Judgment Seat of Christ
Arlen L. Chitwood
Kings of the Kingdom
And He has on His robe and on
His thigh a name written:
All Scripture, beginning with the writings of Moses, moves toward one great climactic event — that future day when the Stone “cut out without hands” smites “the image,” becomes “a great mountain,” and fills “the whole earth” (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; cf. Isaiah 2:2-4). The reference is to the coming kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of our Lord, succeeding the kingdom of this world — the present kingdom under Satan (Revelation 11:15). The entire creation is presently groaning and travailing in pain together, waiting for that future day (Romans 8:17-23).
Revelation 19:11-20:6 — revealing the return of Christ, the overthrow of the kings and rulers of the earth, the binding of Satan, and Christ’s millennial reign — sets forth, in very brief, concise form, concluding events toward which the whole of Scripture moves. Details surrounding these events are not given in Revelation 19:11ff; such is not only unnecessary but it would be out of place.
God has outlined all the details in connection with His Son’s return and subsequent events as set forth in Revelation 19:11-20:6 in preceding sections of Scripture, beginning with the writings of Moses and continuing through the historical books, the Psalms, and the Prophets; and when one progressively reads through the Scriptures, eventually arriving at Revelation 19:11ff, all the details have already been made known. The hundreds and hundreds of pages leading up to Revelation 19:11ff anticipate that which is stated in these verses; and at this point in Scripture there is no need for anything beyond brief, concise statements concerning the realization of all the preceding great prophecies of Scripture.
In this respect, the ever-present controversy in Christian circles concerning the literal nature of or the time of the fulfillment of portions of Revelation 19:11-20:6 is of no moment, for all such controversy invariably stems from attempts to understand this section of Scripture apart from preceding Scripture. And this is simply not possible, for this is not the way in which God structured His Word.
Should an individual, for example, want to raise questions concerning the Messianic Era seen in Revelation 20:2-7, questioning the literality of the thousand years mentioned six times in these six verses (as so many do), he must go back to the writings of “Moses and all the prophets” and raise questions concerning that which is stated about the one thousand years in these sections of Scripture first.
But not a single one of these individuals ever does this, for they can’t do this and continue to raise the negative type of questions that are being asked concerning the one thousand years in Revelation 20:2-7. Beginning at Moses, in this realm of study, would result in a correction of all false ideology on the subject and dispel any doubts concerning either the literal nature of or the time of the fulfillment of the one thousand years in Revelation chapter twenty.
The pattern that God uses to restore a ruined creation has forever been set forth in the opening verses of Genesis (Genesis 1:2b-2:3). God worked six days and rested the seventh in the original restoration (made necessary because of the ruin resulting from Satan’s fall), and He will work six more days and rest the seventh in a restoration during Man’s Day (made necessary because of the ruin resulting from man’s fall). Each day in the latter restoration is one thousand years in length (2 Peter 3:8; cf. Exodus 31:12-17), providing six thousand years of work, followed by one thousand years of rest.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing [lit., ‘stop being ignorant of this one thing’], that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
(The preceding verse from 2 Peter 3:8 appears toward the end of a book that was written in completely keeping with the septenary structure established at the beginning of Scripture. This book has a built-in septenary structure, climaxed by this explanatory verse in chapter three [2 Peter 1:15-18; 3:3-8; cf. Matthew 16:28-17:5].)
The day of rest in Genesis 2:2, 3 (the seventh day) was just as literal and of the same duration as each one of the preceding six days in chapter one; and the septenary structure of Scripture, beginning in this opening section of Scripture, demands a literal one-thousand-year period of rest (the seventh day [the seventh millennium]) following six one-thousand-year periods of work (six days [six millennia]). And so it is with reference to all other consummative events in Revelation 19:11-20:6.
The critics, commenting on John’s writings, must either base their arguments upon the writings of “Moses and all the prophets” or they must refrain from comment.
