|Judgment To Come Duncan Heaster|
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4.8 "Condemned with the world..."
Although the above points regarding wandering hold true, there is a major Biblical theme that the rejected will share the judgments of the world. The above descriptions may therefore apply in a spiritual / mental sense to the rejected in a way which they will not apply to the world. Thus the world cannot gnash its teeth because there will be no sense of the future which they have missed, or the grace they once stood related to. Or it could be that the rejected go through the above rejection / wandering process, and then, like Cain, come to the cities of men and join with them, to be destroyed in their futile rebellion against the Lord and His Christ.
Those among God's people who break their covenant with Him, He sees as the world. Thus Moses prophesied of an apostate Israel: "They have dealt corruptly with [God], they are no longer his children because of their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation" (Dt. 32:5 RSV). These very words are used by Paul regarding the Gentile world (Phil. 2:15). Likewise Is. 42:1,2 concerning Christ's witness to the Gentiles is quoted in Mt. 12:19 regarding His witness to an apostate Israel. Israel were to be made like “the tope of a rock” just as Gentile Tyre would be (Ez. 24:7; 26:4). “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers”, the Lord said to Israel (Mt. 23:32)- yet He was alluding to how the Gentile Amorites filled up the cup of God’s judgments and then had to drink it. Pharaoh's heart was hardened to bring about God's glory, but Paul uses the very same language, in the same context, to describe what was happening to an apostate, Egypt-like Israel (Rom. 9:17). Korah and his company were swallowed by the earth, using the very language which Moses so recently had applied to how the Egyptians were swallowed by the earth at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:12). Prophets like Amos and Zephaniah spoke of the punishment of God's people in the same context, and with the same rubric and language, as they spoke of the judgment of the Gentiles. Thus God saw "Ephraim like as I have seen Tyre" (Hos. 9:13 RV), and therefore their condemnation is spoken of by the prophets in the same terms. Apostate Israel are spoken of as the pagan world; and therefore at the day of judgment the rejected of the new Israel will be condemned along with the world (1 Cor. 11:32); assigned their portion "with the unbelievers" (Lk. 12:46). If we are not separate from this world now, we will not be separated from them when the judgments fall. If we don't come out from Babylon, we will share her judgments (Rev. 18:4). Zion lost her children and also her husband whilst still a young woman (Is. 49:21; 54:6), just as Babylon would (Is. 47:9). Each street of Jerusalem was named after an idol, just as was the case in Babylon (Jer. 11:13)- and thus Jerusalem shared Babylon’s judgment. The world will be gathered to Jerusalem for condemnation as will unworthy saints (Rev. 16:14,16; 19:19). A read through Rev. 16:13-16 makes it evident that the 6th vial concerns the gathering of the nations to Armageddon; but right in the middle of this section we read: "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked"- clearly relevant to the saints. It's as if the punishment of the unworthy believers and that of the nations is to be connected. The collapsing of time at the judgment would enable this to actually happen- the events used to punish the world could fall upon the rejected from the judgment seat. These unfortunate individuals will be threshed, as will the world be (Mt. 3:12; Rev. 16:16). This is foreshadowed by the way apostate Israel were treated like the surrounding Gentile world in the time of their judgments (Jer. 4:7). Thus in the 'judgment day' of AD70, the 'rejected' Jews were sent back into Egypt as slaves. "They shall return to Egypt" had been God's earlier prophesy (Hos. 8:13; 9:3). Their condemnation was expressed in terms of an undoing of the redemption from the world which they once experienced. The disciples were to shake off the dust of their feet against unbelieving Israel (Mt. 10:14; Mk. 6:11; Acts 8:51), in allusion to the Rabbinic teaching that the dust of Gentile lands caused defilement. Israel who rejected the Gospel were thus to be treated as Gentiles. Time and again the prophets describe the judgments to fall upon Israel in the same terms as they speak of the condemnations of the surrounding nations (e.g. Jer. 50:3,13). The message was clear: rejected Israel would be treated as Gentiles. Even if we are separated from this world externally, we can still act in a worldly way, and share the world's condemnation.
