“the nations will be gathered before Him;..”
The morning bible study, at least for a few minutes, was focused on Matthew 25. This is the same section of scripture I have looked at for several weeks now. Out of this discussion came boisterous ranting and opinions, and, I can tell you from experience that they, in the majority, are not open to discussion. The ranting went along this line. That there is to be a judgment of the nations: by Jesus: as he sits on his throne, where everyone from the nations will be deemed to be sinners and sent immediately to hell. (My short synopsis.)
Because my father came to me later and tried to talk about it, I discovered where they are getting this idea that Jesus comes back and immediately goes into a judgment mode over the nations.
Matthew 25:31-32 KJV When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats:
I am not a grammarian; that may have been obvious to many of you, but I have enough sense to know that you use a colon to separate lists, in this case, aspects that are supplemental but could stand alone as a sentence. This is what we see as the passage transitions from verse 31 to verse 32 - “the throne of His glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations:..” Take this idea one step further and compare versions, you get colons, commas, and periods. I suppose it depends on upon your mood.
Every one of the men in the morning bible study, that have taken this position, have read this and made the time jump that puts verse 32 into the immediate time frame after the seven years of God wrath and judgment. This is an a faulty assumption and there is nothing that backs up their argument except for this passage in Matthew.
Verse 31 - “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory..”
As my father said, “once he sits down, is he going to get off the throne? No, so he sits in judgment.” I have a problem with that. The writer of Hebrews has had Jesus sitting upon his throne for over two thousand years. Since Jesus is already seated as King, why then would he get off that throne, come back riding a white horse and have a sword in his mouth? This is especially ridiculous when you consider that God could easily speak and destroy anyone who challenged Him.
Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Although we do not see this in Matthew's account, thrones are set up - you have to go Revelation 20 to see that. If you are going to include this aspect in your argument wouldn't that leap between the two scenarios, connect them and make them equivalent.
Revelation 20:4 “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them.”
The problem with what we see in Matthew 25 is that there is no descriptive of Jesus sitting in judgment. Why would that be? Because He has done all the judging that is necessary for the moment. Because the Revelation is a revelation of Jesus Christ, the entire time of wrath we call the tribulation has been a judgment.
To back this idea up, look at this:
Revelation 19:11-15 NASB (11) "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. (12) His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. (13) He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (14) And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. (15) From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty."
Why do you think the Holy Spirit saw fit to give you this statement in Revelation 19:11-15 indicating that when He comes in His glory “He judges and wages war”? Do you really believe that the God who will change His church into something entirely fit to be in the kingdom of God, in the twinkling of an eye, must sustain a thousand-year battle to carry out His judgment?
If all I considered was verse 32-34, where do you see a judgment? You don't. If you are going to find judgment then it has to be in the separation of the sheep from the goats. In doing that you must go beyond the verses I offered in an attempt to reach for it. However, even then, without a word to the goats he invites the sheep into the eternal kingdom. It is not until He is done showing those He calls sheep mercy does He send the goats off to the lake of fire. And, note, there is no condemnation, merely that their names are not found in the book of life.
Matthew 25:32-34 KJV And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: (33) And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. (34) Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Matthew tells us that he gathers all the nations before him. If this is happening at the end of the "tribulation" years, then why? Sure, I get what you are doing, but since we do not specifically see judgment here, what else is going on?
Isaiah 66:15-18 KJV For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. (16) For by fire and by his sword will the LORD plead with all flesh: and the slain of the LORD shall be many. (17) They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD. (18) For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.
But this passage in Isaiah does not say that they will continue to be punished; it says that they shall come and see His glory. Since we already understand that God/Jesus will gather all nations to Him after the "tribulation", and we are not seeing a judgment from a great throne of glory, then what else could happen?
Zechariah 14:16-18 KJV "And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. (17) And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. (18) And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles."
Once again, He calls them to Him to worship Him. Yes, there are repercussions for not obeying this demand, but this is not the white throne judgment.
It seems that the consensus at bible study is that they want to see people die: they want to see people thrown into the lake of fire. Considering that we are admonished that we will be judged in the same way we judge, this should have people with this attitude shaking in their boots.
Consider death for a moment.
What does it mean to be dead?
Death is either a separation from the body or, it is a complete and utter separation from God. To have both would be the worst case scenario. God, having eliminated life from those who choose to do combat against Him, does not mean that they are immediately thrown into some compartment of hell where they await a final judgment. I nor you can say for certain where they are at this point, but we do have this from Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 9:5 BBE The living are conscious that death will come to them, but the dead are not conscious of anything, and they no longer have a reward, because there is no memory of them.
Why is that they no longer have any option of a reward? Well, look at what Revelation 20 tells us.
Revelation 20:15 NASB And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
No, God is not screaming at them with vile condemnations, you merely had to have your name written in the book of life.
In order for the men at bible study to make their argument, they combine two different scriptural scenarios, which they adamantly deny are the same event so that they are able to say that what we see in Matthew 25:31, 32 is a post tribulation judgment upon the nations. They immediately revert back to separating those scenarios by a thousand years and begin a tirade about how everybody gets sent to hell.
I told you it was a horrible assumption, but why can I say that?
Take Daniel's prophecy of the seventy weeks of years as an example.
Daniel 9:24-27 KJV Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. (25) Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. (26) And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. (27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
All these prophecies have been fulfilled, up to and including the sixty-ninth week. But, As you can see, scattered throughout Daniel's prophecy are sentences that start with “And”, just like we see in Matthew 25:31,32, and yet, most of us understand that verses 26 and 27 of Daniel 9, where it speaks of a people who shall come and destroy Jerusalem and the temple, as well as a “global” leader that confirms a covenant, are clearly applied to two widely spaced time periods; one is yet to come.
The 69th week was fulfilled with Christ on the cross. How do I know that? Because the 26th verse opens with, “And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself:” It continues to speak of the destruction of Jerusalem, but this has two fulfillment's – one under the rule of Titus Vespasian in 70 A.D. The next verse, Daniel 9:27 begins with “And”. The presumption following this faulty logic should then be that Titus made a seven-year treaty with many, and would have taken us into the 70th week of the prophecy. But Titus did not do that, leaving us with a gap in time of over two thousand years, as we await the 70th week to befall the earth.
So, regardless of a period for punctuation and the usage of the word “And”, the seventieth week has been on hold for over two thousand years.
Lying in bed one morning, my mind kept running through examples to make my point about Matthew 25; there are examples much more convincing than this, but another might be in Revelation itself. Look at chapter three where the church age is coming to an end. Chapter four then opens with, “After this” and off we go into the time of wrath, God's judgment upon the earth, the nations, and Israel. The crazy thing about this example is that even though it is clearly stated that we, though of us who are in Christ, are not destined for WRATH the events within this time could well be happening around us now. What do I mean? The waters turned to blood – while this might be literal there are massive red tides going on around the world. Not a big deal except that they rob the water of oxygen killing plant life and fish. How about earthquakes? Ever hear of the New Madrid fault? If you did not I would not be surprised because it seems to have only recently been discovered; either that or somebody thought it best we did not know. What about volcanoes? We have more exploding now, at one time, than ever before, and that seems to be an aspect of the time of wrath. Yet, volcanoes are also common in many parts of the world. And what about losing your life by decapitation, for your testimony? Since Islam is playing the major role in this depravity, do you think that Islam is merely practicing for some future event?
The point to this is that God's timing is not the same as ours. Since there seems to be some urgency here I suggest you get ready. You do that by asking Christ into your life. Let Him take over, as many of you have not been doing such a good job running it.