Studies in the Scriptures
Zion's Watch Tower
THE JUDGMENT DAY PICTURED BY JESUS
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of
these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me."
This Scripture is generally misunderstood and misused.
If one has not studied it in its connections, one would quite likely think that the Lord is referring to those who have lived during the Gospel Age. But the context shows that He refers to those living in the Millennial Age. The principle, however, is helpful to us now. Whoever does a kindness for any one belonging to the Lord is counted by Him as doing it unto Him.
In the parable of the Sheep and the Goats we read, "When the Son of Man shall come in all 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"—peoples, not the Church. The Church will be with Him in His Throne. (
.) Those spoken of here as gathered before the Throne will be the whole world of mankind. These are sometimes called Gentiles, meaning those not in covenant relationship with God.
In the past God made a covenant with the nation of Israel alone. Therefore all other nations and peoples were outsiders. During this Gospel Age the Lord has made a covenant with the Church, through Christ, a special Covenant of Sacrifice into which you and I are privileged to enter. The opportunity to make this Covenant of Sacrifice has been open throughout the Gospel Age; and all who come to God through that covenant are said to be Israelites indeed.—
Our text refers, not to Christians, but to Gentiles—the world in general. Before Messiah’s Throne shall be gathered all people, all nations. "And He shall separate them the one from the other, as a shepherd divideth his sheep
from the goats." It is not a class separation, but an individual one. Whoever, after trial, demonstrates that he is a goat will go over to the left hand. Whoever proves himself to be a sheep will go to the right. The whole picture refers to the thousand years of the Messianic Reign, the world’s judgment, the world’s trial.
The sole object of that Reign is to prove who will desire to be God’s sheep, to come into His fold and have His Son as their Shepherd, and who will not come into harmony with Him, but will have a goat-like nature. Then Christ will deal with them accordingly.
A THOUSAND YEARS OF SEPARATING WORK
Gradually all the goats are gathered to the left hand, and all the sheep to the right hand. In figurative language the Lord thus designates the place of disfavor and that of favor. These two classes will not be aware of the fact that they are going to the right or to the left, as the parable shows. Not until the conclusion of the trial do they find out where they stand.
The question arises, In what way will the people have an opportunity of ministering to the Lord’s brethren during the Millennial Age? We note that the Apostles were in prison sometimes because of their service to the Lord and were ministered unto; and that some of the Lord’s followers since have been in prison or in need of assistance; but that probably not very many have been in prison or hungry or naked. Presumably it has been so all down the Gospel Age. Hence it is difficult to see how this parable could have any reference to us. Now we see what the parable means, and this is the explanation:
Throughout the Millennial Age The Messiah will be dealing with the world of mankind, the majority of whom are now in the great prison-house of death. The Apostle Paul, in speaking of the resurrection, says that the dead shall come forth "every man in his own order," or company or class. They will not all come forth at once. The
Church class will come forth first; then the Great Company class; and early in the new order of things will come forth the Ancient Worthies, who will be the earthly representatives of God’s Kingdom.—
As Jesus said to some in His day, "Ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the Prophets in the Kingdom of God." (
.) They will be the human representatives of the Heavenly Kingdom, which will be invisible.
Jesus said nothing about their seeing Himself.
Neither did He say, "Ye shall see these My disciples in the Kingdom." He did say, however, "Yet a little while, and the world seeth Me no more." St. John tells us that the Church shall be like her Lord. (
.) If the world will not see Him, they will not see the Church; for the Church will be spirit beings, that cannot be seen.
So we have these orders, at least: The Little Flock, the Great Company, the Ancient Worthies, and the world of mankind—"every man in his own order." Jesus said, "The hour is coming when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live." (
.) As the world return from the tomb, our thought is that they will come back in answer to prayer, very much the same as did Lazarus. The Lord, you remember, said, "Where have ye laid him?" Then He lifted up His eyes and prayed to the Father, after which He said, "Lazarus, come forth."—
MINISTERING UNTO MILLENNIUM BRETHREN
We do not understand that in the Millennial Age the people will have power to command the dead to come forth from the tomb, but that our Lord Jesus will have that power. As He prayed for the restoration of Lazarus, not because of any service which Lazarus would do for Him, but because Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary, so we conceive that nearly all the world will come forth in answer to the prayers of their brothers, their sisters, their parents, children and friends.
