2000-05-11 - Judgment of the Nations
The Judgment Series, Part 2
Matt 25:31-34 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 "And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (NAS)
The scene is after the second coming of Jesus Christ. Zech 14 describes the scene as the glorified Christ returns to fight for Israel in their darkest hour. When all seems lost, and the remaining inhabitants of Jerusalem are trapped, Jesus will touch down on the Mount of Olives splitting it in two from east to west. The newly formed valley will save the remnant allowing them to escape probably to the ancient city of Petra.
The nations, or the gentiles, who are alive as Jesus draws human history to a close will stand before the Lord to be judged. The location will be the valley of Jehoshaphat. Those gathered will be divided into two groups. The sheep, those who have accepted Jesus as Savior on the right and the goats, those who have refused His salvation on the left.
The statement is that judgment will be based on how the individual has treated God's chosen people, Israel. The implication is that Christians will respect the instruction of God regarding Israel. Most believers will recognize Israel as a special people. We are told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. We are warned that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed and whoever curses Israel will be cursed. This should be a stern note to any government or people today as they turn their backs one by one against the Jewish state and her people. Those who know Jesus as Savior should recognize God's instruction. It appears that the treatment of the Jews will be enough to condemn those who have not accepted the Lord.
Joel 3:1-3 "For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2 I will gather all the nations, And bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there On behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; And they have divided up My land. 3 "They have also cast lots for My people, Traded a boy for a harlot, And sold a girl for wine that they may drink. (NAS)
There is one paramount point that rings out. While the love of God is limitless and free, there is a time when the offer will be withdrawn. When someone says they need more time to think about accepting Jesus there is a danger. It is appropriate to remind them that by not making any decision they are making their decision against accepting, at least for the time being. None of us know when we will be called away from this life to eternity. At that moment, the decision is made - for good or for ill, it is done. While few of us expect death to come soon, for some it could be imminent without their knowing.
Matt 25:41-43 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' (NAS)
If there is anything that should give a Christian urgency regarding the salvation of those who God leads into our path it is this passage. There is a time when there will be no more time to consider or put off this uncomfortable decision and talk of death and eternity. All that will be left will be a certain, terrifying punishment for those who do not know Jesus as Savior. There will be no blameshifting or excuses. No one will claim that there is any unfairness in the judgment. Eternal separation from the love of God will be Hell without the flames and pain. Knowing that God extended every opportunity and each one was put off or otherwise refused until the offer could no longer be continued. Everything imaginable was offered for the price of our soul, which we can not keep, and the offer was left on the table in our pride. Time's up. Game over.
We are promised that one day all tears will be wiped away in Heaven. The language there, leaves room for a delay where there will be tears and possibly great mourning and sadness. It should pain us all greatly as believers to imagine friends or family walking into eternal punishment - never to be seen again. The only way I can imagine never having any tears after that would be for God to miraculously erase those people from our memories. Far worse than being punished would be to be forgotten by those we love.
Lord Jesus - Night is coming and the day is far spent. People live today like they will live forever and eternity is something they will never have to deal with. Help us rattle them from their complacent daydream. Give us courage to seize opportunities You give us - seasoned with grace and mercy. If we live the love You have shown us before, they may come to us when their world starts to shake and their hearts know fear or uncertainty. Then the love and mercy will have already worked on their hearts and the way will be prepared for us to share Your salvation with them. Amen.
Grace & Peace,