Nathaniel West, in his classic book, The Thousand Years in Both Testaments, possibly best states this parallel between the Old and New Testament Scriptures best — a parallel that must be recognized:
“We speak of the ‘Last Things.’ The Greek term for this is ‘Eschata’. . . If we study the Eschatology of the Old Testament, we will find the Eschata there identical with the Eschata of the New Testament and the Eschatology of both Testaments the same . . . Such is the organic and genetic character of revelation and of prophecy that if ‘the thousand years’ are not in Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets, they have no right to be in John. To understand the prophets it is necessary, however, to understand the Apocalypse, and to understand the Apocalypse it is necessary to understand the prophets. The one is light to the other, and reciprocally.”
(For a fuller discussion of the septenary structure of Scripture, refer to the author’s book, The Study of Scripture, chapters 2-4.)
To Receive a Kingdom
According to the parable of the pounds in Luke chapter nineteen, Christ (“a certain nobleman”) returned to heaven (“a far country”) for one declared purpose: “to receive for Himself a kingdom and to return” (v. 12). The time that He will spend in heaven (2,000 years [two days]), His present position in heaven (seated at His Father’s right hand), and His present ministry in heaven (High Priest), all anticipate the Son of Man coming into possession of the kingdom, and then returning.
This is the goal toward which the entire program of God has been moving since man’s creation almost 6,000 years ago, this is the goal toward which everything must continue moving, and this is the goal that must ultimately be reached.
1) Time between Departure and Reception
When Christ offered to Israel the kingdom of the heavens at His first advent, a nation existed that could move in and take the kingdom.
The same had been true in prior years when the offer of the earthly segment of the kingdom was opened to Israel under Moses. God, through “Jacob,” had previously brought into existence a separate, distinct creation (Isaiah 43:1); and a nation, set apart from all the other nations, had emanated from this creation. This nation had been redeemed in Egypt, with a view to the people of God being removed from Egypt and receiving an inheritance as a “kingdom of priests” in the land of Canaan.
Israel, however, because of disobedience, failed to realize the fullness of this inheritance. And the Jewish peoples’ disobedience eventually resulted in their being uprooted from their land and scattered among the Gentile nations.
Then, fifteen hundred years later when the heavenly segment of the kingdom was opened to the nation, the offer was spurned; and after Christ had turned from Israel with the offer of the kingdom of the heavens to “a nation bearing the fruit of it” (cf. Matthew 13:1; 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9, 10), an interval of time had to exist before the kingdom could be established.
The nation to which Christ referred in Matthew 21:43 was not in existence at this time; and to bring about the existence of this nation, it was necessary for God to create an entirely new entity in the human race — one separate and distinct from either Jew or Gentile.
God brought the one new man “in Christ” into existence to be the recipient of the offer that Israel rejected (Ephesians 2:12-15; 3:1-6). And, as with the old creation in Jacob, so with the new creation “in Christ”: a period of time had to elapse between the time when the one new man was brought into existence and the time when this new man would realize the reason for his existence. This was necessary in order to allow time for this separate, distinct entity to be built up and made ready for the task at hand.
This new man is comprised solely of Christians, taken from among both the Jews and the Gentiles. A Jew or a Gentile who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ becomes a part of this new man, ceasing to be a Jew or a Gentile. By and through the immersion in the Spirit, he becomes a new creation “in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). And every new creation “in Christ” — whether removed from the Jews or from the Gentiles — becomes part of the same body, which God looks upon as one new man (Ephesians 2:13-15; 3:1-6; cf. Galatians 6:15).
(For a fuller discussion of the “one new man” in the preceding respect, refer to the author’s books, The Study of Scripture, Chapter 6, and Search for the Bride, Chapters 7 and 8.)
