I was recently conversing with an amillennialist concerning the nature of Matthew 25 and its placement in the scheme of the end of days. Amillinnelaists, for those new to end time study, deny a future, earthly, 1000 year reign of Christ. The term derives from A– meaning “no” and millenia – meaning 1000. Simply, the amillenialist believes that we are currently living in a symbolic 1000 year reign where believers are “now” reigning with Christ in fullness, Satan was bound at the cross and is currently bound; and the Second Advent will complete, rather than inaugurate, the Kingdom of God.
My point of this post isn’t to present the strengths and weaknesses of this view. Rather, it is to convey something that came to me through this discussion.
Our conversation focused around the subject of “millennial humans” surviving the tribulation, not being raptured at the Second Coming, not being consumed by the wrath of God, and finally going on repopulate the earth under the leadership of Jesus. I of course the proponent of this view and he, denying the idea.
Our focus was the beautiful text of Matthew 25:31-46
Mat 25:31 But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory:
Mat 25:32 and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;
Mat 25:33 and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Here we find a) Jesus coming and sitting on His throne of glory b) the gathering of all the nations who have survived the tribulation c) a court case taking place that separates sheep (believers) from goats (unbelievers).
His point was that if the sheep are believers, who inherit eternal life, and the goats are unbelievers, who are sent away to eternal punishment – where are the third group of humans who are neither saved or sent to punishment? It is this third group of humans that I believe to repopulate the millennial earth under Jesus’ leadership as King of the nations.
The wording used in vrs 31 denotes that this court case occurs right after Jesus is seated on His throne of glory. My view, that there were indeed humans that survived the tribulation and went on into the millennium retaining their human state, forced me to place this event at the end of the millennium; to which end, ashamed to say, I sought to persuade my comrade.
I was sure that Isaiah 4, 10, 11, 65, 66, Joel 2, Zech 12, 14 made it strikingly clear that there was a “remnant” of humanity left after the terror of the tribulation. Jesus said himself that, “unless those days (refering to the tribulation) were shortened, no flesh would be saved.(see Mt. 24:22)” Why would Jesus want flesh to be saved if the end of the tribulation resulted in the final eternal redemption and destruction of humanity?
Yet, this Matthew passage had me confused. Why were there only 2 groups being mentioned and where were those who didn’t take the mark of beast nor receive salvation and get raptured with the rest of the saints?
An idea came to me this morning. What if the groups mentioned in Matt. 25:31-46 are not composed of believers at all. Rather, when all the nations are gathered, present are humans who have not sealed their fate by taking the mark of the beast (we’ll call these the reprobate), nor have they been raptured because they have not received salvation – we’ll call these the resistors. The other group would be those who have taken the mark of the beast but were not killed in the tribulational judgments nor at the battle of Armageddon.
So, the sheep are those resistors who deciede to received salvation by confessing that Jesus is, in fact, Lord. And the goats are resitors and the reprobate who deny the cross of Christ (cf Is. 24:21, 22). Therefore, Matt. 25:31-46 is at the beginning of the millennium and the saints do not make up any of the 2 groups who are judged.