AN ARMY OF JUDGES
Copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Table of Contents
Do you not know the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! (I Corinthians 6:2,3)
Apparently, before the earth was created, many of God’s angels — some of high rank in Heaven — rebelled against the Father. God at that time did not execute the final judgment against the rebels, but instead created a new race of creatures — man. The new race is to govern all the works of God’s hands, acting as judges of the creation, and the angels are to minister to them.
When the Lord Jesus returns, the army of angels and the army of judges will return with Him. We are approaching the closing days of the Church Age and the culmination of the Day of the Lord. This means we of the Christian churches will undergo the severe training required of all who will judge God’s creatures.
Let me present a few of the numerous passages of the Old and New Testaments that speak of the saints bringing judgment on the sin in the world. After that, we will think about the kind of change that must occur in the Christian churches if we are to appear with Christ — for we are not nearly ready for such a responsibility!
The Army of Judges
When we are thinking about the army of judges and their appearing with the Lord Jesus, we must realize Christ is not coming to take His Church to Heaven. Although this is commonly preached and believed, there is not a passage of Scripture that supports this doctrine. The Lord is coming with His saints, an army of judges, to establish His Kingdom on the earth. This concept is presented many times in both Testaments. Think carefully about the following:
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
When Christ who is our life appears, we are going to appear with Him, not disappear with Him as in the unscriptural teaching of the “rapture.”
When Jesus Christ comes again, the Church will come with Him. The Lord will ride at the head of an army of judges. These judges, working side by side with the angels who do the actual fighting in the spirit realm, will drive sin from the earth. It is no wonder Satan has persuaded the Christians that Christ is going to snatch His judges from the earth and put them safely in mansions in Heaven. I would preach this too if I were Satan. The two armies (angels and judges) will accomplish at least four things at their coming.
- They will execute judgment on the believers in the Christian churches who live according to their sinful nature.
- They will destroy the armies of Antichrist in the Plain of Megiddo, releasing Israel from bondage. God will forgive the sins of the Jews and pour out His Spirit on them, just as He did on Saul of Tarsus. Then all Israel will be saved.
- They will drive all wicked spirits from the earth, including the demons, the fallen angels, and the people who are filled with evil.
- They will attract the meek of the earth who were never part of Antichrist’s arrogant followers. The meek will see Jesus in them and be saved. Then the Lord’s judges, with the help of the angels, will govern the nations of the saved for the thousand years.
See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. (Isaiah 60:2,3)
You wouldn’t want to be hiding in a mansion in Heaven while all this is going on, would you? How about a passage that completely demolishes the present concept that the Lord is going to save His people by carrying them away to Heaven?
Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. (II Thessalonians 1:4,5)
Can you see in the above passage that the saints in Thessalonica were suffering persecution and trials? How will God deliver them, according to Paul? Will God catch them up to Heaven in a “rapture”?
God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. (II Thessalonians 1:6,7)
No, God will not deliver them by catching them up to Heaven. Rather God will “pay back trouble” to the troublers and provide relief to the Thessalonians, and to the Apostle Paul as well. God will provide relief, not by carrying them to Heaven, but by attacking those who were harming the saints in Thessalonica. Is this what the Scripture teaches?
But when will God relieve the saints in Thessalonica by attacking those who were harming them? “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” The suffering saints will be relieved when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven. This is what the Scripture teaches.
And we saw previously in Colossians that when the Lord is revealed, the deceased saints will be revealed with Him. This thought appears also in First Thessalonians chapter four in the famous “rapture” passage.
So we see two armies that will relieve the saints on earth. The army of saints who have come from Heaven, and the army of powerful angels who also have appeared from Heaven. Is this or is it not clearly scriptural?
He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (II Thessalonians 1:8,9)
The wicked will perish in that day, as we read so many times in the Old Testament when the Day of the Lord is being described. But when will this take place?
