GOD is the real subject of divine revelation, rather than man. Whatever
He has told us in His Word concerning any of His creatures is primarily a disclosure of
Himself. The characters in the Bible receive all their value from contact with the Deity,
and reflect His glory, not their own. This is not difficult to apprehend in the case of
those whom the Great Potter uses as vessels of mercy. Our knowledge of God is put to its
supreme test when we consider His connection with the vessels of indignation. Perhaps no
case of this kind is more typical than that of Judas Iscariot. God has told us much
concerning him which ought to lead us into a better appreciation of Himself. To be sure,
the subject is shunned, because it seems to cast a somber shadow across God's glory, and
leads into distressing difficulties. But these arise from false teaching, from current
superstitions and not from a knowledge of His Word.
Long before Judas was born, David, by the spirit of God, made several
very definite predictions concerning him (Psa. 69:25;109:8). He was to acquire a piece of
property, but neither he nor others were to dwell in it. He was to have the place of a
supervisor, but it was to be taken from him and given to another (Acts 1:16-20). I doubt
if Judas knew that these passages referred to him. Nevertheless, in all fairness, the
question may be asked, Was it possible for Judas to avoid fulfilling these Scriptures?
Could he have made void the Word of God? If these passages referred to the reader of these
lines, how would he feel about it? Is it right for God to bring a man into the world under
such a handicap? Centuries before he was born, Judas' fall was fixed. It was inevitable.
Not Judas himself, nor the whole nation of the Jews, which he represented, nor all the
powers of earth or heaven could keep him from betraying His Lord, or from buying the Field
of Blood, or from losing his place as an apostle. God had spoken. His doom was
Judas was one of the "elect" in a very special sense. Our
Lord said "Do not I choose [elect] you, the twelve, and one of you is an
adversary?" (John 6:70). Christ knew from the beginning who would give Him up (John
6:64). Did He, therefore, warn Judas of his awful danger? Did He put him out of the
apostleship? Did He do anything, so far as the record goes, to save him from his terrible
fate? Did He allow Judas to suspect what He thought of him? At the very close, just before
Judas went out, when the Adversary had already put it into his heart to betray his Teacher
(John 13:2), our Lord gave Judas the morsel with His own hand. This act was usually
considered a special token of esteem. By such a sign our Lord indicated to John who it was
that was about to betray Him. Judas was not helped.
Can we not picture the scene? The eager disciples are altogether
perplexed by their Master's assertion that one of them should turn traitor. Not one of
them guessed that it was Judas. Does not this show that the betrayer had done nothing out
of the way, so far as they could see? Indeed, they had honored him by making him the
treasurer of their little band. He was a thief (John 12:6), but outwardly he must have
been rather exemplary to pass so long as one of the twelve apostles. Our Lord knew what he
was about to do. What did He say to stop him? "What you are doing, do more
quickly." Does it not seem almost incredible that our Lord actually hastens him on
his dreadful deed? (John 13:27).
Foreordained by God, one would suppose that Judas was born with the
evil urge in him which should lead to his downfall. But this was not the case. It was true
that he was not clean, as the other apostles were clean (John 13:10-11). Nevertheless, the
impulse to lift up his heel against the One Who fed him (John 13:19) and to betray Him to
His enemies did not come from within, but from without. Let us be clear on this point. Judas,
by himself, would not have betrayed the Christ. It was put into his heart by the
Adversary (John 13:2). And again the question arises, Could he have helped himself? It was
because his heart was not depraved enough that the incentive had to come from
without. The great Adversary could not trust him to do it of his own volition. Our Lord
knew what was in his heart, but does not lift His finger to deter him from his awful deed.
Rather, He hurries him in the doing of it.
It is a remarkable fact that Satan does not, as a rule, enter into, or
"possess" human beings. Demons make a practice of doing this. It is a pity that
"the devil" has been confused with "the devils" in English versions.
