Prophecy on Mount Olivet
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Those on His Right Hand
Then the King will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;
I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.”
Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?
When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?
Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?”
And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matthew 25:34-40)
When Christ returns to the earth it will be as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Christ, at His first appearance, at the time of His incarnation, was born “king of the Jews” (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:2); and He will return to exercise that position at His second appearance (Revelation 19:11-16).
Completely unlike His first appearance — “in the likeness of sinful flesh [without the covering of Glory that man had lost in Eden 4,000 years earlier]” (Genesis 3:7; Romans 8:3) — Christ will reappear with a body enswathed in Glory, clothed in regal garments, with many diadems on His head (the type crown showing regality); He will reappear as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” not as “the Lamb of God”; He will reappear as the rightful King, as “He judges and makes war,” not as One to be ridiculed and arrayed as a mock King by existing powers (cf. Psalm 2:1-12; 24:1-10; 110:1-7; Matthew 27:27-31; Luke 24:26; John 1:36; Revelation 5:5-7; 19:11-16).
Christ will not only reappear as “King” but He will have in His possession the kingdom that He had gone away to receive. Christ’s reappearance after this fashion will mark the beginning of climactic events pertaining to God’s plans and purposes, which date back in time to the period prior to man’s existence upon earth.
In Scripture, the enacting of God’s plans and purposes as they pertain to man are looked upon as occurring at two different times preceding man’s creation — “before the foundation of the world,” and “from the foundation of the world” (cf. Matthew 13:35; 25:34; Luke 11:50; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8; 17:8).
The word “foundation” is the translation of the Greek word, katabole, a compound word which literally means “to cast down” or “to throw down” (kata means “down,” and bole means “to cast” or “to throw”). The manner in which this word is used in a general sense in the expression, “foundation of the world,” could describe God’s past act of casting or throwing down the world (i.e., creating the world) out in space.
However, katabole appears to be used in a more specific sense in Scripture, referring to God’s subsequent act of restoring the ruined creation in Genesis 1:2bff rather than His initial act of creating the earth in Genesis 1:1. In this respect, matters mentioned in the verses where this expression is used would refer to God’s actions regarding His Son and man at two different times in history, following the creation of the heavens and the earth:
1) “Before [Greek: pro] the foundation of the world” (before the restoration of the ruined creation, in eternity past, which could be any time between the creation [Genesis 1:1] and the restoration of the ruined creation [Genesis 1:2bff]).
2) “From [Greek: apo] the foundation of the world” (the time of the restoration of the ruined creation [Genesis 1:2bff], when God began counting 7,000 years of time in relation to His Son and man as it pertained to regality and this earth).
Thus, God’s plans and purposes as they pertain to His Son and man had their beginning in eternity past. The kingdom prepared for saved Gentiles “from the foundation of the world” in Matthew 25:34 had been planned in the eternal council chambers of God at a time “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4-10). Prior to God’s restorative work delineated in Genesis 1:2bff, in eternity past, the ages were planned around the preordained activity of the Son; and the Messianic Era is the climactic age in a series of ages.
(At least three ages would be in view — one pre-Adamic and two post-Adamic.
At least one age [possible more] would have preceded man’s creation. During this time, Satan was placed as ruler over a newly created earth, his fall occurred, and the subsequent ruin of his kingdom followed [Genesis 1:1, 2a; Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:14, 15].
Then one age covers Man’s 6,000-year Day, beginning with the restoration of the ruined earth for man and man’s subsequent creation on the sixth day [the one brought forth to replace the incumbent ruler, Satan].
Man’s fall though delayed, for 6,000 years, the purpose for man’s creation being realized, during which time God is performing a redemptive work relative to man [in order that man might one day realize the purpose for his creation in the beginning].
Then, the last age in this succession of ages is the 1,000-year Messianic Era, during which time God’s plans and purposes for His Son and for man will be brought to fruition, which is the goal seen realized at the termination of all three sections of the Olivet Discourse.
For additional information on “ages,” particularly as distinguished from “dispensations,” refer to Appendix 3 in this book.)
God’s preordained activity as it pertains to the ages relating to man, along with the earth, is referred to in Ephesians 3:11 and Hebrews 1:2, and the respective contexts of these two verses leave no room to question that which is in view. Both point to the same thing — a succession of ages, terminating with an age in which the “restoration of all things” will occur (Acts 3:21; cf. Acts 1:6).