Then, the one new man “in Christ” has been brought into existence for particular, revealed purposes; and these purposes center on the future realization of an inheritance in heavenly places. Just as the Israelites under Moses were redeemed by and through the blood of the paschal lambs while in Egypt, Christians have been redeemed by and through the blood of the Passover Lamb while in the world; and just as the Israelites were redeemed to realize an inheritance in a land removed from Egypt (upon the earth), Christians have been redeemed to realize an inheritance in a land removed from the earth (in the heavens).
The present dispensation is the time during which God is building His Church, the one new man. The coming kingdom, a worldwide kingdom, will require vast numbers of rulers to exercise power and authority in all the various offices; and God is taking the time in which we presently live (two days, two thousand years — a separate dispensation) to assemble His rulers. Man is being saved today with a view to this rule, and he will appear before the judgment seat of Christ with this same end in view. Only then will the kingdom be established.
2) Present Position of the Son
Christ today is seated at the right hand of His Father on His Father’s throne, but this is a temporary position. He is to one day sit on His own throne; and in a corresponding fashion, just as Christ presently sits with His Father on His Father’s throne, Christians are destined to sit with Christ when He occupies His own throne (Revelation 3:21).
Christ, by invitation, is seated on the throne with His Father; and, seated with His Father; He is awaiting the reception of a “kingdom” and the reduction of His enemies to the position of His “footstool.”
During the time when He is seated with His Father, the ones in a position to inherit with the Son in the coming kingdom are being extended an invitation to sit with the Son on His throne; and things are being brought into a state of readiness for the great climactic events that will terminate this dispensation. Within God’s sovereign control of affairs and purpose for the present dispensation, there is complete, divine order. Men and nations, in one sense of the word, are being moved as one would move pawns on a chessboard; and everything is moving on schedule.
Christ will vacate His present position with the Father at the time of Revelation 19:11ff, anticipating the establishment of His own throne. The kingdom will have been delivered into His hands by the Father, and He will come forth as the “King of kings, and Lord of lords” to strike the final blow against “the kingdom of this world,” the “great image” in Daniel chapter two. There will then come into existence “a great mountain,” the kingdom of Christ, which will cover “the whole earth.”
3) Present High Priestly Ministry of the Son
Christ is presently exercising the office of High Priest on behalf of Christians. He is ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, on the basis of His own blood, for Christians who sin. Christians presently reside in a body of death; they still possess the old sin nature.
And Christians, falling into sin, must have a High Priest to effect cleansing from their sins. The high priestly ministry of Christ is for the heirs of the kingdom. It has nothing at all to do with the issue of our presently possessed eternal salvation. In the camp of Israel, the ministry of the Levitical priests was for those who had already appropriated the blood of the paschal lambs. It was for the cleansing of a people destined to become “a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6; cf. Hebrews 9:1-7). And in Christendom, the work of Christ as High Priest, typified by the work of the high priest in the camp of Israel, is for the same purpose. It is for the cleansing of a people destined to be “kings and priests” (Revelation 5:10; cf. Hebrews 9:11, 12, 24).
God would have His people clean for both present and future purposes. According to the epistle of 1 John, God desires to have a present reciprocal fellowship with a cleansed people. Cleansing makes fellowship possible, and the entire matter is with a view to the return of Christ and attendant events (1:3-2:2; cf. 3:6-9; 4:16, 17).
Christians, in 1 John 2:28 have been instructed:
And now, little children, abide in Him [i.e., live in a state of continuous, close fellowship ‘with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ’]; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
In this respect, Christ’s high priestly ministry is a vital present provision for the future heirs of the kingdom.
Christ gave Himself for the Church,
That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word,
that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:26, 27)
This aspect of Christ’s present ministry is possibly best illustrated by the incident in John chapter thirteen where Christ girded Himself, took a basin of water, and began to wash the disciples’ feet (13:4ff). Peter, not understanding at all the significance of that which was happening, refused to allow Christ to wash his feet. Upon his refusal, Jesus responded,
If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me. (v. 8)
Then Peter, comprehending at least the gravity of the latter part of Christ’s statement, said,
Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. (v. 9)
In other words, if a washing is what it would take in order to have a part with Christ, Peter didn’t want the washing limited to just his feet. Rather, he wanted his entire body washed.
