Jesus Feeding the 5,000

A daily devotion for May 23rd

The End of the Age

This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 13:49-50

These words immediately follow the parable of the Great Net, in which Jesus said a division has been taking place in the lives of individuals. Throughout the age, people hearing the Gospel have been revealed in the eyes of God as either bad or good. But as the age draws to an end, the time will come when this difference between men, this declaration of where people actually are, will be openly manifest.

Jesus said that this separation will be accomplished by the angels, not by men. Angels have always been active, but their activity has been behind the scenes. Wherever angels are at work there is invisible, divine activity with visible and yet otherwise unexplainable results. Some things happen in human affairs which cannot be explained by usual analysis or common trends. We record it, but do not know why it is happening. That often is a manifestation of some kind of angelic activity.

Jesus says that this will happen at the close of the age. Increasingly, inexplicably, we will see groups divided into either evil or good. This is like the parable of the wheat and the tares, where Jesus said that the angels would divide men, that clusters of evil men would be gathered out of the righteous ones. Jesus says that the angels will come and separate the evil from the righteous, and what people actually are will become plain to all.

As we draw near to the end of the age, hypocrisy will be more and more difficult. It is going to be harder to pretend to be a Christian. People will show a more open manifestation of the evil that is within, no longer able to cloak it with some form of outward righteousness. Jesus said this will be the result of angelic activity, exposing the bad in order that it might be destroyed, and allowing the good to remain for the harvest of God.

Our Lord does not give us the details of how this will actually appear in history. But when fewer and fewer people see the need to hide behind a facade of counterfeit Christianity and live in open rebellion to God, that could be this angelic work, moving toward this final manifestation.

Our Lord closes with a solemn word. Weeping speaks of remorse and sorrow, gnashing of teeth speaks of frustration, hostility and anger — all gathered up in a blazing furnace. I have always been uneasy whenever I have to deal with these passages which speak of hell and judgment. I don't like to think about God doing this one of these days. But I have been helped greatly by recognizing that the One who speaks most often and most solemnly about judgment and wrath and flames, is Jesus himself. The One with the outstretched arms, with the compassionate heart, who longs to heal sick and wounded humanity, is the One who speaks also about the ultimate end of those who turn their backs and refuse the healing grace of God.

Thank you, Lord, that because of what Jesus has done for me on the cross I need not fear the end of the age. As I trust in you, who bore my sin, I look forward to that great day.

Life Application

Do I live behind a facade of counterfeit Christianity or trust fully in the One who with outstretched arms longs to heal?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

The Case of the Great Dragnet

Listen to Ray