Otherwise the fact that Satan entered into Judas would stand forth, as it should, as a
most notable exception. The facts are clear. Judas, by himself, would not have betrayed
Christ. The arch-enemy did not entrust the task of coercing Judas to the hands of evil
spirits or demons, as would ordinarily be the case. He will employ such demon spirits at
the time of the end to mobilize earth's kings for the great day of God Almighty (Rev.
16:14). But this most important task Satan did not leave to others. Contrary to all
precedent, he himself entered into the apostle and transformed him into a traitor (Luke
We do not wish to make out that Judas was a saint, or that he was not a
sinner like other men. In fact, we wish to add this to the influences of which he was the
victim. He was a thief. So we may well suppose that the money he received for his
treachery had some weight in inducing him to transgress. The question is, whence came this
tendency to covetousness? Did he acquire if after "the years of accountability",
or was it born in him? Was it within his power to escape it? Like every other man, he was
a son of Adam, and, without having any choice in the matter, he inherited mortality and
sin and condemnation (Rom. 5:12,18), the lot of all mankind. If any reader of these lines
has escaped this tendency to sin, let him cast the first stone. Otherwise let him forbear.
Let us now count up the forces which were for Judas and those which
were against him. He doubtless had a conscience, for, when he realized what he had done,
he not only returned the money, but his regret was so overpowering that he took his own
life. This should show us what Judas himself thought of his transgression. His own
estimate of the sin that he had committed was that he had forfeited his right to live. Had
he been free to choose beforehand, would he have done this deed, which he regretted to the
death? This regret seems to have come naturally out of his own heart, without exterior
constraint. We are not told of any special visitation of God's spirit to bring on this
change, to correspond to the entrance of the Adversary, in order to make him sin. Judas
himself, naturally, sinner though he was, had an utter abhorrence of his own treachery.
But what of the forces against him? We have seen that his inheritance
from Adam was not sufficiently bad to compel him to commit such a capital crime. So the
Adversary cast it into his heart (John 13:2). This is a strong expression. It was no mere
suggestion, which could be repelled. The heart is the very center and core of our being.
Out of it are the issues of life. But still stronger is the expression, "Satan
entered into Judas" (Luke 22:3). Practically, the man was displaced. He was not
acting naturally or normally. He was not doing what Judas would do, but what Satan would
do. To be sure, if God's spirit had entered him first, then Satan could not have come. But
God's spirit had not then been given (John 20:22). No mere man, by the power of his own
spirit, can withstand the great prince of darkness. Judas was utterly powerless to prevent
his entrance. He was an involuntary tool in the hands of one much mightier then himself.
The only One Who could withstand Satan, and Who could have prevented
his entrance into Judas, knew all about his plight, but did not make the slightest effort
to rescue him. Our Lord had cast out many demons from strangers, but now that one of His
own apostles is under the power of Satan himself, He makes no attempt to expel him. On the
contrary, immediately after Satan had entered, He said, "What you are doing,
do..." Can we imagine Judas' impressions? His Lord singles him out for special
attention, and seals it with a dainty bit of food. Straightway he receives an irresistible
urge to go out and arrange to give Him up. Before his conscience can act, he hears the
voice of his Lord. Surely He knows his heart and is about to expose his treachery! But no,
Christ also urges him to go!
Why was it that our Lord gave him no helping hand? How could He send
him away at such a time for such a deed? Was He not, in effect, also against Judas? Did
not Judas, as one of His chosen apostles, have a special claim on His favor? Under normal
circumstances, would we not expect Him to guard these men who had cast in their lot with
Him? That He did this is evident, especially in the case of Peter. Satan claimed the right
to sift all the apostles, as the grain is sifted from chaff. Yet our Lord besought that
Peter's faith should not be defaulting (Luke 22:31,32). As a consequence Peter was not
allowed to go as far as Judas, due alone to the intercession of Christ. In His marvelous
prayer, our Lord avers: "When I was with them in the world I kept those whom
Thou has given Me in Thy name, and I guard them, and not one of them perished except the
son of destruction, that the Scripture may be fulfilled (John 17:12).
