“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (NIV)
Do you notice that verse 31 above says that this is a Coming of the Lord? Israel, for the most part, did not understand that when the Christ came the first time that he would leave and return again. The Church, for the most part, doesn’t understand that the Second Coming of the Lord is not the final Coming. The Lord will Come to the earth three times; first for the Church, second for Israel, and third for Judgment Day.
Knowing this about the Comings of the Lord helps to make sense of the Scriptures regarding his Comings. It can be confusing if you read about his Coming and think that they all are talking about the same time. Many people have read the above passage from Matthew and then assumed that when the Lord Comes, at the time of the beast, that that is the end of the world. But, every Scripture will be fulfilled. There will be a thousand year kingdom of Israel. This is a fact and it can’t be forgotten. So, as we see above, there must be a Third Coming of the Lord.
Looking at the above parable we can see that verse 41 says that the eternal fire, or the Lake of Burning Fire or Sulfur, was created for Satan and his angels and not for man. It is important to understand that the heavenly beings fell first. The happenings on the earth as recorded in the Bible are not just for man, they are for the angels in heaven too.
1 Corinthians 4:9
For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. (NIV)
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NIV)
There is an end to God’s plan for man on the earth. The earth is a temporary place where certain lessons can be learned in accelerated time, as it were. On the earth we have two kinds of life; animal life and spiritual life. In heaven there is only one kind of life, and heaven is the real place (eternal) and the earth is only a temporary place.
On earth the more real existence is the spiritual existence, even though it doesn’t appear to be that way. Our animal existences seem more real, but because they are only temporary they are therefore much less important. When a person dies we say that they are dead, but frequently the Bible says that they are asleep, in the earth as it were.
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (NIV)
The point here is that physical death doesn’t mean to God what it means to man when man doesn’t see things from God’s perspective. We can see things correctly only when we read the Bible and believe in what it says.
We need to see things from God’s perspective because he sees what is real and we see only what is right in front of our faces and what appears to be real.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (NIV)