"That thou mightest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed:"
Luke 1:1, 4
The "Day of the Lord."
The withdrawal of governmental power from the Ten nations of the Roman world, and its transfer to the Son of Man is the event which terminates the Day of man and commences the "Day of the Lord." It is in Heaven "the Day of the Lord" will commence, unseen and unknown by any on earth; but they who watch "the signs of the times" will know, from the condition of the nations and from the duration of Antichrist’s blasphemies—3 1/2 years—that the hour is nigh. The Session of the Ancient of Days will take place in Heaven (Dan. 7:9-14) and will be a court, not of His government but of God’s solemn Assize; appointed especially for inquisition on the governing Antichristian nations of the earth—the Ten nations’ of the Roman empire—when the power, which has so long been delegated to them, will he the subject of enquiry. They will be "weighed in the balances and found wanting," for they will be united in blasphemous rebellion against God! The Son of Man will then be brought before the Throne of the Ancient of Days and solemnly invested with the governmental power of earth, and in Heaven first, it will he said "the kingdoms (or sovereignty) of this world are become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ."
The first visible intimation which the earth receives of " the Day of the Lord" having commenced in Heaven, is conveyed by "the signs in the heavens " mentioned in the Gospels (Matt. 24; Mark 13). These signs will be the immediate precursor of the descent of the Lord Jesus into the air with all the holy angels. There His descent will be for a short period stayed. This interval will be necessary for the accomplishment of Matthew 13:49, when, after true believers are "changed," holy angels descend and separate "out of their midst" false professors, who will be "unchanged." Afterwards, all believers—"all who are Christ’s at His coming"—shall be "caught up to meet the Lord in the air" before He has reached the earth, and will return with Him and surround Him when "His feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives."
The condition of the earth at the period of the Lord’s descent into the air is to be regarded in four aspects.
First, there will be Jews, part in their own Land, as at the time of the crucifixion, and part scattered throughout the nations; besides many in captivity (Zech. 14:2).
Secondly, there will be the Ten nations of the Roman world all owning Antichrist! all apostate from God! their armies gathered to Armageddon and advancing upon Jerusalem (Joel 2; 3; Isa.10:28-33. Rev. 16:16)!
Thirdly, there will be many countries still sunk in the darkness of heathenism; countries, of which it is said that, up to that moment they "have not heard the fame of Jehovah nor seen His glory!"
Fourthly, there will be multitudes who will retain the profession of the Name of Christ throughout the earth wherever Christianity has penetrated. Some will be His in truth, others only in profession. These together compose what is called in Scripture "the Kingdom of Heaven;" Christ’s Kingdom; i.e. Christendom.
This will be the first subject of visitation from the Lord. "He shall send forth His angels and gather out of His kingdom all things that offend." It is not said out of the earth, for that would not be true; but these words are limited by the context to those found professedly "in the kingdom of heaven;" viz., the professing Church. But if in any part of the world a true believer were found by the side of a heathen or Jew, the believer would be taken to the Lord and the other left; either spared to be converted, or to be destroyed by some visible judgment before being removed into the unseen world.
On the other hand, if ten professing Christians were at that time assembled together, of whom five had really and five nominally believed; the former would, at the sounding of the trumpet, be changed "in the twinkling of an eye," together with those who then rise; the other five would remain unchanged. Immediately, holy angels would appear and separate the unchanged "out of the midst of" those who are changed; after which, both the living and raised saints will be caught up to meet and come with their Lord.
Moreover, after the true saints "(sheep)" have been thus separated from those who only nominally profess the Name of Christ "(goats)" both will be presented before the Lord whilst He yet remains on the Throne of His Glory in the air. He will then declare the reason why some are adjudged to be "sheep" and the others "goats;" the latter having never discerned nor desired to discern between those who are truly and those nominally His people, and consequently have never given even "a cup of cold water to a disciple in the name of a disciple:" whereas, each of the "sheep" will be found to have ministered on some occasion or other to Christ’s people on the ground of their being His. How important to mark well this principle! Mere philanthropy will not be recognized in that day; only such philanthropy as is combined with the recognition of Christ in His people.
