The Saviour of the World series
by J. Preston Eby
Just What Do You Mean...THE JUDGMENT!
Past Times Of Judgment
Future Times Of Destructive Judgment
Judgments Of The Believer
The Nature Of Judgment
The Judgment Of The Nations
God's Purpose For The Church
Judgment And Restoration Of The Nations
The Judgment Day
The Ministry Of Judging
The Ministry Of Redemption And Restoration
Just What Do You Mean... THE JUDGMENT!
WHEN we come to this thought of God's judgment we approach a subject upon which there has been a fathomless sea of ignorance and misunderstanding. Contrary to the popular opinions of the religious systems there is no such thing as a GENERAL JUDGMENT for all men. Such a doctrine is pagan in origin and flows from the philosophies of demons. The idea that there is in the future one particular time and circumstance in which all creatures, whether celestial or terrestrial, shall be brought before the bar of Divine Justice is contrary to the Word of God. The view generally entertained is of Christ coming to earth, seated upon a great white throne, and that He will summon every sinner in rank and file before Him to be judged, amidst great convulsions of nature - earthquakes, opening graves, rending rocks and failing mountains; that the trembling sinners will be brought from the depths of everlasting woe to hear their many sins rehearsed, only to be again returned to an eternal and merciless doom of torture; and that the saints will be brought from heaven (of course many saints have a fear that they may appear at that judgment as one judged) to witness the misery and despair of the damned, and return to heaven for eternity. I do not hesitate to say that this is a very crude conception, and is entirely out of harmony with the whole picture of judgment. This distorted picture arises from a too-literal interpretation of a few verses of Scripture which were given merely as SYMBOLS, to be understood by the Spirit.
There are far more judgments than people have ordinarily recognized. The fact is, the Scriptures speak of MANY JUDGMENTS! Some judgments are already past, some are continuously present, and some are yet future. It is misleading to speak of "THE JUDGMENT" as though it were only one event limited to some time in the future. A careful and prayerful study of the Word will show that there are judgments of unholy angels (messengers), of Satan, of Israel, of cities, of nations, of sin, of death, of the believer, of servants, of sons, of unbelievers, etc., etc. Each takes place at a different time, in different surroundings, and in a different way.
It may aid our comprehension to list a few of the judgments of God upon sin. Before proceeding, however, we need to understand exactly what is meant by the word "judgment." Judgment is translated in the Old Testament most often from the Hebrew word MISHPAT. MISHPAT means simply "a verdict" which may be either favorable or unfavorable. The only judgment most people understand is the negative aspect of judgment, the unfavorable verdict, which is unto condemnation and wrath. It should require only a moment's reflection, however, to enable anyone to see that the very same judge who sentences one man to pay a fine, another to die in the electric chair, may suspend the sentence of a third man and declare yet a fourth man "not guilty"- acquitted! It is plain that a great many different "judgments" or "verdicts" may come from this one judge. Thus, the work of the judge is not merely to condemn and mete out sentences, but to weigh all the facts and take all the circumstances into consideration in each case and render a just verdict, favorable or unfavorable, as the case may demand.
Furthermore, the "judge" of a beauty contest does not condemn or damn any of the contestants who fail to receive the highest recognition. He merely renders a "verdict" as to whom, in his estimation, is "the fairest of them all"! In keeping with these principles the Hebrew word MISHPAT indicates merely the rendering of a judicial verdict or decision, favorable or unfavorable, as the case may warrant. The Psalmist spoke of this when he said, "For promotion comes neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But GOD IS THE JUDGE: He puts down one, and sets up another" (Ps. 75:6-7). The positive aspect of judgment, the rendering of a favorable verdict, is implored of the Lord by David in Ps. 43:1-2: "JUDGE ME, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: for You are the God of my strength."
The word "judgment," moreover, signifies even more than the rendering of a verdict. It includes the idea of a trial, as well as the decision based upon that trial. And this is true not only in the English word judgment, but also of the Greek word it translates in the New Testament. In the Greek New Testament there are a number of terms used in connection with the judgments of God. Each is based on the "KRI" stem of "KRINO" meaning "I judge." There is the word KRISIS from which we derive our English word "crisis" and which carries basically the same meaning as our English word "crisis." It denotes an experience and time of crucial testing, and has reference to the experience one undergoes out of which a decision, or judgment, is made KRIMA relates to the condemnation of the criminal. KRITES and KRITIKOS ("critical" in English) both speak of the judge and his decision, while yet another Greek word, KRITERION, refers to the basis for his decision or sentence (as "criterion" in English).
PAST TIMES OF JUDGMENT
The first great judgment (trial and sentence) was at the beginning, in Eden, when the whole human race, as represented in its head, Adam, stood on trial before God. The result of that trial was the verdict - Guilty, disobedient, his sin being worthy of punishment and correction; and the penalty inflicted was death - "Dying you shall die" (Gen. 2:17, margin). And so it is that "In Adam ALL DIE" (I Cor. 15:21-22). Most have never thought of this as a JUDGMENT DAY for mankind, but such it was, for there was a trial, a sentencing, and the sentence was, and is, as we all know, fully carried out. That trial time in Eden was the world's FIRST JUDGMENT DAY, and the decision of the Judge has ever since been enforced. Again we read, "The wrath of God IS REVEALED from heaven against all unrighteousness of men" (Rom. 1:18). This wrath of God which is revealed against the ungodliness of men may be seen in every funeral procession. Every tomb and every grave stone is a witness to it. Dread diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, herpes and aids are a part of it. It is felt in every ache and pain, in every tragedy and sorrow, in every frustration and torment, in the ignorance, poverty, and fear men experience daily - all of which are the results of the first trial and sentence - the righteous sentence of God, that we are unworthy of the life and blessings originally provided for man when obedient and walking in union with God. But, praise the Lord! mankind is to be recovered from the sentence of that first trial, for the penalty was not to be inflicted forever, only until the Redeemer should come and offer Himself as one sacrifice for ALL. And so it is written of Jesus: "Now we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of THE WORLD" (Jn. 4:42). "The bread which I will give is My flesh, which I give FOR THE LIFE OF THE WORLD" (Jn. 6:51). "God sent not His Son into THE WORLD to condemn THE WORLD; but that THE WORLD through Him might be saved" (Jn. 3:17). "And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of THE WHOLE WORLD" (I Jn. 2:2). "God was in Christ, reconciling THE WORLD unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" (II Cor. 5:19). "Therefore as by the offence of one JUDGMENT CAME UPON ALL MEN to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One THE FREE GIFT CAME UPON ALL MEN unto justification of life" (Rom. 5:18). Thus we see the scope of man's first judgment and the provision for his release from the penalty inflicted. Bless His name!
There have been many other judgments beyond this general judgment that fell upon man in the beginning. At various times in the past God has called peoples and nations to account for their actions and executed His judgments by bringing destruction upon them. The best known of these is the world-wide deluge in the days of Noah of which we read: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; for it repents Me that I have made them" (Gen. 6:5-7). The destructive judgments of God have always come as a result of the wicked conduct of the people in their daily lives. Sodom and Gomorrah are graphic examples of this. God inspected those cities and determined that the sin of the inhabitants was very heavy; He judged that the cities must be brought to ruin (Gen. 18:20-21; 19:14). Later Jude wrote that those cities underwent the "vengeance (Gr: judgment)" of "fire" which brought destruction (Jude 7). So these cities experienced a "day" of judgment.
God conducted a legal case against ancient Babylon, the long-time enemy of God and His people. Because of being unnecessarily cruel to the house of Judah, not intending to release them after the seventy-year captivity and crediting the god Marduk with the victory over God's people, Babylon was in line for a destructive judgment. That came to Babylon in the year 539 B.C. when it was violently overthrown by the Medes and Persians (see Jer. 51:36; Isa. 14:3-6,17; Dan. 5:1-4). Similarly, Jeremiah prophesied that God would "put Himself in judgment" with Edom, among others (Jer. 25:17-31), hence that nation that had shown repeated hatred for the Lord and His people experienced destructive judgment and was obliterated from the earth. Likewise, when Judah and Jerusalem became unfaithful and merited the Lord's displeasure, He promised to "execute JUDGMENT in the midst of her" (Eze. 5:8). This destructive and corrective judgment came when Nebuchadnezzar came and plundered the land destroyed the city and the temple, and carried the people away slaves to Babylon (Eze. 7:19). However, another and more severe "day" or time of judgment on Jerusalem was prophesied. Joel foretold an outpouring of the Spirit of God which would begin "before that great and terrible day of the Lord" (Joel 2:28-31). Under the anointing of the Spirit Peter, on the day of Pentecost, explained that they were then experiencing the fulfillment of that prophecy (Acts 2:16-20). That particular day of destructive judgment came in A.D. 70 when the Roman armies executed judgment upon the Jews, destroying their city and temple, pillaging their land, murdering more than a million of its inhabitants, dispersing the survivors and catapulting them into a "judgment day" that lasted for nineteen long and tortuous centuries!
FUTURE TIMES OF DESTRUCTIVE JUDGMENT
The Word of God specifically foretells a number of yet future judgments which are destructive in their nature. Revelation points to the time when "Babylon the Great" or "Mystery Babylon" will be judged. Mystery Babylon signifies the universal worldly church system. Now, I am aware that there is even a higher meaning of Babylon which is found in a condition within the mind and spirit of man, which means that we have all, at one time or another, and perhaps even until now, been partakers of her even if we have separated from the religious systems of this world. The Lord has special inward dealings, judgmental processings by which He shall purge the very last vestige of Babylon out of the hearts of all His elect sons, praise His name. But the Spirit of the Lord makes me know that in the framework of the prophecies in Revelation chapters 17-18, He is specifically speaking of the CHURCH SYSTEMS, as such. Babylon is called "a woman." A woman, used as a symbol in the New Testament, signifies a church. The woman in Rev. 12 is the true church, the glorious body of Christ walking in the Spirit of God. The woman of Rev. 17 also signifies a church, but her character is impure and corrupted, for she is herself a harlot, and the mother of daughters like herself.
Mystery Babylon is not limited to any single ecclesiastical body, but is composed of many, indeed of ALL who are walking apart from the LIFE OF THE SPIRIT and the HEADSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST. For two thousand years God has been forming a heavenly people, born from above, filled with the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, led by the Spirit, growing up in the life and power of the Spirit, the workmanship of GOD BY THE SPIRIT, the true church of the firstborn whose names are written in heaven. Along side this glorious company of the Spirit-born and Spirit-led the enemy has planted the tares: the doctors of the law, the bishops, ministers, and priests performing empty ceremonies and rituals, and teachers poring over the dead letter of the Word, but never being quickened by the Spirit of Truth. These blind leaders of the blind are they who are the lords of a vast and powerful system which calls itself "the church," but which is not the church at all, but a blinding, restricting, abyss of incomprehensible darkness and confusion that holds men's spirits in such bondage to lifeless traditions that they can never see the glory of God nor His transcendent purpose in their lives. It is only when the blazing fire of the Omnipotent Spirit sovereignly penetrates the dankness and death of Babylon's walls that men first catch a glimpse of the living Christ of God and rise up to FOLLOW HIM. The chains fall off, the prison doors swing open on their rusty hinges and these followers of the Lamb behold a world of freedom and revelation and reality and life beyond the constricting walls of denominationalism, ritualism and tradition.
Men will never attain to sonship within the walls of Babylon! The piercing voice of the Spirit commands: "Wherefore comeout from among them, and be ye separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and ye shall be MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, satin the Lord Almighty" (II Cor. 6:17-18). Sects and denominations have absolutely nothing to do with the true church. Denominations are ALL man-made systems, structured contrary to the ways of the Spirit of God, and they are ALL the prison houses of Babylon. The church is a people related to God by Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. They are a people born from above, born free. And yet, many of the Lord's precious people sit in Babylon. Unto them our blessed Lord speaks today: "Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye RECEIVE NOT OF HER PLAGUES" (Rev. 18:4).
God has decreed HIS JUDGMENT against this idolatrous system of Babylon, and has already established by His own counsel HOW THE JUDGMENT SHALL BE EXECUTED. "And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee THE JUDGMENT OF THE GREAT WHORE that sits upon many waters: so he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads, and TEN HORNS ... and the ten horns which thou saw are TEN KINGS (kingdoms) ... and the ten horns which thou saw upon the beast, THESE SHALL HATE THE WHORE, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and BURN HER WITH FIRE. For God hath put it in their hearts to fulfill HIS WILL, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled" (Rev. 17:1-3,12,16,17).
