Judgment of the Nations: Part 1

Psalm 82
The last verse of this psalm contains the subject that is to occupy us this evening: “Arise, O God, judge the earth; for Thou shalt inherit all nations.” It is God who is to judge the earth, and, as the consequence of this judgment, to become possessor of all the nations.
We have spoken of Christ, Heir of all things with the church His co-heir; then of the coming of Christ, or of the moment when He takes the inheritance. The appearing of the church is to be with Him in glory: it is the time when the risen church shares its inheritance with Him. Even departed souls, blessed as they are with Him, wait for the resurrection of their bodies to enjoy the fullness of blessing and glory. Therefore a Christian may desire death, because he is thereby delivered from all affliction and suffering; but he awaits the resurrection for the consummation of his glory. We have spoken of the progress of evil, and proved that, so far from the world being converted by the preaching of the gospel, the tares are to increase and ripen until the harvest. And, in our last lecture, we have pointed out the evil come to its closing fullness in the beast that goes into perdition (or the apostasy of the civil power of the fourth empire), and, in the false prophet, who exercises his energy in its presence and who is destroyed along with it.
We have seen that there are two beasts, and that the second is transformed into the false prophet. Compare Rev. 13 with the end of ch. 19.
Now the scene extends a little; and we shall see not only the fourth empire destroyed but all the nations judged. All the races of men existing upon the earth, and formed into peoples as the result of the division of Noah's sons, will be found at the end gathered together and judged of God. All that is high and proud will be abased by the power and glory of God, in order that He in full blessing may enjoy the kingdom and enter upon the inheritance of all the nations.
At our last meeting I dealt with the most difficult part, the point where the two dispensations meet, and where the evil caused by the ruin of the present dispensation requires the intervention of God, and consequently the judgment which terminates it. I have spoken of the apostasy and of the Antichrist specially, because it is in fact the consummation of the apostasy. But when this event takes place, there is also the judgment of all the nations. Not only does God judge the last revolt of the Antichrist and of the beast; but, having made His power felt, and the moment of His wrath being come, He judges all the nations.
This is what we read in Rev. 11:15-1815And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, 17Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. 18And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:15‑18), “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The world-kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ is come; and He shall reign forever and ever. And the four and twenty elders who sit before God on the thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, saying, We give Thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, Which art, and wast [and art to come]; because Thou hast taken to Thee Thy great power, and hast reigned. And the nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that Thou shouldest give reward unto Thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and unto them that fear Thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.”
Let us follow up the passages which speak on the same subject.
We before remarked, that the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the true King over the whole earth, was presented to the fourth beast and to the Jews, that is, to the Gentiles and Jews (to the Gentiles in the person of Pontius Pilate, and to the Jews in the person of the high priest). He was presented to the world and to His own, and was rejected. But in a much more extended sense it is said, “The nations were angry, and Thy wrath is come.” It is the wrath of God breaking forth against them in judgment by His Son.
Psa. 2 Two things are set forth here. First, the Son is anointed (margin) King upon Zion, God's holy hill, and then He has the heathen for His inheritance: Zion is His throne; the nations, His inheritance. Secondly, His way of dealing with the nations is a way entirely opposed to the gospel— “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.” The scepter (rod) of Christ, in the gospel, is a rod of goodness and love; it is everything that is most sweet and most powerful in His love; it is not a scepter of iron. The psalmist is speaking of the kings of the earth: “Be wise now, therefore, O ye kings;......kiss the Son.” The decree of God is, that His Son shill be anointed, that is, declared King over all the earth; and He invites the kings of the earth to submit themselves to Him He says to them, “I am about to speak in My wrath; I give the heritage of the nations to Christ: He will bruise you with a rod of iron; He will break you in pieces. Now then submit yourselves to Him, to My Son, King in Zion.” These kings follow their own ways: their policy is settled according to the wisdom of man. Alas! it is not of Christ, King in Zion, that they think. Go and speak to the kings of the earth of Christ, King in Zion: you would be taken for one out of his senses. Nevertheless God has decreed His reign surely, irrevocably; and He will bring it to pass in spite of the kings of the earth. He will establish Him King in Zion, and will give Him the nations as His heritage, and the ends of the earth for His possession. “Now,” says He by the prophet Micah, “shall He be great unto the ends of the earth” (Micah 5:44And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. (Micah 5:4)).
At the birth of Christ, hatred burst forth upon the least appearance of His royalty. When the cry was heard that a king had appeared, immediate efforts were made to get rid of Him. Will the nations then, at last, listen to the invitation made to them to submit themselves? The answer is to be found in Psa. 82
These judges of the earth will have to give an account of their conduct. “They know not, neither do they understand.” “I have said, Ye are gods,” for God Himself had set them as having authority over the earth ("the powers that be are ordained of God”); but God shall judge them. It is not Christians who hold this threatening language; it is He who has the right of judging those whom He has named judges—of setting aside those subaltern powers, in order to take to Himself His great power and reign.
