“He shall ... break in pieces the oppressor” (Psa. 72:4).
“Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel” (Psa. 2:9).
“Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. ... For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be. ... But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the LORD shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away” (Psa. 37:1-2, 9-10, 20).
“But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it” (Prov. 2:22).
“And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father” (Rev. 2:27).
“And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Rev. 12:5).
The rule by a rod of iron means that Jesus Christ will be the King of kings and Lord of lords over the whole earth and over every nation and individual and over every aspect of society. His good law will be absolute, unchangeable, unappealable, and it will be enforced throughout the earth with whatever force He deems fit through whatever punishments He establishes.
There will be stubbornness and rebellion in the Millennial kingdom, but those who rebel against Christ’s authority will be judged. Disobedience and rebellion will not be overlooked. The law of God will be enforced.
For example, we read in Zechariah that some nations will resist coming to Jerusalem for the feasts, but their stubbornness will not be ignored.
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. 17 And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. 18 And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. 19 This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles” (Zech. 14:16-19).
Isaiah says that the nation that refuses to serve Christ will “be utterly wasted” (Isa. 60:12).
At the very beginning of the kingdom, rebels will be separated out of the nations and judged, as we have seen in the studies on the judgment of the nations, thus greatly reducing the capacity for rebellion among the pagan nations.
Today the vast majority of the world’s citizens are rebels against God and His Christ. When you try to tell them about Jesus and salvation, they aren’t interested or they even brazenly reject it. Each week when I witness to people and distribute gospel tracts in South Asia, some mock and even curse and say, “I don’t want that; I’m a Hindu; I’m an atheist; I’m a Maoist.” God is allowing that today, because He is giving opportunity for sinners to turn to Christ, but after the Lord returns, no Christ-hater will be allowed to live openly in His kingdom.
Christ’s kingdom will be a theocracy. The Son of God will sit on the throne of the world and hold complete and absolute authority.
Today we live in the age of people’s rights, an age in which every man does that which is right in his own eyes, but it is not a godly age. It is a fulfillment of end-time apostasy with its “me-first” philosophy.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves...” (2 Tim. 3:1-2).
A godly king ruling in righteousness is the best type of government. An ungodly king is either a tyrant or a spoiler of the people. A democracy, whether a republic or a parliamentary system, deteriorates into mob rule and lawlessness and tyranny.
Man was not made to rule himself; he was made to be ruled by his wise Creator.
In Christ’s kingdom, the statements in Proverbs about the rule of a righteous king will be fulfilled.
“A divine sentence is in the lips of the king: his mouth transgresseth not in judgment” (Proverbs 16:10).
“The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it” (Proverbs 16:14).
“In the light of the king's countenance is life; and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain” (Proverbs 16:15).
“The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul” (Proverbs 20:2).
“A king that sitteth in the throne of judgment scattereth away all evil with his eyes” (Proverbs 20:8).
“A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them” (Proverbs 20:26).
In Christ’s kingdom, evil and corruption will be judged quickly and with perfect justice.
We see something like this in Ezra 6 when the Persian King Darius ordered Israel’s enemies to stop trying to hinder the building of the Temple, and he warned them as follows:
“Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter and to destroy this house of God which is at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed” (Ezra 6:11-12).
In Ezra 7, a similar commandment was given by the Persian king Artaxerxes.
“And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment” (Ezra 7:25-26).
That is how it will be in Christ’s kingdom. His governors will have the authority to do whatever is necessary to enforce Christ’s laws, and they will have all necessary wisdom by God’s Spirit. There will be no messing around with rebels, no waiting for appeals to a “higher authority,” no overlooking their sin while they try to manipulate the system, no possibility of justice being corrupted by bribes and favoritism, no sympathy with rebellion, no psychological excuses for sin. Rebels will be judged, and they will be judged effectually.
We see something like this in the time of Nehemiah, when God gave him authority to lead Israel in the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem.
For example, some of the Jews were making a profit from their brethren, charging usury, even taking the children of their brethren as slaves (Neh. 5:1-5). When Nehemiah heard this, he was angry and reproached the guilty parties publicly before a large congregation and demanded that they stop this sin (Neh. 5:6-11). When they agreed, Nehemiah didn’t stop there, he warned them that if they didn’t obey, they would suffer serious consequences.
“Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise. Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise” (Neh. 5:12-13).
This is rule by a rod of iron.
On another occasion, some of the Jews were buying and selling on the sabbath and merchants from Tyre were bringing their wares into the city for sale on the sabbath. Nehemiah reproved the Jews and ordered the city gates to be shut on Friday evening at the beginning of the sabbath (Neh. 13:15-18), and when some of the merchants camped outside the gates, still looking for an opportunity to sell their wares, Nehemiah warned them that if they did not leave he would lay hands on them.
“And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day. So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath” (Neh. 13:19-21).
This is the type of authority that Christ’s governors will have in His kingdom, and it is how they will act against sin. There will be no hesitation, no delays, no messing around, no pulling the punches because of fear of man, no getting around the law because you are “somebody” or because you know “somebody.”
The Sermon on the Mount looks forward to that day. The councils and prisons mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount will exist in Christ’s kingdom.
Consider Matthew 5:21-22.
“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.”
A person who is angry at someone without a just cause will be in danger of the judgment. This probably refers to punishment administered by local authorities. If a person calls another “Raca,” he will be in danger of the council, which probably refers to a higher level of magistrate. “Raca” literally means “O empty or worthless one.” It is a term of “utter vilification” (Strong). It is an expression of personal animosity, hatred, extreme ill will.
