The Apostle Peter made an interesting comment in 1 Pet. 4:17. He said,"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"
Most Christians believe God is going to execute judgment, to one degree or another, upon the world. Few Christians, however, believe God intends to judge the Christians at all, until we stand before the "Great White Throne." The common promotion is that Jesus will come at some unknown future time, and carry us away to some Eden in the heavens, destroy the wicked, then bring us back. However, Peter has shown us in my title passage that God intends to judge His Elect first, then the rest of Christianity, followed, when Jesus comes in His glory, by the judgment of the Nations (Matt. 25:31-46), until He has "executed judgment upon all." (Jude 1:14,15.)
In the fourth chapter of 1st Peter, beginning in verse twelve, through the end of the chapter, Peter is explaining "the fiery trial which is to try you." He said, If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf, for the time cometh and now is that judgment must begin at the "Church of God." Some of us will come forth from the fire purified, and others will be punished in fulfillment of Amos 5:16 and down, but we will all be judged. "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord ! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?"
Yes, God intends to execute judgment upon the unbelieving and ungodly of this world. But the truth is, God will bring persecution, suffering and a fiery trial upon Christianity first, to prove them. Again I emphasize the words of Peter. "Judgment must first begin at the House of God." If you believe The House of God consists of every Christian, then you must also believe that Jesus will not come to take all the Christians to Himself until they have first been tried by persecution. Considering Eph. 5:26,27; how will God get the spots out without some "fuller's soap" and water? Hot water. How will He get the wrinkles out without a hot iron?
In 1 Peter 4:14, he said, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of Glory and of God resteth upon you." Paul explained, "For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth." God's people were the instrument of His glory and Pharaoh, with his host, was the "Heat." "That God might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory."
When God began to make ready to take His people out of Egypt to meet Him, He prepared His people, and He also raised up a persecutor to try them. Even as they departed Egypt, God sent Pharaoh after them again, but the Lord delivered His people out of their hand again. Concerning which He said, "Ye have seen what I have done unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings and brought you unto Myself." (Luke 17:38; Rev. 12:13-16.)
We can see in Matt. 25, when that wake-up call is made, we also will go out to meet the Lord. When the two, or three, witnesses make the cry at midnight, and wake up the Christians who now all sleep in fulfillment of the words of our Savior in Matt. 25, the entire kingdom of heaven will awaken, and begin to diligently search the Holy Scriptures to find out what God is really doing and what they must do to be saved from the wrath to come. The events leading up to the Exodus from Egypt - and the Exodus itself - are allegories which God has given to show us, in advance, some of the things which shall befall us just before, and during, our departure, as we shall proceed to "go out to meet the bridegroom."
I mentioned "two, or three, witnesses" above in order to mention a very important fact concerning all of this. They are the last prophets which our Lord shall send to His people before Jesus comes; King of kings and Lord of lords. The "Cry" which is to wake Christianity out of its slumber is "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him." Jude is very explicit. Enoch is a prophecy of the man who makes this cry. "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all." That prophet is the Seventh Angel of Rev. chapters 8-11.
There are also two other men involved in making this "Cry." They are the two prophets who are called "My two witnesses" in Rev. 11. When God sent Moses and Aaron into Egypt, it was to take God's people out to meet the Lord. God confirmed this in Exodus 19:4, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." We also have the two "angels" which God sent into Sodom, to save Lot. "And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place." It is these two sons of God who control the supply of oil which the wise virgins told the foolish ones to go buy. (See the prophetic allegory in 2 Kings 4:1-7.) After the woman and her two sons had filled the vessels with oil, "Then she came and told the Man of God. And he said, Go, and sell the oil." That oil is obviously not the baptism with the Holy Ghost. You certainly cannot buy that.
The Apostle Paul said, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." Am I to believe that, without any participation "in the fellowship of His suffering," I am to become a co-regent with Jesus Christ for a thousand years? Paul said again in 2 Tim. 3:12, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Our Lord Jesus said, in Luke 12:47,48, "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." Jesus is plain here. He has committed much to the Churches of God, and He will judge them first. Just in the last few months, God has begun the fulfillment of that portion of Ezekiel 9 which concerns the man, clothed with linen, with the writer's inkhorn by his side. He has caused a mark to be placed "upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." This tells us that the righteous among them have been sealed, and soon the rest of the judgment determined upon them shall be accomplished.
Shortly after God has judged the Churches of God, the rest of the kingdom of heaven shall be judged. The two witnesses will make one last call to God's people. The wise among them will have enough oil to get into the wedding chamber, although they will suffer somewhat. But those foolish ones will be caught by the words of God, "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished." They will surely suffer severe persecution under the oppression of the "Little Horn" of Daniel chapter 7.
"Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
When Jesus comes and takes unto Him His bride, He shall spend the prophetic amount of time with her, then He shall come forth from His chamber to execute judgment upon all. Then every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Hallelujah! Amen!