By William S. Plumer, 1875
I. The doctrine of the judgment is very old. Enoch, the
seventh from Adam, foretold it as clearly as any later prophet: "Behold, the
Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all,
and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds
which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which
ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Jude 14, 15.
II. David speaks of the judgment in Psalm 1:5. But Asaph
gives a full and clear account of it in the fiftieth Psalm. There he speaks
of the grandeur of the event, of the Judge, of the persons to be judged, of
the principles on which the judgment shall be conducted, and of the results
of such judgment.
III. Our blessed Lord is still more clear and minute in
the account he gives us of this great event in Matt. 25:31-46: "When the Son
of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his
throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and
he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the
sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on
his left. "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. For 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 clothe 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 for me.' "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me,
you who are cursed, into the 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 in,
I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you
did not look after me.' "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you
hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and
did not help you?' "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did
not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they
will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
In this passage these things are notable:
1. Men have seen Christ in his shame and suffering. In
the judgment they shall see him in his glory. Ver. 31.
2. On that day he shall be attended by all the holy
angels. Ver. 31.
3. Christ shall sit as a judge upon a throne. Once he
stood, a poor, abused prisoner, at the bar of a weak creature, Pontius
Pilate. It is very different now. Ver. 31. Compare John 5:22; Acts 17:31.
4. There never was such an assemblage of men as shall
take place at the judgment. It shall consist of all nations. Ver. 32.
Compare Romans 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10.
5. The last day will be a day of great and final
separations. The sheep and goats will no longer herd together. Ver. 32, 33.
6. In the trial of saints, great prominence will be given
to their deeds of love to Christ and his people. Ver. 35, 36.
7: It will then appear that real kindness to Christ's
poor was as much esteemed by the Lord as if it had been shown to him in
person. Ver. 40.
8. There is no more just ground of condemnation than lack
of love to Christ. Ver. 42, 43. Compare 1 Cor. 16:22.
9. When his people suffer, Christ makes common cause with
them. Their insults are his insults. Ver. 45.
10. The last day shall surprise all the saints. Ver.
37-39. It will no less surprise the wicked. Ver. 44. The righteous know that
they deserve nothing good, and when great blessings come, they freely admit
they are not worthy of them. On the other hand, the wicked, in their
self-righteousness, think they deserve well at the hand of their Maker. We
often hear them say as much.
11. The saints will be well off at last. Nothing can harm
them. All good things are theirs. Ver. 34.
12. Woe to the wicked; it shall be ill with him. He shall
depart accursed. Ver. 41.
13. The consequences of the judgment, both to saints and
sinners, shall be lasting, most lasting, everlasting. Ver. 46. Compare Dan.
IV. One event of history is, and is declared to be, a
figure of the last judgment. It is the destruction of Jerusalem by the
Romans, when there was great tribulation, such as never was before, nor
since, nor ever shall be to the end of the world. If one would know
something of the horrors of the last day, let him read Matthew 24 and
Josephus' account of the destruction of the holy city.
V. The time of the judgment will be the end of the world,
immediately following the resurrection. Matt. 13:39. The last transaction
ever witnessed by earth will be the doom of the wicked.
VI. Some have asked, How long will the judgment last? It
is called a day, the day, that day, the great day, the last day; but the
term day does not necessarily fix a definite period of time. In speaking of
God's long-suffering towards sinners, Peter says, "One day is with the Lord
as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Pet. 3:8. From this
some have inferred that the judgment will last a thousand years. But the
words hardly warrant such an inference. It is enough for us to know that the
judgment will not end until God's justice is fully displayed, and until he
has brought forth the righteousness of his people as the light and their
judgment as the noonday.
VII. The MATTERS judged of in the last day will
1. Men's thoughts. "The thoughts of the wicked are
an abomination to the Lord." Proverbs 15:26. "The thought of foolishness is
sin." Proverbs 24:9. Then indeed shall the thoughts of many hearts be
revealed. Wicked thoughts are Christ's great enemies. They ought to be
exposed. There is nothing hid that shall not be known. Matt. 10:26; Mark
4:22; Luke 8:17; 12:2.
2. Men will be judged for their words, good and
bad. The Bible is explicit: "By your words you shall be justified, and by
your words you shall be condemned." Matt. 12:37. Yes, "every idle word that
men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."
3. Men shall be judged by and for their acts, both
open and secret. "Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to
judgment: and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of
some are manifest beforehand: and they that are otherwise cannot be hid." 1
Tim. 5:24, 25. It must be so. It cannot be otherwise; for "all things are
naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do." Heb. 4:13.
God "will render to every man according to his deeds." Romans 2:6. This has
always been the doctrine of God's prophets. Compare Psalm 28:4; Isaiah
59:18. If men receive the fruit of their own doings they have none to blame
VIII. On the last day "the heavens shall pass away with a
great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also
and the works that are therein shall be burned up." 2 Pet.3:10. God shall
fold up the heavens as a vesture, and they shall be changed. Heb. 1:12. No
more place shall be found for any of the magnificent structures or cities of
earth. Rev. 20:11.
IX. "Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and
godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God,
wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall
melt with fervent heat?" 2 Pet. 3:12. Oh that we all may be found of him in
peace, without spot, and blameless.