The Most High Ruleth
By Arlen L. Chitwood
From the Heavens Over the Earth
Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings that arise out of the earth.
But the saints of the Most High [lit., “the saints of the high places”] shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. (Daniel 7:17, 18)
The final form of the kingdom of Babylon as it will exist under its last king, Antichrist, will be a conglomerate of the whole of the kingdom as it is seen in the book of Daniel. When the Stone strikes the image at its feet (feet “part of iron, and part of clay,” describing the kingdom in its last days under Antichrist), Scripture states that the Stone will break in pieces together “the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold [depicting the kingdom in its final form — a composite form of the whole of the kingdom, viewed from the days of Antichrist back to the days of Nebuchadnezzar]” (Daniel 2:32-35, 44, 45).
The Stone striking the image at its feet forms the biblical description of Babylon’s prophesied destruction. Throughout “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24), Babylon has never been destroyed. It has been conquered several times and has faded into obscurity, but it has never been destroyed.
And Babylon must not only be destroyed, but, according to the prophecies in Daniel, it must be destroyed at a particular time and after a particular fashion. It must be destroyed at the end of “the times of the Gentiles” (actually, the destruction of Babylon is the event that will mark the end “the times of the Gentiles,” for Gentile world power will be centered in Babylon at that time), and it must be destroyed after such a fashion that the kingdom depicted by the entire image — from the head of gold to the feet part of iron and part of clay, the kingdom existing from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to the days of Antichrist — will be destroyed at the same time, never to rise again. This is what is meant by the iron, clay, brass, silver, and gold being “broken to pieces together,” becoming like the “chaff from the summer threshing floors,” and being carried away by “the wind” (Daniel 2:34, 35).
Thus, since the kingdom depicted by a part of the image has yet to appear (that part that is to be smitten), the composite form that the kingdom must take at the time of its destruction can only await the reemergence of Babylon in that future day. The image must be complete at the time of its destruction. This is not something that could have occurred at any point in history; nor can it occur today. It can occur only during the future days of Antichrist, during the days of the last king of Babylon.
And, remaining within this same line of thought, one can easily understand what is meant in Daniel 7:4-6, 11, 12 by the first three great beasts (likened to “a lion,” “a bear,” and “a leopard”) having their dominion “taken away” but their lives “prolonged for a season and time.” These beasts depict the kingdom as it existed from the days of Nebuchadnezzar to the days of Alexander the Great; and these three segments of the kingdom, though they have long since faded into obscurity, didn’t die. Rather, they are presented in the book of Daniel as living down through time, and they are further presented in the book as being alive as an integral part of the final form during the days of Antichrist.
All of the great beasts in Daniel 7:4-7 (a “beast” in this section of Scripture represents a form of the kingdom of Babylon [7:17, 23]) will be present together — comprising the final form of the Babylonian kingdom — and they will be destroyed together.
Note the first three great beasts in verse twelve in this respect. Their dominion was taken away (in history, not at the time of events in the previous verse, v. 11), but they continued to live, awaiting the days of Antichrist and the destruction of Babylon in its final form (occurring in v. 11).
Thus, the death (destruction) of the first three great beasts (v. 12) occurs at the same time as the death (destruction) of the fourth great beast — when the Stone strikes the image at its feet and breaks in pieces together “the iron, the clay [fourth beast], the brass [third beast], the silver [second beast], and the gold [first beast]” (v. 11; cf. Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45). Verse twelve simply provides additional information to help explain verse eleven and the preceding vision of the four great beasts, and these verses must be understood in the light of that which had previously been revealed about the image in chapter two.
Then, “the kingdom of the world [one world kingdom, with its governmental center in Babylon]” will become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ [a theocracy, with its governmental center in Jerusalem — Jerusalem above and Jerusalem below]” (Revelation 11:15, ASV). The kingdom will have previously been given to the Son by the Father (Daniel 7:13, 14; cf. Psalms 2:6-9); and the Son, at the time of His return, will then take possession of the kingdom, suddenly and swiftly, through force.
