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Judgment of the Nations

29 Nov

Sheep and GoatsNot long ago I had believed Matthew 25:31-46 depicted a time when Jesus would judge the whole world, i.e. every man and woman who ever lived. The problem with this understanding is, it removes it from the context of the rest of the Olivet Discourse. The Olivet Discourse concerns events that would transpire in the Apostles’ expected lifetimes. Remember, the Apostles were troubled over Jesus’ prediction that the Temple would be destroyed (Matthew 23:37-39; 24:1-2). Therefore, later, four of them approached Jesus privately and asked: when these things would take place, and what would be the sign of his coming and the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). For Jesus at this point to then speak of universal judgment, i.e. every man and woman who ever lived, snatches this parable out of the context of the first century AD.

I have been demonstrating that all the events mentioned in the Olivet Discourse referred to matters that occurred in the first century and culminated in Jesus judgment of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. If Matthew 25:31-46 cannot point to that event, then, however well my argument may have been presented for things prior to verse-31 and following, it must be rejected, because my interpretation depends upon the Olivet Discourse being a single united prophecy.

Matthew 24:30-31  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  (31)  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Here we have Jesus coming in glory (verse-30), with his angels (verse-31), judgment is implied in that the tribes (of Israel) mourn, and the elect are gathered together. The fact that this occurs at the sound of the trumpet also indicates resurrection (see 1Corinthians 15:52; 1Thessalonians 4:16), which, once again, places the context at the time when the books are opened and the living and the dead are judge out of them (cf. Revelation 20:11-15). Notice, as well, that at this time Jesus sits on his throne (Revelation 20:11), which answers to Jesus sitting on the throne of his glory in Matthew 25:31. All these things I have demonstrated in previous studies concerned Jesus’ coming and his judgment upon Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.

Finally, we could consider once again Jesus’ statement to his Apostles and the crowds with them in Matthew 16. There, Jesus spoke of his suffering and death (Matthew 16:21), and anyone who followed him wouldn’t be treated differently by the authorities of that age (Matthew 16:24-26). Yet, Jesus promised there would come a day of reckoning, a day of judgment of the wicked, and a day of vindication for the righteous. Notice how what Jesus claimed in Matthew 16:27-28 can be compared with what he said in Matthew 25:31:

Matthew 16:27-28 Matthew 25:31f
Coming of the Son of Man (v. 27-28) Coming of the Son of Man (v. 31)
Coming in Glory (v. 27) Coming in Glory (v. 31)
With the angels (v. 27) With the angels (v. 31)
Coming in judgment / reward (v. 27) Judgment / reward (v. 32-46)
Coming in the Kingdom (v. 28) Then shall he sit on the throne (v. 31)
There are some standing here that shall not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom (v.28)  

Therefore, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for removing Matthew 25:31 and following from the context of the rest of the Olivet Discourse. It remains a single, united prophecy about Jesus’ judgment upon Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD. At that time and from thenceforth, the nations (Matthew 25:32) would be judged by Jesus for how they received (or rejected) the Gospel.

 

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10 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2018 in 70 AD Eschatology

 

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10 responses to “Judgment of the Nations

  1. Alex

    March 7, 2019 at 20:34

    You are right that Matthew 24-25 is one seamless unit. But I don’t think AD 70 can bear the weight of Jesus’ language in the parable of the sheep and the goats. The ‘nations’ are to be judged based upon how they treated Christ’s missionary brothers. This looks toward not a destruction of Jerusalem but an end of pagan rule over the Roman empire. This seems to me where the kingdom of God and coming of the Son of Man imagery lands—on the collapse and conversion of the Greco-Roman world.

     
    • Eddie

      March 8, 2019 at 08:06

      Greetings Alex, and thank you for taking the time to comment to my study on the Judgment of the Nations.

