Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mankind's Course to the Day of Judgment

While many may deny that man is on the road to a day of judgment, the facts and fulfilled Bible prophecy show otherwise. Yet many do not realize that the Bible speaks of two general days of judgment upon the nations. The first day of judgment is preparing the nations for the day of judgment to follow. This will become more apparent as we proceed. We will begin by examining what is meant by "judgment", and then examining the first judgment upon the nations and its effects. The course of the nations as a result of this first judgment is leading them to the second judgment day.
(1) The expression "day of judgment" is generally misunderstood. It is often interpreted to mean doomsday -- as signifying the time when all opportunity for life will end. It is thought by many to be the time when the billions of dead will be called forth -- some from heaven, but most from some sort of fiery torture or conscious suffering. After this their past deeds are brought before their eyes. According to these past deeds they are then re-sentenced to return to wherever they were. Therefore the expression "day of judgment" carries to the minds of many a sense of dread, of fear.
(2) Undoubtedly this leads to a peculiar misunderstanding in the average mind on this subject. The claim is made that one receives his rewards or punishments immediately after death. Yet the claim is also made that at the day of judgment all will receive either a sentence of eternity of life with God in heaven or torture in a flaming hell. How reasonable minds can harmonize these two errors is past comprehension. (See our study Hope of Life After Death.) Few people do very much reasoning whatever upon religious subjects. This unreasoning ignorance is perhaps as profound amongst the wealthy and the more educated as amongst the poor and th
While many may deny that man is on the road to a day of judgment, the facts and fulfilled Bible prophecy show otherwise. Yet many do not realize that the Bible speaks of two general days of judgment upon the nations. The first day of judgment is preparing the nations for the day of judgment to follow. This will become more apparent as we proceed. We will begin by examing what is meant by "judgment", and then examining the first judgment upon the nations and its effects. The course of the nations as a result of this first judgment is leading them to the second judgment day.
(1) The expression "day of judgment" is generally misunderstood. It is often interpreted to mean doomsday -- as signifying the time when all opportunity for life will end. It is thought by many to be the time when the billions of dead will be called forth -- some from heaven, but most from some sort of fiery torture or conscious suffering. After this their past deeds are brought before their eyes. According to these past deeds they are then re-sentenced to return to wherever they were. Therefore the expression "day of judgment" carries to the minds of many a sense of dread, of fear.
(2) Undoubtedly this leads to a peculiar misunderstanding in the average mind on this subject. The claim is made that one receives his rewards or punishments immediately after death. Yet the claim is also made that at the day of judgment all will receive either a sentence of eternity of life with God in heaven or torture in a flaming hell. How reasonable minds can harmonize these two errors is past comprehension. (See our study Hope of Life After Death.) Few people do very much reasoning whatever upon religious subjects. This unreasoning ignorance is perhaps as profound amongst the wealthy and the more educated as amongst the poor and the less educated.
(3) In the melee of error the truth is entirely lost sight of. It is high time for all who are sincerely seeking truth to awaken from their slumber. They should learn that the vagaries and inconsistencies of the popular traditional beliefs are in violent opposition to the teachings of the Bible. Further, they are in conflict with reason and with common sense.
(4) Those who have died, as we reveal in our publication Hope of Life After Death, are really dead. They do not pass into any living state of pleasure or torture while dead, for "the dead know not anything." (Ecclesiastes 9:5) "The soul that sins, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4,20, Green's Literal Translation) All the dead must wait in death. How long? Until he who paid the death penalty for Adam and his race assumes his power to judge the world. When? During Jesus' second advent when he `sends forth judgment in victory,' as foretold. (Matthew 12:20) Under Christ's beneficent Kingdom the prisoners of sin and death will be set free. (Isaiah 42:7; 29:18) The prison bars of the tomb will surrender the billions of humanity who have gone into it. Thus all under the penalty of Father Adam's sentence: "Dying, you must die," are to be set free. (Genesis 2:17; see KJV margin) Jesus spoke of the time when "all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment (Greek, krisis )." -- John 5:28,29.
(5) A day of judgment signifies a day or period or epoch of trial, of testing, of proving. After this comes a sentence, favorable or unfavorable to the one tried. A prevailing wrong thought lies mainly in the poor translation of the Greek word krisis, which signifies, in addition to being sentenced, a trial or test leading to a final decision. The Greek word krisis is frequently mistranslated "damnation." Yet its original thought is absorbed into the English language with the similar signification that it has in the Greek namely, trial, decision (or sentence) based on the trial. We are all familiar with the course of fevers. We understand what the doctor means when he tells us the crisis may be reached by the patient on the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first or twenty-eighth day. We know that he means that it will be the trial time or testing time. It determines whether the power of the fever will break and the patient begin to recover, or whether the disease will get the greater hold and the patient rapidly sink. This is exactly the thought that should attach to the expression Judgment Day or Crisis Day. It refers to a period, long or short, in which a full test is made. A decision follows one way or another for righteousness or for sin.
Mankind's First Judgment Day
(6) The first day of judgment began upon the nations more than 6,000 years ago with the first man, Adam. Out of Adam came all nations of mankind. (Acts 17:26) Adam disobeyed God, bringing judgment upon himself and all nations that have come into existence through him, as we read: "The judgment was by one to condemnation, . . . therefore as by the offense of one [Adam] the judgment was to all men to condemnation." (Romans 5:16,18) The execution of that judgment upon man began with Adam and continues until today, resulting in misery, sickness and death for all. (Romans 5:12) The facts today testify to the truthfulness of that judgment day, for we see its results everywhere. Hence, it is that as a race we are a groaning creation, travailing in pain, going down to sheol, the realm of death. (Romans 8:20-23; Ecclesiastes 9:10) Our only hope of recovery from that original sentence rests in Christ, and his sacrifice for sin. The scriptures assure us that Jesus Christ by the grace [undeserved, unmerited favor] of God tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9) All are thus "bought with a price." Therefore we may hope for a full release from the death sentence in God's due time.
The Execution of the Judgment
(7) So before we are even born, we are already under a judgment, "dying, you must die". We receive the final execution of this judgment when we die. Thus God at various times has carried out this execution against many nations and peoples who would seek to thwart his purposes. "The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made [through Adam's sin]. Their own foot catches in the net which they hid. Jehovah is known by the judgment he executes. The work of his own hands ensnare the wicked one." (Psalm 9:16) The word translated "judgment" here is the Hebrew word often transliterated into English as mishpât , which Strong gives the meaning of "verdict" as well as "justice." The verdict, of course, was given in the Garden of Eden death. The executing of that verdict meant, therefore, the death of the person or persons receiving its execution.
(8) In Ezekiel 5:10,15; 11:9; and 25:11, however, another Hebrew word also indicates the executing of judgment, tranliterated into English as: shephet. Strong gives the first meaning of this word as "a sentence." Again, the sentence is death. All the descendants of Adam are included in this sentence ever since the Garden of Eden. Jehovah simply chose at various times to execute that original sentence of death upon different peoples.
(9) Terms that express the condition brought by this original sentence or judgment of death are the "wrath" and "anger" of Jehovah. "For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of mankind who extinguish the truth by unrighteousness; because what may be known of God has been made manifest all about them, for God has made these apparent to them. For from the creation of the world the unseen things about him can be understood by looking upon the things made, both his eternal power and divine being, so they are without excuse. Because having known God [in Adam before he sinned] they did not glorify him as God, nor were they thankful. They became futile in their reasonings, and their heart's discernment was darkened. Claiming themselves wise, they became foolish [The serpent led Eve to believe that she would become wise as a result of disobeying God. Adam also evidently felt himself wiser than God by listening the voice of his wife.] and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of an image of corruptible man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. [Adam, in obeying his wife, allowed his wife to become his god. Mankind has been bringing the glory of God down to corruptible matter ever since.] Therefore God also gave them up to the craving of their hearts, their bodies being dishonored among themselves, [Adam and Eve felt no shame concerning their bodies until they sinned. Adam did not develop a spiritual desire to serve God. He did not learn to walk by the spirit. He walked after the flesh, desiring his wife more than God.] in that they changed the truth of God into a lie, and venerated and served the created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." -- Romans 1:18-23.
(10) The wrath of God spoken of in these verses is the wrath which man has inherited through Adam. The scriptures also speak of the whole world of mankind (that has not been created anew in Christ) as "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction." -- Romans 9:22; see also: Ephesians 2:1-10.
(11) Some receive the word in honest and good hearts. They keep the word, understand the word, and bring forth its fruitage. These, through faith in Jesus are justified by his blood, and "saved from wrath through him." (Luke 8:15; Matthew 13:23; Galatians 5:22,23; Romans 5:9) These still undergo the wrath of God in their bodies. Nevertheless, God counts them as alive and in his favor. He no longer counts them as under his wrath. (1 Corinthians 1:4) This grace is spoken of as the "indescribable gift of God." (2 Corinthians 9:13,14) Such are "reckoned", or counted by God, as righteous. They are now spoken of as having "everlasting life" while the wrath of God (inherited from Adam) remains upon all those who do not take up the words of Jesus. (Romans 4:22-24; John 4:36)
Executing Judgment in the Days of Noah
(12) One might consider the time from Adam's fall to the flood of Noah's day as another judgment day. Some religious leaders are saying that the sentence executed upon the those destroyed in the flood was "the second death" -- eternal destruction. Yet it was not for the purpose of executing a new sentence upon mankind that God set out to destroy mankind at that time. Rather it was the execution of the original sentence upon man through Adam, based upon the failure of that system of things to bring itself away from sin. (Genesis 6:7,13; 7:4,21-23; 2 Peter 2:9) Man's sinfulness at that time was still as a result of Adam's fall. (Romans 5:12,14,16) All were under the one condemnation through Adam. Thus God executed that condemnation at the Flood, save the eight souls who received God's favor. (Genesis 6:8,9; 2 Peter 2:5) Mankind was still under the sentence of the first trial or crisis, for we read, "death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience. (Romans 5:14, World English) This includes those who died in the Flood, and also proves that the death they died was Adamic death, not the second death, nor any kind of death that was no covered by Jesus' sacrifice. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6) That period which ended with a flood was indeed a time of crisis or judgment day for the angels. It proved which were loyal and which were disloyal, and marked the beginning of the sentence of God against the latter class. "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness until the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4) Now, however, we are not considering the trial and failure and penalty upon those fallen angels. These are known in the Scriptures as demons who impersonate the dead. They deceive mankind through necromancy, spiritism, witchcraft and trances. They pretend to be dead friends or relatives. They may present us with visions from someone else's life in order to mislead us into believing that we lived before. All these methods aid in the perpetuation of Satan's first great lie: "Dying you shall not die"." (Genesis 3:4, Green's Literal Translation; probably better understood as: "You will not be dying until dead.") Thus we warn all to take heed and have nothing whatever to do with occultism, spiritism, and spell-binding, as these are works of the Adversary. But our object now is to discuss the judgments which God has ordained amongst men. (Ephesians 6:12; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Galatians 5:19-21; Leviticus 20:6)
The Execution of Judgment
Upon Sodom and Gomorrah
(13) Another time when God executed his judgment upon some of mankind was when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Is there any reason to believe that the judgment executed upon Sodom and Gomorrah was the "second death," a death from which there is no return? Is this what the scriptures mean when it says that they underwent the 'vengeance of eternal fire?' (Jude 7/Jude 1:7) Many religious leaders teach that this scripture means that the individuals destroyed at that time are now burning in insufferable flames. Others teach that the fire eternally destroyed the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. When we analyze this text it will, we believe, lose its luridness, its terrors. In the minds of all righteously-inclined persons it will be a reasonable, just statement of the doings of our reasonable, just, loving God. We should take notice of the connection: Jude is discussing evil doers, especially those whom God blesses with the spirit and truth but who willfully and intentionally turn away -- from it to the ways of sin. The apostle is calling to our attention that such a course is sure to have a punishment. He cites illustrations from the past to show the general trend of divine government. He refers to the deliverance of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He further shows that this favor from Jehovah did not excuse them from punishment and destruction when they rebelled. Another illustration is that of the angels, who were at first in divine favor, but who disobeyed Jehovah. God sentenced them to chains of darkness until the great day of judgment. As a third illustration of the principle that God punishes evildoers, the apostle refers to the Sodomites. They gave themselves over to gross sin. Thus they were set forth as an example "suffering the vengeance (punishment) of eternal fire."
Eternal Fire of Sodom
(14) Let us not too hastily read into this passage what it does not contain. It does not say that the Sodomites suffered the vengeance of eternal torment as the many think. Nor does it say that the Sodomites suffered the vengeance of eternal destruction, as some others like to view it. It is speaking of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities about them, and their inhabitants -- that God executed the punishment of death upon them because of their wrong course. The Bible, in Genesis 19:24,25, describes the literal fire which God used in this execution. God spared only Lot and his family from that fire and its destructive work. It would be a mistake to suppose that this literal fire that destroyed the Sodomites would last throughout all eternity. The fire is not burning now. It burned until it destroyed those people and their cities. There is not a suggestion about its being a fire that will burn in the future, but to the contrary, it effected its work. Our Lord testifies to this saying: "It rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:29) Let us give our Lord's words their proper weight. He says the fire destroyed, not preserved, the people of Sodom, Gomorrah and surroundings. He does not even hint that they are in the fire now, but rather just the opposite as we will proceed to show.
(15) Many might reply along these lines: "It means `complete destruction.'" And they would say that "'complete destruction' means that God brought eternal destruction upon them. Therefore," according to this reasoning, "they are not covered by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus." On the surface this may appear logical. When we realize, however, that all who suffer death inherited from Adam suffer complete destruction, then we can see that it begins to lose its argument.
(16) Were the Sodomites whom God destroyed covered by the ransom of Jesus? If so, then we should expect that somehow and someday they will be given an opportunity to benefit from that sacrifice. What does Jesus say? Jesus showed that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will come forth in the resurrection time for a judgment or trial for eternal life. More than this, Jesus spoke to some who heard his preaching in Capernaum and surrounding cities: "It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for you." -- Matthew 10:15. Furthermore, we have Romans 5:14, which tells us that "death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience," and then describes that condemnation of death as being due to Adam's sin. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) Since the death that they died was Adamic death which results in being the sheol/hades condition, then they did not die the "second death", and thus they will be raised in the judgment day for a new judgment. -- John 12:47,48; Revelation 20:13.
(17) What, then, is the fire of Jude 7, and how is it eternal? The expression "eternal/everlasting fire" is not the literal fire that destroyed those cities. The fire which burned those cities and destroyed those people does represent Jehovah's fiery zeal or jealousy for righteousness and his holy name. The literal fire that destroyed those cities are still burning. Jehovah's zeal or jealousy for righteousness will never be extinguished. Thus we read that "all the earth will be consumed by the fire of his [Jehovah's] jealousy." (Zephaniah 1:18) "For you must not bow yourself to another god; for Jehovah, whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14) "With foreign gods they moved him [Jehovah] to jealousy; and with idols they provoked him to anger; they sacrificed to demons, not God." (Deuteronomy 32:16,17) "And Judah did evil in the sight of Jehovah, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done." (1 Kings 14:22) "And my anger will be spent, and I will make my fury rest on them, and I will be eased. And they will know that I, Jehovah, have spoken in my zeal, in my fulfilling my fury on them." (Ezekiel 5:13) "Surely I have spoken in the fire of my jealousy against the rest of the nations." -- Ezekiel 36:5.
(18) The jealousy of Jehovah for his name and for the righteousness represented in his name is provoked by any unrighteousness. This can be seen by taking Strong's concordance and looking at the many references to Jehovah's jealousy. This fire of his jealousy, his determination to act against all unrighteousness, is eternal; it will be forever; it will forever be ready to act against any unrighteousness, should there be any.
(19) Let us return to Jesus' statements concerning Sodom: "More tolerable for Sodom! " What does this mean? In the great "last day " (John 12:47,48) of judgment, the Millennial age, when the world in general will be on trial for life everlasting or the second death, the people of Capernaum who heard the Lord will also be on trial with others. They had superior advantages to others, and had neglected those advantages. Thus, due to their neglect of these greater priviliges offered to them, they will be correspondingly less supportable, less strengthened, less able to readily benefit by the blessings and mercies of God during the Millennial reign of Christ.
(20) We understand this to be a general principle of divine dealings: where God grants much light, knowledge, opportunity and privilege, he also requires much. Where sin abounds in direct glow of the light of truth there is correspondingly a larger responsibility, and thus a greater amount of pride to overcome if that light is ignored.
(21) There is no suggestion in any part of the narrative in Jude or anywhere else in the Bible that the people of Sodom or the people of Gomorrah suffered eternal destruction, from which they cannot be redeemed. Likewise there is no suggestion that they are now suffering some eternal torture. Neither does it suggest that in the future awakening of the resurrection day they will suffer eternal torture.
(22) Our Lord proceeds to explain that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had less advantage than the people of Capernaum and Palestine. He declares that if they had heard his preaching and seen his miracles, "they would have repented long ago in sack-cloth and ashes." (Matthew 11:21) Is there, then, injustice with God? Think of all the favors afforded the people of Capernaum. Think of Jesus' statement concerning the people of Sodom just quoted. Would a God of justice and love send those less favored to eternal torment or eternal destruction? Certainly not. Who would so claim in view of our Lord's statement? According to Jesus, if the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had enjoyed the same amount of favor as shown the people of Capernaum they would have repented with deep contrition in sackcloth and ashes.
The Future of the Sodomites
(23) We have seen that the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was a literal fire. The "eternal fire" relates to Jehovah's eternal jealousy for righteousness. It has no relationship to any future torment of any kind. Nor does it mean that they received a new condemnation (laying aside the condemnation in Adam -- Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) for which their is no sacrifice provided.
(24) There are promises of God concerning the Sodomites in the Bible. Understanding these promises will free us misconceptions concerning their future. We will produce evidence from the Scriptures that show how those Sodomites who were destroyed in the fire are to come back in the resurrection day. All who have good hearts and reasonable minds will rejoice to find that the heavenly Father has made provision through the death of his Son for all the world of mankind, even including the wicked Sodomites. Our Lord's words assure us that the Sodomites were at heart and in his sight not worse than the people of Capernaum, who had greater light and therefore greater responsibility. Doubtless the Lord would say the same of our religious communities today which may boast of much service to him. Surely all who have the love of God in their hearts and who intelligently pray: "Your will be done," will be glad to know that the divine will is to bring a blessing to the people of Sodom. Now let us examine the proofs.
(25) The Millennial day of one thousand years, is the day in which Jesus and his Church will judge the world. This will be their trial for everlasting life or the Second Death. We have our Lord's statement, already referred to, assuring us that in that day of judgment the condition of the Sodomites will be more favorable than that of some others who thought themselves very religious. We also have the Lord's statement that the fire which rained from heaven destroyed them all. This statement prevents any suggestion that a part of them might have remained alive. Therefore Jesus did not have reference to a remnant who were not destroyed. Unquestionably he referred to the ones whom God destroyed, as the language clearly states.
The Times of Restoration
(26) The apostle Peter tells us of the "times of restoration." These restoration times will begin during the second coming of our Lord. Peter also speaks of the "times of refreshing." (Acts 3:21) He tells us Jehovah spoke of this coming times of refreshing or restoration through the mouth of the holy prophets of the past. Let us look at one of these prophecies of the coming restoration. The prophecy of Ezekiel 16 specifically mentions the Israelites, God's favored people. It also speaks of the Samaritans, the Israelites' neighbor in Palestine. Additionally it speaks of the Sodomites, who once occupied a portion of Palestine.
(27) Read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 16 before proceeding. We see here a serious arraignment of the people of Israel. They had failed to be loyal to Jehovah, to whom they had been promised by the Mosaic Covenant. From the forty-eighth verse to the end of the chapter we have Jehovah's prophecy respecting the future of Israel, Samaria, and Sodom, and the restoration blessings that are to come to all three at or about the same time.
(28) We have noted that our Lord guarded against any misunderstanding as to which Sodomites were meant by saying that he referred to those whom God rained down fire and consumed them. Likewise, Jehovah identifies the Sodomites whom he intends to restore in due time, saying: "Look! this was the error of your sister, Sodom: pride, adequate bread, and an abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters; nor did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed detestable things before me; therefore I took them away as I saw good." -- Ezekiel 16:49,50.