How clear it is to any who have eyes to see that this work of destructive judgment upon the harlot system of Babylon has already commenced! The real reason behind the ecumenical movement is not the fulfillment of Christ's prayer "that they all may be one in Him;" the truth is that it is a desperate and last-ditch effort to SAVE THE SYSTEM through unity, for the pews and coffers of most of Babylon's churches have been emptying out with ever increasing rapidity. The communist countries have wrought great havoc upon the organized churches, breaking their power completely in some areas. So many of God's people today, not seeing by the Spirit what God is doing in this hour, oppose the Spirit of God and fear, groan, lament and demonstrate because of what He is performing. How often, in our blindness, we get the cart before the horse! Christians spend great sums of money and expend much time and energy "fighting communism" because communism persecutes the saints and destroys religion and religious systems. But the Christians of the early church NEVER FORMED A JOHN BIRCH SOCIETY to fight the PAGAN ROMAN EMPIRE! They did not fear, neither did they cry or lament the fact of their persecution, tribulation, and martyrdom. They never lent their support to some "opposition government" which might by military might liberate them from the oppression of the Caesars. The Christians did not organize or promote demonstrations against the Jews who persecuted them. They DID pray for them! The spirit of the saints in that day was: "And they departed from the presence of the council, REJOICING that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Him name" (Acts 5:41). Paul said that he REJOICED in his sufferings, and Peter exhorted the saints: "REJOICE, inasmuch as ye are partakers of CHRIST'S SUFFERINGS; and when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (I Pet. 4:13).
The great principles that govern our present walk in the Kingdom of God are laid down by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus declared, "BLESSED ARE THEY which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. BLESSED ARE YE, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. REJOICE, and be EXCEEDING GLAD! for great is your reward in heaven" (Mat. 5:10-12). The Word of God resounds with this note of triumph and joy in the face of trouble and tribulation. And, yet, in this hour many Christians shrink in horror and fear exceedingly before the advance of communism throughout the world. But let me assure you that communism has not been able, anywhere, to destroy THE TRUE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, those born from above, walking in the Spirit of God! The true church does not need fine temples or halls, ritual-performing priests, Sunday School quarterlies, robed choirs, tax-exempt status, seminaries, or denominational hierarchies. Many thousands of followers of the Lamb have taken up their crosses, and in the underground churches behind the Iron Curtain have become strong in the power of HIS MIGHT and are doing exploits. I prophesy to you in the name of the Lord that the day shall come when the mighty invincible power of the Lord shall burst forth, even in Russia, from the midst of a people who have been purified, made white, and tried; so great shall be the swelling of the tide of the Omnipotent Spirit through the saints in that day that the glory that shall come shall literally knock the rulers of the Kremlin off their thrones of power and bring everlasting ruin and shame to that godless system.
In the meantime, however, we need to be wise to the purposes of the Lord. We are not to fear communism nor be dismayed when it comes right to our borders. We must not be upset because of the tribulation upon God's people in those lands, or upon ourselves should it spread across our land. Communism can never defeat nor destroy the chosen of God, but I declare to you by the word of the Lord that it can, has, and shall DESTROY THE BABYLONIAN RELIGIOUS SYSTEMS. Why is there so little religious freedom in communist countries? Why is it the communist's objective to remove all religion and the knowledge of God from the face of the earth? Why have the church properties been confiscated, the leaders killed, and the ministers jailed? Why have the religionists of all stripes been hounded and harrassed, stripped of their former power when the state churches controlled the governments and dominated the lives of the people? Why? I ask. Because the almighty God, long centuries ago, decreed that BABYLON WOULD BE JUDGED! God has raised up communism as one of the instruments of that judgment. And when Mystery Babylon is obliterated from the face of the earth God's saints are admonished: "REJOICE OVER HER, thou heaven (those seated with Christ in the heavenlies), and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her" (Rev. 18:20).
God has His means for destroying Babylon in America, too! For a number of years now the trumpet call has been going forth by the spirit of revelation: "Come out of her, My people, THAT YE RECEIVE NOT OF HER PLAGUES" (Rev. 18:4). God is even now calling out of Babylon "HIS PEOPLE" that have so long been held captive within her precincts, her static creeds, idolatrous doctrines, empty rituals, dead ceremonies and programs, fleshly methods, and unspiritual institutions. The Spirit of God shall accomplish such a thorough job of calling His people out "unto Himself," that the inspired apostle John was emboldened to write: "Rejoice over her (Babylon), thou heaven (those seated in the heavenlies, caught up in the Spirit), and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And the voice of harpers, and musicians, and of pipers (praise and worship), and trumpeters (ministries sounding forth a message from God), SHALL BE HEARD NO MORE AT ALL I-N T-H-E-E; and the sound of a millstone (the grinding of meal for bread, the Word of God) SHALL BE HEARD NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE, and the light of a candle (even the little light left in Babylon) SHALL SHINE NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE; and the voice of the bridegroom (Jesus) and of the bride (the elect) SHALL BE HEARD NO MORE AT ALL IN THEE: for by thy sorceries were ALL NATIONS deceived" (Rev. 18:20-23).
Pointing to yet another destructive judgment, Peter drew upon what occurred in Noah's day and foretold a "day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (II Pet. 3:7). But Peter informs us not only of the time when wicked men shall be destroyed, but speaks of "the heavens (ruling powers) and earth (social order), which are now," which are "kept in store, reserved UNTO FIRE against the day of judgment and perdition (destruction)" (II Pet. 3:7). Yes, my friend, this present world order is coming to an end! This evil world will end in A DAY OF JUDGMENT. Fiery judgment. It will all pass away. Communism. Democracies. Economic systems. Ecclesiastical institutions. Science. Technology. Lodges. Seminaries. Schools. De- nominations. Political parties. ALL will pass away amid great commotion! "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for a NEW HEAVENS (government of God) and a NEW EARTH (social order), WHEREIN DWELLS RIGHTEOUSNESS!" (II Pet. 3:13).
JUDGMENTS OF THE BELIEVER
The average Christian today has the idea that there is only one judgment at the Great White Throne; and that there everyone, good and bad, saved and lost, saint and sinner, will meet and be separated like sheep and goats. It may come as a shock to many to learn that the Bible teaches no such thing! Apart from the past and future destructive judgments already considered, the Scriptures reveal many, many other judgments, and also three distinct judgments that must be experienced by every saint who would press forward into the fullness of sonship to God. Of these three judgments that pertain to saints, one is already past; one is continuously present; and one is yet future. In one we are judged as sinners; in one we are judged as servants; and in one we are judged as sons.
The first, the judgment of our sins and of us as sinners, is already past for every Christian. I Pet. 2:24 says, "He personally bore our sins in His own body to the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness." Again we read, "Christ died FOR OUR SINS" (I Cor. 15:3). Christ died for our sins 1900 years ago - and there is absolutely nothing that you or I can add to its effectiveness except to trust in it! The sins of the believer in Christ were judged at the cross - IN JESUS. Whether they are the sins of the past, or of the present, or of the future - ALL were judged at Calvary. The omniscient God in His foreknowledge of all things from eternity laid all of the believer's sins upon Christ as He hung there upon that cruel tree on our behalf. Because the Father chose every one of the elect "in Christ" before He ever made the universe or framed the ages of time (Eph.1:4-5), He saw us under wrath as He placed the judgment upon the Christ at Calvary. This is why Paul could say, "I am crucified WITH CHRIST" (Gal. 2:20). Every one of God's elect, having been chosen "in Christ" in eternity past, was seen to be "in Christ" at Calvary, and the never-to-be-repeated sentence was carried out in full on the cross and the death that followed. He who was without sin has paid the penalty for the sins of all who believe, therefore through faith we are absolutely without condemnation by the grace and verdict of the all-glorious God! This is why Paul cried out: "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them that are IN CHRIST JESUS" (Rom. 8:1). Christ descended, first in the incarnation, secondly in the judgment of the cross, and thirdly into the darkness of Hades. He descended into the LOWEST PARTS OF THE EARTH (Eph. 4:9-10), into the deepest woe of mankind. The Son of God left His glory, and descended to the depths of shame and reproach. He came and took our place of disgrace. Our Lord was the Mighty God. But He descended from that state. He humbled Himself, and took upon Himself the likeness of sinful flesh. He became despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. "For He hath made Him to be sin (a sin offering) for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" (II Cor. 5:21). "Sin for us," not sinful, but a sin offering, taking unto Himself the whole sin of our race, one vast aggregate of sin, of all men, past, present, and future. He made our CONDITION His own. He made our DOOM His own. He tasted of what we are; experienced the pangs of the lowest hell into which men have sunken. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being MADE A CURSE for us" (Gal. 3:13). He descended into this!
Thank God, the good old Book is true! The wages of sin is actually death, and Jesus died that death. THE DEBT IS PAID I-N F-U-L-L. Thank God, Rom. 8:1 is actually true! "There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to them which are in Christ Jesus..." No condemnation! The word in the Greek is KATAKRIMA and speaks of an "adverse sentence, to be judged against." I cannot be judged against! N-O J-U-D-G-E-M-E-N-T! "There is therefore NOW NO JUDGMENT to them which are in Christ Jesus." He does not say, "There is nothing in them that deserves judgment," for this there is, and they see it, and own it; but it shall not be to their ruin. This one glorious truth should deliver a whole world full of believers from "guilt complexes," "depressions," and "condemnation." There are other judgments for the believer, but in the judgment of sin and sinners THE BELIEVER CANNOT AND SHALL NOT APPEAR. The judgment is past. It is accomplished. Jesus appeared for us. The debt is paid in full. Hallelujah!
Thank God, Rom. 3:23 is really true! "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Thank God, II Cor. 5:18-21 is not an infamous fairy tale! "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ, RECONCILING THE WORLD unto Himself, NOT IMPUTING THEIR TRESPASSES UNTO THEM ... for He hath made HIM to be sin (a sin offering) FOR US, Who knew no sin." Thank God I shall never stand in the judgment for my sin. My case will not even be reviewed. It is settled, forever, bless His wonderful name! Our judgment as sinners is forever past!
The next point I wish to present is THE JUDGMENT OF SONS. Through the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit God has given us new birth, making us His own children. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ" (Gal. 3:26). "Beloved, now are we the sons (children) of God" (I Jn. 3:2). "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ" (Gal. 4:6-7). "The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Rom. 8:16).
It has been the Father's good pleasure to bring us into this relationship of sonship to Himself and now His supreme desire for us is that we may truly grow up and become mature, that we may be SONS INDEED. He has given us the standing of sons through faith in Jesus Christ. But He purposes for us to become sons in state of being as well. He wants His sons to be son like! And being the great and faithful Father that He is, He deals with us unto this expected end. In order to make us sonlike He brings us into judgment - SON JUDGMENT. The prodigal son was not sonlike, but he was still a son. So you, beloved brother, sister, if you are in Christ by faith, you have been birthed into God's family and so are His son. The Father plans for His sons to be completely and exactly like unto Himself in mind, will, purpose, power, and glory. In order to make us so He faithfully brings us into judgment - son judgment. God wants His sons to be sonlike. If we are not, He judges us!
Paul sets forth this judgment in I Cor. 11:31-32: "For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are CHASTENED OF THE LORD, that we should not be condemned (judged) with the world." There are several thoughts in this verse which we should note in passing. First, when we are judged, we are CHASTENED of the Lord. Thus, the chastening of the Lord upon His sons IS the son-judgment of which I speak. The chastening of sons and the judgment of sons are the same thing. Secondly, if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged (chastened). The message is clear - if we would chasten ourselves we should not be chastened by the Lord. Judgment and chastening; the two terms are identical. The meaning is the same. Furthermore, when we are judged we are chastened by the Lord THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE CONDEMNED (judged, chastened) WITH THE WORLD! How plain that there is appointed a great day of judgment, chastening, and correction for the world! "He hath appointed a day, in the which He will JUDGE THE WORLD in righteousness by that Man Whom He hath ordained" (Acts 17:31). The saints of God, the members of the Corporate Son, will be the instrument through which that judgment of the world shall be executed. "Do ye not know that the saints SHALL JUDGE THE WORLD?" (I Cor. 6:2). Paul emphasizes that we must be judged now, so that we will not be judged with the world. We must be chastened and corrected NOW, that we be not chastened and corrected WITH THE WORLD. The judgment, chastening, and trial of the sons of God must take place at this present time, in this present age, because it is the Christ, Head and body, which is to initiate and administer the work of judgment upon the world in the age and the ages to come. It is with this great truth in mind that the Holy Spirit faithfully declares that if we are judged now, by either judging ourselves, or coming under the chastening of the Lord, then we "shall not come into condemnation (Gr: krisis, judgment) with the world;" we shall not share in the world's judgment day of chastening and correction, being fully dealt with in advance of the world, already passed from death unto life, brought unto obedience as elect members of His body, the firstfruits of His redemption, to be used in the disciplining of the nations when the time is ripe for it.
So, then, this present life is to each of the consecrated ones his "day of judgment" - his day of trial, testing, proving, chastening, his day of being brought to perfection in Christ. The apostle Peter's words are in harmony with this: "Judgment must begin at the house of God!" (I Pet. 4:17).