However, Jesus replied,
He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. (v. 10)
In the Greek text of John 13:8-10, there are two different words used for “wash.” The word used in verse eight (in both occurrences) and in the latter part of verse ten is nipto, referring to “washing a part of the body”; and the word used in the first part of verse ten is louo, referring to “washing the complete body.” Further, the word louo in verse ten appears in a perfect tense, showing a past, completed action with the results of this action existing during present time in a finished state. Such an act reveals a washing that occurred in the past, with the person who was washed continuing in the present as a cleansed person on the basis of that which occurred in the past. Thus, any thought of the cleansed person undergoing another washing of this nature would be completely out of place, for he presently exists in a continuing state as cleansed.
Peter’s entire body had already been washed; but now, in order to have a part with Christ, he must avail himself of the partial washing to which Christ referred.
The entire matter is highly symbolic of a “complete washing” that Christians received in the past and “partial washings” that Christians receive during the present. The complete washing results in eternal salvation, but the partial washings are necessary if one is to have a part “with Christ” in His kingdom. The complete washing — viewed from the perfect tense usage of louo in John 13:10 — is a one-time, past occurrence, which can never be repeated. But the partial washings, set forth by the word nipto, are something else altogether. Subsequent partial washings have to do with a present, continuing cleansing made possible because of the one-time, past cleansing.
On the basis of the past, finished work of Christ, redeemed man has been saved by grace through faith. In Ephesians 2:8, the words “are you saved [lit. ‘you have been saved’]” are the translation of a perfect tense in the Greek text, the same as the word louo in John 13:10.
Redeemed man possesses a salvation, based on a past, completed act (Christ’s work on Calvary), which presently exists in a finished state. Everything has already been done on his behalf. He had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter simply because there was nothing that he could do.
He was “dead in trespasses and sins,” completely incapable of doing anything in the spiritual realm (Ephesians 2:1ff).
He has been washed completely (louo) by Another, and presently stands justified before God. This is an act performed once. It can never be altered or nullified. It is just as secure as the finished work of Christ on Calvary, for it is based entirely upon this work; and Christ, in John 19:30, said of His work, “It is finished [lit. ‘It has been finished’ (another perfect tense usage in the Greek text)].”
Teachings in the realm of complete and partial washings, as set forth in John 13:8-10, are drawn from the experiences of the Levitical priests in the camp of Israel. Upon their entrance into the priesthood, a washing of the entire body occurred (Exodus 29:4; cf. Exodus 40:12-15); then, after they had entered the priesthood, washings of parts of the body had to occur (Exodus 30:21; cf. Exodus 40:30-32).
The Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament) uses the words louo and nipto respectively in these passages, in perfect accord with John 13:8-10 and corresponding teachings throughout Scripture relative to complete and partial washings of the people of God. The hands and feet of the Levitical priests became soiled in their ministry between the brazen altar and the Holy Place of the tabernacle, and a necessary cleansing occurred at a brazen laver in the courtyard.
This laver was located part way between the brazen altar and the Holy Place and had upper and lower basins filled with water to wash the hands and feet of the priests. Levitical priests, carrying on their ministries, had to wash these parts of their bodies before ministering at the brazen altar and before their entrance into the Holy Place. This is the partial washings in the type and the partial washings in view in John 13:8-10.
The washing of parts of the bodies of the Old Testament Levitical priests is highly typical of the relationship that Christ, in His high priestly ministry, has to New Testament priests (Christians). This is the teaching brought out in 1 John 1:6-2:2; and these verses must be understood in the light of the Old Testament type, also taking into account events occurring on the Day of Atonement when the high priest placed blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies (cf. Hebrews 9:1ff).