(29) In Ezekiel 16:51,51 Jehovah points out Samaria's unrighteousness. He then declares that Israel's course under her special favors, privileges and advantages in every way was more abominable in His sight than that of either of these. They were both -- in comparison -- justified rather than condemned by the course of Israel.
(30) The Scriptures everywhere declare that Jehovah, after punishing Israel, will bring them back from their captivity and bless them under the seed of Abraham. In harmony with this, the account in Ezekiel 16:53-56 specifically tells us about this returning from captivity. This captivity is the captivity of death into which the Israelites by the millions have gone as well as the Samaritans and Sodomites. -- Thus we read: "When I bring back their captive ones, the captive ones of Samaria and her daughters, then I will bring again the captive ones of your captives in the midst of them."
(31) What is the object of thus stating the conjoined awakening of these three peoples? The answer is: "That you may bear your own shame, and may be ashamed because of all that you have done in that you are comfort to them." So, when God fully opens the great Millennial day of judgment and trial, and he pours out his blessings upon the world, God will use Israel in her shame and exposure in the light of that day to comfort the Sodomites and Samaritans in their degree of shame and exposure in that day. (See also The Restoration of All Things)
"Shame and Ongoing Contempt"
(32) Through the prophet Daniel Jehovah speaks of these returning ones from the captivity of death. He tells first of the faithful justified ones, who will come forth from the tomb to shine as stars forever and ever. Then he refers to others, such as the Sodomites and Samaritans and Israelites, who will come forth to shame and ongoing (Hebrew, transliterated: ôlâm) contempt. (Daniel 12:2) It will be in this shame and contempt condition that Israel will be a comfort to her sister nations. It is not God's design that the shame and contempt should work an eternal blight to those poor creatures or to others. The scripture is associated with the period of reformation. At that time the present-day wicked will experience shame due to their past course of sin and degradation. This shame is designed to lead them to turn from sin and be transformed under the influence of the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
(33) As the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), Jesus will fill the whole earth with the light of the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:4), putting to shame, to flight, the works of darkness and sin. Then the wise `will turn many to righteousness' through the glow of the light of truth. (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43) It will indeed be a comfort to the Sodomites, when they realize their own degradation, to see that some others who had enjoyed so many more favors than they will equally, or even more so, be put to shame. Thus, the shame will be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for the people of Capernaum.
(34) The good news is that there will be no need for them to remain in this contemptible condition and under shame. Then the influences of the Kingdom will be favorable to their rising out of sin and death conditions. They will have the opportunity of coming up, up, up on the promised highway of holiness. The prophet Isaiah assures that Jehovah will provide this highway for the world. All who come to love righteousness and desire harmony with God amongst the world of mankind will pass over it. While crossing this highway they will receive complete aid so that not even a fool will need to err. (Isaiah 35:8,9) By the end of the Millennial age they will have perfection, everlasting life. God will only exclude the willfully disobedient -- those who love sin and hate righteousness, from this highway and its end in full perfection. But the scriptures assure us that Jehovah will not consign those who proved themselves lovers of sin to an eternity of conscious suffering, but they will be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." -- 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
The Return of the Sodomites
(35) Based on what we have shown from the scriptures, we have no doubt that the period referred to by our Lord is the day of judgment. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for Capernaum in that day. This period follows his second advent and the establishing of his kingdom. We have no doubt either that the time mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel is the very same. It will be the day when the captivity of the Sodomites and Israelites will have come to an end. Jehovah will release all the captives from the prison-house of sin and death. There can be no question either that the apostle Peter, in speaking of the times of restoration, had reference to this same period following the Lord's second advent. Now, then, connect these three lines of prophecy together. Notice what the prophet declares respecting the liberation of these captives and to what purpose Jehovah will liberate them from the prison-house of death.
(36) We quote: "When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state." The prophet is here referring to the "times of restoration" mentioned by the apostle Peter. He says: "return to your former state." What is meant here? We answer that man's original state, according to the Bible record, was the image and likeness of God. It was from this glorious state that Adam fell. All of us as Adam's race, his children, in his loins, fell from the same into a condition of sin, degradation and death. So then, we read that Jehovah will open the prison-doors. We read that the captives will be set free from the prison-house of death and from the bondage to corruption. Then we read that they will return to their former state. This means restoration, a returning to the original likeness of God lost through sin.
"A Ransom for All"
(37) And this is exactly what Paul implies respecting the Lord's sacrificial death. He tells us that Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:6) Jesus ransomed father Adam, the original sinner. In doing so he also ransomed every member of Adam's race, as well as all his possessions, titles, privileges, and rights as the original King over earth. The very object of this legal purchase was the restoration of mankind to their primeval dignity, honor and glory. And that is the promise of the Bible -- times of restoration -- and Paradise restored! This will not be merely a garden in Eden but the entire earth! Why should we be astonished to find that God is carrying out a great and glorious plan which his Word everywhere outlines?
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See our study:
God Desires All Men to Be Saved
(38) Then why does Jehovah keep delaying this restoration? Why does he allow poor humanity to keep suffering? Because it is Jehovah's desire to give our whole world a lesson on the exceeding bad fruits of sin. (Ecclesiastes 1:13,14) Additionally he desires to take out of the world "a people for his name." (Acts 15:14) These will share with Jesus as the ruling family for the blessing of all families of the earth with restoration. -- Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:29.
(39) Let us return now to Ezekiel's statement of the matter. Notice carefully Jehovah's statement in the context. We know that many will tell you that they know that this statement must be "ironical." Alas! Poor depraved humanity finds it difficult to believe in the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God expressed in Jesus, which goes beyond all knowledge! (Ephesians 3:19) But, regardless of what some might desire to believe, we want the Word of Jehovah on this subject, and on every subject. "Let God be true though it make every man a liar." -- Romans 3:4.
(40) Now read the remainder of the chapter from Ezekiel 16:56 to the end, and note that Jehovah is speaking very sympathetically and comfortingly. He does indeed reprove Israel, especially for having broken his covenant and despised the oath which sealed it. Yet he also tells them that he proposes to keep his oathbound covenant anyway.
(41) That covenant declares: "In your seed all nations will be blessed." (Genesis 22:18) The apostle Paul tells us that Israel failed to obtain the chief blessing under this covenant which it had hoped for. Israel failed to become the promised seed. (Romans 9:8; 11:7) Paul further tells us that Jesus and his faithful disciples attained this favored position. (Galatians 3:16-29) Christ and the called-out ones, as the antitypical seed of Abraham, will eventually bless all the families of the earth. This will include Israel, for he tells us that "all Israel will be saved." (Romans 11:25)
(42) Some may say Romans 11:25 refers to "spiritual Israel", not Israel after the flesh. We can see that the Israel spoken of in Romans 11:25 is natural Israel and not the antitypical Israel by reading verse 28: "Indeed, as regards the good news, they are your enemies. But regarding the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers." At your convenience please read carefully the apostle's exact words on this subject as recorded in Romans 11:25-32.
(43) Returning to Jehovah's statement in Ezekiel 16:60,63: "Nevertheless [notwithstanding your evil course and your unworthiness] I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed (when the whole world is ashamed under the light of the Millennial Sun of Righteousness), when you receive your sisters, your older and your younger. And I will give them to you for daughters, but not by your covenant; and I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am Jehovah, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open you mouth any more, because of your shame when I am pacified toward you for all that you have done."
The Destruction of Sodom
As An Example
(44) Returning now to Jude 7 we can see in what sense of the word Sodom was set forth as an example -- not of future torment, nor even eternal destruction, but in respect to divine indignation against sin in general. God declares that he is thoroughly opposed to sin in its every form, that he will ultimately destroy it utterly. All who will not come into harmony with the Great Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus, he will destroy [especially during the `little season' after the 1,000 year reign] from amongst the people as were the Sodomites. This, then, will be a complete, everlasting destruction. -- Acts 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:7-9; Matthew 25:45; Psalm 37:9,10.
(45) True, Jehovah's dealings in the past and in the present are specially with his dedicated people Israel according to the flesh and now Israel according to faith. (Romans 9:1-8; Galatians 3:26-29) Nevertheless, this does not imply that Jehovah has not had an overruling hand in all the affairs of the world. He has been permitting sin to reasonably take its course and to bring its own lessons and experiences to the world of mankind. Thus all may learn something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Nonetheless Jehovah clearly intimates that in any place or time where sin shall have run its course and be standing in the way of the divine purposes, he can and will interfere to stop it. (Romans 7:13; Ezekiel 16:50; Genesis 6:13)
(46) So it was with the Sodomites. Pride and prosperous ease had led them to despise the poor and needy, had made them haughty, and favored amongst them licentiousness. Jehovah blotted them out with the fire from heaven as he saw good. (Ezekiel 16:50) For them to have remained would have been to permit a plague spot in the very land in which he intended later on to plant his typical people, Israel according to the flesh.
(47) The example furnished us in this incidence illustrates, not eternal torment, but the "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power" which will surely be visited ultimately upon all evildoers. It is also used as an illustration of the present generation about to suffer destruction at Armageddon. (Luke 17:28-30) We are thankful, however, for the blessed assurance that before either the Sodomites or any of the world who have been redeemed by the precious blood could be condemned to the Second Death they must all be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth. This is the divine declaration: "God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. Because there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." -- 1 Timothy 2:3-5.
(48) This view of our Heavenly Father's personal attributes, as indicated, and exemplified in his dealings with our race in the past, and in the declarations of his Word in respect to his future dealings, is cheering and encouraging and helpful to all those who are truly sons of God, begotten of his Spirit. -- Romans 8:14,18,19.
(49) The Sodomites did indeed suffer loss in that they were cut off from life a little sooner than they would otherwise have been. Nevertheless, eventually they would have died anyway. The good news is that they have been redeemed by the one sacrifice for all; but when granted their full opportunity in due time, in the times of restoration, if they are then negligent and will not listen to the voice of the Great King of glory, they will suffer the vengeance of cutting off again, and that without remedy, for from the Second Death there is no redemption, no recovery. (Hebrews 10:26) The principle that now operates in the judgment of the saints of this age is the same that will operate during the thousand years of Christ's reign in conjunction with the whole world. The only difference being that the trial of the sainst in this age is in surroundings not congenial to righteousness. -- Philippians 2:15.
(50) In the Old Testament times, Jehovah instituted a special arrangement with a nation whereby they could be released from the condemnation of death. This occurred at Mount Sinai, when God entered into a special covenant with the nation of Israel though Moses, the Mediator of the Law Covenant. There an offer of eternal life was presented to that nation upon the condition that they should keep the divine law perfectly, completely, in letter and in spirit. Thus the apostle Paul says "that the man who does those things will live by them." -- Romans 10:5.
(51) Under that law covenant, with Moses as mediator, typical sacrifices were offered for sins. Since Moses was a sinner and under the condemnation of death, the sacrifices represented Moses justified. In turn, Moses, in this condition, represented typically the Messiah, the comings world's Mediator. (Hebrews 9:16-26) Nevertheless, even Moses could not counted as justfied apart from the blood of Jesus; thus, his justification (as well as all who were reckoned as justified through faith in the Old Testament) was prospective of the coming sacrifice of the sinless man, Jesus.
(52) After the sacrifices had been offered and their blood had been sprinkled on the Law, as representing God and his side of the covenant, and upon the people, as representing their side of the covenant, then the crisis, trial or judgment of that people began, to determine whether or not they could and would keep the Law Covenant, and if they were successful, to reward them by making them God's Kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth. But if they would fail in their trial or judgment, it would mean the loss of their privilege and their remaining under the death sentence, not having attained life under the law. The trial of that nation -- its crisis -- lasted for about 1,525 years and terminated on the day that our Lord Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, was rejected by them, and pronounced the sentence against them indicating that their the epoch of their trial or judgment had terminated. He stated: "Your house is left unto you desolate. You will not see me until the time comes when you will say: `Blessed is he who comes in the name of Jehovah.'" (Luke 13:35) Their crisis being ended, nothing remained except to note the results which were found to be as follows:
(53) 1) By the deeds of the Law no flesh can be justified. (Romans 3:20) Therefore it follows that every member of that nation was condemned according to the Law. But this condemnation was a continuation of the original sentence of death, it was not a new sentence. It simply meant that they failed to gain life under the Law, for they were not able to keep the Law. But as the apostle Paul shows us that there was a small class which, while failing to keep the Law Covenant because of weakness of the flesh, exercised throughout that age, a faith toward God which was pleasing and acceptable to him. These are recounted to us in Hebrews 11:1-40 and are described as those who out of weakness were made strong and who through faithfulness to God endured various tribulations, rejoicing therein and trusting for a share in a better resurrection than they would otherwise have received. After setting forth this lesson Paul declared: "These all died in faith not having received the promise." (Hebrews 11:13); and he assures us that they can never be made perfect without Jehovah's saints of this Gospel (Good News) Age.
(54) 2) Another result as respects that nation was that several thousand of the Jews, lifted out of depths of degradation through the instruction of the Law, were so developed in heart as to be recognizable as Israelites of faith. (John 1:47) These were granted the first opportunity for entering upon a new trial of a new epoch, which began with our Lord's baptism and which still continues.
(55) As for the remainder of the Jews the Scriptures assure us that they were cast off for a time from all special favor and relationship with God, but with the divine promise that later on they will again receive God's favor and under it evenutally become the leading nation of earth during the Millennial judgment or trial. Meantime, note that the nation at large was cast off from divine favor, and certain responsibility for unappreciated and unused opportunities lay against it, as a penalty for which a great time of trouble came upon that nation, resulting in their complete overthrow nationally in the years 70 - 73 CE. Their rejection of their Messiah did not however, bring any new sentence of death upon them as individuals. They simply remained under the wrath which has been upon mankind since Adam disobeyed, howbeit many did receive a speedy execution of that judgment. (John 12:47,48; 3:36)
The Day of Jehovah's Wrath
(56) Now we come to the scriptures that speak of the day of Jehovah's wrath, when his wrath upon mankind is being brought to an end. (Revelation 6:17) The day of his wrath is spoken of as coming in the blowing of the seventh trumpet and consisting of seven "vials" or "bowls." (Revelation 11:15; 15:7) The last bowl results in the destruction of Babylon the Great, a woman representing the false religious promises of Satan as begun in the Garden of Eden and which have extended all over the world. (Genesis 3:4,5; Revelation 12:9; 16:19) The destruction of those individuals who make up Satan's seed, those under God's wrath, is also depicted as taking place as part of the last vial. (Revelation 19:17-19, 21) Much of this is probably symbolic; nevertheless the execution upon those under God's wrath is still, however, an execution of the original sentence given in the garden of Eden -- death. We note, however, that the various systems of Satan receive a different sentence. Under the symbolism of a beast and false prophet, these systems are spoken of as being thrown into the "lake of fire and brimstone," referring to the lake of fire and brimstone outside the walls of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna. (Revelation 19:20) According to historical references to this valley in Jesus' day, fires were continuously kept burning in this valley by the addition of brimstone (sulphur), so that Jesus spoke of the "fire that does not die out," or as the King James Version says, "not quenched." (Mark 9:43-48) Now we know that the fires in the valley of Jerusalem no longer exist, so we must look upon to these Bible references as symbolic. So what does the lake of fire symbolize? Jesus spoke of those things thrown into Gehenna as "destroyed." (Matthew 10:28) Thus Revelation 19:20 is referring to the destruction of Satan's systems that are symbolically spoken of the false prophet and a certain beast. These systems, as such, were produced out of the symbolic sea and earth of sinful mankind under the condemnation of death through Adam. (Revelation 13:2,11) Nevertheless, it is human beings who are collectively under the condemnation of death and sheol/hades; as a result of sin, all of mankind's works are indeed subject to the present sun of vanity; this does not mean that any system produced by man is also condemned to hades. It is only human beings that are depicted as going into hades, not the systems that Satan produces through humans. Since all those in hades come forth in the resurrection, if the symbol of hades had been used to designate the destruction of the systems symbolized in Revelation, it would have meant that these systems would also be raised for judgment in the last day. However, as systems, these were never under the condemnation in Adam, and thus, since they are not raised in the judgment day, the more correct symbol is the "lake of fire," which represents the second death, which designates their eternal destruction.
(57) But notice that the individuals associated with these systems are not spoken of as going into the second death. These have never been released from Adamic death, and therefore cannot be given the execution of second death. The destruction that comes upon the peoples of nations is the execution of the original sentence given in the garden of Eden, and is the destruction spoken of as the broad road to destruction which all nations have been traveling since Adam's disobedience. (Romans 3:11-15; Matthew 7:18) As Jehovah turns the nations to destruction, he also says: "Return, you children of men!" (Psalm 90:3) Therefore the judgment remains the same at the end of the age as Jesus said stated concerning those disbelievers in his day: "If any man hears my words, does not believe, I do not judge him; for I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that will judge him. The word that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day." (John 13:47,48) "He who disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God [through Adam] remains upon him." -- John 3:36.
Judgment of the Nations
The Individuals Thereof
(58) Jesus therefore tells us that the individual judgment of all those who do not now believe will be in the "last day," being that the wrath of God remains upon them. Since the wrath of God remains upon them, many of them, as individuals, will receive the execution of that wrath in the "war of the Great Day of God the Almighty" at Armageddon. The execution to be finalized at that time, however, is a result of the collective judgment that began in the Garden of Eden. Thus when Jesus spoke of that coming destruction he said: "At that time two will be out in the field; one will be taken away, and one will be left. -- Two will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left." (Matthew 24:40,41) Those left we understand to be dedicated Christians who, by faith, no longer reside under God's wrath. Those taken, like the antediluvians outside of God's favor, are taken in death, as a result of God's wrath which remains upon them. (See verse 39; see also Isaiah 24:6; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:3; 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; John 3:36) These come out of the great tribulation, having lived through it, because they had washed their robes in the blood of the lamb. (Revelation 7:14) The scripture says concerning the time of final execution under the curse: "the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." (Isaiah 24:6) A few people could be thousands, or as compared with the billions now living, it could be millions of people left.
(59) When Jesus returns, one of the first things he does is to complete the sealing of his bride, the 144,000 who are not only heirs of God, but joint-heirs with Christ. These are part of the Israelites by faith. (Revelation 7:1-8; 19:7,8; Matthew 24:31) After obtaining his bride and returning from the wedding, others join with them in the marriage supper. (Revelation 19:9; Luke 12:35-40; Matthew 25:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17) While the world is thrown into the fiery furnace of the tribulation, the false servants of God are separated from the true wheat by being thrown in the symbolic furnace of the time of trouble; after this, God's true wheat is is gathered into God's symbolic barn. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) Eventually God's righteous ones, justified by faith in Jesus, will shine as the sun (Matthew 13:43) in as God's kingdom fills the whole earth, bringing healed to the devastated nations. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 22:2) It is during the time of trouble that the nations are gathered, not for judgment, but for the execution of judgment. "For my decision is to gather nations to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all the heat of my anger; for in the fire of my jealous wrath all the earth shall be consumed." (Zephaniah 3:8, Revised Standard Version ) This execution of judgment, upon the nations as a whole who are condemned in Adam, however, is not the final judgment, but rather it is the result of the judgment through Adam. The world still has to face the final judgment in the "last day".
The "Last Day" -- The Day of Judgment
(60) The "last day" is spoken of as the day when the dead return. (John 6:39-54) Jesus also said that unbelievers would be judged in the "last day." Therefore the "last day", the day of the world's resurrection, and the "day of judgment" are all one and the same. This great judgment day will be the second great judgment day for mankind. -- Thus we read: "He has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; of this he has given a guarantee unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:31) That the resurrection of Jesus is God's assurance to us that the world will have a general judgment, must seem peculiar to the majority of traditional Christians and others who have so long been taught that the day of judgment is synonymous with the day of eternal doom for all who are without Christ.
(61) Nor should we think of this day as a 24-hour day, but as a day on a larger scale, which the apostle Peter calls a "day of Jehovah," saying: "Brothers, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that a day with Jehovah is as a thousand years." -- 2 Peter 3:8.