Let all men know that the hour has come when judgment must begin at the house of God. Judgment beginning at the house of God! This does not imply a sudden visitation of catastrophes, calamities, and troubles, but it means that there will be a concentration of divine instruction and discipline, as the Father purifies each individual, until He can gather to Himself a FIRSTFRUITS. He chastises us - and chastise comes from a root word meaning chaste or pure. As Ray Prinzing has so aptly stated, "Those who are apprehended for this hour will find that their ways are under the watchful eye of the Lord, He orders every step of their path, and He will bring pressures to bear upon them which help to turn their feet in the right direction. In due time there will be an outreach, as this correctional working proceeds to those who yet wait to be called and drawn by the Spirit, for He is to be the Saviour of all men. But remember, for us, it is a present-time process, as we seek to be filled with His fullness, we must be daily purged and cleansed, and there are these ordained TURNING POINTS, CRISIS', JUDGMENTS to work His way in us. There are many conditions and situations, confusions and frustrations, limitations and complications, which, if we but knew it, are judgments. They are brought our way by the hand of God, to hem us in, to subdue us, to bring us to the point of complete submission to His will.
"How lovingly the Father watches over His own. What tenderness and faithfulness are seen in the way HE 'girds up' our way. It would be a real mark of learning if, when we find ourselves frustrated and confused, to simply sit down and ask the Lord for more understanding of HIS way - to learn to USE these situations as sign posts along the way, telling us that God would put a bend in our path, and turn us more towards His plan for us. There seems to be so much 'fight' yet left in men. We are so determined to push our way through, regardless of how rough the going becomes. And so the frustrations continue to build up, the limitations are increased, and the complications multiply until we come to the end of ourselves, and then cry out, 'Lord, show me Thy way.' Yes, thank God for these little measures of His judgments, divinely used to correct us, to instruct us, to bring us into alignment with His will and purpose.
"If these judgments are effective in us now, then we read, 'He that hears My word, and believes on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting fife, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life' (Jn. 5:24). The word 'condemnation' is actually the Greek word KRISIS, the process of judgment. To yield to the mighty hand of God NOW is to escape the future, general judgments which will yet come. For after the HOUSE has been thoroughly judged, and brought up to divine specifications and qualifications, and found approved in His sight, then shall the process of judgment pass onward to the next order" - end quote.
The final judgment of believers is to be judged as servants. This is a judgment that is both present and future reality for Christians. It involves rewards for works, not a dealing with sin or development of character. It is reward for works, not a discipline for the perfecting of sons. It is vital to our understanding of this subject that we see clearly the distinction between three important biblical terms: salvation, inheritance and reward. Salvation relates to the sinner, inheritance relates to sons, and reward relates to servants. SALVATION means to be rescued from the power of sin and death and is the free gift of God to the believer. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from their sins" (Mat. 1:21). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). INHERITANCE, on the other hand, is that which a son receives by virtue of his relationship to the Father. It is not a gift; it is not earned; it is his by right. "Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an HEIR of God through Christ" (Gal. 4:7). "And if children, then HEIRS; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ" (Rom. 8:17). REWARD, furthermore, is something that is given for service rendered. It is not a free gift, as is salvation, nor is it bestowed because of right, as an inheritance. It is earned by work! "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then He shall REWARD EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS" (Mat. 16:27). "And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou should give reward unto Thy servants" (Rev. 11:18).
We are aware that we were all included in the JUDGMENT OF SINNERS that was meted out upon Jesus Christ at Calvary. Furthermore, we know that we may each be included in the JUDGMENT OF SONS as we follow on to know the Lord and remain yielded unto all His processings. It is when we come to this thought of SERVANTS that there arises a great deal of misunderstanding among the Lord's people. When we speak of servants, some boast that this calling does not apply to them, for they are no longer servants, but sons. And that is true in the spirit in which Paul argues in Gal. 4:6-7 wherein he states, "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore, THOU ART NO MORE A SERVANT, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ."
It is far from the truth, however, to say that there is no sense in which those who are sons are also servants. Paul is speaking of OUR RELATIONSHIP TO GOD, THE FATHER, Under the Old Testament economy the people of God had not received new birth by the Spirit and so were not, by spiritual generation, the children of God. They are called a "house of servants" (Heb. 3:2-6). Their relationship to God was the relationship of servants. They were not sons. Now, bless His name, He has redeemed us from the curse of the law that we might receive placement as sons, and He has birthed into our hearts the Spirit of His Son, the Spirit of Sonship, whereby we cry, "Abba, FATHER!" This has brought a change of relationship to God. To Him we are no longer servants, but sons. However, as sons we enter not only into a relationship to God, but we also become UNIQUELY RELATED to men. It is here that we must be very clear in our understanding. Unto GOD I may be a son, but unto MEN I may be a servant - because I am a son! I cannot be a servant TO GOD, for I am a son. But I cannot be a son TO MEN, therefore I must approach unto men in a relationship through which I can minister to them the LIFE OF THE SON which indwells me. The only way in which I can minister the life of the Son unto men is as a SERVANT. To minister means "to serve," and both "minister" and "servant" are frequently translated from the same Greek word.
Can a son be a servant? Jesus, the Pattern Son declared: "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (serve), and to give His life a ransom for many" (Mat. 20:28). Jesus was a Son to His Father, but He came as a servant unto men. It is the SON that SERVES! The Son is a Servant-Son. The very same Jesus, the Son, of whom the Father witnessed, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," of Him the Father also witnessed, "Behold My SERVANT, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles" (Isa. 42:1). Mat. 12:15-21 shows unmistakably that this SERVANT of the Lord is JESUS. The Son came into the world as a Servant-Son. The beloved John understood this beautiful truth, for the same John who wrote in I Jn. 3:1, "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God," later penned these significant words: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to show unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by His angel unto His servant John" (Rev. 1:1). The great apostle Paul also understood this truth, for the very same Paul who wrote in Gal. 4:7, "Wherefore, thou art no more a servant, but a son," also said in Rom. 1:1, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle." Is Jesus a Son or a servant? Was John a son or a servant? Was Paul a son or a servant? And lest we would exalt ourselves above John, or Paul, or Jesus, we further find of the 144,000 in Revelation, that glorious company of the manifested sons of God which stands with the Lamb upon Zion's holy hill, that even of this exalted company it is written, "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed THE SERVANTS OF OUR GOD IN THEIR FOREHEADS" (Rev. 7:3). So there you have it! The sons are the servants! Not servants to God, of course, but sons who are servants to men, humble ministers of the life of the Father.
At this point I wish to mention again the divine order: Men receive salvation from God as a GIFT; sons receive from the Father an INHERITANCE; servants receive in consideration of their WORK, a REWARD. Inheritance is given on the basis of relationship, while rewards are given because of work done. All believers are saved by grace, but rewarded for works. There is great glory and heavenly wealth awaiting those who become profitable servants, fully equipped to serve. As sons we shall truly receive our inheritance, but as servants we shall in no wise lose our reward. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's WORK shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try EVERY MAN'S WORK of what sort it is. If any man's WORK abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a REWARD. If any man's WORK shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Cor. 3:11-15).
This wonderful passage speaks so adequately of the JUDGMENT OF SERVANTS. Paul mentions this judgment in Rom. 14:10-12, saying, "But why does thou judge thy brother? or why does thou set at naught thy brother? for we shall all stand before THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. So then everyone of us shall give account of himself to God." Paul shows that Christ, the FOUNDATION OF THE HOUSE OF GOD, is being built upon by every child of God. Some of our works which we are seeking to build on Him are referred to as "wood, hay, and stubble." These are all works which are built on Christ but they are not of the nature of Christ, works of the flesh rather than works of the Spirit. Without doubt the vast majority of the "works" being done today by the harlot church systems fall into this category! Wood, hay, and stubble are not sins such as lying, drunkenness, or adultery, but so-called "good Christian works" which are built upon THE FOUNDATION OF CHRIST and done in His blessed name, although they are not products of His Spirit. Constantly we are receiving some letter in the mail telling of this great program and that great endeavour for God; a missionary program, a television ministry, a radio program, church building, recording studio, evangelistic crusade, Bible school, Christian hospital or some other GREAT WORK, with their heart-rending pleas for financial help, with their self-addressed envelopes into which the poor and the widows are urged to put their offerings. With glib tongues and plausible programs by which the world is going to be won for God, or a cure found for cancer, well-meaning people are urged to give to further grandiose programs hatched by kingdom-building preachers who live in wanton luxury upon earth, which programs are not the plan of God at all, but merely the product of an imaginative, scheming, and avaricious mind. Through long centuries billions of dollars have been squeezed from God's precious people to build huge temples, cathedrals, church buildings, Christian communities; to promote innumerable programs and methods to do this and that for God which, not only did God not ordain, but were in all truth a stench in His nostrils and an abomination before His face.
When all these good fleshly religious works are brought into the blazing presence of the holy God they will one and all go up in smoke! What a bonfire that will be! I declare to you that the fires of that judgment shall be witnessed from the farthest extremities of the universe so that every creature in heaven and on earth may understand once and for all that "Except THE LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it!" All works which are to the glory of the creature, or the invention of the creature, and not to the glory of HIM WHO IS THE BUILDER OF ALL THINGS will be totally consumed.
But other works are identified as "gold, silver, and precious stones." These symbols speak of works of faith and righteousness wrought in and through us by the Holy Spirit. These are the works which are the product of HIS LIFE, wrought in union with His will. Gold and silver are refined by fire. Precious stones are fire resistant. These are Hebrew symbols for those works which are made pure by the consuming fire of our great and glorious God and, therefore, will remain for evermore. The apostle goes on to say that every work which successfully passes the test by fire (which "abides") will be REWARDED. Obviously, the "wood, hay, and stubble" variety of carnal works, which were not of the Spirit nor to the glory of God alone, will go up in smoke. Praise the Lord! But those works of the "gold, silver, and precious stones" variety, which are accomplished by obedience to the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God, will be rewarded. This is the order of the JUDGMENT OF SERVANTS. I would point out to you, dear ones, that it does not say a thing about being saved or lost as the result of our WORKS being JUDGED. No, our SIN JUDGMENT is already past, forever settled, hallelujah! We are neither saved nor lost by the kind of works we build upon the foundation of Christ. However, our works are judged "as by fire" in order to get rid of those that are of the flesh and not of the Spirit. I do not doubt but that there will be a lot of red faces and embarrassed countenances in that day when men who received the applause and acclaim of multitudes stand empty-handed before God with nothing to offer Him, and receive not even a nod of recognition from Him!
Then Paul makes a fantastic statement. He states plainly that a man's works may ALL BE CONSUMED by the blazing glory of God so that he has absolutely no reward, but the believer himself "shall be saved." Even if a believer loses all reward, all credit for what he did and supposedly "accomplished for God" because he ends up with tons of empty, worthless, vain religious works, still he shall be saved "so as by fire," purged and purified, corrected and disciplined, that he might serve God acceptably. God's purpose in judging our works as servants is that He may reward (the reward is actually the increase of glory and life from the seed of faith and obedience we planted) our works of righteousness and forever eradicate all that is of self!
THE NATURE OF JUDGMENT
"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord; and shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not JUDGE after the sight of His eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: but with righteousness shall He JUDGE the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod (authority) of His mouth (word), and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins ... for the whole earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:2-5, 9).
Through the cunning of the adversary, both the world and the popular church have been robbed of the blessed assurances of the time when God's RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS break forth in the earth. Most people know that the Bible tells of a "judgment day," but the average person, believer or unbeliever, regards it only with a certain sense of fear and dread. Because of this fear there is, to them, no more unwelcome tidings than that the Lord is coming to JUDGE THE EARTH. Many tremble inwardly at the thought of God's judgments, and in this mind put them far from them, preferring not to even hear the subject mentioned. They have absolutely no idea of the wonderful blessings in store for a sin-weary world under the glorious reign of the sons of God filled with all the nature, wisdom, glory and power of God!
How differently did the holy prophets and apostles regard that promised DAY OF JUDGMENT! Note the expectation in Isaiah's spirit as he announces: "Yea, in the way of THY JUDGMENTS, O Lord, have we waited for thee ... with my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early: for when THY JUDGMENTS are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Isa. 26:8-9). Here Isaiah assures us that the day when God's judgments are in the earth will be a most glorious and desirable day, a day in which the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness! If the desire of your heart is anything like the desire of my heart, this is a blessed thought and a wonderful assurance: the inhabitants of the world WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS! How my ransomed soul longs to behold such a thing! Every time I scan the headlines of the morning paper I am seized with an intense yearning that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Oft times as I watch the evening newscast my spirit is mightily moved within to intercede earnestly that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. As I drive across our great land; as I walk the streets of our cities and towns, beholding the condition of those about, neighbors, friends, relatives, strangers, my spirit groans with unutterable supplication that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness! What a marvelous provision of our wise and loving Father that, to this very end, He has ORDAINED JUDGMENT to come forth in the earth. Bless His name!
Again I would share from the rich writings of Ray Prinzing: "Now we must examine this word 'judgment,' the Greek word, as used in the New Testament, is KRISIS, and with the letter 'K' changed to the letter 'C' it is brought directly over into our English language as CRISIS. All of the pressures and trials which produce these times of 'crisis' in our life are simply a working out of God's corrective measures, His judgments. The root from which KRISIS comes is KRINEIN meaning, 'to separate.' And so it is, a crisis is a critical period of time, a decisive moment, a turning point; hence, a separating, choosing, deciding, judging. The very purpose of judgment is to separate you from the old, that you might come into the new. To separate you from selfhood's rebellion, giving you a TURNING POINT, and heading you in the right direction, in the will of God.
