Lecture 7 of 11 on "The Hopes of the Church of God"

Psalm 82.

Judgment of the Nations,
which become the inheritance of Christ and of the Church.

J. N. Darby.

<02017E> 334

The last verse of this Psalm contains the subject which is to occupy us this evening: "Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations." It is God who is to judge the earth, and, as the consequence of this judgment, to become the possessor of all nations.

I have spoken of Christ, Heir of all things, with the church His co-heir; then of the coming of Christ, or of the time when He will take His inheritance; and of the resurrection of the church, or of the moment when the raised church participates with Him in this inheritance. Even departed souls - blessed as they are with Him - wait for the resurrection of their bodies to enjoy the fulness of blessing and of glory. It is for this reason that a Christian may desire death, because he is thus delivered from all affliction and trial; but he awaits the resurrection for the consummation of his glory. We have spoken of the progress of evil, and shown that, far from the world being converted by the preaching of the gospel, the tares are to increase and to ripen until the harvest. And we have seen the evil come to its height in the eighth head of the beast, which goes down to destruction in the apostasy of the civil power of the fourth monarchy, and in the false prophet, who, having seduced the world to do homage to the beast and to take his mark, is destroyed with him.

We have seen that there are two beasts, and that the second is transformed into the false prophet. Compare Revelation 13 with the end of Rev. 19. The scene now extends itself; for not only will the fourth beast be destroyed, but the nations will be judged. All the races of men who inhabit the earth, which took their rise in the division of the children of Noah into their respective families, will be found at the end gathered together and judged by God. All that is high and lifted up will be brought low by the power and glory of God, in order that God, in full blessing, may enjoy the kingdom, and may have the inheritance of all nations.

I have touched, at our last meeting, the most difficult part, namely, the point where the two dispensations touch, and where the evil caused by the failure of the existing one (failure, of course, on man's part) requires the intervention of God; and, as a sequel, the judgment which terminates the dispensation. I have spoken specially of the rebellion of the beast abetted by Antichrist, because it is, in fact, the consummation of the apostasy. But when this event takes place, there comes also the judgment of all nations. God does not only judge the last rebellion of the Antichristian beast; but having made His power felt - the moment of His wrath being come - He judges all nations.

335 This is what we read in Revelation 11:15-18: "And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." Let us follow up the passages which speak on the same subject.

We before remarked, that the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the true King over the whole earth, was presented to the fourth beast and to the Jews, that is, to the Gentiles and Jews (to the Gentiles in the person of Pontius Pilate, and to the Jews in the person of the high priest). He was presented to the world and to His own, and was rejected. But in a much more extended sense it is said, "The nations were angry, and thy wrath is come." It is the wrath of God breaking forth against them by the judgment of His Son.

Psalm 2. Two other things are set forth. First, that the Son is anointed (margin) king upon Zion, God's holy hill, and that He has the heathen for His inheritance: Zion is His throne; the nations, His inheritance. Secondly, His way of dealing with the nations - a way entirely opposed to the gospel: "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron." The sceptre (rod) of Christ, in the gospel, is a rod of goodness and love; it is everything that is most sweet, most powerful, in His love; it is not a sceptre of iron. The psalmist is speaking of the kings of the earth: "Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings; … kiss the Son." The decree of God is, that His Son shall be anointed, that is, declared King over all the earth; and He invites the kings of the earth to submit themselves to Him. He says to them, "I am about to speak in my wrath; I give the heritage of the nations to Christ; He will bruise you with a rod of iron; He will break you in pieces: now then, submit yourselves to Him, to my Son, King in Zion." These kings follow their own ways; their policy is settled according to the wisdom of man. Alas! it is not of Christ, King in Zion, that they think. Go and speak to the kings of the earth of Christ, King in Zion: you would be taken for one out of his senses. Nevertheless, God has decreed His reign surely, irrevocably, and He will bring it to pass in spite of the kings of the earth; He will establish Him King in Zion, and will give Him the nations as His heritage, and the ends of the earth for His possession. "Now," says He by the prophet Micah, "shall he be great unto the ends of the earth," Micah 5:4.

336 At the birth of Christ, hatred burst forth upon the least appearance of His royalty. When the cry was heard that a king had appeared, immediate efforts were made to get rid of Him. Will the nations then, at last, listen to the invitation made to them to submit themselves? The answer is to be found in Psalm 82.

These judges of the earth will have to give an account of their conduct. "They know not, neither do they understand." "I have said, Ye are gods," for God Himself had set them as having authority over the earth ("the powers that be are ordained of God"); but God can judge them. It is not Christians who hold the above language; it is He who has the right of judging those whom He has named judges - of setting aside those subaltern powers, in order to take to Himself His great power and reign.

