End-Time Prophecy

PART 4 - The Eternal Reign of Christ. - Judgements and Resurrections after the Lord's Return.

JUDGMENTS and RESURRECTIONS AFTER THE LORD’S RETURN.

A.  JUDGMENT: Satan and his demons are bound for 1000 years. 
Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.  He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3).   He will only be thrown into the Lake of Fire after the 1000 years (Rev 20:10).   Here it only mentions that satan is bound but Isaiah 24:21-23 makes it clear that all fallen angels and demons will suffer the same fate. 
It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD will punish on high the host of exalted ones (fallen angels) and on the earth the kings of the earth (men). They will be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and will be shut up in the prison (both unbelieving men and fallen angels will be in prison in Hades under the earth); after many days they will be punished (after 1000 years they will be thrown into the Lake of Fire).  Then (in the Millennium) the moon will be disgraced and the sun ashamed; for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His elders, gloriously (His glory will outshine the sun!).

Isaiah 24-27 is Isaiah’s Apocalypse. 
Isa 24:1-20 describes the judgments of the Tribulation that come because of man’s sin - the people have broken the everlasting covenant (v5) by rejecting Christ and His atoning sacrifice.  This is the ultimate cause of the Tribulation and the wrath of God. 
Then v21-23 we see the transformation caused by the Lord’s Return. 
Isa 25 is a song of praise for the Kingdom blessings.  In connection with satan’s removal is the removal of his veil of deception and unbelief that covers the world at present (2Cor4:4) : 
He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations (v7).   Also the righteous dead are raised up and those alive will not die: 
He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth (v8). 
Unbelieving nations will be judged and there will be no more wars (v10-12).   
Isa26 continues the song of praise for peace after the Tribulation. 
v19 describes the joyful resurrection of the just and v20,21 the return of the Lord after the Tribulation to judge the wicked, especially Leviathan (satan) - Isa27:1.    This leads to the restoration of Israel as a fruitful vineyard in the land (v2,6, c.f. 5:1-7) through the New Covenant.   For this Israel will be regathered to the land and worship the Lord at Jerusalem (v12,13).

When Jesus came the demons were so afraid of being bound in the pit - the place of torment (Luke16:28). 
They were afraid that Jesus would destroy (ruin, nullify) them (Mark 1:24) and begged Him: 
What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? 
I implore You by God that You do not torment me (Mark 5:7). 
'What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God?   
Have You come here to torment us before the time?' 
It even seems they were aware of the 6000 years of Adam’s lease that gave satan a right to operate on earth and that time was not yet up.  When it is up, all demons will be thrown into the Pit. 
Jesus asked him, saying, What is your name? And he said, Legion, because many demons had entered him. And they begged Him that He would not command them to go out into the abyss (pit)
 (Luke 8:30,31).  Some angels are already in chains awaiting final judgement because of a particular sin they committed (1Peter 3:18-20, 2Peter 2:4; Jude 6).   It seems the Church will have a part to play in this judgement: Do you not know that we shall judge angels? (1Cor 6:3).  Also: Rom16:20.

B. The Antichrist and the False Prophet are RESURRECTED and thrown into the lake of fire: 
Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshipped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone (Rev19:20).

In Daniel 7 he sees the rise of antichrist in v8.   Finally at Mid-Tribulation he proudly claims to be god.  This sets in motion God’s final judgement upon him: I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool.  His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire.  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him (final judgement - the Lake of Fire).  A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened (the record of his and his followers’ lives).  I watched then because of the sound of the pompous words which the horn was speaking;  I watched till the beast was slain (the physical death of antichrist), and its body destroyed and given to the burning flame (the eternal death of antichrist as he is thrown into the Lake of Fire).  As for the rest of the beasts (kings), they had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time (v9-12).   The other kings who were part of antichrist’s empire are killed but they go to Hades.  They are not thrown into the Lake for another 1000 years. The antichrist and false-prophet go in 1000 years before anyone else.

The One who destroys the power of antichrist is seen in a new vision (v13-14).  He is: the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven ! (v13a).  When Jesus claimed that He was the Divine Son of Man Who would fulfil this prophecy, the Jewish leaders found him guilty of blasphemy:  I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven (Matt 26:64).

First, He is seen coming before the Throne to obtain from the Father the authority  to establish His Kingdom on earth and to judge all opposers: He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.   Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed (v13b,14).  This was fulfilled at the ascension with the clouds of heaven (Acts 1:9) from which time He has been seated at the right hand of God. 
Next, He will come to earth with the clouds of heaven, in power and glory to judge antichrist and reign as King of Kings.

World-dominion will pass into the hands of the Lord and His people: But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever (v18). 
I was watching; and the same horn (antichrist) was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them (this applies especially to Israel) until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favour of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom (v21,22).

