Dan. 2:34-45. Rev. 19.
Behold the Bridegroom!
Ten lectures on the second coming and kingdom of the Lord Jesus.
by W. T. P. Wolston, M.D.
Third Edition. Ninth Thousand. 1895.
We had occasion, beloved friends, on a previous night, to look at the 2nd chapter of Daniel, in connection with the times of the Gentiles, and many of you will remember, that we saw brought out in the book of Daniel, the history of Gentile power in this world, commencing in the person of Nebu. chadnezzar, and successively passing from the BabyIonian empire to the Medo-Persian, then to the Grecian, and finally to the Roman. Then, in Nebuchadnezzar's great image, we saw the head, of gold, the breast and arms, of silver, the belly and the thighs, of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet, part of iron, and part of clay. It was a tale of deterioration right down. Now you will observe, in the verses I read this evening, that the stone that fell, did not fall on the head, nor on the breast, nor on the belly, but on the feet, that is, that whatever might be designed by God as the interpretation of the feet, made part of iron, and part of clay, it was upon the feet that the stone fell.
I have no doubt, as before stated, that the image gives us a continuous view of "the times of the Gentiles," that is, the time in which God gives the Gentiles power on the earth, the Jew, for the while, being set aside. But there is a moment coming when God will change everything, and we find it indicated here in the 44th and 45th verses. This really happens in the closing days of the Roman empire, the revived Roman empire, for it does not now exist as such. But we learn from Scripture that that empire, which has now ceased to dominate the world, will be revived by Satanic energy in a day, I believe, near at hand, and it will have immense power, particularly in Europewhere, of course, its seat will be.
It will have great power, and it will be a bitter foe to all that is connected with God, whether under the name of Christianity, or Judaism, and it is that power, which is first dealt with by the Lord, when He returns in glory. You must not forget that it was under the Roman power, and by its decree, that He died. It was the Roman governor that said, "What shall I do then with Jesus, whom ye call Christ? "You must not forget that it was the Roman authority that signed His death-warrant. It was under the Romans that Jesus died, and John suffered, and it will be that same power, revived, that will be dominating things very much in the world, when the moment arrives of which the 2nd chapter of Daniel speaks, and there comes this remarkable intervention of God, "the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands."
That stone falls, and smites the image upon his feet, and the result is that it is all reduced to powder, and the whole thing disappears. Then we find "the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." I am perfectly well aware that many expositors of the Word of God have endeavoured to make out that this is the Gospel. I do not see how they make it out at all, because I do not think the Gospel is very destructive, as this falling stone most certainly is, and, moreover, I ask you this, Did the Gospel ever smite the image? Never, the image smote Christ. It was the Roman power that slew the Lord Jesus. The Gospel has never set aside the civil power in this world; on the contrary, the Gospel has always suffered,. and will suffer right on to the end. But what we have here is, that there comes a power that sets aside every human empire, and then is introduced an everlasting kingdom. "And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven 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 all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." God sets up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. There can be no shadow of a doubt this refers to what Scripture speaks abundantly of elsewhere, "The everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:11), in the moment when He comes back to earth, to assume the reins of government, which He alone is worthy to hold.
What we read in Revelation 19 carries us up to that point. That chapter introduces us to the moment when He, who is King of kings, and Lord of lords, returns, as Son of Man, to assert His rights, and when God will establish them, and there shall be brought in a kingdom that shall never pass away. I will speak another evening of the nature and character of that kingdom, but, tonight, I just want to show you, if I can, how it comes in, and what will be the salient features of that day. It is indeed a blessed character that God gives to the kingdom — it never passes away. The fact is that there never has been a king, in this world, that has not — sooner or later — lost his crown, and there never has been a kingdom but what has been upset, or is going to be; but what God is about to do is to bring in a King, who shall never be uncrowned, and a kingdom, that shall never be set aside. The kingdom shall extend from pole to pole, and the King does not lose the crown, nor have it taken from Him, either by a usurper, or by death. Nevertheless, the moment will come when that throne which He has filled so blessedly for a thousand years, He will abdicate, as man, and lay down the crown voluntarily, which, as man, His peerless brow has borne, unsullied, during the ages of His mediatorial and universal sway, so that God may be all in all, for eternity. The history of the first man is this, he sought to rise — to get up to God's level, and he fell to Satan's, he was abased. The history of the last Man is. this, that when He comes to assert His rights as Son of Man, and has put down every foe, He gives all up, that God may be all in all.