The Language Of Apostate Israel
The Lord taught that the believer who makes his brother stumble should have a millstone hung around his neck and be cast into the sea (Lk. 17:2). This is exactly Babylon's judgment (Rev. 18:21). The unloving in the ecclesia will be treated like the unloving world whose spirit they share. The rejected will weep and gnash their teeth (Mt. 25:30)- and be sent back into the Babylon-world, where they are also weeping and angry (Rev. 18:15,19). As the tree of Babylon will be cut down, so will the rejected be (Dan. 4:14,23 = Mt. 7:19). As Babylon is burnt with fire (Rev. 18:8), and indeed the whole 'world' too (2 Pet. 3:10), so will the rejected be (Mt. 13:40 etc.). The Lord's description of the rejected being cut down and thrown into the fire (Mt. 7:19) is surely referring to these very words in Dt. 12:3 (cp. 7:5); where the idols of the world were to be hewn down and thrown into the fire. The Lord understood that those who worship idols are like unto them (Ps. 115:8; 135:18). Because the idols will be destroyed in the last day, all who worship them will have to share their destruction. And yet we can be hewn down by God's word now (Hos. 6:5) rather than wait for God to do it to us by the condemnation process. We must cut off (s.w. hew down) our flesh now (Mt. 5:30; 18:8 cp. 7:19).
The devil and beast will be cast to the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10), as will all the rejected (Rev. 20:15); they will go to the same place. As Satan is bound (Rev. 20:2), so will the rejected be (Mt. 13:30; 22:13). This will be the antitype of Zedekiah being bound in condemnation (Jer. 52:11). In all these things, we have a choice: to fall on the stone of Christ and be broken, or live proudly in this life without breaking our fleshly ways at all, until at the Lord's coming we are ground to powder (Mt. 21:44). This is an obvious allusion to the image of the Kingdoms of men being ground to powder by the Lord's return. The Lord was saying that if we won't be broken now, then we will share the judgments of the world, and be broken by Him then in condemnation.
The structure of the book of Revelation reflects this theme- the first series of visions are of judgments on God's people Israel, whilst the second part of the book is judgments upon the Gentile powers of Rome / Babylon [however we wish to interpret them]. Likewise the plagues upon Egypt recorded in Ex. 7-10 are frequently alluded to in later Scripture concerning the judgments upon the apostate people of God. Quite simply, God's rejected people suffer the judgments of this world.
All this has a powerful imperative for us. If we love the world, we will be sent back into it. The Lord will effectively tell the rejected: 'Go back and watch telly. That's what you liked doing. Go back and sail your pleasure boat, take a holiday to Spain, go back to the guys at the bar and have another drink with them...that's what you always liked, compared to the things of My people and My Kingdom'. And the last thing, the very last thing, that the rejected will want is to go back to all that. But they will have to. For in their lives, they made their answer. The pointlessness of the life of the world will then be only too apparent to them. As Adam was made to realize he was made of dust and must tend that dust and then return to it, living a pointless existence, so the rejected whom he typified will realize all too late the vanity of life in the flesh. Rejected Israel in the wilderness had their years of prolonged existence "consumed with vanity" (Ps. 78:33). The faithless of the new Israel will go through the same. So let us, while we have opportunity, learn the utter vanity of all else apart from the things of the Lord, His people and His Kingdom.
The picture of the condemned is presented in Scripture in some detail. We are all condemned men and women before the light of the glory of Jesus Christ. If we are to be saved in that future day, we must judge / condemn ourselves now in our self-examination (1 Cor. 11:31). This means that we ought to have their feelings in some respects; as they will have no desire to go on living in the flesh, as they will so earnestly desire entry into the Kingdom, as they will then desperately not want to go back into the world... so we should feel now, grateful that for us there is entry into the Kingdom made possible. Thus Peter asked the Lord to depart from him (Lk. 5:8), with the very same words the Lord used about what He will say to the rejected (Lk. 13:27).
In conclusion we must ask whether we in this life do condemn ourselves. For those who do, will not be condemned. Have you wept for your wretchedness, for your miserable inadequacy? Then take heart. For of such is and will be the Kingdom. And let the picture of the condemned enable you to rejoice the more fervently in the simple fact that "we have been saved from wrath through Him".
A final thought about condemnation. What we have written about the toughness of God’s condemnation may seem awful. But actually, the condemnation and judgment of God is far softer than that of man. It was men who created the concept of eternal torment, not God. It was men who created Auschwitz and similar perversions of ‘judgment’. It is truly written in the context of God’s final condemnation that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). But David said that he would prefer to fall into the hands of God rather than into the hands of man (2 Sam. 24:14). To fall into the hands of God is thus a figure for judgment / condemnation by Him. Fearful as it is, as the Hebrew writer says, it is actually far milder than the judgment of men. This is how cruel our judgment of others can be; this is how awful is human condemnation of each other. It is worse that God’s. No wonder that the Lord established “Judge not…” as a foundation principle for His true people.
“Condemned with the world”