In the interpretation Daniel is given a summary: 
The fourth beast (ROME) shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all other kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, trample it and break it in pieces. 
The ten horns are ten kings (and kingdoms) who shall arise from this kingdom (a 10-nation federation). 
And another (antichrist) shall rise after them. 
He shall be different from the first ones, and shall subdue three kings (he rises to leadership of Rome).

At Mid-Tribulation: He shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High (believing Israel in particular), and shall intend to change times and law.   Then the saints shall be given into his hand for a time and times and half a time (the Great Tribulation). ‘But the court (in Heaven) shall be seated, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and destroy forever (he is thrown into the Lake of Fire). Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High.  His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him (the Kingdom of God is established with believers possessing the dominion on the earth - v23-27).

C. The RESURRECTION and JUDGEMENT for reward of the remaining dead saints. 
This is the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation martyrs. As the Church goes before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged for reward soon after the Rapture, likewise these other righteous dead will be judged when they are raised.  What we said in Part 2 about the rewards for the Church also applies to these saints.

This principle of resurrection then judgment for reward is in Luke 14:13,14: But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. 
2Tim4:1,2: I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing (the Rapture) and His Kingdom (the Second Coming): Preach the word!

The Judgement of the righteous happens at their resurrection and is a major motivation to serve God (see also Phil 3:10-14, Hebrews 11:35).   The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) applies to the judgement of all believers by Jesus Christ at His Coming - it refers first to those resurrected at Christ’s Return and those still alive at Christ’s Return, and then by extension to the Church at the Rapture.  The same is true of Luke19:11-27, which describes the rewarding of the ‘sheep’ and the killing of the ‘goats’ (v27) at Christ’s Return.

Daniel 12:1-3:  At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time (the Great Tribulation).  And at that time your people (Israel) shall be delivered (by Messiah’s return), every one who is found written in the book (believers in Israel).   And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake (the resurrection), some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt.  Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever (the righteous are rewarded with glory when they are resurrected).

Here we see that a resurrection happens at Christ’s Return.  First it seems that many but not all are raised.  Then it seems that both the righteous and wicked are raised together although the emphasis is on the righteous.  But Rev 20 makes it clear that unbelievers are only raised after the 1000 years.

A more literal translation of v2 should help: And (at that time) many (of thy people) shall awake (or be separated) out from among the sleepers in the earth’s dust. 
These (who awake)  shall be unto life everlasting 
but those (the rest of the sleepers who do not awake at this time) 
shall be unto shame and contempt everlasting.

Thus at Christ’s Return, all the righteous dead will be raised and then rewarded with glory, according to their good works (v3).

Daniel’s resurrection at this time is assured: But you (Daniel), go your way till the end; for you shall rest, and will arise to your inheritance (reward) at the end of the days (v13).

Isaiah 26:19-21:  Your dead shall live; together with my dead body (Isaiah’s resurrection) they shall arise.   Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; for your dew is like the dew of herbs (a new fresh beginning), and the earth shall cast out the dead (bodies). Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation is past (the remnant are protected in the Great Tribulation).  For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity (the Second Coming) the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain (all sins will be revealed). 
Again this resurrection of believers is linked to the Return of Christ.  The order of events is Tribulation, then Second Coming, then Resurrection.

The Old Testament saints raised at this time include Job, who said: For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!  (Job 19:25-27). 
He knew his resurrection is to be at the Coming of Christ to the earth. 
Oh, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would conceal me until Your wrath is past, that You would appoint me a set time, and remember me!   If a man dies, shall he live again? All the days of my hard service I will wait, till my change (resurrection) comes. You shall call, and I will answer You; You shall desire the work of Your hands (Job 14:13-15).

Other references to this resurrection in the Old Testament are Psalm 49:15; Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14.

In Haggai 2:6-9 God describes the shaking of the heavens and the earth in the Tribulation, followed by the Coming of  Messiah bringing peace and glory especially to the Temple. Then He says: Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: I will shake heaven and earth (the Tribulation).  I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdoms (the Second Coming). I will overthrow the chariots and those who ride in them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.   In that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel, My servant, the son of Shealtiel, says the LORD, and will make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the LORD of hosts (v21-23). 
This is a beautiful promise of resurrection for Zerubabbel at the Second Coming.

The Church:  I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them (Rev 20:4a). 
This refers to the Church-saints, who are already raptured, sitting on thrones from which they will reign with Christ for 1000 years - 1Cor 6:2,3; Rev 2:25-27, 3:21; 2Timothy 2:12; Matthew19:28).

The Tribulation martyrs:  Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshipped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands (martyred in the Tribulation) and they lived (they were resurrected) and reigned with Christ for a thousand years (Rev 20:4b).

