman Empire which will exist then (it will ride astride the political government – the “beast”) (Rev. 17:3, 7), but it will seduce “the kings of the earth” and “those who dwell on the earth” to be drunk with her intoxicating religion and wealth (Rev. 17:2, 18; 18:3). Peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues will embrace the worship of Babylon (Rev. 17:15).
ii No believer in Jesus, be he Gentile or Jewish, will succumb to the religion of Babylon during the early part of the Tribulation period. Millions who do not submit to the religion of Babylon will forfeit their lives. For that reason, the Prostitute is said to be “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus” (Rev. 17:6) and of prophets (Rev. 18:24) and of God’s bond-servants (Rev. 19:2). It should surprise no one that there will be those who have been martyred during the Tribulation “because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God” (Rev. 20:4). Curiously, their specific death is said to have been by beheading. These martyrs for Jesus will be resurrected and will reign with King Jesus for one thousand years (Rev. 20:4). It is altogether possible that resurrected ones are also standing among the throng of Jesus’ brothers at this Judgment of Living Gentiles.
iii Again, anyone who reaches out a helping hand to any Jews and especially to Jews for Jesus during the early part of the Tribulation, will run the risk of death by the adherents of the religion of Babylon. Among the Gentiles, only genuine believers in Jesus will dare risk their lives to give aid to a believing Jew. These are Gentiles who are among the righteous sheep who have assisted Jesus by assisting His brothers.
e) Not only will righteous Gentile survivors of the Tribulation have had to escape the vengeance of the religion of Babylon, but they will also have had to negotiate the pervasive surveillance of the most totalitarian government the world has ever known.
i The seven year Tribulation period will begin as a time of peace. The ruler we know as the Antichrist will rise to world prominence as head of a revived Roman Empire, which, I believe, will be pan-Mediterranean. He will make a seven year treaty with Israel, appearing to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict (Dan. 9:27), at least for a short time.
ii Half-way through the seven-year period, he will break his treaty with Israel (Dan.9:27). At approximately the same time he and his underlings will also turn against the religion of Babylon with fiery vengeance (Rev. 17:16-18:24).
iii He will enter the Jewish temple and set himself up as God incarnate (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; Matt. 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). He will gain control, for a short time, of all the earth and he will wage war against all believers in Jesus (Rev. 13:7). Instead of tolerating and using the religion of Babylon, as he had for a time, this despot will receive and impose Emperor worship. Indeed, everyone on earth will worship him – everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain” (Rev. 13:8). Enormous pressure will be placed on the entire world to cooperate with this evil ruler. To engage in any commerce whatever, people will have to accept a Global Government Identification Number on their right hand or forehead (Rev. 13:16-18). This ID number is known in Scripture as the “mark of the beast” (Rev. 13:17; 14:9, 11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). Right now we have the technology for RFID VeriChips which can be implanted underneath the skin and can be read from four feet away.
iv Again, any of those Gentile Christians appearing at the Judgment of the Gentiles will have encountered enormous personal risk in helping any Jewish Christians, who also will have refused to take the identifying mark and worship the world ruler (Rev. 13:17; 14:9, 11; 16:2; 19:20; 20:4). The fact that they have risked their lives to give aid and comfort to Jesus’ brothers in defiance of the Global Government will indicate the reality of their own personal faith in Jesus.
f) The nation of Israel will be invaded by a coalition of United Nations forces from all over the world (Zech. 12:2-3). Two thirds of Israel’s population will be destroyed (Zech. 13:8-9). Only Gentiles who themselves are believers in Jesus will risk their lives to help Jewish people.
g) It is these Gentiles who have risked their lives to help Jesus’ brothers who are identified as the righteous, those who, because of their faith in Jesus, have performed deeds of kindness for Messianic Jewish survivors of the Tribulation. Because of their faith in Jesus, evidenced by their deeds of kindness, they are proven to be worthy to enter the Kingdom of Jesus upon earth.
e. The King’s rejection of the “goats” on His left (Matt. 25:41).