To illustrate: Suppose that you and I were of the Restitution class, and not of the Church class. Suppose that we were living down in the Millennial Age, and that Restitution had progressed so far that the world was in good shape—plenty of machinery for conducting affairs, more being produced than was needed, etc. Then the Lord would let us know, as a world, that we might have the privilege of co-operating with God, that we might join with Christ in the work of Restitution. We might say, "First of all, let us pray for father." We would not desire to have father get here and find that there was no place for him to eat or sleep or live; so we would make provision for him.
Similarly, we would provide for mother and for other relatives. Each would thus be brought forth, preparations being made to assist them when they would come back into life. This whole work of bringing mankind back into life will be God’s work. It will be the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the work of spirit beings, as God’s agents. But human beings will be permitted to co-operate, through their interest in humanity.
The "sheep" class of that Age will be those who will have the Lord’s spirit; and as the Lord’s purpose will be to bring people back from death, to teach them and to prepare them for eternal life, all the sheep will feel the same way. This they will do gladly, because they have a love for this work. They will be feeding, clothing and helping those whom they have gotten out of the prison-house of death. Their prayers will go out continually after those in prison. This explains the whole work of the Millennial Age, and shows how all the people will come into harmony with God.
THE INDIFFERENT, SELFISH CLASS
But there will be some who will say, "I do not care so much about this matter. I would rather go automobiling than to care for these people." The sheep class will be busy working, working right along; but the goat class
will be showing their selfish disposition. God does not purpose that any who are selfish shall have everlasting life. Selfishness came in as a result of sin. You and I were born selfish, and could not help it; but we have better knowledge now. We are beginning to see God’s way. All then in true sympathy with God and righteousness will be cultivating love in their hearts.
After the sheep class have provided for those already recovered from the prison-house of death, they will say, "Now let us ask for others to come back. Let us get back Uncle Jim." The others will say, "I do not see why we should bother about Uncle Jim. He was only a distant relative. He did not leave me anything when he died." But the one with the sheep-like disposition will say, "Poor old Uncle Jim! I shall try to give a good welcome back. He will wonder that conditions are so changed. He never saw these things which we now have. When He died, he thought that he was going to Hell. This will be his greatest blessing!"
THE LOVING, UNSELFISH CLASS
Thus the sheep class will take their pleasure along the lines in which God and Christ will be taking theirs. Do you think that God, Christ and the Church will be running around Heaven in automobiles? The sheep class will say, in effect, "How can we co-operate with Christ in this work of blessing the world?" They may not realize it, but they will be developing a noble, Christlike character.
They will be doing themselves good as well as those raised from the dead.
At the close of the Age the Lord will say to the sheep class, "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; naked, and ye clothed Me; sick and in prison, and ye visited Me"; for "inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these, ye did it unto Me." You did not know it, but I was watching you. You are on My right hand—in My favor. The Father wishes you to have the
Kingdom originally given to Father Adam but lost through disobedience.
No other class will be given the kingdom. God is not selfish, but is always considering what He can do for somebody else. All of His people must have His spirit.
All mankind must eventually have the same spirit or they cannot get the earthly kingdom. The Heavenly Kingdom is for those of the Church who prove worthy. They will get it because they have the spirit of love; and those of the world who cultivate the Lord’s spirit will receive the kingdom prepared for them
the foundation of the world. (
.) Christ’s Kingdom was prepared from
the foundation of the world. Mankind’s will be an earthly kingdom a Paradise world-wide.
EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT OF THE WICKED
So, dear friends, there is a little lesson here for us.