The resurrected saints from the Old-Testament and Tribulation are called the  ‘Friends of the Bridegroom’. 
They include John the Baptist (John 3:29) who will be invited to the Wedding Feast with which the Millennium will begin.

Now all believers will have been raised, but the unbelievers are still in death. (But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished).  This is the first resurrection.  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection (all believers). Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years (Rev 20:5,6). 
This makes it clear that unbelievers are not part of this resurrection.   They are not raised until after the 1000 years.So, during the Millennium only unbelievers are in death (Hades).   When raised, believers are judged to determine reward which includes the extent to which they will reign with Christ in the Millennium (see Luke 19:11-27 and Matthew 25:14-30 where good servants are given rulership of even five or ten cities).

There are two basic resurrections (John 5:29, Daniel 12:2) 
one for believers and one for unbelievers (John 5:28,29): 
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth- 
-(1) those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and 
-(2) those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Acts 24:14,15: Believing all things written in the Law and the Prophets.   I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

Revelation 20:5,6 makes it clear that these resurrections are separated by a 1000 years.  It also identifies those in the first resurrection as all believers in a most clear way.  Therefore the second resurrection which happens 1000 years after the first one is completed, is that of unbelievers.

After resurrection is always judgment to determine and seal a person’s eternal state and destiny. 
1. Those in the First Resurrection avoid the Second Death (the lake of fire) and are judged for reward and given their measure of glory. 
2. But those in the Second Resurrection are judged and sent to the Second Death (eternity in the Lake of Fire) - Revelation 20:11-15.

With all believers raised, the first resurrection is now complete.  This tells us that no believers will die in the Millennium and have to be raised - they simply receive a transformed body to enter the Eternal State (much like those in the Church who are alive at the Rapture).   Believers in the Millennium will be given transformed bodies at the end (1Corinthians 15:26) but do not die and so are not raised.

RESURRECTIONS (Summary) 
God’s Resurrection programme is in stages (or in army ranks) -each  in his own ORDER (1Corinthians 15:23). 
‘ORDER’ is a military word for a RANK or TROOP. 
All will be raised but it will be one TROOP or COMPANY at a time, in military procession.

1Corinthians 15:20-26: But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (believers).  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all (believers and unbelievers) shall be made alive. 
But each one in his own order (RANK or TROOP): 
1. Christ the first fruits, 
2. Afterward those who are Christ’s at His Coming (all believers raised), 
3. Then comes the end (this refers to the resurrection of all unbelievers at the end of time so that death has been completely defeated as Paul goes on to explain) when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death (for death to be fully defeated, believers in mortal bodies at the end of the Millennium must also receive a changed body).

The First Resurrection (of Believers) 
 1. Christ - the First Fruits (1Corinthians 15:20,23). 
 2. Others raised at the same time as Christ (Matt 27:52,53) - ‘Firstfruits-Wavesheaf’ (Leviticus 23:10,11). 
 3. The Church - at the Pre-Tribulation Rapture (1Thess 4:13). 
 4. The 144,000 - at Mid-Tribulation (Rev 14:1-5). 
 5. The 2 Witnesses - at Mid-Tribulation (Rev 11:11,12). 
 6. The Old Testament Saints (Daniel 12:1-3; Isaiah 26:19; Job 19). 
This happens after the Tribulation and Second Coming.  Unbelievers are not raised until after the 1000 years. 
 7.  The Tribulational Martyrs (Revelation 20:4). 
After the Second Coming, before the 1000 years. The Church (elders) are already on thrones in v4.  These complete the first resurrection - all believers are now resurrected (Revelation 20:5,6).  Only unbelievers will die in the Millennium.

The Second Resurrection (of all unbelievers) (Revelation 20:11-15). 
These are described as the dead - the spiritually dead.   All unbelievers (now being dead) are raised for judgment after the 1000 years and thrown into the Lake of Fire, for their works were not sufficient to save them.

FINAL DESTINIES: All are either RAISED in the First Resurrection to LIFE, or raised in the Second Resurrection to the SECOND DEATH - the Lake of Fire.

The Post-Tribulation Rapture is based on understanding Revelation 20:4-6 as the one resurrection for all believers.   But clearly the resurrection in v4 is only of those who refused the mark of the beast in the Tribulation.  One problem with a Post-Tribulation Rapture is the question of who will populate the Millennium if all believers are raised at the end of the Tribulation?  One objection to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is that it means that the First Resurrection takes place in stages.   However this is clearly also the case for a Post-Tribulation Rapture.  Firstly, Christ was raised.   Then we see His Bride (the Church) with Jesus in Revelation 19 just before His Return, so she must be raised at least some time before this.  Then, Revelation 20 shows others being raised after His Return.  Then there is also the rapture of the two witnesses at another time, giving us at least three stages to the First Resurrection.