"The man is very sick, he is growing steadily worse, and finally there comes a Crisis, either he begins to mend, or else death comes. It is a TURNING POINT! And when God orders the Crisis, it is to turn us towards righteousness, and bring us into HIS NEW LIFE. Ah, if we tell you that there is a turning point, things will be corrected and brought into righteousness, then you will rejoice. But if we say it is a time of judgment, you say, Woe is me! But it is all the same thing, that's what God's corrective judgments are all about" - end quote.
Another man wrote, "Judgment, not in the sense of vengeful retribution, but of that involved when a craftsman working on a mass of clay, or an ingot of metal, continually examines the results of the various processes to which he subjects it, with a view to assessing whether or not his skill and artistry are producing the desired results" - end quote.
Hear the note of triumph and exaltation when David speaks by the inspiration that the Spirit gives, saying:"Let the heavens be gladWhy will the "trees of the forest" (people of the nations) "sing out" when He is coming to JUDGE THE EARTH? One would think they might weep, or shrink in fear and consternation at the thought of His judgments, but why all the singing? Why the rejoicing? Because God's judgments are an expression of HIS GOODNESS and everlasting MERCY, designed to teach the inhabitants of the world RIGHTEOUSNESS! The earth shall rejoice because this means that we have reached the TURNING POINT in our degeneration, and have come to the times of regeneration. This is true even now for the church, but must ultimately reach unto the whole world and the entire creation. His presence, while it speaks of His utmost holiness and will not tolerate the continuance of evil, brings the changes needed for harmony and righteousness. There shall surely be those severe prunings, crushing, shattering, melting; but when they have accomplished their desired results, His new life shall flow in restoration and victory. Hallelujah!
And LET THE EARTH REJOICE;
And let men say among the nations, the Lord reigns!
Let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof;
Let the fields rejoice, and all that are therein.
Then shall the trees of the wood (people of the earth)
SING ALOUD AT THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD,
Because He comes TO JUDGE THE EARTH.
O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good;
For His mercy endures forever!" (I Chron. 16:31-34).
This same ecstatic exclamation of joy and gladness at the prospects of the coming of God's righteous judgment into the earth is found all through the psalms and the prophets. If you are truly destined to stand among the company of the sons of God, the long-awaited liberators of creation, you will most assuredly share the thrill of the heavenly vibration in David's inspired song: "Say among the nations that the Lord reigns: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: HE SHALL JUDGE THE PEOPLE RIGHTEOUSLY. Let the heavens rejoice, and LET THE EARTH BE GLAD; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for He comes, for He comes TO JUDGE THE EARTH: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth" (Ps. 96:10-13).
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, ALL THE EARTH: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Let the sea (raging, surging multitudes of humanity) roar, and the fullness thereof; THE WORLD, and THEY THAT DWELL THEREIN. Let the floods (armies) clap their hands, let the hills (small kingdoms, third world nations) be joyful together before the Lord; for HE COMES TO JUDGE THE EARTH: with righteousness shall HE JUDGE THE WORLD, and the people with equity" (Ps. 98:4, 8-9).
If you will take the time and effort to look up the words judge, judgment, and judgments in a good Bible Concordance, reading down the lists of scores upon scores of passages in which these words are found, you will quickly make the enlightening discovery that only occasionally do these terms denote the negative aspects of judgment: condemnation, wrath, and destruction. In the vast majority of cases judgment is presented as something altogether desirable, beneficial, and glorious! Consider these examples: "But the Lord shall endure forever: He hath prepared His throne for judgment. And He shall judge THE WORLD in righteousness, He shall MINISTER JUDGMENT to the people in uprightness" (Ps. 9:7-8). "Sing unto Him a new song ... for the word of the Lord is right; all His works are done in truth. He loves righteousness and JUDGMENT: the earth is full of THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD" (Ps. 33:3-5). "Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face. Blessed are the people that know the JOYFUL SOUND" (Ps. 89:14). "I will sing of MERCY and JUDGMENT: unto Thee, O Lord, will I sing" (Ps. 101:1). "Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him: He shall BRING FORTH JUDGMENT to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth JUDGMENT UNTO TRUTH. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have SET JUDGMENT IN THE EARTH: and the isles shall wait (expectantly) for His law" (Isa. 42:1-4). "The Lord lives, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall BLESS THEMSELVES IN HIM, and in Him shall they glory" (Jer. 4:2).
THE JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS
Nothing is more evident in the Word of God than the fact that God has a great and wonderful plan which He is working out among the nations of earth. Many saints recognize that God has a predestined purpose in the life of each of His people, an appointed end for Israel, a wonderful purpose for the church, and a foreordained plan for the overcoming sons of God. We must also understand that the Lord has a determined plan and purpose for ALL NATIONS; God is actively dealing with NATIONS.
From the first dawn of human history God has had the formation, development, and destiny of NATIONS in mind and purpose. The present nations of earth had their origins in the early days following the Great Flood. In Genesis chapter ten is found a most remarkable and comprehensive list of the descendants of Noah who became the heads of the families and tribes which subsequently developed into nations. Even so-called higher critics have often admitted that the tenth chapter of Genesis is a remarkably accurate historical document. There is no comparable catalog of ancient nations available from any other source. It is unparalleled in its antiquity and comprehensiveness. You would do well to read the entire chapter.
Here is the one link between the historic nations of antiquity and the prehistoric time of Noah and the antediluvians. The grandsons and great grandsons of Noah are listed, each of whom is identified with the city or country established by his descendants. It has been possible in many cases to identify the names in Genesis 10 with nations and peoples known to antiquity, especially as revealed by archaeology. Thus this chapter provides the link between recorded history and the period of "prehistory" which is, except for the Bible, preserved only in ancient traditions.
An interesting verse is found in Gen. 10:25. "And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; FOR IN HIS DAYS WAS THE EARTH DIVIDED; and his brother's name was Joktan." Peleg - or rather, the event associated with his name - is of special interest at this point. "In his days was the earth divided." Evidently this was a most memorable event, and Eber named his son in commemoration of it. The name Peleg means division. Almost nothing else is said about Peleg apart from mention of his family line and how long he lived. The fact that the earth was divided in his days seems the only possible item of distinction that can knowingly be attributed to Peleg himself. The important thing concerns the meaning of this indicated "division of the earth." It is obvious that this division was the division of the peoples that took place at the tower of Babel, rather than an actual splitting of the continents. We have such statements as this: "From these were the isles (coasts) of the Gentiles (nations) DIVIDED IN THEIR LANDS; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their NATIONS," and again, "These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their NATIONS: and by these were THE NATIONS DIVIDED in the earth after the flood" (Gen. 10:5, 32).
The descendants of Noah migrated over the whole face of the earth, forming tribe after tribe, city after city, and NATION AFTER NATION. Let all men know that it is the Almighty God who is the designer and architect of all the nations in the world. The time periods and localities in which nations flourish have all been pre-arranged by the will of Him who "works all things after the counsel of His own will" (Eph. 1:11). The truth of this cannot be made any plainer than it is by Moses in Deut. 32:8: "When the Most High DIVIDED THE NATIONS their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." Paul refers to this verse in Acts 17:26-27: "And hath made of one blood ALL NATIONS of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, AND HATH DETERMINED THE TIMES BEFORE APPOINTED, and the BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATION; that they should seek the Lord." How plain it is that it was GOD who, from the beginning, set the bounds of habitation or the national boundaries of ALL NATIONS. These boundaries were established in relation to Israel and with a view to their being able to seek after the Lord. While there may yet be a future and more glorious fulfillment of this, it is remarkable that the ancient land of Palestine was originally reserved by the wisdom and goodness of the Lord for the possession of His ancient people and the display of the most stupendous signs and wonders. The theatre was small, but wonderfully suited for the convenient observation of the whole human race - at the junction of the two continents of Asia and Africa, and almost in sight of Europe. From this spot as from a common center the reports of God's wonderful works, of His mighty power and awesome glory, of the glad tidings of salvation through the obedience, suffering, and resurrection of His precious Son, of the wonder-filled outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost as the faithful disciples of Jesus were set ablaze by the life and power of their glorified Lord, might be rapidly and easily wafted to every part of the globe. Yes, God set the bounds of habitation for all nations and planted Israel at the crossroads, to the end that ALL NATIONS should seek after the Lord. Out of Israel came the Christ; out of the Christ has come the church, His bride (Eph. 5:21-33); out of the church shall come forth the manchild, the overcoming sons of God who are destined to bring deliverance to the whole creation that it might be fulfilled which God promised to father Abraham: "And in thy seed shall ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH be blessed" (Gen. 22:18). ALL NATIONS shall be blessed! What a prospect! From the very beginning God not only designed the nations of men that dwell upon the earth; He also planned and purposed to bless them - each and every one of them! This bespeaks not the blessing of Israel, nor the blessing of the church, nor the blessing of the saints of God within the nations; it is THE NATIONS THEMSELVES that must come under the gracious hand of God in blessing and quickening.
David, the sweet singer of Israel, sang of this hope in the spirit of prophecy: "God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause His face to shine upon us; that Thy way may be known upon earth, Thy saving health among ALL NATIONS. Let the people praise Thee, O God; let ALL the people praise Thee! O let THE NATIONS be glad and sing for joy: for Thou shall JUDGE THE PEOPLE righteously, and GOVERN THE NATIONS upon earth ... yea, ALL KINGS shall fall down before Him: ALL NATIONS SHALL SERVE HIM" (Ps. 67:1-4; 72:11). It is obvious that all nations do not today serve the Lord, neither do all kings (rulers) fall down before Him. The godless Soviet Union does not serve the Lord, neither do its rulers acknowledge Him. China does not serve the Lord. Iran does not serve the Lord. Great numbers of nations do not today serve the Lord, and few of their rulers fall down before HIM. But the day is surely coming when all nations shall be joined to the Lord and fulfill their obligations to Him as their Maker and Saviour. If that day never comes, then the Bible will have to be relegated to the scrapheap of ancestral errors. But the promise is sure: "Arise, O God, judge the earth: for Thou shall INHERIT ALL NATIONS. A-L-L N-A-T-I-O-N-S whom Thou has made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord; and shall glorify Thy name. For Thou art great, and does wondrous things" (Ps. 82:8; 86:9-10). And my spirit shouts a thousand Amens!
Many precious "fragments" reveal God's ultimate purpose for mankind, when "ALL the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and ALL KINDREDS OF TEE NATIONS shall worship before Thee, for the kingdom is the Lord's and HE is the governor among the nations" (Ps. 22:27-28). For further confirmation of God's gracious intention toward the nations let us read Ps. 2:8. In this wonderful prophecy the Father is addressing the Son, saying, "Ask of Me, and I WILL GIVE THEE THE HEATHEN (Heb: nations) for Your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession." Surely the will and plan of God is revealed in this most gracious request, and surely this was the purpose for which Jesus came and was sent. "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (I Tim. 1:15). "The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of THE WORLD" (I Jn. 4:14). With this divine plan in view, well may David triumphantly sing, "O let THE NATIONS be glad and sing for joy, for Thou shall judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth ... God shall bless us, and ALL the ends of the earth shall fear (reverence) HIM" (Ps. 67:4-7). "ALL NATIONS shall call Him blessed ... and blessed be His glorious name forever, and let THE WHOLE EARTH be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen" (Ps. 72:17-19).
A most marvelous prophecy is found in Micah 4:1-3 which points to the very day in which we are now living. "But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain (government) of the house of the Lord (the sons of God) shall be established in the top of the mountains (strong kingdoms, super powers), and it shall be exalted above the hills (weaker kingdoms, third world nations); and people shall flow unto it. And MANY NATIONS shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain (government) of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us His ways, and we (the nations) will walk in His paths: for the law of the Lord shall go forth of Zion (sons of God), and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (the church). And He shall JUDGE among many people, and rebuke STRONG NATIONS afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plow-shares, and their spears into pruning hooks: NATION shall not lift up sword against NATION, neither shall they learn war anymore." Blessed beyond my feeble ability to describe shall be that day when it shall come to pass that "He shall sprinkle (cleanse, sanctify) MANY NATIONS; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them they shall see; and that which they had not heard they shall consider" (Isa. 52:15).
"Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, says the Lord. And MANY NATIONS SHALL BE JOINED TO THE LORD in that day, and shall be My people" (Zech. 2:10-11).