A Christian walking “in the light” (1 John 1:7) is one who has availed himself of the antitype of cleansing at the laver. Cleansing occurs as we confess our sins, on the basis of Christ’s blood on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the heavenly tabernacle (v. 9; cf. 2:1, 2). The cleansed person is able to “walk in the light” (in the Holy Place) and have “fellowship . . . with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.” The Christian walking “in darkness” (v. 6) though is one who has not availed himself of the antitype of cleansing at the laver. He remains in the darkened courtyard outside the Holy Place. He remains on the wrong side of the laver, leaving him estranged from the experience of “fellowship.”
Christians have a “great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (Hebrews 4:14); and if Christians would have a part with Christ in that coming day, they must avail themselves of His present high priestly ministry. They must allow Christ to wash their feet; they must avail themselves of the laver; they must keep themselves clean through confession of sin.
And to Return
Christ’s departure to receive a kingdom would hold little meaning apart from His return. The kingdom has to do with a rule of God’s firstborn Sons, realizing the rights of primogeniture; it has to do with a rule on and over this earth; and it has to do with the personal presence of Christ and His co-heirs. There is no such thing as either a rule during the present day or a future rule in some far off heaven fulfilling any of the biblical prophecies concerning the kingdom of Christ, which is to replace the kingdom of this world.
1) Christ’s Termination of His present ministry
Christ’s present ministry is being performed strictly on behalf of sinning Christians; and once Christians have been removed from the earth to appear before the judgment seat, Christ will then perform another work. He will, at that time, no longer be the Christians’ High Priest. Rather, He will be their Judge.
The epistle of First John begins with the high priestly ministry of Christ during the present time, but the book of Revelation moves beyond this point and begins with judgment following Christ’s present high priestly ministry. And Christ’s continuing ministry in the latter respect (as Judge) will have its basis in the former (His present ministry as High Priest).
There can be no future judgment for Christians relative to anything that surrounds their eternal salvation, for God has already judged sin in the person of His Son at Calvary; and God is satisfied with His Son’s finished work.
To ever bring anything related to man’s eternal salvation into judgment (beyond Calvary) would be to judge once again that which has already been judged. Thus, the judgment seat of Christ can be operable in one realm alone — that which occurred in the life of the individual following his passing “from death to life.”
And whether or not Christians avail themselves of Christ’s ministry in the sanctuary during the present dispensation — a ministry solely on behalf of sinning Christians — will have a direct bearing on issues and determinations emanating from the judgment seat.
Christ is presently providing a cleansing from the defilement of this world for those destined to be “kings and priests” during the coming age. A present washing (described by the word nipto) is being provided for those who have already been washed (described by the word louo). Since the latter washing is not in view at all in the work of Christ as High Priest, only the former can have any bearing on decisions and determinations after Christ assumes His role as Judge.
A washing of the entire body (effecting his eternal salvation) places one in a position where he can enter into the experiences set forth in the epistle of 1 John; and it is the manner in which he enters into these experiences alone that find their association with Christ appearing as Judge in the midst of the seven churches in Revelation chapter one.
The words, “For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31), set forth truths concerning Christ as both High Priest and Judge. The immediate context of this passage in 1 Corinthians refers to Christians either judging or not judging themselves relative to partaking of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (vv. 17-29).
Those judging themselves in Corinth had been forgiven of their actions; they had been cleansed by their High Priest. Those, however, refusing to judge themselves remained defiled; and only judgment by Another could then occur. Many of the defiled were “weak and sickly,” and many had “died” (v. 30). Judgment by Another had resulted in loss, and the ultimate result was a loss of life.
In the larger scope of the matter, this is exactly what is in view relative to Christians either judging themselves during the present dispensation or being judged by Another at the conclusion of the dispensation.
