The Kingdom andthe Darkness
Seeing both the reward
and the discipline that
God sets before us
will motivate us to
run the Christian race
In the New Testament the term “the kingdom of heaven” only appears in the Gospel of Matthew. Many have commented on this, but to appreciate the significance of this fact we must consider another term which is unique to Matthew, namely, “the outer darkness.”
Some feel that the outer darkness must refer to eternal damnation in the lake of fire, but there is no basis for this assumption. Rather, in the three places where this term is used in Matthew, it is always related, in a negative way, to the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven. That will be during the Millennium, the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the earth after the end of the present age.
After the centurion told the Lord that if He only spoke a word his servant would be healed, the Lord praised his faith (8:8-10). Then the Lord said:
“And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
— Matthew 8:11-12
So, many who were not of Israel will be feasting with the patriarchs in the kingdom of heaven, while those who should have been there will be in the outer darkness, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
In Matthew 22 the Lord in a parable likens the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast (1-10). But when the king comes to see the guests, he finds one without a wedding garment:
“Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
— Matthew 22:13
Here, even one who was able to enter into the wedding feast itself is cast out into the outer darkness!
In Matthew 25:14-30 is the parable of the talents. In this parable the lord of the servants tells the two faithful ones to “enter into the joy of your lord” (21,23). But of the unfaithful servant he says,
“Cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
— Matthew 25:30
So, on the positive side, if we are faithful to Christ, we will reign with Him during the millennial kingdom as we enjoy the wedding feast with Him and our fellow overcomers. But, if we are not faithful, we will be cast outside the wedding feast, into “the outer darkness.” In that place, as Matthew tells us, there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” If that is our case, our weeping may come in part from considering how foolish we were to spend our lives as we did!
Still, after the Millennium, when the New Jerusalem comes down to the earth, all the believers with be with the Lord for eternity, and “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 21:4).
Watchman Nee said that God sets before the sinner heaven and hell, but he sets before the believer reward and discipline. And when we we see how great is the reward for being faithful to the Lord in this age, and how severe is the discipline if we are not, it should surely motivate us to be much more serious in our following of the Lord today!
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— 9 July 2022 —