On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. (II Thessalonians 1:10)
Can any serious student of the Bible maintain that the Thessalonian saints were promised deliverance by being carried to Heaven? No, this is not a possible interpretation. Were the suffering Thessalonians to be delivered by a “rapture?” No, they were not. (This passage leads me to believe that Paul thought the Lord was coming in his lifetime.)
But the persecuted saints who are alive on earth when the Lord appears will be delivered from the Antichrist world when the Thessalonian saints and Paul descend from Heaven, receive their bodies back from the ground, and then, along with the living saints, ascend to meet the Lord in the air.
Then the two armies of saints and angels will descend and destroy from the earth all who would harm God’s people.
This is the only end-time deliverance from the wickedness of the world that the Bible mentions. There absolutely is no support whatever for the unscriptural teaching that an invisible Christ will come and catch up the believers prior to His biblical appearing. The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture of the saints simply cannot be found in the first chapter of Second Thessalonians — or anywhere else in the Scriptures for that matter. It is contrary to one of the principal concepts of the entire Bible, which is the coming of the Lord with His saints to establish His Kingdom on the earth.
I said earlier we would look at some of the passages that speak of the coming of the army of judges, and then of the required change in the Christian religion as we practice it today.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14)
The fine linen, white and clean, is the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8). Because of the current false teaching in the Christian churches, the believers do not practice righteous behavior. As the Spirit of God moves today to prepare the army of judges, the great emphasis is on righteous behavior. Imputed righteousness, which we are given when we first receive the Lord Jesus as our Lord and Savior, is intended to serve while we learn from the Spirit of God how to behave righteously.
When we attempt to use imputed righteousness as a permanent way of relating to God, we are endeavoring to change the grace of God into an excuse for immorality, as Jude says.
The army of saints is sometimes associated with horses, when the Old Testament describes the Day of the Lord, just as we see in Revelation (above).
Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots? (Habakkuk 3:8)
They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. (Joel 2:4)
I mentioned previously four responsibilities of the two armies when they appear with Jesus Christ in the Day of the Lord.
- They will execute judgment on the believers in the Christian churches who live according to their sinful nature.
- They will destroy the armies of Antichrist in the Plain of Megiddo, releasing Israel from bondage. God will forgive the sins of the Jews and pour out His Spirit on them, just as He did on Saul of Tarsus. Thus all Israel will be saved.
- They will drive all wicked spirits from the earth, including the demons, the fallen angels, and the people who are filled with evil.
- They will attract the meek of the earth who never were part of Antichrist’s arrogant followers. The meek will see Jesus in them and be saved. Then the Lord’s judges, with the help of the angels, will govern the nations of the saved for the thousand years.
Let’s look at the scriptural basis for each of these four responsibilities.
First, they will execute judgment on the believers in the Christian churches who live according to their sinful nature.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14,15)
“These men,” in the above verse, are ungodly people who have found their way into the assemblies of Christians. Notice also:
The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” (Isaiah 33:14)
Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand (Joel 2:1)
Can you see that the return of Jesus will be a period of terror for the sinners in Zion, for those in the churches who live according to the sinful nature?
Let’s look at the second responsibility of the two armies that appear with the Lord when He returns to earth: They will destroy the armies of Antichrist in the Plain of Megiddo, releasing Israel from bondage. God will forgive the sins of the Jews and pour out His Spirit on them, just as He did on Saul of Tarsus. Thus all Israel will be saved.
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. (Zechariah 14:2,3)
You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. (Zechariah 14:5)
This is the appearing of Christ with His saints, His holy ones, to deliver the Jews from Antichrist.
And as to the deliverance of the Jews from sin:
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” (Romans 11:26,27)
A third responsibility of the two armies is to drive all wicked spirits from the earth, including the demons, the fallen angels, and the people who are filled with evil.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20)
“Then you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,” says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 4:3)
May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, To inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the LORD. (Psalm 149:6-9)
The fourth responsibility of the two armies is to attract the meek of the earth who were never part of Antichrist’s arrogant followers. The meek will see Jesus in them and be saved. Then the Lord’s judges, with the help of the angels, will govern the nations of the saved for the thousand years.
Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. (Isaiah 60:5)
The prospect of the saved nations of the earth coming to us with their families to be blessed by Christ who will be dwelling in us makes life in a mansion up in Heaven look rather undesirable. At least this is how I regard the two options. How about you? I have had enough experience with people as a public-school teacher and principal and a pastor to know people are the only inheritance worth having. Without people to love, backyards full of diamonds mean nothing at all.
Have you ever thought about the following verse?
That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so the world may believe you have sent me. (John 17:21)
“That the world may believe you have sent me.” When the unified and glorified Church appears with Jesus Christ, the meek of the earth (not the wicked) will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved.
There are several more passages of the Bible that speak of the coming of Christ with His saints and angels to execute judgment on the ungodly.
The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed. (Micah 5:8,9)
See, the day of the LORD is coming — a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless. (Isaiah 13:9-11)
Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD’s. (Obadiah 1:21)
It is obvious the return of the Lord is different from what is pictured today. It is not to “catch His waiting bride away,” but to accomplish the four tasks we have outlined above. It really is a much better vision, if you think about it, than singing and shouting and dancing about for a thousand years. This could get boring, at least when compared with the glorious prospect of establishing the Kingdom of God on the earth. How do you feel about this?
Now we will think about the change that must take place in the thinking and practices of Christian believers if we are to be prepared to appear with the Lord and accomplish the scriptural promises associated with His return.
The Required Preparation
If we are to be God’s judges, and the Scripture is indisputably clear that we are, then we must know the difference between right and wrong, and we must be people who always choose the right and resist the wrong.
A judge is in a very weak position, especially when judging angels, when he himself is guilty of the sin that is in question. Isn’t that so? Even today, when it is known that a judge has been guilty of drunk driving, he doesn’t have the moral high ground when an individual accused of drunk driving is brought before him.
The Christian people of today have experienced salvation. They have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and have been baptized in water. Many of the Christian people also have experienced the baptism with the Holy Spirit to the extent they have spoken in tongues, perhaps prophesied, and are accustomed to prolonged praise and worship.
But it appears that few of the multitudes of Christian people understand the power of the new covenant to provide victory over worldliness, over physical lusts and excesses, and over self-will. They are babies when it comes to actual righteousness of behavior.
Much Christian doctrine works against the development of godly behavior in the believers. The prevailing opinion seems to be that godly behavior is what the Apostle Paul meant by “works” and therefore is the enemy of the believer who is seeking to be justified by faith. The “works” the Apostle Paul was referring to was the Law of Moses. Paul told us several times that if the believer in Christ chooses to be the servant of his or her sinful nature, he or she will die spiritually and not inherit the Kingdom of God. This interpretation seems to not be present in the footnotes of the various editions of the Bible.
We truly are in a horrid doctrinal chaos and greatly in need of a reformation of Christian thinking.
The lawless-grace-rapture-heaven teaching that is the common fare presented to believers, sometimes accompanied by an emphasis on getting rich by faith in Christ, works greatly to Satan’s advantage, if you think about it. It prevents the development of righteous judges who are a danger to Satan’s kingdom. How could a baby believer of today appear with Christ and judge angels? He would be more concerned with getting rich!
The “rapture” concept that Christ is coming to remove His Church from the earth keeps the believers from understanding the installation of the Kingdom of God on the earth.
The idea that we are going to spend eternity in Heaven doing nothing of significance cuts us off from the Prophets of the Old Testament, making the Old Testament unintelligible for the most part.
The bottom line is that Satan’s kingdom is secure. Can you see this?
Now let’s see what the Bible has to say about growth in righteousness.
Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13,14)
How many believe the army of judges who appear with Christ will be spiritual infants? What…? No one? Well, we better get busy, hadn’t we?
What is a spiritual infant? Someone who is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Who gets the solid food? The believer who by constant use has trained himself to distinguish good from evil. Implicit in this definition is that he chooses the good and rejects the evil.
The knowledge of good and evil was one of the trees of the Garden of Eden. It is a good tree, a necessary tree if we are to come to maturity in the Lord. We cannot possibly work with Jesus Christ in setting up His Kingdom on the earth if we do not know the difference between good and evil.
Do you want to have some fun? Ask a Christian what righteousness is. Just about the only people in the world who do not know what righteousness is are the Christians. This is because they have been taught error. An unsaved person, or a member of another religion, can answer your question quickly.
The reason Adam and Eve died when they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was not because the tree was bad; it was because they had not been prepared by the Lord to deal with the sin in their life in a victorious manner. All the trees of Eden were good for food, including the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)
Once we repent and receive Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, and then follow the Holy Spirit each day, we can begin to deal with the sin in our lives, as the Holy Spirit guides us. Little by little, we are given to eat of the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we may gain the strength required to deal with the sin in our own personalities. Little by little, we are given to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which also is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the eternal moral law of God made flesh, is He not? Isn’t it true that if we learn of the moral law of God before we receive Christ, who is the Tree of Life, the law of God kills us just as it slew Adam and Eve?
Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death. (Romans 7:9,10)
This is how we grow in Christ: We continually eat from the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Maturity in Christ, according to the book of Hebrews, is (1) the ability to judge between good and evil, and (2) the strength of Jesus Christ to choose the good and resist the evil.
This is the massive change that must take place in our day in the Christian churches. We must grow up to be God’s judges, because it was for this purpose that God created man — that we might judge ourselves, the world, and the angels as well. We are God’s judges, but as yet we have only been forgiven and issued a firstfruits of God’s Spirit.
A judge who is a member of the Kingdom of God must be filled with Divine Life, and must be able also to judge between good and evil. Isn’t that the truth?
God is seeking a new world in which everlasting righteousness reigns. This righteousness will come from God through the Lord Jesus Christ through the saints. It is not a legally ascribed righteousness; it is an actual righteousness of thinking, speaking, and acting, for these compose the Kingdom of God.
In addition to growing in the knowledge of good and evil, we must learn to obey God perfectly. In God’s army, there cannot be one soldier who does not walk in the Lord’s path for him, following Christ in every detail.
- In God’s army there is no gossiping, no slandering a fellow Christian.
- In God’s army there is no unbelief or fearfulness so that the ranks are broken when it comes against the forces of the enemy.
- In God’s army there is no grumbling and complaining against the leadership. Every soldier understands who he is to obey, and there is no mutiny, no rebellion.
All of this must be accomplished in the Christian churches if we are to be raised from the dead and rise to meet the Lord in the air, for the next coming of the Lord is that of the Commander in Chief who is ready to attack all the forces of Antichrist.
The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. (Revelation 19:14,15)
Christ is dressed in a robe dipped in His own blood, so terrible is the unleashing of the wrath of God against all who have rebelled against Him.
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? (Joel 2:10,11)
Are you and your household prepared for the coming of the great and dreadful Day of the Lord, or are you hopping up and down next to your pew, hoping for an unscriptural “rapture” to take place?
These last days are so demonized that we no longer can rely on our traditions. We absolutely must read the Bible for ourselves, and then stick with the written Word of God, not with the ideas of people who have constructed a private interpretation of the Scriptures.
How do you feel about this?
You know, we need to think more about the importance of judgment in the end-time battle.
I have been reading for the third time This Present Darkness (Frank Peretti, Inspirational Press). It is a terrific story, if you have never read it. It reminds us of the battle of the angels in the book of Daniel, and of the Apostle Paul saying, “We would have come, but Satan thwarted us.” As I closed the book and turned over to sleep, with angels and demons flying around in my mind, it seemed like the Lord spoke to me. He said, as near as I can remember, “Things will be different now.”
