Judgement Upon All the Ungodly
by Glenn Conjurske

The Bible is very explicit concerning the fact that when Christ returns to earth he will execute judgement upon all the ungodly—-and this fact is fatal to the system of doctrines known as post-tribulationism. The fact of the universal judgement upon the ungodly is denied by some few post-tribulationists, but most of them have apparently never thought so far as to realize its significance, and they simply ignore it. What I intend to do in this article is, first, to prove the universal destruction of the ungodly at the coming of Christ, and then to point out its necessary consequences for the post-tribulational system.

In the last chapter of the Old Testament we read, “Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven: and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” (Mal. 4:1-2). I suppose it were needless to attempt to prove that this scripture refers to the coming of Christ, for none doubt it, unless those who are altogether unfamiliar with the prophetic Scriptures. Its teaching is very explicit that all that do wickedly will be utterly destroyed in that day.

In the Lord’s interpretation of the parable of the wheat and the tares, we are told, “As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father.” (Matt. 13:40-42). The same classes of men, and the same events, are set forth in these two passages. “You that fear my name” of Malachi 4 are “the righteous” of Matthew 13. They shall shine forth in the kingdom after the destruction of the wicked. “All that do wickedly” in Malachi 4 are “all…them which do iniquity” in Matthew 13. They shall be burned up, according to both scriptures. This is a sweeping, unsparing destruction, which leaves them neither root nor branch. Matthew explicitly defines the time of this judgement: “the end of this age” (aijwvn)—-that is, the coming of Christ to execute judgement.

Enoch’s prophecy, as given in the book of Jude, is strong and explicit: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14-15). We know that the issue of this judgement will be the complete destruction of all of the ungodly. Enoch’s prophecy (“the Lord cometh, with ten thousands of his saints”) cannot be fulfilled by anything except the actual and personal coming of Christ, yet there can be no question that the immediate type of its final fulfillment, which followed Enoch’s utterance of the warning, is to be seen in the flood of Noah’s day. This is often the way of Bible prophecy, to have an eye to both a near and a far fulfillment. Only observe, the near “fulfillment” is never properly a fulfillment of the prophecy, for the terms of the prophecies are never exhausted by those near fulfillments. They are rather to be regarded as types of the actual and final fulfillment. Such was Noah’s flood to the prophecy of Enoch, and precisely because of the similarity between the judgement of the flood and the judgement at Christ’s coming. Both are a judgement of living men, and issue in the complete destruction of all of the ungodly from off the face of the earth.

Christ himself uses Noah’s flood as a type of the coming judgement. “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed”—-that is, at his coming again to earth (Luke 17:26-30).

Again, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away. So shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:37-39).

Twice the New Testament tells us that Christ will judge “the quick [the living] and the dead.” All of these scriptures which we have quoted refer to the judgement of the living, those who are alive in the flesh on the earth when Christ returns, and all of these scriptures explicitly teach that that judgement will be executed upon all. There are other scriptures which imply as much, without using the word “all,” such as: “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thes. 1:7-8).

The Old Testament types speak the same thing, notably the flood and the judgement of Sodom, both judgements of the living, and types explicitly applied by Christ to the judgement at his coming. Another type, less explicit than these, but nonetheless clear enough to those familiar with the prophetic Scriptures, is found in Psalm 19:4-6. “In them he hath set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” The sun is a type of Christ in his coming to judge the world and establish his kingdom on the earth, as appears in the fourth chapter of Malachi, already quoted. The day which the sun brings to the earth typifies the earthly reign of Christ, the “kingdom come” for which the saints of all ages have prayed, when the will of God will be done in earth as it is now done in heaven (Matt. 6:10), and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Is. 11:9). All of this presents the perfect contrast to the present age, which is the age of evil and darkness.