We find in Psalm 9:1-7, that the place where this judgment will be exercised is the land of Israel, and that the Lord will manifest Himself in this act of power. Verse 5: "Thou hast rebuked the heathen; thou hast destroyed the wicked (Antichrist); thou hast put out their name for ever and ever." Verse 15-20 is not the language of the gospel; it is the prophetic demand - the righteous demand - of judgment. This it is which explains those difficulties which Christians often find in the Psalms, owing to not having understood the difference of the dispensations. To convert the wicked, by the announcement of the grace of God, is the gospel; what we have been reading is something quite different. Once the gospel has run its course, Christ will demand righteous judgment against the world. It is no longer Christ, at the right hand of the Father, sending down the Holy Ghost to gather together His co-heirs; but Christ calling for righteousness and asking it (generally by His Spirit in the humble and lowly ones of the Jewish nation) against the proud and violent men. If God were not to execute judgment, the evil would only grow worse and worse without any consolation for the faithful. God does not execute it until the evil has arrived at its height. Antichrist and the nations rise up against God and His Christ, and the earth must be cleared of His enemies to give place to the reign of God Himself. It is not David asking to rule over his enemies; but Christ who demands judgment, because the time is come.

337 We may observe the same truth in Psalm 10:15-16: "The Lord is King for ever and ever; the heathen are perished out of his land." There is a general principle running through this class of Psalms, of a terrible judgment upon the wickedness of the nations - God acting as Judge in the midst of judges.

A passage in Isaiah 2:12-22, also presents to us the great day of God upon earth: "For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is high and lofty … when he arises to shake terribly the earth." It is not for the judgment of the dead, but of the earth.

To make you understand that this judgment applies to all nations, and that it is after this, and by this means, that God will fill the earth with the knowledge of His name, we beg you to turn to Zephaniah 3:8: "Therefore wait ye upon me, says the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy." The intention of God is to assemble the nations to pour upon them His indignation - a terrible judgment. For our expectation then, as to when the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth, we refer to verse 9. This blessing will come to pass after He shall have executed the judgment, and put away the evil-doers. This passage is a very explicit revelation.

338 The same truth, namely, that the knowledge of the Lord will spread by the effect of His judgment, is presented to us in Isaiah 26:9-11: "When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness"; for it is added, "Let favour be showed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness." Grace does not produce the effect, but judgment. Again, we say, that the determination of Jehovah is to assemble the kingdoms, to pour out on them His indignation, and all the fierceness of His wrath. It will be a terrible day, and one which the world ought to be expecting.

Another passage in support of the truth we are urging is found in Psalm 110: "The LORD (Jehovah) said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Jesus is set down at the right hand of God the Father, until His enemies are made His footstool. Until that time, He acts by His Spirit to gather together Christians: He sends down the Holy Ghost to convince us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. But the day will come when God will make His enemies His footstool; and it is on this account, perhaps, that Jesus says, "Of that day knows no man … neither the Son, but the Father," Mark 13:32. It is written, that He will inherit all things. This has been prophesied of Me; Jehovah said to Me, "Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." It is not such a year, such a day; but I go to sit at the right hand of God until - until the moment when the Father will have accomplished this decree: for the Lord Jesus, God blessed for ever, receives the kingdom as Man-mediator. Now, as to the accomplishment of the decree, it is when "the Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion." We discern the boundary of this dispensation clearly marked, that is, Christ set down at the right hand of Jehovah, until Jehovah puts His enemies under His feet. After that come the words, "Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies." This is what Jehovah will accomplish, when the Lord, at the commencement of the exercise of His power, shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath; shall judge among the heathen; shall fill the place with the dead bodies, and shall wound the heads over many countries; or rather, chief over a great land. In Jeremiah 25:28, the same subject is presented; and it is the end of all that we see around us: "And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thy hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink." See also verse 31.

339 There are yet two facts to remark on. First, it is at Jerusalem principally that all this disaster will take place; secondly, God has named in His word all the nations who will participate in it. We shall see all the descendants of Noah, of whom we have the catalogue in Genesis 10, reappear on the scene at the moment of this judgment of God. We shall find nearly all of them under the beast or under Gog.

As to the passages which concern Jerusalem, we may cite Joel 3:1, 9-17; Micah 4:11 to the end of the chapter; and Zechariah 12:3-9: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people; all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, says the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness; and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah; and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David, and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon." Zechariah 14:3-4: "Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."

