THE DAY OF JUDGMENT.
VERY confused notions are held by many as to the work of judgment in the future age. The popular idea on the subject being something like this:
The Father, robed as a judge, with stern aspect, is seated on a great white throne. By his side stands the Saviour with loving eyes and pleading face. The world of mankind is marshaled before him. They come up in close ranks, and with downcast faces toward the Judge. The very large majority are commanded to depart toward the left. Trembling with despair they hurry away, and are at once seized by a guard of demons, and swiftly dragged, shrieking with terror, down--down--down. In the advancing throng, there comes now and then one, who is at once recognized by the Saviour as a true Christian, and introduced to the Father as such, who welcomes him to the right hand, where he is immediately crowned, and seated with the angels to view the remainder of the solemn scene. This separating work is to continue until all who have ever lived have passed the tribunal; the whole period of time occupied, being something less than twenty-four hours, thus constituting "the day of judgment." The greater number of these, it is generally thought, have already been once judged (at death) and allotted to their final destiny in heaven or hell, but for some inconceivable reason they are brought again before the judgment seat, and are again remanded to their former condition.
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While some features of this picture are drawn from symbolic Bible imagery, the conception as a whole is very far from being a scriptural one. As to the gathering of the world before the Judge in a kind of military review, and the immediate separation of the classes, while it is the likeness in the figure, it is of necessity as far from the real as a type is from its antitype.
THREE GREAT PERIODS OF SEPARATION
are, we think, clearly revealed in God's Word: "The separation of the chaff from the wheat," Matt. 3:10,12; "the tares from the wheat," Matt. 13:37,43; and "the sheep from the goats," Matt. 25:31.
The first separation is in the past, occurring in the "harvest," or end of the Jewish (aion) age. Jesus himself, while on earth, thoroughly purged the floor of the Jewish house, gathered the wheat into the Gospel church, and cast the chaff into a fire, which, culminating at the destruction of Jerusalem, burns even yet against the Jew. So far from marshaling that nation in rank and file before him, they were not even aware of the test then made, and were condemned because they knew not the time of their visitation.--Luke 19:44.
The second great separation was due to take place at the end
of this aion [age], i.e., closing period of the Gospel dispensation.
This work has actually been going on in our midst, and the
world and worldly church know nothing of it. So in the last
great harvest in the age of judgment: God's truth, the two-edged
sword, will quietly, but surely, do the dividing work; and that
Word not spoken but written, will plainly manifest the sheep
and the goats.
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THE TERM "DAY"
in Bible times, as now, was frequently used to cover a long but definite period; as, for instance, "The day" in which "Jehovah God made the earth and the heavens." Gen. 2:4. "The day of the temptation in the wilderness." Heb. 3:8. [40 years.] "The day of salvation." 2 Cor. 6:2. [Gospel dispensation.] [R268 : page 89]
As to the period comprised in "the day of judgment," if the student will but faithfully use a reference Bible or a concordance, and find the amount and kind of work to be accomplished "in that day," he will soon be glad to accept of Peter's explanation of it, that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years;" and believing the Revelation of Jesus Christ, rejoice in the promise there given, to "reign with him a thousand years." As to
THE KIND OF JUDGING
which is to be carried on, we must consult the Word if we would get the truth. Turn to the book of "Judges," and we find that after the death of Joshua, the Israelites forsook Jehovah, and worshipped Baal. To bring them to their senses, their enemies were allowed to triumph over them. When they repented, "Jehovah raised up judges, who delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them." For instance, "When the children of Israel cried unto Jehovah, Jehovah raised up a deliverer Othniel. And the spirit of Jehovah came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war, and prevailed, and the land had rest for forty years," until Othniel died. Thus it continued through the period of the judges until Samuel, who "judged Israel all the days of his life." When Samuel had grown old, the Elders of Israel asked him for "a King to judge us like all the nations."--1 Sam. 8:5,20.
A judge then, in those days, was a person eagerly sought after; a ruler to be desired; who would deliver his people from oppression, administer justice to the wronged, and bring peace and joy to those over whom he exercised authority.
The world, and even the Church, at the present day, led astray by an unscriptural theology, puts far away the idea of Christ's presence to judge [rule] the world as something to be dreaded by all. Not so the heaven inspired prophets of old. To them it was one grand and glorious epoch, for which, as Paul said, "creation groaneth."
Listen to David and the sweet singers of Israel, in the first [R268 : page 90] psalmsung by the first divinely-appointed choir, at the home bringing of the ark:
"Let the heavens be glad,
And let the earth rejoice:
And let men say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth.
Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof:
Let the fields rejoice, and all that are therein.
Then shall the trees of the wood sing aloud,
At the PRESENCE of JEHOVAH,
BECAUSE HE COMETH
TO JUDGE THE EARTH.
O give thanks unto Jehovah, for he is good,
FOR HIS MERCY ENDURETH FOREVER."
We might multiply quotations like the above, but they ought to be familiar to the faithful student of the Word.
did "all the holy prophets since the world began" long for "that day" when the Anointed should be present to rule, to reign, to judge?
WHY does all Christendom of this age shrink at the bare mention of that day? Because they do not comprehend the nature of the work of that day, nor the grandeur of its results, while the prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit of God, who knew what he himself had planned and purposed.
IN "THE DAY OF THE LORD,"
as in the days of creation, there is an evening and a morning. So the Jews kept their time: beginning their day with evening. It is God's order--first the cross, then the crown. The night was forty years long to the children of Israel. To the Gospel church it has been many centuries. So the nations in the coming age must first run the race before they receive the prize for which they run. And during their trial, as in ours, there must be "weeping for a night; but joy cometh in the morning." [R268 : page 91]
Many, who have failed to "search the Scriptures," as commanded, have seen only this night of darkness; and it has hung before them like a funeral pall, cutting off the light of glory beyond.
A DARK NIGHT
is indeed closing over a sleeping church and a blind world, during which many woes will be poured out upon them. But when they have well learned the lesson of obedience through suffering, as all past overcomers have, they reap a blessed reward.
The day of judgment, then, divides itself into two parts. First, a "time of trouble," during which the nations will be subdued, and humbled, and taught the lesson of Nebuchadnezzar their type, "that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." Secondly, a morning, in which the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings, driving away the mists of ignorance and superstition; destroying the miasma of sin, and bringing light and life and love to the downtrodden sons of men. During the first-named period, such scriptures as the following have a fulfillment:
"Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. [Symbolical of a spiritual night.] And I will punish the world for their evil and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible."--Isa. 13:9,11. "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou "shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."--Psa. 2:8,9.
Unquestionably the kingdoms of this world are loyal to their prince. They are mainly controlled by evil, selfish, corrupt men, [R268 : page 92] the agents and representatives of the "Prince of darkness," who do his will.
When the new Prince takes control, the dominion is to be given into new hands, and the Lord proclaims: "I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms and I will destroy the kingdoms of the Gentiles."--Hag. 2:22.
Thus by "breaking in pieces"--throwing down--"the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ," who shall reign forever.--Rev. 11:15. Under the new rule there will be new rulers, and we read, "The saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, (dominion) and possess the kingdom forever."--Daniel 7:18. Again, "All nations, tongues, people, etc., shall serve and obey him." At present they do not, and they must be brought, by chastisement, to submission; and this is accomplished in "The day of the Lord." The overthrow of nations and society will necessarily involve individual trouble. But, "When the judgments of the Lord are in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."-- Isa. 26:9.
"That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess. I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them, in the day of the Lord's wrath."--Zeph. 1:15. "Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then I will turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent."--Zeph. 3:8. So extreme is the trouble here described, that the world is said to be burned up by the Lord's anger--yet it has a good effect, for after all the indignation against and destruction of governments, the people remain. [R268 : page 93] [The destruction is one of governments,] and having experienced the misrule of the "Prince of this world" they are prepared to have the Lord take "his great power and rule," and to "serve the Lord with one consent."
Rev. 6:15, figuratively describes that time of falling of kingdoms when every mountain (kingdom) and island shall be moved. The kings and chief ones, as well as bondmen, will recognize in this trouble that "the great day of his wrath is come," and will seek to make alliances and to hide themselves from the sure coming storm. They will seek to be covered and protected by the great mountains (kingdoms) of earth and to be hid in the great rocks of this world's societies, (Masonic, Odd-Fellows, etc.;) but they shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's anger, for "all the kingdoms of the world shall be thrown down," and instead of these mountains (kingdoms) "the kingdom of the Lord becomes a great mountain, and fills the [R269 : page 93] whole earth."--Daniel 2:35,45. Malachi 4:1describes the coming day of trouble and sees the anger of the Lord there displayed --"the fire of God's jealousy." "Behold the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, and all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up." Here the wicked are symbolized by stubble, God's wrath by fire, and the righteous by "calves of the stall." Vs. 2.