Christians who judge themselves now will be cleansed by their High Priest. Those, however, who refuse to judge themselves will remain defiled; and only judgment by Another awaits them. Judgment by Another will result in loss (1 Corinthians 3:15), and the ultimate result will be the loss of one’s soul/life (Matthew 16:25-27; James 5:19, 20).
2) Christ’s Entrance upon His Future Ministry
Christ’s return as “King of king and Lord of lords” portends many kings and many lords. Christ will rule in the supreme position over all from His own throne in the heavenly Jerusalem and from David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem. Under Christ there will be a complete structural breakdown of powers and authorities in both spheres of the kingdom — in the heavens and upon the earth. Christ will be “King,” and there will be other “kings”; Christ will be “Lord,” and there will be other “lords.”
Those in the heavens will evidently rule through counterparts upon the earth. This is the way God has seen fit to establish the heavenly and earthly spheres of the present kingdom under Satan, and there is no reason to believe that the coming kingdom under Christ will be established after any other fashion.
God’s rule in the present kingdom begins at His throne in the “uttermost parts of the north” (Isaiah 14:13, ASV). It then progresses to the earth through the existing kingdom of the heavens under Satan. “The heavens do rule”; and God, in His sovereignty (even with Satan in his present fallen and rebellious state), “rules in the kingdom of men” after this fashion (Daniel 4:25, 26).
In Daniel, chapter ten, God provides a glimpse into the way rulers have been positioned in the present heavenly and earthly spheres of the kingdom. Daniel had been “mourning” for three full weeks when a messenger from heaven appeared. This messenger had been dispatched at the very outset of Daniel’s “mourning,” but he had been detained for twenty-one days in the heavenly sphere of the kingdom by “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.” Michael came to assist, and the messenger remained in the heavens with “the kings of Persia” until he was free to resume his journey on to the earth (vv. 2, 12, 13).
In the heavens, there was a “prince of the kingdom of Persia,” with lesser rulers under him — “the kings of Persia.” And here upon the earth, there was also a king of Persia, with lesser rulers under him.
Rulers in the heavens possessed counterparts upon the earth, and the complete rule of the heavens over the earth began at God’s throne and progressed from there through the heavenly sphere of the earth’s kingdom to the earthly sphere of the earth’s kingdom (even though progressing through rebel princes in the heavens, and continuing through fallen man on the earth). In relation to the earth, God, in His sovereign control of all things, ruled in this manner in the past; and He continues to rule in this same manner today.
The “prince of Greece” and “Michael your prince [the prince of Israel]” are also mentioned in this same passage in Daniel (vv. 20, 21). And this reveals a sharp difference in the existing heavenly governmental rulers placed over the Gentile nations on the one hand and Israel on the other.
The heavenly governmental rulers placed over the Gentile nations are revealed to be Satan and his angels. But the heavenly governmental ruler (or rulers) placed over Israel, a people not to be “reckoned among the nations [Gentile nations]” (Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 14:2), has been established apart from the rule of Satan and his angels.
“Michael” is Israel’s prince (with apparently lesser princes under him, as seen among the Gentile nations’ heavenly governmental structure); and Michael (along with any lesser princes) does not rule in the present kingdom of the heavens under Satan. Thus, any existing heavenly government associated with Israel’s earthly government must emanate from that part of the heavens where Michael dwells, not from that part of the heavens where Satan dwells.
(Note that the preceding structure of Israel’s government was necessary for the existence of the Old Testament theocracy. God ruled in the midst of His people on earth, and God could not have ruled in the midst of a nation that was, as well, under Satan’s governmental control and sway.)
God rules in “the kingdom of men” in this manner. And, though Satan has been allowed to continue occupying the throne for a time, and fallen man has been allowed to rule on earth (under Satan) for a time, all matters pertaining to the earth’s government still remain under God’s complete sovereign control.
In the coming kingdom of Christ, a marked distinction between Israel and the Gentile nations will continue to exist, both upon the earth and in the heavens.