"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the NATIONS of them that are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour unto it. And they shall bring the glory and honour of THE NATIONS into it ... and there shall be no more curse" (Rev. 21:24-27; 22:3). As Jerusalem was the seat of the empire, the center of government under the Old Testament typical kingdom of God, so the New Jerusalem must occupy the same position and be the "city of the Great King" (Ps. 48:2; Mat. 5:35). A city is a symbol of a kingdom or dominion, and so God's Kingdom is symbolized by the New Jerusalem, the new dominion coming down from heaven to earth. This is the heavenly city, the heavenly spiritual government, the city for which Abraham looked, "a city which hath foundations" - a government established in righteousness, being founded upon the sure rock foundation of the righteousness and authority of the Christ. This city is composed of a heavenly and spiritual people in and through whom the mind, nature, glory, will, and power of God is expressed. This governmental city is being built now as God brings a people into union with Himself, conformed to His image, filled with His life. It is this overcoming body of the Christ that shall so demonstrate the fullness of the power and glory of the Lord that ALL NATIONS shall be swept into the embrace of the Kingdom of God. Glory to God!
Glorious City of Peace! Whose walls signify salvation, protection, and blessing to all who enter it, whose foundations laid in righteousness can never be moved, and whose builder and designer is God! It is in the light which will shine from this glorious city (kingdom) of God that the nations will at last walk on the highway of holiness, up to perfection and harmony with God. It is clear as crystal that the nations shall be saved, brought under the dominion of Christ's Kingdom, for in vision John not only beheld the nations walking in the light of the city, but he saw the kings of the earth enter it in glory. Yet none can enter who would defile it. None can enter into it - not a nation, not a king - who has not been transformed by the Spirit of God. None can become identified with that holy city who have not been "sprinkled" - cleansed and made whole by the inworking of His life. None who would work, or love to work, deceit and unrighteousness; only those whom the blessed Lamb shall prepare as He arises with healing in His wings. "And the leaves of the tree (the Word of God) are for the HEALING OF THE NATIONS" (Rev. 22:2). Blessed day! Blessed deliverance! Long milleniums ago the prophet Jeremiah saw this day in spirit and rejoiced: "At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and ALL NATIONS SHALL BE GATHERED UNTO IT, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart" (Jer. 3:17).
GOD'S PURPOSE FOR THE CHURCH
There is no Scriptural truth stated in simpler or more convincing language than that God, omnipotent and omniscient, has, from the beginning, both formed and marked out the path of destiny for every nation of men upon the face of the whole earth. Unceasingly and untiringly God has been working out His purpose, shaping all things through successive generations and ages. In the age after the Flood, beginning with Abraham, men were divided into two special groups - men in general, plus a Chosen Family. Later we recognize these two groups as Israelites and Gentiles. the Chosen Family or Israelites were selected to bear witness to a wicked and idolatrous world of the truth of the One, True and Living God. They always remembered that they were chosen, but quickly forgot what they were chosen for. Instead of bearing witness to the heathen, they only hated them! And, worse yet, copied them and became corrupted by their wicked practices and idolatrous religions.
Beginning with Pentecost another group has appeared, a group called the church (ecclesia), the body of the Christ. Its very name denotes that it is a "called out" group, composed of both Israelites and Gentiles, chosen especially to proclaim, not only the power and wisdom and righteousness of God, but particularly His GRACE. They are to proclaim to the world God's solution of the problems of sin, sorrow, and death, the solution God wrought out in Christ.
The apostle James made a statement to the council at Jerusalem in which he clearly defines the outline of God's purpose for the Church in this present age, and in the age and the ages which are to follow. "Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, AFTER THIS I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down ... and I will set it up: that THE RESIDUE OF MEN might seek after the Lord, and ALL THE GENTILES (Gr: nations), upon whom My name is called, says the Lord, Who does all these things" (Acts 15:14-18). Dispensationally, this is one of the most important passages in the Bible. It gives God's great purpose for this age and the next age. James says that God's purpose during this present age has been to visit the nations TO TAKE OUT OF THEM a people for His name. I cannot emphasize too stongly that it is to the selection and training of that chosen group that the activities of God in the world are now devoted. God is not dealing with nations at this time, rather, He is calling a people out of the nations and dealing with this called out company. It may come as a shock to some, but it is absolutely true that God's plan for this present age has never been the conversion of the world! It has never been to "sweep nations into the Kingdom of God" as some of the missionary enthusiasts love to say. World-wide salvation was never in God's mind or purpose for this dispensation, and God has not been "trying" to save the world, as some ignorant souls would have us believe. Wherever the Gospel has gone it has always saved some, but never all. God's purpose, then, during this church age, is to "call out" a people for His name. Out from among the billions of earth God is choosing an ELECT COMPANY to bear His name, to be formed into His nature, to reveal His glory. God has been forming His church, the body of Christ, the called out ones. Precisely this has been in progress since Pentecost.
It is here, in the true church, that Jesus Christ first establishes His government to rule and reign on the throne of men's lives. God's purpose in His church is not merely to save men from sin and hell and carry them off to some far-away heaven somewhere. God's plan is to first establish His dominion in the hearts of His Elect, imbuing them with the glorious MIND OF CHRIST until they become His nature and will in the earth. Sadly, most Christians never come to this! They are too busy playing church, waiting for their mansion over the hilltop, or blundering around in the carnal programs, foolishness, and shame of a wretched, fleshly, babylonian religious system. But even as the dispensation of the law, at its consummation, brought forth that which it typified and pointed to - Jesus Christ, the Son of God - so this present church age must, in the latter days, at its consummation, bring forth even that unto which it pointed - the many membered BODY OF THE CHRIST, the CORPORATE SON, matured, overcoming, conformed unto the exact likeness of its glorious Head and so filled with the fullness of HIMSELF that it can be said in all truth, "As HE IS, so ARE WE in this present world" (Eph. 4:11-16).
God never intended that either Christ or His body should rule over an nations during this present age. His reign is confined entirely to that little company of footstep followers who have heard His voice and who follow the lamb where ever He goes. These are the blessed sons of God who become the very embodiment of His divine government. This may seem to be an extremely slow method and a very small and insignificant Kingdom for such a great and eternal King, but I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this lowly beginning for a government whose authority is destined to "subdue ALL THINGS." May God grant us vision to see that not only is He establishing His divine government in the hearts and lives of an Elect company of believers, but through His faithful dealings with them He is actually FORMING THEM INTO A GOVERNMENT - a ruling body of sons!
God is calling out a people to bear his name. But WHY? WHEN? WHERE? To bear His name merely to a small handful of people through their short lifetime in the flesh during this age? NO WAY! James says, "AFTER THIS (after the Lord has completed His work of calling out and forming His special people) I will return and build again the tabernacle of David ... THAT THE RESIDUE OF MEN MIGHT SEEK AFTER THE LORD, AND A-L-L THE GENTILES (NATIONS) ... says the Lord!" The "residue" of men denotes "all the rest" of men, all who were not included in the "called out" firstfruit company. Our wise and gracious heavenly Father is even now forming His government of faithful and obedient sons whom He shall raise up as Kings and Priests in due time to bring His Kingdom to pass in all realms. God, through 1900 long years, has slowly, surely, and wisely been choosing this company, preparing them through the fiery furnaces of trials and afflictions, purgings and processings, to reign with Him in righteousness and power. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him
(II Tim. 2:12) ..... You were slain, and has redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and has made us unto our God kings and priests: AND WE SHALL REIGN OVER THE EARTH" (Rev. 5:9-10). "To Him that overcomes ... to him I will give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father" (Rev. 2:26-27).
In this age salvation is unto "as many as are ordained unto eternal life" (Acts 13:48). But in the ages to come there shall be a displaying of God's matchless grace through His beloved sons that "the residue of men shall seek after the Lord, and all the nations over whom My name is called." If this is not true then "reigning with Christ" is absolutely ridiculous and purposeless. But, blessed be God! the word is sure: "...the God of heaven shall set up a Kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the Kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume (take into itself) ALL THESE KINGDOMS, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44).
JUDGMENT AND RESTORATION OF NATIONS
There is a two-fold ministry of the sons of God: Judgment and mercy. On the one hand they shall exhibit His surpassing grace, while, on the other hand, they shall bring judgment in the earth. The more the spirit of revelation unfolds the truth, the more we see God's judgments in proper perspective, that they are corrective in nature and used to bring forth a state of rightness in the earth. They shall not be executed in unholy vengeance, for mercy and grace shall balance the score. Judgments are desperately needed, but they are ever tempered with mercy, and when they have fulfilled their purpose, the judgments end, and the whole earth shall be full of His mercy, life, and glory. Mercy recognizes the need of justice. Mercy knows that every mountain and hill must be brought low, but mercy is there to FILL UP THE VALLEY once the subduing has taken place. As the Psalmist wrote, "Justice and judgment are the habitation of Thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before Thy face" (Ps. 89:14). And again, "I will sing of MERCY and JUDGMENT: unto Thee, O Lord, will I sing" (Ps. 101:1).
With this thought of judgment and mercy in mind, let us consider some certain and indisputable promises of God to specific peoples and nations. We all know the awful magnitude of the sin and judgment which came upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude tells us that they are "set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal (Gr: age-during) fire" (Jude 7). The fire was not quenched until it had finished its work and these cities were so completely destroyed that today there is no remaining trace of them to be found. Archaeologists can only conjecture as to where they may have been located. One would think that after such a complete work of judgment you could just forget about Sodom and Gomorrah and "write them off." And yet, the Lord holds forth the promise of the eventual restoration of such an infamous city-state as Sodom! Not only that, but His engagement to do this is linked up with His promise to restore the people of JUDAH! Speaking to backslidden Jerusalem as to a harlot, God declares to her in His great mercy, "As I live, says the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she or her daughters, as thou has done, thou and thy daughters.
Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me: therefore I took them away as I saw good. Neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins; but thou did multiply your abominations more than they, and has justified thy sisters in a your abominations which thou has done. When I shall bring again their captivity, the captivity of Sodom and her daughters, and the captivity of Samaria and her daughters, THEN WILL I BRING AGAIN THE CAPTIVITY OF THY CAPTIVES IN THE MIDST OF THEM. When thy sisters, SODOM and her daughters ... SHALL RETURN TO THEIR FORMER ESTATE, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. For thus says the Lord God; I will deal with thee as thou has done ... nevertheless I will remember My covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shall remember thy ways, and be ashamed, WHEN YOU SHALL RECEIVE THY SISTERS, your elder and thy younger ... and I will establish My covenant with thee; and thou shall know that I am the Lord" (Eze. 16:48-62).
Has this wonderful thing been accomplished? History shouts aloud that it has not - not yet! But, fear not, dear ones, for the same God of faithfulness and omnipotence who declared, "And so ALL ISRAEL shall be saved," also promises, "SODOM shall return to her former estate." Not their former estate of wickedness, certainly, for then the long ages of judgment would prove fruitless. Jesus saw this coming restoration of Sodom when He announced to the people of Capernaum, "And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shall be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works that have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, IT WOULD HAVE REMAINED UNTO THIS DAY. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee" (Mat. 11:23-24). When these two cities rise up in the day of judgment, under the ministry of the sons of God, it will be far easier to bring the people of Sodom into obedience to the Kingdom of Christ than the people of Capernaum. According to the estimation of Christ, although the people of Sodom were extremely wicked, yet, if the mighty works which were done in Capernaum had been done in Sodom THEY WOULD HAVE REPENTED. Capernaum, therefore, will have to be dealt with much more severely! These verses can have no other meaning. And if the judgment is the same for the people of both of these cities - eternal damnation in hell-fire - then Christ's promise that it will be "more tolerable" for the people of Sodom in the day of judgment is meaningless. How unscriptural and ridiculous the ignorant traditions of men!
A. P. Adams has written a masterful monograph on the restoration of Sodom and I here share a portion of his scholarly wisdom: "I need not dwell upon the history of the destruction of Sodom, all are familiar with it, or may very easily make themselves so. We know that the city was so wicked that ten righteous persons could not be found within its walls and God destroyed them all by a horrible tempest' (Ps. 11:6) of 'fire and brimstone.' 'Terrible!' you exclaim, 'what extraordinary sinners they must have been to have deserved such a fearful visitation as this!' Why, no, 'they were not sinners above all men' (Lk. 1 3:4); in fact they were very ordinary sinners, not near as bad as many cities that are referred to in the Bible. Their sins were just the ordinary transgressions of all populous and wealthy cities, ancient and modern. What were they? 'Behold, this was the iniquity of Sodom; pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy; and they were haughty, and committed abomination' (Eze. 16:49-50). These are not extraordinary, unusual sins. What city ever existed, or does now exist, that could not be truthfully charged with every one of the sins enumerated above? Many a city has been far worse than this. The above language would not begin to describe the 'iniquity' of Paris, London, or New York. But more surprising still, Sodom did not begin to be so bad as the so-called 'holy city of David,' proud and magnificent Jerusalem. The sin of Sodom was 'a very little thing' in comparison with the sin of Jerusalem (Eze. 16:47). Think of it! We know that the sin of Sodom was 'very grievous' (Gen. 18:20). What then must have been the sin of highly favored Jerusalem, if in comparison therewith the sin of Sodom was 'a very little thing?'