Scripture speaks abundantly of the return of the Lord Jesus in this way. We must not, however, confound the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His heavenly people, with the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ with His attendant hosts. That which we look for as Christians, is the return of the Lord Jesus for us. We shall rise to meet Him, and we shall go and be with Him, in the Father's house, and then we shall come with the Lord, when He returns to the earth in power and glory. That He will so come there can be no manner of doubt. just turn to one or two parts of Scripture by way of confirmation. In Matthew 24, we have already seen the Lord distinctly speaking of His appearing — His revelation, verse 30, "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory." He is about to come to the earth in that character. Then turn to Matthew 26, where He is standing before the high priest. They had Him, who is going to be the judge of all the earth, dragged before man's bar, and see what takes place. "The high priest arose, and said to him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said to him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus says to him, Thou hast said: nevertheless, I say to you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven" (verses 62-64). When the Lord is put upon oath, He answers. Up to that moment He was silent, but put upon oath He immediately responds. He, as Son of Man, was to come with every surrounding of power, and glory, conferred on Him by God, "Sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." That moment has not yet come, but thank God, it is coming. When He does come in that character, of course it will be in relation to the earth, and in judgment thereof.
Turn now to Revelation 19, and you will get a general view of what will be the characteristics of the appearing of the Lord Jesus. Recollect it is to deal with the earth, in order to put down all opposing power on the earth, and that is the great point that the Spirit of God brings out in the 19th chapter. But there are a few points that I must touch upon, before going into that, viz., what the early part of the chapter brings out.
You will observe that this chapter opens with a great movement in heaven — "After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Hallelujah," etc. Now, what produced the praise? It is clearly the judgment of which Revelation 18 speaks — the fall of Babylon. You have there the judgment of the false Church — the false bride you may call it if you please — and you have now the coming out in glory of the real Bride, the Bride of Christ. In the 18th chapter the judgment, upon earth, of what is false, immediately precedes this moment, when the marriage of the Lamb takes place, and the Bridegroom and the Bride together appear, when He comes out, in kingly character, as Son of Man to deal with the earth.
It is important to bear in mind that, in the main, what the book of Revelation gives you, up to this point, are the providential judgments of God, that are preparatory to what the 19th chapter ushers in. I believe that in the opening of the seven seals, and the sounding of the seven trumpets (Rev. 6 - 11), as well as in the pouring out of the vials (Rev. 16), you have given to you — sometimes in mystical language — those desolating temporal judgments, with which this whole earth will be overwhelmed, previous to the appearing of the Son of Man; and if any of you are unsaved, and want to know what you are hastening on to, I recommend you, without delay, to read these chapters straight through, and you will have a very fair idea of what your portion is to be, if not caught up at the rapture. If the Lord Jesus came now, if the true saints were called up at this moment into glory, I will tell you what you would have to face immediately thereafter. You would find the first seal (chap. 6) begun to be broken, before you were at all aware.
In Revelation 4 you have the creatorial glories of Christ. In Revelation 5 have the redemption glories of Jesus, and there you see Him, as the Lamb slain, in the midst of the throne. The cry is sent forth, "Who is worthy to open the book?" In the hand of God there is a roll. That roll contains the purposes and counsels of God with regard to the earth. There goes out this challenge, "Who is worthy?" John says, "I wept much." He knew he was not worthy himself, and he looked for some one to come up who was worthy. Would not Joseph, Moses, Samuel, or Elijah come? Nay, neither patriarch, priest, nor prophet was worthy; nor Peter, nor Paul, nor himself; and he "wept much." Then, what takes place? The Lion of the Tribe of Juda prevails. John turns round to look for the Lion, and he says, "Lo, in the midst of the throne, stood a Lamb as it had been slain." There you may see Jesus, the Saviour — my Saviour! Your Saviour? Oh, my friends, hurry to Him, if He is not yet your Saviour. Get ready for Him. But we read, "He came, and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne." And as Jesus puts forth His hand to take the roll, what does heaven see? It sees the mark of the nail, that tells of His death on the cross, and all in heaven together bow, and sing, "Thou art worthy to take the book and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." What has led you to worship Jesus? Because He died for you.