The Stone “cut out of the mountain without hands” will smite the image at a time when the kingdom will have reached its zenith of world power (note that for the first time in Babylon’s history all four parts of the image will be living together); and in this manner, Gentile world power will suddenly and swiftly be brought to an end (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; 7:11, 23-26; cf. Revelation 19:11-21).
(For additional information concerning that which is depicted by the image in Daniel chapter two and the four great beasts in Daniel chapter seven, refer to the author’s book, The Time of Jacob’s Trouble, chapter 3.
Also, note Theonomy — the “Kingdom Now” theology — with particularly respect to the prophecies in Daniel. Theonomy [very prevalent thought in certain segments of Christendom today, especially among those in Charismatic circles] teaches that the Church is to gradually take over the kingdoms of this world, through present spiritual-political means, etc. This is looked upon in the same sense as the leaven permeating the meal, “till the whole was leavened,” in Matthew 13:33 — a parable often misunderstood and used to depict the spread of that which is “good” rather than that which is “evil,” seeking, through this means, to give credence to false ideologies of this nature. And, viewing matters along these lines, would, correspondingly, form a major reason for Christians to involve themselves in the political structure of the present world system under Satan.
Theonomy is simply a reemergence of the old postmillennial ideology [restructured for the times, etc.], prevalent in Christendom during pre-WWII days. And it is no truer in its restructured form today than it was in its original form. According to Scripture, the Church can have no part — nor should the Church even seek to have a part — in bringing to pass the kingdoms of the present world system being controlled and governed by the Lord at the time of His return.
Rather, nothing can be done along the lines of a change in administration until that day when there is once again one world kingdom with its governmental center located in Babylon. It will be then, not before, that the Stone will strike the image at its feet; it will be then, not before, that “the kingdom of the world” will become “the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ” [Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45; Revelation 11:15]; and it will be then, not before, that “the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High [lit., ‘the saints of the high places’ (i.e., ‘heavenly places’)]…” [Daniel 7:23-27; cf. v. 18].
Also, in this same respect, as previously seen, “the times of the Gentiles” will end with the Stone striking the image at its feet, not before. Thus, this period, which began with Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, cannot end before Babylon appears in its final form under Antichrist.
Some have sought to teach that “the times of the Gentiles” came to an end when the Jews retook the old city of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War, allowing them to once again have access to the Temple Mount, with a view to rebuilding the temple. However, the Jews having access to or coming into possession of the Temple Mount has nothing to do with the matter. They possessed this Mount in history during “the times of the Gentiles” [from about 536 B.C. to 70 A.D.], and they will possess it once again in the immediate future during “the times of the Gentiles” [during the first part of the Tribulation, when the Jewish people rebuild their temple]. Aside from that, both Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2 specifically place the termination of “the times of the Gentiles” at the end of the Tribulation, which is when Babylon will be destroyed.)
Saints of the High Places
The scriptural references, “kingdom of the heavens” in the gospel of Matthew, “heavenly places” in Ephesians, and “heavenly calling” in Hebrews, do not form companion references peculiar to the New Testament. Rather, the overall thought of man occupying heavenly positions in the kingdom, as opposed to earthly positions, was previously set forth in different places in the Old Testament, beginning in Genesis (cf. Genesis 14:18, 19; 15:5; 22:17, 18).
Abraham, five centuries prior to the time of any written revelation, understood this matter and looked toward a calling beyond the earthly, to a heavenly (Hebrews 11:8-16). And numerous other Old Testament saints living at different times following Abraham did exactly the same thing. They looked beyond the earthly to the heavenly as well (Hebrews 11:32-40).
Thus, it is nothing new in either Old or New Testament revelation when one finds a reference to saints being placed in positions of power and authority in the heavens following the overthrow of this present world system, as in the book of Daniel, the gospel of Matthew, Ephesians, or Hebrews. This is a teaching which has its origin in Genesis.
Satan and his angels presently rule from the heavens over the earth, and Christ with His co-heirs will one day replace the incumbent governmental powers and rule from the same location, from the heavens. Christ will replace Satan, and Christians will replace the angels ruling under Satan. The whole matter is really set forth in Scripture after that simple of a fashion.