As I pondered what the Lord meant by that, I seemed to get the picture that Christ holds such authority and power that all that transpires from this point forward will be held in His iron grasp. This being the case, the battle is not one of power against power, human or angelic, but one of judgment and truth.
God the Father is ready to empower Michael and his angels at the Word of Jesus. But Jesus will not give that word until Antichrist has had the opportunity to reach into the very heavens and tear down part of the host. Every creature that is not solidly a part of Jesus Christ shall be shaken and removed from God’s Presence, especially those who are preserving their own wills.
The issue is not power. Christ has all power, and the Father responds to the Word of Christ. The issue is one of judgment and truth.
At the present time, the Bride of the Lamb has filthy garments, spotted with worldliness, the many lusts and passions of the soul and flesh, and — worst of all — self-will and personal ambition. As long as these are present in us, the Lord is unwilling to give the Word that will cleanse the world of sin.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God will use only one angel to put the chains on Satan himself?
And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time. (Revelation 20:1-3)
Not an army, not even a platoon, but one — only one! — angel comes down out of Heaven, seizes Satan, and binds him with a great chain. Can you see that when God’s conditions are met, Satan is helpless in the hands of one angel? This tells us that the struggle is not one of power, but of judgment.
We do not overcome Satan with our spiritual power, but with the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony to the truth of God, and by loving not our lives to the death. When God has saints who will not love their own lives to the death, it will be time for Christ to give the Word to Michael. Then Satan’s end is near.
The issue, as we have said, is one of truth and judgment.
Today, much Christian preaching is not the truth. It is a traditional view of salvation, derived from an unbalanced emphasis on the role of doctrinal understanding — an imbalance proceeding perhaps from the Protestant Reformation. “The righteous shall live by faith” has been interpreted to mean the righteous go to Heaven by having a correct doctrinal understanding rather than by living righteously.
Satan has managed under every covenant to pervert God’s purpose. God wants people who behave righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. In every age, the Jewish and Christian religions distort this pure goal, placing emphasis on some aspect of religious observance, whether the minutiae of the Talmud, or penances, or lawless grace.
The Christian churches have been destroyed by the concept of a sovereignly imposed grace that operates independently of our behavior. In other words, you do not need to behave righteously, love mercy, or walk humbly with God in order to please God and go to Heaven. As long as such an unscriptural definition of grace is pursued, with its consequent immorality, the entire body of believers worldwide could scream: “We rebuke you Satan! We rebuke you Satan! We rebuke you Satan!”, and Satan would continue to laugh and caper about gleefully. We can bind demons, attack the principalities in the air, fast and pray. While such behavior may be effective in specific instances, none of these will pin Satan’s shoulders to the mat.
We must — we absolutely must — learn to discern between good and evil, and reject the evil and embrace the good. This is judgment. It is eternal. It is the manner in which everlasting righteousness will be brought into the creation.
There are two armies: the army of judges and the army of angels. The army of angels is composed of the mighty messengers who excel in strength, doing God’s will. But their hands are tied until God’s saints love righteousness and hate lawlessness.
This is the challenge that faces us in the twenty-first century. The issue is sin in the churches. Until a warlike remnant arises in the churches, trusting in the blood of the Lamb, having a pure testimony of iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father, Satan will continue to demonstrate his presence in the heavens and upon the earth.
But we know from the Scriptures that a mighty army shall arise and bring an end to Satan and sin. The only question is, will you and I be in the army of the Lord?
You shall, if you will follow the Holy Spirit in the destruction of your sinful nature.
“What do you see in the only one of her mother? As it were, the dance of two armies. It is Mahanaim!”
(“An Army of Judges”, 3542-1, proofed 20211114)