Ephesians 3:11 should literally read,
According to a plan of the ages which He formed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And Hebrews 1:2 should literally read,
Has in these last days spoken to us in the person of His Son, whom He has appointed Heir of all things, through whom also He made the ages [formed the ages after a pattern in accord with the pre-planned activity of the Son within these ages]” (cf. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-18).
Verses leading into Ephesians 3:11 have to do with the mystery revealed to Paul and the purpose for the present dispensation; and verses following Hebrews 1:2 have to do with God bringing His Son into the inhabited world once again, but this time to exercise the rights of primogeniture as His firstborn Son.
The whole of Scripture moves toward a climactic age in which a new order of Sons will rule the earth for the express purpose of bringing all things under subjection to Christ, anticipating the eternal ages beyond (Romans 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28). This plan was conceived and enacted “before the foundation of the world,” and the kingdom — the central focus of the plan — was prepared “from the foundation of the world.”
Order and Basis of Judgment
The Gentile section of the Olivet Discourse is normally looked upon by premillennial students of the Word as pertaining to a general judgment of all the Gentiles surviving the Tribulation — both saved and unsaved, living at the time Christ returns — with the works of those being judged revealing their saved or unsaved status. A judgment of this nature though is not what is taught either in this text or anywhere else in Scripture. Such a judgment would be completely out of line with the teaching of Scripture not only on salvation itself but on the timing and basis of all future judgments pertaining to man.
Salvation is by “grace through faith,” and man’s works can have no part in the matter.
Salvation is based entirely on the finished work of Christ, and man must be completely passive. Man cannot perform works to be saved, to stay saved, or to show that he has been saved. If he could do any one of these three, then works would have entered into an area where works cannot exist, and salvation would cease to be by grace through faith (Romans 11:6).
Insofar as judgment is concerned, neither can “a general judgment” exist within the framework of that which Scripture reveals. “The saved” must always be judged first (1 Peter 4:17), requiring a separation of the saved from the unsaved preceding judgment. A general judgment — both the saved and the unsaved called before Christ at the same time to be judged — would violate this principle.
Then again, future judgments in Scripture can have nothing whatsoever to do with eternal salvation or eternal damnation. One’s eternal destiny will always be a settled, closed matter before the person stands in the presence of Christ to be judged at a future date, with judgment relative to one’s acceptance or rejection of Christ having already occurred.
John 3:18 makes this very clear:
He who believes in Him is not condemned [judged]; but he who does not believe is condemned [judged] already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The issue surrounding one’s eternal destiny can never be raised at any future judgment, for judgment relative to this matter will have already occurred in past time. God judged sin in the person of His Son at Calvary, and this judgment affects both the believer and the unbeliever in the same passive sense.
It is not possible for a believer to ever be brought into judgment where issues surrounding his eternal destiny come into view. Sin has already been judged vicariously in God’s Son, and God is satisfied. The believer possesses the imputed righteousness of Christ (Romans 5:15-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21), and the penalty for sin has already been paid on his behalf (Romans 6:23).
Nor can the unbeliever, as well, ever appear in a future judgment where issues involve his eternal destiny. Though he is completely outside the efficacy of Christ’s vicarious act, judgment relative to the matter at hand (judgment upon sin at Calvary) has already occurred. This is why John 3:18 clearly places the judgment of the unbeliever in past time. Everything is based on Christ’s past, completed work and God’s judgment of sin within the scope of this completed work.
An unbeliever is looked upon within the framework of the entire matter in the same passive sense that the believer is viewed. A vicarious judgment for sin occurred in past time; and even though the unbeliever is outside the scope of this vicarious act, he is looked upon as having already been judged since the judgment for sin has already occurred.
To bring any individual — saved or unsaved — into judgment at a future date where even one issue involves matters surrounding his eternal destiny would be to judge once again that which God has already judged. Thus, every future judgment — pertaining to the saved and the unsaved alike — can only involve issues completely separate from one’s eternal salvation or eternal damnation.
Inheriting the Kingdom
The key word to acquire a proper understanding of the judgment of living Gentiles when Christ returns is the word “inherit.” Those Gentiles placed at Christ’s right hand (the hand of “power,” symbolic of strength and force [Genesis 48:17-19]) and dealt with first are said to inherit a kingdom prepared for them “from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
The issue at hand in Christ’s judgment of saved Gentiles (all, both those placed at His right hand and those placed at His left hand) at the end of the Tribulation is clearly inheritance, not eternal life.
Gentiles placed at both His right hand and His left hand will be judged on the basis of “works” relative to realizing or being rejected for an inheritance in the kingdom. And the reason they can be judged in this manner is because they will have already been judged on the basis of the work of Another — on the basis of Christ’s finished work at Calvary.