Here is the secret of our Lord's apparent callousness. His every act
was conformed to God's written revelation. God had spoken. Not even pity could move Him to
do anything to hinder the divine decree. That is why He rather hastened it. That is why He
deliberately chose an adversary, and made no effort whatever to save him from his fate.
But was our Lord really callous? Did He enjoy having such a character among those near and
dear to Him? Acquiescing in God's foreordination, He seldom spoke of it, for no one else
knew about it and, of necessity, it could not be made known before the event. It was not
at all ideal to have a man like Judas about. Christ suffered much from contact with
outsiders, hard hearted scribes, hypocritical Pharisees, faithless Sadducees. Among His
own close companions and constant attendants, the only possible ideal would be unswerving
loyalty, unstinted devotion.
We earnestly beg the reader to consider the facts we have presented and
test them by the Scriptures. Many may be tempted to cry, "Blasphemy!" Many may
insist that God could not do these things, no matter how clearly the Scriptures seem to
certify them. But these matters are so set forth that they cannot be misunderstood. The
fact that they are shunned shows that it is not a question of understanding but of
believing. These facts are in our Bible and will stay there whether we accept them or not.
They should help us to see that there are depths in God which we have not fathomed. They
should show us that there is something radically wrong with our theology when we cannot
bear these "hard sayings" or do not exult in these "dark sayings".
Only once does our Lord bare His heart in relation to Judas, and that
just at the crisis when Satan enters into him, and he goes away to give up his Lord. Here
again Christ falls back upon the fact that the Scriptures must be fulfilled. "The Son
of Mankind is indeed going away according as it is written concerning Him, yet woe to that
man through whom the Son of Mankind is being given up! Ideal were it for Him if that man
were not born!" (Mark 14:21, Matt. 26:24). Here He was, with the twelve, just before
His sufferings, and He wished to pour out His heart to them. Alone with them in the upper
room, the conditions seemed ideal. But His sensitive spirit knew that they were not ideal.
One of the twelve hindered these sacred revelations. That one must be removed before He
can speak freely. So Judas is told to go. Then His heart is relieved. Fondly calling the
eleven "little children" for the first time, He utters the wonderful words as we
have them in the fourteenth to seventeenth chapters of John's evangel.
In all four of the accounts of our Lord's life, the first mention of
Judas Iscariot is accompanied by the statement that he is the betrayer. He was chosen with
the rest of the twelve. We know the compassion of our Lord. How the very sight of Judas
must have disturbed Him! Eleven true, trusting hearts. Why not unmask this one false
intruder and remove him from his office? It was written! Evil, such as this, must be
borne, or the Scriptures cannot be fulfilled. But the conditions certainly were not ideal.
A potential traitor is no apostle. Christ, no doubt, rejoiced in the honors He would
confer on His faithful band, in the kingdom. But He must also have shuddered at the
prospect awaiting one of them. How much it would have saved Him if that man had not been
born! If Matthias, who was also with them, had been in his place from the first, His heart
would not have been burdened by the state and fate of Judas Iscariot.
The usual translation, "Good were it for that man if he had never
been born," has no foundation in the Original. In examining various translations, we
must always bear in mind that the tendency to translate in accord with accepted theology
is so overwhelmingly strong that a very little evidence on the other side is practical
proof of the correctness of any unpopular translation. This is an excellent example. It is
well known that the Revised Version margin is more dependable than the text, especially
where the reading of the Greek is given. All will recognize how impossible it would be to
get a two-thirds vote of the Revision Committee in favor of confirming this text to the
Original. Few men who would do such a thing would be chosen for such a task. Yet there
were a few who were faithful, and these succeeded in putting the truth into the margin:
"Good were it for him, if that man had not been born."