"The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted;...Come, behold the works of Jehovah, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth: he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."--Psa. 46:6,10. How does he make wars to cease? Evidently by the "desolations" above mentioned. The nations will be so satiated with bloodshed; and by bitter experience, will so realize the misery of injustice, and oppression, and sin, that they will loathe themselves and their ways, and will willingly turn and seek for [R269 : page 94] purity and peace. But to produce this effect, the command will first go forth: "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles: Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come forth:
BEAT YOUR PLOWSHARES INTO SWORDS,
and your pruning hooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong."--Joel 3:9,10. The dreadful lesson of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, will be learned in time, and well learned, for "thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power."--Psa. 110:3. Then after they have been brought to a condition of willingness to let "this man (the Christ of God) reign over them," we find as a result of his judgship, they shall
BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES,
and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." --Isa. 2:4.
The preceding versestell us when this blessed time will come, and also other events in this glorious day of Christ's presence, as judge over all the earth. "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain [government or kingdom] of the Lord's house, ['whose house are we'--Heb. 3:6.] shall be in the top of the mountains, [place of power], and shall be exalted above the hills, [kingdoms of earth], and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the MOUNTAIN of Jehovah, to the HOUSE of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion [the New Jerusalem--heavenly government] shall go forth the law and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem" [restored earthly Jerusalem and her priesthood.]--Isa. 2:3.
At this time (end of "time of trouble,") the nations will have been subdued, and gladly they will submit to the righteous control of the new heavenly kingdom; and here is the introduction of the Millennial reign. Notice, they say: "Come, let [R269 : page 95] us go up to the Mountain of the Lord,"--or, let us submit to the new kingdom of God,--"and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths." After the terrible experience of the time of trouble, they will be glad to forsake their own ways. How gladly will they then learn that his "ways are ways of pleasantness, and all (his) paths are peace." Here will be the silver lining of that dark storm-cloud of the "day of wrath"-- "When the judgments of the Lord are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness."--Isa. 26:9.
"Behind a frowning Providence
He hides a smiling face."
During the one thousand years thus introduced, Satan is bound, evil restrained, that the people may be deceived no more, and the Lord and his Bride (the saints), as kings and priests, shall rule and teach them. None need then say to his neighbor: Know thou the Lord? for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest. The way of life will then be so plain that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein. Yes, God's Word will then be an open book to all the world, and all its present seeming contradictions will then shine forth as beautifully harmonious as they now do to us, who have come to understand the glorious plan of the ages.
A thousand years of such ruling and teaching! How it will lift from the redeemed world the curse--ignorance, misery and death; restoring perfection, harmony, peace and beauty. This thousand years is the time, during which all the nations are gathered before the judgment seat of Christ. It is their judgment day--one thousand years.
During all that time, God's truth, as a two-edged sword, will be quietly, but surely as now, doing a separating work, dividing the sheep from the goats,--Matt. 25:31-46. The great mass of mankind will learn God's ways, and delight to walk therein. These he calls his sheep--followers, and during the age they are [R269 : page 96] gradually gathered to his right hand--place of favor--and in the end of the age the Lord thus addresses them: "Come ye blessed ...inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."
The earthly kingdom or dominion was intended and prepared for human (earthly) beings. It was given originally to the earthly Adam. ["Let him have dominion over the beasts of the field, the fowl of heaven, and the fish of the sea."] He was to be the Lord of Earth, governing it in harmony with the heavenly government. This dominion he lost through disobedience and sin, and it passed under the control of "him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil"--the prince of this world, "who now ruleth in the hearts of the children of disobedience." This dominion, purchased or redeemed for mankind by Jesus (and his body,) is to be restored to them, when they have been restored to the perfect condition, where they shall again be in harmony with God's government, and be able to wisely exercise the governing power. To these the Lord will say, "Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you." [Let no one confound this earthly dominion with the spiritual--heavenly kingdom inherited by Jesus and shared by his Bride--the overcomers of the Gospel Age. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne."]
Why, say they, are we considered worthy of such honor? Because, replies the King, you have done good unto some of these --God's children--"my brethren"--your neighbors and brethren also--and thus have showed your ready obedience to the one great law of the heavenly kingdom which includes all others-- Love. But there will be some, even in that glorious time of favor and blessing, who will not have this man (Christ) to rule over them, and who show their indisposition to do God's will by neglecting others and selfishly gratifying their own desires. But one will (the will of God) is to regulate and continually control the universe, and that will or law is expressed in one word--LOVE-- for "God is Love," and "Love is the fulfilling of the Law." [R269 : page 97]
During the Millennial reign Christ "puts all enemies under his feet"--puts down all rule, authority and power opposed to God, ultimately destroying "the goats." "These shall go forth into aionion cutting off;" [death] (Matt. 25:46, Diaglott), i.e., these shall be forever cut off from that life which they had a second time forfeited. They had been redeemed from the Adamic death by the precious blood of Christ, but having despised the privileges thereafter offered under his kingdom, "there remaineth henceforth no more sacrifice for sins." The destruction of Satan is due at the same time.--Rev. 20:10 and 15.
