how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

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Bob, thanks for your comments. I understand your point—in fact, you’re not the only person to make it to me today. This is a quick response.

1. I think that there will be a final judgment of all humanity as part of a final renewal of all things. I’m just not sure that this is what Jesus has in mind when he addresses Israel.

2. I don’t see any evidence in the text to suggest that Jesus was referring both to an imminent judgment on Israel and to a final post-temporal judgment. Can we be sure that we are not reading this into his statements.

3. The argument has been put to me that the New Testament finds further stages of fulfilment in Old Testament prophecies. That may be the case. But then the New Testament itself validates those extended applications. Does the New Testament validate the extension of Jesus’ account of judgment? Does every prophecy necessarily have a further or final application? Who decides?

4. John 5:25-29 may have reference to a final judgment (though there would be no two-stage fulfilment involved). But I would ask about the relation of this passage to Daniel 12:1-3, which is a limited resurrection associated with a crisis centred on Jerusalem under threat from a pagan power. Arguably it is this sort of scenario that Jesus has in mind. The curious resurrection described in Matthew 27:52-53 may be relevant here.

5. I think there are reasons for not interpreting the sheep and goats passage as a final judgment.