In such passages as these we can realize the benefits of an exact
concordant version. What was good for the Son of Mankind, and what was ideal,
are two distinct ideas. I have no doubt that, at bottom, it was good for Him to have
Judas, if we understand by "good" that which will work out the most blessing in
The sphere of the word "good" is very wide and its force here
is difficult to define. But the Greek word kales, "ideal", limits the
thought to that which reaches our highest conception of perfection at the time. Twelve
faithful apostles would be ideal for Christ, though one traitor was doubtless among the
all things that worked together for good. So we may even be justified in saying that the
birth of Judas was good, but not ideal, for the Son of Mankind.
Whatever may be our estimate of Rotherham's Emphasized Version, we may
be quite sure that, at first, he made little attempt to pander to public opinion. The
character of his translation makes his testimony of special weight in a matter of this
kind. He was not concerned about the language so much as the sense. He renders it,
"well would it have been for him, if that man had not been born."
Two translations used by Roman Catholics have this text correctly
turned. The Douay version of Matthew 26:24 reads: "it were better for him, if that
man had not been born." Dr. Leander van Ess, in his German version, renders it
"for him were it better, such a human were never born".
Luther's version, by itself, is proof that the Concordant Version
rendering is right. Though the Greek is precisely the same in Matthew and Mark, he renders
it correctly in the former and twists it in the latter. May we ask, if it really read,
good were it for Judas if he never had been born, would Luther, or any other
translator, make it read, good were it for the Lord, if Judas had not been born?
Never! But Luther reads (literally): "it were better for him that the same human
never were born". In Mark 14:21 he renders the same words: "it were better for
the same human that he never were born".
In the context immediately preceding, the identity of those referred to
is fixed beyond question. It may be set forth as follows:
|(The Son of Mankind)
|The Son of Mankind is indeed going away, according as it is
written concerning Him.
||Yet woe to that man through whom the Son of
Mankind is being betrayed!
Ideal were it for Him if that man were not born!
If it had read "Ideal were it for that man if he
had not been born (as usually mistranslated) then both would refer to Judas. But no
unprejudiced reader of the English or the Greek can possibly refer the Him to
anyone but our Lord, Who is so termed in the preceding sentence.
But if all the translations ever made rendered the passage incorrectly,
that would not prove anything except human fallibility -- which is already proven. The
Original speaks of the Son of Mankind as Him and of Judas as that man,
and makes it clear that it were ideal for Him if that man were not born.
The real cause of this mistranslation is the hardness of the human heart. On the one hand,
who has been concerned with the feelings of our Lord and His distress at having the
traitor in His company? Even his saints seem utterly unable to sympathize with Him in this
trial. On the other hand, they have allowed a just indignation at Judas' dreadful deed to
degenerate into vindictiveness, and attribute to our Lord the harshness of their own
hearts. In judging Judas they have condemned themselves.
The Scriptures show the utter helplessness of Judas. How could he flee
from his fate? Not only were the powers of evil against him, but the powers of good were
just as determined to make him play his part. God Himself had determined the role he
should have, and Christ, the only Savior, must act in accord with the divine decree. I beg
my readers not to evade the issue. Let them put themselves in Judas' place. What can a
mortal do when Satan and Christ and God all force him to commit a deed so awful in his own
eyes that it drives him to desperation and death?
It may help if I confess that I once feared to face this issue. I tried
to find a way for God to get out of this dilemma. The idea that He could make vessels for
dishonor (Rom. 9:21), and then punish them eternally was incredible. And I was right. God
could not do such a thing. My mistake was to disbelieve God's plain statement and all the
evidence which sustains it in the Scriptures, because I had accepted a false theology in
regard to His future dealings with these vessels which He fits for destruction. Since I
now know that God will not only deal justly with them, but lovingly, I am able to believe
God, and glorify God, and exult in the God Who remains Love, even when He hardens and
THE FUTURE OF JUDAS ISCARIOT
We have considered Judas' past, and now we will consider his future.