      AD 70 can’t bear the weight of **modern interpretation** of what Jesus said in the Olivet Prophecy, **but** Jesus tells us in that prophecy that “this generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled.” If this is true, then we need to honor Jesus’ words by interpreting the Olivet prophecy, not according to our imagination, but according to Scripture. Indeed, 70 AD cannot beart the weight of **our imagination** but it can bear the weight of Scripture.

      The nations are judged, not according to how they treated the Lord’s representatives, but according to how humanely they treated their fellow citizens. In Matthew 25 no one knows the Lord, but the Lord identifies with the powerless and judges the powerful accordingly.

      Only Jerusalem was judged according to how they treated the Lord and those whom he sent to them. We see this in Matthew 23:29-38. In verse 36 Jesus said all that judgment would occur on his generation–the generation of Jews that rejected him and killed his apostles. In verse 37 he names Jerusalem as the killer of the prophets and those sent to them by God. Where does Jesus or any of the writers of the New Covenant Scriptures say that Jesus said anything like this to the Greco-Roman world?

       
      • Patricia Watkins

        March 8, 2019 at 14:07

        Hi Eddie,

        As usual, I am sitting in the middle between both positions here. It’s not a choice between EITHER the Jewish nation OR the Gentile nations – it’s a “both / and” interpretation of the judgment of the nations.

        About this judgment, you asked Alex, “Where does Jesus or any of the writers of New Covenant Scriptures say that Jesus said anything like this to the Greco-Roman world?” Well, we have both Peter and Paul mentioning a judgment that all the nations of the world would share in AD 70, as well as Jesus in this Matthew 25 context. The bewilderment of both the righteous and the unrighteous at not knowing how their actions in this life could have been done for or against Christ Jesus shows us that these were individuals from the centuries SINCE CREATION that had never even heard of Christ’s name. They are judged, not on their *head knowledge* of Christ, (since the vast majority of them lived and died long before Christ was born). Instead, they were judged on their hearts, and the actions that proceeded from what was in their hearts. Those actions revealed who they truly belonged to – the sheep family, or the goat family.

        The 70 AD resurrection was a judgment shared by all nations who had lived even before the Old Covenant was made with Israel, as well as those of Israel who had lived under the Old Covenant, during Christ’s ministry, and afterwards until the AD 70 resurrection. AD 70 was the resurrection judgment of the “past AGES” (plural) up until then. Colossians 1:26 is one text that proves there are more ages prior to the single OC Age connected to Israel.

        Paul’s message in Acts 17:22-31 to those on Mars Hill in Athens was most urgent. “And the times of this ignorance” (of Gentile nations worshipping idols) “God winked at; but NOW commandeth ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT: Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge” (“is ABOUT TO JUDGE”) “the WORLD in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto ALL MEN in that he hath raised him from the dead.”

        This was a warning of the soon-approaching AD 70 resurrection, in which those Athenians who died before then would face that same Christ in a resurrection judgment. The dead from the Gentile nations were most certainly going to participate in that AD 70 resurrection judgment, or Paul would not have been giving these Athenians a warning.

        Peter also included all groups in this resurrection judgment in I Peter 4 and 5. After telling these “elect sojourners scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (I Pet. 1:1) that “the end of all things is AT HAND” (I Pet. 4:7), he then told these believers that “…the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it FIRST begin WITH US” (God would bring persecution to perfect and refine His believing saints before His AD 70 coming), “what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved” (because deception was rampant in those last days, even among the churches), where shall THE UNGODLY” (the disobedient Jews who rejected Christ) “and THE SINNER appear?” (the Gentile sinners of the nations who had not repented before their death prior to AD 70’s resurrection. The word “sinner” was a title usually applied by the Jews to anyone living in the pagan Gentile nations, as Galatians 2:15 shows us.)

        Peter included the dead from all of these groups: of the believers, the “ungodly” Jews, and the Gentile “sinners”, who would all face the returning Christ in the AD 70 resurrection judgment of the sheep and the goats “when the chief Shepherd shall appear”. (I Peter 5:4). This glory of the “shief Shepherd’s” appearing was a “glory that is ABOUT TO BE REVEALED” in Peer’s time, as he stated in I Peter 5:1.