MORE JUDGMENTS AT CHRIST’S RETURN

D. Judgment of those alive on earth at the end of the Tribulation. 
All people alive at Christ’s return will appear before Him to determine if they may enter the Kingdom or be removed.  Unbelievers are killed - destined for fire after the 1000 years.  Believers (the meek) shall inherit the Kingdom. The initial population of adults for the Millennium is comprised of believers only.  But they still have an ‘old sin-nature’ in their natural bodies (inherited from Adam) and so sin is still present and good Government is needed to restrain and punish it.

This judgment is described in two Parables: 
(1) The Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 37-43). 
(2)  The Good and Bad Fish (Matthew 13:47-50).

1. The Wheat and Tares (with interpretation): 
The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field (v24). 
Interpretation: He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man (v37). 
The field = the world, the good seeds = the sons of the kingdom (v38).

But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way (v25). 
Interpretation: The tares are the sons of the wicked one, the enemy who sowed them is the devil (v38,39).

But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared.  So the servants of the owner came and said to him, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares? 
He said to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?  But he said, No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest
 (v26-30). 
Interpretation: The harvest is the end of the age  (at the Return of Jesus, v39).

And at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers (v30). 
Interpretation: the reapers are the angels (v39).

First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them (v30). 
Interpretation: Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness,and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth (v40-42).

But gather the wheat into my barn (v30). 
Interpretation: Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. 
He who has ears to hear, let him hear! (v43).

This describes a Harvest at the end of the age - a world-wide judgment.

The essence of HARVEST is: 
(1) Gathering the whole crop together; 
(2) Separating the good from the bad (judgment to determine destiny); 
(3) Sending the two groups to their respective places. 
In this case, the angels help with the gathering.  All unbelievers are removed from the earth to be baptised in fire.   All believers go into the Kingdom of God.   The principle of this parable can be extended to also include those peoples who have already died - at the end of the age they will be separated by resurrection into two groups.  The Wheat enter the eternal Kingdom with glory.  The Tares (unbelievers) go to the Lake of Fire.

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.  And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”   So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped (Revelation 14:14-16).

The analogy of HARVEST is often used for this judgment.   The Harvest is: 
(1) The REAPING by the angels gathering all together before the Lord. 
(2) The SEPARATION of believers from unbelievers. 
(3) Unbelievers sent to FIRE (physical death followed by the lake of fire).

(2)  The Good and Bad Fish (Matthew 13:47-50): 
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet that was cast into the sea and gathered some of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore; and they sat down and gathered the good into vessels, but threw the bad away.   So it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire.   There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 
 
The angels will help in the gathering of the fish to one place and then in separating them into two groups

At His Return, Jesus will judge the living Jews and Gentiles separately.

1.  The Judgment of the Gentile Nations 
The GENTILES from all over the world will be gathered for judgment.

The first main passage for this is JOEL 3: For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah and Jerusalem (all Israel will be regathered), I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land (v1,2). 
The basis for their judgment is their treatment of Israel and the Jews.   This is expanded upon in v3-8.  Especially in the end-times, only believers will bless Israel and those who curse Israel will be cursed for they are unbelievers

This judgment already began in the Battle of Armageddon where the armies showed their hatred of Israel and were destroyed.

Joel 3:9-11 refer back to this earlier gathering for judgment: 
Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’  Assemble and come, all you nations, and gather together all around. 
Then Israel prays for Divine Intervention: 
Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O LORD (v11b).

Next the prophet returns to the gathering of the nations at the Valley of Jehoshaphat (in v2) 
This is an unknown valley but it might be the new valley formed when the Mount of Olives divided in two. 
Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations (Joel 3:12).  Here the judgment is on nations not armies, and Jesus is sitting not marching.

Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe (Joel 3:13a).

Come, trample the grapes; for the wine press is full, 
the vats overflow - for their wickedness is great (Joel 3:13b).

Here we have the double judgment imagery that we saw in Revelation: 
1. The Reaping of the Harvest (Revelation 14:14-17). 
2. The Treading of Grapes (Revelation 14:17-20).

These are the two aspects of the judgment of the nations. 
We saw Jesus treads the Grapes (the armies) at Armageddon (v13b). 
Also we have seen that the Reading of the Harvest by the sickle is the judgment of all those remaining (v13a). 
So Revelation makes it clear that the two parts of v13 happen on two different days.

Therefore, v13b moves our thoughts back to Armageddon which is continued in Joel 3:14-16a: 
'Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the Day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision (just before the Lord returns they have a last chance to decide to repent). 
The sun and moon will grow dark, and the stars will diminish their brightness (the blackout). The LORD also will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from (Heavenly) Jerusalem; the heavens and earth will shake (Christ’s Return) But the LORD will be a shelter for His people, and the strength of the children of Israel' (v16b). 
While great destruction takes place at the Lord’s Return, Israel will be protected. 

