Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

According to Jesus Christ, a horrible future awaits many people. Jesus said there would be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for many. This speaks of inconsolable regret, remorse, dismay and anger. This is what so many people will be doing in eternity, when they realize what they missed out on, and what they have been cut off from. Jesus warned that among those weeping and gnashing their teeth there would be many who were “sons of the kingdom” or in some sense “servants” of God. So let us not be too complacent at this point.

And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. ” (Matthew 8:11-12)

Jesus here is commenting on the outstanding faith of a Roman Centurion who cared about his servant and believed in the power of Jesus to speak a word and command the affliction to go. Jesus was telling the Jews to watch out – because many of THEM were going to be excluded from God’s eternal banquet while foreigners from all over would be coming and joining Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and those of true faith.

What matters to God is living faith. It isn’t being part of the traditional club of those who consider themselves chosen by God.

Jesus taught something different about the End of the Age that what we normally hear in such novels as “Left Behind”. He said:

Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age.  The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. ” (Matthew 13:40-42)

The furnace of fire is the place where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. In considering what the meaning of these words are, we do well to let Scripture interpret Scripture.

The next Scripture I see talking about “Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth” is here:

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and[a] cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:11-14)

This parable speaks to me about the need to be clothed with a garment of righteousness. Here “Outer Darkness” is the place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Could “Outer Darkness” be part of hell? Well, it seems likely considering the other references to this phrase we have seen so far. If testimonies of people who claim to have been shown eternal things by Jesus Christ in visitations count for anything, then these testimonies also at times confirm the notion that “Outer Darkness” is a place in hell reserved for unfaithful, disobedient sinning “servants” of Christ. God calls many, but to be chosen for salvation means you have to respond in certain ways.

Jesus gave a warning specifically addressed to abusive leaders in the church.

But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

(Matthew 25:48-51)

The language here “cut him in two” and “appoint him his portion with the hypocrites” is not the language of salvation. It suggests irredeemable and final judgment, not “loss of rewards”. Does anyone seriously suggest that Jesus is teaching that hypocrites enter eternal life, when Jesus spent so much time condemning the hypocrites of his day?

And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:30)

Here the unprofitable servant, the one who had a mistaken view of God, the one who refused to use his God-entrusted life and talents and gospel message for God is cast into that Outer Darkness. Again, this is a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth. It is the portion of hypocrites. It is hell, folks. Don’t risk it.

Jesus is asked at one point if only a few will be saved. He gives an answer which is designed to motivate his hearers to take no complacent attitude on this question.

22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?

And He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ 26 then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ 27 But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. 29 They will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. 30 And indeed there are last who will be first, and there are first who will be last.”

Again, the weeping and gnashing of teeth happens for those religious ones, who were acquainted with the preaching of the Word of God, but don’t take it seriously enough to give their lives to the King and the things of the Kingdom.

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