(62) Most reasoning people have probably realized that there was something incongruous in the ordinary conception of the day of judgment which has been handed down through traditions: a 24-hour day, in which we are told Jesus would sit upon the circle of the earth while the earth revolved, and that during that time He would judge the world of mankind respecting their words and thoughts and doings of the present life. When we notice that the time necessary for a single case in an ordinary court of law we might wonder how it could be possible for our glorious Redeemer to judge all of the billions of our race in such a brief space of time. The more we look at it the more ridiculous the entire statement grows, until common sense declares that it is totally unreasonable; and then turning to the Bible, to which we should have looked at first, we find that no such thing is there declared, but on the contrary a thousand-year day for the world's judgment.
"Krino" Signifies to Discern
(63) The word judge in Acts 17:31 does not necessarily mean to render judgment, as in the case already tried and determined; the Greek word is transliterated as krino, and signifies to discern, to reach a decision. True, there will be a decision reached in the end of that Millennial Age, that decision will go into execution, too; but the thought of the word krino is that of trial rather than of verdict. The ordinary thought among traditional Christians respecting this text is that the trial takes place in the present life; that none of the trial goes beyond the present life into the Millennial Age; it is generally assumed that a decision is reached as soon as one dies, and that the future could in no sense change or alter that decision. This is wholly a mistake, as every Greek scholar must admit upon examination of the word transliterated as krino.
(64) Let us now look at the matters from the scriptural viewpoint. The world has already completed its first trial, failed and received a condemnation. The trial took place in Eden: Adam our first father, was the representative of himself and his race in the trial. He failed, and was sentenced to death, and the whole world, his posterity, are still resting under the incubus of his sentence: "Dying, you must die." This condemnation essentially was: you are unworthy of eternal life which was offered to you in the beginning -- your disobedience has proven you unworthy. As we look about us we see that none of the race has improved and reached perfection -- rather,.on the contrary, the course of the race in general has been downward, and the scriptural assurance is: "There is none righteous, no not one." -- Romans 3:10.
(65) If then the whole world is already condemned to death -- if all were born in sin and thus from birth have been under the sentence of death, what kind of a judgment further would they need? What more condemnation could they receive from Jehovah than that already against them? Surely we are not to suppose that God doubts the wisdom of his own decision, which the Scriptures express so forcefully, and that He will try matters again to see whether or not any mistake was made in His original decision. The Supreme Court of the Universe is infallible; its decision beyond repeal; its sentence is "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) For thousands of years this penalty has been inflicted. There could be no hope of a change upon the part of the great Judge. We see, then, that any thought of a repetition of the original trial and sentence is inconsistent, and hence the day of judgment spoken of in Acts 17:31 must refer to a new trial.
Grant of a New Trial
(66) But on what grounds could the great Supreme Judge of the Universe grant a new trial to Adam and his family? We reply that, since he could not rescind His own just sentence, the only consideration upon which a new trial could be granted would be that the penalty of the original trial should somehow first be met and canceled. And this is exactly what did take place: "By one man's disobedience sin entered the world, and death as a result of sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." -- have inherited the sin, are sinners. (Romans 5:12) But now the Messiah has died for the ungodly -- has redeemed Adam, and incidentally, all of his posterity involved in his transgression. -- Hence the Scriptures assure us that God can be just and yet be the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. -- Romans 3:26.
(67) Here notice that the apostle (in Acts 17:31) refers right back to our Lord's great transaction, his great redemptive work and how that, after he had died for our sins, God raised him from the dead. The apostle further declares that in so doing, God gave us an assurance of his intention to grant another trial to the race of Adam and that this Jesus who died for Adam and his race is, by divine appointment, the Judge and Mediator through whom all the condemned ones, if they will, may return to the full perfection of harmony with their Creator, and the eternal life which he is pleased to give to all those who are obedient to his laws.
The Necessity of Another Judgment
(68) The first judgment was based on the act of one man, the effects of which extended to all of his posterity all lost, all were condemned, all went into death. (Romans 5:12-19) The divine standard can never alter; a sinner can never have eternal life, either in heaven or elsewhere. Eternal life is a gift of God, and he will give it to none except those who please him. The divine proposition is, to give to Adam and every member of his race a full individual opportunity for returning to harmony with God, and thus to a recovery to all that was lost through the original fall -- with added blessings in the case of the faithful followers of Jesus in the present age. This is the Good News! -- that there is a hope of eternal life through Christ. Several thousand years had elapsed before our Redeemer was born upon the earth, yet in all that time none of Adam's race had escaped from death, and only a few had any knowledge of the divine intention to provide a Savior and Redeemer and ultimately to roll away the curse and bring in blessings through Him.
(69) Those few were of the Abrahamic line, the Israelite line. But even to them the reckoning of eternal life was never stated, though it was indirectly hinted at through the Law. Had any of them been fully obedient to the Law, then everlasting life would have been through the Law, but due to the weakness of the flesh, no one gained eternal life through obeidence to the Law, thus, any reckoning of justification, even the Old Testaments times was given based on the coming sacrifice of Jesus. (Luke 20:38; Acts 13:39; Romans 2:13; 3:4-28; 8:3; Galatians 2:16) Thus the Scriptures declare that our Lord brought life and incorruption to light through the Good News -- its full meaning was not brought to light before amongst mankind, since no human had lived a sinless life. (2 Timothy 1:10) At his birth the angels declared that they were messengers of Good News, which would have its fulfillment through the newborn babe, saying: "We bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." -- Luke 2:10,11.
(70) The apostle declares that these good tidings for our race are the tidings of salvation -- not salvation from the torture of demons nor from the eternal torment, but salvation from sin and its death penalty. This salvation implied two things: -1- The sinner must be reformed in heart and begotten again to newness of life; -2- the sinner must be raised up out of the present death conditions -- brought back to full perfection of life as it was enjoyed before the sentence or curse came upon all mankind. This is salvation in the broadest meaning of the term, and the apostle declares, which salvation began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that there was no offer of such a salvation, no basis upon which it could be offered, until Christ, as our Redeemer, our Savior, brought life and incorruption to light. Still, nothing that he said and nothing that the apostles said warrant us in believing that this salvation will allow life eternal to be retained by any except the willing and obedient. This salvation, indeed, we are assured, is applied to Adam and every member of his race, but it will be for each one of them to accept or reject the terms of the new covenant that would allow them to retain life everlasting. The good tidings of joy will be to all people, but it will mean eternal incorruptible life only to those who prove their love and obedience to him -- those who obey the great Redeemer (who is also the Teacher, the King and the Judge) will, after the final judgment, depart into eternal life, while those who prove themselves incorrigible will depart into eternal punishment. -- Matthew 25:46.
(71) In harmony with this thought the preaching of the Good News began with Jesus, and has progressed amongst his followers ever since. We perceive, however strange though it be, that the truth has never been popular, that not many believed in the Redeemer himself, that not many believed the message of the apostles, that the great growth -- amongst the followers of Christ came when an admixture of error was added to the Good News. And so we find today that, in proportion as the error is combined with the truth, the larger are the numbers and the lower is the Scriptural standard so far as faith and heart-obedience is concerned. We find now, as in our Redeemer's day, that not many great, now many wise, not many learned, not many noble have Jehovah's favor, but chiefly the poor of the world, rich in faith, are called to be heirs of the Kingdom.
Judgment of the Favored
(72) It is not difficult to prove from the facts as well as from the Scriptures that Jehovah has a favored people who are in the world at the present time -- that, as during the Jewish Age, the seed of Abraham according to the flesh were Jehovah's favored people, and as the apostle declared, a `Jew had much advantage in every way, mainly in that to them were committed the oracles of God.' (Romans 3:2) So during the Christian era, there is still a selection according to God's favor, as the apostle points out -- only a certain class of the world is being dealt with. The great mass of mankind are not being favored with the necessary information and opportunity to come into harmony with Jehovah at the present time. We know that some, ignorant of the Scriptures and short-sighted in their view of the conditions of the world, may dispute this, but it will stand examination from both standpoints.
(73) Notice how frequently our Lord declares that only some have the ear to hear. (Matthew 7:14; 13:9,13-18,43; Mark 4:9,12,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; John 10:3,16) This means that only those are called. And he assures us that even amongst the called only a comparatively few will be chosen to be of the joint-heirs with Christ, the bride of the Lamb. (Matthew 22:1-14; Romans 8:17) The prophet Isaiah holds forth a similar thought, assuring us of a future time coming, when the wilderness will blossom as a rose, namely, the Millennial Age, when all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. (Isaiah 35:5) He thus implies that at the present time many eyes are closed and many ears are stopped, so that the majority of mankind now do not see and do not hear, do not appreciate, the things which God has revealed to a special class: only "the called according to his purpose." -- 2 Timothy 1:9; Isaiah 29:10; see also our study: The Restoration of All Things.
(74) The apostle Paul also refers to the matter in the same way, only more explicitly, telling us that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that do not believe, lest the light of the glorious good news of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine upon them." (2 Corinthians 4:4) This implies that generally the whole world was in blindness, but that by God's grace his message through Jesus and his disciples comes as an eye-salve to some, but not to all. The vast majority, blinded by the adversary, by false doctrines, selfishness, weakness, depravity, superstition, etc., are utterly blind and ignorant respecting the true qualities of God and of his Son, and the plan for his vindication through the salvation being worked out on their behalf. As the apostle declares: "The world does not know us, even as it did not know him." (1 John 3:1) We are not therefore to say that God has blinded the world, but rather, as the apostle does, that it is the adversary who has brought this blindness of heart upon mankind, which hinders their knowing, loving and appreciating God's love and offer of salvation.
(75) We therefore ask this question: Why should God provide a great feast of fat things through the sacrifice of his Son, and yet not make provision that all of the unenlightened human family of Adam should hear of it? The very thought seems incongruous. He who loved the whole world so as to give his only begotten Son as their redemption price surely should love them all to such an extent that he would give them all the proper knowledge of that Son -- the knowledge necessary to their appreciation of him, and of his work, and of their privilege of return to harmony with their Creator and to everlasting life. We search the scriptures to ascertain the secret of this peculiarity, and are there informed that Jehovah is now calling a peculiar people, a cream class as it were, from the world of mankind into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9,10) From amongst these called ones, God first chooses a bride for his Son; secondarily others are chosen to be bridesmaids, princesses, princes in all the earth, etc. -- Matthew 25:1-13; Psalm 45:14-15.
Judgment of the House of God
(76) What happens to those whose eyes of understanding open in this age? What blessing comes to them? We answer: A blessing of knowledge and hope, but also of trial. In proportion to their knowledge they have a responsibility toward God. They are on trial for life or death everlasting. In proportion as they respond to the love and grace of God by obedience to His will and by growth in Christlikeness, in that same proportion do they receive various rewards or chastisements. (Matthew 24:45-50; Luke 12:42-48) While the general principle of Luke 12:42-48 has been true throughout this age, yet the context (verses 35-39) shows that its special application is here in the end of the age, with its culmination after the wedding ceremony has taken place. Thus we ascertain that its participants are not of the bride class, but rather representative of Christians waiting for Christ to return from the wedding here in the end of the age. See our study on "The Faithful and Wise Servant and Other Servants", and also our study on The Parable of the Four Servants. The point is that only those who eyes and ears see and hear in this age are now on trial -- being judged. The remainder of mankind, whom the god of this world has blinded, are not on trial, are not being judged now, but are already judged in Adam.
(77) Let us prove this. First, the whole world is under the original Adamic sentence, and cannot be released from that sentence except by faith in the Son of God as the Redeemer -- a faith based on a reasonable degree of knowledge. Only by the exercise of this faith and obedience do any pass from under the condemnation that came upon all through Adam into the justification which comes to believers through Christ; second, the whole world is still under the Adamic condemnation; as the apostle declares, only believers have escaped it. Should no opportunity be given to the world to come to enlightenment on the subject they could never escape that condemnation -- could never be rid of the original sentence of death -- could never, therefore, go on trial again.
`God's Hand Is Not Short'
"Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear." -- Isaiah 59:1.
(78) Some tell us that God is doing all in His power for the world, to bring mankind to a knowledge of the truth, of His grace and the opportunities of eternal life through His Son. We believe no such thing -- it is contrary to both reason and Scripture. Jehovah through His Word not only informs us that Satan is operating in the world in opposition to the light of truth, and blinding the masses, but we are also assured that God has full power over Satan, and that when His due time comes Satan will be bound, restrained, so that he will not deceive the nations until the thousand years are finished and that for the entire thousand years of the Millennial Age the world will be free from all such blinding influences. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3; Isaiah 29:18,24) The Scriptures assure us that though darkness now covers the earth, society, and gross darkness the people, yet in God's due time the light of Truth will mount up high in the heavens as the Sun of Righteousness, to scatter the darkness and clouds of sin and superstition, and that thus from two standpoints a blessing will come by restraining the powers of darkness and by setting free the powers of light. Of that time we are further assured that the knowledge of Jehovah will fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. -- Isaiah 60:2; Malachi 4:2; Isaiah 11:9.
(79) Those who think of God as having done all that is in His power to cause the knowledge of His grace and truth to fill the earth have not yet come to understand the power of Jehovah's hand. It is not shortened, as he tells us in due time all His purposes will be accomplished. (Jeremiah 51:29) The difficulty with mankind is in shortsightedness -- the feeling that more should be done at the present time. We need to be calm, and to sink into Jehovah's will. Instead of attempting to tell Jehovah how we think his plan for the glorification of his name and the salvation of man should be carried out, and instead of attempting to carry out our own plans irrespective of the divine arrangement, we should as obedient children listen to the voice of our Father through His Son and through the apostles and prophets, assuring us that in His due time the message of salvation will be good tidings of great joy to all people -- assuring us that now He is doing a preparatory work, finding and developing His jewels, those who will constitute the judges and governors of that coming age of glory. (Malachi 3:17; Luke 19:15-19; Isaiah 32:1) As soon as mankind has completely learned the lessons pertaining to the rulership of sin and death, then He will work through his chosen servants of this age to the fulfillment of His great and glorious plan, which is not merely for the salvation of those called in this age, but for the salvation of the whole world that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely. -- 1 Timothy 4:10; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 22:17.
The World's Judgment
(80) Who do not see then that the judgment or trial of the world in general cannot begin until the eyes of their understanding are opened, and that God will not set into operation the general plan for the opening of all the blind eyes and the unstopping of all the deaf ears until first they have seen the far extremes of where government by sinful man will lead. Then Jesus, the Bride of Christ and all who have been favored of God in this age will shine forth for the blessing of the world when Satan will first have been bound.
(81) Thus Paul spoke concerning that time saying: "He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. Of this he has given a guarantee to all, in that He has raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:31) This verse does not refer to the judgment of the called-out ones of this age, which takes place in advance, and which was already in progress when the apostle uttered these words. It does not refer to the judgment of Church as a part of the judgment of the world. On the contrary, He assures us that if we are faithful we will not come into judgment with the world in the end of this age, but will be counted as not as "children of wrath," but as "children of the day," "children of God by faith." -- Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.
(82) Looking at Acts 17:31 again, we see that it refers to the entire matter of the world's judgment as future from the apostle's day. It is still future from our day, though very near at hand. Thus we believe that the great Sun of Righteousness will soon be revealed, and the shadows of the dark night of sin and superstition and ignorance will begin to flee away. We can no longer wonder that Jehovah, through the prophets, spoke so joyfully of this coming judgment of the world as a great blessing, saying: "Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad! Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof! Let the field be joyful and all that is therein! Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before Jehovah! For He is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth! He will judge the world with righteousness and the people with His truth!" -- Psalm 95:10-13
(83) Whoever gets the right conception of this word judge, "krino," sees clearly that it means that Jehovah will deliver even the poor of mankind from death to be given a trial, no matter how degraded, no matter how fallen through sin, superstition and ignorance. The divine plan is so wide and so deep and so broad that every member of Adam's race will have a full opportunity of coming to a knowledge of the truth that he may obey and live forever. He cannot receive eternal life in ignorance; he cannot receive eternal life without the eyes of his understanding being opened, and God's arrangement is that they all will see. Then all will know Jehovah from the least to the greatest, and then under the blessing of that knowledge they will be on trial. If after they know Jehovah and know of His righteousness and its reward, and of the penalty of sin -- if then they choose disobedience willfully, persistently, intelligently, they will die the Second Death, "everlasting destruction from the presence [face] of the Lord and the glory of His power" -- in which these will be no hope, from which there will be no resurrection. -- 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
"The Saints Will Judge The World"
(84) It is in full agreement with this line of thought and in disagreement with every other thought on this subject that the apostle declares: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Corinthians 6:2) Here he distinctly differentiates between the Church and the world. The saints, he tells us, are being judged now -- every son whom Jehovah receives is disciplined, corrected, proven, that only the faithful may receive the higher honors, and that all may be the more wiser in whatever reward he may receive from Jehovah. But the world, he distinctly tells us, is not on judgment now -- not on trial -- but will be on trial in the future; and when the world will be on trial the saints [dedicated ones] will be the judges. (Hebrews 12:6,7; 1 Corinthians 11:32) Having already passed trial themselves, the saints will be the judges under Christ as the great Judge -- the judges of the world during its trial time, during the millennial kingdom reign.
(85) We should rid our minds of the thought that the day of judgment is merely a time for sentencing for wrong doing and the blindness of the present life of the world, and should see clearly that, on the contrary, whatever there is in the present life that is of ignorance, of blindness, of superstition, that comes to all through the fall and through the power of the adversary, all this is to be forgiven men, is to be blotted out, if they accept Jehovah and His gracious arrangements, just as these ignorances and blemishes are in the present time forgiven the disciples of Jesus, and we who believe are counted as free from all condemnation though our Redeemer's merit and sacrifice. So the people blinded of this world, when they come to a knowledge of Jehovah and an appreciation of His arrangement, will be cleared of responsibility for original sin and all the blemishes coming from it, and will be helped by Jehovah and the glorified Church out of all these blemishes, according to the promise of His word, that this will be a time of restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. -- Acts 3:21.
The Sheep and Goats
Matthew 25:31-46
(86) Christian people have held various views of the parable of the sheep and goats, some claiming that the parable has been in process of fulfillment ever since Christ was on the earth and that it will be finished at the second coming of Christ. This view is shown to be erroneous by the first verse of the parable, which definitely locates the time of its fulfillment. It begins during the time of the second advent of Christ, as is clearly intimated by the words: "When the Son of man will come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne; and all nations will be gathered before him." These momentous events have not yet occurred, and consequently the parable still belongs to the future.
(87) Another interpretation given to the parable by some is that at the second advent of Christ, on the very day of his arrival, all the billions of the dead will come forth and, together with the living, will all arrange themselves before Jesus, and that during that 24-hour day he, as the great King, will separate the sheep class from the goat class, gathering all the sheep to the right hand and all the goats to the left hand.
(88) This interpretation is not very satisfactory to anybody because, first, it implies that Jesus will not have already made any determination as respects those who are his and those who are not. (John 10:14) If we fit this interpretation to the usual but erroneous teaching that all the dead are either in heaven with God and the angels or in some nether world with demons and flames, it would imply that they were dealt with before they were judged. It further implies that some who had gone to heaven and been there for centuries should have been in the other place, and other who had possibly gone to the other place by mistake should have gone to heaven, and this parable shows the time and manner in which Jesus will finally determine as to whether or not any serious mistakes had occurred and endeavor to rectify them. Moreover this view supposes God to be fallible, or else supposes a gathering of millions from heaven and hell to this earth again for no particular purpose, merely for a spectacular display which could alter nothing. This view as a whole is farcical, for it would be absurd to think of any kind of a judgment of the whole world or a separative gathering into two companies all over the earth in a 24-hour day. True, this is the prevailing view, but that proves nothing as respects its truthfulness or its reasonableness. It is to the discredit of theologians in general that any could entertain such a thought for a moment, or suppose that the Almighty and his glorified Son would participate in such a useless sham.
(89) A more recent view has been presented by the Watchtower leaders, beginning with "Judge" Rutherford. The earlier Watch Tower taught very similar to what we are here presenting. But after the death of Brother Charles T. Russell, "Judge" Rutherford began to form a new organization. To induce others to submit to this "organization," he brought forth a new teaching to cause fear in all in the "Bible Student" fellowship. Basically, the idea was that all who oppose Judge Rutherford's new teachings would be of the "goat" class and all who agreed with his doctrine would be of the "sheep" class. All then, who would not bow to his teachings, would be eternally destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon. Thus he set up a "golden calf" for all under his influence to worship. This "golden calf" was none other than the Watchtower organization leaders, especially himself.
