"It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains [kingdoms], and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”—Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-4.
THE LIVING FIRST
St. Paul emphatically states that the Lord Jesus shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. (2 Timothy 4:1) In this he is corroborated by St. Peter (1 Peter 4:5) The word quick here means the living, those who have some measure of life; and the text is so rendered in the Weymouth translation. When the new covenant is made and the Lord begins to deal with the people, it will be with the living first. It would be unreasonable to suppose that he would first awaken the dead and deal with them, and then with the living later. Jesus, speaking of the great time of trouble with which the present world reaches a final conclusion, indicated that many human beings will pass through the trouble. (Matthew 24:21,22) The prophet Zechariah informs us that a portion of the people will be brought through the fiery trouble, and refined, and then will call upon the name of the Lord and he will hear them. (Zechariah 13:8,9) Those who learn of the Lord’s kingdom and readily put themselves under its direction and become obedient to the laws and rules of his new kingdom will be the ones who will be blessed and acknowledged of the Lord, and rapidly restored.
Further corroborative proof is given by the prophet Isaiah that restoration will begin with those living on the earth at the beginning of the Messianic reign. There are millions of persons now living who have a sincere and honest desire for righteousness. Many of these love the Lord to the extent of their knowledge of him; but their knowledge is so limited because they have been taught so much error concerning his character that they are filled with fear and dread. They have not sufficient knowledge of him to have real faith. They have not gone on to the point of consecration. They have heard of the Lord’s second coming and hope for something better. They realize that there is great trouble in the world and see no human remedy for it. They long for a complete and proper relief.