Thus, with all things subjected to the will of God, the Son shall deliver up earth's dominion to God, even the Father, (1 Cor. 15:28), whose will then will be "in all," and done in earth as in heaven.
Then the first dominion, lost by Adam, will have been restored in the Second Adam, (the spiritual), and the restored race will be so in harmony with God as to rule their dominion in accordance with his law--LOVE.
A better illustration of man's dominion over earth, yet subservient to the laws of God's kingdom, cannot be made than that which is afforded in the government of this country. Each State is permitted to govern itself--make its own laws, etc., so long as it is in harmony with the government of the United States. Just so the dominion of Earth, which has been preparing for mankind since the foundation of the world, will be restored to him, when he is prepared to rule it in harmony with the heavenly kingdom--which kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, enduring throughout all generations.--Psa. 145:13.
They shall have everlasting life, as Adam had it, viz., so long as they remain obedient to God's will, which will be ever, since they will have learned the evil effects of any other way than his.
With these thoughts of the "Day of Judgment" and its beneficial
results to mankind, we are prepared to read intelligently
Psalm 47, which we quote:--
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Let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad.
Clouds and darkness are round about him:
Righteousness and judgment [justice] the establishment of his throne.
A fire goeth before him,
And burneth up his enemies round about,
His lightning [truth] enlighteneth the world:
The earth [nations] saw and trembled.
The hills [earthly governments] melted like wax at the presence of Jehovah.
At the presence of the LORD of the whole earth.
The Heavens [immortalized saints in heavenly places] declare his
righteousness, and all the people see his glory.
Zion heard and was glad:
And the daughters of Judah rejoiced,
Because of thy JUDGMENTS, O Jehovah."
WOULD THERE BE ROOM FOR THEM ON THE
EARTH IF THE BILLIONS OF THE DEAD
This is an important point. What if we should find that while the Bible asserts a resurrection for all men, by actual measurement they could not find a footing on the earth--what then? It is frequently asserted, by people who should know better, that the earth is one vast cemetery. Now let us see; figure it out for yourself and you will find this an error: you will find that there is room enough for the "restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets."--Acts 3:21.
Let us, in this calculation, assume that it is six thousand years since the creation of man, and that there are one billion four hundred million people now living on the earth--(the largest estimate.) Our race began with one pair, but that none should think us illiberal, let us calculate that there were as many people then, as now--(one billion four hundred millions,) and further, that there never was less than that number at any time. (Actually the flood reduced the population to eight persons.) [R270 : page 99] Again we will be liberal and estimate three generations to a century, or thirty-three years to a generation, while, according to Gen. 5, there were but eleven generations from Adam to the flood, a period of one thousand six hundred and fifty-six years, or about one hundred and fifty years to the generation.
Now let us see: six thousand years are sixty centuries; three generations to each would give us one hundred and eighty generations (since Adam.) One billion four hundred million to a generation would give two hundred and fifty-two billion as the total number of our race from creation until now, according to our liberal estimate, which is probably about twice the actual number.
Where shall we find room enough for this great multitude? Let us measure the land. The State of Texas (United States) contains two hundred and thirty-seven thousand square miles. There are twenty-seven million eight hundred and seventy-eight thousand four hundred square feet in a mile, and, therefore, six trillion six hundred and seven billion one hundred and eighty million eight hundred thousand square feet in Texas. Allowing ten square feet as the surface covered by each dead body, we find that Texas, as a cemetery, would at this rate hold six hundred and sixty billion seven hundred and eighteen million eighty thousand bodies, or nearly three times as many as we calculated had lived on the earth.
A person, standing, occupies about one and two-third square feet of space. At this rate the present population of the earth (one billion four hundred million) could stand on an area of eighty-six square miles; an area much less than that of the city of London, England, or the city of Philadelphia, United States. And the island of Ireland (area thirty-two thousand square miles) would furnish standing-room for more than twice the number of people who have ever lived on the earth, even at our liberal calculation.