1) Inheritance and Family Relationship
In the Scriptural framework, inheritance is always a family matter. In the Old Testament, “sons” were first in line to receive the inheritance, with daughters next. If there were no sons or daughters in the immediate family, the inheritance passed to the nearest family member or members designated by the law of inheritance (Numbers 27:8-11).
In the New Testament, insofar as Christ, Israel, and the Church are concerned, it is “Sons” alone that are in view, more specifically firstborn Sons. It is God’s firstborn Sons who will come into possession of the inheritance and exercise the rights of primogeniture. And these rights will begin to be exercised in the Messianic Era by and through God’s firstborn Sons ruling over the Gentile nations.
Firstborn Sons hold their positions either through relationship (Jesus and His relationship to the Father — God’s only begotten firstborn Son) or adoption (Israel and the Church [Israel was adopted in time past, and the Church is yet to be adopted]); and firstborn Sons hold (or, as in the case of the Church, will hold) their respective positions in view of one day exercising power and authority following their coming into possession of the awaiting inheritance.
Inheritance within the kingdom to be realized by saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation though has nothing to do with exercising the rights of the firstborn. Nothing is said in Scripture about God adopting Gentile nations, as He adopted Israel (or as He will adopt the Church). National adoption among the nations of the earth belongs to Israel alone (Romans 9:4).
Thus, inheritance as it pertains to firstborn Sons and inheritance as it pertains to the saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation would have to be looked upon in different respects. Exactly what position saved Gentiles will occupy in the kingdom is unrevealed. They are said to inherit the kingdom and reign with Christ (cf. Matthew 25:34; Revelation 20:4), though evidently not as firstborn sons.
The nations of the earth coming out of the Tribulation and populating the millennial earth will be ruled by, reached with God’s message, and blessed through Israel. And Gentiles inheriting the kingdom at the beginning may very well have a part, under Israel, ruling and reaching the nations with God’s message.
Then again, the Gentiles inheriting the kingdom could occupy a similar regal place on earth under Christ and His co-heirs as they rule the nations from the heavens.
The matter though is unrevealed. And the preceding has been set forth only as possibility for thought, nothing more.
2) Inheritance and Salvation
Contrary to what is often taught, the word “inheritance” never appears in Scripture as a synonym for the salvation that we presently possess. Eternal life is one thing, and inheritance is something entirely different; and confusion abounds when proper distinctions are not made.
The offer of “eternal life” is reserved for those outside the family; and the offer of “an inheritance” is reserved for those within the family (“. . . if children, then heirs . . . .” [Romans 8:17]). One is a free gift, but the other requires merit. One is non-forfeitable, for it is based on the finished work of Christ; but the other can be forfeited, for it is based on actions of the individual family members.
Consequently, inheritance in Scripture is connected with eternal life only to the extent that one has to first be in possession of eternal life before he can be in line to receive the inheritance.
There is though a salvation that is inherited (note that the word “salvation” is used in a much broader sense in Scripture than just a reference to eternal life [as is the word “gospel,” as well]).
For Christians, salvation in connection with inheritance has to do with exercising the rights of the firstborn during the coming age. It has to do with the saving of the soul, the saving of the life (cf. Matthew 16:24-27; Hebrews 1:14-2:5; 10:35-39; 1 Peter 1:9-11). Coming into possession of this salvation will be synonymous with coming into possession of an inheritance in the kingdom as Sovereigns.
An inheritance for saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation though, as previously noted, will be a different matter. There is nothing in Scripture that would connect their inheritance with sonship and positions of sovereignty of a nature sonship would portend; nor is their inheritance referred to in Scripture in the sense of a salvation or deliverance, as is the Christians’ inheritance.
Saved Gentiles living at the time Christ returns, who enter into an inheritance in the kingdom, will have endured to the end of the Tribulation and be “saved [physically delivered]” out of that period (Matthew 24:13, 14). They will then realize an inheritance of some unrevealed type in the kingdom.
3) Inheritance and Merit
Matthew 25:34-40 clearly attests to the fact that inheritance is based on the righteous acts of individuals in the family (works of the redeemed) rather than the righteous act of the Head of the family (the finished work of Christ on Calvary, allowing redeemed individuals to occupy a place in the family). And this same teaching regarding “inheritance” is covered elsewhere in Scripture by showing the possibility that one’s inheritance can be forfeited by improper conduct, seen in the parables in the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse through a failure of household servants to properly carry out the responsibility entrusted to them by the Householder during His time of absence.