(90) The Watchtower leaders little by little left the teaching that the sheep in this parable are the Millennial sheep. In time the Watchtower began to teach that these sheep are the "great multitude" who pass through Armageddon. However, this interpretation cannot follow through. Why not? Because, as we have shown, the individual judgment of the world is not yet. The time when the nations are gathered for individual judgment is during the Millennial reign of Jesus. Remember that Jesus said: "I am coming as a light into the world, that whosoever believes in me should not remain in darkness. And if any man hears my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that judges him -- the words that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day." (John 12:46-48)To say that God is judging individuals now for eternal life or eternal death when he wasn't when Jesus was here on the earth is beyond reason. Today the world is filled with more deceptions, more corruptions, and more confusion than ever before. Of all generations, the present generation should be considered the foremost generation in need of being liberated from its darkness and receiving the light of truth. Yet the present stand of the Watchtower would deny this. In the Watchtower book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth , we find this statement: "After Armageddon no part of this wicked world will remain. Only persons who serve God will continue to live." (page 155) While we could agree with this statement as it stands, the application of the sheep and goats to the present age would mean that all who fail to understand, believe, or obey the Watchtower teachings are going off into eternal destruction, which we deny. On page 183 of the same Watchtower book we read:
Will you be there to enjoy the good things that Jehovah God has in store? This will depend on whether you survive an earlier judgment day, namely the present `day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.' -- 2 Peter 3:7.
Yes, since Christ returned and sat down on his heavenly throne, all humankind has been on judgment. This present `day of judgment' comes before the 1,000-year Judgment Day as `goats' will be destroyed because they fail to help Christ's anointed `brothers' in their service to God. In time, these `goats' show themselves to be unrepentant sinners, wicked, hardened in their practice of unrighteousness. The `sheep,' on the other hand, will be blessed with life under the Kingdom rule because they support Christ's `brothers' in every way. -- Matthew 25:31-46."
(91) Thus is laid the groundwork for obtaining the absolute obedience of unwary newcomers to their organization. On page 193 of the same book it is claimed that their organization is headed by a few of Christ's "brothers" who have been appointed as the "faithful and discreet slave class." (Matthew 24:45-47)
(92) "On his return in Kingdom power in the year 1914, did Christ find a `faithful and discreet slave' class providing spiritual `food,' or information? Yes he found such a `slave' class providing spiritual `food,' or information? Yes, he found such a `slave' made up of the remaining ones on earth of his 144,000 `brothers.' (Revelation 12:10; 14:1,3) And since 1914 millions of persons have accepted the `food' they provide, and have begun practicing true religion with them. This organization of God's servants is known as Jehovah's witnesses."
(93) Imagine now how those who know nothing, or very little, of the truth about the ransom could easily become frightened into obedience to these religious leaders! But does the Watchtower present the correct understanding of the parable of the "sheep and goats?" No. The gathering of the nations here takes place by restoring them to life so that they may be judged, not by their past works, but by their works as related to the books that will then be opened. (Revelation 20:11-13). It is not the gathering of nations that takes place at Armageddon for the executing of God's judgment as begun upon man through Adam. "`Therefore wait for me,' says Jehovah, `until the day I rise up for plunder, my determination is to gather the nations, to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, all my fierce anger. All the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." (Zephaniah 3:8) This is just before or at the beginning of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus, when God executes judgment upon all the ungodly. This same period is when the day of Jehovah comes as a thief upon the world. The execution of judgment at that time is to convince the ungodly of their sins, thus indicating that their destruction is not eternal but rather for the purpose of disciplining. (Jude 1:15; 2 Peter 3:7,10) It is during this transition period that Satan's world is destroyed. It is not until after the destruction of this present evil world that Jehovah `turns to the peoples a pure language.' (Zephaniah 3:9) The Watchtower leaders have to admit that the peoples of the world are still being blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4) It is not until after Satan is bound and the veil of blindness is removed that it can truly be said that the nations have received a pure language. (Isaiah 25:6-7; Revelation 20:3) And the method of gathering the nations at that time will be through the awakening of the dead, in the day when many will be turned to righteousness. -- Revelation 20:11-13; Daniel 12:2,3.
(94) And thus we have the proper setting for the judgment of the sheep and the goats. The "sheep" of the parable are not the sheep of the present age, whom the Master knows and who know the Master. (John 10:14) Rather these are the "other sheep" who are not of the fold that recognize the Master in the present age. They are brought forth out of death. These become the sheep of the next age. These do not inherit a place in the ruling house of God, but do inherit the kingdom prepared from the founding of the world, the kingdom that was prepared for Adam and which he lost. (Matthew 25:34; Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:3-8; Hebrews 2:6-8) These inherit these promises, not after Armageddon, but after the final eternal destruction of the wicked which takes place after the thousand-year reign of Christ, the day which God has appointed "in which he will judge the world in righteousness." -- Revelation 20:7-9; Psalm 37:9-11; Acts 17:31.
(95) The work of individual judgment here described is upon those of the nations, that is, those outside Jehovah's favor. Thus Jesus describes the work of the Millennial Age: "All nations will be gathered before him." The "great multitude of Revelation 7 cannot be included in the parable of the sheep and goats. Why not? Because they come out of the nations and become God's people during the present evil world. They are part of God's "called-out" class, his church. The people of the nations who do not become part of the "great multitude" simply remain under God's wrath as placed upon them through Adam. (John 3:36) After Armageddon's destruction, the light will then shine upon all nations as they are gathered from the grave. (John 5:28,29) Then all the blind eyes will be opened, all the deaf ears will be unstopped, and the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah will fill the whole earth. -- Isaiah 35; 11:9.
(96) We might be inclined to think that, with all the blessed favors, privileges, opportunities and knowledge which the Millennial Age will bring to the world, the whole human family would develop into sheep. But the parable teaches to the contrary. There will be some who, even after their eyes and ears will have been opened to see and appreciate something of Jehovah's goodness, will still fail to develop that measure of loving obedience and accord with righteousness which would have his approval. They do not receive the mark as sheep which would entitle them under the divine arrangement at the close of the Millennial Age to be ushered into the everlasting Kingdom of God.
(97) The Scriptures indicate that the gathering to judgment will be a gradual one, not all at the same moment, not all on the same day, not all in the same year. All nations will be gathered, however, including the nations destroyed in Armageddon's battle. Gradually, more and more they will be gathered from the tomb, until all the race will be assembled excepting those who have been favored in advance during this Good News Age. All will see the King in his beauty. All will discern that they are living under the reign of Immanuel. All will realize that the clouds and darkness of this present time of evil, of sin, of Satan, have rolled away and a new dispensation has been inaugurated. Then it will no longer be necessary to suffer for righteousness' sake but only for evil doing. The work of separating will be a gradual one, and will not be fully completed until the close of the Millennial Age. Each member of Adam's race will have a full opportunity for not only receiving instruction in righteousness, but for making his personal decision as respects the same. In other words, each will have an opportunity for the development of personal attributes in God-likeness. Those who refuse or neglect the opportunity for formation into God-likeness prove themselves unworthy of everlasting life and will be amongst the goats, while all who will develop true God-like attributes will be amongst the sheep.
(98) It will be the work of the entire Millennial Age to bring this about. Righteousness will reign then, as sin reigns now. That is to say, it will be in control, in the ascendancy; and whosoever will sin then will suffer promptly. Hence all the nations will be avoiding sin. Then the world in general will be a grand place, where "nothing will hurt or destroy"; where "the inhabitant will not say: `I am sick'"; where the curse will be gradually rolled away, and there will be no more crying, no more sighing, no more dying; and where the blessing of God, bring perfection, will prevail. "Oh happy day!" we exclaim. And surely it will be such; for all who live through those thousand years will have a great blessing. -- Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 11:9; 33:24; 65:25; Revelation 22:3; 21:4.
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See our study:
The Timeframe of Matthew 25:31-46
The Law of Retribution
(99) But, some inquire, what about the sins of the world? Will there be no chastisements, no punishments, for these? We answer that it will be equally just for God to forgive the sins of the world for Christ's sake as it has been just for him to forgive the sins of the disciples of this age for Christ's sake. If the one is just, so will be the other. God is no respecter of persons, and is equally as willing to forgive the sins of the world as the sins of the disciples of Jesus, when the those of the world, repenting from sin, will turn from it, and accept Christ as their Redeemer.
(100) This does not mean, however, that justice is to be ignored. In the case of the disciples of Jesus today, note how the sins of youth may leave their scar and sting to the end of life. The disciples of Jesus in this age may have to continue to fight against tendencies he has acquired or inherited until the day he dies. And so we may reasonably assume that certain strifes, or punishments, will be permitted to follow the world in just the same manner. They will return with the same traits, tendencies, etc., with which they died. The liar will still be prone to lie; the thief will still have a desire to steal; etc. It will be from these weaknesses and frailties that they will be gradually raised up to perfection during these blessed thousand years of Christ's kingdom, when Satan will be bound and not permitted to deceive any during that period. -- Isaiah 26:9; Revelation 20:3.
(101) But what about the heart condition? If conformity to the divine law in an outward way will bring blessings to all, will there not still be a difference between the people -- some coming heartily into accord with the Father, and others merely outwardly into harmony, because this outward harmony will be the way to restoration, perfection?
(102) Undoubtedly this is the correct reasoning. It is along this line that the parable before us teaches; namely, that outwardly the "sheep" and the "goats" will have much the same appearance and demeanor, except to the Judge, the King, who will read the heart and ultimately will manifest to all that there has been a real heart difference between the two classes, all of whom will have been on trial during the thousand years, receiving blessings from the kingdom.
The Basis of Judgment
(103) All the while each individual will be more and more learning how to obey God's law, some ingraining this law in their hearts while others only learn to refrain from sins of violation toward others. Their true character will be fully appreciated by the great Judge, and the individual will be rated as a "sheep" or as a "goat." All the sheeplike ones will thus be received at the right hand of Jesus. All the goatlike ones will be rated as out of favor with Jehovah, even though all the while they will be receiving the blessings of the Millennial kingdom and outwardly rendering obedience to its laws.
(104) Not until the conclusion of the Millennium will the decision of the Judge be manifested. Then great surprise will be shown at his decision -- by both parties. To the "sheep" at his right hand he will say: "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34) When God laid the foundation of the earth it was his design to have it inhabited with perfect, happy humans. (Isaiah 45:12,18) This is not the same kingdom as the Messianic kingdom. On the contrary, it is the kingdom which God gave to Adam, which Adam lost through his disobedience and which Christ redeemed by the sacrifice of himself. (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:4-8; Hebrews 2:7-9) It will be given to those who will have developed complete Godlikeness -- those who have become the Lord's "other sheep" during the Millennium. John 10:16.
(105) Then the other class, the goats of the parable, will be sentenced: "Depart, you cursed ones, into everlasting punishment." Granted all the privileges, blessings and experiences during the thousand years of contact with righteousness, truth and the spirit of God, these, though they had rendered an outward obedience in refraining from sins of violation, but at heart they had not come into harmony with God. They will, therefore, not be recognized as "sheep." Failing in developing pure Godlikeness they cannot be presented to the Father as blameless and irreprovable. They will have to be destroyed. This punishment, however, the final vengeance of God, is the second death, "everlasting destruction." (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9) Their penalty is an everlasting one because there will be no further provision made for their redemption or for a resurrection from the second death. They will have failed utterly to appreciate the goodness of God and to develop into his likeness. Eternal life is only for those who have God's likeness and God's spirit. `The Father is seeking such to worship him in spirit and truth.' -- John 4:23.
(106) Both classes, the "sheep" and the "goats," will be surprised at what the King, the Judge, declares to be the basis of his judgment. To the sheep he will say: "I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me." To the goat class he says: "I was hungry, and you did not give me food. -- I was thirsty, and you did not give me drink. I was a stranger, and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me." -- Matthew 25:35,36,42,43.
(107) Both the "sheep" and "goat" will claim that they had no knowledge of any such experiences. Each asked: When did we do these things, or not do these things? Jesus' reply will be: "Inasmuch as you have done [or have not done] it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done [or not done] it unto me." Matthew 25:40,45.
The "Brothers" Of Christ
(108) Now who are these "brothers" respecting whom there will be a test upon the sheep class and upon the goat class? Will there be people sick, hungry and in prison during the Millennium? Does the Lord wish us to understand that there will be such things then? We have, on the contrary, always assumed that sickness, poverty, hunger and prisons will then be gone forever. What does it all mean?
(109) Let us explain. With the establishment of the kingdom all who come into harmony with it will have the great privilege of doing something to help others. The world is blind and starved now, for lack of spiritual food and the anointing eye-salve of truth. While the Millennial blessings will be showered upon those who accept Jehovah's terms, there will be others who will need assistance. Those who develop within themselves true love will be glad to carry the heavenly message of reconciliation to all humanity, glad to apply the eye-salve to the blind, glad to unstop the ears of the deaf, glad to help the sin-sick back into harmony with God helping them to cover their nakedness with the merit of Christ.
(110) All who will take pleasure in this work will thus be manifesting that they have God's spirit and are co-laborers with him. All these will be the sheep. On the other hand, those who will be careless in respect to their vow, and merely enjoy the Millennial blessings themselves, will be of the goat class and will thus be marking themselves as a "goat." Correspondingly they will be out of favor with the great King of kings, their Judge, the Lord of glory.
(111) Those now sitting in darkness will then be invited to come out of the prison house of darkness. (Isaiah 42:7) When the world is awakened, they will still be sitting in darkness. They will need to be "visited" while yet in this prison so that they may be enlightened and thus be released from that prison house. The "sheep" class will be happy to "visit" these new ones coming forth from the graves in order to assist them. The goats will not be interested in helping others.
(112) But how are these ones coming out of the graves Christ's "brothers?" Some have claimed that the 144,000 (Revelation 7:1-4; 14:1) are the only brothers of Christ. It is true that in a special way the 144,000 become "brothers" to Jesus. But we note also that the apostles Peter and Paul as well as Stephen referred to the Jewish people of their day as their "brothers." (Acts 3:12,17; 7:2; 13:16,26,38; 22:1; 23:1,5,6; 28:17; Romans 9:3) Additionally, Paul included the men of Athens as "offspring of God." (Acts 22:28,29) And since the whole creation is to share in the glorious liberty of the children of God, Jesus shared in the same as the children, that is, "man" referred to in Hebrews 2:6-8, to whom was subjected all things. Man was given dominion over all things in the beginning, but it was lost to him through Adam's disobedience. Thus Hebrews 2:8 tells us that now we do not see all things put under him, that is, mankind. Verses 9 and 14 tell us that Jesus shared the same as the children the offspring of God -- mankind. Thus he is not ashamed to call them his "brothers," (verse 11) "because the creation itself will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21) To be released from this bondage would indicate they will be led by God's spirit, thus becoming sons of God. (Romans 8:14,15) Thus in a broad sense all mankind could be called his brothers, since he partook of the same humanity.
(113) The eternal fire is the fire of God's jealousy or anger, which burns against and destroys everything antagonistic to his righteousness. (Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8) It is, of course, merely a figurative expression representing the destructiveness of God's eternal jealousy for righteousness.
The Rewarding of the Sheep
(114) The rewarding of the sheep and the punishing of the goats will come at the close of the Millennial Age. True, great blessings will be upon all during the Millennial Age, upon each in proportion to his obedience to the divine standards, but only at the close of the age will the full reward be granted. The reward to be granted to those "other sheep" will be the kingdom which God prepared from the foundation of the world, from the time of Adam's creation. That kingdom was given to Adam originally; he was the first king of earth while in the image of his Creator. As it is written of him: "You [Jehovah] have made him a little lower than the gods and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands, you have put all things under his feet." -- Psalm 8:5,6.
(115) By disobedience father Adam lost the rulership and power in his kingdom, and the entire kingdom of God's earthly creation has suffered as a consequence. The reign of Christ during the Millennium will be for the purpose of lifting up so many of mankind as will then desire to come back into full harmony with Jehovah, lifting them up out of the mire of sin and out the miry clay and horrible pit of sin and death, lifting them up to all that Adam was before he sinned -- to the image and likeness of their Creator. This the apostle Paul designates "restoration" (Acts 3:20,21), which he tells us takes place during Christ's return.
(116) But even the obedient of mankind will not be fit to be entrusted with the kingdom of the world until absolute perfection will have been reached, and the perfection of the race will not be attained, as we have seen, until the end of the thousand-year day appointed for the purpose. Then the worthy will be granted the kingdom of earth, the dominion under the whole heavens. With this transfer of the earthly control to the perfect man at that time, Christ's Millennial Kingdom or mediatorial Kingdom will end. In delivering the Kingdom up to the perfect and worthy members of the race he will be delivering it up to the Father, in full harmony with the Father's original arrangement, interfered with by original sin. What the glories of this earth will be when man, the king of the earth, will be restored to the image of his Creator, and when the earth itself will be filled with the glory of God, we cannot begin to completely comprehend in our present state. We can only wonder and praise and adore the loving God, whose provision has been so bountiful for every creature, every member of the fallen race.
The Punishment of the Goats
(117) After the day of Judgment Satan will be loosed from his bonds for a short period of time. (Revelation 20:7) It appears that then those of the goat class will show their true colors as they follow Satan at that time. (Revelation 20:8) It is at the end of this short intermediate period that the goats receive their punishment of "everlasting destruction." In Revelation 20:8 they are pictured as being destroyed by fire that comes down from God out of heaven. Revelation 21:8 speaks of them as `cowardly and unbelieving, having become foul, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, liars,' etc. These have their portion in the second death represented by the "lake of fire." We do not believe that during this short period of time when Satan is released that the goat class will actually be permitted to enter into murder. But our thought is that by their hatred for their fellow-man they show that they have murder in their hearts. Exactly how all this will be fulfilled toward the goat class during the short period of time Satan is let loose we do not presently know. All we can see is that somehow Satan gets the goat class to follow him against God.
(118) Their sentence to eternal destruction evidently occurs just at the close of the 1,000 year reign of Christ. It appears to be delayed for only a short time as they depart into the everlasting fire made ready for the devil and his angels. The everlasting fire represents God's eternal zeal for righteousness and against unrighteousness. At the end of the Millennium it is made ready or prepared to destroy all in opposition to God. But they are allowed a short period of time to prove their opposition. Therefore they are sentenced sometime before they receive their punishment. They receive the sentence of eternal destruction because of failure to develop the spirit of love, for love is the fulfilling of the law. None can meet the divine approval except those whose sentiments will attain to the degree of loving Jehovah with all their hearts, minds, being and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. (Matthew 23:37-40; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14; 6:2) The sheep of the Millennial Age, we may be sure, will attain to this love which God's law marks as the proper measure of God-likeness. The goats of the Millennial Age, we may be equally sure, will be the ones who will not have this God-likeness.
"Into Everlasting Punishment"
(119) The Greek word rendered "everlasting" is not as strong as our English word which represents it. However, on this point we raise no question; it is the same word that is used in referring to everlasting life which will be granted the sheep. It may be well, however, to notice that life, being Jehovah's gift to the sheep, implies that no life will be given to the goats -- it thus implies the kind of punishment which the Scriptures describe, namely, a death punishment, an extinction of life; and this extinction of life will continue forever, as we have seen. Hence while the punishment is everlasting, the second death condemnation does not mean that the person continues to consciously suffer over and over and over for every split second for all eternity; the wages of sin for the first condemnation in Adam was not eternal suffering, for Jesus suffered once, not for eternity to pay those wages of sin. (Hebrews 7:27; 9:26; 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18; 4:1) Likewise, with the second condemnation, only there is no more sacrifice for sin that will cover anyone under the second condemnation, thus the resulting death is an everlasting punishment, signifying a death from which there will be no release. -- Hebrews 10:26.