The heat of the sun represents the unsparing judgement of that day “that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up.” (Malachi 4:1). Returning to the nineteenth Psalm, we see the sun “as a bridegroom”—-an obvious reference to Christ, the bridegroom of the church. More: as a bridegroom “coming out of his chamber.” Now the chamber of the bridegroom is the marriage chamber, or as we would say in modern language, the bedroom. The fact that the bridegroom is represented as coming out of his chamber indicates that the marriage has taken place already. The bride has been raptured to heaven and united to her bridegroom. That being done, he comes out of the chamber to execute the judgements predicted throughout the prophetic Scriptures. Those who deny the truths of prophecy, whether it be the pretribulation rapture or the millennial reign of Christ, can find no sense or meaning in these words. If indeed they go deep enough into the text to concern themselves with the matter at all, it must remain a mystery to them why the Lord should represent the sun “as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.” Types can only be recognized by those who know the truth which they represent. They are as a picture of an individual—-readily recognized by those who know the person, but meaningless to all others. The type here speaks of Christ coming to execute universal and unsparing judgement, indicated by the words, “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof,” where most of the early English versions have “none” or “no man” rather than “nothing.” One of the earliest Psalters printed in English (1530), translated by Francis Foxe from the Latin of Martin Bucer, has, “nether is their eny mane that maye hyde hym frome his heate.” The Psalter of George Joye, the former amanuensis of William Tyndale, printed in 1534, has, “there is noman that maye hyde him from his heat.” Myles Coverdale’s Bible (1535) has, “there maye no man hyde himself from the heate therof.” The Geneva Bible (1560) has, “none is hid from the heate thereof.” The early metrical Psalters read the same way. Robert Crowley’s (1549) has,

And under the heavens that be
so wonderfull and wyde:
There is not one that from his heate
may hym absent or hyde.

Thomas Sterneholde’s (1551 edition) has,

No man can hide him from his heate
but he will finde him out.

Indeed, so read the English Psalters long before printing was thought of. The Psalter of Richard Rolle of Hampole, who died in 1349, reads, “nan [none] is that him may hide fra [from] his hete.” His commentary on the place is all wrong, for he explains it thus: “swa he suffirs nan to be that may excuse thaim of the hete of his luf: for he has shewid luf till all, for noman may excuse him, `that he ne is sum tyme stird fra synn to gode”’—-that is, in modern English, “so he suffers none to be that may excuse them[selves] of the heat of his love, for he has showed love to all, for no man may excuse him[self], `that he is not some time stirred from sin to God.”’ Naturally enough, in his commentary he also refers the bridegroom coming out of his chamber to the first coming of Christ, but however mistaken his interpretation may be, his translation speaks for the truth. The Wycliffe Bible reads likewise, “noon [none] is that hidith hym silf from his heet.” The doctrine of this is a universal judgement, from which none can hide or escape.

We grant, however, that the type, however fitting and beautiful, proves nothing. Nor is there any need: the doctrine has abundant proof without the type. There is, however, one very plain New Testament scripture which gives a striking confirmation to this type. Luke 12:36 says, “And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.” Neither post-tribulationist nor amillennialist can make any sense of this. Even some pretribulationists have stumbled over it, trying to refer this text to the rapture of the church. In so doing some of the early Plymouth Brethren had the effrontery to suggest that to return from the wedding meant to return to the wedding—-an argument worthy of a weaker cause, and totally unnecessary for a pretribulationist. The very terms used in the text suggest that the coming spoken of is not the rapture of the church, though the same kind of watchfulness is enjoined upon the church: “ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, … that when he cometh and knocketh they may open unto him immediately.” Why is the third person used, if this refers to the rapture of the church? The scene which follows also, in verse 37, evidently belongs to the millennial kingdom: “he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” Every premillennialist believes that the scene in the next chapter, where “they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:29), belongs to the millennial kingdom, and Luke 12:37 certainly seems to speak of the same thing.

Now see where this universal judgement leaves the post-tribulational system. As they believe, at the coming of Christ to execute judgement and establish his kingdom, all of the godly shall be raptured and glorified; and, as we have proved, all of the ungodly shall at the same time be destroyed. Thus, on the post-tribulational scheme, after the coming of Christ there would be no one left on the earth to inherit the kingdom. It will thus be plainly seen that there can be no middle ground between amillennialism and pretribulationism. Post-tribulationism endeavors to stand between the two, but it is a hybrid system, which joins with pretribulationists and all premillennialists in interpreting those scriptures literally which speak of the reign of Christ, but then usually defects to the amillennial position, and spiritualizes many of the scriptures which speak of the reign of antichrist. But as soon as the truth set forth in this article is recognized, it becomes plainly apparent that they have no standing ground. They are forced to get on one side or the other—-to abandon all expectation of a literal kingdom of Christ on the earth, or to embrace a consistently literal interpretation of prophecy, which will force them to the pretribulational system.

If there is to be a millennium at all—-a “paradise restored,” when the creation itself is delivered from the bondage of corruption—-when they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for they shall all know him—-when they shall dwell safely, and none shall make them afraid—-when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more—-then there must be men alive in the body after the return of Christ, men who are neither raptured to heaven nor destroyed at the coming of Christ. There must be men who go through the final judgements on this world, and come out alive on the other side of them, precisely as Noah and his sons did in the judgement of the old world—-which we know is a type of the judgement at the second coming of Christ.