"Suppose we take the orthodox view of this case and see how well it will stand investigation. The case of Sodom is clear-cut and unequivocal. We know that the Sodomites were exceedingly wicked sinners (Gen. 13:13). We know that when they were destroyed there were no righteous persons among them, 'no, not one' (Rom. 3:10), for if there had been the Lord would have saved him with Lot, and thus the Sodomites were a fitting type of the whole race. We know that they perished in their sins, and that none of them escaped, all were destroyed (Lk. 17:29). Hence it is positive that these wicked sinners have all gone to an ENDLESS hell, if the orthodox view is correct. Is such a view in harmony with the Bible teaching in regard to Sodom? As we have already noticed, the sin of Sodom was comparatively 'a very little thing.' If the doom of Sodom for this comparatively 'very little' sin is endless torment WHAT OUGHT TO BE THE DOOM OF JERUSALEM? What ought to be the doom of Capernaum, and of the cities that reject the Gospel? for they also are worse than Sodom (Mat. 10:14; 11:23-24). Sodom did not sin against light; they knew nothing of the true God or of Jesus Christ the Saviour. I know that Lot was among them, a righteous man, but we have every reason to believe that he was more interested in his worldly prosperity than in the moral welfare of those around him. At any rate rejection of the truth is not mentioned in the enumeration of the sins of Sodom. Would their guilt have been any greater, if they had committed that sin? Certainly it would, for it is on that very account that other cities are spoken of as worse than Sodom. This was the very reason why Jerusalem was worse, - because it sinned against great light; this was the very reason why Capernaum was worse; and this was the very reason given by Jesus Christ Himself why it should be 'more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment' than for those cities that rejected the Truth. How does the idea of its being 'more tolerable' for one than for another in the future state of punishment, comport with the idea of endless torment for all? Not at all; it is arrogant nonsense to talk about more or less tolerable endless torment, and any one ought to be ashamed to believe or advocate any such absurdity. But graver still is the question, - how can we vindicate the justice of God in His dealing with Sodom if the orthodox view is correct? Jesus plainly tells us that if Sodom had had the light and advantages that other cities had, IT WOULD HAVE REPENTED; that light was withheld, through no fault of theirs, and they perished in their sins and are lost. Why did they not have that light? Why did not Sodom have as good a chance for salvation as any other class of human beings? That they did not, Christ plainly declares, and now their doom is sealed and they are hopelessly lost, according to the popular view, when if they had had as good an opportunity as others they would have been saved. You cannot reconcile this case with justice and equity on the ground of the prevailing theology. I will show presently how fully it harmonizes with the grand truth of probation after death, but it is certainly out of joint in every particular with the teaching of the nominal church.
"But now how easy to understand and how reasonable this declaration in regard to Sodom becomes in the light of the Word of God. The 'judgment day' is the period of man's probation. Within the scope of the judgment day every one receives according to his desserts 'few stripes or many' (Lk. 12:47-48). At that time it shall be more tolerable for those like Sodom, who in ignorance and mere animalism have only committed the crimes common to all mankind, than for those who, blessed with great light and large opportunities, have added to the ordinary sins of man the wilful and persistent rejection of that light, and the ungrateful abuse of those favorable opportunities; highly favored Jerusalem, exalted Capernaum, and the cities blessed by the preaching of the apostles, shall be cast down into a deeper hell, than Sodom and Gomorrah, or Tyre and Sidon, though these latter cities were exceedingly wicked in their pride and cruelty, and intensely filthy with heathen corruptions and nameless abominations. It would be well if modem Jerusalems and Capernaums, in this most civilized, refmed, and intellectual of eras should take warning, remembering that, 'Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required.'
"The foregoing rational and Scriptural explanation of the case of Sodom, clears up all the difficulties of the orthodox view. Turn to the 16th chapter of Ezekiel's prophecy and read it all through. You win notice that the first part of the chapter is highly figurative. The origin of Jerusalem is represented as that of a poor neglected female infant cast out as a low-born waif, friendless and ready to perish. God represents Himself as taking pity on the babe, caring for it, and rearing it for Himself. The figure moves on, growing more and more intense and striking. The child grows up to a beautiful womanhood, and the Lord says, 'I spread My skirt over thee (compare Ruth 3:9), and covered thy nakedness; yea I swear unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, says the Lord God, and thou becomes Mine.' Thus Jerusalem is represented as being married unto God. Then the figure goes on to represent the magnificence and beauty of the bride; 'T'hy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through My comeliness, which I had put upon thee, says the Lord God.' But self-trust, pride, and unfaithfulness follow. In language most intensely significant the surpassing wickedness of Jerusalem is represented under the abhorrent figure of an unfaithful, corrupted wife, who not only plays the harlot herself, but teaches her children (vs. 20, etc.) to commit like abominations; 'Woe, woe, unto thee! says the Lord God;' a terrible heap of corruption and crime is piled up against this shameless harlot, and then the Lord declares her punishment. 'Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord! because of thy filthiness and abominations I will bring shame upon thee before thy lovers, and I will judge thee as women that break wedlock, and destruction, and ruin, and shame, and war shall come upon thee, and thou shall be robbed of thy wealth of thy fair jewels and the beautiful rainment, and thou shall be stripped and stoned, and thrust through with the sword, and burned with fire; and I will pour out My fury and anger upon thee. 'Then the Lord goes on to declare that Jerusalem had followed the tendencies of her heathen origin, and, like the Amorite and the Hittite, and other Canaanitish nations, had wrought all manner of 'abominations.' Samaria, the capital of the wicked kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes), and Sodom, the principal city of the plain, are her elder and younger or rather her greater and lesser (see margin) sisters. It is not the age of these cities that is referred to in the Hebrew terms rendered 'elder' and 'younger,' but their comparative guilt. Sodom, Samaria, and Jerusalem are represented as three sisters of one common, corrupt parentage. Sodom is called the 'lesser' because the least guilty of the three, having had the least light and fewest privileges. Samaria is next in guilt, the greater or 'elder' sister of Jerusalem, being next in favorable advantages; while Jerusalem is far worse than any of the others, having had the greatest blessings and opportunities. Therefore, God says to Jerusalem, 'Thine elder sister is Samaria, and thy lesser sister is Sodom. Yet has thou not walked after their ways, nor done after their abominations; but as if that were a very little thing, thou was corrupted more than they in all thy ways. As I live, says the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou has done, thou and thy daughters. As I live, says the Lord God, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou has done, thou and thy daughters...thou also which has judged thy sisters, bear your own shame for thy sins which thou has committed more abominable than they; they are more righteous than thou.' This is a most terrible charge. So great and overshadowing was the sin of Jerusalem that the sins of these other wicked cities sink into utter insignificance in comparison; the immensely greater iniquity of Jerusalem even seems to justify (excuse altogether) the comparatively trifling transgressions of Sodom and Samaria. When we think, again, of the great enormity in itself of the iniquity of these two exceedingly wicked cities, and yet are told that their sin was 'as a very little thing,' and even 'justifiable' in comparison to the far more enormous sin of Jerusalem, we can perhaps form some faint idea of the tremendous guilt and deep corruption of this latter city. Now then ... if there is MERCY and BLESSING in store for Jerusalem, 'the chief of sinners,' SURELY WE NEED NOT BE SURPRISED OR INCREDULOUS WHEN WE ARE TOLD OF FUTURE MERCY AND BLESSING FOR THE LESS GUILTY CITIES OF SAMARIA AND SODOM!
'I will bring again their captivity, the captivity of SODOM,' says the Lord. 'Thy sister SODOM and her daughters shall return to their former estate.' What does the personal, plural pronoun their refer to? the city or the people? The people, of course. So all through the latter part of this chapter, the most cursory reading will show that by the term Sodom, is meant in every case the inhabitants of that ancient city. The pronouns 'their,' 'they,' and 'them' in verses 47-55 cannot refer to the city nor to the land but to the people. This prophecy may be fulfilled, though neither the land nor the city ever be restored, as it has nothing to do with either, but applies entirely to the inhabitants of Sodom.
"I will conclude with noticing one more thought. A future probation for Sodom such as is taught in this prophecy would not be a second probation, or another chance, as some say, but the only probation, the only chance that the people of Sodom ever had! Probation is the period of education, breaking, training, enlightenment, and development through correction; we cannot have such probation until we have the true light of God; Sodom was destitute of all such light, hence has had no probation. Thus this prophecy of Sodom stands as a bulwark against error and for the protection of the truth. It is a most remarkable prophecy, utterly out of joint with all the denominational creeds, and all other beliefs that would narrow down the plan of God for man's redemption to the present life and the present age. But it is in full harmony with the views of those who see that the present life for the vast majority of the race is not their period of probation or trial for eternal life, but that such probation will come 'after death;' and that the present age, and all the ages past, are but the preparatory stages to the great work in 'the ages to come,' even the 'ages of the ages,' of creating man, the entire race, in the image and likeness of God. This latter view is in harmony with ALL Scripture, and is thus marked as the truth of God" - end quote.
Another striking example of God's dealings with nations and His future plans for them is found in the ancient nation of Assyria. It was once one of the six great empires that have ruled the civilized world, preceding Babylon. In Zeph. 2:13-15 the Lord pronounced His judgment against Assyria, saying, "And He will stretch out His hand against the north, and DESTROY ASSYRIA; and will make NINEVAH (the capital of Assyria) a desolation, and dry like a wilderness. This is the rejoicing city that dwelt carelessly, that said in her heart, I am, and there is none beside me: how is she become a desolation, a place for beasts to lie down in! every one that passes by her shall hiss, and wag his hand." Today there are only some dirt mounds covering the site of Ninevah, nor does the kingdom of Assyria exist any more at all! How thoroughly does God execute His word! But now, hear this! "And the Lord shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day ... yea, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord, and perform it. And the Lord shall smite Egypt: He shall smite and heal it: and they shall return even to the Lord. In that day shall there be an highway OUT OF EGYPT TO ASSYRIA, and the ASSYRIAN shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall ISRAEL be the third with EGYPT and with ASSYRIA, even a blessing in the midst of the land: WHOM THE LORD OF HOSTS SHALL BLESS, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and ASSYRIA THE WORK OF MY HANDS, and Israel Mine inheritance." To say that there will not be a restoration of the nation of Assyria and that God will not save that nation would be a blatant repudiation of the Word of God. And notice, too, that today EGYPT is a MOSLEM NATION, but, according to the above prophecy Egypt also shall come to know the Lord and shall SERVE HIM AS A NATION along with Israel and Assyria. What anticipation this stirs in our hearts! Glory to God!
Now hear the words of the Lord against two other peoples, Moab and Ammon: "Therefore as I live, says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, even the breeding of nettles and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation" (Zeph. 2:9). This judgment would seem to be final, and would be IF THE JUDGMENT OF SODOM IS FOR EVER SEALED IN ETERNAL PUNISHMENT, but it is only final till the judgment is completed. For God says of Moab in Jer. 48:47, "YET will I bring again the captivity of Moab IN THE LATTER DAYS;" and in Jer. 49:6, of Ammon He promises, "And afterward I will bring again the captivity of the children of Ammon, says the Lord." If one reads only a portion of God's word, the facts are too few to calculate rightly the curve of God's purposes. May the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God enable us to see beyond the weeping of the night that we may behold the JOY THAT COMES IN THE MORNING; when every judgment shall have fulfilled its purpose, the judgments end, and ALL NATIONS are filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. "And He will destroy in this mountain (the Kingdom of God) the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil (of blindness) that is spread over all nations. And he will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord will wipe away tears from off all faces. And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord; we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in HIS SALVATION" (Isa. 25:7-9)."The Lord is King! Lift up your voice,
O earth; and all ye heavens, rejoice:
From world to world the joy shall ring,
The Lord Omnipotent is King!
"The Lord is King! who then shall dare
Resist His will, distrust His care,
Or murmur at His wise decrees,
Or doubt His royal promises?
"The Lord is King! Child of the dust,
The Judge of all the earth is just;
Holy and true are all His ways:
Let every creature speak His praise.
"One Lord, one empire, all secures;
He reigns, and life and death are yours:
Thro' earth and heav'n one song shall ring,
The Lord Omnipotent is King!"
THE JUDGMENT DAY
The apostle Paul, speaking on Mars Hill, told the Athenians, "...God ... hath appointed a day, in the which He will 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" (Acts 17:31). This passage sets forth four wonderful truths:
(1) God has appointed A DAY
(2) In that DAY He shall JUDGE THE WORLD in righteousness
(3) lie shall JUDGE THE WORLD by that MAN whom
He has ordained
(4) This ASSURANCE is given unto ALL MEN.
The judgment day is not a day of eternal doom, but a blessed day of ASSURANCE TO ALL MEN. But how is that assurance given unto all men? In just this way. God has appointed a day, an indefinite period of time in which He will in righteousness JUDGE THE WORLD by a MAN whom He has ordained for that purpose. That Man of course is His Son, and His Son died the death of all humanity, but this assurance lies in the fact that GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD. The assurance given UNTO ALL is, that as God dealt with His own Son in this particular, He will also deal with ALL HUMANITY.