All Creation Praises Jehovah
(120) With Satan and his demons as well as all the goat class destroyed, what a joyous time all creation will then have! This final victory results in the exaltation of Jehovah as described in Psalm 145:10: "All your works will praise you, O Jehovah!" The whole universe will then be cleansed, so one could diligently seek to find a wicked person, and there would be none. (Psalm 37:10) For "the meek will inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:11) "Let everything that has breath praise Jehovah!" (Psalm 150:6) What a happy time that will be then!
Related Links:
Both Jehovah Judges and His Son Judges
Unbelievers Saved (Delivered) for Judgment in Last Day
Mankind’s Coming Day of Judgment
Ages in the Bible and the Last Day of Judgment
The Third Heaven and Paradise
Whoever Will Call Upon the Name of Jehovah
The Repentance of 2 Peter 3:9e less educated.
(3) In the melee of error the truth is entirely lost sight of. It is high time for all who are sincerely seeking truth to awaken from their slumber. They should learn that the vagaries and inconsistencies of the popular traditional beliefs are in violent opposition to the teachings of the Bible. Further, they are in conflict with reason and with common sense.
(4) Those who have died, as we reveal in our publication Hope of Life After Death, are really dead. They do not pass into any living state of pleasure or torture while dead, for "the dead know not anything." (Ecclesiastes 9:5) "The soul that sins, it shall die." (Ezekiel 18:4,20, Green's Literal Translation) All the dead must wait in death. How long? Until he who paid the death penalty for Adam and his race assumes his power to judge the world. When? During Jesus' second advent when he `sends forth judgment in victory,' as foretold. (Matthew 12:20) Under Christ's beneficent Kingdom the prisoners of sin and death will be set free. (Isaiah 42:7; 29:18) The prison bars of the tomb will surrender the billions of humanity who have gone into it. Thus all under the penalty of Father Adam's sentence: "Dying, you must die," are to be set free. (Genesis 2:17; see KJV margin) Jesus spoke of the time when "all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth -- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment (Greek, krisis )." -- John 5:28,29.
(5) A day of judgment signifies a day or period or epoch of trial, of testing, of proving. After this comes a sentence, favorable or unfavorable to the one tried. A prevailing wrong thought lies mainly in the poor translation of the Greek word krisis, which signifies, in addition to being sentenced, a trial or test leading to a final decision. The Greek word krisis is frequently mistranslated "damnation." Yet its original thought is absorbed into the English language with the similar signification that it has in the Greek namely, trial, decision (or sentence) based on the trial. We are all familiar with the course of fevers. We understand what the doctor means when he tells us the crisis may be reached by the patient on the seventh, fourteenth, twenty-first or twenty-eighth day. We know that he means that it will be the trial time or testing time. It determines whether the power of the fever will break and the patient begin to recover, or whether the disease will get the greater hold and the patient rapidly sink. This is exactly the thought that should attach to the expression Judgment Day or Crisis Day. It refers to a period, long or short, in which a full test is made. A decision follows one way or another for righteousness or for sin.
Mankind's First Judgment Day
(6) The first day of judgment began upon the nations more than 6,000 years ago with the first man, Adam. Out of Adam came all nations of mankind. (Acts 17:26) Adam disobeyed God, bringing judgment upon himself and all nations that have come into existence through him, as we read: "The judgment was by one to condemnation, . . . therefore as by the offense of one [Adam] the judgment was to all men to condemnation." (Romans 5:16,18) The execution of that judgment upon man began with Adam and continues until today, resulting in misery, sickness and death for all. (Romans 5:12) The facts today testify to the truthfulness of that judgment day, for we see its results everywhere. Hence, it is that as a race we are a groaning creation, travailing in pain, going down to sheol, the realm of death. (Romans 8:20-23; Ecclesiastes 9:10) Our only hope of recovery from that original sentence rests in Christ, and his sacrifice for sin. The scriptures assure us that Jesus Christ by the grace [undeserved, unmerited favor] of God tasted death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9) All are thus "bought with a price." Therefore we may hope for a full release from the death sentence in God's due time.
The Execution of the Judgment
(7) So before we are even born, we are already under a judgment, "dying, you must die". We receive the final execution of this judgment when we die. Thus God at various times has carried out this execution against many nations and peoples who would seek to thwart his purposes. "The nations have sunk down in the pit which they made [through Adam's sin]. Their own foot catches in the net which they hid. Yahweh is known by the judgment he executes. The work of his own hands ensnare the wicked one." (Psalm 9:16) The word translated "judgment" here is the Hebrew word often transliterated into English as mishpât , which Strong gives the meaning of "verdict" as well as "justice." The verdict, of course, was given in the Garden of Eden death. The executing of that verdict meant, therefore, the death of the person or persons receiving its execution.
(8) In Ezekiel 5:10,15; 11:9; and 25:11, however, another Hebrew word also indicates the executing of judgment, tranliterated into English as: shephet. Strong gives the first meaning of this word as "a sentence." Again, the sentence is death. All the descendants of Adam are included in this sentence ever since the Garden of Eden. Yahweh simply chose at various times to execute that original sentence of death upon different peoples.
(9) Terms that express the condition brought by this original sentence or judgment of death are the "wrath" and "anger" of Yahweh. "For God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of mankind who extinguish the truth by unrighteousness; because what may be known of God has been made manifest all about them, for God has made these apparent to them. For from the creation of the world the unseen things about him can be understood by looking upon the things made, both his eternal power and divine being, so they are without excuse. Because having known God [in Adam before he sinned] they did not glorify him as God, nor were they thankful. They became futile in their reasonings, and their heart's discernment was darkened. Claiming themselves wise, they became foolish [The serpent led Eve to believe that she would become wise as a result of disobeying God. Adam also evidently felt himself wiser than God by listening the voice of his wife.] and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into a likeness of an image of corruptible man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. [Adam, in obeying his wife, allowed his wife to become his god. Mankind has been bringing the glory of God down to corruptible matter ever since.] Therefore God also gave them up to the craving of their hearts, their bodies being dishonored among themselves, [Adam and Eve felt no shame concerning their bodies until they sinned. Adam did not develop a spiritual desire to serve God. He did not learn to walk by the spirit. He walked after the flesh, desiring his wife more than God.] in that they changed the truth of God into a lie, and venerated and served the created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen." -- Romans 1:18-23.
(10) The wrath of God spoken of in these verses is the wrath which man has inherited through Adam. The scriptures also speak of the whole world of mankind (that has not been created anew in Christ) as "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction." -- Romans 9:22; see also: Ephesians 2:1-10.
(11) Some receive the word in honest and good hearts. They keep the word, understand the word, and bring forth its fruitage. These, through faith in Jesus are justified by his blood, and "saved from wrath through him." (Luke 8:15; Matthew 13:23; Galatians 5:22,23; Romans 5:9) These still undergo the wrath of God in their bodies. Nevertheless, God counts them as alive and in his favor. He no longer counts them as under his wrath. (1 Corinthians 1:4) This grace is spoken of as the "indescribable gift of God." (2 Corinthians 9:13,14) Such are "reckoned", or counted by God, as righteous. They are now spoken of as having "everlasting life" while the wrath of God (inherited from Adam) remains upon all those who do not take up the words of Jesus. (Romans 4:22-24; John 4:36)
Executing Judgment in the Days of Noah
(12) One might consider the time from Adam's fall to the flood of Noah's day as another judgment day. Some religious leaders are saying that the sentence executed upon the those destroyed in the flood was "the second death" -- eternal destruction. Yet it was not for the purpose of executing a new sentence upon mankind that God set out to destroy mankind at that time. Rather it was the execution of the original sentence upon man through Adam, based upon the failure of that system of things to bring itself away from sin. (Genesis 6:7,13; 7:4,21-23; 2 Peter 2:9) Man's sinfulness at that time was still as a result of Adam's fall. (Romans 5:12,14,16) All were under the one condemnation through Adam. Thus God executed that condemnation at the Flood, save the eight souls who received God's favor. (Genesis 6:8,9; 2 Peter 2:5) Mankind was still under the sentence of the first trial or crisis, for we read, "death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience. (Romans 5:14, World English) This includes those who died in the Flood, and also proves that the death they died was Adamic death, not the second death, nor any kind of death that was no covered by Jesus' sacrifice. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; 1 Timothy 2:5,6) That period which ended with a flood was indeed a time of crisis or judgment day for the angels. It proved which were loyal and which were disloyal, and marked the beginning of the sentence of God against the latter class. "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness until the judgment of the great day." (Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4) Now, however, we are not considering the trial and failure and penalty upon those fallen angels. These are known in the Scriptures as demons who impersonate the dead. They deceive mankind through necromancy, spiritism, witchcraft and trances. They pretend to be dead friends or relatives. They may present us with visions from someone else's life in order to mislead us into believing that we lived before. All these methods aid in the perpetuation of Satan's first great lie: "Dying you shall not die"." (Genesis 3:4, Green's Literal Translation; probably better understood as: "You will not be dying until dead.") Thus we warn all to take heed and have nothing whatever to do with occultism, spiritism, and spell-binding, as these are works of the Adversary. But our object now is to discuss the judgments which God has ordained amongst men. (Ephesians 6:12; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Galatians 5:19-21; Leviticus 20:6)
The Execution of Judgment
Upon Sodom and Gomorrah
(13) Another time when God executed his judgment upon some of mankind was when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Is there any reason to believe that the judgment executed upon Sodom and Gomorrah was the "second death," a death from which there is no return? Is this what the scriptures mean when it says that they underwent the 'vengeance of eternal fire?' (Jude 7/Jude 1:7) Many religious leaders teach that this scripture means that the individuals destroyed at that time are now burning in insufferable flames. Others teach that the fire eternally destroyed the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. When we analyze this text it will, we believe, lose its luridness, its terrors. In the minds of all righteously-inclined persons it will be a reasonable, just statement of the doings of our reasonable, just, loving God. We should take notice of the connection: Jude is discussing evil doers, especially those whom God blesses with the spirit and truth but who willfully and intentionally turn away -- from it to the ways of sin. The apostle is calling to our attention that such a course is sure to have a punishment. He cites illustrations from the past to show the general trend of divine government. He refers to the deliverance of the people of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He further shows that this favor from Yahweh did not excuse them from punishment and destruction when they rebelled. Another illustration is that of the angels, who were at first in divine favor, but who disobeyed Yahweh. God sentenced them to chains of darkness until the great day of judgment. As a third illustration of the principle that God punishes evildoers, the apostle refers to the Sodomites. They gave themselves over to gross sin. Thus they were set forth as an example "suffering the vengeance (punishment) of eternal fire."
Eternal Fire of Sodom
(14) Let us not too hastily read into this passage what it does not contain. It does not say that the Sodomites suffered the vengeance of eternal torment as the many think. Nor does it say that the Sodomites suffered the vengeance of eternal destruction, as some others like to view it. It is speaking of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities about them, and their inhabitants -- that God executed the punishment of death upon them because of their wrong course. The Bible, in Genesis 19:24,25, describes the literal fire which God used in this execution. God spared only Lot and his family from that fire and its destructive work. It would be a mistake to suppose that this literal fire that destroyed the Sodomites would last throughout all eternity. The fire is not burning now. It burned until it destroyed those people and their cities. There is not a suggestion about its being a fire that will burn in the future, but to the contrary, it effected its work. Our Lord testifies to this saying: "It rained down fire from heaven and destroyed them all." (Luke 17:29) Let us give our Lord's words their proper weight. He says the fire destroyed, not preserved, the people of Sodom, Gomorrah and surroundings. He does not even hint that they are in the fire now, but rather just the opposite as we will proceed to show.
(15) Many might reply along these lines: "It means `complete destruction.'" And they would say that "'complete destruction' means that God brought eternal destruction upon them. Therefore," according to this reasoning, "they are not covered by the ransom sacrifice of Jesus." On the surface this may appear logical. When we realize, however, that all who suffer death inherited from Adam suffer complete destruction, then we can see that it begins to lose its argument.
(16) Were the Sodomites whom God destroyed covered by the ransom of Jesus? If so, then we should expect that somehow and someday they will be given an opportunity to benefit from that sacrifice. What does Jesus say? Jesus showed that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah will come forth in the resurrection time for a judgment or trial for eternal life. More than this, Jesus spoke to some who heard his preaching in Capernaum and surrounding cities: "It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for you." -- Matthew 10:15. Furthermore, we have Romans 5:14, which tells us that "death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those whose sins weren't like Adam's disobedience," and then describes that condemnation of death as being due to Adam's sin. (Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) Since the death that they died was Adamic death which results in being the sheol/hades condition, then they did not die the "second death", and thus they will be raised in the judgment day for a new judgment. -- John 12:47,48; Revelation 20:13.
(17) What, then, is the fire of Jude 7, and how is it eternal? The expression "eternal/everlasting fire" is not the literal fire that destroyed those cities. The fire which burned those cities and destroyed those people does represent Yahweh's fiery zeal or jealousy for righteousness and his holy name. The literal fire that destroyed those cities are still burning. Yahweh's zeal or jealousy for righteousness will never be extinguished. Thus we read that "all the earth will be consumed by the fire of his [Yahweh's] jealousy." (Zephaniah 1:18) "For you must not bow yourself to another god; for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, he is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14) "With foreign gods they moved him [Yahweh] to jealousy; and with idols they provoked him to anger; they sacrificed to demons, not God." (Deuteronomy 32:16,17) "And Judah did evil in the sight of Yahweh, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they committed, more than all that their fathers had done." (1 Kings 14:22) "And my anger will be spent, and I will make my fury rest on them, and I will be eased. And they will know that I, Yahweh, have spoken in my zeal, in my fulfilling my fury on them." (Ezekiel 5:13) "Surely I have spoken in the fire of my jealousy against the rest of the nations." -- Ezekiel 36:5.
(18) The jealousy of Yahweh for his name and for the righteousness represented in his name is provoked by any unrighteousness. This can be seen by taking Strong's concordance and looking at the many references to Yahweh's jealousy. This fire of his jealousy, his determination to act against all unrighteousness, is eternal; it will be forever; it will forever be ready to act against any unrighteousness, should there be any.
(19) Let us return to Jesus' statements concerning Sodom: "More tolerable for Sodom! " What does this mean? In the great "last day " (John 12:47,48) of judgment, the Millennial age, when the world in general will be on trial for life everlasting or the second death, the people of Capernaum who heard the Lord will also be on trial with others. They had superior advantages to others, and had neglected those advantages. Thus, due to their neglect of these greater priviliges offered to them, they will be correspondingly less supportable, less strengthened, less able to readily benefit by the blessings and mercies of God during the Millennial reign of Christ.
(20) We understand this to be a general principle of divine dealings: where God grants much light, knowledge, opportunity and privilege, he also requires much. Where sin abounds in direct glow of the light of truth there is correspondingly a larger responsibility, and thus a greater amount of pride to overcome if that light is ignored.
(21) There is no suggestion in any part of the narrative in Jude or anywhere else in the Bible that the people of Sodom or the people of Gomorrah suffered eternal destruction, from which they cannot be redeemed. Likewise there is no suggestion that they are now suffering some eternal torture. Neither does it suggest that in the future awakening of the resurrection day they will suffer eternal torture.
(22) Our Lord proceeds to explain that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had less advantage than the people of Capernaum and Palestine. He declares that if they had heard his preaching and seen his miracles, "they would have repented long ago in sack-cloth and ashes." (Matthew 11:21) Is there, then, injustice with God? Think of all the favors afforded the people of Capernaum. Think of Jesus' statement concerning the people of Sodom just quoted. Would a God of justice and love send those less favored to eternal torment or eternal destruction? Certainly not. Who would so claim in view of our Lord's statement? According to Jesus, if the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had enjoyed the same amount of favor as shown the people of Capernaum they would have repented with deep contrition in sackcloth and ashes.
The Future of the Sodomites
(23) We have seen that the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was a literal fire. The "eternal fire" relates to Yahweh's eternal jealousy for righteousness. It has no relationship to any future torment of any kind. Nor does it mean that they received a new condemnation (laying aside the condemnation in Adam -- Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) for which their is no sacrifice provided.
(24) There are promises of God concerning the Sodomites in the Bible. Understanding these promises will free us misconceptions concerning their future. We will produce evidence from the Scriptures that show how those Sodomites who were destroyed in the fire are to come back in the resurrection day. All who have good hearts and reasonable minds will rejoice to find that the heavenly Father has made provision through the death of his Son for all the world of mankind, even including the wicked Sodomites. Our Lord's words assure us that the Sodomites were at heart and in his sight not worse than the people of Capernaum, who had greater light and therefore greater responsibility. Doubtless the Lord would say the same of our religious communities today which may boast of much service to him. Surely all who have the love of God in their hearts and who intelligently pray: "Your will be done," will be glad to know that the divine will is to bring a blessing to the people of Sodom. Now let us examine the proofs.
(25) The Millennial day of one thousand years, is the day in which Jesus and his Church will judge the world. This will be their trial for everlasting life or the Second Death. We have our Lord's statement, already referred to, assuring us that in that day of judgment the condition of the Sodomites will be more favorable than that of some others who thought themselves very religious. We also have the Lord's statement that the fire which rained from heaven destroyed them all. This statement prevents any suggestion that a part of them might have remained alive. Therefore Jesus did not have reference to a remnant who were not destroyed. Unquestionably he referred to the ones whom God destroyed, as the language clearly states.
The Times of Restoration
(26) The apostle Peter tells us of the "times of restoration." These restoration times will begin during the second coming of our Lord. Peter also speaks of the "times of refreshing." (Acts 3:21) He tells us Yahweh spoke of this coming times of refreshing or restoration through the mouth of the holy prophets of the past. Let us look at one of these prophecies of the coming restoration. The prophecy of Ezekiel 16 specifically mentions the Israelites, God's favored people. It also speaks of the Samaritans, the Israelites' neighbor in Palestine. Additionally it speaks of the Sodomites, who once occupied a portion of Palestine.
(27) Read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 16 before proceeding. We see here a serious arraignment of the people of Israel. They had failed to be loyal to Yahweh, to whom they had been promised by the Mosaic Covenant. From the forty-eighth verse to the end of the chapter we have Yahweh's prophecy respecting the future of Israel, Samaria, and Sodom, and the restoration blessings that are to come to all three at or about the same time.
(28) We have noted that our Lord guarded against any misunderstanding as to which Sodomites were meant by saying that he referred to those whom God rained down fire and consumed them. Likewise, Yahweh identifies the Sodomites whom he intends to restore in due time, saying: "Look! this was the error of your sister, Sodom: pride, adequate bread, and an abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters; nor did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed detestable things before me; therefore I took them away as I saw good." -- Ezekiel 16:49,50.
(29) In Ezekiel 16:51,51 Yahweh points out Samaria's unrighteousness. He then declares that Israel's course under her special favors, privileges and advantages in every way was more abominable in His sight than that of either of these. They were both -- in comparison -- justified rather than condemned by the course of Israel.
(30) The Scriptures everywhere declare that Yahweh, after punishing Israel, will bring them back from their captivity and bless them under the seed of Abraham. In harmony with this, the account in Ezekiel 16:53-56 specifically tells us about this returning from captivity. This captivity is the captivity of death into which the Israelites by the millions have gone as well as the Samaritans and Sodomites. -- Thus we read: "When I bring back their captive ones, the captive ones of Samaria and her daughters, then I will bring again the captive ones of your captives in the midst of them."
(31) What is the object of thus stating the conjoined awakening of these three peoples? The answer is: "That you may bear your own shame, and may be ashamed because of all that you have done in that you are comfort to them." So, when God fully opens the great Millennial day of judgment and trial, and he pours out his blessings upon the world, God will use Israel in her shame and exposure in the light of that day to comfort the Sodomites and Samaritans in their degree of shame and exposure in that day. (See also The Restoration of All Things)
"Shame and Ongoing Contempt"
(32) Through the prophet Daniel Yahweh speaks of these returning ones from the captivity of death. He tells first of the faithful justified ones, who will come forth from the tomb to shine as stars forever and ever. Then he refers to others, such as the Sodomites and Samaritans and Israelites, who will come forth to shame and ongoing (Hebrew, transliterated: ôlâm) contempt. (Daniel 12:2) It will be in this shame and contempt condition that Israel will be a comfort to her sister nations. It is not God's design that the shame and contempt should work an eternal blight to those poor creatures or to others. The scripture is associated with the period of reformation. At that time the present-day wicked will experience shame due to their past course of sin and degradation. This shame is designed to lead them to turn from sin and be transformed under the influence of the Kingdom of God's dear Son.