All are agreed that Judas has committed a crime which can have few equals in the annals of
mankind. Therefore he must be judged for his sins, more particularly for this supreme sin
of his career. For the sake of simplicity we will focus our attention on this one act
alone, for all else that he did sinks into insignificance compared with this. All are
agreed that he must be judged for giving up his Lord, but all are not agreed as to when
and how. At least four different answers have been given, which may be tersely stated
thus: He must burn on, burn out, burn up, or burn through. For him there is eternal
torment, or purgatory, or annihilation, or he must go through severe judgment to ultimate
reconciliation (Col. 1:20).
JUDAS TORTURED ETERNALLY
According to the most popular view Judas' full career would read
something like this: Foredoomed by God, long before he was born, to betray the Messiah,
chosen by Christ Himself to be the traitor, he proves too weak to perform his part, so
Satan takes control of him until he has done the deed, and, driven by remorse, he takes
his own life. As punishment he has been suffering in the flames of hell ever since and
will continue to do so until the judgment of the great white throne, more than a thousand
years hence. Then he will be tried and condemned to anguish unspeakable, above all other
men, for a never-ending eternity in the lake that burns with sulphur, miraculously kept
alive to undergo his agony.
We have tried not to exaggerate. Yet the plain statement seems so
fiendish, so utterly and horribly repulsive that one wonders how sane human beings can
bear to think of it. The fact is they do not consider it, or, rather they dare
not face it. If they did they would lose all faith in a god who is such a hateful, hideous
monster. First he fixes Judas' fate, foretells it long before, then gives him a place
among the apostles, with the brightest of prospects, then refuses to shield him from
Satan, until the dastardly deed is done and he dies a self-inflicted death. I repeat,
Judas could no more help himself than a piece of straw in a tornado. Not a person who
reads these lines could have done differently, had he been in Judas' place.
And now, for doing what God forced him to do in one short hour he is to
suffer woe utterly beyond human conception for all eternity! Such is the idol worshiped by
Christendom. We have shuddered at the awful caricatures of the deity which men carve out
of wood or stone, but none of them can compare with the revolting and hateful fiendishness
which coerced Judas to do wrong and then expends infinite power in torturing him, and
works an eternal miracle to sustain his life so that he is able to survive his sufferings.
It is not Judas who suffers most from this terrible travesty of
justice, but the God of Judas. This is intensely practical. The apostasy of these days is
largely the result of such terrible teaching. It has led to the virtual repudiation of the
deity of God, and of those passages which represent Him as the great Potter, Who fashions
vessels for dishonor, adapted to destruction (Rom. 9:21-22). The doctrine of eternal
torment dethrones God. Only an inhuman fiend can really hold to His absolute sovereignty
and torture everlasting. Acts speak louder than words. If God deliberately creates to doom
and damn, it is useless to insist that He is Love. Black is not white, nor darkness light,
neither is hate love. Judas will not burn on.
JUDAS IN PURGATORY
I know but little of purgatory, but I remember, when I was in the
Sistine Chapel in St. Peter's, in Rome, the guide explained that the worst offenders went
right straight to hell, below purgatory, whence not even the pope could recall them. So I
imagine that Judas' sin could not be "burned out", and he does not come within
this category. Judas will not burn out.
JUDAS JUDGED AND ANNIHILATED
The revolt against the awful injustice of eternal torment has led some
to conclude that Judas is to suffer punishment, not punishing. That is
to say, death is unconsciousness, and Judas as a part of his penalty, will be cast into
the second death, from which he will never emerge. This, evidently, is a great relief to
anyone who has God's name at heart. Judas, according to this, knows nothing until he is
roused from the dead at the great white throne. As a result of that judgment he will
return to death in the lake of fire, and that is his end.