This is the point that is overlooked by the vast majority of preachers and teachers and churches in this day. Today, all depends upon whether or not the person accepts the teaching of a particular church, submitting to its ordinances and rituals, embracing the doctrine which is held by all its members. Having done that, the particular church then assures the new member that he is a Christian and that he is going to a place called heaven. But the assurance of God does not rest upon any such frail foundation. God's assurance rests upon the FACT of the resurrection of His own Son, and that assurance is given not to a select few, but to ALL MEN.
The term "day," both in the Scriptures and in common usage, though most frequently used to represent a period of twelve or twenty-four hours, really signifies any definite or special period of time. Thus, for instance, we speak of Abraham's day, Noah's day, Luther's day, Washington's day; and thus in the Bible the entire time of creation is called a day, where we read of "the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" (Gen. 2:4) - a long, definite period, which includes the six other "days" of creation listed in Genesis chapter one. Then we read of "the day of temptation in the wilderness" - forty years (Heb. 3:8-9); "the day of salvation" (II Cor. 6:2); also the "day of vengeance," the "day of wrath," and the "day of trouble" - terms applied to a period of forty years at the close of the Jewish nation, and to a similar period of trouble when the times of the Gentiles are brought to a close at the end of this age. Then again we read of the "day of Christ," the "day of judgment," and "His day" - terms especially applicable to the glorious triumph of the Kingdom of God in an realms, as the Christ, Head and body, reigns over, rules and judges THE NATIONS in righteousness, granting wonderful blessing as well as rendering binding sentences. And of that period it is written: "He shall judge the world in righteousness, and in HIS DAY shall show who is that blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords" (Acts 17:31; I Tim. 6:15).
Ah, God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by THAT MAN WHOM HE HATH ORDAINED, and that MAN is the Christ, Head and body! When giving his preview of the wonderful work of this time the apostle John wrote: "Then I saw thrones, and sitting on them were those to whom authority to act as JUDGES and pass sentence was entrusted. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witnessing to Jesus and for the Word of God, and who had refused to pay homage to the beast ... and they lived again, and ruled with Christ a thousand years. Blessed is the person who takes part in the first resurrection Over them the second death has no power or authority, but they shall be ministers of God and of Christ, and they shall rule with Him a thousand years" (Rev. 20:4,6).
"Thrones" occupied by them to whom the authority to "act as judges" is given! Is this a glorious and exciting prospect, or does it cast a dark shadow upon what would otherwise be a bright picture? Judges! Decisions handed down! Judicial decisions! Authority! How are we to view such a prospect? In conjunction with this vision John says, "Then I saw an angel (symbol of a MINISTRY) descending from heaven (the governmental realm of God); he was holding the key of the abyss - the bottomless pit - and a great chain was in his hand. And he gripped and overpowered the dragon, that old serpent of primeval times, who is the devil and Satan, and securely bound him for a thousand years. Then he hurled him into the abyss and closed it and sealed it above him, so that he should NO LONGER LEAD ASTRAY AND DECEIVE AND SEDUCE T-H-E N-A-T-I-O-N-S..." (Rev. 20:1-3). Talk about judgment! Sentencing! Judicial authority! Power from heaven! Spiritual power! A burning word of authority! John beheld this whole present world-system passing away. After six milleniums of sin, sorrow, tyranny, war, oppression, pain, and death mankind needs DELIVERANCE! The NATIONS need a change! For six-thousand years the earth has been governed by the will of carnal men and the will of man has been usurped by the mind of Satan. The nations have been governed variously by kings, emperors, dictators, prime ministers, and presidents, but the net result has always been the same, for the corrupt nature of man ever asserts itself, seeking its own purposes, fulfilling its own desires, and doing its own will.
Are the people not deeply disappointed and perplexed today by the political and judicial system that operates in this hour, even here in the United States of America? Truly I can say to you that in our time, as at no previous time, is when the words of the Psalmist have come true as a prophecy in respect to men in a political and judicial capacity who are like "gods" but have betrayed the people in their office: "They know not, neither will they understand: they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of earth are out of course" (Ps. 82:5). Or, as the Amplified Bible so aptly translates, "The magistrates and judges know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in the darkness; all the foundations of the earth (the fundamental principles upon which rests the administration of justice) are shaking."
Can anyone possibly imagine what would happen to a nation if all the members of its government were completely selfless instead of completely selfish, if they were sons of God WALKING IN THE MIND AND SPIRIT OF CHRIST, instead of handshaking, baby-kissing politicians seeking to curry the favor of men for personal advantage, or if the judges judged by the spirit of wisdom and discernment from God instead of by the tricky technicalities of the law? What if the leaders of the world were filled with the Holy Spirit of God and moved under the power of His anointing turning men to God instead of building larger armies and navies, more sophisticated missiles, and more destructive bombs? What if judges and social workers had the Word of God in their mouths and power to cast the demon spirits out of men instead of carrying them off to some ungodly psychiatrist, mental hospital, or prison? To even contemplate such things in this age of darkness only serves to bring a sad smile to our faces, but I can assure you in all confidence that this present day of darkness is even now merging into God's great DAY OF JUDGMENT and perdition of ungodly men. The whole system is rapidly sinking and collapsing around us and God is even now preparing a righteous government of holy sons of God to replace it.
Destruction of the demonized systems of this world will certainly call for a change of judgeships over mankind. In the proper course of things, then, new thrones of judgment come into existence. Nothing else but a BETTER BODY OF JUDGES could be expected to occupy those new thrones of judgment, which are established by God's authority in the heavenlies. God's judges will not be men in judicial robes sitting on a bench in a smoke-filled courtroom. God's judges shall be men possessing the mind of Christ, clothed with the wisdom and power of God, speaking the words of God great authority. Mighty DELIVERANCE can thenceforth be expected to come to misled, misruled, and misjudged mankind! Two thousand years ago Jesus designated the first twelve of this new order of judges. On the night of His betrayal and arrest and unjust trial by the highest court in Jerusalem, Jesus said to His small handful of footstep followers: "You are those who have remained and persevered with Me in My trials; and as My Father has appointed a Kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer on you the privilege and decree that you may eat and drink at My table in My Kingdom, and sit on thrones, JUDGING the twelve tribes of Israel" (Lk. 22:28-30). Those were merely the first appointed to this realm of authority and ministry, for Daniel said, "I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the ancient of days came, and JUDGMENT WAS GIVEN TO THE SAINTS of the Most High; and the time came that the SAINTS possessed the Kingdom" (Dan. 7:21-22). And Paul adds further light in I Cor. 6:2-3, "Do ye not know that THE SAINTS SHALL JUDGE THE WORLD? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?"
THE MINISTRY OF JUDGING
In the Bible the ones whom God raised up as judges for His people did more than just settle disputes between individuals or hand down and execute judicial decisions. Those judges were actually THE DELIVERERS OF GOD'S PEOPLE! There is one book in the Bible that is specifically named "Judges." As a book it is a thriller! Therein we read of the fearless exploits of those mighty men whom God, "the Judge of an the earth," raised up for the salvation and deliverance of His oppressed and afflicted people. Hail the day of judgment that began when God raised up a judge to execute judgment for His afflicted ones! for these judges were, indeed, "saviours" of Israel by a special anointing of the Spirit of the Lord.
Throughout the administration of the judges the people were blessed. Note, for instance, how, when under oppression by their enemies because of transgression against the Lord, Israel was again and again released and blessed by the raising up of judges. Thus we read: "When the children of Israel cried unto the Lord, the Lord raised up a DELIVERER, who delivered them ... and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him, and he JUDGED ISRAEL, and went out to war ... and prevailed ... and the land had rest" (Judges 3:9-11). And again, "The Lord raised up judges that DELIVERED THEM out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And when the Lord raised up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge" (Judges 2:16, 18).
Those wonderful judges were raised up long millenniums ago for the deliverance of Israel; but now, in this glorious age, God is preparing a mighty COMPANY OF JUDGES whose responsibility it shall be to JUDGE THE WORLD in righteousness! "And he that overcomes ... to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Rev. 2:26-27). "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne" (Rev. 3:21). "And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them..." (Rev. 20:4,6). So, though the church and the world have long been under the power and oppression of the great adversary, yet He who paid for the sins of all with His own precious blood will take His great power and reign in blessing over realms that hitherto have not known Him. He will judge and deliver ALL THOSE WHOM HE SO LOVED AS TO REDEEM. With this ALL the prophetic declarations agree. It is written, "With righteousness shall He JUDGE THE W-O-R-L-D, and the people with equity" (Ps. 98:9). Thank God! The very thought of an age governed by the sons of God who are filled with the seven-fold intensified Spirit of the Lord leaves me absolutely breathless! Words become totally inadequate and human ability to articulate the wonder of such a thing fails completely. Our faltering minds cannot totally appreciate nor comprehend the wonder of Isaiah's prophecy: "But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: He shall smite the earth with the rod (authority) of His mouth, and with the breath (Spirit) of His lips (Word) shall He slay the wicked. The earth shall be FULL of the knowledge of the Lord, AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA" (Isa. 11:2-9).
THE MINISTRY OF REDEMPTION AND RESTORATION
The day which God has appointed, in the which He shall JUDGE THE WORLD, is now at hand. The judges for this day are now m preparation for their awesome task. Yes, you shall judge the world, saints ... but you will do it in humility and with a broken heart full of compassion and love. The first aspect of the ministry of the judges in the coming age is judgment. This work, however, shall be swiftly followed by the second ministry of mercy and restoration, for God's judgments are ever unto correction and redemption. Praise God! Let us now consider the processes involved in this wonderful work of redemption and restoration.
To Israel, two millenniums ago, the hope of their coming Messiah, the Deliverer, was the fervent prayer and burning desire of the devout. When Jesus came God's people Israel were baffled and perplexed in mind, because they had learned to look only for a Messiah who would come to deliver them from their enemies and from the hand of all who oppressed them. The prophecies plainly declared that a DELIVERER would come out of Zion. Of this they were confident and assured, but their unregenerate hearts and unspiritual minds did not comprehend that the first work of the great Deliverer would be to DELIVER THEM from the awful curse of THEIR OWN SINS and to transform THEIR WICKED HEARTS by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which deliverance could only be accomplished by the shedding of His righteous blood and the renewing of the Holy Ghost within them.
Israel wanted to be delivered from ROME! In their clouded minds and distorted vision they could see only the flashing of Roman swords and the snapping of the heels of the Roman legions as the source and substance of their bondage. But of what value would it have been had the blessed Redeemer come only to deliver them from the power and authority of Rome if there was to be no change in their wicked and rebellious hearts? God's Word is full of accounts of His mighty acts of deliverance on their behalf, but no sooner were they delivered from their enemies than they utterly corrupted themselves and forsook the Lord.
The book of Judges records how Israel corrupted themselves utterly before the Lord. "And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: and they forsook the Lord God of their fathers, and followed other gods and provoked the Lord to anger. And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies. Where ever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil. Nevertheless the Lord raised up judges, which delivered them out of the hand of those that spoiled them. And yet they would not hearken unto their judges, but they went a whoring after other gods, and bowed themselves unto them. And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they corrupted themselves more than their fathers; they ceased not from their own doings, nor from their stubborn way" (Judges 2:11-19).
What a sordid state of affairs! Do you get the picture? Again and again, over and over, time after time, repeatedly, the cycle goes on and on..."And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord ... and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies ... and the children of Israel cried unto the Lord ... and the Lord raised them up judges ... the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge ... and it came to pass, when the judge was dead that they corrupted themselves more than their fathers ... and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord ... and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies ... the children of Israel cried unto the Lord ... and the Lord raised them up judges ... and the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hands of their enemies all the days of the judge ... and it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they corrupted themselves more than their fathers ... and the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord ... and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies ... the children of Israel cried unto the Lord ... and the Lord raised them up judges..." DO YOU GET THE PICTURE, N-O-W? How unmistakably evident that it was not their enemies from whom they needed deliverance - they needed DELIVERANCE FROM THEMSELVES! Their great problem was that they continually cried unto the Lord because of the oppression of the king Of Mesopotamia, or the Moabites, or the Canaanites, or the Midianites, or the Ammonites, or the Philistines; BUT NEVER ONCE DID THEY CRY MIGHTILY UNTO GOD BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN DESPERATELY WICKED AND REBELLIOUS HEARTS! How like human nature that is! Great masses of people today in the Charismatic Movement want God to solve all their problems and pour out upon them lavishly of His blessings, but they do not want to change their life style, there is no deep work of repentance, they stoutly refuse to separate themselves from the idolatrous and wicked harlot church systems at whose polluted tables they feast, and they have no desire whatever for God to come in blazing, consuming fire to purge and purify their hearts from the wicked and idolatrous spirit of this present age.
