The Judgment Day
The Father's calendar is already marked; the day upon which the final judgment will take place has already been circled (Acts 17:31).
I am risking being thought of as ignorant, but I must confess that I do not know nearly as much as some people claim they know when we will be called to stand before the Judge of the earth. Even if you were to ask me for what they call a "ballpark" figure I couldn't do it. Whenever I have read the writings of men and women who claim to have discovered that secret, I find that when I compare what they say to the Bible that they have taken liberties; stretching a passage here, ignoring a passage there and misapplying a passage when such is needed to make it fit. I know that I am on safe ground when I say "Heaven and earth will pass away, but (Jesus') words will not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." and "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour." and "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." (Matthew 24:35,36; 44; 25:13). That's how Jesus put it so I don't feel so bad now that I do not know what so many others claim to know.
A pamphlet proclaims on the front in big letters "GOD'S JUDGMENT DAY IS NEAR" and "RAPTURE! IN AUTUMN 1992" and "JESUS IS COMING AGAIN IN 1999". Interestingly enough, it presented pretty much the same arguments as did the booklet I had received several years earlier, ""88 REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE COULD BE IN 1988". And earlier still, "THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH" announced in 1970 that "these things" could take place within 40 years of May 14, 1948, the date that the modern state of Israel became a nation.
Misapplied Signs For A Different Judgment Day
"He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority." (ACTS 1:7). There is much talk about recent earthquakes, hurricanes, and wars. These are supposedly signs that Jesus' return will be soon. The Bible does not teach this. The ideas that there will be signs come from a misapplication of some of Jesus' words. But no one will misapply what He said as long as they notice all of what He said.
The premillenial theory takes some verses out of their context in Matthew 24 to say that there will be signs of Jesus' final coming. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes...when you see these things, recognize that He is near, standing right at the door." (Matthew 24:7,33).
Yes, these are signs, but not of the approaching final judgment of the world. They were instead signs Jesus gave to His first century disciples about Jerusalem's destruction by the Roman army in their generation! Jesus said He would come in judgment on the city for their rejection of Him. He did so through the armies that destroyed Jerusalem in 69 A.D. Listen to Jesus' own words as He explains that the fulfillment would come in first century Jerusalem, not in the 20th century world. "And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, 'Do you not see all these things? Truly I say unto you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which shall not be torn down...Truly I say unto you, this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place." (MATTHEW 24:1,2;34). To lift these signs out of first century and apply them to our own century is to misapply them.
Angels, The Resurrection and Judgment
There will be a trumpet and a shout like none you've ever heard! We can hardly imagine what the voice of an arch angel might sound like as he announces that judgment has come (1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16). Jesus shall return with His mighty angels. What do angels look like? We'll all be finding out! We'd best be on their friendly side when we do (Matthew 25:31; Jude 14-15)! Sometimes we sing a song about the crucifixion which says, "He could have called 10,000 angels" to deliver Him from the hands of His enemies. Those angels will be with Him next time! Several passages mention their role in the final judgment as being that of dividing of the righteous from the unrighteous and an execution of judgment (Matthew 13:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
The resurrection will occur when Jesus returns so those judged righteous can return home with Him, not so they can remain here with Him (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; 50; John 14:1-3). When He returns, His people will ascend into the air to meet the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). Men today with their theory of the millennium have days beyond the "last day" (John 6:44), another trumpet blast after the "last trumpet" (1 Corinthians 15:52), and time beyond "the end" (1 Corinthians 15:24). We are in the last age now. If we die previous to Jesus' coming, we will not awaken to another age as far as this world is concerned. We will awaken from death for the final, universal judgment of all (1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 9:26-28).
A Judgment Seat Without Partiality
All people of all times will stand before the judgment seat of Jesus (Matthew 25:31-33; 2 Corinthians 5:10). There we must give an account of ourselves (Romans 14:11-12). God will judge men through His Son according to their work and without respect of persons (1 Peter. 1:17).
Where the Bible stresses that all men will be judged by the same standard, and if saved, they will be saved on the same basis; through the belief in the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16), many forms of premillenialism suggest an automatic conversion of certain people who had rejected the gospel previous to the Lord's return. They will be saved simply because of their ethnic identity as Jews. But this cannot be true, else God would be judging with partiality (Acts 10:34,35). Paul made it quite plain that Jews who believed the gospel are saved; but those who did not are lost (Romans 10:1-3).
The Greatest Judge of All Presiding
Jesus Christ is the One ordained by God to judge all men (ACTS 10:42). He is an absolutely righteous judge (2 Timothy 4:8). This judgment will occur at His second coming. (2 Timothy 4:1). Many things influence our judges in our courts today. They can be deceived; they are only human and make mistakes. They may not be fair, showing favoritism to those of their own nationality, race or color. Jesus won't be doing that. All will be judged fairly and without exclusive advantages over others. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and will judge every man righteously.
Jesus pictures those on His left hand receiving a sad verdict; read it now and allow it to encourage you to so live that you will not hear it then (Matthew 25:41; 7:23). Those on the right hand will receive wonderful news; read it now to encourage you to so live so you will also hear it then (Matthew 25:21,34). What will that great verdict be for you? God is just. He has told you about how to receive the verdict you desire.
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 14.2; February 2007