There is no one worthy but Jesus to unfold the mind of God, or to execute the purposes of God. He therefore takes the book. I must not dwell upon that, but let me ask, Are you sure to be with Him when He takes the book, and breaks the seals? If you are not, whither are you going? As you sit tonight, you are either a glory-bound saint, or a hell-bound sinner. You say, That is drawing the line very fine. Well, grant it, but I am not drawing the line finer than God does. A glory-bound saint! Oh, how blessed! That is a remarkable expression; I like it — a man bound for glory through the grace of God. If I am not that, what am I? I am on my road to hell, as surely as I face you this night. Oh! say some people, we cannot be sure of salvation. Do not be deceived by the devil that way. You ought to be sure. If you never were sure before, I implore you to be sure now, because He died for us, and there is the song in glory — "Thou wast slain, and thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood." Perhaps you say, They learned that up there. No, they learned it on earth, and if you do not learn that song on earth, you will never learn it There is no redemption after death; there is no pardon in the tomb; and there is no forgiveness for the man, who has heard, and despised the Gospel, after the Lord has come, and the door is shut. You may, and you had better, learn that song now.
What is the next thing? The 6th of Revelation opens with the fact that the Lamb begins to break the seals. He is about to begin to deal with the earth. I believe, in point of fact, that what we have in Revelation 4 and 5, and in Revelation 6, 7, and 8, and onwards, are concurrent. Chapters 4 and 5 are what I may call the high level, and the 6th, etc., give us the low level. The two are going on together. The one is a heavenly, and the other an earthly scene. The worship meeting in heaven of Revelation 5 is concurrent with the prayer-meeting on earth, of the 6th chapter of Revelation. But what is the prayer-meeting on earth? In verse 15 we find "And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens, and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?" I do not believe the day of the Lord really has come then, but conscience terrifies men into thinking it has come. I do not believe the "day of the Lord" has actually set in then, it is only the gathering of the clouds. But, O beloved friends, there is many a man in Christendom today, who never bent his knees at a prayer-meeting, that will be found at a prayer-meeting yet, beseeching — not God for mercy on his guilty soul, but — the rocks and the hills to fall upon him. These are God's solemn statements, and yet I repeat, not yet has the day of the Lord set in. It is only what is coming, acting on conscience, guilty conscience. Man wakes up, and feels he is in an awful case, and flies, if he can, to get away from God, in the dens of the earth. You remember our Lord Jesus Christ prophesied this prayer-meeting in Luke 23, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" (verses 28-51.) What the Lord predicts, in the moment of His willing self-sacrifice for guilty man, that he might be saved from judgment, we find fully brought out in the 6th of Revelation.
From the 6th chapter to the end of the 18th, broadly speaking, you have brought before you the providential dealings of God, in judgment, with man upon the earth, which lead up to the final climax, which is the appearing of the Man that the world does not want to see. If you could only certify to the world that the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Father, the Living God, were dead, and buried, and never would have anything more to say to the earth, I believe that the world would take a general holiday.
But God yet lives, Jesus lives, and it is well to remind the world that God "has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
The One who died on the cross eighteen hundred years ago, died for our sins, and was raised for our justification, has passed into glory, and the heavens have concealed Him for eighteen long centuries. God has had long patience with man, but the day is appointed, and the Lord will come out again, according to the testimony of the 19th of Revelation, to which I again turn. joy fills the arches of heaven's courts in that day, because the time has come when the whore with all her children are cast into the fire. That is her judgment. Babylon falls, in the 18th chapter, and then heaven rejoices, because the moment is coming of earth's deliverance.