Again, I insist, I am not so much concerned for Judas as for Judas'
God. If this solution is true, He will lose His reputation through His dealings with the
betrayer. It will be just a sorry piece of business in which His great Name will suffer
severely. It will take away the very foundations of His throne. Every righteous creature
in the universe will agree with me that it is unjust of Him to place one of His creatures
in a position where he must sin, and then not only punish him for it, but blot him out of
existence. Judas will not gain. God will not gain. It will be a total loss, and God will
be the prime loser. Moreover, God Himself has never said that this is His solution. It is
only a reaction from eternal torment, a deduction of reasoning rather than a matter of
faith in actual divine declarations. Judas will not burn up.
JUDAS JUDGED AND RECONCILED
With hearts sickened by the contemplation of human injustice, as
applied to Judas Iscariot, we turn with joy to God's own righteous and loving revelation.
With bowed heads we acknowledge Him as the Potter, the Deity Who does what He does, Who
needs not give account of any of His actions to His creatures. It was just and good of Him
to doom Judas to be the betrayer of Christ, for this was necessary to reveal the depths of
human depravity and the lengths to which mankind can be led when in the hands of the
Adversary. This humbling knowledge needed to be set forth by a concrete example. So the
Potter formed a vessel for dishonor, and destroyed it when its work was done. Such was
Judas in the past.
THE JUDGMENT OF JUDAS
What of his future? He is dead, and awaits the judgment day in utter
oblivion. God is just, and does not hold Judas a prisoner for thousands of years before
bringing him before the bar. To his consciousness, the moment of of his death will also be
that of his resurrection, and his judgment will immediately follow. Let us try to enter
into his sensations. The last sight he has had of his Lord, was when Christ was condemned
(Matt. 27:3), and was being bound to be led before Pilate. The first sight he will have of
Him when he awakes will be as the Judge, upon the great white throne. What a
tremendous contrast! Even before his death his regret had led him to return his ill-gotten
gains and take his own life. Now that he stands before the august Judge, against Whom he
has so grievously sinned, what more will be needed to convict him, or show him the
heinousness of his sin? Will it not be unutterable anguish for his soul?
Recognizing the utter helplessness and irresponsibility of Judas, some
may be tempted to deduce that he deserves no further infliction whatever. But there is
another extreme, false as the first. We must always keep in view God's great purpose to
reveal Himself and to bless His creatures. Judas is a public character, just as Pharaoh
was, and all creation will judge of God as He judges Judas. Simply to pass over the
betrayal, or any sin, transgression or offense, would be false to His own standard of
justice and fatal for the future. All sin, and every evil deed, must be judged and
condemned, and the appropriate penalty inflicted. The only escape lies in the deliverance
which is in Christ Jesus, and this is only for believers, not for unbelievers who appear
before the great white throne. Sin must be judged, not simply for the sinner's sake, but
Sin must be judged. Men are so unjust and their laws and
tribunals so corrupt that we have lost the great truth of judgment. As a consequence the
word judgment has been practically replaced by punishment. Men imagine
that the whole end and aim of God's dealings with them in the future is to make them
suffer for their sins. But God has already done much in the way of judging, and invariably
He has had an end in view. His judgment eras have always been beneficial for the world.
The deluge washed the earth of its iniquity. The judgment period now impending will
cleanse it for the kingdom. The judgment of every creature is a necessary preliminary to
salvation and reconciliation.
Some have supposed that judgment is intended to be a deterrent, so that
those who have tasted the bitter fruit of sin will never offend again. This would be a
very flimsy foundation for the future. It is contrary to human experience. A man who has
served a sentence is not immune from temptation. He is more likely to fall than others who
have never been behind the bars. God's judgment is preliminary to a life in which there
can be no sin. Sin is due to death working in us. When there is no death and all are made
alive it will be impossible for them to sin. Sin and death go together. Life and
incorruption go hand in hand. Judgment is not needed as a deterrent for the future. But it
is a necessary preliminary to the glory of God and the bliss of His creatures.
