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The Nations In Prophecy Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
March 22, 2021 1:00 am

The Nations In Prophecy Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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March 22, 2021 1:00 am

On our plane of existence things are clearly a mess. Aren’t you glad there’s Someone in charge who lives on another plane of existence? God's unseen Hand is guiding the forces of history toward His conclusion. And, through Bible prophecy, we can understand the last chapter of the story.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. On our plane of existence, things sure are a mess.

Aren't you glad there's someone in charge who lives on another plane of existence? God's unseen hand is guiding the forces of history toward His conclusion. And through Bible prophecy, we can understand the last chapter of the story.

Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, Bible prophecy is not always easy to understand.

Can you make this easier? Well, Dave, I can make it easier in a simple sentence and remind people that eventually around the throne are going to be people from every tongue and nation. All will be represented, different colors, black, white, brown. Aren't we glad that we know eventually, as you mentioned, how it's going to end? But why is it that we have so much racial conflict today? I want to ask you, have you heard of critical race theory that is being taught in universities? Is the intention of this to bring the races together or to keep them apart? Well, the answer is to keep them apart in perpetual conflict. I show that in my new book entitled We Will Not Be Silenced, Responding Courageously to Our Culture's Assault on Christianity.

For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to

That's or call us at 1-888-218-9337. We have to recognize that many of the theories, especially about race, are intended to destroy and not unite. But now, once again, we go to God's word and we begin to talk about the future, which we know is ultimately in his sovereign hands. I'm sure you've probably heard the story of the boy who was reading a novel in the living room when his mother said, come help do the dishes. But he said, no, mom, I can't because I'm in chapter six. And right now, he said, the villain, this evil robber, he's got someone pinned against the wall, and I have to see how it turns out. Well, as most mothers do, she persisted, and finally, knowing he had to go, he just flipped to the back page of the book and he read it. And he said, you know, that robber, he's doing all right in chapter six, but is he ever in for a surprise when he gets to the last page?

Today we're going to look at the last page. You know that this has been a series of messages entitled God and the Nations. We've spoken about God's sovereignty and raising up leaders, God's sovereignty in bringing them down. We've also studied how one nation is used by God to judge another.

It's all been a part of the series. And now we come to a passage of scripture that tells us that God personally is doing the judging through Jesus Christ. It's what is called in the Bible the judgment of the nations. And what we'd like to do in the next few moments is to give you five characteristics of the judgment of the nations, or I should say five features of that judgment, and zero in particularly on the one that is most troubling to us, namely that it appears as if some people inherited eternal life because they were kind to others.

And so we're going to have to unravel that particular passage with its mystery. So with that background, the passage is the 25th chapter of Matthew where Jesus speaks about the judgment of the nations. And as we look through these features, I want you to notice that first of all, first of all, the time is at the glorious appearing of Christ. Matthew 25 verse 31, when the Son of Man comes in his glory and all of the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.

We have to take a moment to give you a timeline here. When you look at all of the prophecies of the Bible, it makes most sense to put them all together to believe that first of all, there's going to be a rapture of the church, then a period of great tribulation that lasts about seven years plus, and then you have the glorious appearing of Jesus to the Mount of Olives. And this is an appearing that is so beautiful that if you notice in chapter 24 of Matthew, I don't even have to flip to another page, it says in verse 30, at that time, the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and a great glory.

That's the event that is spoken of here. And then after the time of the glorious appearing of Jesus, you have what is known as the Millennial Kingdom, which lasts a thousand years plus. And then after that, you have a great white throne judgment given in Revelation chapter 20. So here you have the glorious return of Jesus. That's the time of this judgment. Let's hurry on and let's go to the place of the judgment.

Where does that happen? When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all the angels with him, he shall sit on his throne. Is this the throne of heaven? No, it says when the Son of Man comes in the throne of his glory, he's going to come to earth. The Bible says in the book of Zechariah chapter 14 verse 1, when he comes, his feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall split in two, to the north and to the south, so that there shall be a very great valley. Jesus is actually coming to this earth. The people on earth shall see him.

Every eye that is still able to see at that period of time, every eye of all those who are living shall see him as he returns to this planet. You see, in the Old Testament, those prophecies that were made about a glorious rule on this earth, they have never been fulfilled. Now some people bless them. They want to spiritualize them.

They want to make them into poetry. But some of us actually believe that God is going to literally fulfill them. For example, it says in Isaiah 2 that he shall judge among the nations and shall settle disputes among many different people, and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Now those words evidently are engraved in the United Nations in New York, but I need to tell you, in case you haven't heard it before, the United Nations will not bring that kind of peace to this earth.