Then, just before the Lord comes out, there is brought before our view something peculiarly blessed to the Christian. I cannot pass it over, because it is what I may call our own unique portion. A wonderfully blessed place will all believers in Jesus have in the day when the Lord comes out. Let us read it. "And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready" (Rev. 19:5-6, 7). The great multitude anticipates what is coming, and heaven goes into an ecstasy, because they see that the moment has come, when the Lord is going to put forth His hand to clear sin from the earth, and set things right; and heaven, after six thousand years of patient waiting, says, "Hallelujah for the Lord our God, the Almighty, has taken to himself Kingly power" (ver. 6, New Trans.). But before He comes out in glory, they add, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready" (ver. 7). What a wonderful thing, heaven goes into an ecstasy over the marriage of the Lamb. There was another time when heaven was equally moved, when the angelic messenger came and told the shepherds, "I bring you tidings of great joy, … for to you is born this day … a Saviour which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). Immediately there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, and they were all praising God. Heaven went into an ecstasy when Jesus was born, because it now saw a way for man to be saved. The problem of four thousand years, how man could be saved, was now settled by the birth of the Son of God, the Saviour, who was going to die for sinners like you and me. Yes, joy filled heaven that day, and here is the other side of it. He came down, He was born, He lived, He was refused, rejected, abhorred of the people, and despised of the Gentiles, and at length cast out. A robber was preferred to Jesus, the Son of God, a murderer rather than a Saviour. The world took Him forth, crowned with thorns, and slew Him on the tree. All that Jesus got from this world was to be born in one man's manger, to die on another man's cross, and to be buried in another man's tomb. The world has well-nigh forgotten His existence, and would entirely but for the Holy Ghost's testimony; and now there comes a moment, after eighteen hundred years have gone by, when there is to be an end to His waiting, and a reward for His toil, and heaven is in deepest sympathy with His joy, and says, "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife has made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints" (Rev. 19:7-8).
A rapturous moment, for the Bridegroom and the Bride has come. Who is the Bride? I have no doubt who the Bride is. There are others looking on, who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb (see verse 9), but these are the guests — they are not the Bride. But who is the Bride? There is not a believer in this hall tonight, that does not form part of the Bride of Christ; there has not been one believing soul on earth, from the day of Pentecost, right on to the moment when the Lord comes back for His people, that does not form an integral part of the Bride. On the day of the marriage, the heavenly Bridegroom wants the whole Bride, He does not take a part of her. If you are going to limit the Bride, as some would, to a few faithful living Christians, you have to leave Peter and Paul out. Are we going to leave them out? Nay, the Bride is composed of all that belong to the Lord, from the day of Pentecost, to the day of the rapture. When the last soul is converted, and, by being sealed with the Holy Ghost, is brought into the body of Christ, that body is complete. The Bride is also then complete, and observe, you will find always that the Bride is connected with glory. When I come to think of eternal glory, then it is, that we specially hear of the Bridegroom and the Bride, terms that call up, and foster in our hearts, those holy and blessed affections that befit such a relationship.
But observe how the Bride is apparelled here. She is "arrayed in fine linen clean and bright; for the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints" (ver. 8). What are we to learn from this? "Fine linen" or "white raiment" (Rev. 3:18), would appear, in the word, to be the figure of practical righteousness in the saint, as "gold" is divine righteousness, in which we stand before God. It is, I judge, connected with reward, though the fruit of perfect grace. "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love" (Heb. 6:10). This will be the outcome of going before the judgment-seat of Christ, which precedes the marriage day. Although you and I, if believers, can never be judged for our sins — Jesus having been judged for them — yet, as believers, we shall have to give an account to the Lord, by and by, of all our actions here. We shall go before the judgment-seat of Christ, and if we have served the Lord, He will reward us. I believe that when our whole history has come under review before the Lord, we shall come out, deeply thankful, to have gone over it with Him.