The principles of God's judgment are given us just where we should
expect them -- in the opening argument of the Roman epistle. He will be paying each
according to his acts. There will be indignation and fury, affliction and distress on
every human soul which is effecting evil (Rom. 2:9). This agrees perfectly with the solemn
announcement at the great white throne: "And the dead were judged by that which is
written in the scroll, in accord with their acts" (Rev. 20:12). It is not for us to
judge Judas or to determine the severity of his afflictions. We may rest assured that the
One Who sits upon the throne will not mete out a mite more or less than what is right, not
only in His own eyes, but before the whole universe, and Judas himself. When did Christ,
Who sits on the throne, ever do aught else? Let us rejoice that the judgment of Judas is
in the hands of One Whom we all can trust. He knows Judas, and is able to
sympathize as well as condemn. Thank God that He is the Judge of all!
But this is not the end of Judas. His name is not written in the book
of life. Hence, once more, he will enter death -- his second death -- until the
consummation comes. There is no knowledge in the death state, hence, for Judas, the period
of the second death has no conscious existence. Even as the moment when he lost
consciousness in the past will be followed by the moment of his resurrection, so also the
second death will form no part of his experience. The whole of the long last eon, called
"the eon of the eons" in the Scriptures, will pass without his knowledge.
THE SALVATION OF JUDAS
God has declared that He is the Savior of all mankind, especially of
those who believe. Up to this time in his career Judas has known nothing of God as his own
Savior. He has been in His hands as the Potter, and was made a vessel for dishonor. As
such he has been destroyed. He knew Christ as his Teacher, when he was one of the twelve
apostles. Later, at the great white throne, he meets Him as Judge. But as Savior He is
still unknown to Judas. And only a Savior is of any avail now. Judgment does not save the
one judged. The afflictions he endures during his second life, between his resurrection
and his second death, give him no claim on God or His blessing. Salvation is only of God,
through Christ. God has lost Judas, and He alone can save him, on the basis of the blood
shed on Golgotha (1 Tim. 4:10).
Along with all mankind, Judas has fallen into condemnation through
Adam. But the God of Judas has made it clear that Adam's one offense has its counterpart
in the obedience of Christ. Just as he was condemned on account of Adam's act, so will his
life be justified on account of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:18). Up to the time
of his second death Judas has not known God the Justifier.
God has declared that death shall be abolished. That, as in Adam all
are dying, so in Christ, all shall be made alive (1 Cor. 15:22). Judas died in Adam. But,
when he is in the second death, he has not yet been made alive in Christ. If he had been
made alive in Christ he would not be in death at all. The God of Judas must not only
become his Savior, but his Life (2 Tim. 1:10).
Originally, Judas was created in the Son of God's love (Col. 1:16). He
was created in Him long before he was in Adam. If his place in Adam brings him so much
shame and condemnation, such a surplus of suffering and death, how much more will his
earlier position in the Son of God's love bring him salvation and life, justification and
reconciliation! What he received from Adam came to him without his consent. No faith was
required. He did not need to make it his own. Neither will it be necessary for him to
believe or accept or struggle for that which will come to him because he was in the Son of
God's love. How can he do any of these things when he is in the second death?
God's Word is true. Death shall be abolished. All
mankind shall be saved and justified and vivified. All creation shall be reconciled. And
Judas will not be left out. It is quite impossible for us to realize what this will mean
to him, condemned, destroyed, alienated, twice dead. The God of Judas, at the
consummation, will become his Savior, his Justifier, his Vivifier, and his Reconciler. Is
it possible for us to imagine the relief, the joy, the ineffable exultation which will be
his when he realizes that sin and enmity and death are all past forever? When he sees
that, though for a fleeting moment he was a public vessel for dishonor, God was not
sealing his eternal doom, but preparing him personally for a deep appreciation of His
future gift, will he not worship and adore Him for it all?