But if a person calls someone a fool in Christ’s kingdom, he will be in danger of hell fire. It is not the use of the word “fool” itself that defines this great sin, but the use of the word “fool” as an expression of hateful maliciousness. It is the verbal expression of a murderous heart. Christ Himself called men fools on occasion (Mat. 23:17, 19; Lk. 11:40; 24:50), but He was speaking the truth. And the apostle Paul called certain false teachers fools who were questioning the bodily resurrection (1 Cor. 15:36), but Paul was speaking the truth (a man who questions God’s Word is indeed a fool) and he was contending for the faith in a godly manner, not hurling malicious words at his personal enemies.
The point is that during Christ’s Millennial reign even sinful actions that are deemed harmless in this present time will be dealt with firmly, even severely, if not repented of.
It appears that there will be the potential, even, for rebels to be cast directly into hell fire during the Millennium because of their unrepentant, sinful actions.
“... whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mat. 5:22).
Compare Isaiah 66:24.
“And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.”
This is indeed rule by “a rod of iron.”
Note that Jesus does not say that a person who does these things “SHALL BE” judged in such a manner (Mat. 5:22), but that he is “in danger of” being judged in this way. There will be a large place in God’s righteous kingdom for repentance and mercy, as this is the very foundational essence of God’s throne which has been purchased by the Cross.
The King of the world will be the same Christ who said to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (Jn. 8:11). He did not forgive her so that she could continue in her wickedness, but He forgave her so that she would be changed and would be a testimony of His grace.
Consider Matthew 5:25-26 for another example of how the rule by rod of iron will work in Christ’s kingdom.
“Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.”
This has never been fulfilled in any context on earth. It was not fulfilled in Israel during Christ’s day, and it has not been fulfilled in the church age. New Testament churches have no authority to imprison anyone. These verses point ahead to conditions that will exist during Christ’s kingdom. If an individual does not quickly reconcile with an adversary over an unpaid debt or other obligation he will be put into prison until the matter is entirely satisfied.
In Matthew 5:23-24 and 7:12, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter.
“Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.”
“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”
In Christ’s kingdom men are to love one another and maintain good relationships. If a problem arises between individuals, it is not to be ignored and allowed to fester. It is to be dealt with. The first gift that God wants is the gift of love between brethren.
Those who serve idols and preach error will be judged throughout the earth.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zec. 13:2).
“Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD” (Psa. 149:5-9).
Notice that “all the saints” will share the authority of Christ’s kingdom and be active in executing judgment. There will be unity of mind among all saints in this endeavor, but it will doubtless be a ministry assigned particularly to converted Jews and the New Testament saints and directed by them.
The obedient citizens of Christ’s kingdom will not allow human sentimentality to hinder judgment. Parents will put their own children to death for preaching lies and rebellion against the Lord.
“And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth” (Zec. 13:3).
Today, saints are grieved by the wickedness and idolatry and error that surround them, but they have no authority to destroy such things structurally. We can’t go around breaking idols and bulldozing false churches, tearing up unrighteous national constitutions and putting heretics and lawbreakers in jail. But things will be different when Christ rules.
This reminds us that the job of the New Testament churches in this present age is not to build the kingdom of God but to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. It would be impossible to build the kingdom of God without the authority and power to overthrow evil.
All scorners and all that “watch for iniquity” will be cut off.
“For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought” (Isa. 29:20-21).
Wickedness will be sought for and rooted out and the wicked will be rendered powerless.
“Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: seek out his wickedness till thou find none. The LORD is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land. LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress” (Psa. 10:15-18).
The rule by a rod of iron is described in Zechariah 14:16-19.
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.”
Each year during Christ’s Millennial reign the nations will come to Jerusalem to worship during the feast of tabernacles, and if any nation does not come it will be judged with a drought.
The nation that refuses to serve Christ will perish.
“For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted” (Isa. 60:12).
Unrighteousness will be punished swiftly. Ecclesiastes 8:11 says, “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” This is true in this present world, but it will not be true in Christ’s kingdom. Crimes will be punished immediately as in the days of Moses and Joshua.
See Leviticus 24:11-23 for the case of the blasphemer, Numbers 16 for the case of Korah, and Joshua 7 for the case of Achan.
Contrast Brian Mitchell who in 2002 kidnapped and raped 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart for nine months. He was caught red-handed in March 2003 in possession of the girl, but his trial didn’t start until seven YEARS later because of humanistic psycho-babble about his “incompetency” and because of the inherent foolishness of the modern U.S. judicial system. Even when the trial did finally begin, it was halted temporarily by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals because the jury pool was allegedly so tainted by publicity that the wicked man couldn’t get a fair trial, even though the man had been caught red-handed and the 500 prospective jurors had filled out a 42-page questionnaire to ascertain their competency! Finally in May 2011, Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison where the vile man will be coddled at taxpayer expense for the rest of his life.
Nothing like this will happen in Christ’s kingdom. Justice will be exercised with wisdom and righteousness, and it will be exercised swiftly.
There will be no sinful foolishness in the justice system in Christ’s kingdom, such as prisoners suing their victims. There will be no frivolous lawsuits such as suing over spilt hot coffee. There will be no tricky lawyers overturning justice through “technicalities.” There will be no “insanity” defense for people who commit crimes while drunk or high on drugs. There will be no deluded psychotherapists to be bribed or tricked by clever criminals.
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