I do not think you will be concerned about my history, but only about your own. I shall be very troubled about what will come out then, some one may say. Nay, I will tell you one thing that will come out, you will find that you have been put into glory, in the likeness of Christ. Will you have any objection to review that? Guilt can never be imputed to us, because it has been already imputed to Christ. He died for our sins, and Christ is, then, as now, our righteousness, and our ground for appearing in the presence of God. Nevertheless, when before the Lord, it will be A very blessed, though withal a very solemn thing, to review what His grace was to us here, in our earthly pathway. At that moment, when I get before the judgment-seat of Christ, the Lord will, I judge, take me over the whole of my history. Looking back on my life, as an unconverted man, I see, so to speak, a long, dark, black, inky river of nothing but self-will, and sin, and then I come to a point when His grace began to work in my heart, and I see a little bright silvery streak coming in, the first touch of the Spirit of God on my soul. And then the stream of grace begins to widen a little, and the inky stream of self-will, and active sin, to diminish. Thus I retrace the whole of my history, seeing my failures, and my faults, and the Lord's patience, and grace with me; what a fool I was here, and how grace helped me there, and then I come right up to the end of the double stream, and I say, Here I am with Christ in glory. Oh! what wondrous grace, me in glory! I think I shall turn and say, Where is my harp, that I may strike my hand across its strings, and praise the ever blessed, loving Lord, that brought me here. I would not miss that for worlds.
What we have been for Jesus here will be manifested there. Your service will come out there, and I tell you honestly, I believe I shall delight to look on then, and say, Look at that brother, what a blessed reward that saint has received, how brightly does his garment shine. Your practical righteousness here will follow you into heaven. This, you see, will make us careful down here as to our walk, and it is a very good thing that we should be careful. We are not trying to get salvation, or righteousness, to fit us for glory, we are only trying to be "rich in good works" (1 Tim. 6:17-19), which will follow us there.
The marriage of the Lamb having taken place, the Son of Man comes out, and who is with Him? You and I, fellow-believer, will be with Him. Many an earthly bridegroom and bride, have had to be separated, but we are to be for ever with the Lord; with Him in the Father's house in glory, at the marriage supper, and when He comes out in majesty, and power, and glory. Will it not be deep joy to be with Him in. that day?
The character of the Lord's appearing, as given here, is very striking. He comes out seated "on a white horse," the symbol in Scripture of victorious power, and similarly seated "upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean," the armies of heaven follow Him. He is called "Faithful and True; and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns" (verses 11, 12). The last time the world saw Him He was naked. They had stripped Him, and had gambled for His garments, beneath His dying eyes. The next time the world sees Him, how will it be? Oh, sinner, it will be an awful time for you. Unsaved man, if you are caught in that day, it will be a terrible time for you. "He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called THE WORD OF GOD. … And out of his mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule [shepherd] them with a rod of iron" (verses 13-15).
When He rules we shall be with Him, in the day of His power. We who have known, and followed Him, in the day of His weakness, and rejection, shall be with Him, in the day of His manifested power, and glory.
But further, "He treads the wine-press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." There is a difference seen clearly elsewhere in Scripture, between the harvest, and the vintage. Here He treads the wine-press. Turn back to Rev. 14:15, and we read, "And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the wine-press was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the wine-press, even to the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs." You have there two things, the harvest and the vintage. What is the difference? The harvest clearly is connected with judgment, Christ reaps the earth — separating, gathering, and judging, but there is discrimination in the judgment of the Lord in that day. "There shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left" (Luke 17:34-36). That is the principle of the harvest, because some righteous are to be found then. When the Lord treads the wine-press, He exercises unmingled vengeance upon the wicked, for the vintage is the moment when the final desolating judgment takes place, that is to say, the godly have been delivered, the harvest has been gathered, and what remains forms the vintage, and every bunch goes into the wine-press. It will be an awful day for the earth when the harvest is over. Then the rest are left to the judgment, that is expressed by the vintage.