It should be further remembered that this is not the final judgment of those denominated "goats;" it is merely a declaration of the ground on which they are adjudged to be what they are; and after being adjudged to be "goats," they will be taken to the unseen place of punishment, there to await the judgment of the final day. At the last resurrection (Rev. 20:11) they will be called before the "Great White Throne," to be judged individually according to their works." The saints on the other hand, after having been adjudged to be "sheep" belonging to the fold of the Great Shepherd, will fall into the train of the Lord’s glory and will come with Him. That is the moment of which it is said "The Lord my God shall come and all the saints with Thee (Zech. 14:5)."
The gathering of the living saints to the Lord is preceded by the "change" of their mortal bodies, as also by the resurrection of all who have fallen asleep in Jesus. The same moment—the moment of "the last trump"—that changes the living saints, is also that which awakens the dead that have "died in the Lord." They arise in bodies incorruptible, and together with the living saints, in whom also "mortality is swallowed up of life," are caught up to meet the Lord in the air."
We should accustom ourselves to consider the realities of that hour as revealed in Scripture. It will be an hour solemn and terrible to nature, although the feeblest believers may wait in peaceful expectation, as knowing that grace and only "grace is to be brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The signs in the heavenly bodies are spoken of as occurring before the saints are changed," and they will behold these premonitory signs before the trumpet sounds; as to them it is said " when these things (i.e., signs in the sun, etc.), begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh;" and as soon as the Lord descends into the air, the same trumpet that announces His presence changes them. They cease to be the subjects of mortal feelings before angels are sent to seize on those who are unchanged and to gather them from among the righteous, otherwise they would be unable to bear the agony. But "Herein is love made perfect in its dealings with us, in order that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He (Christ) is, so we are we in this world!" And seeing that the Antichristian kingdoms and the Land of Israel have been in past ages the home of multitudes who have" died in the Lord," the graves of such will open, and every sleeping saint will be awakened for the glory of the first resurrection. The whole earth therefore (for some believers will have died in or be living in heathen lands) will teem with glorified saints and with angels sent forth to gather them to the Lord, Who will be visibly present in the air whilst these things are transpiring in the earth below.
It is thus that "the Day of the Lord" commences in the earth. By signs in the created heavens; by the withdrawal of all natural sources of light; by the descent of the Lord into the air; by the trumpet being blown; by the dead saints rising from their graves in glory and living saints being glorified while yet in the earth; by the instantaneous severance through the instrumentality of angels of the unchanged ones out of the midst of those who are changed, and the taking up of all the glorified saints into the air to meet and return with their Lord; and, as soon as His saints have been gathered to Him and have fallen into their appointed place in the train of His glory after the "tares" have been borne away to their place of punishment, the Lord will instantly descend to the earth. "His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives" (Zech. 14), His object being, to rescue Jerusalem, for the time of forgiveness and glory will have come! "Spirits of devils" will have gathered all the strength of the "Ten Kingdoms" under Antichrist to Armageddon, not knowing it will be for "the war of the great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14)!" When encamped at Nob (Isa. 10:32; Dan. 11:45) he will assail and capture Jerusalem, which will have rebelled against him; carry half of the people into captivity (Zech. 14:2); destroy the two witnesses (Rev. 11:7); and further seek in union with Moab, Ammon and Edom, to crush Israel entirely (Ps. 83:4). But the Lord will interpose and rescue Jerusalem (Isa. 31:4, 5; Joel 3:16; Ps.124)!
Yet, not even the knowledge that the Lord has come in manifested glory to take Jerusalem under the shield of His protection, will prevent Antichrist from continuing the assault upon it! He and the Ten Kings with him are distinctly described as making war with the Lamb (see Rev. 17:14, 19:19)!" It will not indeed be the first time that man has dared to confront the visible presence of the glory of God! Neither the miracle at the Red Sea nor the presence of the fiery cloudy pillar, spreading darkness over the Egyptians but light over Israel, prevailed to stay the wrath of Pharaoh and prevent him from rushing into the midst of the divided waters! There also, the subject of the contest was the fate of God’s earthly people. Pharaoh said "I will destroy them." God said "They are My people!" And a like fury of madness may be expected to be manifested again, especially when we remember that Antichrist and his armies will be gathered into the land of Israel by the immediate agency of "spirits of devils" (Rev. 16:14)!