(33) As the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), Jesus will fill the whole earth with the light of the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:4), putting to shame, to flight, the works of darkness and sin. Then the wise `will turn many to righteousness' through the glow of the light of truth. (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 13:43) It will indeed be a comfort to the Sodomites, when they realize their own degradation, to see that some others who had enjoyed so many more favors than they will equally, or even more so, be put to shame. Thus, the shame will be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah than for the people of Capernaum.
(34) The good news is that there will be no need for them to remain in this contemptible condition and under shame. Then the influences of the Kingdom will be favorable to their rising out of sin and death conditions. They will have the opportunity of coming up, up, up on the promised highway of holiness. The prophet Isaiah assures that Yahweh will provide this highway for the world. All who come to love righteousness and desire harmony with God amongst the world of mankind will pass over it. While crossing this highway they will receive complete aid so that not even a fool will need to err. (Isaiah 35:8,9) By the end of the Millennial age they will have perfection, everlasting life. God will only exclude the willfully disobedient -- those who love sin and hate righteousness, from this highway and its end in full perfection. But the scriptures assure us that Yahweh will not consign those who proved themselves lovers of sin to an eternity of conscious suffering, but they will be "punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power." -- 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
The Return of the Sodomites
(35) Based on what we have shown from the scriptures, we have no doubt that the period referred to by our Lord is the day of judgment. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for Capernaum in that day. This period follows his second advent and the establishing of his kingdom. We have no doubt either that the time mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel is the very same. It will be the day when the captivity of the Sodomites and Israelites will have come to an end. Yahweh will release all the captives from the prison-house of sin and death. There can be no question either that the apostle Peter, in speaking of the times of restoration, had reference to this same period following the Lord's second advent. Now, then, connect these three lines of prophecy together. Notice what the prophet declares respecting the liberation of these captives and to what purpose Yahweh will liberate them from the prison-house of death.
(36) We quote: "When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state." The prophet is here referring to the "times of restoration" mentioned by the apostle Peter. He says: "return to your former state." What is meant here? We answer that man's original state, according to the Bible record, was the image and likeness of God. It was from this glorious state that Adam fell. All of us as Adam's race, his children, in his loins, fell from the same into a condition of sin, degradation and death. So then, we read that Yahweh will open the prison-doors. We read that the captives will be set free from the prison-house of death and from the bondage to corruption. Then we read that they will return to their former state. This means restoration, a returning to the original likeness of God lost through sin.
"A Ransom for All"
(37) And this is exactly what Paul implies respecting the Lord's sacrificial death. He tells us that Jesus "gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:6) Jesus ransomed father Adam, the original sinner. In doing so he also ransomed every member of Adam's race, as well as all his possessions, titles, privileges, and rights as the original King over earth. The very object of this legal purchase was the restoration of mankind to their primeval dignity, honor and glory. And that is the promise of the Bible -- times of restoration -- and Paradise restored! This will not be merely a garden in Eden but the entire earth! Why should we be astonished to find that God is carrying out a great and glorious plan which his Word everywhere outlines?
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See our study:
God Desires All Men to Be Saved
(38) Then why does Yahweh keep delaying this restoration? Why does he allow poor humanity to keep suffering? Because it is Yahweh's desire to give our whole world a lesson on the exceeding bad fruits of sin. (Ecclesiastes 1:13,14) Additionally he desires to take out of the world "a people for his name." (Acts 15:14) These will share with Jesus as the ruling family for the blessing of all families of the earth with restoration. -- Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:29.
(39) Let us return now to Ezekiel's statement of the matter. Notice carefully Yahweh's statement in the context. We know that many will tell you that they know that this statement must be "ironical." Alas! Poor depraved humanity finds it difficult to believe in the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the love of God expressed in Jesus, which goes beyond all knowledge! (Ephesians 3:19) But, regardless of what some might desire to believe, we want the Word of Yahweh on this subject, and on every subject. "Let God be true though it make every man a liar." -- Romans 3:4.
(40) Now read the remainder of the chapter from Ezekiel 16:56 to the end, and note that Yahweh is speaking very sympathetically and comfortingly. He does indeed reprove Israel, especially for having broken his covenant and despised the oath which sealed it. Yet he also tells them that he proposes to keep his oathbound covenant anyway.
(41) That covenant declares: "In your seed all nations will be blessed." (Genesis 22:18) The apostle Paul tells us that Israel failed to obtain the chief blessing under this covenant which it had hoped for. Israel failed to become the promised seed. (Romans 9:8; 11:7) Paul further tells us that Jesus and his faithful disciples attained this favored position. (Galatians 3:16-29) Christ and the called-out ones, as the antitypical seed of Abraham, will eventually bless all the families of the earth. This will include Israel, for he tells us that "all Israel will be saved." (Romans 11:25)
(42) Some may say Romans 11:25 refers to "spiritual Israel", not Israel after the flesh. We can see that the Israel spoken of in Romans 11:25 is natural Israel and not the antitypical Israel by reading verse 28: "Indeed, as regards the good news, they are your enemies. But regarding the election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers." At your convenience please read carefully the apostle's exact words on this subject as recorded in Romans 11:25-32.
(43) Returning to Yahweh's statement in Ezekiel 16:60,63: "Nevertheless [notwithstanding your evil course and your unworthiness] I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish with you an everlasting covenant. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed (when the whole world is ashamed under the light of the Millennial Sun of Righteousness), when you receive your sisters, your older and your younger. And I will give them to you for daughters, but not by your covenant; and I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am Yahweh, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open you mouth any more, because of your shame when I am pacified toward you for all that you have done."
The Destruction of Sodom
As An Example
(44) Returning now to Jude 7 we can see in what sense of the word Sodom was set forth as an example -- not of future torment, nor even eternal destruction, but in respect to divine indignation against sin in general. God declares that he is thoroughly opposed to sin in its every form, that he will ultimately destroy it utterly. All who will not come into harmony with the Great Prophet, Priest and King, Jesus, he will destroy [especially during the `little season' after the 1,000 year reign] from amongst the people as were the Sodomites. This, then, will be a complete, everlasting destruction. -- Acts 3:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:7-9; Matthew 25:45; Psalm 37:9,10.
(45) True, Yahweh's dealings in the past and in the present are specially with his dedicated people Israel according to the flesh and now Israel according to faith. (Romans 9:1-8; Galatians 3:26-29) Nevertheless, this does not imply that Yahweh has not had an overruling hand in all the affairs of the world. He has been permitting sin to reasonably take its course and to bring its own lessons and experiences to the world of mankind. Thus all may learn something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Nonetheless Yahweh clearly intimates that in any place or time where sin shall have run its course and be standing in the way of the divine purposes, he can and will interfere to stop it. (Romans 7:13; Ezekiel 16:50; Genesis 6:13)
(46) So it was with the Sodomites. Pride and prosperous ease had led them to despise the poor and needy, had made them haughty, and favored amongst them licentiousness. Yahweh blotted them out with the fire from heaven as he saw good. (Ezekiel 16:50) For them to have remained would have been to permit a plague spot in the very land in which he intended later on to plant his typical people, Israel according to the flesh.
(47) The example furnished us in this incidence illustrates, not eternal torment, but the "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power" which will surely be visited ultimately upon all evildoers. It is also used as an illustration of the present generation about to suffer destruction at Armageddon. (Luke 17:28-30) We are thankful, however, for the blessed assurance that before either the Sodomites or any of the world who have been redeemed by the precious blood could be condemned to the Second Death they must all be brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth. This is the divine declaration: "God our Savior, who wills all men to be saved and to come to an accurate knowledge of the truth. Because there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." -- 1 Timothy 2:3-5.
(48) This view of our Heavenly Father's personal attributes, as indicated, and exemplified in his dealings with our race in the past, and in the declarations of his Word in respect to his future dealings, is cheering and encouraging and helpful to all those who are truly sons of God, begotten of his Spirit. -- Romans 8:14,18,19.
(49) The Sodomites did indeed suffer loss in that they were cut off from life a little sooner than they would otherwise have been. Nevertheless, eventually they would have died anyway. The good news is that they have been redeemed by the one sacrifice for all; but when granted their full opportunity in due time, in the times of restoration, if they are then negligent and will not listen to the voice of the Great King of glory, they will suffer the vengeance of cutting off again, and that without remedy, for from the Second Death there is no redemption, no recovery. (Hebrews 10:26) The principle that now operates in the judgment of the saints of this age is the same that will operate during the thousand years of Christ's reign in conjunction with the whole world. The only difference being that the trial of the sainst in this age is in surroundings not congenial to righteousness. -- Philippians 2:15.
(50) In the Old Testament times, Yahweh instituted a special arrangement with a nation whereby they could be released from the condemnation of death. This occurred at Mount Sinai, when God entered into a special covenant with the nation of Israel though Moses, the Mediator of the Law Covenant. There an offer of eternal life was presented to that nation upon the condition that they should keep the divine law perfectly, completely, in letter and in spirit. Thus the apostle Paul says "that the man who does those things will live by them." -- Romans 10:5.
(51) Under that law covenant, with Moses as mediator, typical sacrifices were offered for sins. Since Moses was a sinner and under the condemnation of death, the sacrifices represented Moses justified. In turn, Moses, in this condition, represented typically the Messiah, the comings world's Mediator. (Hebrews 9:16-26) Nevertheless, even Moses could not counted as justfied apart from the blood of Jesus; thus, his justification (as well as all who were reckoned as justified through faith in the Old Testament) was prospective of the coming sacrifice of the sinless man, Jesus.
(52) After the sacrifices had been offered and their blood had been sprinkled on the Law, as representing God and his side of the covenant, and upon the people, as representing their side of the covenant, then the crisis, trial or judgment of that people began, to determine whether or not they could and would keep the Law Covenant, and if they were successful, to reward them by making them God's Kingdom for the blessing of all the families of the earth. But if they would fail in their trial or judgment, it would mean the loss of their privilege and their remaining under the death sentence, not having attained life under the law. The trial of that nation -- its crisis -- lasted for about 1,525 years and terminated on the day that our Lord Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem, was rejected by them, and pronounced the sentence against them indicating that their the epoch of their trial or judgment had terminated. He stated: "Your house is left unto you desolate. You will not see me until the time comes when you will say: `Blessed is he who comes in the name of Yahweh.'" (Luke 13:35) Their crisis being ended, nothing remained except to note the results which were found to be as follows:
(53) 1) By the deeds of the Law no flesh can be justified. (Romans 3:20) Therefore it follows that every member of that nation was condemned according to the Law. But this condemnation was a continuation of the original sentence of death, it was not a new sentence. It simply meant that they failed to gain life under the Law, for they were not able to keep the Law. But as the apostle Paul shows us that there was a small class which, while failing to keep the Law Covenant because of weakness of the flesh, exercised throughout that age, a faith toward God which was pleasing and acceptable to him. These are recounted to us in Hebrews 11:1-40 and are described as those who out of weakness were made strong and who through faithfulness to God endured various tribulations, rejoicing therein and trusting for a share in a better resurrection than they would otherwise have received. After setting forth this lesson Paul declared: "These all died in faith not having received the promise." (Hebrews 11:13); and he assures us that they can never be made perfect without Yahweh's saints of this Gospel (Good News) Age.
(54) 2) Another result as respects that nation was that several thousand of the Jews, lifted out of depths of degradation through the instruction of the Law, were so developed in heart as to be recognizable as Israelites of faith. (John 1:47) These were granted the first opportunity for entering upon a new trial of a new epoch, which began with our Lord's baptism and which still continues.
(55) As for the remainder of the Jews the Scriptures assure us that they were cast off for a time from all special favor and relationship with God, but with the divine promise that later on they will again receive God's favor and under it evenutally become the leading nation of earth during the Millennial judgment or trial. Meantime, note that the nation at large was cast off from divine favor, and certain responsibility for unappreciated and unused opportunities lay against it, as a penalty for which a great time of trouble came upon that nation, resulting in their complete overthrow nationally in the years 70 - 73 CE. Their rejection of their Messiah did not however, bring any new sentence of death upon them as individuals. They simply remained under the wrath which has been upon mankind since Adam disobeyed, howbeit many did receive a speedy execution of that judgment. (John 12:47,48; 3:36)
The Day of Yahweh's Wrath
(56) Now we come to the scriptures that speak of the day of Yahweh's wrath, when his wrath upon mankind is being brought to an end. (Revelation 6:17) The day of his wrath is spoken of as coming in the blowing of the seventh trumpet and consisting of seven "vials" or "bowls." (Revelation 11:15; 15:7) The last bowl results in the destruction of Babylon the Great, a woman representing the false religious promises of Satan as begun in the Garden of Eden and which have extended all over the world. (Genesis 3:4,5; Revelation 12:9; 16:19) The destruction of those individuals who make up Satan's seed, those under God's wrath, is also depicted as taking place as part of the last vial. (Revelation 19:17-19, 21) Much of this is probably symbolic; nevertheless the execution upon those under God's wrath is still, however, an execution of the original sentence given in the garden of Eden -- death. We note, however, that the various systems of Satan receive a different sentence. Under the symbolism of a beast and false prophet, these systems are spoken of as being thrown into the "lake of fire and brimstone," referring to the lake of fire and brimstone outside the walls of Jerusalem in the Valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna. (Revelation 19:20) According to historical references to this valley in Jesus' day, fires were continuously kept burning in this valley by the addition of brimstone (sulphur), so that Jesus spoke of the "fire that does not die out," or as the King James Version says, "not quenched." (Mark 9:43-48) Now we know that the fires in the valley of Jerusalem no longer exist, so we must look upon to these Bible references as symbolic. So what does the lake of fire symbolize? Jesus spoke of those things thrown into Gehenna as "destroyed." (Matthew 10:28) Thus Revelation 19:20 is referring to the destruction of Satan's systems that are symbolically spoken of the false prophet and a certain beast. These systems, as such, were produced out of the symbolic sea and earth of sinful mankind under the condemnation of death through Adam. (Revelation 13:2,11) Nevertheless, it is human beings who are collectively under the condemnation of death and sheol/hades; as a result of sin, all of mankind's works are indeed subject to the present sun of vanity; this does not mean that any system produced by man is also condemned to hades. It is only human beings that are depicted as going into hades, not the systems that Satan produces through humans. Since all those in hades come forth in the resurrection, if the symbol of hades had been used to designate the destruction of the systems symbolized in Revelation, it would have meant that these systems would also be raised for judgment in the last day. However, as systems, these were never under the condemnation in Adam, and thus, since they are not raised in the judgment day, the more correct symbol is the "lake of fire," which represents the second death, which designates their eternal destruction.
(57) But notice that the individuals associated with these systems are not spoken of as going into the second death. These have never been released from Adamic death, and therefore cannot be given the execution of second death. The destruction that comes upon the peoples of nations is the execution of the original sentence given in the garden of Eden, and is the destruction spoken of as the broad road to destruction which all nations have been traveling since Adam's disobedience. (Romans 3:11-15; Matthew 7:18) As Yahweh turns the nations to destruction, he also says: "Return, you children of men!" (Psalm 90:3) Therefore the judgment remains the same at the end of the age as Jesus said stated concerning those disbelievers in his day: "If any man hears my words, does not believe, I do not judge him; for I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that will judge him. The word that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day." (John 13:47,48) "He who disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God [through Adam] remains upon him." -- John 3:36.
Judgment of the Nations
The Individuals Thereof
(58) Jesus therefore tells us that the individual judgment of all those who do not now believe will be in the "last day," being that the wrath of God remains upon them. Since the wrath of God remains upon them, many of them, as individuals, will receive the execution of that wrath in the "war of the Great Day of God the Almighty" at Armageddon. The execution to be finalized at that time, however, is a result of the collective judgment that began in the Garden of Eden. Thus when Jesus spoke of that coming destruction he said: "At that time two will be out in the field; one will be taken away, and one will be left. -- Two will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left." (Matthew 24:40,41) Those left we understand to be dedicated Christians who, by faith, no longer reside under God's wrath. Those taken, like the antediluvians outside of God's favor, are taken in death, as a result of God's wrath which remains upon them. (See verse 39; see also Isaiah 24:6; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 2:3; 5:6; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:16; 5:9; John 3:36) These come out of the great tribulation, having lived through it, because they had washed their robes in the blood of the lamb. (Revelation 7:14) The scripture says concerning the time of final execution under the curse: "the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left." (Isaiah 24:6) A few people could be thousands, or as compared with the billions now living, it could be millions of people left.
(59) When Jesus returns, one of the first things he does is to complete the sealing of his bride, the 144,000 who are not only heirs of God, but joint-heirs with Christ. These are part of the Israelites by faith. (Revelation 7:1-8; 19:7,8; Matthew 24:31) After obtaining his bride and returning from the wedding, others join with them in the marriage supper. (Revelation 19:9; Luke 12:35-40; Matthew 25:1-12; Revelation 7:9-17) While the world is thrown into the fiery furnace of the tribulation, the false servants of God are separated from the true wheat by being thrown in the symbolic furnace of the time of trouble; after this, God's true wheat is is gathered into God's symbolic barn. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) Eventually God's righteous ones, justified by faith in Jesus, will shine as the sun (Matthew 13:43) in as God's kingdom fills the whole earth, bringing healed to the devastated nations. (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 22:2) It is during the time of trouble that the nations are gathered, not for judgment, but for the execution of judgment. "For my decision is to gather nations to assemble kingdoms, to pour out upon them my indignation, all the heat of my anger; for in the fire of my jealous wrath all the earth shall be consumed." (Zephaniah 3:8, Revised Standard Version ) This execution of judgment, upon the nations as a whole who are condemned in Adam, however, is not the final judgment, but rather it is the result of the judgment through Adam. The world still has to face the final judgment in the "last day".
The "Last Day" -- The Day of Judgment
(60) The "last day" is spoken of as the day when the dead return. (John 6:39-54) Jesus also said that unbelievers would be judged in the "last day." Therefore the "last day", the day of the world's resurrection, and the "day of judgment" are all one and the same. This great judgment day will be the second great judgment day for mankind. -- Thus we read: "He has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he has ordained; of this he has given a guarantee unto all men, in that he has raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:31) That the resurrection of Jesus is God's assurance to us that the world will have a general judgment, must seem peculiar to the majority of traditional Christians and others who have so long been taught that the day of judgment is synonymous with the day of eternal doom for all who are without Christ.
(61) Nor should we think of this day as a 24-hour day, but as a day on a larger scale, which the apostle Peter calls a "day of Yahweh," saying: "Brothers, do not be ignorant of this one thing, that a day with Yahweh is as a thousand years." -- 2 Peter 3:8.
(62) Most reasoning people have probably realized that there was something incongruous in the ordinary conception of the day of judgment which has been handed down through traditions: a 24-hour day, in which we are told Jesus would sit upon the circle of the earth while the earth revolved, and that during that time He would judge the world of mankind respecting their words and thoughts and doings of the present life. When we notice that the time necessary for a single case in an ordinary court of law we might wonder how it could be possible for our glorious Redeemer to judge all of the billions of our race in such a brief space of time. The more we look at it the more ridiculous the entire statement grows, until common sense declares that it is totally unreasonable; and then turning to the Bible, to which we should have looked at first, we find that no such thing is there declared, but on the contrary a thousand-year day for the world's judgment.
"Krino" Signifies to Discern
(63) The word judge in Acts 17:31 does not necessarily mean to render judgment, as in the case already tried and determined; the Greek word is transliterated as krino, and signifies to discern, to reach a decision. True, there will be a decision reached in the end of that Millennial Age, that decision will go into execution, too; but the thought of the word krino is that of trial rather than of verdict. The ordinary thought among traditional Christians respecting this text is that the trial takes place in the present life; that none of the trial goes beyond the present life into the Millennial Age; it is generally assumed that a decision is reached as soon as one dies, and that the future could in no sense change or alter that decision. This is wholly a mistake, as every Greek scholar must admit upon examination of the word transliterated as krino.