1. Israel in the Old Testament
Two millennia following Adam’s fall, God called one man out of the human race to be the instrument through whom His plans and purposes for having brought man into existence would ultimately be realized. God called Abraham out from Ur of the Chaldees. And through the nation that would emanate from the loins of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, God was going to accomplish three things: (a) provide man with a Redeemer, (b) provide man with a written revelation, revealing His plans and purposes, and (c) ultimately place man in the position for which he had been created.
The first two of these three purposes have been realized, but the latter waits for fulfillment. It waits for that day in the immediate future when Babylon reemerges as the center of Gentile world power, with the last king of Babylon present.
In the Old Testament, Israel was made the repository for both earthly and heavenly blessings. When viewing Scriptures such as Genesis 14:18, 19; 15:5; 22:17, 18; Daniel 7:18-27, Israel alone was in view. And the same would be true in Matthew 8:11, 12 where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are seen, in that future day, in the kingdom of the heavens. Accordingly, those cast into the darkness outside at this time would have to be looked upon as Israelites (i.e., saved individuals who could have been in the kingdom but, because of unfaithfulness, were cast without [note that the subject matter in this passage has to do with entrance into or exclusion from the heavenly sphere of the kingdom, not with matters surrounding eternal salvation or eternal damnation]).
There was no Church at this time. Aside from that fact, all spiritual promises and blessings must be realized through, and only through, the seed of Abraham. Thus, only Israel could possibly have been in view.
(And this will explain a central reason why Christ, when commissioning His twelve disciples to carry the message concerning the kingdom of the heavens to Israel, specifically told them, “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles…” [Matthew 10:5-8]. Israel alone was the repository for the promises and blessings associated with the proffered kingdom of the heavens.
The Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel…” [Ephesians 2:12]. “Commonwealth” in this passage is a translation of the Greek word politeia, a cognate form of politeuma, having to do with one’s “political sphere of activity” [refer to the section, “Christians and Politics,” chapter 2].)
Since Israel alone was in view after this fashion, how can the Church later fit into certain Old Testament promises (or passages such as Matthew 8:11, 12), which it does? And, since the Church does later fit into certain promises and blessings given to Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (or certain passages in the gospel accounts) — which had to do with Israel alone at the time they were given — where does this presently leave Israel?
Has the Church supplanted Israel, leaving Israel with nothing? Has God finished, is God through, with Israel within His plans and purposes in relation to man?
Some understand matters after the preceding fashion, but Scripture teaches something entirely different. God is no more through with Israel today than He was when certain promises were made to Abraham at the time he was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, four millennia ago. Israel, as in Moses’ day, is still God’s firstborn son (“sonship” implies rulership), and Israel will yet occupy her firstborn status in relation to the nations.
(This is what was in view when God announced Israel’s firstborn status in Exodus 4:22, 23 [cf. Exodus 19:5, 6], at the time Israel was called out of Egypt. And God will yet deal with Israel after the fashion set forth in Exodus, establishing Israel at the head of the nations following Israel’s removal from a worldwide dispersion at the time of Christ’s return [typified by the nation’s removal from Egypt at the time of Moses’ return; cf. Exodus 2:23-25; 3:10; 12:40, 41; Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Isaiah 2:1-5; Jeremiah 31:31-34].)
Paul, in Romans 11:1, 2, raised the issue concerning Israel’s present and future status; and he responded after a fashion that leaves no room for questions along these lines:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Absolutely not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.… (Romans 11:1, 2)
The words, “Absolutely not,” are a translation of a Greek negative appearing with a verb in the optative mood, which is a very rare mood in the Greek New Testament. Paul used this expression fourteen of the fifteen times in which it appears in the New Testament, and he used it mainly to express his abhorrence to an inference that he had raised (cf. Romans 3:4, 6, 31; Galatians 2:17; 3:21; 6:14).
The inference in Romans 11:1 had to do with God casting Israel aside, which was declared to be something completely abhorrent to Paul’s way of thinking. Paul, through the use of the optative mood, declared that such an act, in reality, was “impossible” (i.e., it was “impossible” for God to cast away His people, Israel).