The God of Judas, Who hardens hearts, Who molds vessels to display His
indignation, did not begin His work with Adam, neither does He end it at the great white
throne. He commenced with Christ and He will conclude it at the consummation. Adam, with
his black burden of condemnation and death, is only a parenthesis in God's revelation. We
must not judge God's work by it alone. Adam is not the Alpha of God's ways, and we must
not make him the Omega. Judas was not only in Adam, in Eden, but in the Beloved Son in
creation. He will not only be judged because of his inheritance from the first man, but
also be saved because of his earlier union with the Second.
God does not call Himself the God of Judas, because doom and judgment
are His strange deeds. They are temporary and terminable activities. The time is coming
when there will be no more doom (Rev. 22:3). Then it will no longer be necessary to harden
a king's heart to resist God's will, and thus reveal His power. Satan will never again
enter a human being to turn him against God, as in the case of Judas. Evil exists only in
the times of the eons, and doom is confined to the first four. It has no place in the last
eon, when God tabernacles with mankind. Judas is, perhaps, the best example of doom that
Scripture gives us. In considering his case we must emphasize the fact that God does not
deal so with His creatures at all times. It would be difficult to justify His course if it
were His normal and eternal procedure. It is exceptional and temporary. But its lesson is
everlasting. The temporary pain will lead to an eternal gain to the creatures of God's
THE GLORY OF GOD
No man is "responsible" for his own birth. "To be or not
to be" is not a problem for a creature. The Creator has kept such matters under His
own control. Hence He alone is "responsible". If it were good for Judas never to
have been born, the only one to be blamed is the One Who alone could foresee his career
and prevent his birth. Yet He, on the contrary, predicted his course and made his birth
inevitable. God's Word would have been found untrue if Judas had never been born. Hence it
was good for God that Judas was born. And what glorifies God is always a blessing to His
creatures. It is good for us that Judas was born. And, in view of God's glorious ultimate,
we may be sure that Judas himself will praise and adore God for giving him birth. The
words in our popular versions are utterly false. It would not be good for Judas
if he had never been born.
We have well nigh lost the true idea of deity. We speak of God as
"allowing" this and "permitting" that, as though He could not help
Himself. We have forgotten that He is Elohim, the great Disposer, Who works all according
to the counsel of His own will. We refuse to believe that all is out of Him. As a
result we are timid when called upon to face the facts in the case of Judas, for we fear
for the God of Judas. If Judas is eternally damned our fears are justified, for he will
drag down with him the Deity Who predicted his career and doomed him before he had been
born. But, if Judas is eventually saved, all of these fears are groundless, and we can
look into the face of God unafraid, with holy awe, as we bow in submission and
acquiescence to His will. Some day we will see that the terrible tragedy of the present
will issue in the unspeakable glory of the future.
Leaving Judas' own fate out of the matter, what about the future of the
God of Judas? Shall this man be an eternal eyesore in His universe? Shall God's glory be
eclipsed forever by His dealings with the traitor? He claims to be Love. Is it love to
doom and condemn the helpless? Justice is the foundation of His throne. But how can He
justify His condemnation of Judas before he had even been born? His wisdom can cope with
any problem. Then why did it fail in Judas' case? Every attribute that adorns the Deity is
called into question if Judas is eternally lost. His is a test case. Declarations are
empty unless accomplished by deeds. If God's acts deny His words He will lose the
confidence of all His creatures. It is not Judas' fate, but God's deity which is at stake.
But the love of God is wise. The case of Judas will prove it,
not deny it. By saving one who sinned so fearfully, God's affection for His creatures will
be displayed, not eclipsed. And the love of God is just. In justifying one whose hands
were reddened with the blood of the great Sacrifice, His righteousness will be revealed,
not violated. Judas' dreadful deed was committed under the very shadow of the cross. Who
dares to limit the value of the blood of Golgotha, to confine the abiding efficacy of that
august Sacrifice. God has made it the basis of reconciliation with all
(Col.1:20). He has the ability. He has the wisdom. He has the love. And He will do it!
Adored be His holy Name!
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