340 It is said in Acts 1 that Jesus "shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven," that is, upon the Mount of Olives. Compare Ezekiel 11:23. "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives," says the Holy Ghost in Zechariah 14:4; "his feet," the feet of Jehovah. Though indeed He was the man of sorrows, Jesus is Jehovah, and has been so from eternity.

As to the second point on which we have to remark, namely, that the nations, the descendants of Noah, will be ranged either under the beast or under Gog - the two principal powers; if you consult Genesis 10:5 you will read, "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands." In the generations of the sons of Japheth are named Gomer,* Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Mesec, and Tiras. Of these we get Gomer, Magog, Tubal, Mesec, under the same names in Ezekiel 38 as followers of Gog; you will also find there Persia which was united to Media (Madai), and from whose hands it received the crown (as we are told in Daniel 8 and other places), so that there only remain Javan and Tiras to be accounted for. Those mentioned above are the nations which comprise Russia, Asia Minor, Tartary, and Persia (all the people, in short, of which the empire of Russia is composed, or which are under its influence). They are described as under the dominion of Gog, prince of Rosh (the Russians), Mesec (Moscow), and Tubal (Tobolsk).
{*See Hale's Analysis of Chronology, vol. 1, p.p. 352, 357.}

The children of Ham are pointed out in Genesis 10:6. Of these, Canaan has been destroyed, and his country turned over to Israel; Cush (Ethiopia) and Phut are also found (Ezek. 38:5; see margin) under Gog; those of Cush only in part, and for the reason that one part of the family of Cush established itself on the Euphrates, the other on the Nile,* that is, north and south of Israel. Those of the north are then, by their position, in direct relation with the partisans of Gog. Mizraim, or Egypt (for Mizraim is none other than the Hebrew name for Egypt), and the remainder of Cush and the Libyans, you will find in the scenes of the last day; Daniel 11:43.
{*See note, p. 367. (Lecture 10)}

341 As to the children of Shem (Gen. 10:22), Elam is the same as Persia, of which we have already spoken. Asshur is named in the judgment, which will take place in the last times (Micah 5:6; Isa. 14:25; Isa. 30:33); also in the conspiracy of Psalm 83, and in other places. Arphaxad is one of the ancestors of the Israelites. We know nothing of the family of Joktan. It is supposed to be a people of the East. Aram, or Syria, was displaced by Asshur, and is found under the title of the king of the North. The same remarks, it appears, may be made of Lud. Javan (Greece) is to be in the last combat; Zech. 9:13. Of all the nations, Tiras is the only one besides Joktan, which is not named as to be in this great judgment. We speak only of the word of God. Profane authors unite Tiras and Javan in Greece; but with this we have not to do. In the present day, we may observe Russia extending her power exactly over the nations who will be found under Gog.*
{*We must take care to distinguish the Gog of Ezekiel from the Gog and Magog in the Revelation.}

Daniel 11 introduces us to two other powers, to which we must direct our regards; they are the king of the South, and the king of the North. The chapter contains a long account of already accomplished events, as to their wars, etc.; but after this come the ships of Chittim (v. 30), and then there is an interruption in their history. These kings were the successors of the great king of Javan (Greece): the one, possessor of Assyria; the other, of Egypt. The object of their fightings was Syria and the Holy Land. In verse 31-35, the Jews are introduced as set aside during a long period of time (see v. 33). It is said, "And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end; because it is yet for a time appointed"; and then (v. 36), "And the king shall do according to his own will": this is Antichrist. In verse 41, we have him in the land of Israel, in that territory which is the cause of the difference which exists between the king of the North and the king of the South. "And at the time of the end, shall the king of the South push at him." That is, after a long interval, behold again the king of the South brought, in this chapter, upon the scene. And this has historically occurred only four years ago, after an interval of nearly two thousand years. The greater part of the nations who, as we are told, are to be at the feet of Gog, are now coming under the dominion of Russia; "and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind." Antichrist will be the object of the attack, at one and the same time, of the king of the South, or Egypt; and of the king of the North, the possessor of Asiatic Turkey, or Assyria. I do not say who the king of the North will be at the end; but we see that the circumstances and the personages described in the prophecies which have reference to this time appointed - "the time of the end" - begin to appear. It is nearly two thousand years since there has been a king of the South; and it is but a few years that he has appeared anew. In the same way a great people has appeared, of which the world a century ago hardly knew the existence, and which now rules over the exact countries of the Gog in Ezekiel. We do not desire that you should fix your attention too much upon events which are taking place in our time; it is only when we have explained the prophecy, that we advert to the circumstances which pass around us. All nations have their attention occupied about Jerusalem (Zech. 12:3), and know not what to do about it. The king of Egypt wants to call the whole country his own; the king of the North is unwilling to cede it (the Turk being the actual king of the North, or Assyria). The kings of the North and South dispute for the same country, which they fought over two thousand years ago. This is just what the prophecy says is to occur at "a time appointed." We do not mean that all this yet comes out plain; for example, the ten kings cannot be enumerated and Antichrist has not yet appeared. But the principles which are found in the word of God are acting in the midst of the kingdoms where the ten horns are to appear: that is, we find all western Europe occupied about Jerusalem, and preparing for war; and Russia, on her side, preparing herself, and exercising influence over the countries given to her in the word; and all the thoughts of the politicians of this world* concentrate themselves on the scene where their final gathering in the presence of the judgment of God will take place - where "the Lord shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor," Micah 4:12. It is a remarkable coincidence. In observing what is passing around us, we recognise certain prophetical descriptions; at least we see those who are to act, or upon whom God will act, developing the characters which prophecy signalises.
{*Everyone is aware how much more largely this is the case since, and that the dispute about the holy places has been the occasion of the Eastern war. The nations are burdening themselves with Jerusalem. (Note to fourth edition.)}