This security will continue through the Millennium.   Next, Joel describes more blessings of the Messianic Kingdom: 
So, you shall know that I (Jesus Christ) am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain.  Then Jerusalem shall be holy, and no aliens shall ever pass through her again.  And it will come to pass in that day that the mountains shall drip with new wine, the hills shall flow with milk, and all the brooks of Judah shall be flooded with water; a fountain shall flow from the house of the LORD and water the Valley of Acacias (v17-18).

v19-21 along with v4 show that national entities will be judged at this time as well as individuals, for their treatment of God’s people and this will determine their status in the Millennium.

In Isaiah 43, the regathering of Israel at Christ’s Return is described (v4-8), then the judgment of the nations in v9: 
Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things? Let them bring out their witnesses, that they may be justified; or let them hear and say, It is truth.

The second major passage that describes the judgment of the nations is Matthew 25:31-46, the Judgment of the Sheep and Goats:

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations (Gentiles) will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats (This gives the timing of this Judgment as just after the Second Coming).

Matthew 24:1-42 describes the Second Coming and its signs, then Matthew 24:43-25:46 describes the Judgments on earth when Jesus returns.  So it is a different judgment from the Great White Throne Judgment which is after the 1000 years (Revelation 20:11-15).

The concept is the same as the harvest. 
First the gathering, then the separation, then the sending to their final destiny. 
The picture is of a Shepherd: And He will set the sheep (believers) on His right hand, but the goats (unbelievers) on the left. 
They are separated according to their nature: SHEEP or GOATS.

Then the King will say to those on His right hand: 
Come, you blessed of My Father, 
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Believers enter the KINGDOM) 
for 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; 
I was naked and you clothed Me; 
I was sick and you visited Me; 
I was in prison and you came to Me. 
 Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 
Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, 
or thirsty and give You drink? 
When did we see You a stranger 
and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? 
And the King will answer and say to them, 
Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.

Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 
Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 
(Unbelievers are killed and destined for FIRE) 
for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; 
I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 
I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, 
naked and you did not clothe Me, 
sick and in prison and you did not visit Me. 
Then they also will answer Him, saying, 
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty 
or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, 
‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.

They are separated according to their nature: SHEEP (believers) or GOATS (unbelievers) which was revealed by their treatment of Jesus’ brethren (his natural brethren- the Jews and his spiritual brethren- Christians).  Their works are cited as evidence of their true nature and worthiness to be judged or allowed into the Kingdom.   While we could take this to mean all people, it specifically applies to the Jews who were greatly oppressed during the Tribulation.  Rahab is a good example of a Gentile who believed and showed her faith by protecting and looking after the Jewish spies and was saved through her faith.   Only believers would have stood against the anti-semitism of the antichrist and the devil.  A faith that does not show itself in works is not true faith.

And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (they are separated into two destinies).

This is a judgement of individuals to determine who enters the Kingdom. 
When Jesus exposes each man’s true nature by an examination of his life, all objections and excuses will be removed.

2.  THE JUDGMENT OF NATIONAL ENTITIES 
Jesus will also  judge the Gentile nations as well as the individuals to determine their existence and status in the Millennium.  The fundamental principle of this judgment is in Genesis 12:1-3: 
Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
 
The main criteria will be their treatment of Israel (and believers) in history (Matt25:35-45, Zephaniah 2:10, Joel 3:2). This blessing and cursing has been continuously working and the judgment of various nations is a major theme in the prophets.  An example of it is the horncutter’s prophecy in Zech 1:18-21 which describes four horns (nations) who dominated and mistreated Israel.  As a result God sent  four carpenters or horncutters (other nations) to cut these horns down to size.  Again and again nations who mistreated Israel fell.   This is the main reason Hitler failed.  We saw the coming judgment of Russia when it comes against Israel.  Psalm 83  is about a conspiracy of nations surrounding Israel (whose aim is the total destruction of Israel) which some see as fitting the present conditions.  The Psalmist describes their resulting destruction.   Finally antichrist and his Kingdom will persecute Israel.   He will attack and try to exterminate Israel.   Then Jesus returns to personally cut him down to size!   When Jesus returns He will bring the judgement of the nations to its consummation.  Whatever prophecies have not been fulfilled concerning the judgment of the nations will be fulfilled at Christ’s Return.  It will be the final pay-back for every nation.    Some nations will be occupied, some destroyed and some restored during the Millennium.

Examples: 
1.  LEBANON will be within the boundaries of Israel (Ezekiel 47:13-48:29) -occupation.  See Joel 3:4-8. 