Upon the earth, Israel will be placed at the head of the nations as a “kingdom of priests.” Israel will bear rule over the nations, and the nations will be blessed through Israel (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18; Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 15:6; 28:1).
In the heavens, it seems apparent that there will be a marked distinction between rulers associated with Israel and rulers associated with the Gentile nations. Individuals during the present dispensation, with the exception of the twelve apostles, have been promised positions of power and authority only over the Gentiles, never over Israel.
According to Christ’s words recorded in Matthew 19:27, 28, addresseing Peter’s question, the twelve disciples (Judas being replaced) are to sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel:
Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all, and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit, on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
But all other Christians, according to the overcomer’s promise to the Church in Sardis, in Revelation 2:26, 27, possess a regal promise associated only with the Gentile nations:
And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—
He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels—as I also have received from My Father.
Note also in Revelation 15:2-4 that Tribulation martyrs will evidently bear rule only over the Gentile nations as well, referred to by their position in relation to “the sea of glass,” with the victor’s song on the eastern banks of the Red Sea from Exodus chapter fifteen in view (with “the sea” in both instances pointing to the Gentiles [cf. Revelation 7:9-17; 20:4-6]).
Who then, other than the twelve, will comprise the rulers placed over Israel in the heavenly sphere of the kingdom? Scripture doesn’t say, but these positions will, in all likelihood, be occupied by Old Testament saints who qualified to rule from the heavens.
Numerous Old Testament saints sought “a better country, that is, a heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16; cf. Matthew 8:11, 12; Luke 13:28, 29); and the fact that Israel spurned this offer at Christ’s first coming (resulting in the kingdom of the heavens being taken from Israel) can have no bearing on the previous actions of many Israelites who, during Old Testament days, qualified to occupy positions therein. These Old Testament saints will not be denied their promised inheritance, and will, in all probability, occupy positions in the heavens over Israel rather than over the Gentile nations.
In this respect, there will be two segments in the heavenly kingdom under Christ, corresponding to the two segments in the earthly kingdom under Christ, i.e., one in relation to the nation of Israel and the other in relation to the Gentile nations.
A rule by man during the coming age will emanate from Jerusalem above and from Jerusalem below. Christ will have a joint-reign, seated on His own throne in the heavenly Jerusalem and seated on David’s throne in the earthly Jerusalem.
Then there is the matter of David himself being raised up to sit on his own throne in the midst of his people, Israel, along with the greater Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Ezekiel 34:23; 37:24; Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:29, 30). David, as Christ, may very well have a dual reign, both from the heavens and upon the earth (cf. Matthew 8:11, 12; Luke 13:28, 29).
Then note that those comprising the man-child in Revelation chapter twelve — the 144,000 of Revelation chapters seven and fourteen — are specifically said to exercise regal power over the Gentile nations rather than over Israel:
She [the woman, Israel] bore a male child, who was to rule [lit., ‘a son, a male, who is about to rule’] all nations with a rod of iron . . . . (v. 5a)
(For additional information on the male child/the 144,000 in Revelation 7, 12, 14, refer to the author’s book, The Time of the End, Chapters 21 and 26, “A Woman, a Dragon, a Man-Child” and “The One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand.”)
There will be numerous positions of power and authority in the kingdom under Christ, both in the heavens and upon the earth. And the whole of the kingdom will be perfect in its God-designed order and structure.
The day is near at hand when “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” Christians, as they exercise “patience [‘patient endurance’ in the trials and testing of life during the present time],” performing “the will of God,” are to retain their “confidence” in “the promise” of a “great recompense of reward” (Hebrews 10:35-37). Rewards for faithful Christians will issue from findings and determinations at the judgment seat, and these rewards will be realized in their fullness during that coming day.
Many sons will be brought “to glory” (Hebrews 2:10), and these sons will reign as “kings” with the “King of kings.” They will occupy the throne with Christ and, with Him, realize the rights of the firstborn, the rights of primogeniture.