Where There is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth! (repost)

“And throw the worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  (Matthew 25:30)

“The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  (Matthew 13:49-50)

I used to wonder about the “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Where is this place and who gets thrown there?  It sounds like an awful place to be, and I always assumed that it happened in hell.

But what I couldn’t figure out is why the “servant who hid the talent” in Matthew 25 is thrown there, too.  It makes it sound as if a believer (a lazy one) ends up in a place with weeping and gnashing of teeth.  But how can that be if “weeping and gnashing” happens in hell, as seen in Matthew 13?  How can a believer end up in hell?

But I think I see the difference now.  The Matthew 13 passage says that the wicked are thrown into the “fiery furnace,” whereas the Matthew 25 passage says the servant is thrown “out into the darkness.”

I believe that these might be two different places and times where there is “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  One is the final judgment when unbelievers are thrown permanently into hell, the “fiery furnace.”  And the other is at the rapture when lazy, unprepared believers are left behind in the “darkness.”

As seen in the parables in Matthew 24 and 25, those believers who were not ready for the Lord to come back again were left behind.  At least, this is what I think it might be teaching.  (I have also heard it could be specifically related to Israel in the end times, not the church at the rapture.  But I don't know.)  It doesn’t mean they are eternally condemned to weeping and gnashing of teeth, but that they missed the first coming of Jesus when He takes with Him those who were prepared for His coming (Matthew 24:44) - those who “longed for His coming” (2 Tim 4:8) who were busy doing His Will (Matthew 25:14-30).

At the rapture, I think (I wish I didn't but I do) that there is a great possibility that Jesus will take only the believers who are ready and who are doing His Will, while the rest on earth go into darkness, the tribulation.  

What is darkness?  It's when there is no light.  And Jesus is the Light, and the Holy Spirit is what helps us see the Light.  And so when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the earth at the rapture, along with those He inhabits, what is left?  Darkness.  Spiritual darkness.  Maybe that is the "darkness" talked about in Matthew 25:30, when the Spirit is removed from the earth, and the "worthless servants" are left behind in darkness.  Just a thought.  

I have also heard a preacher say that the "darkness" has to do with the loss of eternal rewards/position in heaven, that all believers, even worthless ones, are raptured out, but the "worthless servants" will have a "darker" eternity than faithful believers because they were useless on earth, working for temporary earthly rewards instead of eternal spiritual ones.  But once again, I don't know.  The more I read the Bible, the more I happen to think that those who knew the Truth but didn’t live it - worthless servants, lazy self-centered Christians - will be left behind in the rapture, in the spiritual darkness, to weep and gnash their teeth.  (Although they missed the rapture, they will be taken out with the great multitude later in the tribulation, if they are truly believers.)

So why should this passage matter to us?  

If I'm right (and I’m not totally sure I am, but I'm leaning this way), it should matter because it means that there are believers of God (lazy servants) who will be left behind to face the tribulation because they were not ready, did not stay awake, and were not doing what they should be doing.  And if this is true, it should greatly affect how we Christians live our lives because how we live our lives will determine if we are taken out in the rapture or not.

If we took this warning seriously, it would cause us to strive for righteousness, to remain vitally connected to Him, to prioritize our lives as God wants us to, to focus on eternal things and not temporary things, and to get busy discovering and doing the Lord’s Will.  This is how we get ready for the Lord’s coming.

To summarize, I think the Bible teaches that there are two types of believers (“servants”) working alongside each other (Matthew 24 and 25).  Some servants are doing “the will of the Father,” ready for Jesus to come back at any moment.  And the others are lazy, not doing the Lord’s work, and have fallen asleep on the job.  And I believe that Scripture says that these people will be left behind in the rapture, thrown outside into the darkness, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

In addition, switching gears here a little, there is another group of “believers” with a different ending.  And this is those who think they are really believers because they are “doing things in the name of the Lord” ... but in reality, they are not believers at all.  They are not really living God’s Will.  They are following their own will and plans, for their own glory.  And although they claim to know Jesus, Jesus doesn’t know them.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.  Away from me, you evildoers!’”  (Matthew 7:21-23)

Jesus knows those who do the will of God, who hear His words and put them into practice (Matthew 7:24).  But the rest He doesn't know, even if they thought they knew Him.  And they will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  They will be thrown into the fiery furnace at the end of time, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth forever.