2. JORDAN (Edom, Moab and Ammon) will suffer destruction and come under the control of Israel.   This is especially true for EDOM (Ezekiel 35:6-9, Jeremiah 49:7-13, 19-20, Obadiah 5-9, 17-21, Ezekiel 25:12-14).  MOAB will also suffer destruction (Jeremiah 48:1-46) but it will not be total (Jeremiah 48:47).   AMMON like Moab is destroyed (Jer 49:1,2) but there is a restoration (Jer 49:6).  After describing the regathering of Israel in unity for the Millennium, Isaiah 11:14 describes how Israel will occupy and assume control of Jordan. 

3. EGYPT (Destruction then conversion).  Isaiah 19:1-22 gives a detailed account.  She will be punished for her sins (v1-10) which were largely caused by bad leaders (v11-15).  Egypt went to war with Israel four times since 1948, resulting in heavy losses and a wrecked economy for Egypt.  As a result, there developed a fear of Israel (v16,17) fulfilled for the first time in our day.   Peace will come (v18) followed by Egypt’s conversion in the Tribulation (v19-22) when they will be oppressed by antichrist (Daniel 11:42,43).   They will realise that only Jehovah can save them and they will call to Him and He will deliver them (in the Tribulation they move against antichrist - Daniel 11:40). 
However, because of Genesis 12:3, there is a desolation to suffer due to her historic hatred for Israel (Joel 3:19).  But it will only last for the first 40 years of the Kingdom and then Egypt will be restored (Ezekiel 29:1-16).  Thus we see Egypt among the nations worshipping God at the Feast of Tabernacles in Zechariah 14:16-19. 

4.  ASSYRIA (IRAQ and SYRIA) will be converted and restored (Isaiah 19:23-25). 

5.  KEDAR and HAZOR (SAUDI ARABIA) will be destroyed (Jer 49:33). 

6.  ELAM (Persia-Iran) - destruction followed by a return and restoration (Jer 49:34-39). 

7. THE GAZA STRIP will be within the boundaries of Israel - occupation(Joel 3:4-8, Is11:14)

Desolate spots in the Millennium: 
1. Babylon (Isaiah 13:20-22, Jeremiah 50:39-40, 51:41-43). 
2. The capital of antichrist in the Tribulation called Babylon the Great will be a place of continual burning (Rev19:3) and confinement for evil spirits (Rev18:1,2). 
3.  Edom (Isaiah 34:8-15; Jeremiah 49:17,18; Ezekiel 35:10-15; Joel 3:19). 
  
3. The Judgment of Israel - to see who enters the Kingdom. 
ALL ISRAELITES will be regathered to the land when Jesus returns: 
He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:31).  The final regathering of Israel from the nations is a major topic of prophecy.   Here Jesus tells us that it will be done with angelic help and with the sound of a trumpet.

Zechariah 10:8-10 describes it as a shepherd hissing or whistling for his sheep to be gathered:  I will whistle for them and gather them, for I will redeem them; and they shall increase as they once increased.  I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; they shall live, together with their children, and they shall return.   I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria.   I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them (they will fill the land).  God will help the regathering: He shall pass through the sea with affliction, and strike the waves of the sea: all the depths of the River shall dry up.  Then the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the sceptre of Egypt shall depart.  So I will strengthen them in the LORD, and they shall walk up and down in His name says the LORD.

But only believers will enter the land.  (The Jews in the land at this stage are all believers but world-wide there is a mixture).  They will be gathered to a wilderness area outside the land and pass through a judgment of SEPARATION of believers and unbelievers.

This is in Ezekiel 20:33-38, where again the picture of a shepherd and his sheep is used: 
As I live, says the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury 
(judgment) poured out, I will rule over you.  I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.   And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you (enter into judgment) face to face (Jesus will do it personally).

Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case (enter into judgment) with you, says the Lord GOD. 
The fathers were judged by God in the wilderness.  Only two believers entered the Promised Land.  During the 40 years those who did not believe died in the wilderness. No unbelievers entered the land.

I will make you pass under the rod (Shepherd’s Crook), and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. 
This refers to separation or judgment.  In gathering his flock into the fold a shepherd would use his crook.   As they passed under it, he would separate his own sheep from those not his own or from other animals, such as goats.   Thus only believers will pass under the rod into the land, and so believing Israel will enter her full inheritance given by the Abrahamic Covenant.  In the Kingdom every aspect of this Covenant will be restored and fulfilled for Israel. 
I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel.   Then you will know that I am the LORD
 (v38).  This is the removal of unbelievers by death.

v39-44 describe repentant Israel in the Kingdom: 
As for you, O house of Israel, thus says the Lord GOD: Go, serve every one of you his idols - and hereafter - if you will not obey me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols.  For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel, says the Lord GOD, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the first fruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things.   I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles.  Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers.  And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed.  Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord GOD.