Then, later in the same chapter, in keeping with what he had declared concerning Israel, he reviewed the present status and future history of Israel (vv. 17-29). And neither Israel’s present status nor future history had anything to do with a nation removed from God’s plans and purposes. Rather, exactly the opposite was true. Paul’s portrayal of Israel set forth a nation — separate from the other nations of the earth — which had been, presently remains, and always will be an integral part of God’s plans and purposes.
2. Christians in the New Testament
But, if God already had a nation through which His plans and purposes could be realized, why call into existence a new entity — the Church — through which at least a part of His plans and purposes would, as well, be realized? Why did God not just simply accomplish the entire matter through the lineal descendants of Abraham, leaving matters, in this respect, as they had stood for the preceding two millennia?
The answer is derived from that which Israel did at Christ’s first coming, resulting in reciprocal action on Christ’s part. Israel, as a nation, rejected the proffered kingdom of the heavens. And, not only did the Jewish people reject the message, but they rejected the Messenger as well, ultimately crucifying Him.
The nation’s rejection of the kingdom of the heavens resulted in this facet of the kingdom (the heavenly promises and blessings) being taken from Israel, with a new entity — the Church — then being called into existence to be the recipient of that which Israel had rejected.
Following the offer and subsequent rejection of the kingdom of the heavens, with the events of Calvary only several days away, Christ responded to that which Israel had done (and was about to climax at Calvary) through removing the nation from the position it held relative to heavenly promises and blessings. At that time, concluding a parable dealing with the Householder and His vineyard (Matthew 21:33-39) — which had to do with matters surrounding Christ and Israel — Christ allowed the religious leaders in Israel the opportunity to seal their own fate in this respect.
Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers [the Jews, those to whom He was speaking, the ones who had rejected the Householder’s Son and were about to cast Him out of the vineyard and slay Him]?
They [these Jewish religious leaders, not yet realizing that He was speaking about them and the nation at large, responded] said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” (vv. 40, 41; cf. v. 45)
It was then that Christ drew from the Old Testament Scriptures, identifying Himself as the Chief Corner Stone, the One whom the nation had rejected and was about to cast out of the vineyard and slay (v. 42; cf. Psalms 118:22, 23). And He then made the announcement concerning the proffered kingdom being taken from Israel, in complete keeping with that which the Jewish religious leaders had already stated:
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God [referring to that facet of the kingdom of God which had been offered, the heavenly portion of the kingdom] will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (v. 43)
Then the Church, an entirely new entity, whose future existence had been previously announced (Matthew 16:18), was shortly thereafter called into existence for the express purpose of being that “nation bearing the fruits of it” (1 Peter 2:9, 10). And since all spiritual blessings and promises must flow through Abraham and his progeny (Genesis 12:1-3; 22:17, 18), the Church, in order to be the “nation” spoken of in Matthew 21:43 and 1 Peter 2:9, must be identified with Abraham.
This is accomplished through the Christians’ positional standing “in Christ.” Christ is Abraham’s Seed, and Christians, through their positional standing “in Christ,” are likewise “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:16, 29).
Thus, during the coming age, in relation to the government of the earth and in line with Genesis 22:17, 18, the Seed of Abraham will occupy positions in both heavenly and earthly places, though the vast majority of the numerous individuals occupying heavenly places in the kingdom will not be lineal descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Rather, they will have become “Abraham’s seed” through their positional standing “in Christ.”
Governmental rule will emanate from both Jerusalem above and Jerusalem below. Christ with His “companions,” His “co-heirs,” will rule from His Own throne in Jerusalem above (the New Jerusalem, which will apparently be a satellite city of the earth at this time); and Christ Himself will also rule from David’s throne in the midst of Israel in Jerusalem below (Jerusalem in the earthly land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob).
(In the preceding respect, Christ will have a dual reign at this time — both from His own throne in the heavens and from David’s throne on the earth. But neither Israel nor the Church will occupy a dual status of this nature. Israel will be placed at the head of the nations on the earth, and the Church will rule from the heavens over the earth [which will include all nations, even Israel; cf. Matthew 19:28; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21].)
