“For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:22-30
In previous parts of our study about God’s Judgment we saw how God the Father has given all judgmental authority to Jesus Christ – Who is the Son of God, Son of Man, and Son of David.
In the last part of our study we saw that Jesus Christ will judge the world – including the nations, Israel, and His Church. If you have not read the first five parts of this study, we invite you to do that now for the Scriptural background to Christ as Judge.
Questions About Future Judgment
The timing and location of those future judgments are often questions among people who discuss such things. We know Jesus Christ will judge the nations, Israel and His Church at a future time, but when will He do that and where?
Let’s begin by answering the question about when.
God’s people have asked this question for thousands of years. When will God judge the wicked? When will God give relief to those who belong to Him? Many of the requests in the Bible had a short view within the lifetime of the person making the request (e.g. God judging enemies by defeating them in battle, God judging the wickedness of those causing problems for His people). Many of the requests had a much longer view in mind. When will God execute His final judgment of the wicked and bring perfect peace to the world?
“Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord. For He is coming, for He is coming to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with His truth.” Psalm 96:11-13
“For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the Lord, They shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while and the wicked shall be no more; Indeed, you will look carefully for his place, But it shall be no more. But the meek shall inherit the earth, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Psalm 37:9-11
“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 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. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, And He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, Nor decide by the hearing of His ears; But with righteousness He shall judge the poor, And decide with equity for the meek of the earth; He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, And faithfulness the belt of His waist. ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. ‘And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:1-10
“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying. ‘No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; For the child shall die one hundred years old, But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed. They shall build houses and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; They shall not plant and another eat; For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people, And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain, Nor bring forth children for trouble; For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the Lord, And their offspring with them. ‘It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, The lion shall eat straw like the ox, And dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,’ Says the Lord.” Isaiah 65:17-25
God announced His final judgment to Satan in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15), but didn’t say when that would happen. Jesus died on the Cross and triumphed over Satan almost 2,000 years ago (Colossians 2:14-15), but the final judgment is yet to come (Revelation 20:10). God promised to create “new heavens and a new earth,” but He did not say when that would happen.
Jesus’ Disciples Ask When
Jesus often spoke about a future time when He would judge the world and His disciples asked when He would do that?
“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” Matthew 24:3
The Greek word translated into English as ‘coming’ is παρουσίας (parousias) and means “presence, arrival, coming.” The word was used for the arrival of a king or owner of property who would deal with a particular situation. Greek professor Kenneth Wuest wrote that the word was used in the East as a technical expression for the royal visit of a king or emperor and literally meant “the being beside,’ thus, ‘the personal presence'” (Kenneth Wuest, 3, Bypaths, 33).
Keep in mind what the disciples meant when they asked about the Lord’s ‘coming.’ The disciples were not asking the question with Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension in mind because they didn’t understand that when they asked the question. They were responding to Jesus remarks that proceeded their question –
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them, ‘Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1-2
The disciples asked, “Tell us, when will these things be?” The ‘these things’ referred to Jesus saying that not one stone of the Temple would be left upon another after they were ‘thrown down.’ The disciples continued their question with “And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” They believed Jesus was Israel’s Messiah and would bring in the prophesied Messianic Kingdom after the Temple event Jesus had mentioned. They believed Jesus would appear as the conquering Messiah and bring in the end of the age as they understood the Old Testament prophecies to mean. They wanted to know when that great event would happen.
Jesus answered their question by listing several things that would happen prior to His coming and the end of the age. He began by warning them to “take heed that no one deceives you.” That warning is important for us today because there are so many people trying to deceive God’s people about so many things, including the Lord’s second coming.
- Many will coming in Jesus’ name, saying “I am the Christ” and will deceive many
- You will hear wars and rumors of wars – “See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
- Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom
- There will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places – “All these are the beginning of sorrows”
- Followers of Jesus will be delivered up to tribulation and killed – “you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.”
- Many people will be offended and will betray and hate one another
- Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many
- Lawlessness will abound and the love of many will grow cold
- The person who endures to the end will be saved
- The Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations – “then the end will come.”
- People will see the ‘abomination of desolation’ the prophet Daniel spoke of “standing in the holy place”
- People in Judea should flee to the mountains when they see that
- People in the field should not go back to their house to get things
- It will be a difficult time for women who are pregnant and nursing
- People should pray that their flight would not be in winter or on the Sabbath
- The tribulation will be greater than any time since the beginning of the world
- No one would be saved unless those days were shortened – “but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened”
- Do not believe anyone who says “Look, here is the Christ!”
- False christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, “if possible, even the elect”
- Do not believe people when they say, “Look, He is in the desert” or “Look, He is in the inner rooms”
- The coming of the Son of Man will be “as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west”
- Wherever the carcass is, “there the eagles will be gathered together”
- The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light immediately after the tribulation of those days
- The stars will fall from heaven and the powers of the heavens will be shaken
- “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”
- The Son of Man will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, “and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other”
As to the question of when all of this would happen, Jesus said this to His disciples –
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” Matthew 24:32-35
This is awesome! Jesus knew what was going to happen and what God’s people could look for as signs of His coming and the end of the age. So, did Jesus give His disciples the exact day and hour when it would happen?
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matthew 24:36-44
Much has been made about why Jesus knew about His coming and the end of the age in such great detail but didn’t know the day and hour it would happen. Maybe He isn’t God since He didn’t know? I find that ridiculous to believe based on all that we know about Jesus from the Scriptures.
I don’t think it’s a great mystery. God in His infinite wisdom determined that the Son of God would not reveal the exact hour or day. It is part of God’s eternal plan that His people would live and walk by faith in what God says.
Jesus answered His disciples’ question about the timing of when He would install His long-promised Kingdom. After walking the disciples through specifics about what would precede His coming, Jesus told them three parables:
- The Faithful and Unfaithful Servants – “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 24:50-51
- The Wise and Foolish Virgins – “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” Matthew 5:13
- The Talents – “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 25:29-30
We will continue looking at how Jesus answered His disciples’ question about when He would establish His Kingdom in the next part of our special series “God’s Judgment: How It Works.”
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.