As in the Christian section of the Olivet Discourse, both positive and negative aspects of the matter are dealt with in the Gentile section of the Discourse. The positive side is seen by and through Christ’s dealings with those on His right hand, and the negative side is seen by and through His dealings with those on His left hand.
But, again, detail of the nature seen in Christ’s prior dealings with Christians is not seen in His dealings with the Gentiles in Matthew 25:31-46. One can rest assured though that within God’s perfect justice and righteousness there will always be a just recompense in His Son’s judgmental dealings with mankind — within both positive and negative aspects of these dealings — for Christians on the one hand and saved Gentiles on the other.
Scripture abounds with information concerning Christ’s dealings with Christians in that coming day; particularly with warnings concerning that which awaits household servants who fail in their responsibility to properly handle that which the Householder entrusted to them during His time of absence.
Failure in this realm will result in a forfeiture of the rights belonging to firstborn sons. Such Christians will have forfeited their birthrights and thus the inheritance belonging to the firstborn.
In this respect, Scripture provides two classic examples of individuals who forfeited the rights belonging to the firstborn and consequently forfeited their inheritances. One example can be seen in the actions of Esau, and the other in the actions of Reuben.
And these things occurred “as examples [‘types’]”; and they have been recorded “for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
These events occurred within God’s sovereign control of all things in order that He might have these accounts to draw upon to teach Christians deep things within the mystery revealed to Paul concerning the inheritance awaiting firstborn sons.
Esau, Isaac’s firstborn, forfeited his birthright to satisfy a fleshly gratification. He sold his birthright for a single meal (Genesis 25:27-34). When it came time for the father to bestow his blessing on the firstborn, Jacob was the one who received the blessing, not Esau. Esau had forfeited these rights; and once forfeited, they were irretrievable.
After Isaac had blessed Jacob as firstborn, Esau tried to get his father to change his mind and bless him as well. But his efforts were to no avail. The father’s blessing had already been bestowed upon Jacob, and the forfeited rights of the firstborn were gone forever (Genesis 27:26ff; Hebrews 12:14-17).
Then, a forfeiture of these same rights is seen in events surrounding Jacob’s firstborn son. Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, was in direct line to inherit the rights of primogeniture; but because of one grave sin committed during his life, Reuben forfeited these rights. Reuben’s sin, resulting in the forfeiture of his birthright, was sexual impropriety of a nature that dishonored and shamed his father:
. . . Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard about it . . . . (Genesis 35:22b)
As a consequence, Reuben’s birthright was divided among three of his brothers.
The tribal rulership was bestowed upon “Judah,” the priestly office was bestowed upon “Levi,” and the double portion of the father’s estate was given to “Joseph.”
The tribe of “Judah” became heir to the kingly line, the tribe of “Levi” became heir to the priestly line, and the tribe of “Joseph” inherited the double portion, realized through Joseph’s two sons (Ephraim and Manasseh), who each received a full inheritance (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2).
The preceding reveals the proper Scriptural distinctions between being a member of the family on the one hand and being in line to receive an inheritance on the other. Though Esau and Reuben forfeited their inheritances, they remained sons within the family.
And it is the same for a Christian. Becoming a member of the family, being born from above, places one in a position to inherit. The Christian as a child of God is an “heir”; and the Christian as a son is awaiting the “adoption” in order to realize the inheritance (Romans 8:14-23).
Christians have been saved for the purpose of one day exercising the rights of the firstborn, seated on the throne with Christ. However, as in the cases of Esau and Reuben (historical accounts forming types, set forth as warnings for Christians), these rights can be forfeited; but also, as in the cases of Esau and Reuben, such a forfeiture can produce no change in one’s family relationship.
Understanding these distinctions will allow one to see exactly what is in view when Christ calls attention to entering into an inheritance because of merit at the time He judges saved Gentiles following His return. Note that Christ will say to these Gentiles,
“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). And this will be said because of works performed following their salvation (vv. 34-36). They will have merited this right because of their previous positive treatment of Christ’s brethren (v. 40).
Thus, the works of these saved Gentiles are clearly associated with an inheritance in the kingdom, not with eternal life — an impossibility. To teach, as many do, that Gentiles appearing before Christ in Matthew 25:31ff will show by either their works or their lack of works a saved or unsaved status not only does violence to biblical teachings concerning salvation by grace but it completely obscures that which is being taught in Matthew 25:31-46.
