The Coming Judgments and Resurrections (Part 1)
At the Second Coming
At the Second Coming when Christ establishes His millennial kingdom, three different judgments will take place.
The judgment of living Gentiles
All Gentiles who survive the Tribulation will be judged immediately after the Second Coming as Christ sits on his throne. The saved will enter the millennial kingdom, and the lost will be cast into hell.
Yes, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and take them to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. I will enter into judgment with them there because of my people, my inheritance Israel. The nations have scattered the Israelites in foreign countries and divided up my land (Joel 3:1-2).
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on the left… And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:31-46).
The Matthew 25 passage tells us that when Jesus returns, He will gather the nations together and separate all the people into two groups, the “sheep,” which represent the saved, and the “goats,” which represent the unsaved. Everyone’s spiritual condition will determine whether they are sheep or goats. The righteous will be welcomed into His kingdom, while the unsaved will be sent away into eternal punishment. How people treated the Jews during the Tribulation will serve as evidence as to their spiritual condition (cf. Revelation 12:13-16). Those who persecuted and treated the Jews badly are regarded as the unrighteous, while those who protected and supported the Jews will be regarded as the righteous. Charles Ryrie states that,
“The basis of judging will be the treatment by these Gentiles of a group which Jesus called “My brethren” (Matt. 25:40). Who are Jesus’ “brethren”? The answer may be determined by elimination. Since Christ is present as Judge, and the church has been raptured, and living Gentiles are being judged, the only group left would seem to be the Jews of the Tribulation.”1
Those being judged here are those who survived the Great Tribulation. The saved who are welcomed into His kingdom will enter in their natural, physical bodies, and will propagate and repopulate the earth during Christ’s millennial kingdom.
The judgment of the living Jews
All Jews who survive the Tribulation will be judged in the wilderness right after the Second Coming. The saved will enter the kingdom, and the unsaved will be purged.
I will bring you from the peoples and gather you from the countries where you were scattered, with a strong hand, an outstretched arm, and outpoured wrath. I will lead you into the wilderness of the peoples and enter into judgment with you there face to face. Just as I entered into judgment with your ancestors in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you. This is the declaration of the Lord God. I will make you pass under the rod and will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who rebel and transgress against me. I will bring them out of the land where they live as foreign residents, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord (Ezek. 20:34-38, see also Matt. 25:1-30).
Once the Lord has defeated His enemies at Armageddon, Matthew 24 tells us that the Jews will be gathered back to Israel where they will be judged as the Gentiles were.
He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other (Matthew 24:31).
Jewish believers will be welcomed into the kingdom where God will fulfill His covenant promises made to the Patriarchs. The unsaved Jews will be cut-off and sent away into eternal punishment. The Jews entering the millennial kingdom will do so in their natural, physical bodies and will also have part in the repopulation of the earth.
The judgment of the Old Testament and Tribulation believers
All Old Testament believers will be resurrected and rewarded after the Second Coming.
At that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time. But at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape. Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake, some to eternal life, and some to disgrace and eternal contempt. Those who have insight will shine like the bright expanse of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:1-3).
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will reward each according to what he has done (Matthew 16:27).
Those who trust Christ during the Tribulation and die for their faith will be resurrected and rewarded at the end of the Tribulation.
Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.
This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).
After His Millennial Kingdom
God’s judgments will be completed when the millennial reign of Christ ends, and the three final judgments take place. These three final judgments are necessary to prepare God’s eternal kingdom.
The judgment of Satan and the fallen angels
The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (Revelation 20:10).
God will finally consign the devil and all of his cohorts not to the temporary abyss, but to the lake of fire, which had originally been prepared for “the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
According to Paul, believers will play a role in their judgment (1 Corinthians 6:3). Scripture indicates that they will be judged for their sin and rebellion (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6-7), and even though Satan’s defeat and fate were sealed at the cross, it is not until the end of the Millennium that God casts him into the Lake of Fire forever.
The judgment that destroys the present heavens and earth by fire
While the Day of the Lord will begin secretly, it will conclude with the great change. The earth and the elements of which make it up will undergo an incredible change.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed (2 Peter 3:10).
This present earth and its atmosphere will be burned.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more (Revelation 21:1).
For I will create new heavens and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind… “For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, will remain before me”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“so your offspring and your name will remain” (Isaiah 65:17; 66:22).
This destruction is necessary because of the remaining elements of the curse placed on creation and because of the presence of sin in the universe. God will incinerate the universe to the extent that even that which makes up matter (atoms, neutrons, protons, and electrons) will all disintegrate. The old heaven and earth will be replaced, and it will last forever. Isaiah 65:17 supports the idea that this new heavens and earth will be a brand-new creation (the Hebrew word bara means to create ex nihilo) rather than a renovation of the old.
For I will create new heavens and a new earth; the past events will not be remembered or come to mind.
The judgment of the unsaved
This judgment is commonly referred to as the Great White Throne judgment.
Then I saw a great white throne and one seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them; each one was judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
According to John 5:22, the Father has given all judgment into the hands of the Son.
The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son.
This passage describes the final judgment of unredeemed mankind. While the martyred Tribulation saints were resurrected just before the Millennium, and Christians were resurrected at the Rapture, Revelation 20:5 tells us that “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed.” Now is their time.
First Thessalonians 4:16 describes Christians as the “dead in Christ.” Those who stand in this judgment are “the dead, the great and the small.” These are the unsaved from all ages, and all unsaved people will be resurrected at this time and will stand before Christ to be judged (cf. John 5:22, 26-29).
The unsaved will be judged according to their works. When they appear before Christ, two books will be opened: The Book of Life and the books of works, which contains the evidence that will show the judgment executed is fair and right.
These statements immediately call our attention back to the words of the Lord Jesus: “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3, NIV). And “there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” (Luke 8:17, NIV).
We recall Ecclesiastes 12:14, which promises, “for God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil,” as well as Romans 2:5-6, where Paul speaks of the day of God’s wrath “…when God’s righteous judgment is revealed. He will repay each one according to his works.”
Because there is none righteous, every person who stands before Christ will find that their works are inadequate, and because they never placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, their names will not be found in the Book of Life.
After their judgment, the unsaved will be thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is said to be the second death.
1 Charles C. Ryrie, The Final Countdown, Op. cit., p. 111.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Christian Standard Bible. Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible®, and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers, all rights reserved.
Dr. Miguel J. Gonzalez is the Founder and President of Reasons for Faith International Ministries. He served as a pastor for ten years in Charlotte, NC and has taught in churches and conferences throughout the United States. He currently hosts the Time in the Word and Truth To Live By podcasts and writes at KnowingChristianity.blogspot.com.
Copyright © 2006–2021 by Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D. and published by Reasons for Faith International Ministries, Inc. by permission. No part may be altered or edited in any way. Permission is granted to use in digital or printed form so long as it is circulated without charge, and in its entirety. This document may not be repackaged in any form for sale or resale. All reproductions must contain the copyright notice (i.e., Copyright © 2006-2021 Miguel J. Gonzalez Th.D.) and this Copyright/Limitations notice.