Summary: The certainty of judgement. Despite a range of interpretations about the final days and the nature of Christs return - all are in agreement - we will all face the judgement throne. We will be judged but we will also experience Gods mercy and his grace fir
John Milton wrote:
The aged earth aghast
With terror of that blast
Shall from the surface to the centre shake
When, at the worlds last session
The mighty judge in middle air shall spread
As if on a massive cinema screen the most incredible event that man has ever witnessed will unfold across the earth as Christ appears for all to see. 24 hour news channels will show nothing else, commentators will be silenced, whole nations will fall on their knees realising that the few, the faithful few were right.
John’s revalation(1:7) describes the scene:
Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him,
Even those who pierced Him,
And all the people on the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be!
That the Lord is coming to claim his own and bring judgement on all mankind is the great promise of all history. ‘This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way that you have seen him go into heaven’ said two men dressed in white to the dumb struck apostles as Jesus ascended into heaven before their very eyes. Peter told his audience in Solomons collonade: He must reign in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything (Acts 3:21) And that time is coming and no, we nor anyone else can say when but it is coming and when it does there is no dispute from what we read throughout scripture – the Lord God whom we worship here, will appear for all to see.
I’d like to start by thanking Andy for the work he put into this months magazine – I know he doesn’t want thanks – but this subject has perhaps become the most complex there is in Scripture, given the range of ideas and interpretations particularly around the book of Revelation. It took 20 minutes to read the monthly magazine – give God 20 minutes this month and have a look because we can deal with only a fraction of the subject from up here.
One of the major reasons for the diversity of interpretation concerning Christs coming and the subsequent judgment of mankind is that much of the revelation given to John, and the language used to describe it is apocalyptic – figurative language describing events that are not of this world – the common mistake in interpretation is that scholars pick and choose which verses or sections are literal and which are symbolic. Its this switching between a straightforward reading of the text and acknowledging that John is using apocalyptic language that leads to huge leaps of reasoning and ultimately speculative teaching in relation to Christs coming. But this isn’t the time or place for a bible study on what was revealed to John in that incredible book - it requires closer study.
So lets start outside of that book – lets have a look at what we find clearly in scripture about when Jesus returns. Our reading from 2 Cor explains that if our earthly bodies are destroyed then we inherit something much better from God – a building, a vessel that is it says in the text ‘guaranteed’. But that assurance is followed by a fact, a statement that is made over and over again in scripture; ‘we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.’
The day of judgment is a future reality for all men
Heb. 9:27 …it is appointed for me to die once, but after this, the judgment….
Acts17:31 “…He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
And our second reading Matt 25: 31-32
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Both ‘the day of the Lord’ and ‘that Day’ are used throughout prophecy with reference to judgment, which even then God was bringing against the nations. Yet in the Gospels and Epistles those phrases focus on the final Day of Judgment – the same day on which the Lord will appear, the dead will be raised, and the whole Universe will be utterly destroyed.
So before even getting to John’s vision we read of, the day of the Lord, which will ‘come, like a thief in the night (1 Thess 5:2) and it’s the same day of Christ on which Paul hoped to boast that he did not ‘run or labour for nothing’ in Phil 2. It is the same day of God that prompts us to ‘live holy and godly lives as we look forward to it and speed its coming (2 Peter 3) It is the day of Gods wrath when his righteous judgement will be revealed and God will give to each person as he has done’ (Romans 2) It is the same day of judgment where 2 Peter says the heaven and the earth will be consumed by fire and ungodly men destroyed. It is simply the day when ‘God will judge mens secrets through Jesus Christ (Rom 2:16) and the day about which Paul wrote to Timothy with utter confidence saying I know who I have believed and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for, that day… and the day of which Martha said of her brother Lazarus ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.