        Jerusalem and the disobedient Jews in Israel who rejected their Messiah and persecuted God’s prophets throughout history would indeed reap the greater share of judgment in the “Great Tribulation” of AD 66-70. (After all, “To whom much is given, much shall be required”, yes?) However, that doesn’t exclude other areas of the Gentile nations where the Jews had migrated and were living. Synagogues of the Jews were in almost every nation of the known world in those days, which would necessitate a judgment falling on those vicinities as well, in whatever nation the Jews had established a community.

         
        • Patricia Watkins

          March 8, 2019 at 14:33

          continued from above…

          Even Jesus on trial before Pilate told him that the Jews who had delivered Him unto Pilate had “the GREATER SIN” (John 19:11). By comparison, Pilate and the Roman soldiers who carried out the Jewish leadership’s malevolent plans to crucify Christ had LESS sin accounted to them, but they weren’t completely off the hook of culpability in this affair. Some of that “Great Tribulation” period’s tumultuous conditions did spill over onto the Roman world. Wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes, all of these in DIVERS PLACES from Matthew 24:6-14 were also experienced by the Gentile nations of the Roman world during those years of upheaval before AD 70 – though not as drastic as the conditions that Israel, Jerusalem, and the Jewish nation experienced under God’s days of vengeance poured out upon them.

          God intended the gospel to be preached in “ALL the habitable earth” for a witness to ALL nations before the end came (Matt. 24:14), which WAS done by the end of the OC Age in AD 70, as testified by Paul in Colossians 1:6 and 23, and other scriptures. That evangelistic coverage of ALL the nations was needed because ALL the dead from the entire habitable earth were going to face a resurrection judgment in AD 70. Speaking about the Gentiles in Colossians 1:27-28, this is why Paul said he was “warning EVERY man, and teaching EVERY man in all wisdom; that we may present EVERY man perfect in Christ Jesus.” This was more than just a matter of Jewish concern.

          And none of this above eliminates the reality of Christ’s THIRD coming in our future, for a resurrection judgment which will come at the end of the New Covenant Age for all who have lived and died since the AD 70 resurrection. The Great White Throne judgment is not a single, one-time-only event.

           
        • Eddie

          March 9, 2019 at 06:55

          Greetings once again, Patricia.

          I’m still wondering why you spent so much of your comment to conclude the gentiles were also judged in 70 AD. We have no disagreement here. On the other hand, perhaps it is that I questioned Alex about when a future judgment of the nations would be. I believe you know that I don’t look for such an event in our future, so my question for Alex was in hope he would also see there is none (perhaps I did that poorly, don’t know). There was an **end** of the Jewish nation in 70 AD, but there was not an **end** for the nations of this world. Why? Does this mean they weren’t judged? Of course not. We both agree the gentiles were also judged. In fact, everyone who had ever lived, prior to 70 AD came before the judgment seat of Christ.

          Now in your final paragraph I can see you are putting forth (what I consider to be) the real reason for your comment, namely, the 3 resurrections (your doctrine), which I assume require 3 judgments. Is that true? My question for you, then, would be the same that I put to Alex: through whom would a future judgment of the gentiles come? Jesus judged the Jews in 70 AD through Rome and her allies. Through whom would he judge the nations? I conclude Jesus uses believers to judge them—you know, tear down every stronghold and bring every heart to him. Our weapons, of course, are not physical ones like the nations use. Rather, our weapons are spiritual, because the Lord is overcoming the hearts of his enemies and adopting them into his family.

          Lord bless you, Patricia, and thanks again for reading my studies.

           
        • Eddie

          March 9, 2019 at 06:48

          Greetings Patricia, thank you for reading and for your comment, but I’m uncertain about what point you are making. I see you have a continuation, so I’ll reserve my commentary and reply to both this and your next reply after reading your second comment.