Since the Church has become the repository for the heavenly promises and blessings originally held by Israel, sections of Old Testament Scripture such as Abraham’s seed likened to “the stars of the heaven” (Genesis 22:17, 18) or “the saints of the most High [‘saints of the high places’ (‘heavenly places’)]” (Daniel 7:18, 22, 25, 27) would today relate to the Church. This would also be true concerning sections in the gospel accounts having to do with the kingdom of the heavens, such as entrance into the kingdom in Matthew 7:13, 14, 21-23; 8:11, 12.
But all of this has nothing to do with Israel’s earthly promises and blessings. These have not been and can never be taken from Israel. And during the coming age, following Israel’s repentance, conversion, and restoration to the land, that which was promised through Abraham relative to the nation’s earthly calling will be realized.
(But what about those Old Testament saints who looked toward heavenly promises and blessings and died in the faith prior to Christ’s announcement in Matthew 21:43? Scripture clearly reveals that the removal of this (heavenly) facet of the kingdom from Israel’s possession at Christ’s first coming cannot make null and void any previous acceptance by individual Jews of that which God had promised [cf. Matthew 8:11, 12; Hebrews 11:13-16, 39, 40]. Christ’s announcement in Matthew 21:43 though does forever do away with Israel as a nation occupying such a position, continuing to be the repository for these heavenly promises and blessings.
Following Christ’s announcement to Israel concerning the kingdom, only one way has existed for Jews to come into a realization of heavenly promises and blessings. They must become a part of the one new man “in Christ” through faith in Israel’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Doing this, they relinquish their national identity and earthly calling, becoming “fellowheirs” with believing Gentiles, who have also relinquished their national identity [but, unlike Jews, had no calling to relinquish (Ephesians 2:12)]. And, “in Christ,” where “there is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile],” they both, together — as one new man — become partakers of a higher calling, a “heavenly calling” [Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:13-15; 3:1-6; Hebrews 3:1].)
The Millennium and Beyond
According to Daniel 7:18, 22, 27, the day is coming when “the saints of the most High [‘saints of the high places’ (‘heavenly places’)]” are going to take and possess the kingdom. It will be exactly the same kingdom that presently exists under Satan — a governed province within God’s universal kingdom. That’s why Scripture states,
The kingdom of this world [the present existing kingdom, under Satan] is become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ [the same kingdom, but under a new administration] . . . . (Revelation 11:15, ASV)
In the type, in the books of 1&2 Samuel, when Saul was finally put down and David with his faithful men moved in and took over the government, they took and possessed the same kingdom that had previously existed under Saul. It was the kingdom of Israel. The change was in the administration of the kingdom, not in the kingdom itself.
(Refer to the Appendix for additional information concerning the typology seen in the books of 1&2 Samuel.)
And, as seen in the typology of the books of 1&2 Samuel, so will it be in the antitype. When Christ and His co-heirs move in and take over the government, they will rule the same kingdom that Satan and his angels previously ruled. They will rule the one province in the kingdom of God into which chaos entered, and they will rule this province for a specified period of time — for 1,000 years — in order to effect a complete restoration of order in this one part of God’s universal kingdom.
This is the matter dealt with in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28:
Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.
The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
For He has put all things under His feet. But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted.
Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:24-28)
At the beginning of the Millennium, the curse will be lifted (with the creation restored to its condition preceding the fall), and there will be literally millions of individuals (Jews and Gentiles alike [both saved and unsaved among the Gentiles]) entering the earthly sphere of the kingdom ruled by Christ and His co-heirs, with Israel placed at the head of the nations on earth [cf. Isaiah 11:6-9; 35:1ff; Acts 3:19-21]). Israel will provide the evangels to carry God’s message to the ends of the earth during this period; and it will require 1,000 years of a righteous rule, “with a rod of iron,” to bring about complete order out of chaos.
