The Olivet Discourse --Part 4

The Olivet Discourse
Part 4

W. Fraser Naismith

In the part of this article presented in the September issue, Mr. Naismith called attention to the fact that God appoints the time for the fulfilment of His purpose. He also mentioned the significance of the title “Son of Man” in connection with Christ’s glory. We regret that the urgency of the discussion appearing at present in The Forum required more space than usual, and that the article on prophecy was broken at a reference to the Throne-Sitter segregating the sheep from the goats.

May we ask our indulgent readers to peruse again the paragraphs in the September Prophecy section.

When first the foundations of the earth were laid, God anticipated this moment when Christ would address those on the right hand as “blessed of My Father.” He does not say “Blessed of your Father” but “blessed of My Father.” There is a remarkable difference here.

As He proceeds with His observations, He indicates that He has been cognizant of all that has transpired during the day of opportunity, citing acts and impulses which had governed them during the absence of the Lord. He commends them commensurate with their acts. The words used by the Lord would remind us of the statement He made to Saul of Tarsus as he proceeded on the Damascus road in his wild endeavour to extirpate the followers of Christ, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” In touching the saints Saul was touching Christ. He is the Head of the Body and was first to feel the smart of the persecution being directed against His own. The people on His right hand here learn that acts which they accomplished had not only been done to “My brethren” but to Himself. When Christ uses the words “My brethren” He is not referring to those whom He is not ashamed to call “My brethren” in Hebrews 2:12. These are the saints of the present economy, but He alludes to the messengers of the Gospel of the Kingdom — Jewish brethren — for, as they had accepted their message and believed their testimony, they had acted towards Christ. They had received the preachers of the Gospel of the Kingdom, caring for them in the hours of persecution and trial, and loved them when others had turned their backs on them. For them the kingdom was prepared and when He reigns whose right it is then those righteous ones shall inherit all that was divinely prepared from the foundation of the world.

Those on the left hand are now addressed, and the words uttered are solemn and sad. Christ says, “Depart from Me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Their ultimate destiny is “everlasting fire,” and they are designated “cursed”; moreover the doom is that “prepared for the devil and his angels.” It was not prepared for mankind, but for the devil and his angels: but guilty sinners rightly deserve such a doom. The devil and his angels were not tempted like our first parents; they deliberately defied God’s authority, selecting their own way which ends in eternal despair. Man was tempted and succumbed; and for those who are unrighteous the destiny is that which was primarily prepared for others — the devil and his angels. Men, however, who despise the truth shall share the everlasting fire in company with those rebellious angelic hosts.

The people on the left hand are judged by a similar process as those on the right hand. They had refused comfort to the outcasts; bread to the hungry; drink to the thirsty; consolation and love to the imprisoned; and clothing to the naked. In all these things they had failed to minister to Christ who is conversant with every impulse of the human soul, and who bestows a blessing on a cup of water given in the name of a disciple.

The concluding verse of this chapter indicates certain facts from which we cannot withdraw. First of all, those on the left hand shall “go away into everlasting punishment.” If we link this with verse 41 we can discern in some small degree the ultimate sorrow and suffering that will be the portion of all who leave out of account the Son of God. “These shall go away.” If one can discern or appreciate the character of the Throne-sitter we can understand how the unrighteous will be glad to take their departure from the presence of the righteous Judge. This reminds us of the scene depicted in Revelation 6:15-17 when the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mightly men, and every bondman, and every free man shall hide themselves from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb. The eyes of the Throne-sitter are as a flame of fire, and His voice as the sound of many waters; and dread and fear shall grip the lost as they stand exposed before His throne of righteousness and glory.

The righteous go into life eternal. The kingdom is alluded to in verse 34 as that in which the righteous shall share the delights of His millennial reign. The mediator character of the kingdom envisages the redeemed on high controlling under Christ according to Luke 19; and the righteous on earth sharing the delights of the earthly aspect of the kingdom, and inheriting it, as announced in verse 34. It would synchronize with the concluding words of this chapter (Matt. 25) “But the righteous into life eternal,” to suggest that when the Millennial Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has been terminated for “He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and ‘power” (1 Cor. 15:24). The righteous who have shared in the delights of the kingdom rule shall not participate in the rebellion that will take place consequent upon Satan being loosed from his prison house, the bottomless pit, where he has been incarcerated for one thousand years. They will be loyal to the One who has ruled during such a lengthy period in equity, and shall enter the new earth to which Peter refers in his last letter, in the last chapter.

The process of judging the “quick.” or living, is now concluded. He had commenced with the judgment of the fighting forces of the world, and bit by bit they had been exterminated; sometimes by open conflict, at other times, by divine intervention. This has paved the way for the judgment of the living nations, i.e. the civilian population, those who were too young or too aged for military service, and those who were incapacitated. Such shall be judged when the Righteous Judge of all the earth —the Son of Man — shall sit upon the throne of His glory.