Malachi 3:2-5:  Believers will enter the land purified: 
But who can endure the Day of His Coming? 
And who can stand when He appears? 
 (although He comes to deliver believing Israel, He also comes to judge all men).

For He is like a refiner’s fire (even for the sheep - the believers - the judgment includes a searching examination of their works and motives which will have the effect of a refining fire that purifies metals from impurities - much like the Church’s judgment at the ‘Bema’ (1Corinthians 3:12-15; see Part 2).  The judgment of believers’ works will determine rewards which will affect their position in the Millennial Kingdom).

And like fullers’ soap (a fuller or laundry-man used powerful soap!  When it went in the water with the washing all the insects and lice died and the scum floated to the surface).

He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver (those who are redeemed, for that is the symbolism of silver). 
This will be an exacting judgment and purification of Israel, especially for those who are called to be involved in the Millennial Temple worship, for theirs is a higher responsibility and glory and so a higher standard will be expected: He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness.   Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasant to the LORD, as in the days of old, as in former years.

And I will come near you for judgment;  I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien - because they do not fear Me, says the LORD of hosts.  This is the removal of all unbelievers.

Zephaniah 3:8-17:  Therefore wait for Me, says the LORD, 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 shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.   For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one accord.  From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshippers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering.  In that day you shall not be ashamed for any of your deeds in which you transgress against Me; for then I will take away from your midst, those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty In My holy mountain.  I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.  The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.   Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more.   In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.

In the New Testament, Jesus describes this Judgment on Israel at His Return in two parables in Matthew 25:1-13; and 25:14-30 before He describes the Judgment on the Gentiles in 25:31-46.  The context is clearly His Coming.

The key parable is the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1-12). 
Then (at the Second Coming) the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the Bridegroom. 
The timing is the Return of Christ with His Bride - the Church. These ten virgins are not the Bride.  They hope to be guests at the Marriage Feast.  The Church is the Bride.  She is presently betrothed (2Cor 11:2) to be married (Eph 5:22-33).  The Wedding will take place after the Rapture but before the Second Coming, for in Rev19:7-9 when Jesus is about to return, He is a married Man going forth with His wife to the Marriage Feast.  Those invited to the marriage feast (the wedding reception) are called blessed (v9).   The marriage ceremony has happened in Heaven and they are returning to the marriage feast on earth.  The Return of Christ is the Groom coming with His Bride to the Wedding Feast on earth.  This fits with the Wedding format.  First, is the betrothal.  Then the Groom goes to prepare the marital home (John 14:1-3).   Then he returns and takes her with him to this home where they are married. Then after time together alone, face to face for the first time, they go out together to the Wedding Feast, usually in another place.   This is the setting - the Bride and Groom are now married and return to earth together.

This is confirmed by a similar parable in Luke 12:35: 
Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.  Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.

The virgins at royal weddings were friends of the bride (the queen) who were there to wait on the Bride (in Revelation 14:1-4 there is a group of Jews alive in the Tribulation who are called virgins).    They represent the Jews on earth who are waiting for the Bridegroom (Messiah) to come so that they can enter His Feast and the Kingdom - they will be under the Bride in authority in the Kingdom.   They should be at the feast unless something disqualifies them.

The other wedding guests are ‘the friends of the bridegroom’ such as John the Baptist (John 3:29). 
These are Old Testament and Tribulation saints who are resurrected at this time and go into the Feast.

Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 
As Jews, they are all looking for Messiah to come but not all are saved.  Some have believed on Jesus, that He died for their sins and have the oil of the Holy Spirit.   The others never asked the Lord to save them and do not know Him.  Just before the Bridegroom came the waiting virgins would pour oil into their lamps and light them up.  The lamp represents them and their life.  A lamp with oil means they are indwelt by the Spirit and that lamp lit up represents a shining  testimony (John 5:35).  The wise ones all had a testimony of salvation but the foolish ones had only their lamps (lives) to hold forth.  They will be saying:  We’ve lived good lives.  Why do we need the Holy Spirit?

But while the Bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. 
And at midnight a cry was heard: Behold, the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him! 
Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps (prepared them for lighting). 
As the Bridegroom approaches in glory the religious but unsaved Jews realise their works cannot save them compared to the Lord’s glory and they start to panic because they are not ready. 
And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out 
(no oil in their lamps - they just have a smelly, smoking wick; they realise their religious flame is no good for the coming Groom and are not ready to meet Him.  Here we see that to be ready for the Lord’s Return means being saved).

But the wise answered, saying, No, lest there should not be enough for us and you, but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.  You can only receive the Spirit direct from Jesus but at this time it is too late - they had their chance before.  The time of grace is over. This is a pointed remark to the foolish ones about their religion.  You cannot buy (earn or deserve) the Holy Spirit, as they have been trying to do.