That is, when Christ returns, Gentile world power will be destroyed, suddenly, swiftly, and completely, with Satan and his angels being correspondingly put down after the same fashion. Satan will be bound and cast into the abyss. Then the physical creation will be restored, Israel will be saved and restored to the land at the head of the nations on earth, Christians (previously shown qualified at the judgment seat) will be positioned “in heavenly places” in view of their impending rule as co-heirs with Christ, and the Gentiles surviving the Tribulation will then form the nations entering the kingdom on earth (cf. Matthew 24:13, 14, 31; 25:20-23; Revelation 20:1-3).
These things will apparently occur within the scope of a seventy-five-day period that will exist between the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennium (Daniel 12:11, 12); but even with conditions as such, God is still going to take 1,000 years beyond that point to bring complete order out of chaos.
(Matthew 25:31-46 comprises a section of the Olivet Discourse often used attempting to show that only saved individuals will populate the earth at the beginning of the millennium. Those following this line of thought teach that this section has to do with a judgment of all living Gentiles surviving the Tribulation, both saved and unsaved, with the saved being allowed to enter into the kingdom and the unsaved being cast into the lake of fire.
A teaching of this nature has its sole basis in a misunderstanding of this section of Scripture. By its own internal evidence, eternal salvation or damnation is not the subject matter in Matthew 25:31-46. The subject at hand has to do with realizing or not realizing an inheritance in the kingdom, not with eternal verities [v. 34].
And, in keeping with the preceding, the Greek word aionios, translated “everlasting” and “eternal” in vv. 41, 46 would, in the light of v. 34, have to be understood as “age-lasting,” not “eternal” as it has been translated in most versions of Scripture.
Neither the Hebrew of the Old Testament nor the Greek of the New Testament contains a word for “eternal.” Olam is the word translated “eternal,” “everlasting,” or “perpetual” in English translations of the Old Testament, and aion [a noun] or aionios [the adjective form of aion] are the words translated “eternal” or “everlasting” in the New Testament [aidios, an older form of aionios, used only two times and meaning exactly the same as aionios, is the only exception (Romans 1:20 and Jude 6)].
Olam, aion, and aionios all have to do with “a long period of time,” which, if the context permits, can refer to “eternity” [e.g., the Aionios God in Romans 16:26]. But the words standing alone, apart from a context, cannot be understood as “eternal.” Context is the all-important factor to ascertain the length of time in view when these words are used.
Aion and aionios are usually thought of and used numerous times in the New Testament in the sense of “an age.” And a usage of this nature is even brought over into English. For example, the English word “aeon [or ‘eon’]” is derived from the Greek word aion.
The only way in which the Greek text can express “eternal” apart from textual considerations is through a use of aion in the plural [e.g., Luke 1:33; Hebrews 13:8, referring to “the ages,” i.e., ages without end, which would comprise eternity] or a double use of aion, in the plural and articular both times [e.g., Revelation 1:6; 4:9, 10, referring to “the ages of the ages,” again, ages without end].
And the use of aionios in Matthew 25:41, 46, referring to an inverse of that seen in verse thirty-four [failing to realize an inheritance in the kingdom] can only be understood as “age-lasting.” It can only be understood as referring to the outcome of a judgment of unfaithful saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation.
A judgment of the unsaved, with eternal verities in view, could not possibly be the subject at hand in Matthew 25:41, 46. First, the context will not permit such an understanding of these verses; and second, inheritance in the kingdom, contextually in view, would limit this judgment to the saved alone. Note Romans 8:17: “And if children, then heirs…”
“Sheep” and “goats” [vv. 32, 33], can only be understood contextually as a metaphorical way of describing two classes of saved individuals, similar to the parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30. The unsaved and eternal verities simply cannot be in view in either passage. Rather, in both passages, only the saved, with a view to an inheritance or non-inheritance in the kingdom, can be in view.
The extensive use of “metaphors” in sections of Scripture such as Matthew 13, 24, 25 must be recognized. Note, for example, “meat” or “food” in Matthew 24:45; 25:35, 42, all part of the same discourse. The use is metaphorical in chapter twenty four [referring to that which is spiritual, the Word of God], when dealing with the judgment of a servant; and the servant rendering an account at the time of his Lord’s return is with a view to regality [realizing or not realizing a position with Christ in the kingdom (cf. Luke 12:42-48)]. Why should the matter be viewed after any different fashion in chapter twenty-five when also dealing with a judgment of individuals at the time of the Lord’s return, with a view to inheritance in the kingdom [exactly the same as regality previously seen in chapter twenty-four, though stated in a different manner]?