This is the hour so often referred to, when the "Stone" shall smite the Image; the "Beast" be slain and "that that is determined poured on the Desolator;" when "he shall come to his end and none shall help him," and the "remnant" of Israel be delivered.
They are mentioned as an "afflicted and poor remnant;" and it is no wonder that their hearts should be subdued and broken. They will have witnessed the terrors of Antichrist’s reign; seen the plagues of the Revelation poured out upon their land and the Antichristian nations; beheld the heavens darkened; the Lord descend in glory; the graves opened; the tares removed; the saints changed and taken; the Heaven and the earth shaken; and yet find themselves protected through all these things! And not delivered and forgiven only; but accepted in all the preciousness of that Name which they and their nation had rejected and "abhorred!" "They will look an Him whom they have pierced and will mourn."
There will be many others spared besides the "remnant of Israel," or else it would not be said that there would be "isles afar off that had not heard of His fame," to whom God would send the spared in Israel (Isa. 66:19). Scripture nowhere says that the Gospel will be preached to every creature in the present Dispensation. The Church was commanded to do this; but what the Church was commanded to do and what it has done are different things. Zechariah 14:16 speaks too of some (doubtless those of youthful age who have not worshipped Antichrist) in those nations, who Will be spared.
Israel will then he made the depository of Christ’s Truth, as the nation, through whose instrumentality, the whole earth is to be ordered. "Out of ZION" shall go forth the Law, etc. "There are set the Thrones of the House of David," showing that the seat of Christ’s administrative government In the earth will be established in Jerusalem no less truly and visibly than God was manifested on Sinai!
The great distinctive characteristic however of ZION will be not so much the glory that is on it as the glory that is above it. ‘‘ Ye shall see," said the Lord Jesus, " heaven opened," and the Heavenly City of the saints made manifest, in token that the claim of God’s holiness has been satisfied; that Ha has been glorified in the earth by One—even Immanuel—and that He thenceforward designs to give according to the value of that which He hath received! It will be the hour of descending blessing. The risen saints, whose dwelling place it is, are not merely to be blessed themselves; they are to be employed and made a blessing to others. They will be the anti-typical priesthood acting on behalf of Israel in the Heavenly City.
The full ordered glory of the Millennium however is not introduced until some time after the Day of visitation upon Jerusalem, which will be only one day (Zech. 14:7). In it, Israel will be nationally forgiven; and "the remnant," spared in the Land, will "look on Him Whom they have pierced and mourn." But the greater part of Israel will be in distant lands; some having been carried captive during the days of Antichrist; others, scattered by his persecutions; whilst others will be voluntarily sojourning in the uttermost regions of the earth, worshippers of the wealth and mercantile greatness of Babylon and Tyre! These will not escape the judgments that fall more or less upon the whole house of Israel. But if the wilderness be the place where this part is pleaded with and purified, it is also the place where they shall find mercy (Hos. 2:14; Micah 7:15). This is the time of which it is said "I will even make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert to give drink to my chosen" (Isa.11:11-16; 43:19; Ps. 68).
Besides those thus immediately gathered by the Lord we read of others brought by the nations at the commandment of the Lord (Isa. 43:6), Others, will return individually when they hear "the Lord bath founded Zion" (Isa. 14: 32).
Whilst the Lord is thus re-gathering Israel and at the same time sending judgments upon the spared nations—who, although they have, "escaped Antichrist" (Dan. 11:41), have nevertheless been rebellious against the Lord and persecutors of Israel—He will introduce His saints into their heavenly mansions above, according to the promise in John 14:1, 2. This is the period of which it is said "He will present them to Himself a glorious church without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph. 5:27; Rev. 19:6-9); and the value of the Atonement once perfected on the Cross will then be fully proved by them.
But whilst the saints collectively are thus filled with all fulness in Him, there will also be awarded to each, the individual need of grace. Each be placed before the "tribunal" (not "Judgment seat;" that being connected with the thought of arraignment as a criminal ) of Christ, not to be judged, for "he that believeth shall not come into judgment;" but to be rewarded—to receive from Him recognition of all that He can recognize for praise in their past service and ways—when the "cup of cold water" Will be remembered; when "he who has received a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward;" and to one will be said "Be thou over five, to another over ten cities." This does not restrict the promise that each individual saint shall be "made like unto Christ, and shall be satisfied."
