Chapter 16 "The Tares are Gathered and Burned in the Fire."

Matt. 13:40.

That a faithful remnant of Israel shall be found in their land and elsewhere, oppressed under the heel of antichrist, when the Lord shall appear with His saints for their deliverance and the destruction of the oppressor, has been already shown in chapters 7 and 8.

“Every one that shall be found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1) shall at that time be delivered. An elect company, sealed and preserved, shall be brought through that fearful passage of tribulation and judgment, and ushered into the brightness and peace of “the morning without clouds” (2 Sam. 23:4) which shall yet dawn upon this dark and ruined world.

“The sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: but the man who shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with lire in the same place.” (2 Sam. 23:6, 7.)

They shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power, because they “believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thess. 2:12.)

As has already been shown, this execution of vengeance will be at the very time of the Lord’s appearing with His saints—as if by a single stroke—instantaneous as the lightning’s flash.

It was foreshadowed on the night of the passover, when at midnight there was a cry raised throughout all the land of Egypt; and again in the destruction in one night of 185,000 of Sennacherib’s host.

As this destruction will take place when many nations are gathered together against Jerusalem in one immense and apparently invincible army, though local, its effects will be felt through every corner of the vast confederate empire of “the beast.” But the Lord will not stop with the destruction of those who composed the assailing army. Many of the faithful remnant shall have been scattered through every nation; and their presence, wherever they were carried, would be a test of the real disposition, for or against God, of those amongst whom they dwelt.

And this is the test the Lord will apply: “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” (Matt. 25:31, 32.)

Now, this passage has been generally supposed to teach that all people, of all times and of all nations, would be raised from the dead, and judged together by the Lord; and that then, and not till then, could it be known whether one was really the Lord’s or not. That is said to be the “decisive hour” which will fix the eternal destiny of all mankind.

But, strange to say, there is not a word in this chapter about resurrection at all; it is the living nations (“Ethnos,” or “Gentiles”) who are gathered before the Son of man. And as He shall then have come in His glory, “the saints” shall be in company with Him as co-assessors in the judgment, and not at His bar to be judged.

It would seem as though the saved and blessed remnant of Israel were gathered in the Lord’s immediate presence; and that, according to their treatment of these, “His brethren,” in the time of their tribulation, is determined the character as righteous or wicked of all those who are before Him in judgment.

Being Gentiles, they are not judged by the law: if they perish, they perish without law; but the true condition of their hearts is thoroughly revealed by the reception or rejection of those “who kept the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Rev. 14:12.)

And it is even so now. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14); “And every one that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him.” (1 John 5:1.) Alas for those who profess to be Christians, but whose hearts know no attraction to those “who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Their profession may pass among men, but at the bar of God it will be torn aside. And “what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?” (Job 27:8.)

From this tribunal the righteous “go away into eternal life.” We do not read that, like the church, they are caught up or transfigured; it may be that, even halt or maimed, they pass from that throne of judgment, but they enter upon the possession and enjoyment of eternal life. It will be easy for Him who cured the halt and the maimed before to restore them to perfect soundness again; but “it will be better to enter into life holt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into hell fire.” (Matt, 18:8.)

The wicked “go away into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” No mercy is offered; no space for repentance given. The time has come to gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and to cast them into a furnace of fire, where there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 13:42.)

So long ago as the days of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel had been rent in two; Judah and Benjamin forming the one kingdom, and the other ten tribes under Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, forming a separate kingdom, and setting up an independent and apostate order of worship, having resemblance to the true order appointed by God at Jerusalem. (See 1 Kings 12) To this day these two kingdoms have never been reunited; but numerous and explicit are the prophecies which foretell that they shall again be one in their own land. Suffice it to refer to that in Ezekiel 37:15, &c, where, under the figure of the two sticks becoming one in the prophet’s hand, it is clearly shown that such is the purpose of God concerning Israel. “Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all.”

Many are the speculative theories that have been adduced to explain the mystery of the lost ten tribes, each having a certain amount of plausibility, and some not a little ingenuity; but still it remains unsolved, and we may conclude that it will remain a mystery until the Lord comes; for as they are being brought from all nations whither they had been scattered, the remnant, like a bereaved and captive mother, finding again her long-lost children, is represented as saying, “Who hath begotten me these, seeing I have lost my children, and am desolate, a captive, removing to and fro? and who hath brought up these? Behold, I was left alone; these, where had they been?” (Isaiah 49:21.)

Thus, their return is like a resurrection; the Lord alone knows who and where they are, and He that scattered shall gather.

But ere establishing the whole nation in their land there must also be a judgment and a purging of these gathered outcasts. “I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered… And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord God. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against Me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” (Ezek. 20:34-38.)

Thus, as the tares were gathered in bundles to be burned, so company after company of the ungodly, whether Jew or Gentile, shall be gathered for judgment, and then “shall the work of righteousness be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.” (Isaiah 32:17.)