           
      • Alex

        March 8, 2019 at 14:38

        My issue is with the idea that in AD 70 God somehow judged “the nations” (Matthew 25:32). Surely Israel was judged then, but not “the nations.” A judgement on the nations would mean the collapse of the whole pagan imperial system (just as judgement on Israel meant the collapse of the whole Second Temple system)—which did occur through the testimony of the church. But admittedly this did not happen within the generation.

        The nations in the sheep and the goats are judged based on how they treated “the brothers of the king,” that is, brothers of Christ. The only people who are siblings of Christ are believers.

         
        • Eddie

          March 9, 2019 at 06:46

          Greetings Alex and thank you for your comment.

          “…A judgement on the nations would mean the collapse of the whole pagan imperial system (just as judgement on Israel meant the collapse of the whole Second Temple system)—which did occur through the testimony of the church. But admittedly this did not happen within the generation.”

          According to Revelation 11:15-19, at the sound of the seventh trumpet, the Lord Jesus reigns over the nations. The nations became angry over this fact, but, according to the Scriptures the time of the Lord’s judging them had come! The question is: do we still look for this to occur or did it occur already with the Lord’s judgment of the Jews in 70 AD?

          Moreover, how long would the judgment of the nations take? Jerusalem took roughly 4 to 6 years, depending upon whether you believe the destruction of the nation came with the capture of Jerusalem (70 AD) or Masada (72 AD). How long would it take to judge the nations, and by whom would that judgment be carried out? The Lord judged Jerusalem with Rome and her allies. Centuries before Christ, the Lord judged the nations by empowering the Jewish nation to either defeat other nations or shame their armies. Later, as Israel became corrupt the Lord used corrupt kings from the nations to judge and destroy different nations and kingdoms, Jewish or gentile. How, then, would the Lord judge the nations today, or more precisely, once Jerusalem was taken out of the way (cir. 70 AD)?

          According to the Scriptures, we are the ones (Gospel preaching believers) who have been empowered to tear down strongholds, but those strongholds are that of the mind (1Corinthians 10:3-6). We destroy the enemies of God by making them children of God. The judgment of the nations, indeed, has come and continues to this day, and that judgment is administered by God through us (believers). If you can’t agree with this, then how are the nations judged, and who does the Lord use to do that work? He has always used someone to do that service, and only rarely used angels or fire falling from heaven and the like. Who does Christ use today to judge the world?
          Lord bless you, Alex, as you consider these things.

           
        • Patricia Watkins

          March 10, 2019 at 18:46

          Hi Eddie,

          Sorry for the hitch in the post above – I must have accidentally hit “post” before I finished the comment. You asked if the three resurrections that I claim for my doctrine requires three judgments. Yes.

          The first resurrection judgment was written about in Daniel 7:10, when “the books were opened”. This was for the AD 33 “First Resurrection”, (as Rev. 20:5-6 calls it). It was a saints-only resurrection, with the “First-fruits” raised along with Christ. Christ was given a SINGLE kingdom then (Dan. 7:14), with ONE crown only, which pictured His permanent high priesthood as the Son of Man (Rev. 14:14). It would not be until the end of the Old Covenant Age when Christ would finally be wearing “MANY crowns” after the next resurrection judgment (Rev. 11:15 cp Rev. 19:12). We don’t read of the Book of Life being opened in Daniel 7:10, because ALL of these raised to life again in AD 33 were in the Book of Life – no unrighteous ones were included at that time.

          This “First Resurrection” included the number of 144,000 “First-fruits” saints who were given their glorified bodies then (the Matt. 27:52-53 saints, seen in Jerusalem), and these were told to “rest for a little season” (Rev. 6:11) by remaining on the earth until the AD 70 resurrection, in order to evangelize the nations and “edify the body of Christ” in the interim (Eph. 4:12).