After these things, the Heavenly City—which is one special sphere of the saints’ glory—descends from God out of Heaven, but not into the Millennial earth. The Adamic earth is not adapted to its glory. It remains therefore throughout the Millennium, in a place analogous to that which the Holy Place occupied—intermediate between the Holy of Holies and the external court where Israel worshipped—exterior to which was the court of the Gentiles; for the Gentiles also will become worshippers in the Millennium. And though the kings of the earth will not be able personally to enter into the Heavenly City (nor indeed any who yet continue in bodies of flesh and blood), "they will bring their glory and honour unto it" mediately through the earthly City, which will be the outer Court of the One Temple. Indeed, the Temple appears to have been the intended type of the millennial arrangements.
Thence, the regulations of God’s government and the remedial means for meeting the exigencies of mortal life below will reach Israel, for the great distinctive character of the Millennium will be the subjugation of every enemy. Sin, death and occasional transgression will yet be there, and repressive power perpetually needed. This is the object avowedly proposed when Christ takes to Himself His millennial power; which power He lays down as soon as it is accomplished. "Then cometh the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is Death." Millions too will then be saved, who would have been lost, had the history of man in the flesh been made to terminate at the commencement of the Millennium.
It does not conclude, however, without affording another instance of the inveterate evil of the human heart; for the Gentile nations—Israel and Jerusalem remaining faithful to the Lord—will deliberately confront the visible glory of Christ on Zion, "the citadel of the saints;" and fire from heaven will devour them!
Thus ends the history of unregenerate man! The general Judgment follows, and then He that sitteth on the Throne will say "Behold I make all things new," the glory of which we little apprehend.
We are thus led on by Scripture to the first day of the completed blessing of the redeemed, when the Heavenly City—the Bride of the Lamb— descends into the New Earth—her new inheritance—and "the first heavens and first earth pass away."
We know not all that is beyond; but we know that God will give us to behold and to share His own glory above the Heavens, and not restrict us even to the new Heavens and the new Earth (Rev. 14:4), but has promised to "show in the ages to come, the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness to us through Christ Jesus."
[N.B. Rev. 20 commences at chapter 19:11 and continues to chapter 21:8, giving consecutive events from the coming of Christ to the establishment of the Heavenly City in the New Earth; viz. the coming of the heavenly Bridegroom in glory to meet His enemies and subdue the earth at the destruction of Antichrist and his armies. Then the binding of Satan; the millennial reign; the concluding Apostasy; the passing away of the first heavens and the first earth; the creation of the New Heavens and New Earth and the descent of the heavenly City into the New Earth. These events are detailed as they will really occur; and the whole passage should be read as one chapter. 
Chapter 11:9-22:5, retraces, giving a description of the millennial City and its relation to the earth during the Millennium.]
 Although the saints are not to be arraigned before the "judgment seat," they are to stand before the "tribunal of Christ" to give account of their past services—in order that He may discriminate between that which is worthless and precious in their ways—and to receive, not "according to" what they have done but "with reference to;" some things being forgiven; others praiseworthy, being rewarded.
It would appear from Matthew, 25:31, 32, that professing Christian, will at Christ’s return, be instantly separated by Angels info two bodies; after which, they will be placed for a short moment before the Throne of His glory in the air, in order that the evidences of the one being His people and the other not, might be declared yet the goats are not then finally judged nor the sheep definitely rewarded. After the Millennium, the goats are to be placed before the Great White Throne to be judged "according to their works;" the sheep, before the tribunal of Christ to be rewarded. The separation of sheep and goats is not strictly a judgment scene. It is merely the public declaration of that principle which is every day acted on by the Lord, in consigning some to the place of torment, where their souls are reserved for judgment, and in taking others to Him in Paradise.
 The "Harvest" is not mentioned here, as the Revelation does not deal with Christendom but with the Ten apostate Nations or Anti-Christendom—the "Vintage."
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