The Certainty of Christ's Judgement Awaits an Unbelieving World

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The Coming of Christ
and the Judgement

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By Don Pearce

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly violent. I was listening this week to a British politician complaining on a news bulletin about the steep rise in crime and violence over the past few years. I’m sure this is the same wherever you live. It is not safe to go out at night in many, many places of the world.

It reminds us of the situation in Noah’s day, some 4,500 years ago.

"The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth" (Gen 6:11-13).

Noah had to build a huge ark to bear witness to his contemporaries that God was going to destroy that generation by a flood, and that unless they repented and entered the ark, they would perish. They chose to ignore the warnings of Noah, and carried on life to the full instead. They scoffed at this man building a boat miles from the sea. In due time God’s judgements were poured out and they perished.

The Lord’s warning

It is none other than the Lord Jesus who warns us that at his return there will be a similar situation to that of Noah’s day. How striking are his words:

"But as the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matt 24:37-39).

Although God promised Noah that He would never again totally destroy the earth by means of a Flood, yet Jesus’ warning indicates that there are judgements to come for the godless of the generation that sees the coming of the Lord Jesus.

The coming of Christ and the judgement in the lst century

As Bible students, it is important that we recognize that Jesus’ words concerning the days of Noah had their first fulfillment in the 1st century, in the days of the people he was addressing. The Lord instructed the 12 disciples in the preaching work they were to carry out. Like Noah, many centuries before, they were to speak of God’s judgements which would be poured out. When Jesus promised them the Comforter, he outlined the words they must speak:

"And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgement, because the prince of this world is judged." (John 16:8-11)

So the apostles preached:

Of sin because the leaders had rejected and crucified the Messiah.

Of righteousness because Christ’s resurrection was God’s seal of approval on his life, and the leaders still refused to accept him as Messiah...

Of Judgement because the actions of the leaders had brought a sentence of destruction upon themselves. (Literally—the ruling power of this cosmos has been condemned.)

Josephus, the Jewish historian, bears record of the violence and lawlessness of the Jewish people in the years following the crucifixion. They were most terribly punished for their rejection of their Messiah. Within 40 years of Christ’s crucifixion, the Roman armies came and destroyed Jerusalem. The legions of Titus fulfilled the words of Jesus who spoke thus of the Temple buildings:

"See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Matt. 24:3)

As well as bringing to an end Jewish worship at the Temple, many hundreds of thousands of Jews perished. Others were taken away and sold as slaves, flooding the slave markets. The Jewish nation disappeared from the map.

To an onlooker it would appear that this was merely the work of a Roman army, tired of the rebelliousness of the Jews. Jesus, however, had made it clear that God was going to use the Romans as His instrument of punishment. In the parable of the Vineyard he summed up with the words:

"When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons." (Matt 21:40-41)

He followed this with the parable of the Wedding garment, where he foretold the punishment of those who would not listen to the call.

"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city." (Mat 22:7)

In a very real way, the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem were a coming of Jesus. A coming to punish. He used the Roman armies to fulfill his will. (See also Dan 9:24-27 where they are described as the people of Messiah the prince).

Indeed, 1600 years earlier, Moses, before the Israelites had even entered the land of promise, warned that because of their future disobedience:

"The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young..." (Deut. 28:49-50)

The rest of this chapter in Deuteronomy goes on to describe in graphic detail the work of the yet-to-be-founded nation of Rome in the punishments poured out upon the nation of Israel in the first century AD,

The Imminent coming of Christ and the judgement.

The lesson that this teaches us is that God uses nations to perform His punishments upon disobedient nations. It guides us as to how God will act upon our generation that sees these words of Jesus being fulfilled again, when he returns—this time to be King. This time it will be a time of Judgement for Jews and Gentiles and also believers!

For Jews it will be a time of judgement and testing of their faith. Punishment for their present-day trust in their own strength to decide their destiny. A testing of the faith of a faithful remnant who will later enjoy the blessings of the Kingdom.

For the Gentiles it will be a punishment for their violence, godlessness and anti-semitism.

For the believers it will be time of the resurrection and the Judgement Seat, which is a necessary preparation for the step of immortality.

These are three different, but important areas which we will now concentrate on.

Judgements on the Jews

We have witnessed the gathering of many Jews to their homeland of Israel. They have built up a thriving economy that is the envy of many developed countries. Their standard of living is many times higher than that of their neighbours.Their skills in manufacturing and marketing have brought them the title "The Middle East Tiger". Their armaments industry is to the forefront of sophistication. Her politicians have, with the help of America, brought a large degree of peace to the Middle East. But amidst all this there is something lacking.

