The study of different gatherings in the Scriptures is worthy of our consideration. We have the gatherings of men, and often they are in a bad sense. An example of this would be one of the first gatherings of men at the tower of Babel in Genesis 11. This is not merely the building of a city with a tower but it had idolatrous overtones which ended in confusion with God scattering them. Nor would we be unmindful of those who gathered around the Lord Jesus at Calvary like wild beasts ready to devour Him.
It has ever been Gods purpose to gather His people to Himself. This would be seen early in the Bible, in Genesis 49:10, when Jacob was speaking to his sons. Judah is the tribe which shall hold the scepter, and Shiloh would come from him "and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." In Leviticus 23 that great chapter dealing with the Feasts of Jehovah, it speaks of holy convocations throughout. Further in the Psalms 50:5, "Gather My saints together unto Me; those that have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice."
Dan Crawford, a pioneer missionary to Africa, died in 1926 at the age of 56. When he died the African people called him "Konga Vantu." It really means "The Gatherer of the People." This, because he gathered together thousands of people and got them to build a wonderful village on the cliffs above the great and beautiful Lake Mweru. We would like to look at some gatherings particularly in the New Testament, with our thoughts not only on gatherings, but also on the Gatherer. The Gatherer before us is none other than the glorious person of our Lord Jesus Christ.
THE GATHERING OF THE SAINTS
We notice with appreciation a beautiful verse, speaking of the local church in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them." This is the basis of our gatherings, solely to that blessed name. He is the center, He is the attraction, and He is the Gatherer. There are many names in the religious world that men gather to and we renounce all these names and what they stand for, and own His blessed name alone. The church at Philadelphia was commended for this very fact; "they have not denied My name." The adoption of any other name is a denial of the gathering center. If only young believers could grasp this blessed truth that it is a Person we are gathered unto. Christ alone is the attraction, not the Christians we meet with, nor the building for conducting our meetings, but Christ. We have the promise of His presence with us when we meet. He is a rejected man today; our place is with him outside the camp. "Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach" (Hebrews 13:13).
OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM
There is another gathering we are looking forward to: the coming of the Lord for his saints, 2 Thessalonians 2:1. "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering unto Him." We also connect this verse with 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, a passage that has brought so much comfort to the saints down through the centuries. When loved ones are taken to be with the Lord in death, we sorrow not as those that have no hope. There are tears and sorrow at the graveside and Paul wrote to comfort the Christians of Thessalonica who thought that those who had fallen asleep would miss this great event. He goes on to show them that the dead in Christ will rise first, then we which are alive shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. What a blessed moment that the will be, the descending Christ with a shout, the archangel voice, and the trump of God. He is coming to gather all His redeemed to Himself, a great reunion with loved ones gone before.
Well all gather home in
On the banks of the bright jasper sea,
Well meet the redeemed and the faithful
What a gathering that will be.
What a gathering, gathering,
What a gathering that will be.
THE REMNANT OF ISRAEL GATHERED
In the previous section we looked at the Lord coming to the air for the saints of this dispensation. The removal of the church from earth will then set in motion events of the great tribulation on earth that will culminate in the coming of the Lord to earth. We believe in the visible manifestation of Christ coming back to earth. His feet will touch the Mount of Olives and He will deal with the enemies of Israel. He will gather the remnant of Israel at that time. We believe in a future for the nation of Israel, in Mark 13:24-27. "But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall He send his angels, and shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven." Against that darkened background of the heavens so affected by the outpouring of Divine judgments the Lord will appear in the entire splendor His of glory, accompanied by the armies of heaven. He will send His angels to gather His elect from the four winds. This is borne out by the prophetic scriptures, Isa 54: 7. "For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee" (Isa. 43:5-6). "Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth." For those who discount the truth that Israel will have a future we would quote one passage to confirm this. It is the testimony from creation. "Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: If those ordinances depart from before Me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me for ever. Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD" (Jer. 31:35-37). Many more references could be given to further confirm this great truth; space does not permit within the scope of this article.
THE GATHERING OF THE LIVING NATIONS
This gathering referred to in Matthew 25: 31 - 46, is one of the most solemn in the Word of God. The Son of man will come in His glory and sit upon His throne of glory. This is one of the four great judgments of the New Testament. The first is the Judgment of sin at the cross where the Lord suffered the Just for we the unjust that He might bring us to God. Then there is the Judgment Seat of Christ. This will take place immediately following the catching away of the saints of this dispensation. It is not a judgment of condemnation as to sin, but of service to the Lord while upon earth. The third is the Judgment of the living nations we have referred to above, and finally the Judgment of the wicked dead before the great white throne in the closing chapters of Revelation. Christ will gather the nations before Him; the roll call of the nations and a great division will take place with solemn and eternal consequences. Those on the right hand will go into the kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world. Those on the left hand are to share the doom prepared for the devil and his angels. The emphasis is on how they treated the Lord in the person of His brethren (vv. 40, 45). "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." God will fulfill His great purpose to bring His Son into that place of supremacy, to have dominion over the whole earth and reign from sea to sea.