          The second time the books were opened for a resurrection judgment was at the end of the OC Age in AD 70. The “just and the unjust” stood before God then, as Paul said was ABOUT TO happen in Acts 24:15. This was the resurrection judgment predicted in Rev. 20:12; a little bit different than the Daniel 7:10 resurrection judgment, because this time “ANOTHER book was opened” – the Book of Life. Any of the dead NOT written in this book experienced a “resurrection to damnation” in the AD 70 Lake of Fire taking place in Jerusalem. This was when the city was experiencing its “second death” (compared to the first time it was burned down by the Babylonians in 586 BC).

          All the rest of the souls of the righteous (besides the 144,000 First-fruits saints) were then given their own glorified bodies, changed into incorruptible ones, and together all of these were taken to heaven by Christ who had bodily-returned to the Mount of Olives location back then.

          Where you and I part company, Eddie, as you have noted, is that I see scripture presenting a culmination point of human history in our future in a third resurrection (although NOT an end of the planet itself, which “abides forever”). God has been incrementally working toward a time when evil will be COMPLETELY eradicated from our universe. That is, no more “dogs, sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:15). During our current New Heaven / New Earth reality, these evil influences still exist outside the gates of the New Jerusalem that we are now inhabiting as believers, but one day these evil ones outside the gate will be no more.

          God has already opened the books twice. He will yet open them a third time to judge those who have lived and died under the New Heaven / New Earth conditions of the New Covenant Age. Why should we not have our day of accounting and rewards, just as those in the past two resurrections had theirs? Why would God grant a physically-resurrected , glorified body to the “First-fruits” Matt. 27 saints, and neglect to give the same hoped-for reward to us in the family of God who will be the “Last-fruits”, so to speak? As “fellow-heirs” with Christ, we are all destined to inherit the same shared, glorified state that Christ is currently in, who calls Himself our brother.

          In the meantime, the New Jerusalem’s Tree of Life is presently yielding fruit continually, and its leaves are continually available for the “healing of the nations”. One individual soul after another. The saints living in this city on earth currently have a “ministry of reconciliation” among the nations, as Paul called it, which I’m sure you agree with.

          Eddie, you have asked, “…through whom would a future judgment of the Gentiles come?” Actually there really isn’t a Jew / Gentile classification system per se anymore; that system was outmoded and gotten rid of by the establishment of the New Covenant. As far as any present-day, temporal judgment of the nations is concerned, God still practices the raising up of one nation against another in judgment, to keep mankind’s evil in check, though apparently not in the same world-empire style as portrayed by Daniel’s image of the four world-wide kingdoms from antiquity. Plus, as you are emphasizing in your recent comments, the saints through Christ are exercising spiritual authority over the nations by the influence of the gospel.

          For the issue Alex has raised – that somehow a judgment on “the nations” would have required a collapse of the pagan imperial system, I would say this. God did indeed bring a collapse within the pagan imperial system in AD 70; just not of the political variety that Alex is probably thinking of. What God did by crushing Daniel’s entire statue of the four kingdoms to dust, all at THE SAME TIME in AD 70, was to crush the demonic world to extinction that had been operating behind the scenes in every one of those four ancient kingdoms until then.

          Christ once called Satan “the prince of this world”. He boasted to Christ in Luke 4:6 that the power of all the kingdoms of the world had been given to him (which was when Adam and Eve abdicated their dominion over the world by the Fall in the Garden of Eden). Some of Satan’s angels were originally members of God’s “divine council” who had fallen by accepting human worship. Their original mission of being the “Watchers” over the world’s affairs then became twisted into evil intentions against those nations instead.

          This is why we have demonic princely powers opposing righteous angelic princes in Daniel 10. After AD 70, however, that entire “divine council” system was disbanded, and the entire demonic kingdom destroyed. The nations of the “world to come” after the AD 70 end of the OC Age would no longer be “subjected” to either the supervision of the good angels or to the deceptive intrusion of the evil angels. (Heb. 2:5 – “For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.”)

          The “collapse” Alex mentioned above on Mar. 8 wasn’t really a judgment on the POLITICAL systems of the nations in AD 70, but a judgment on all of the evil angelic SPIRITUAL powers, who had been corrupting those nations by deception until then.