Good works or a lack of such works can never have anything to do with showing one’s saved or unsaved status. Man’s works, after any fashion, either before or after a person is saved, can never enter into the realm of One’s eternal salvation. The finished work of Christ alone is seen in this realm.
Christians appearing before the Judgment Seat of Christ will be judged on the basis of works in relation to an inheritance in the kingdom; and saved Gentiles appearing before Christ following His return will be judged after this same fashion in relation to the same thing. The issue of one’s eternal destiny can occupy no place in either one of these judgments or in any other future judgment.
Gentiles being judged at the time of Christ’s return will be individuals from the nations of the earth saved during the immediately preceding Tribulation. They will have been saved mainly as a result of the ministry of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists called forth by God to proclaim the “gospel of the kingdom” to the nations of the earth during the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation. These Gentiles will also be those who escaped the wrath of Antichrist as he sought their destruction, along with the destruction of Israel.
Satan’s final, climactic effort to thwart God’s plans and purposes, established in eternity past, “before the foundation of the world,” will be carried out through Antichrist. Satan, following his being cast out of the heavenly realm from which he presently reigns, will give to a man (the Antichrist, the beast — actually, his son [Genesis 3:15]) “his power, his throne, and great authority.” He will give to Antichrist that which he previously offered to Christ (cf. Luke 4:5, 6; Revelation 13:2).
And through this man, seated upon his throne, Satan will do everything within his power to prevent a future manifestation of the kingdom of Christ. In this respect, he will turn his attention toward both the Sovereigns (God’s firstborn Sons, with his wrath vented particularly against Israel during the Tribulation) and those having anything to do with any of the Sovereigns (saved Gentiles befriending Israel during those days, destined to realize an inheritance in the kingdom as well), for man inheriting the kingdom will mean an end to Satan’s rule.
The book of Revelation, from chapter six through the opening verses in chapter nineteen, relates events that will occur on earth during the seven-year Tribulation. This portion of Scripture, though relating some events that will occur during the first three and one-half years of this period, is given over almost entirely to events beginning in the middle of the Tribulation and extending throughout the last three and one-half years, followed by the return of Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Consequently, this is the section of Scripture to which one must go in order to properly understand certain things about Christ’s judgment of the Gentiles on the basis of their activity during the Tribulation.
The most instructive portions of Scripture in this respect are Revelation chapters seven, twelve, and fourteen. These chapters deal with the 144,000 Jewish evangelists who will proclaim the gospel of the kingdom throughout the world during the Tribulation, with the innumerable multitude of Gentiles who will be saved as a result of their ministry, and with Satan’s efforts to prevent or hinder everything associated with their ministry.
(Ref. Chapters 2, 3 in this book, where events in Revelation 7, 12, 14 are discussed. Also, see a fuller discussion in the author’s book, The Time of the End, Chapters 21, 26.)
Satan and his angels, immediately following their being cast out of the heavens onto the earth near the middle of the Tribulation, will direct their attention toward Israel. The reason given in Scripture is because Israel, at that time, will be about to bring forth the 144,000 evangels (a first-fruit of the nation [Revelation 14:4]), who will carry the message of salvation and the coming kingdom to the Gentiles throughout the earth during the last half of the Tribulation; and Satan will seek to destroy the 144,000 as soon as they appear, seeking to prevent the proclamation of this message (Revelation 12:4).
His efforts though will be in vain. The 144,000, after they are brought forth, will be supernaturally removed from the earth to escape Satan’s wrath (this is the reason they are seen in heaven in Revelation 14:1-5) and shortly thereafter will be sent back to the earth to deliver their message during the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:5, 17).
Satan, immediately following the removal of the 144,000 into heaven, will then vent his wrath upon the nation of Israel. God though will supernaturally intervene and prepare (or will have already prepared) a place in “the wilderness [the mountainous terrain of the land of Israel]” for the Jewish people, to which a remnant will flee, where they will remain safe from Satan’s wrath for the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation (Revelation 12:13-16).
Elsewhere in the world, anti-Semitism will become rampant. Jews will come under the sentence of death, and conditions will deteriorate far beyond those seen in Europe during the years 1939-1945. Many Jews though, as in Europe during the World War II years, will survive this time. These are the ones who will be re-gathered “from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” by angels at the time Christ returns. And the shortening of the days of the Tribulation will occur first and foremost for these particular Jews (Matthew 24:22, 31).