And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding (feast); and the door was shut.  
Here we see the permanent separation of believers and unbelievers.  The believers go into the Feast (and Kingdom) with Jesus and celebrate.  They are the blessed of Revelation 19:9.

The unbelievers are excluded: Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us! 
But he answered and said, Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.

When Jesus returns everyone will face judgment (Acts17:31).  The message is to be READY for this judgment, which will confirm and seal each person into their eternal destiny.   There are two possible destinies (eternal life or death) depending on a man’s state when Jesus returns.    As well as this separation of believers and unbelievers, believers will receive different measures of reward at this time.

The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) is about the judgment of believers for rewards of authority in the Kingdom at Christ’s Return (it applies to those in natural and those in resurrected bodies, both Jew and Gentile).

John the Baptist described the judgment of unbelievers at Christ’s Return as the BAPTISM of FIRE. 
Although he was primarily speaking to Israel, his message also applies to the Gentiles.

Matthew 3:6-9:   And were baptised by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers!  who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (John is talking about judgment).  Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.    For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones (they needed to repent and believe on Jesus to be saved, and not trust in their Jewishness).

And even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the FIRE (v10).  Trees bearing good fruit will remain standing.  The others will be cut down and thrown into the FIRE.   This fire is burning judgment.  But who will do this judgment?   John?  No - Another who is much greater:   I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the HOLY SPIRIT and FIRE (v11).

When Jesus comes as a mighty King, He will perform two Baptisms for Israel: 
1.  The baptism in the HOLY SPIRIT is for believers. 
2.  The baptism in FIRE is for unbelievers.

v12 confirms this with a picture of Harvest which as we have seen is a picture of judgment at the end of this age: 
His winnowing fan (a grain shovel) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. 
Reapers put all the harvested grain on the threshing floor where animals would tread it until the wheat and chaff fell apart.  Then using a grain-shovel, they threw the mixture into the air and the wind would blow the chaff away leaving only the wheat.  This is a picture of the separation of believers and unbelievers.

1. The wheat (believers) will be gathered into the barn (the Kingdom) and will all receive the Baptism (Fullness) of the Holy Spirit as part of the new Covenant blessing for the Millennium.

2. Jesus will thoroughly clean His threshing floor (the earth) by removing all the chaff (unbelievers - see Psalm 1:4).  He removes them from the earth by death.   Then (after the 1000 years) He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable FIRE (Revelation 20:15).   This is the BAPTISM OF FIRE.

This whole passage is about the judgment of unbelievers at Christ’s Return.  He will separate them from believers and send them to the Lake of Fire which is everlasting (fire in this passage consistently refers to the judgment of unbelievers).

We found that the exact same thing happens to the Gentiles (Matt 25:31-46):  The goats are separated from the sheep and sent to the Lake of Fire.  This is the Baptism of Fire.   The sheep will then be baptised in the Spirit for the Millennium.  So everyone will either be baptised in the Spirit or in Fire.

It is interesting that in Acts 1, Jesus referred to John’s message when He applied it to the Church.  But He did not quote John exactly:  For John truly baptised with water, but you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now (v5).  Notice He omits the reference to FIRE because He is talking about those in the Church Age.  They would soon be Baptised in the Spirit but the Baptism in Fire would be 2000 years away.  He did not say that: ‘you shall be baptised with the Holy Spirit and fire not many days from now’.  When John ministered, both baptisms were imminent because the Kingdom could have come in that year, but when Israel rejected Christ, it was delayed and thus the return of Christ as King and Judge was delayed.  Thus Judgment also was delayed for 2000 years.    But in God’s grace, the Baptism in the Spirit was not delayed.

Now the disciples knew from the prophets (especially Joel 2) that God would baptise all Israel in the Spirit at the start of the Millennium so, Therefore, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?  They rightly associated the new covenant and the Baptism of the Spirit with the Kingdom Age.  What they did not realise was that although Israel as a nation were not ready to receive the Baptism in the Spirit, God was creating a new body - the Church (a mystery), who in Christ, would come into all the blessings of the new covenant in His Blood, including the Baptism in the Spirit.  Thus the Church experiences the powers belonging to and originally destined for the age to come (Hebrews 6:5).  This power is for our witness to the ends of the earth (v8).

The Baptism in the Spirit came at Pentecost which would have been the day God would have entered into the New Covenant with Israel had they accepted Jesus.  Instead, God kept His appointment and baptised all individuals who believed forming them into a new community of faith which would include Gentiles on an equal basis.  Thus all the Scriptures prophesying new-covenant spiritual blessings to Israel in the Kingdom can rightly be applied to the Church now because since Christ died believers can enter into the new covenant in His Blood.   However, this does not nullify their primary fulfilment to Israel in the Kingdom.

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