The book of Judges is a wonderful book. Over and over again it records the loving kindness and tender mercy of God on the one hand and the incredible corruption of the human heart on the other. The corruption of the human heart is beyond belief and it would have been completely useless had the Lord sent His Son to be the Deliverer of His people from Rome, or from any other external circumstance or situation, while leaving their wicked hearts unchanged and their carnal natures not destroyed. As in the days of old they would no sooner have been delivered from their enemies than they would have turned back to heathen gods and to the lusts of their own flesh. Is this not what the unregenerate are doing now? Is this not what the "blessing seeking" crowd is doing, those who preach a message of faith and power and blessing, but not balanced by the message of the inworking of HIS CROSS? Do they not worship Mammon, the god of PROSPERITY and RICHES? Are they not lovers of pleasures more than lovers of GOD? Do men not worship the god of self and the god of lust and sex? No wonder the Lord said, "Ye draw nigh to Me with your lips, but your heart is far from Me" (Isa. 29:13). How well did James proclaim: "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded" (James 4:8).
In this age and in the glorious age and ages to come what good would it be to raise up righteous judges to judge the people: to settle disputes between individuals and nations, to pronounce verdicts and sentences, to execute judicial decisions, while the heart of man remains deceitful and corrupt and his mind more nearly the mind of a devil than the mind of God? If ever the world is to be judged and ruled in righteousness, righteousness must first of all be established WITHIN THE HEART OF MAN and the rule of God removed from the external and brought into the very tables of his heart and mind. There must be a new birth, even a birth from above. The wickedness of man demands it. There must be a conversion, a total change wherein evil men who once were afar off from God are made nigh by the blood of Christ. The very well-spring of that conversion must be a birth from above by which a new heart and a new spirit are placed WITHIN THE MEN OF ALL RACES AND TRIBES AND NATIONS. This is why Jesus, when He appeared on the world scene, came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the very first word of that Kingdom Gospel is this: "REPENT, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!" (Mat. 4:17). "Godly sorrow works REPENTANCE TO SALVATION not to be repented of, but the sorrow of the world works death" (II Cor. 7:10).
The whole problem with Israel as a nation in the Bible times was that they were unconverted. While they willingly made covenants with God and swore allegiance and obedience to Him, their hearts remained unchanged. There was no birth from above! All the while they were forcing themselves to do God's bidding, their unregenerate hearts were wandering after Baal or Ashtaroth or Mammon, because these gods catered to their flesh and to every abomination that is common to the human heart. They did not serve the Lord because their hearts were not attuned to a life of holiness which begins when Jesus comes into the heart. This same condition still exists all about us in the realm of the unregenerate and unconverted people who fill the pews of our so-called churches every Sunday morning. With their lips they serve the Lord, but their hearts are far from Him! They sing, "Holy, holy, holy," while their unconverted hearts dream of business and pleasure and oft times unholy things. The world does not yet understand this truth, but the first essential step in the life of any man entering the Kingdom of God is briefly stated in these words: "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again" (Jn. 3:7). "Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he CANNOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD" (Jn. 3:5).
I have no desire to be sarcastic or cynical, but if we aspire to be of that glorious company of God's sons who shall judge and reign over the earth-realm in righteousness and power, then we must learn first and foremost that "the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God" (I Pet. 4:17). The sooner we learn that the human heart is utterly corrupt the sooner we will come to the fountain of His precious blood, not merely for mercy and pardon, but for CLEANSING and DELIVERANCE that through the grace and power of Christ we might be soundly converted and made an entirely New Creation in Him. I can say without fear of contradiction that most christians have come only to know what it means to be saved in their sins," but the sons of the Most High must now become the firstfruits of them that are "saved from their sins." Out of the midst of all the empty form and ritual of man-made religion, the violence and war, the cheating and lying, the drugs and heathenish rock music, illicit sex and filth of lesbians and homosexuals, and the plague of every abominable eastern cult and devilish religion, God shall bring forth a blessed "firstfruit company" of people who are UNDEFILED BEFORE GOD. These are they that have repented of sin and every work of the flesh. With Christ, their victorious Head, they have died to all the desires of the flesh and mind. They are a people who have fixed all their hopes in Christ the Lord. Their hearts cry not for the tinsel of the world, nor yet for the trinkets of popular religion, but their prayer ascends to God day and night, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Mat. 6:10). Purged of all Pride, self-interest and filthiness of flesh and spirit these shall be accounted worthy to reign with Christ as kings and judges from the spirit realm, and those who will rule from henceforth are a royal priesthood like unto their Lord, after the order of Melchisedek.
We have noted that it is utterly useless to deliver men from their external enemies unless first they have been delivered from their own corrupt and wicked hearts. All mankind desperately needs DELIVERANCE, and the sons of God, the righteous judges to be raised up unto all nations SHALL BECOME THE DELIVERERS. Hallelujah! "And saviours shall come up on Mount Zion (the government of God) to judge the mount of Esau (flesh); and the kingdom shall be the Lord's" (Obad. 21). The "mount of Esau" typifies the RULE OF THE FLESH. Let all men know that the triumph of the Son of God begins within, then, that which is first accomplished in the midst of our own being shall be wrought out in the midst of the earth, and that which is being wrought out in the midst of the earth shall also be fully wrought out in the entire universe, for "He planned for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify ALL THINGS and HEAD THEM UP and consummate them in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph. 1:10, Amplified).
The salvation of the nations shall not be accomplished upon principles nor by processes other than those that are now working in the firstfruit company for our redemption and perfection. The process for us is clear: "Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God" (Rev. 1:5-6). And again, "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou was slain, and has redeemed us by Thy blood ... and has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev. 5:9-10). The glorious God of power and holiness who has constituted us "kings and priests" is the One who first of all "washed us from our sins in His own blood."
Zechariah prophesied of a day, saying, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness," and Isaiah spoke of that fountain of cleansing performing its redeeming work upon MANY NATIONS: "So shall He sprinkle (wash, cleanse, sanctify) MANY NATIONS; the kings shall shut their mouths at Him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider" (Zech. 13:1; Isa. 52:15). In Rev. 21:6 John calls the cleansing and life-giving stream of the blood of Christ a "fountain of the water of life." The words of the old hymn are so appropriate: "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus! What can make me PURE WITHIN? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!" Washed by His blood - cleansed and quickened by HIS LIFE! This is the process for the firstfruit company. And then in proportion as the sons of God learn, in their own experience, how far-reaching and all inclusive the effects of the blood are, their hearts are opened up to long for the ultimate and complete experiencing of the power of this blood in the world around them. If the blood can so redeem, cleanse, and perfect the firstfruits that they are suitable to be made KINGS AND PRIESTS UNTO GOD, then surely nothing less than the power of this blood must be ministered to the hearts and lives of the sin-blighted creation unto whom they are sent as kings and priests and judges. Truly it is the blood-washed PRIESTS OF GOD who shall SPRINKLE THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB upon MANY NATIONS in the glorious age and ages yet to unfold before our eyes!
This is the plain teaching of Scripture. "It pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to RECONCILE ALL THINGS TO HIMSELF, whether they be things on earth or things in heaven" (Col. 1:19-20). The power of the blood avails for every creature. The experience of what the blood can accomplish for those who believe, will teach them to regard their fellow men as living under the tender mercy of God, under redemption, and under the call to salvation and deliverance through the precious blood. It will fill them with an irresistible impulse to consecrate their lives, which have been bought and transformed by blood, to be blood-sprinkling PRIESTS OF THE MOST HIGH, fellow-workers with God for the deliverance of all nations, that the blood may ultimately have the full honor which belongs to it.
Hear it! "And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders stood a LAMB as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD SENT FORTH INTO ALL THE EARTH" (Rev. 5:6). The seven Spirits proceed from the SLAIN LAMB. The seven Spirits from the slain Lamb are sent forth INTO ALL THE EARTH. The seven Spirits are nothing short of the FULL AND COMPLETE POWER OF THE BLOOD OF CHRIST. The blood is the life of man; the Spirit is the life of God. "The life is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11). This is why we find, in Scripture, that what in one place is ascribed to the spirit, is in another place ascribed to the blood, and the work of sanctification and cleansing is ascribed to both the blood and the Spirit. Life is also ascribed to both. Our Lord said, "He that eats My flesh and drinks My blood hath everlasting life," adding, "It is the SPIRIT that quickens (makes alive); the flesh profits nothing" (Jn. 6:54,63). We find similar expressions in the epistle to the Ephesians. After having said, "Ye ... are made nigh by the BLOOD of Christ," a little later Paul declares that "We ... have access by one SPIRIT to the Father" (Eph. 2:13, 18). So also in the epistle to the Hebrews, the contemning of the blood and of the Spirit is treated as one act. We read of those who "counted the BLOOD of the covenant an unholy thing, and have done despite to the SPIRIT of grace" (Heb. 10:29). The blood and the Spirit proceed together from the slain Lamb, for the blood of the Lamb and the seven Spirits of the Lamb are the fullness of the redeeming, cleansing, quickening, and perfecting LIFE OF GOD! And, bless His wonderful name, this stream of divine life is SENT FORTH INTO ALL THE EARTH, a mighty river of life to cleanse and revitalize the whole of creation.
Where does this cleansing take place, and what is it that the life-giving blood washes? It is the heart. It is the deep, hidden, inner life of man that experiences the effect of the blood. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God is within you." Sin has penetrated into the heart, and the whole nature of man has become saturated with it. The blood too must penetrate the heart; as deeply as the power of sin has gone, so deeply must the inner being be cleansed by the blood. We know that when some article of clothing is washed, the water with its cleansing power must soak in as deeply as the stain, if it is to be removed. Even so must the blood of Jesus penetrate to the deepest roots of our being: our heart, our entire personality must be reached and quickened by His divine life. Where sin has reached, there too must the blood follow it; where sin ruled, there His life must rule: the entire heart must be cleansed by the blood! However great may be the depths of the human heart, however manifold and lively its activities may be, the life of the Lamb is just as wonderful and penetrating. It is INTO ALL THE EARTH that the seven-fold fullness of THE POWER OF THE BLOOD is sent. Blessed thought! Blessed deliverance! Blessed reality!
And so we read of the seven Spirits of God: "And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord ... with righteousness shall He JUDGE ... the wolf shall dwell with the Lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den ... for THE WHOLE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (Isa. 11:2-9).
As the seven-fold Spirit of the Lord flows over the earth from the many membered body of Christ, what peace, what joy, what blessedness this will result in for the earth-realm! What changes shall be wrought, what altering of attitudes, what changing of personalities, what transforming of lives! Imagine the human personalities and characteristics that are here symbolically likened to the wolf, the leopard, the lion, the bear, the asp, the cockatrice! And while God could certainly alter the whole constitution of the animal kingdom if He so chose, our present application of the type must be to the peace and life of the Kingdom of God on a higher level where men of the most wicked, corrupt, and fierce dispositions have their natures so entirely transformed by the matchless grace of Christ that they live in love and righteousness with the meekest of men and those who formerly were an easy prey. Christ, who is our peace, came to establish PEACE IN THE HEARTS OF MEN! Thus the asp and the cockatrice (poisonous serpents) cease to be venomous, so that parents let their little children play with them. In other words, a "generation of vipers" shall be so converted and made a "seed of saints" that the "little ones" of the Kingdom of God shall be trustingly committed into their care! Matchless grace! Glorious triumph! Wonderful peace! Precious blood! "The seven Spirits of God SENT FORTH INTO ALL THE EARTH." Who would not desire it?
The nations shall indeed be saved! All creation shall be gloriously reconciled to God! I know some do not believe it, but I do not hesitate to tell you that their unbelief shall not make the faith of God of none effect, nor shall it hinder God's program one bit. Their refusal to embrace God's glorious plan shall only disqualify them from being a part of that wonderful company of the sons of God through which the redemption and restoration shall be effected. I feel a great pity for those who cherish the beautiful hope of sonship, yet fail to permit the perfect work of God's grace and mercy to all men to be fully inworked in their lives. They would still damn men who failed to believe in this life, and the fact that they would consign them to eternal torture without mercy disqualifies them from ministering deliverance to those poor souls for whom Christ died. It is my deep conviction that none who oppose and reject the precious truth of the ultimate salvation of all men and the reconciliation of all things to God will stand in the company of the MANIFESTED SONS OF GOD. For this company of DELIVERERS to have within its ranks men who shut the mercy of God up from men, who have not sufficient faith to believe that Christ can and will save all, and who would damn men to eternal hell would mean the destruction of the MINISTRY OF THE SONS TO ALL CREATION.
The nations shall be saved. All creation shall be set free. God shall, in His great mercy and love, raise up JUDGES, DELIVERERS unto them. At long last, thank God! deliverance shall come to the great masses of mankind. And it shall not be merely a deliverance from Communism, or Nazism, or Fascism; not a deliverance from Moscow, or Peking, or Washington; not a deliverance from taxes, or tyranny, or bureaucracy, or joblessness, or hunger; but deliverance from SIN and SELFHOOD and SATAN: a powerful cleansing which strikes at the root of all the multiplied sorrows and tragedies of mankind. Deliverance from WHAT WE ARE, blessed be His name!"Joy to the world! the Lord is come;For information about other books and literature write to:
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare Him room,
And heaven and nature sing.
"No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found.
"He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love."
J. PRESTON EBY - P.O. Box 371240 - El Paso, Tx. 79937-1240