the living and the dead04-12-2014 - Posted by Andre Piet
He ascended to heaven … From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
The classic idea here is that at the return of Jesus Christ from heaven, both the living and the dead will be judged. That is not as Scripture presents it. It not only involves different categories of people, who will be judged, but also different times. It involve times (events) that will at least be a thousand years apart. Already at an early stage, ‘the church’ lost sight of the kingdom of a thousand years, between these two ‘time points’ (events). Prior to that Kingdom, the then–living will be judged, while after the thousand years, the dead will be judged, who for that event will be resurrected (Rev.20:11-15). It concerns different judgments, different times, different locations, different defendants and also different criteria on which the judgments will be based. Besides, also the judgment of the living, before the thousand years, will not be a single event. When the Lord will appear on the Mount of Olives, He will first gather all the people of Israel, from the four (wind) corners of the earth (Matt.24:31) and bring them into the wilderness, to enter into judgment with them (Eze.20:33 34). The unbelievers among them will perish (Eze.20:36-38; Acts 3:23) so that only a faithful people will go up to the promised land (Mich.2:12,13). A text like Matt.8:12, “but the children of the Kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth”, is specifically about this judgement. When the Lord, later, as “Son of Adam” will have taken His place on “the throne of His glory” in Jerusalem (Mat.25:31), then He will gather the living nations before Him. He will then separate the “sheep” from the “the goats” (Mat.25:32). The criteria will be how they will have treated the least of His brethren, i.e. the people of Israel (Mat.25:40; cp Joel 3:1-2.). The “goats” will perish in the fire, which will burn in the vicinity of Jerusalem (near the Dead Sea, “the lake of fire and brimstone”; cp Mat.25:41; Rev.19:20,21). The “sheep”, on the other hand, will inherit the eonian Kingdom, which then begins. Summarized: the judgements in the parousia (i.e. the presence) of Christ, will be of the then-living people (respectively, Israel and the nations). Only after the thousand years, when the present heaven and earth disappear, the dead will rise (Rev.20:5) to be judged at the Great White Throne. However different all these judgments will be, in all cases it will be one Judge, namely, “Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead” (2Tim.4:1; John 5:22). It is the identity of this Judge, that also guarantees the ultimate (!) good outcome of all these judgments. This Judge, at one time, gave Himself a ransom for all (1Tim.2:6). This Judge is also “the Saviour of the world” (John 4: 42, 1John 4:14). He will, by means of judgments, set everything right and bring all to a perfect conclusion!