Final Day

What is striking about New Testament passages that describe the final victory of Jesus when he returns is that they base this future triumph on the past death and resurrection of the Nazarene. His crucifixion and subsequent enthronement ushered in the “last days,” the final era of human history that will culminate inevitably in his ‘parousia,’ the resurrection of the righteous dead, and the judgment and punishment of his enemies.

At the conclusion of his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ Jesus gave his parable of the Sheep and the Goats. On the day when the “Son of Man arrives in glory,” his angels will gather all nations before him for judgment, and he will divide them into two groups. One will receive “everlasting destruction,” and the other, “everlasting life.”

Stopwatch - Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash
[Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash]

The Book of
Revelation does not reference this parable, but its visions reflect the same process of sifting humanity that began at Calvary, a process that will continue until the end of the age when humanity is divided into two groups for final judgment - Those who follow the “Lamb,” and those who give allegiance to the “Beast” and its overlord, the “Dragon.” There will be no third alternative.

In his death, Jesus became the “Faithful Witness,” and the “Firstborn of the Dead” upon his resurrection. Consequently, he now reigns supreme on the messianic throne; he is the “Ruler of the kings of the Earth,” and his realm extends to the “uttermost parts of the earth” as foretold in the second Psalm.

THE GREAT DENOUEMENT


Even now, the risen “Son of Man” is “shepherding the nations,” and like any good caretaker, he is separating the “sheep” from the “goats” in preparation for the “final hour” – (Psalm 2:1-9, Matthew 25:31-46, Revelation 1:4-6).

The final settlement of all accounts will not occur until the final “day” and “hour” when all humanity stands before the “Great White Throne of Judgment.” At that time, everyone whose name is “written in the Book of Life” will receive everlasting life, while all others will be cast “into the Lake of Fire.”

And on that final day, one’s fate is determined by how he or she responds to the “Lamb” and the “Beast” in the here-and-now – (Revelation 21:24).

In the city of Sardis, the Risen Jesus summons the church to repent and remain ever vigilant, otherwise, he will “come as a thief,” and there was (and is) no way for the church to know “in what hour I will come upon you.”

To the saints in Philadelphia, he promises to keep them from the “Hour of Trial” that will come inevitably on the “whole habitable earth.” In Revelation, the “final hour” represents the time of final judgment. The promise to this church is not escape from trials and persecution, but that its faithful members will not partake of the “Second Death” – (Revelation 3:1-3, 3:10).

The opening of the sixth seal reveals the final “day of wrath,” the “Day of the Lord.” On that day, the “stars of heaven will fall to the earth, and the heavens will be withdrawn as a scroll rolling itself up, and every mountain and island will be shaken out of their place.” It will be the “great day of the wrath” of the “Lamb” - (Revelation 6:12-17).

When the “sixth trumpet sounds,” four angels are released that have been “prepared for THE HOUR and day and month and year.” When the “seventh trumpet” sounds, the final victory of the kingdom of God is declared and the time of judgment arrives - (Revelation 9:14-15, 11:11-19).

Likewise, when the sixth bowl of wrath is emptied, the “kings of the Earth” are gathered to the final battle on the “great day of God Almighty.” There, the forces of the “Beast” will be destroyed – (Revelation 9:14-15, 16:12-16).

THE HOUR OF JUDGMENT


In Chapter 14 of Revelation, an angel proclaims: “The hour of his judgment has come.” This will mean the fall of “Babylon” and the destruction of those who have rendered homage to the “Beast.”

And that “hour” will culminate in two “harvests” (“For the harvest of the earth is ripe”): The “reaping” of the righteous, and the “ingathering” of the “vine of the earth,” and the latter will be cast into the “winepress of the wrath of God.”

Likewise, in Chapter 18, the destruction of “Babylon” arrives “in one hour,” and she is “laid waste” in the very same “hour” - (Revelation 14:1-20, 18:10, 18:17-19).

The series of seals, trumpets, and “bowls of wrath” all culminate in judgment in the “final hour.” When the “sixth seal” is opened, the day of “wrath” arrives for the unrepentant. The “seventh trumpet” announces the day of judgment for the wicked and the vindication of the righteous. And the seventh “bowl of wrathcompletes the “wrath of God” - (Revelation 6:12-17, 11:15-19, 16:17-21).

The Book of Revelation is about far more than history’s final few years. Its visions provide a broad sweep of the great cosmic war that has been raging between the “Lamb” and the “Dragon” since the enthronement of Jesus, one that will end with the Son of Man’s final victory in the city of “New Jerusalem.”

The exaltation of the “slain Lamb” to the “throne” has set events into motion that must culminate inevitably in the judgment of the wicked, and the vindication of the righteous.

All this is the outworking of God’s redemptive plan that the “Lamb” began to implement following his death and resurrection. He is the “Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” the “firstborn of the dead,” and the “beginning of the (new) creation.”

And all this began with the same Jesus of Nazareth who first appeared in Galilee proclaiming the kingdom of God. His future return in the “final hour” will consummate all things set into motion thousands of years ago, which is why the Book concludes with the exclamation - “Yea! I come speedily. Amen! come, Lord Jesus!

For the “overcoming” saint, that “hour” will mean vindication and life everlasting in “New Jerusalem.” But for the impenitent man, it will end in the “Second Death” in the “Lake of Fire.” When the clock strikes twelve, for him, it will be too late.


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