It was not God’s purpose to end the history of the earth at the flood in Noah’s day, but only to destroy the ungodly, and purge the earth for the establishment of the new dispensation. Therefore his own were spared through that time of judgement, that they might inherit the earth thus purged. Thus exactly will it be at the coming of Christ to earth again, as every premillennialist knows very well. The godly will be spared through those final judgements on the world, not merely to be raptured to heaven when the judgements are over, but to people the millennial earth (from which the ungodly have all been swept away), as Noah did after the flood. But most post-tribulationists have apparently never thought far enough to realize how utterly at variance their system is with this fact. Some indeed have thought so far, and have been forced therefore to deny the universality of the judgement at Christ’s coming.

One such was A. J. Gordon, a well known Baptist leader of the last century. He writes, “In the transfiguration—-which is distinctly called `the Son of man coming in His kingdom’—-we have a miniature presentation of the millennium. Moses and Elias, who appear with Christ in glory, prefigure respectively the risen and changed saints translated and brought into one company at the appearing and kingdom of our Lord; while the disciples who stand without the cloud and behold His glory are typical of those in the flesh, the Jews and the nations, who will still be left on the earth after the rapture of the saints.” To this I have nothing at all to object. Only I ask, concerning “those in the flesh, the Jews and the nations, who will still be left on the earth after the rapture of the saints,” are they godly or ungodly when Christ appears from heaven? If they are godly, why are they not raptured along with the rest of the saints? Will any of the saints be left behind when the church is raptured? If they are ungodly, why are they not destroyed with the rest of the ungodly? Were any spared outside the ark when the flood came? Will any be spared outside of Christ when he comes to execute judgement upon all the ungodly?

Gordon evidently held that these men in the flesh will be ungodly when Christ returns, but that they will be converted as a result of his coming. So he writes further, “Will the glorified Church hold relation to mortal men still living on the earth? They who deny this, and suppose that the whole human race will be swept from the globe and destroyed at the coming of Christ, quote words of terrific import for such a view (2 Thess. i.7). But if we balance Scripture with Scripture, the conclusion is otherwise. For not only is it taught that the advent judgments fall especially on apostate Christendom (Matt. xiii.40,41), but with equal clearness that Christ’s coming issues in the conversion of Israel (Zech xii.10; Rom. xi.26), and through Israel in the conversion of the Gentiles (Rom. xi.12-15; Is. lx.).” In plain English, Gordon denies that Christ will execute judgement upon all the ungodly at his coming. That judgement will fall “especially” upon apostate Christendom, but some part of the rest of the world will be exempt. Ungodly Jews and Gentiles are spared that judgement, and the coming of Christ “issues,” not in their destruction, but in their conversion.

But how can such a doctrine be reconciled with the plain proofs which we have given above that judgement will be executed upon all the ungodly? In the judgement of the living nations at Christ’s return, set forth in Matthew 25, we see no goats being turned into sheep. There is not the least hint or possibility of such a thing. The sheep inherit the kingdom, and the goats are consigned to punishment, upon the basis of what they have done previous to his return—-how they have treated his brethren in his absence. And to this agree the words of Revelation 22:11-12, where we read, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” When Christ comes his reward is with him, for both the righteous and the wicked, and there will be no changing sides then.

“Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28), but he will not appear unto salvation to any who are ungodly. Not so, for “all that do wickedly shall be stubble, and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings.” (Mal. 4:1-2).

But Gordon gives several Scripture references in support of his position. We may pass by those which he gives to prove that the Gentiles shall be converted through Israel. We do not doubt that, only we deny that this shall take place after the advent of Christ. The scriptures which he cites to prove that Israel will be converted as a result of Christ’s coming we must examine.

The first is Zech. 12:10(-14), which says, “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Meggidon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.” To this we add also the next verse, which is the first verse of the next chapter: “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” There can hardly be any question that what is here set forth is the latter-day conversion of the Jews. But does this take place after the coming of Christ, and as a result of his coming?

For many years, with only the English version before me, I regarded this passage as a plain reference to the second coming of Christ, and would have regarded it as perversity to deny it. A closer examination of the text, however, has indicated otherwise. Everything hinges upon the words “they shall look upon me whom they have pierced.” The Hebrew preposition rendered “upon” I believe ought to be translated “unto.” This is its primary meaning, as given in all Hebrew lexicons. I have found five other places where these same two Hebrew words, “look unto,” are used, and in only one of them is it even possible to refer to a literal looking upon. That one is Numbers 21:9, where we read, “when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” “Beheld” is literally “looked unto,” the same words as in Zech. 12:10. David Baron, a learned and spiritual Jewish Christian (and a post-tribulationist, by the way), uses the phrase in Numbers 21:9 to illustrate that in Zechariah 12:10, and translates it “looked unto” in the Numbers passage.

