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When will the judgment of the living nations take place, and what is its purpose?

The Lord in His discourse in Matthew 25.31-46 speaks of the judgment of the living nations. This last section of the chapter concludes the mention of prophetical events previously predicted in the discourse. The sequence of chronological events in the future will include the Second Advent (24.30), the restoration of Israel (24.31), and the judgment of the living nations in the passage above. It should be carefully noted that the Lord speaks of the beginning of the tribulation period prior to the Lord’s return to the earth in 24.8, the middle of the tribulation in 24.15, and the end of the tribulation in 24.29. Thus, after the parabolic parenthesis in 24.32 to 25.28, the prophecy of the sequence of future events is resumed with the judgment of the living nations. It is therefore clear that this solemn event will take place after the restoration of Israel when the Lord returns and just before the commencement of the millennial reign of Christ (note the reference to those who will be blessed by going into the Kingdom at its start, v.34). We believe Paul refers to this event in 2 Timothy 4.1: "the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick (or living) and the dead (i.e. at the great white throne judgment)". In the Lord’s prophecy here He refers twice to Himself as the King (vv.34 and 40). It is the only time the Lord calls Himself the King. It is very fitting in view of the mention of the Kingdom.

As to the purpose why the Lord will sit upon the throne of His glory judging the nations, it will determine who in that day, gathered before Him, will go into the millennial Kingdom. They will be judged according to the treatment they have given to the Jewish remnant preachers. These servants in the tribulation period are called "strangers" (v.35) and "my brethren" (v.40). The righteous in v.37 must be distinguished from these and are the same as the sheep in v.32. They are believers who will give evidence of their faith by showing sympathy and support to the persecuted remnant. Many who will do this will suffer for it. On the other hand, those who rejected the message of the remnant and persecuted them are seen represented in the goats. These will suffer everlasting punishment.

John J Stubbs

Peter writes, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Pet 4.11). In the context, what is meant by the expression, "the oracles of God"?

The term "the oracles of God" occurs three times in the New Testament.

Paul asks, "What advantage then hath the Jew? (Rom 3.1); he answers the question himself - "Much every way: chiefly (or, first of all), because that unto them were committed the oracles of God" (Rom 3.2). The reference is to the law. Stephen speaks of "our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us" (Acts 7.38). It is spoken of as "the oracles of God", or divine utterances, even though it was written. It had a voice that had to be heard and obeyed. The law was initially spoken, so it comprised the actual utterances of God.

The heart of the writer to the Hebrews was full of the glorious subject of the priesthood of Christ, but these "many things" which he had "to say" were "hard to be uttered (difficult in interpretation)" (Heb 5.11), the proper understanding of the Old Testament types, shadows and figures was so different from Jewish conception. The condition of these Hebrews hindered the reception of further teaching relative to Christ’s priesthood.

"When for the time (the writer means ‘seeing you have been so long receiving instruction’) ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God" (Heb 5.12). The reference here is to what Christ gave them when He was upon earth; in other words, they had accepted the truth of Christ on the other side of the cross.

The third occurrence of the term, "the oracles of God", is found in a section in 1 Peter dealing with spiritual gifts. There are four major lists of spiritual gifts in the New Testament (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4 and 1 Peter 4) each demonstrating a different aspect of the subject. Here in 1 Peter 4 we see that God is glorified through the practical outworking of spiritual gifts, "that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 4.11).

So Peter writes, "If any man speaketh, speaking as it were the oracles of God" (RV). One who rises to speak has a solemn responsibility. It is not simply that what is said must be Scriptural, this must always be the case, but the individual should be sure that what he says are the very words that God would have him to say on that particular occasion. This seems to be what is meant by "the oracles of God" in this context.

David E West


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