(64) Let us now look at the matters from the scriptural viewpoint. The world has already completed its first trial, failed and received a condemnation. The trial took place in Eden: Adam our first father, was the representative of himself and his race in the trial. He failed, and was sentenced to death, and the whole world, his posterity, are still resting under the incubus of his sentence: "Dying, you must die." This condemnation essentially was: you are unworthy of eternal life which was offered to you in the beginning -- your disobedience has proven you unworthy. As we look about us we see that none of the race has improved and reached perfection -- rather,.on the contrary, the course of the race in general has been downward, and the scriptural assurance is: "There is none righteous, no not one." -- Romans 3:10.
(65) If then the whole world is already condemned to death -- if all were born in sin and thus from birth have been under the sentence of death, what kind of a judgment further would they need? What more condemnation could they receive from Yahweh than that already against them? Surely we are not to suppose that God doubts the wisdom of his own decision, which the Scriptures express so forcefully, and that He will try matters again to see whether or not any mistake was made in His original decision. The Supreme Court of the Universe is infallible; its decision beyond repeal; its sentence is "The wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) For thousands of years this penalty has been inflicted. There could be no hope of a change upon the part of the great Judge. We see, then, that any thought of a repetition of the original trial and sentence is inconsistent, and hence the day of judgment spoken of in Acts 17:31 must refer to a new trial.
Grant of a New Trial
(66) But on what grounds could the great Supreme Judge of the Universe grant a new trial to Adam and his family? We reply that, since he could not rescind His own just sentence, the only consideration upon which a new trial could be granted would be that the penalty of the original trial should somehow first be met and canceled. And this is exactly what did take place: "By one man's disobedience sin entered the world, and death as a result of sin; and so death passed upon all men, for all have sinned." -- have inherited the sin, are sinners. (Romans 5:12) But now the Messiah has died for the ungodly -- has redeemed Adam, and incidentally, all of his posterity involved in his transgression. -- Hence the Scriptures assure us that God can be just and yet be the justifier of him that believes in Jesus. -- Romans 3:26.
(67) Here notice that the apostle (in Acts 17:31) refers right back to our Lord's great transaction, his great redemptive work and how that, after he had died for our sins, God raised him from the dead. The apostle further declares that in so doing, God gave us an assurance of his intention to grant another trial to the race of Adam and that this Jesus who died for Adam and his race is, by divine appointment, the Judge and Mediator through whom all the condemned ones, if they will, may return to the full perfection of harmony with their Creator, and the eternal life which he is pleased to give to all those who are obedient to his laws.
The Necessity of Another Judgment
(68) The first judgment was based on the act of one man, the effects of which extended to all of his posterity all lost, all were condemned, all went into death. (Romans 5:12-19) The divine standard can never alter; a sinner can never have eternal life, either in heaven or elsewhere. Eternal life is a gift of God, and he will give it to none except those who please him. The divine proposition is, to give to Adam and every member of his race a full individual opportunity for returning to harmony with God, and thus to a recovery to all that was lost through the original fall -- with added blessings in the case of the faithful followers of Jesus in the present age. This is the Good News! -- that there is a hope of eternal life through Christ. Several thousand years had elapsed before our Redeemer was born upon the earth, yet in all that time none of Adam's race had escaped from death, and only a few had any knowledge of the divine intention to provide a Savior and Redeemer and ultimately to roll away the curse and bring in blessings through Him.
(69) Those few were of the Abrahamic line, the Israelite line. But even to them the reckoning of eternal life was never stated, though it was indirectly hinted at through the Law. Had any of them been fully obedient to the Law, then everlasting life would have been through the Law, but due to the weakness of the flesh, no one gained eternal life through obeidence to the Law, thus, any reckoning of justification, even the Old Testaments times was given based on the coming sacrifice of Jesus. (Luke 20:38; Acts 13:39; Romans 2:13; 3:4-28; 8:3; Galatians 2:16) Thus the Scriptures declare that our Lord brought life and incorruption to light through the Good News -- its full meaning was not brought to light before amongst mankind, since no human had lived a sinless life. (2 Timothy 1:10) At his birth the angels declared that they were messengers of Good News, which would have its fulfillment through the newborn babe, saying: "We bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." -- Luke 2:10,11.
(70) The apostle declares that these good tidings for our race are the tidings of salvation -- not salvation from the torture of demons nor from the eternal torment, but salvation from sin and its death penalty. This salvation implied two things: -1- The sinner must be reformed in heart and begotten again to newness of life; -2- the sinner must be raised up out of the present death conditions -- brought back to full perfection of life as it was enjoyed before the sentence or curse came upon all mankind. This is salvation in the broadest meaning of the term, and the apostle declares, which salvation began to be spoken by our Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that there was no offer of such a salvation, no basis upon which it could be offered, until Christ, as our Redeemer, our Savior, brought life and incorruption to light. Still, nothing that he said and nothing that the apostles said warrant us in believing that this salvation will allow life eternal to be retained by any except the willing and obedient. This salvation, indeed, we are assured, is applied to Adam and every member of his race, but it will be for each one of them to accept or reject the terms of the new covenant that would allow them to retain life everlasting. The good tidings of joy will be to all people, but it will mean eternal incorruptible life only to those who prove their love and obedience to him -- those who obey the great Redeemer (who is also the Teacher, the King and the Judge) will, after the final judgment, depart into eternal life, while those who prove themselves incorrigible will depart into eternal punishment. -- Matthew 25:46.
(71) In harmony with this thought the preaching of the Good News began with Jesus, and has progressed amongst his followers ever since. We perceive, however strange though it be, that the truth has never been popular, that not many believed in the Redeemer himself, that not many believed the message of the apostles, that the great growth -- amongst the followers of Christ came when an admixture of error was added to the Good News. And so we find today that, in proportion as the error is combined with the truth, the larger are the numbers and the lower is the Scriptural standard so far as faith and heart-obedience is concerned. We find now, as in our Redeemer's day, that not many great, now many wise, not many learned, not many noble have Yahweh's favor, but chiefly the poor of the world, rich in faith, are called to be heirs of the Kingdom.
Judgment of the Favored
(72) It is not difficult to prove from the facts as well as from the Scriptures that Yahweh has a favored people who are in the world at the present time -- that, as during the Jewish Age, the seed of Abraham according to the flesh were Yahweh's favored people, and as the apostle declared, a `Jew had much advantage in every way, mainly in that to them were committed the oracles of God.' (Romans 3:2) So during the Christian era, there is still a selection according to God's favor, as the apostle points out -- only a certain class of the world is being dealt with. The great mass of mankind are not being favored with the necessary information and opportunity to come into harmony with Yahweh at the present time. We know that some, ignorant of the Scriptures and short-sighted in their view of the conditions of the world, may dispute this, but it will stand examination from both standpoints.
(73) Notice how frequently our Lord declares that only some have the ear to hear. (Matthew 7:14; 13:9,13-18,43; Mark 4:9,12,23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; John 10:3,16) This means that only those are called. And he assures us that even amongst the called only a comparatively few will be chosen to be of the joint-heirs with Christ, the bride of the Lamb. (Matthew 22:1-14; Romans 8:17) The prophet Isaiah holds forth a similar thought, assuring us of a future time coming, when the wilderness will blossom as a rose, namely, the Millennial Age, when all the blind eyes will be opened and all the deaf ears will be unstopped. (Isaiah 35:5) He thus implies that at the present time many eyes are closed and many ears are stopped, so that the majority of mankind now do not see and do not hear, do not appreciate, the things which God has revealed to a special class: only "the called according to his purpose." -- 2 Timothy 1:9; Isaiah 29:10; see also our study: The Restoration of All Things.
(74) The apostle Paul also refers to the matter in the same way, only more explicitly, telling us that "the god of this world has blinded the minds of them that do not believe, lest the light of the glorious good news of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine upon them." (2 Corinthians 4:4) This implies that generally the whole world was in blindness, but that by God's grace his message through Jesus and his disciples comes as an eye-salve to some, but not to all. The vast majority, blinded by the adversary, by false doctrines, selfishness, weakness, depravity, superstition, etc., are utterly blind and ignorant respecting the true qualities of God and of his Son, and the plan for his vindication through the salvation being worked out on their behalf. As the apostle declares: "The world does not know us, even as it did not know him." (1 John 3:1) We are not therefore to say that God has blinded the world, but rather, as the apostle does, that it is the adversary who has brought this blindness of heart upon mankind, which hinders their knowing, loving and appreciating God's love and offer of salvation.
(75) We therefore ask this question: Why should God provide a great feast of fat things through the sacrifice of his Son, and yet not make provision that all of the unenlightened human family of Adam should hear of it? The very thought seems incongruous. He who loved the whole world so as to give his only begotten Son as their redemption price surely should love them all to such an extent that he would give them all the proper knowledge of that Son -- the knowledge necessary to their appreciation of him, and of his work, and of their privilege of return to harmony with their Creator and to everlasting life. We search the scriptures to ascertain the secret of this peculiarity, and are there informed that Yahweh is now calling a peculiar people, a cream class as it were, from the world of mankind into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9,10) From amongst these called ones, God first chooses a bride for his Son; secondarily others are chosen to be bridesmaids, princesses, princes in all the earth, etc. -- Matthew 25:1-13; Psalm 45:14-15.
Judgment of the House of God
(76) What happens to those whose eyes of understanding open in this age? What blessing comes to them? We answer: A blessing of knowledge and hope, but also of trial. In proportion to their knowledge they have a responsibility toward God. They are on trial for life or death everlasting. In proportion as they respond to the love and grace of God by obedience to His will and by growth in Christlikeness, in that same proportion do they receive various rewards or chastisements. (Matthew 24:45-50; Luke 12:42-48) While the general principle of Luke 12:42-48 has been true throughout this age, yet the context (verses 35-39) shows that its special application is here in the end of the age, with its culmination after the wedding ceremony has taken place. Thus we ascertain that its participants are not of the bride class, but rather representative of Christians waiting for Christ to return from the wedding here in the end of the age. See our study on "The Faithful and Wise Servant and Other Servants", and also our study on The Parable of the Four Servants. The point is that only those who eyes and ears see and hear in this age are now on trial -- being judged. The remainder of mankind, whom the god of this world has blinded, are not on trial, are not being judged now, but are already judged in Adam.
(77) Let us prove this. First, the whole world is under the original Adamic sentence, and cannot be released from that sentence except by faith in the Son of God as the Redeemer -- a faith based on a reasonable degree of knowledge. Only by the exercise of this faith and obedience do any pass from under the condemnation that came upon all through Adam into the justification which comes to believers through Christ; second, the whole world is still under the Adamic condemnation; as the apostle declares, only believers have escaped it. Should no opportunity be given to the world to come to enlightenment on the subject they could never escape that condemnation -- could never be rid of the original sentence of death -- could never, therefore, go on trial again.
`God's Hand Is Not Short'
"Behold, Yahweh's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear." -- Isaiah 59:1.
(78) Some tell us that God is doing all in His power for the world, to bring mankind to a knowledge of the truth, of His grace and the opportunities of eternal life through His Son. We believe no such thing -- it is contrary to both reason and Scripture. Yahweh through His Word not only informs us that Satan is operating in the world in opposition to the light of truth, and blinding the masses, but we are also assured that God has full power over Satan, and that when His due time comes Satan will be bound, restrained, so that he will not deceive the nations until the thousand years are finished and that for the entire thousand years of the Millennial Age the world will be free from all such blinding influences. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3; Isaiah 29:18,24) The Scriptures assure us that though darkness now covers the earth, society, and gross darkness the people, yet in God's due time the light of Truth will mount up high in the heavens as the Sun of Righteousness, to scatter the darkness and clouds of sin and superstition, and that thus from two standpoints a blessing will come by restraining the powers of darkness and by setting free the powers of light. Of that time we are further assured that the knowledge of Yahweh will fill the whole earth as the waters cover the sea. -- Isaiah 60:2; Malachi 4:2; Isaiah 11:9.
(79) Those who think of God as having done all that is in His power to cause the knowledge of His grace and truth to fill the earth have not yet come to understand the power of Yahweh's hand. It is not shortened, as he tells us in due time all His purposes will be accomplished. (Jeremiah 51:29) The difficulty with mankind is in shortsightedness -- the feeling that more should be done at the present time. We need to be calm, and to sink into Yahweh's will. Instead of attempting to tell Yahweh how we think his plan for the glorification of his name and the salvation of man should be carried out, and instead of attempting to carry out our own plans irrespective of the divine arrangement, we should as obedient children listen to the voice of our Father through His Son and through the apostles and prophets, assuring us that in His due time the message of salvation will be good tidings of great joy to all people -- assuring us that now He is doing a preparatory work, finding and developing His jewels, those who will constitute the judges and governors of that coming age of glory. (Malachi 3:17; Luke 19:15-19; Isaiah 32:1) As soon as mankind has completely learned the lessons pertaining to the rulership of sin and death, then He will work through his chosen servants of this age to the fulfillment of His great and glorious plan, which is not merely for the salvation of those called in this age, but for the salvation of the whole world that whosoever will may take of the water of life freely. -- 1 Timothy 4:10; John 4:42; 1 John 2:2; Revelation 22:17.
The World's Judgment
(80) Who do not see then that the judgment or trial of the world in general cannot begin until the eyes of their understanding are opened, and that God will not set into operation the general plan for the opening of all the blind eyes and the unstopping of all the deaf ears until first they have seen the far extremes of where government by sinful man will lead. Then Jesus, the Bride of Christ and all who have been favored of God in this age will shine forth for the blessing of the world when Satan will first have been bound.
(81) Thus Paul spoke concerning that time saying: "He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom He has ordained. Of this he has given a guarantee to all, in that He has raised him from the dead." (Acts 17:31) This verse does not refer to the judgment of the called-out ones of this age, which takes place in advance, and which was already in progress when the apostle uttered these words. It does not refer to the judgment of Church as a part of the judgment of the world. On the contrary, He assures us that if we are faithful we will not come into judgment with the world in the end of this age, but will be counted as not as "children of wrath," but as "children of the day," "children of God by faith." -- Ephesians 2:3; Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.
(82) Looking at Acts 17:31 again, we see that it refers to the entire matter of the world's judgment as future from the apostle's day. It is still future from our day, though very near at hand. Thus we believe that the great Sun of Righteousness will soon be revealed, and the shadows of the dark night of sin and superstition and ignorance will begin to flee away. We can no longer wonder that Yahweh, through the prophets, spoke so joyfully of this coming judgment of the world as a great blessing, saying: "Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad! Let the sea roar and the fullness thereof! Let the field be joyful and all that is therein! Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before Yahweh! For He is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth! He will judge the world with righteousness and the people with His truth!" -- Psalm 95:10-13
(83) Whoever gets the right conception of this word judge, "krino," sees clearly that it means that Yahweh will deliver even the poor of mankind from death to be given a trial, no matter how degraded, no matter how fallen through sin, superstition and ignorance. The divine plan is so wide and so deep and so broad that every member of Adam's race will have a full opportunity of coming to a knowledge of the truth that he may obey and live forever. He cannot receive eternal life in ignorance; he cannot receive eternal life without the eyes of his understanding being opened, and God's arrangement is that they all will see. Then all will know Yahweh from the least to the greatest, and then under the blessing of that knowledge they will be on trial. If after they know Yahweh and know of His righteousness and its reward, and of the penalty of sin -- if then they choose disobedience willfully, persistently, intelligently, they will die the Second Death, "everlasting destruction from the presence [face] of the Lord and the glory of His power" -- in which these will be no hope, from which there will be no resurrection. -- 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
"The Saints Will Judge The World"
(84) It is in full agreement with this line of thought and in disagreement with every other thought on this subject that the apostle declares: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?" (1 Corinthians 6:2) Here he distinctly differentiates between the Church and the world. The saints, he tells us, are being judged now -- every son whom Yahweh receives is disciplined, corrected, proven, that only the faithful may receive the higher honors, and that all may be the more wiser in whatever reward he may receive from Yahweh. But the world, he distinctly tells us, is not on judgment now -- not on trial -- but will be on trial in the future; and when the world will be on trial the saints [dedicated ones] will be the judges. (Hebrews 12:6,7; 1 Corinthians 11:32) Having already passed trial themselves, the saints will be the judges under Christ as the great Judge -- the judges of the world during its trial time, during the millennial kingdom reign.
(85) We should rid our minds of the thought that the day of judgment is merely a time for sentencing for wrong doing and the blindness of the present life of the world, and should see clearly that, on the contrary, whatever there is in the present life that is of ignorance, of blindness, of superstition, that comes to all through the fall and through the power of the adversary, all this is to be forgiven men, is to be blotted out, if they accept Yahweh and His gracious arrangements, just as these ignorances and blemishes are in the present time forgiven the disciples of Jesus, and we who believe are counted as free from all condemnation though our Redeemer's merit and sacrifice. So the people blinded of this world, when they come to a knowledge of Yahweh and an appreciation of His arrangement, will be cleared of responsibility for original sin and all the blemishes coming from it, and will be helped by Yahweh and the glorified Church out of all these blemishes, according to the promise of His word, that this will be a time of restoration of all things spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began. -- Acts 3:21.
The Sheep and Goats
Matthew 25:31-46
(86) Christian people have held various views of the parable of the sheep and goats, some claiming that the parable has been in process of fulfillment ever since Christ was on the earth and that it will be finished at the second coming of Christ. This view is shown to be erroneous by the first verse of the parable, which definitely locates the time of its fulfillment. It begins during the time of the second advent of Christ, as is clearly intimated by the words: "When the Son of man will come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne; and all nations will be gathered before him." These momentous events have not yet occurred, and consequently the parable still belongs to the future.
(87) Another interpretation given to the parable by some is that at the second advent of Christ, on the very day of his arrival, all the billions of the dead will come forth and, together with the living, will all arrange themselves before Jesus, and that during that 24-hour day he, as the great King, will separate the sheep class from the goat class, gathering all the sheep to the right hand and all the goats to the left hand.
(88) This interpretation is not very satisfactory to anybody because, first, it implies that Jesus will not have already made any determination as respects those who are his and those who are not. (John 10:14) If we fit this interpretation to the usual but erroneous teaching that all the dead are either in heaven with God and the angels or in some nether world with demons and flames, it would imply that they were dealt with before they were judged. It further implies that some who had gone to heaven and been there for centuries should have been in the other place, and other who had possibly gone to the other place by mistake should have gone to heaven, and this parable shows the time and manner in which Jesus will finally determine as to whether or not any serious mistakes had occurred and endeavor to rectify them. Moreover this view supposes God to be fallible, or else supposes a gathering of millions from heaven and hell to this earth again for no particular purpose, merely for a spectacular display which could alter nothing. This view as a whole is farcical, for it would be absurd to think of any kind of a judgment of the whole world or a separative gathering into two companies all over the earth in a 24-hour day. True, this is the prevailing view, but that proves nothing as respects its truthfulness or its reasonableness. It is to the discredit of theologians in general that any could entertain such a thought for a moment, or suppose that the Almighty and his glorified Son would participate in such a useless sham.
(89) A more recent view has been presented by the Watchtower leaders, beginning with "Judge" Rutherford. The earlier Watch Tower taught very similar to what we are here presenting. But after the death of Brother Charles T. Russell, "Judge" Rutherford began to form a new organization. To induce others to submit to this "organization," he brought forth a new teaching to cause fear in all in the "Bible Student" fellowship. Basically, the idea was that all who oppose Judge Rutherford's new teachings would be of the "goat" class and all who agreed with his doctrine would be of the "sheep" class. All then, who would not bow to his teachings, would be eternally destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon. Thus he set up a "golden calf" for all under his influence to worship. This "golden calf" was none other than the Watchtower organization leaders, especially himself.