Sorry, thank you for trying, but you're not going to do it. Only Jesus is going to do it. And he's actually going to rule. You say, well, where are we going to be? Well, if we're raptured, we're going to have glorified bodies, we may come with him. You'll notice that the scripture says all the angels are coming with him. In ancient days when a king traveled to another country, the king of France or the king of England, perhaps 1,000 or more people accompanied him. Butlers, cooks, all kinds of various servants. There would be advisors, people who would be like soldiers guarding the presence of the king, what we call today the secret service.

All of those would go with the king. And when Jesus comes to earth, what a descent it is going to be. And the Bible also talks about us coming with him at this glorious appearing when Jesus comes to this earth. That's where I believe it's going to take place. So we've looked at the time, we've looked at the place.

Who are the participants? Let's pick it up in verse 32. It says, all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from the other as a shepherd separates sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. The imagery is that of sheep and goats, the people like sheep and goats.

Now it says all the nations, ethne in Greek from which we get the word ethnicity or the ethnic differences. All of the ethnics usually referred to in the New Testament as Gentiles. All of these people are going to be gathered before him.

Who are they? They are ones who have survived this great tribulation. Remember rapture, tribulation, glorious appearing of Jesus Christ.

They've survived the great tribulation. And now they are going to stand for judgment. Whenever I would hear about the judgment of the nations when I was a child, I used to think that to all the nations would come up before God like Canada, like the United States, and then you'd have them go into one column or another just like on election night here in the United States where you have all of Illinois going democratic.

And you have all of California going. You know there was a little boy who said, daddy, daddy, do people still tell fairy tales today? And his father said, oh yes, yes, yes. And those fairy tales usually begin with, when I am elected, I will. But the judgment of the nations is not like all of the nations going in one column or another. It is an individual judgment as you can see. All of the people, the Bible says, are gathered before him. And you have some who are sheep and you have some who are goats and they are going to be set apart by the Lord and they will have two separate eternal destinies. You know you can go to Israel today if it were safe and you could see shepherds still doing this because sheep and goats graze together during the day and oftentimes at night they are separated for various reasons and the shepherd stands in front of the herd and as it comes toward him he takes his rod and he taps the sheep perhaps on the right and they go to the right and he taps the goats on the left side of their head and they go to the left. And that's the imagery that Jesus is using for this final judgment. Who are the participants? The sheep and the goats.

Another feature is the purpose of this. What is the purpose of this judgment anyway? Now we have to look at the text very specifically in verse 34. It says these words, then the king will say to those on his right, come you who are blessed by my father, take your inheritance the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. It's to determine who is going to go into this millennial kingdom over which Jesus Christ will reign and all those who go into the millennial kingdom in this context are believers and they're still going to have their earthly bodies. They will have to die someday and be resurrected because the scripture does say that in the millennial period there is going to be longevity. A child shall die being a hundred years old but the total curse has not yet been lifted and flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God so these earthly bodies cannot live in an eternal existence so what you have is Jesus here separating those who are wicked into one place and those who will enter into the millennial kingdom will enter into the kingdom that has been prepared since the foundation of the world. The goal is to determine who enters the kingdom over which Jesus shall rule. Well we've looked at the time, the glorious appearing, the place which is earth, the participants, the sheep and the goats, the purpose who goes into the kingdom but now we come to really the thing that has troubled us at times the most about this particular judgment and that is the basis upon which they are judged.

Let's read the text. You'll notice that the king says in verse 35 to the sheep who go into the kingdom, I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The king will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.

And we want to say, wow. I suppose if you believe that salvation is by works, this would be the clearest passage that you would have in all the Bible to argue that way. That if you do good deeds, you get to go into the kingdom, you get to heaven. If you do bad deeds, you're excluded.

But that would be a mistake to draw that conclusion for a number of different reasons. First of all because the Bible so clearly teaches in other passages that it is not by works. By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight. We can't be saved by good works for the simple reason that the only works that God ultimately accepts are the works of his beloved son who is perfect and unless we put our trust and faith in Jesus we will be excluded even if we happen to do some good works. That is clearly taught in the Bible. A simple fact is that the best deed in all the world is not an answer to our deep depravity and our sin. But we read this and it seems as if the basis of judgment was indeed what they did with these brothers of Jesus. And then we ask ourselves, well, you know, if good deeds were the way to heaven, what about somebody like Ted Turner? Didn't he give a billion dollars to charity or something like that and yet he claims to be an atheist?