The Israeli nation presently existing in the Middle East, from which the remnant fleeing into the mountainous terrain of the land will come (cf. Matthew 24:16; Revelation 12:6, 14), comprises only a part of world Jewry (about two-fifths). The majority of Jews reside outside the land today, and the majority will probably still be outside the land when Antichrist appears. This segment of Jewry will remain scattered throughout the world during the Tribulation, with those Jews presently in the land (approaching 6,000,000 today) being uprooted in the middle of the Tribulation and scattered out among them (save for the remnant which will escape to a specially prepared place in the land that God will have prepared for them).
And the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will proclaim their message to Gentiles throughout the world where Jews presently reside and where Jews in the land of Israel will be driven when Antichrist enters with his armies in the middle of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10).
“Christ’s brethren” in Matthew 25:40, 45 are the Jewish people (Genesis 37:14, 16, 17; 45:1-4); and the treatment extended to Christ’s brethren by Gentiles would evidently refer to treatment extended to Jews other than the remnant escaping into the mountainous terrain of the land of Israel. This remnant of Jews will be in a specially prepared place and be supernaturally protected by God Himself.
The situation for Jews scattered throughout the earth in that day can only be viewed as grave beyond description. They will be hunted, killed, and sold as slaves throughout the Gentile world (Isaiah 14:2; Joel 3:7; Matthew 24:9); and numerous saved Gentiles worldwide will befriend these Jews, along with befriending the 144,000 Jewish evangelists proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom.
The mark of the beast will be given during this period, and no one will be able to “buy or sell” apart from having received this mark. But those receiving the mark will find themselves under a far greater condemnation (Revelation 13:15-17; 14:9-12).
Two-thirds of the Jews throughout the earth will die during this time, along with an innumerable host of saved Gentiles (Zechariah 13:8; Revelation 7:9-17). Saved Gentiles befriending both saved and unsaved Jews being hunted and killed will undoubtedly find themselves in similar straits as well (e.g., note that which awaited those aiding Jews during WWII in Europe). This will be a time when matters surrounding saved people befriending Christ’s brethren will be quite different than they are today.
(According to present figures regarding the world’s Jewish population, about twice as many Jews will be slain in less than half the time as were slain in Europe by the Third Reich during the years 1939-1945 [they will be slain during the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation, but note a shortening of these days for the sake of the Jewish people (Matthew 24:22)].
The Third Reich had trouble disposing of 6,000,000 Jewish bodies over the space of about seven years, building giant crematoriums and burying others together in common, mass graves. Far more horrific conditions can only exist in this one realm alone during the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation.)
We’re really not given details concerning how Gentiles under the sentence of death who cannot purchase food or trade after any other fashion in the commercial world will be in a position to befriend Jewish people in similar straits. The prevalence of anti-Semitism during this period — placing Jews in an altogether different position than Gentiles — would possibly provide one explanation (ref. “Anti-Semitism,” in the appendix of this book).
For a segment of Jewry, the type of ministry that the 144,000 Jewish evangelists will have would possibly provide other thoughts surrounding the problems Gentiles will have befriending Jews in that day. These Jewish evangels will be in the public eye and have to travel about; and in the course of their travels they will have to acquire food and lodging, at times in unfamiliar surroundings.
They will be carrying on a ministry during extremely difficult times — times unlike anything ever seen in man’s 6,000-year history; and God will use saved Gentiles (saved as a result of the ministry of the Jewish evangels), occupying a different position relative to the public, to befriend, minister to, these Jews in order to insure the worldwide proclamation of their message.
One though does not need to understand all the details of the preceding matter. It falls our lot only to believe that which God has revealed. The facts as given clearly state that saved Gentiles will befriend, minister to, Jews during the Tribulation; other saved Gentiles though will not do so. And at the time of Christ’s return all of these Gentiles will be judged on the basis of their prior treatment of the Jewish people, with a view to an inheritance in the kingdom.
Genesis 12:3a states,
I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you . . . .
And this statement concerning Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob, which God gave Abraham 4,000 years ago and, through His Spirit, moved Moses to record 3,500 years ago, sets forth the fundamental principle in Scripture that will govern the judgment of saved Gentiles coming out of the Tribulation.
They will be blessed because they had been a blessing to the Jewish people. And, further, it will be revealed to them that the treatment that they extended to “Christ’s brethren” was actually treatment extended to Christ Himself, for Christ, as well, is a descendant of Abraham. In this respect, Christ will say to saved Gentiles in that day,
“Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these My brethren, you have done it to Me.”
This is a statement resting on an unchangeable principle that is no less true today than it will be in that coming day.