Did you read that correctly, or did you see what you thought it OUGHT to be? I purposely employed the word LOST instead of LAST for a good reason. It highlights the fact that we all have pre-conceived ideas as to what TRUE Christianity is all about, especially when it comes to eschatology, the “last things.” And in point of fact, quite the majority of modern believers have accepted the traditional teaching that the Church is the “first” and the rest of the world is the “lost”.
But Jesus said on more than one occasion that “many of the first will be last, and the last first.” Check it out at Matt.19:30, 20:16, Mk.9:35,10:31. Luke 13:30. Nowhere did He intimate that 95% of the world’s population will be irretrievably lost. In fact He spoke of Himself as “the First and the Last”, in Rev.1:17,2:8, & 22:13. He is there for the needs of the “first”, and no one ever queries that, but He is equally there for the needs of the “last”, the people the Church conveniently tends to forget, put behind them, feel sad for, say it’s what they deserve, or occasionally to evangelise.
The expression derives from Deut.28:13,44. The Lord God spoke to Israel about Blessings and Cursings. “If you hearken diligently,” and “if you observe to do” etc., then “all these blessings will come upon you”, and “the Lord will make you the head and not the tail.” But contrariwise, the “disobedient” will find that the “stranger will be the head and you (Israel) will be the tail.”
This truism applies to all mankind, because “there is no respect of persons with God.” We read that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal.6:7) So let’s have a look at the fate of a few of the “last”, the “disobedient ones”.
It is taken for granted that Sodom (and the neighbouring towns) were very wicked, and God destroyed them. One also reads that the sins of Israel (the ten northern tribes) caused them to be deported into Assyria. But in Ezekiel 16 the Lord spoke about Judah as being WORSE than either Sodom or Samaria, whom He calls her “sisters.” However, at the end of the chapter the Lord spoke of a yet future time when ALL THREE would return to their former estate. This must be in resurrection. It refers only to the actual people mentioned in the prophecy, and not to “all Jews throughout all time” as some have inferred. The Lord said to the then-Judah, “I will give them to you for daughters,” and the context shows that in the time of restoration, Judah will have to attend to the needs of Sodom and Samaria, rather than haughtily elevate herself as in former years.
The Lord Jesus referred to this kind of discipleship when He said that “it will be more tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgement than for Capernaum.” (Matt.11:22,24) The Day of Judgement is not a 24-hour period in which the Divine Judge sends all unbelievers to an everlasting hell, but a time when lessons have to be learned, restitution made where appropriate, reconciliation established, pride abolished, and lovingkindness and justice magnified. As Isaiah said, “When Thy judgements are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learnrighteousness.” (Isa.26:9)
This is why Jesus asked His disciples (and the rest of us) to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If we have the same sort of approach as the Lord, concerning the establishment of righteousness, and helping the disobedient ones to come to a better mind, we might be asked to share in that work. But if we encourage a belief in the destruction of wicked people, we may find ourselves excluded from the Kingdom, as unfit for ministry of this kind. This is a lesson for all of us.
The name of the Destroyer is Apollyon, not Jehovah.