We see in this parable God’s disposition. It helps us to understand His mind. But you may say, "It is not natural for me to act so unselfishly." All the more need, then, for you to cultivate that spirit. The Lord is not looking for natural people, but for New Creatures.
"But," you say, "in my case it would make a great difference; for my mind is not formed that way." We reply, "You must be transformed—formed over again. We are all wrong to start with. We must get out of the condition in which we were born."—
The Lord does not say that we must entirely transform our flesh. But He does say that we must transform our mind, our will. We must show Him that our mind is continually striving for those things which are good, kind, loving and generous. He will take note of what we are striving to do.
Lest we should be accused of neglecting a certain part of this parable, let me remind you how it reads. The goat class are to "go away into everlasting punishment."
"I thought that you do not believe in everlasting punishment," says one. My dear brother, I always believe
in everything the Bible says. I believe in everlasting punishment. But what kind it will be is another matter.
God says one thing, and some of our creeds have said another thing. Therefore you and I, if true to God, are giving up our creed as unreliable, thoroughly unsound.
The Bible says that the punishment will be death; and we believe the Bible.—
The creeds have it that everlasting death means everlasting dying, endless torture. So when the Bible speaks of everlasting death, some people have their heads so twisted that they make death mean life. At one time we had our heads badly twisted. We ran into all kinds of difficulties. I am glad that we are getting straightened out. We are able to reason more clearly and to understand the English language better. There is such a thing as everlasting death. When the goat class are remanded to death, they will become dead everlastingly. They will remain dead to all eternity.
The Greek word
here rendered punishment, means to cut off, or to restrain by cutting off. The Lord will give mankind all the opportunities they wish to be selfish, to choose the wrong way. They will have the opportunities and blessings of the Millennial Age, as long as they will not outwardly violate the Law, as long as they will not injure somebody else. They will not be forced to help the dead. That work will be one of charity, of love. But unless they attain the spirit of love, they will not be fit for the kingdom; for God is Love. Whether on the spirit plane or in the Millennial Kingdom or in the everlasting kingdom of mankind upon the earth, no one shall continue except those who are in accord with God.
All others shall be everlastingly cut off from life. See
#Ps 101:8; 37:9
FIRE A SYMBOL OF DESTRUCTION
Concerning the wicked, our parable says, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." Fire always symbolizes destruction, and
everlasting fire would mean an everlasting destruction.
What about its being prepared for the Devil and his angels? I answer: The Devil is the father of lies, a murderer from the beginning, the one who "abode not in the Truth." (
.) He has some assistants, "the angels that kept not their first estate." (Jude 6.) Instead of remaining holy angels, they became demons, associated under Satan. Their final penalty is to be quite appropriate for them—fire, the fire of God’s anger, the fire of God’s opposition.
As fire destroys, so God’s anger will destroy Satan and all in harmony with him. And because the goat class of mankind manifest the spirit of Satan, the selfish spirit, contrary to the Divine spirit, they will be classed in with Satan and his angels; they will have their portion with Satan and the fallen spirits. They will all be destroyed in the Second Death. This will cleanse the Universe and have everything pure. Not a sinner will be left in it. Thenceforth all will be governed by Love.
The Lord Jesus Christ was tried; the Church, His Bride, is being tried; the Great Company will be tried, before being received into the Heavenly condition. In the days of Noah all the angels were tried. So all mankind will be tried during the thousand years of Messiah’s reign, and only the victors will go into the everlasting conditions. No wonder that the Revelator, prophesying of that glorious time, says "Every creature in Heaven [the Church, the Great Company, the angels, the cherubim and seraphim], and on earth, and under the earth [those now in the tomb], heard I saying, Blessing, glory, honor and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb, forever and ever!"—
Soon all shall come, and coming sing, Throughout this earthly ball, Hosannas to our Heavenly King, And hail Him, hail Him, hail Him, Hail Him Lord of all!