1) The identity of those whom the King addresses. He will speak to those on His left. The left hand is the place of disfavor. Those on the left have previously been identified as “goats” (Matt. 25:33). These goats, now it becomes obvious, are in awful contradistinction to those on the King’s right. They, the “sheep,” (Matt. 25:34)
a) Have been invited to “come.”
b) They have been identified as “blessed of My Father.”
c) They will be allowed to “inherit the kingdom,” the one “prepared” for them “from the foundation of the world.”
2) Instead of inviting those on His left to “Come,” the King will command the goats to “Depart from Me” (Matt. 25:41).
3) Instead of identifying the “goats” as “blessed of My Father,” the King identifies them as “accursed ones” (Matt. 25:41).
4) Instead of inviting those on His left hand to inherit the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, the King commands them to enter “into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (emphasis mine) (Matt. 25:41)!
f. The reasons for the King’s consignment of the goats into eternal fire (Matt. 25:42-43).
1) Just as the King had given those on His right an invitation to the kingdom prepared for them, and then had immediately informed them why they were to be admitted, so He did with those on His left. He commanded them to depart from Him into the eternal fire, and then He proceeded immediately to inform them why they deserved their fiery destiny.
2) The King explained that He had been hungry, but they had given Him no food. He had been thirsty and they had given Him nothing to drink. He was a foreigner, but they had offered Him no hospitality. He was naked, but they had provided Him no clothing. He had been sick and in prison but they had not visited Him (Matt. 25:42-43).
g. Horrified, the people on the left will protest their innocence (Matt. 25:44).
1) The Gentiles on the King’s left will not recall having seen Him before. They will be unaware of any time in their lives when they had the opportunity to meet His needs. And so they will feel unfairly discriminated against. How can they be held responsible for failing to render aid to the King when they had never been given the opportunity to do so?
2) They will succinctly plead their case. They too will call the King “Lord” or “Master.” He obviously has total power over their destiny. They will endeavor to be as respectful as possible. “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” they will ask plaintively (Matt. 25:44).
h. The King will reveal to them their disqualifying apathy (Matt. 25:45). “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it unto one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’”
1) The King will point to the group nearby who are neither among the “sheep” nor among the “goats,” meaning they are not among the earth’s nations, or Gentiles. That must mean they are Jewish believers in Jesus as their Messiah, they who survived both the Tribulation period and the Judgment of Israel at the King’s return.
2) Since these defendants on the King’s left did not help out His brothers, that means they were not believers in the King. They had been afraid to risk their own lives to assist any Jewish people, whether believers or not, during the Tribulation. They had been afraid to risk their lives to rescue Jewish people from the wrath of the religion of Babylon. They had been afraid to risk their lives to rescue Jewish people from the anti-Semitism of the world government of the Antichrist.
3) Since they were unwilling to assist the brothers of the King, they were disqualified from participating in His Kingdom upon earth.
i. The final statement of the King at this final judgment at the end of the Tribulation and before the start of the Millennium will be at the same time both terrible and joyful (Matt. 25:46).
1) “These (the Gentile “goats” on Jesus’ left, who were unwilling to assist Jewish believers in the Tribulation) will go away into eternal punishment; but the righteous (the Gentile “sheep” on Jesus right, who, because of their own personal relationship to Jesus, were willing to risk their own lives to help Jewish people and especially Jewish believers in Jesus) will step into eternal life.
2) So all the Gentiles who survived the horrors of the Tribulation period will have their destiny decided in this Judgment of the Gentiles by the King, Jesus Christ. The unrighteous rejecters of Jesus Christ will be sent to hell. The believers in Jesus, who had shown their love for Him by assisting His brothers under great adversity and risk, will enter into Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.