Understanding the preceding after this fashion [which, in reality, is the only contextually correct way to view this section of Scripture] will, again, show that only saved individuals can possibly be in view throughout Matthew 25:31-46. Both those depicted by the “sheep” and the “goats” are seen as being in a position to dispense “meat,” “food.” Unsaved man cannot occupy a position of this nature.
There is no such thing in Scripture as a judgment of unsaved Gentiles at the end of Man’s Day, prior to the millennium. Rather, the millennium itself will form their judgment in this respect, for the millennium will simply be 1,000 years of a righteous judgment, when Christ and His co-heirs will rule the nations with a rod of iron.)
Man, on the earth during the Messianic Era, will possess a body of flesh, blood, and bone, with the old sin nature still present (i.e., he will possess a “natural” body [a “soulical” body; Greek: psuchikos, Romans 2:24; 1 Corinthians 15:44, 46], identical to that which man possesses today). This will be true both within the camp of Israel and among the Gentile nations. This is the reason Christ will be a King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek at this time. He will not only be King over the earth but He will also exercise a priestly office as well, representing man to God and God to man. And Christ must be a Priest after a new order, under a new covenant, on Israel’s behalf, for He is not of the Aaronic line.
(Note that Christ can presently exercise a ministry in the heavenly sanctuary after the order of Aaron, though not of the Aaronic line, for the simple reason that His ministry today is on behalf of Christians [who do not come under covenants made with Israel] rather than with Israel [with whom the old covenant was made]. Christ could not exercise a priestly ministry on behalf of Israel after the order of Aaron [present or future], which will necessitate a change in the priesthood when God restores Israel [Hebrews 7:11, 12].)
Man, on the earth during that future day, still possessing the old sin nature, will beget children who must be redeemed; and sin and death will correspondingly occur within activities surrounding man at that time. And, as a consequence of man’s condition, Scripture presents the possibility of man rebelling against the authority that will emanate from Jerusalem above and from Jerusalem below (Isaiah 65:20; Zechariah 14:16-19) — something clearly seen in its climactic form in that which is revealed concerning Satan being loosed at the end of the millennium and leading a number described as “the sand of the sea” in rebellion against the King in Jerusalem (Revelation 20:7-9).
And within this whole scenario lies the reason God has set aside 1,000 years to bring complete order out of chaos. As previously stated, Christ and His co-heirs will reign — “with a rod of iron,” breaking the nations and dashing them into pieces, likened unto “a potter’s vessel” being struck and shattered (cf. Psalms 2:6-9; Revelation 2:26, 27) — until all things have been brought under subjection.
At the end of the 1,000 years — after all things have been “subdued” by Christ and He has “delivered up” the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24, 28) — “all things” will then be made new. Then, not before, there will be no more “death…sorrow…crying…pain…” In that day there will be no need for a priest to represent man to God and God to man, for God Himself will dwell with man, “and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3-5).
This will be the scene beyond the millennium, after complete order once again exists in all parts of God’s universal kingdom. There will be a “new heaven [the heaven associated with this earth and solar system, not the universe] and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). The New Jerusalem will be the capital of the new earth (Revelation 21:2), which probably will be a much larger earth than presently exists, large enough to accommodate a city of this size. And universal rule will emanate from “the throne of God and of the Lamb” on the new earth (Revelation 22:1-3). That is, God Himself will dwell on the new earth and, with His Son, rule the universe from this location.
And man, in that day, will come into a complete realization of the purpose that God had in mind for His creation in the beginning. Up to this time, man’s rule will have been limited to the earth alone. But, during the eternal ages following the millennium, man will exercise positions of power and authority of a universal nature in God’s kingdom. And even the saved Gentile nations and those Christians not holding positions of power and authority during the millennium will be brought into and have a part in this rule (Revelation 21:4; 22:2, 5).