I mean, what happens to him? This makes us look at the text a little bit more closely, doesn't it? Let's put it all in context. Who are these people anyway and these brethren? During the period of great tribulation the Bible says that there are Jews that are converted to Christ, multitudes of them. Revelation chapter 7 says 144,000 and it even lists the various tribes from which they come and it says that they are sealed and they are servants of God and catch this, they have their robes washed in the blood of the lamb. Well, during the great tribulation antichrist is ruling. Antichrist is forcing everyone to take the mark of the beast. And if you do not take the mark of the beast, the Bible says that you cannot buy or sell. You couldn't go to Jewel or Dominic's to buy a loaf of bread unless you go through some kind of a scanner or some kind of an indicator that says that you have the mark of the beast.

And so all that you can possibly do in that situation is somehow survive. And these Jews who may be the brethren about whom Jesus speaks, these Jews were helped by Gentiles, by the ethnos and they were helped because the only way that they could survive is by help. And in doing this the Gentiles, whatever problem they also had to buy or sell because they'd have been ones who didn't receive the mark of the beast either. But they at least had some kind of wiggle room whereas during the period of tribulation the Jews are specifically targeted by the greatest hate and satanic campaign in history. So for these Gentiles to help the Jews is definitely a sign that these are Gentiles who also believe in and trust the Messiah and they do not take the mark of the beast. And their good works, their good deeds are obviously an indication of who they are and who they are loyal to. And so Jesus says as a result of that, you did this to my brethren, you visited me in prison, you clothed me and because of that you will enter into the kingdom. Now hang on to that for a moment as we look at the goats and see what happens to them.

You'll notice it says in verse 41, then he will say to those on his left, depart from me you who are cursed into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not invite me and indeed I needed clothes and you did not clothe me.

I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They will also answer, Lord, come on now, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or stranger needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you? And he will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me. And then comes the most ominous verse in this whole chapter that should give us chills. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

My friend today, this is Pastor Lutzer. Isn't that sobering to think that there is going to be a time of judgment that will be so final that will be handed down by God? Let me ask you another question. Are you aware of the fact that there are businesses and schools today that if you have white skin, if you're a white, you are considered to be a racist? Now if you're a black American, the idea is that you can't be a racist because after all you are a member of the oppressed group. That kind of theory is being taught today in our schools, in our universities and in business. Do you understand what's happening?

These are the kinds of issues I discuss in my new book entitled We Will Not Be Silenced, contributing courageously to our culture's assault on Christianity. For a gift of any amount it can be yours, here's what you do. Go to That's or I'm going to give you a phone number. I hope you have time to get a pencil and write this down 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Dark days may be ahead for America, but exactly why is a matter of some debate? A listener named John has posed this question, Pastor Lutzer. In your book on Is God on America's Side, you make a case for the downfall of America because of immorality, wickedness, ungodliness and so on. However, not once that I could remember did you speak of Genesis 12-3 and the curses that come to nations that curse Israel.

Another prominent pastor and author released a book a few months back. In it, he argues that America has been blessed because of her support of Israel and will soon be cursed because America is beginning to turn from Israel. This does not seem to be what you argue in your book. So, who's right?

Well, the quick answer, John, is that both of us are. It is true that in my book I don't make any reference to America's treatment of the Jews. Many other authors have emphasized this. I wanted to emphasize that even apart from that, America, I believe, is headed for judgment.

I believe that we are a nation under judgment because you can't really explain what is happening in Washington unless you realize that there is some national blindness that is going on in this country. And so, this book was written as a warning to America because of those things. Now, I do agree that one of the reasons that God blessed America is because of our support of Israel.

However, I do not take it to an extreme like some people do. There have been those who have tried to say that every time we have not supported Israel we've had a national disaster. So, they've tried to correlate our support of Israel with natural disasters. I don't think that we can do that. It is very difficult for us to read the fine print of God's purposes.

But at the same time, you're right. I think that we should continue our support of Israel and perhaps that support is one of the reasons why God has blessed us. But even apart from that, we are internally self-destructing because of our own wickedness. Thankfully, in the midst of this, the church has been called by God to be faithful and to represent Jesus Christ in the world no matter what happens.

And that's the bottom line for you and for me. Thank you, John, for your question. Thank you, Pastor Lutzer, for that answer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or, call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Erwin Lutzer has brought part one of The Nations in Prophecy, the last in a six-part series on God and the nations. Next time, join us for more about properly interpreting prophetic scriptures. Thanks for listening. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-13 07:03:16 / 2023-12-13 07:11:55 / 9

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