This place in Numbers, as said, is the only one of the five where it is possible that a literal looking upon could be meant, and there it is no way necessary. The other four places where these two Hebrew words occur together are all in the book of Isaiah, and are as follows:

“Ye made also a ditch between the two walls for the water of the old pool: but ye have not looked unto the maker thereof, neither had respect unto him that fashioned it long ago.” (Is. 22:11).

“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you.” (Is. 51:1-2).

“But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” (Is. 66:2).

What reason is there, then, for translating the same two Hebrew words “look upon” in Zech. 12:10? There is no reason that I know of, and there is plenty of reason not to do so. It may be that the translators of Zechariah were influenced in their rendering by the obvious allusions to this verse in Matt. 24:30 and Rev. 1:7, but no New Testament allusion can be reason enough not to translate the Hebrew according to its plain sense. The New Testament allusions obviously refer to the personal coming of Christ, but there is not a word in them of anyone being converted, and many of the best commentators connect this mourning in the New Testament allusions with the fact that those mourning are shut out from mercy, and lost for ever. On Matt. 24:30, for example, Matthew Henry (ammillennial), C. H. Spurgeon (premillennial, but not pretribulational), and A. B. Simpson (premillennial and pretribulational), all explain the verse so. Henry says, “Some of all the tribes and kindreds of the earth shall mourn; for the greater part shall tremble at his approach. …impenitent sinners shall look unto him whom they have pierced, and, though they laugh now, shall mourn and weep after a devilish sort, in endless horror and despair.” Spurgeon says, “Christ’s coming will be the source of untold joy to his friends; but it will bring unparalleled sorrow to his foes: `then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn.’ When Jesus comes, he will find the nations still unsaved, and horror will be their eternal portion.” Simpson says, “…after the tribulation He is to come in the blaze of His glory openly and visibly before the eyes of all the world, and as they see Him `all the tribes of the earth shall mourn.’ It shall be a day of terror to this godless world and destruction and judgment to the wicked nations that shall be found in opposition to his throne.”

The scripture in Zechariah cannot contradict those several plain and explicit scriptures which affirm that Christ will execute judgement upon all the ungodly at his coming. Yet to translate this verse “look upon me whom they have pierced” does just that, and makes the coming of Christ issue in the conversion of ungodly Jews rather than in their destruction.

The Latin Vulgate took the text in the sense for which we contend, reading aspicient ad me, “they shall look unto me.” The Greek Septuagint evidently meant the same also. It reads ejpiblevyontai prov” meV, “they shall look to me.” The verb used does indeed mean “to look upon,” but it also means “to look” absolutely, and coupled with the preposition prov” can hardly mean anything except “look to.” Indeed, even where the preposition is ejpiv, as it is in Micah 7:7, the meaning can be nothing other than “I will look to the Lord.” Looking upon is out of the question.

Observe, then, the real meaning of this text. First of all, before the “looking” which is spoken of, the spirit of grace and of supplications is poured out upon them. They then look unto him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him. Then the fountain for sin and uncleanness is opened to them. They are converted to Christ. But all of this takes place before his coming. We see these converted Jews in the last half of the seventieth week in Revelation 12. In verse 17 we read, “And the dragon was wroth with the woman [which is Israel], and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” These are those very “Jews,” men “in the flesh, who will still be left on the earth after the rapture of the saints,” of whom A. J. Gordon speaks. Their conversion takes place indeed after the rapture of the church, but assuredly before the second advent of Christ to the earth. They are kept through that hour of judgement, precisely as Noah was in his day. The church will be kept from that hour of judgement (Rev. 3:10)—-not kept through it, as Noah was, but kept from it, raptured before the hour of judgement comes, as Enoch was.

In the twelfth chapter of Zechariah, then, what we see is the conversion of the Jews, when they “look unto him whom they have pierced,” before his return in his glory. This is followed in chapter 13 by great judgements in the land, in which two thirds of the people are cut off, and in chapter 14 by the personal return of Christ to the earth, when “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives.” If they have not turned to him in repentance and faith before his return, it will surely be too late for them to do so then. They will then be the stubble which shall be burnt up.