1. All Israelis and Jewish people from around the globe who survive the terrors of the Tribulation period will be judged. God will induce every last Jewish survivor from around the globe to appear at some place near, but outside the land of Israel. There Jesus Christ, having returned in power and great glory, will sit in judgment on every surviving Jewish person. He will weed out all the rebels from among them – those who have refused to believe that Jesus is their Messiah, their Anointed King. Just as God removed all the faithless Jewish rebels in physical death before the entry of the surviving generation into the promised land of Canaan, so Jesus will remove all the faithless rebels from among the surviving Jewish people by physical death. Then those who remain, the believing remnant, will be permitted to enter the land of Israel and live in glory and safety for a thousand years in the great Millennial Kingdom. This will fulfill the words of the Apostle Paul, “And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom.11:26). Jesus will tell His faithful followers, “Enter into the joy of your Master” (Matt. 25:21, 23). And He will put these faithful Jewish subjects of His in charge of great responsibilities as they assist Him in administering His Kingdom (Matt. 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17, 19). The unfaithful will be put to death (Luke 19:27) and consigned to outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 25:30). They will ultimately be resurrected to face Jesus in a final judgment, the Great White Throne Judgment. Their names not having been written in the Book of Life, they will be cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone for eternity (Rev. 20:11-15).
2. Jesus will judge the armies of all the earth’s nations who have gathered to impose a Final Solution of the Jewish problem in the land of Israel. When Jesus returns in great Power and Glory, earth’s armies will turn from their task and attempt to wage war against Him. Their efforts will be utterly fruitless. Jesus will issue a command, and the end result will be the deaths of all who oppose Him. After all Gentile rebellion has been put down, Jesus will first sit in judgment on all the Jewish people who have survived the Tribulation. After He has completed His judgment of all the Jewish people, He will turn His attention to the Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-46). He will evaluate them on the basis of whether or not they have been willing to place their own lives in jeopardy to save Jewish people in general, and Jewish believers in Jesus in particular. Only those Gentiles who are themselves believers in Jesus will have been willing to take this enormous risk of helping Jewish believers. Those who were not believers in Jesus will not have taken that risk. They will be executed and sent to hell. There they will exist in torment until the last resurrection, when they will find themselves appearing before Jesus in the Great White Throne Judgment. Like their Jewish unbelieving counterparts, they, not having their names written in the Book of Life, will find themselves being cast for eternity into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
3. Together, Israelis and Gentiles who pass King Jesus’ judgment will exist in peace, prosperity, and in worship of the Great King for a thousand years. People from nations all around the world will travel to Jerusalem to hear and see King Jesus in person, learning more about His laws and His perspective on societal behavior. Jesus will solve all manner of international disputes in a fair and equitable manner (Isa. 2:1-4; 11:1-5). All earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD (Isa. 11:9; Hab. 2:14). All nations and tongues will come and see Jesus’ glory (Isa. 66:18). Israel will be the number one nation in the world, and, blessed by the presence of her King, will profit immeasurably as the nations of the world bring their wealth into her coffers (Isa. 60:1-22).
D. Invitation. A personal invitation to the reader. You as a reader have been touched by the hand of God. I say that because you have had the perseverance to read through approximately fifty pages of material. I believe that means God has touched your heart, else you would not have read this far. Either you are already a believer in Jesus, or you are strongly considering becoming one of His followers. God has filled His great book, the Bible, with numerous invitations to come to Him, and to His Son, Jesus Christ. Here are just a few. I pray you will respond to His invitation!
1. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
2. “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1).
3. “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).
4. Jesus, the Messiah said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30).
5. Speaking of Jesus, the Scripture says, “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:9-13).
6. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:16-18).
7. “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
8. “If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for the testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son. The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son. And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:9-13).
9. Jesus Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20).
10. “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev. 22:16-17).
WordExplain by James T. Bartsch
(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB 1995. Used by Permission.)
Published January 28, 2012
Updated February 13, 2022
Updated June 29, 2022