          Ever since AD 70, any present evil in the world now remains entirely the responsibility of the evil desires within the hearts of mankind alone; evil which will be finally judged at the third resurrection judgment in our future. “For we must ALL appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10). No exceptions. For believers with Christ’s imputed righteousness covering us on that day, this doesn’t have the same terrifying prospect for us that it will have for those with no such covering on that day.

           
        • Eddie

          March 11, 2019 at 08:10

          Greetings Patricia, and thank you, once again, for your willingness to discuss these things on my website. Lord bless you.

          I really wasn’t looking to debate the “three resurrections” (and judgments) with you. We discussed this before, and nothing resulted from that discussion. I mentioned them, because you seemed to be tying them into some “agreement” we have. I don’t mean to be unkind, Patricia, but I believe in only one resurrection from the dead and one judgment. The “first resurrection” as it is called in Scripture, is a spiritual one, whereby the saints have been “resurrected” out of their spiritual darkness (Ephesians 2:1-10). This resurrection has nothing to do with rising out of the graves, or the 144000 being given glorified bodies. You are reading your interpretation into the text.

          Concerning Matthew 27:52-53, which you seem to interpret as the 144000 coming out of the graves with Jesus and remaining on earth until 70 AD, where does the text say anything like this? The 144,000 coming into Jerusalem and appearing to folks should have created quite a stir. To whom did they “appear”? Certainly, none of the disciples knew about them during the whole day of Jesus’ resurrection. As far as they were concerned, even Jesus was a spiritual apparition. He had to eat some of their food and have them handle him before they would even consider he had actually risen out of the grave! So, where is this 144,000 who appeared to folks in the city of Jerusalem after Jesus rose from the dead? The Scriptures are silent, and your interpretation simply isn’t supported there.

          Concerning Daniel 7:14, once more, your interpretation doesn’t work, because there the Scriptures claim that the Son of Man was given dominion over all people, nations and languages. So, whether you consider that to be one crown or many, it is still a dominion over all nations. Daniel 7:14 doesn’t claim what you want it to say.

          Concerning a culmination point, you are correct that we disagree here. We are in the age that has no end (Ephesians 3:21), as far as I am concerned. But, this isn’t, as I mentioned above, the place where we part company. We part company at the point of Jesus’ resurrection. No one–**no one** rose out of the grave with him. The Scriptures simply do not support that doctrine.

          “Eddie, you have asked, “…through whom would a future judgment of the Gentiles come?” Actually there really isn’t a Jew / Gentile classification system per se anymore; that system was outmoded and gotten rid of by the establishment of the New Covenant. As far as any present-day, temporal judgment of the nations is concerned, God still practices the raising up of one nation against another in judgment, to keep mankind’s evil in check, though apparently not in the same world-empire style as portrayed by Daniel’s image of the four world-wide kingdoms from antiquity. Plus, as you are emphasizing in your recent comments, the saints through Christ are exercising spiritual authority over the nations by the influence of the gospel.

          This isn’t what you claimed in one of the posts previous to your most recent reply:

          “The 70 AD resurrection was a judgment shared by all nations who had lived even before the Old Covenant was made with Israel, as well as those of Israel who had lived under the Old Covenant, during Christ’s ministry, and afterwards until the AD 70 resurrection. AD 70 was the resurrection judgment of the “past AGES” (plural) up until then. Colossians 1:26 is one text that proves there are more ages prior to the single OC Age connected to Israel.”

          In the 70 AD judgment, all nations were judged, according to what you claim above, and I agree. How was that so, and by whom did/does the Lord judge them then and now?

          Jesus claimed that **all things** that were written in the prophets would be fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem (Luke 21:22; cp. 24:44). There is no future judgment for the nations, whether Jews, gentiles or some non-descript mass of humans having no national identity.

          Lord bless you, Patricia, and, again, I apologize if I have been rude here. I read over this several times before posting, but I don’t know how to say these things in a kinder manner. If my rudeness still shows, please put it to the account of ignorance on my part.

           

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