(90) The Watchtower leaders little by little left the teaching that the sheep in this parable are the Millennial sheep. In time the Watchtower began to teach that these sheep are the "great multitude" who pass through Armageddon. However, this interpretation cannot follow through. Why not? Because, as we have shown, the individual judgment of the world is not yet. The time when the nations are gathered for individual judgment is during the Millennial reign of Jesus. Remember that Jesus said: "I am coming as a light into the world, that whosoever believes in me should not remain in darkness. And if any man hears my words, and does not believe, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and does not receive my words, has one that judges him -- the words that I have spoken, the same will judge him in the last day." (John 12:46-48)To say that God is judging individuals now for eternal life or eternal death when he wasn't when Jesus was here on the earth is beyond reason. Today the world is filled with more deceptions, more corruptions, and more confusion than ever before. Of all generations, the present generation should be considered the foremost generation in need of being liberated from its darkness and receiving the light of truth. Yet the present stand of the Watchtower would deny this. In the Watchtower book, You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth , we find this statement: "After Armageddon no part of this wicked world will remain. Only persons who serve God will continue to live." (page 155) While we could agree with this statement as it stands, the application of the sheep and goats to the present age would mean that all who fail to understand, believe, or obey the Watchtower teachings are going off into eternal destruction, which we deny. On page 183 of the same Watchtower book we read:
Will you be there to enjoy the good things that Jehovah God has in store? This will depend on whether you survive an earlier judgment day, namely the present `day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.' -- 2 Peter 3:7.
Yes, since Christ returned and sat down on his heavenly throne, all humankind has been on judgment. This present `day of judgment' comes before the 1,000-year Judgment Day as `goats' will be destroyed because they fail to help Christ's anointed `brothers' in their service to God. In time, these `goats' show themselves to be unrepentant sinners, wicked, hardened in their practice of unrighteousness. The `sheep,' on the other hand, will be blessed with life under the Kingdom rule because they support Christ's `brothers' in every way. -- Matthew 25:31-46."
(91) Thus is laid the groundwork for obtaining the absolute obedience of unwary newcomers to their organization. On page 193 of the same book it is claimed that their organization is headed by a few of Christ's "brothers" who have been appointed as the "faithful and discreet slave class." (Matthew 24:45-47)
(92) "On his return in Kingdom power in the year 1914, did Christ find a `faithful and discreet slave' class providing spiritual `food,' or information? Yes he found such a `slave' class providing spiritual `food,' or information? Yes, he found such a `slave' made up of the remaining ones on earth of his 144,000 `brothers.' (Revelation 12:10; 14:1,3) And since 1914 millions of persons have accepted the `food' they provide, and have begun practicing true religion with them. This organization of God's servants is known as Jehovah's witnesses."
(93) Imagine now how those who know nothing, or very little, of the truth about the ransom could easily become frightened into obedience to these religious leaders! But does the Watchtower present the correct understanding of the parable of the "sheep and goats?" No. The gathering of the nations here takes place by restoring them to life so that they may be judged, not by their past works, but by their works as related to the books that will then be opened. (Revelation 20:11-13). It is not the gathering of nations that takes place at Armageddon for the executing of God's judgment as begun upon man through Adam. "`Therefore wait for me,' says Yahweh, `until the day I rise up for plunder, my determination is to gather the nations, to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, all my fierce anger. All the earth will be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." (Zephaniah 3:8) This is just before or at the beginning of the 1,000-year reign of Jesus, when God executes judgment upon all the ungodly. This same period is when the day of Yahweh comes as a thief upon the world. The execution of judgment at that time is to convince the ungodly of their sins, thus indicating that their destruction is not eternal but rather for the purpose of disciplining. (Jude 1:15; 2 Peter 3:7,10) It is during this transition period that Satan's world is destroyed. It is not until after the destruction of this present evil world that Yahweh `turns to the peoples a pure language.' (Zephaniah 3:9) The Watchtower leaders have to admit that the peoples of the world are still being blinded by Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4) It is not until after Satan is bound and the veil of blindness is removed that it can truly be said that the nations have received a pure language. (Isaiah 25:6-7; Revelation 20:3) And the method of gathering the nations at that time will be through the awakening of the dead, in the day when many will be turned to righteousness. -- Revelation 20:11-13; Daniel 12:2,3.
(94) And thus we have the proper setting for the judgment of the sheep and the goats. The "sheep" of the parable are not the sheep of the present age, whom the Master knows and who know the Master. (John 10:14) Rather these are the "other sheep" who are not of the fold that recognize the Master in the present age. They are brought forth out of death. These become the sheep of the next age. These do not inherit a place in the ruling house of God, but do inherit the kingdom prepared from the founding of the world, the kingdom that was prepared for Adam and which he lost. (Matthew 25:34; Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:3-8; Hebrews 2:6-8) These inherit these promises, not after Armageddon, but after the final eternal destruction of the wicked which takes place after the thousand-year reign of Christ, the day which God has appointed "in which he will judge the world in righteousness." -- Revelation 20:7-9; Psalm 37:9-11; Acts 17:31.
(95) The work of individual judgment here described is upon those of the nations, that is, those outside Yahweh's favor. Thus Jesus describes the work of the Millennial Age: "All nations will be gathered before him." The "great multitude of Revelation 7 cannot be included in the parable of the sheep and goats. Why not? Because they come out of the nations and become God's people during the present evil world. They are part of God's "called-out" class, his church. The people of the nations who do not become part of the "great multitude" simply remain under God's wrath as placed upon them through Adam. (John 3:36) After Armageddon's destruction, the light will then shine upon all nations as they are gathered from the grave. (John 5:28,29) Then all the blind eyes will be opened, all the deaf ears will be unstopped, and the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh will fill the whole earth. -- Isaiah 35; 11:9.
(96) We might be inclined to think that, with all the blessed favors, privileges, opportunities and knowledge which the Millennial Age will bring to the world, the whole human family would develop into sheep. But the parable teaches to the contrary. There will be some who, even after their eyes and ears will have been opened to see and appreciate something of Yahweh's goodness, will still fail to develop that measure of loving obedience and accord with righteousness which would have his approval. They do not receive the mark as sheep which would entitle them under the divine arrangement at the close of the Millennial Age to be ushered into the everlasting Kingdom of God.
(97) The Scriptures indicate that the gathering to judgment will be a gradual one, not all at the same moment, not all on the same day, not all in the same year. All nations will be gathered, however, including the nations destroyed in Armageddon's battle. Gradually, more and more they will be gathered from the tomb, until all the race will be assembled excepting those who have been favored in advance during this Good News Age. All will see the King in his beauty. All will discern that they are living under the reign of Immanuel. All will realize that the clouds and darkness of this present time of evil, of sin, of Satan, have rolled away and a new dispensation has been inaugurated. Then it will no longer be necessary to suffer for righteousness' sake but only for evil doing. The work of separating will be a gradual one, and will not be fully completed until the close of the Millennial Age. Each member of Adam's race will have a full opportunity for not only receiving instruction in righteousness, but for making his personal decision as respects the same. In other words, each will have an opportunity for the development of personal attributes in God-likeness. Those who refuse or neglect the opportunity for formation into God-likeness prove themselves unworthy of everlasting life and will be amongst the goats, while all who will develop true God-like attributes will be amongst the sheep.
(98) It will be the work of the entire Millennial Age to bring this about. Righteousness will reign then, as sin reigns now. That is to say, it will be in control, in the ascendancy; and whosoever will sin then will suffer promptly. Hence all the nations will be avoiding sin. Then the world in general will be a grand place, where "nothing will hurt or destroy"; where "the inhabitant will not say: `I am sick'"; where the curse will be gradually rolled away, and there will be no more crying, no more sighing, no more dying; and where the blessing of God, bring perfection, will prevail. "Oh happy day!" we exclaim. And surely it will be such; for all who live through those thousand years will have a great blessing. -- Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 11:9; 33:24; 65:25; Revelation 22:3; 21:4.
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See our study:
The Timeframe of Matthew 25:31-46
The Law of Retribution
(99) But, some inquire, what about the sins of the world? Will there be no chastisements, no punishments, for these? We answer that it will be equally just for God to forgive the sins of the world for Christ's sake as it has been just for him to forgive the sins of the disciples of this age for Christ's sake. If the one is just, so will be the other. God is no respecter of persons, and is equally as willing to forgive the sins of the world as the sins of the disciples of Jesus, when the those of the world, repenting from sin, will turn from it, and accept Christ as their Redeemer.
(100) This does not mean, however, that justice is to be ignored. In the case of the disciples of Jesus today, note how the sins of youth may leave their scar and sting to the end of life. The disciples of Jesus in this age may have to continue to fight against tendencies he has acquired or inherited until the day he dies. And so we may reasonably assume that certain strifes, or punishments, will be permitted to follow the world in just the same manner. They will return with the same traits, tendencies, etc., with which they died. The liar will still be prone to lie; the thief will still have a desire to steal; etc. It will be from these weaknesses and frailties that they will be gradually raised up to perfection during these blessed thousand years of Christ's kingdom, when Satan will be bound and not permitted to deceive any during that period. -- Isaiah 26:9; Revelation 20:3.
(101) But what about the heart condition? If conformity to the divine law in an outward way will bring blessings to all, will there not still be a difference between the people -- some coming heartily into accord with the Father, and others merely outwardly into harmony, because this outward harmony will be the way to restoration, perfection?
(102) Undoubtedly this is the correct reasoning. It is along this line that the parable before us teaches; namely, that outwardly the "sheep" and the "goats" will have much the same appearance and demeanor, except to the Judge, the King, who will read the heart and ultimately will manifest to all that there has been a real heart difference between the two classes, all of whom will have been on trial during the thousand years, receiving blessings from the kingdom.
The Basis of Judgment
(103) All the while each individual will be more and more learning how to obey God's law, some ingraining this law in their hearts while others only learn to refrain from sins of violation toward others. Their true character will be fully appreciated by the great Judge, and the individual will be rated as a "sheep" or as a "goat." All the sheeplike ones will thus be received at the right hand of Jesus. All the goatlike ones will be rated as out of favor with Yahweh, even though all the while they will be receiving the blessings of the Millennial kingdom and outwardly rendering obedience to its laws.
(104) Not until the conclusion of the Millennium will the decision of the Judge be manifested. Then great surprise will be shown at his decision -- by both parties. To the "sheep" at his right hand he will say: "Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." (Matthew 25:34) When God laid the foundation of the earth it was his design to have it inhabited with perfect, happy humans. (Isaiah 45:12,18) This is not the same kingdom as the Messianic kingdom. On the contrary, it is the kingdom which God gave to Adam, which Adam lost through his disobedience and which Christ redeemed by the sacrifice of himself. (Genesis 1:26; Psalm 8:4-8; Hebrews 2:7-9) It will be given to those who will have developed complete Godlikeness -- those who have become the Lord's "other sheep" during the Millennium. John 10:16.
(105) Then the other class, the goats of the parable, will be sentenced: "Depart, you cursed ones, into everlasting punishment." Granted all the privileges, blessings and experiences during the thousand years of contact with righteousness, truth and the spirit of God, these, though they had rendered an outward obedience in refraining from sins of violation, but at heart they had not come into harmony with God. They will, therefore, not be recognized as "sheep." Failing in developing pure Godlikeness they cannot be presented to the Father as blameless and irreprovable. They will have to be destroyed. This punishment, however, the final vengeance of God, is the second death, "everlasting destruction." (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9) Their penalty is an everlasting one because there will be no further provision made for their redemption or for a resurrection from the second death. They will have failed utterly to appreciate the goodness of God and to develop into his likeness. Eternal life is only for those who have God's likeness and God's spirit. `The Father is seeking such to worship him in spirit and truth.' -- John 4:23.
(106) Both classes, the "sheep" and the "goats," will be surprised at what the King, the Judge, declares to be the basis of his judgment. To the sheep he will say: "I was hungry, and you gave me food. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me." To the goat class he says: "I was hungry, and you did not give me food. -- I was thirsty, and you did not give me drink. I was a stranger, and you did not take me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me." -- Matthew 25:35,36,42,43.
(107) Both the "sheep" and "goat" will claim that they had no knowledge of any such experiences. Each asked: When did we do these things, or not do these things? Jesus' reply will be: "Inasmuch as you have done [or have not done] it to one of the least of these my brothers, you have done [or not done] it unto me." Matthew 25:40,45.
The "Brothers" Of Christ
(108) Now who are these "brothers" respecting whom there will be a test upon the sheep class and upon the goat class? Will there be people sick, hungry and in prison during the Millennium? Does the Lord wish us to understand that there will be such things then? We have, on the contrary, always assumed that sickness, poverty, hunger and prisons will then be gone forever. What does it all mean?
(109) Let us explain. With the establishment of the kingdom all who come into harmony with it will have the great privilege of doing something to help others. The world is blind and starved now, for lack of spiritual food and the anointing eye-salve of truth. While the Millennial blessings will be showered upon those who accept Yahweh's terms, there will be others who will need assistance. Those who develop within themselves true love will be glad to carry the heavenly message of reconciliation to all humanity, glad to apply the eye-salve to the blind, glad to unstop the ears of the deaf, glad to help the sin-sick back into harmony with God helping them to cover their nakedness with the merit of Christ.
(110) All who will take pleasure in this work will thus be manifesting that they have God's spirit and are co-laborers with him. All these will be the sheep. On the other hand, those who will be careless in respect to their vow, and merely enjoy the Millennial blessings themselves, will be of the goat class and will thus be marking themselves as a "goat." Correspondingly they will be out of favor with the great King of kings, their Judge, the Lord of glory.
(111) Those now sitting in darkness will then be invited to come out of the prison house of darkness. (Isaiah 42:7) When the world is awakened, they will still be sitting in darkness. They will need to be "visited" while yet in this prison so that they may be enlightened and thus be released from that prison house. The "sheep" class will be happy to "visit" these new ones coming forth from the graves in order to assist them. The goats will not be interested in helping others.
(112) But how are these ones coming out of the graves Christ's "brothers?" Some have claimed that the 144,000 (Revelation 7:1-4; 14:1) are the only brothers of Christ. It is true that in a special way the 144,000 become "brothers" to Jesus. But we note also that the apostles Peter and Paul as well as Stephen referred to the Jewish people of their day as their "brothers." (Acts 3:12,17; 7:2; 13:16,26,38; 22:1; 23:1,5,6; 28:17; Romans 9:3) Additionally, Paul included the men of Athens as "offspring of God." (Acts 22:28,29) And since the whole creation is to share in the glorious liberty of the children of God, Jesus shared in the same as the children, that is, "man" referred to in Hebrews 2:6-8, to whom was subjected all things. Man was given dominion over all things in the beginning, but it was lost to him through Adam's disobedience. Thus Hebrews 2:8 tells us that now we do not see all things put under him, that is, mankind. Verses 9 and 14 tell us that Jesus shared the same as the children the offspring of God -- mankind. Thus he is not ashamed to call them his "brothers," (verse 11) "because the creation itself will also be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21) To be released from this bondage would indicate they will be led by God's spirit, thus becoming sons of God. (Romans 8:14,15) Thus in a broad sense all mankind could be called his brothers, since he partook of the same humanity.
(113) The eternal fire is the fire of God's jealousy or anger, which burns against and destroys everything antagonistic to his righteousness. (Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8) It is, of course, merely a figurative expression representing the destructiveness of God's eternal jealousy for righteousness.
The Rewarding of the Sheep
(114) The rewarding of the sheep and the punishing of the goats will come at the close of the Millennial Age. True, great blessings will be upon all during the Millennial Age, upon each in proportion to his obedience to the divine standards, but only at the close of the age will the full reward be granted. The reward to be granted to those "other sheep" will be the kingdom which God prepared from the foundation of the world, from the time of Adam's creation. That kingdom was given to Adam originally; he was the first king of earth while in the image of his Creator. As it is written of him: "You [Yahweh] have made him a little lower than the gods and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to have dominion over the works of your hands, you have put all things under his feet." -- Psalm 8:5,6.
(115) By disobedience father Adam lost the rulership and power in his kingdom, and the entire kingdom of God's earthly creation has suffered as a consequence. The reign of Christ during the Millennium will be for the purpose of lifting up so many of mankind as will then desire to come back into full harmony with Yahweh, lifting them up out of the mire of sin and out the miry clay and horrible pit of sin and death, lifting them up to all that Adam was before he sinned -- to the image and likeness of their Creator. This the apostle Paul designates "restoration" (Acts 3:20,21), which he tells us takes place during Christ's return.
(116) But even the obedient of mankind will not be fit to be entrusted with the kingdom of the world until absolute perfection will have been reached, and the perfection of the race will not be attained, as we have seen, until the end of the thousand-year day appointed for the purpose. Then the worthy will be granted the kingdom of earth, the dominion under the whole heavens. With this transfer of the earthly control to the perfect man at that time, Christ's Millennial Kingdom or mediatorial Kingdom will end. In delivering the Kingdom up to the perfect and worthy members of the race he will be delivering it up to the Father, in full harmony with the Father's original arrangement, interfered with by original sin. What the glories of this earth will be when man, the king of the earth, will be restored to the image of his Creator, and when the earth itself will be filled with the glory of God, we cannot begin to completely comprehend in our present state. We can only wonder and praise and adore the loving God, whose provision has been so bountiful for every creature, every member of the fallen race.
The Punishment of the Goats
(117) After the day of Judgment Satan will be loosed from his bonds for a short period of time. (Revelation 20:7) It appears that then those of the goat class will show their true colors as they follow Satan at that time. (Revelation 20:8) It is at the end of this short intermediate period that the goats receive their punishment of "everlasting destruction." In Revelation 20:8 they are pictured as being destroyed by fire that comes down from God out of heaven. Revelation 21:8 speaks of them as `cowardly and unbelieving, having become foul, murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, liars,' etc. These have their portion in the second death represented by the "lake of fire." We do not believe that during this short period of time when Satan is released that the goat class will actually be permitted to enter into murder. But our thought is that by their hatred for their fellow-man they show that they have murder in their hearts. Exactly how all this will be fulfilled toward the goat class during the short period of time Satan is let loose we do not presently know. All we can see is that somehow Satan gets the goat class to follow him against God.
(118) Their sentence to eternal destruction evidently occurs just at the close of the 1,000 year reign of Christ. It appears to be delayed for only a short time as they depart into the everlasting fire made ready for the devil and his angels. The everlasting fire represents God's eternal zeal for righteousness and against unrighteousness. At the end of the Millennium it is made ready or prepared to destroy all in opposition to God. But they are allowed a short period of time to prove their opposition. Therefore they are sentenced sometime before they receive their punishment. They receive the sentence of eternal destruction because of failure to develop the spirit of love, for love is the fulfilling of the law. None can meet the divine approval except those whose sentiments will attain to the degree of loving Yahweh with all their hearts, minds, being and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. (Matthew 23:37-40; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14; 6:2) The sheep of the Millennial Age, we may be sure, will attain to this love which God's law marks as the proper measure of God-likeness. The goats of the Millennial Age, we may be equally sure, will be the ones who will not have this God-likeness.
"Into Everlasting Punishment"
(119) The Greek word rendered "everlasting" is not as strong as our English word which represents it. However, on this point we raise no question; it is the same word that is used in referring to everlasting life which will be granted the sheep. It may be well, however, to notice that life, being Yahweh's gift to the sheep, implies that no life will be given to the goats -- it thus implies the kind of punishment which the Scriptures describe, namely, a death punishment, an extinction of life; and this extinction of life will continue forever, as we have seen. Hence while the punishment is everlasting, the second death condemnation does not mean that the person continues to consciously suffer over and over and over for every split second for all eternity; the wages of sin for the first condemnation in Adam was not eternal suffering, for Jesus suffered once, not for eternity to pay those wages of sin.  (Hebrews 7:27; 9:26; 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18; 4:1) Likewise, with the second condemnation, only there is no more sacrifice for sin that will cover anyone under the second condemnation, thus the resulting death is an everlasting punishment, signifying a death from which there will be no release. -- Hebrews 10:26.
All Creation Praises Yahweh
(120) With Satan and his demons as well as all the goat class destroyed, what a joyous time all creation will then have! This final victory results in the exaltation of Yahweh as described in Psalm 145:10: "All your works will praise you, O Yahweh!" The whole universe will then be cleansed, so one could diligently seek to find a wicked person, and there would be none. (Psalm 37:10) For "the meek will inherit the earth and delight themselves in the abundance of peace." (Psalm 37:11) "Let everything that has breath praise Yahweh!" (Psalm 150:6) What a happy time that will be then!
Related Links:
Both Yahweh Judges and His Son Judges
Unbelievers Saved (Delivered) for Judgment in Last Day
Mankind’s Coming Day of Judgment
Ages in the Bible and the Last Day of Judgment
The Third Heaven and Paradise
Whoever Will Call Upon the Name of Yahweh
The Repentance of 2 Peter 3:9

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