The other text which Gordon cites is Romans 11:26, which says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” To turn away ungodliness from Jacob obviously means to save the Jews from sin, as the context explains: “so all Israel shall be saved.” The question is, how and when shall this be done? What, in other words, does it mean for the deliverer to “come out of Sion”? The expression itself seems a little strange, and the more so when we consider that the Old Testament scripture which is apparently here quoted says something quite different. That scripture (Is. 59:20) says, “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob.” This certainly may refer to the coming of Christ. But in quoting the verse, Paul deliberately sets aside the Hebrew, changing “to” to “out of.” And though he quotes the rest of the verse verbatim from the Septuagint, he sets aside its preposition also (“for the sake of”), and uses his own preposition, “out of.” Now we hardly need point out that to come out of Zion is not the same thing as to come to it. The verse as it stands in the Hebrew, and in the English translation in the Old Testament, may very well refer to the coming of Christ. But as Paul alters it in his quotation it evidently refers to something else. He cites the verse in support of his present thesis, to prove that “all Israel shall be saved.” The part of the quotation which proves that point is “shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob,” which is the Septuagint version. But in citing this (under the direction of the Spirit of God as we surely believe), Paul alters the preposition, apparently on purpose to avoid any possible reference to the second coming of Christ. When Christ appears, those who are ungodly will not be converted, but destroyed.

A. J. Gordon’s doctrine, then, that ungodly Jews and Gentiles will be converted as a result of Christ’s coming, is a mere necessity of his post-tribulational system. Scriptural proof of it he has none. We quite agree with him that there shall be men “in the flesh…left on the earth after the rapture of the saints” of the present dispensation. There must be if there is to be any such millennium as is foretold throughout all of the prophetic Scriptures. But to suppose that any of them will be converted as a result of Christ’s advent to earth stands in direct contradiction to all of those plain proofs we have given of the universal destruction which awaits all of the ungodly “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Thes. 1:7-8). To all such the Lord now thunders out his warning: “Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20).

Christ’s return to earth will be a day of universal and unsparing judgement upon all the ungodly. No doubt (as the scripture I am about to quote plainly indicates) many of them will cry to him for mercy then, but it will be too late. The door of mercy will be shut. “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets, but he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:25-29). The time when this takes place is very plainly indicated, by the time words which I have emphasized, and by the events described. The time, without the slightest question, is the advent of Christ to earth to establish his kingdom. All the workers of iniquity (and this scripture obviously refers to ungodly Jews) will then be excluded, for the door of mercy has been shut, as surely as it was when God shut the door of the ark before the flood.

For many centuries the Lord has spoken in mercy, while sinners have raged and imagined vain things, taken counsel against the Lord and against his Christ, and broken their bands asunder and cast away their cords from them. But “Then will he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure, [saying], yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Psalm 2:5-8). The time of his speaking to them in his wrath is plainly indicated as the time of his setting his king upon Zion—-the establishment of the millennial kingdom at the return of Christ—-and this, by the way, is equally destructive of the ammillennial and the post-tribulational positions. The last verse quoted has often been used to stir missionary zeal, as though this were a promise to convert the heathen. But it is no such thing, but a warning of unsparing and universal judgement upon them, when God sets his king upon Zion. “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” There is no mercy here, and certainly no salvation. And this exactly agrees with all the rest of the prophetic Scriptures of both Testaments. The Psalm goes on, “Be wise now therefore, O ye kings”—-now, while the door of mercy is still open. Now you may yet be converted and saved, but then there will not be the least hope of such a thing.

To conclude, if all of the godly shall meet the Lord in the air and be glorified together when Christ comes to receive them to himself (as all post-tribulationists believe), and all of the ungodly shall be judged and destroyed when Christ comes to earth to establish his kingdom (as we have plainly shown), then if those two events occur at one and the same time, there can be no millennium, precisely because there will be no one left on earth to enter into it. But if the rapture of the church and the coming of Christ to establish the kingdom are two distinct events, with a period of time between them, then all is plain and harmonious. The whole church of God is raptured as Enoch was before the judgement is poured out. There follow the seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week, during which time the Lord deals with the Jews as the hated and rejected Joseph (already in possession of his Gentile bride) did with his brethren during the seven years of famine, to convict them and bring them to repentance concerning the one main point of their rejection of himself. The spirit of grace and of supplications will be poured out upon them. They will look unto him whom they have pierced, and mourn for him. A fountain will be opened to them for sin and for uncleanness, and “so all Israel shall be saved.” They will be preserved when the judgement of God overtakes all the ungodly, as Noah was in the ark, and will enter the kingdom of God which Christ will establish on earth. Post-tribulationists, then, have but two alternatives: they may go back to amillennialism, or forward to pretribulationism. There is no standing ground between them.

Glenn Conjurske