Two different times when there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth: after the rapture and in hell.  

Two different people who will weep and gnash their teeth: unprepared believers who are left behind at the rapture and unbelievers who end up in hell eternally.

If this is true – if knowing and doing the Will of God makes all the difference, if it separates the genuine believers from the fake ones, if it separates the prepared servants from the unprepared ones – it seriously begs the question: “What is the Will of God and how can we know it?”

(I also wrote about this in the “Understanding God’s Will” series on my other blog.)  

Here are a few passages which talk specifically about the things that are part of God’s Will.

1 Peter 2:15-17:  “For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.  Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.  Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:  “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 4:3-7:  “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable ... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

Colossians 1:10:  “And we pray [that you are filled with the knowledge of God’s Will] in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,”

I think that many Christians have gotten soft, lazy, selfish, comfortable, and sleepy.  We are much more concerned with our happiness on earth than with eternity.  And we think that we can coast through life, self-centeredly going about our business, doing whatever we want to do, and yet we assume that we'll still always be in God's Will, regardless of how we live or the effort we put in.

For some reason, we focus on God's promises to bless us while skipping the parts of the Bible that talk about our responsibility, our need to seek righteousness and transform our minds and lives.  Most of us don’t want to put that kind of effort into our Christian walks, because it is too disruptive to our lives, our priorities, and our happiness.  And so instead, we hope that we will simply stumble into God’s Will as we go about our lives our way.  We hope that our “good enough” is good enough for the Lord.  And we hope this will earn us our blessings and our ticket out of here when Jesus comes back.

But the Bible repeatedly and strongly warns us to not fall asleep, to be prepared, and to be found doing the Will of God when Jesus comes back again at a time we do not know.  If I am right in what it means to be “thrown into the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth” (that lazy, unprepared believers will be left behind in the rapture) then how we live our lives today will have a huge impact on us when Jesus comes back.  (Once again, I don't know if I'm right, but it's definitely worth considering.)

May you be found awake, ready, and busy doing the Lord’s work when He returns.  May you hear the words that every faithful servant of God longs to hear:

“ ... ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness.’”  (Matthew 25:21)

(Think seriously about this for a moment ... Do you long to hear those words?  Do they matter to you?  If not, it's a good indication that you may be one of the lazy, unprepared, self-centered Christians.  A worthless servant.)

So the big question for genuine Christians is, are you living like you are ready for His coming?  Are you busy doing His Will and His work?  Are you really living for Him (does He really know you) or are you really just living for you?  Because all of this may make a huge difference in whether you are taken up with Him at the rapture or if you are left behind in the darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Do you long – really, truly long - to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”?  Are you waiting for Him to return, prepared for Him to come back at any moment?  Your priorities and how you live your life will testify “yes” or “no.”  They will determine if you will hear “Well done” or if you will experience “weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Don’t let these warnings go unheeded while there is still time!

“But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness . . .”  (Matthew 6:33)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37, 39.  And loving God isn't about having good, warm, fuzzy feelings towards Him.  1 John 5:3 tells us that love for God is about obeying Him: "This is love for God: to obey His commands ..."  If you're not obeying Him, you're not really loving Him.)

“... whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)

[I think these verses pretty much sum up how to live God's Will.  It's not about the specific things you do or about finding some specific "step" God wants you to take or decision He wants you to make.  It's about how you live each day, about abiding in Him, obeying Him, praising Him, doing your best for His glory, etc.  If you do these things daily, you will always be in God's Will.]

Previous "end times" post:  Should Christians Worry About Being Left Behind?

Next "end times" post:  Hell is a Real Place

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