I will here ask you to turn to other Scriptures, merely to refer to what is going to take place in that day. Look at Joel 3:9, where you will see clearly what the Lord will do. God summons the earth to try conclusions with Him. "Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O Lord. Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow: for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision" (Joel 3:9-14). It is a stupendous fact, that at that moment Jehovah comes, and deals with the nations of the earth, and men are obliged to bow down before God. There again we read that the "harvest is ripe," and "the press is full." Although a terrible, it will, at first, be a discriminating judgment.
Then look at Matt. 25:31-46, where you get, not the warrior judgment of Christ, but His sessional judgment, what you may call an assize. In this, His saints are associated with Him (Dan. 7:22; 1 Cor. 6:2-3: Rev. 20:4). In the warrior judgment Christ is alone. "I have trodden the wine-press alone; and of the people none was with me" (Isa. 63:3).
Revelation 9 gives us the warrior judgment of Christ — overcoming power — while sessional judgment we find in chap. 20 from verse 4. Now we read on "He has on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS." He is thus publicly, and officially announced. "And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh" (Rev. 19:19-21). The impiety and daring folly of man rises to its full height, as we see gathered against Him the beast and his tributaries, "to make war against him." There will be a tremendous effort on the part of man to resist God, but that effort results in nothing but overwhelming destruction. What takes place? The beast and the false prophet are taken, and are cast alive into the lake of fire. These two men — ringleaders in evil — get their final doom without death — they are cast into the lake of fire. That is not strange, for Enoch and Elijah were taken to heaven without death. That was in Old Testament times of feeble light, and knowledge of God. Alas! it is reserved for two men, in New Testament times, when grace is abundant, and has been despised, to be cast alive into the lake of fire. They receive their final judgment, the rest are judicially slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse." In the 25th of Matthew, familiar to every one of us, the Lord commences His sessional judgment, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came to thee? And the King shall answer and say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me. Then shall he say also to them on the left hand Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say to you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteousness into life eternal" (Matt. 25:31-46).
It will be a wonderful moment, and a deeply impressive scene. All His angels, and all His saints, form His retinue, and there never has been such an assemblage since the world began, and there never will again be such a concourse in the world's history. The Son of man comes in His glory, and "then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations." But, some one may say, that is the same judgment, as the great white throne, is it not? No, dear friend, nothing of the sort. They who are judged here, are gathered before the Lord in nations, but people do not so rise from the dead. There are four judgments spoken of in Scripture. You have the judgment of sin on the cross, the judgment of the works of the Christian in glory, with Christ, when we are like Him. Then, here, we get the judgment of the living nations, which corresponds exactly to the 3rd of Joel, "Gather together all the heathen," etc., and lastly, the judgment of the wicked dead, as given to us in Revelation 20:11-15.
Clearly the sheep in Matthew 25 are, in a certain sense, related to the Lord, and the goats are not, but both classes are living nations! Observe: "Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Are these Christians? No, our blessing dates from "before the foundation of the world" (Eph. 1:4). These are blessed from the foundation of the world. Observe also the ground of the judgment, viz., the treatment of the king's brethren. The king answers and says to the sheep, "Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me." Who are the brethren? Christians? No, certainly not Christians, the day of Christianity has gone by, it is the day when the Son of Man is dealing with the nations upon earth, and in that day, you do not get the three classes, Jew, Gentile, and the Church of God. The day of the Church of God is over. She has gone up into glory before this day. But we have Jew and Gentile. I was showing you, in my last lecture, how the Jew will carry forth the Gospel of the kingdom in the end of the age. The brethren here, I conclude, are the messengers. These sheep, who will be witnesses of the return of the Son of Man, are the believing Gentile nations who bow to the truth, while the goats are those who refuse the truth. It is not the great white throne. It is the Son of Man on the throne of His glory, dealing with the living nations on the earth, and judging them according to the way they have treated His messengers. The judgment of the great white throne will come before us on another occasion.
In this way then is the kingdom of the Son of Man established. Every foe is put down; for "the Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity. … Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who has ears to hear, let him hear" (Matt. 13:41-43). The beast and the false prophet; the Roman empire and its minion, with all their confederates, we have seen dealt with, but there is yet another foe of Israel to be set aside, ere the stone, cut out without hands, can fill the whole earth. That I reserve for our next lecture.