343 If you take the trouble, dear friends, to follow the chapters which we have been quoting (many others, as doubtless there are), you will understand Matthew 25, which speaks of the Lord sitting upon His throne, and gathering all the nations (an allusion to Joel 3), judging them, and separating them "as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats."*
{*It is commonly supposed that the judgment which is spoken of in this chapter is the last judgment - the general judgment: this is a mistake. It is the judgment of the nations living upon this earth, and not of the dead. There is no question of the resurrection, but only of the judgment of the Gentiles. What will happen to the Jews is mentioned in chapter 24; then, what will happen to believers, or at least professors of the faith of Christ; and then, the fate of the Gentiles. It is the judgment of the living, and not of the dead. We say it is the judgment of the living, because we read, "Before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides the sheep from the goats." That which has given rise to the supposition that it is the judgment of the dead, is this passage, "These shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal"; but this only means that the judgment of the living will be final, like that of the dead. When God judges, whether the dead or the living, His judgment sends the good into life eternal, and the wicked into everlasting punishment. The judgment of the living is as sure as that of the dead.}

Let us remember one thing; it is, that we Christians are sheltered from the approaching storm. We have said nothing this evening about the church; but let us recall its place to our memory. It is, that during these events (yea, even at present, as united to Him by faith), its place is to be with Christ, to accompany Him; the church has this privilege, this glory, this special character, that of union with the Lord Jesus Christ; and if we search for the church in the old Testament, it is Jesus Christ we find. A striking example of this truth is found in Paul's quotation (Romans 8), taken from Isaiah 50, where Christ says, "Who is he that shall condemn me?" which Paul applies to the church, the church being united to Christ.

The union of the church in a single body, whether Jews or Gentiles, was not revealed in the Old Testament; if we seek for it, it is Christ Himself that we find. Although there are many things in the relationship of Jehovah with Zion, which also exist between God the Father and the church, nevertheless it is not in Zion that we are to look for the church. In the Old Testament, the privileges of the church are in Christ Himself, in the Person of Christ, because the church has the same portion as Christ. This is it (see Eph. 1:22-23), "which is the fulness of him that fills all in all": for this reason we are not to look for the church in the prophecies. The church is the body of Christ Himself; and Christ is to judge, not to be judged. We have seen that Christ is to smite, to break in pieces the nations; this is said also of the church. The church has nothing to do with that of which we have been speaking, as if it were to be subjected to the same judgments; Rev. 2:26-27. Its place is not to be in the midst of the nations that are to be broken in pieces, but to be united to Christ, enjoying the same privileges as Christ, and breaking to pieces the nations with Christ. There is nothing true, as regards Christ, in the glory which He has taken, which is not also true of the church.

344 It is always precious for us thus to understand our place, that of joint-heirs with Christ. And the more we think of this, the more our strength will be increased, and the more we shall become in our minds, as heirs of God, detached from this world, which is judged, as, indeed, the church is justified. The church is justified; we see not yet the effects of it, because the glory is not come. The church only has the fruits of justification in glory; the world only has the fruits of wickedness in the judgment. Nevertheless, it is true that the church is united to Christ. The world is judged because it has rejected Christ. "Righteous Father," said the Saviour, "the world has not known thee." But this is what grace has done for us. Just as unbelief separates men entirely and for all eternity from Christ, grace by faith has united us entirely and for ever to Him; and we ought to bless God for it.