Faith in the God of Israel

True peace can only come with His blessing. True the prophets foretold this period of peace, but they made it clear that the reason for this peace was in order to test Israel’s faith. Would they trust in their own strength or in the strength of God?

Consider God’s words through the prophet Ezekiel, spoken some 2,400 years ago.

"Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name; After that they have borne their shame, and all their trespasses whereby they have trespassed against me, when they dwelt safely in their land, and none made them afraid." (Ezekiel 39:25-26).

This is set in the context of coming invasion of Israel by the Northern Confederacy of nations described by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39. (See article ?? in issue xxx). Just as in the lst century, Rome will be deeply involved in this punishment of Israel. Helping to bind the nations of this confederacy together will be the Vatican. The prophet Daniel makes many references to this future role of Rome. In Chapter 2 he speaks of the iron of Rome mixed with the clay of the peoples that binds the feet of the Image together in the latter days.

This invasion results in the destruction of the defences that Israel now trusts in. Yet once more Jerusalem is to feel the tread of the enemy’s boots. What a humbling this will be for Israel. Defeated by their enemies! Many killed, many taken away as prisoners of war! (Zech 13:8;14:2)

This is the shame that Ezekiel is referring to. He describes their present dwelling safely as a trespass, because they are trusting in their own skills to bring peace. As I write Israel is using her might to pound the Hizbollah bases in Lebanon. Code named Grapes of Wrath, what a contrast to that mighty bunch of grapes the spies brought back to indicate God’s blessing on the land! (Num. 13:2,3)

What will happen when these judgements have been poured out? When Israel finds herself unable to defend herself? Ezekiel shows that God is going to do things His way. He will drive out the enemy. He will save them and regather them back once again to their land. This is the work of the Lord Jesus and the saints—his immortal helpers. This is another story—a thrilling and exciting one which perhaps we can look at another time. Read God’s words through the prophet Zechariah chapter 12. See how Jesus makes himself known to his Jewish people that he really is the Messiah they crucified 2,000 years before (v.10).

Judgements on the Gentiles

Just because God allows the nations to come against Israel and thereby punish Israel, does not mean that they will escape punishment for their anti-Semitism. Their desire to drive out the Jews once and for all time can not go unchallenged. Israel are God’s people. Although lacking faith now, the events which overwhelm them will cause a faithful remnant to turn to God and seek for deliverance. This will mark the time of deliverance—for Israel, and punishment for the nations.

"And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem." (Zech 12:9)

The 39th chapter of Ezekiel describes the long task of burying the dead of those nations that assemble to destroy Israel. Only 1/6th of the invading army, representing the military might of Russia and Europe, survive (Eze. 39:2).

In any case the nations are ripe for punishment because of their godlessness. We live in an age that refuses to acknowledge that God is the great Creator. It would rather trust in the many evolutionary theories which have to be constantly changed as more and more discoveries are made.

How significant, that the Book of Revelation, which is Jesus message to his followers, picks on this very aspect of not believing in a Creator, as being the appropriate issue in these days of the coming of Christ. The gospel which will be proclaimed at his return is:

"Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters." (Rev. 14:7).

What a startling prophecy—made 1900 years ago. God’s judgements will be poured out upon the Gentiles until they are prepared to recognize the truth of this challenge—"throw away the folly of evolution, and acknowledge the Hand of God in the world around you".

God’s judgements will be severe. Evolution is now so ingrained it will take a lot of shifting. But shift it will, as men and women see the demonstration of God’s Hand. Just as in the days of Moses the Egyptians took a lot of persuading before recognizing that the God of israel was the one True God, so this will again be the case.

Many of the prophets speak of the earthquakes, the hail, the lightning, the rain, the pestilence, which will be poured out upon today’s world, in order to bring it to its senses. To acknowledge the God of Israel, as the one True God.

"The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. and they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the LORD, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth" (Isa 2:11, 20).

So strong will be these earthquakes that the Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem will be split in two! (Zech 14:4). Imagine the mighty forces that achieves that! Its repercussions will reverberate around the globe, levelling the cities of men. Rome disappears from the face of the earth!

"And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon (Rome and the Vatican) be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all" (Rev. 18:21).

A headline in the Daily Telegraph (23/6/95) ran; ROME VOLCANOES ARE ‘WAKING UP’. God is preparing for this day of judgement!

It results not only in physical catastrophe, it also results in the overthrow of the political "heavens and earth." The rulers of Church and State around the world, will eventually acknowledge the supremacy of the Lord Jesus as King over all. It will be a long and sore judgement, but oh! what wonderful blessings lie ahead when everyone worships God, all bow the knee to the Lord Jesus as the rightful King of all the earth.

Next Issue God Willing: Christ's Judgement Of Believers

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