We find in Psa. 9:1-111<<To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.>> I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works. 2I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. 3When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence. 4For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right. 5Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever. 6O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them. 7But the Lord shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment. 8And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness. 9The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble. 10And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. 11Sing praises to the Lord, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings. (Psalm 9:1‑11), that the place where this judgment will be exercised is the land of Israel, and that the Lord will manifest Himself in this act of power. Verse 5 runs, “Thou hast rebuked the heathen; thou hast destroyed the wicked (Antichrist); thou hast put out their name forever and ever.” In verses 15-20 it is not the language of the gospel; it is the prophetic anticipation—the righteous demand—of judgment. This it is which explains those difficulties which Christians often find in the Psalms, owing to not having understood the difference of the dispensations. To convert the wicked, by the announcement of the grace of God, is the gospel; what we have been reading is something quite different. Once the gospel has run its course, Christ will demand righteous judgment against the world. It is no longer Christ, at the right hand of the Father, sending down the Holy Ghost to gather together His co-heirs; but Christ calling for righteousness and asking for it (generally by His Spirit in the humble and lowly ones of the Jewish nation) against the proud and violent men. If God were not to execute judgment, the evil would only grow worse and worse without any consolation for the faithful. God does not execute it until the evil has arrived at its height. Antichrist and the nations rise up against God and His Christ, and the earth must be cleared of His enemies to give place to the reign of God Himself. It is not David asking to rule over his enemies; but Christ who demands judgment, because the time is come.
We may observe the same truth in Psa. 10:15-1615Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none. 16The Lord is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. (Psalm 10:15‑16): “The Lord is King for over and ever; the heathen are perished out of His land.” There is a general principle running through this class of psalms, of a terrible judgment upon the wickedness of the nations—God acting as judge in the midst of the judges.
A passage in Isa. 2:12-2212For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low: 13And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan, 14And upon all the high mountains, and upon all the hills that are lifted up, 15And upon every high tower, and upon every fenced wall, 16And upon all the ships of Tarshish, and upon all pleasant pictures. 17And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 18And the idols he shall utterly abolish. 19And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. 20In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats; 21To go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. 22Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of? (Isaiah 2:12‑22) also presents to us the great day of Jehovah on the earth: “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon the high and lofty when He ariseth to shake terribly the earth.” It is not for the judgment of the dead, but of the earth.
To make you understand that this judgment applies to all nations, and that it is after this, and by this means, that God will fill the earth with the knowledge of His name, we beg you to turn to Zeph. 3:88Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. (Zephaniah 3:8): “Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms to pour upon them My indignation, even all My fierce anger; for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.” The intention of God is to assemble the nations to pour upon them His indignation—a terrible judgment. For our expectation then, when and how the knowledge of Jehovah shall fill the earth, we refer to verse 9. This blessing will come to pass after He shall have executed the judgment, and put away the evildoers. The passage is a very explicit revelation.
Again, we say, that the determination of Jehovah is to assemble the kingdoms, to pour out on them His indignation, and all the fierceness of His wrath. It will be a terrible day, and one which the world ought to be expecting.
Another passage in support of the truth we are urging is found in Psa. 110: “The LORD (Jehovah) said unto my Lord, Sit thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Jesus is set down at the right hand of God the Father, until His enemies are made His footstool. Until that time He acts by His Spirit to gather together Christians; He sends down the Holy Ghost to convince us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. But the day will come when God will make His enemies His footstool, and it is on this account, perhaps, that Jesus says, “Of that day knoweth no man neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:3232But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. (Mark 13:32)). It is written, that He will inherit all things. This has been prophesied of Me; Jehovah said to Me, “Sit thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” It is not such a year, such a day; but He goes to sit at the right hand of God until—until the moment when the Father will have accomplished this decree: for the Lord Jesus, God blessed forever, receives the kingdom as Man, as mediator. Now, as to the accomplishment of the decree, it is when “Jehovah shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion.” We discern the boundary of this dispensation clearly marked, that is, Christ set down at the right hand of Jehovah, until Jehovah put His enemies under His feet. After that come the words, “Rule thou in the midst of Thine enemies.” This is what Jehovah will accomplish, when the Lord, at the commencement of the exercise of His power, shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath, shall judge among the heathen, shall fill the places with the dead bodies, and shall wound the heads over many countries. 1
In Jer. 25:2828And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink. (Jeremiah 25:28), the same subject is presented; and it is the end of all that we see around us: “And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Ye shall certainly drink” (see also ver. 31).
There are yet two facts to remark. First, it is at Jerusalem principally that all this disaster will take place; secondly, God has named in His word all the nations which will participate in it. We shall see all the descendants of Noah, of whom we have the catalog in Gen. 10 reappear on the scene at the moment of this judgment of God. We shall find nearly all of them under the beast or under Gog.
(To be continued)