Throughout the Scriptures there are many references to the judgment of God upon individuals, peoples, and nations who have rebelled and rejected God, such judgments executed by different methods (water, fire, confusion of language) are recorded. There are seven specific judgments to which the Scriptures speak; one has been completed (the judgment that occurred at Calvary), another is on a daily basis (self-judgment <see 1 Cor.11:28-29; Psa.26:1-2; 1Jn.1:9>), one that there is no specific time indicated (fallen angels <see Ezek.28:12-19; Isa.14:12-17; 1 Cor.6:3; Jude 6; 2 Pet.2:4>), and four that are yet to be executed; the judgment-seat of Christ, of the Jewish nation <see Ezek.20:34-38; 1 Sam.8:6-7; Lk.23:13-18; Acts 7:51-53>, of the gentile nations <see Matt.25:31-32, 45; Joel 3:2>, and of the evil dead. We will be looking at the details of three of these judgments. (You may wish to read the prelude to this Post by selecting “Life-Death-Resurrection [2/12/22]” from the list of Current Posts).
THE JUDGMENT EXECUTED AT CALVARY
The Old Testament records the many attempts that God made to bring His people, the Jews, back to Himself from their sinful rebellion; it also records the prophecies of their coming Messiah who would be God’s means of providing salvation for all mankind. The issue of inherited sin in all people had to be dealt with for all eternity, for that is the only way that mankind can be restored or redeemed from sin to be able to spend eternity with God. As the Jewish nation had been taught through the Law given through Moses, the shed blood from a sacrificial animal was the only way for sin to be cleansed, and this is what was accomplished by Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
When God delivered the Jews from their captivity in Egypt (symbolic of our deliverance from the servitude to sin), He instructed the people through Moses to select a lamb for each household; the animal had to be in good health and should not have any defect; the lamb was to be killed and the blood was to be smeared on the door-posts and the tops of the door-frames <Ex.12:3, 5-7>. On that night God executed judgment upon the land and people of Egypt so that Pharoah would release the slaves; ““On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.” <Ex 12:12-13 (NIV)>; in this way God redeemed His people from their captivity, and instructed them to celebrate this event throughout their generations, reminding them of their deliverance. The Law given through Moses instructed them in the various animal sacrifices for various functions and feasts, showing them that all sin must be dealt with through the shed blood of the animal. These sacrifices, however, were only symbolic in nature until God’s eternal sacrifice was offered in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ <see Heb.9:6-10>. This chapter continues to describe the sacrifices and their purpose by stating: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” <Heb 9:22 (NIV)>: and since these animal sacrifices were only symbolic, God had to provide a “better” sacrifice, and that provision is His Son Jesus Christ, who offered Himself once and for all eternity, and as “the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” <Heb 9:25-26 (NIV)>
Thus, Christ took our sins in His own body on the Cross, and in our place suffered God’s judgment for our sins: “…John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” <John 1:29 (NIV); cf Heb.2:9; 1 Jn.2:2; 2 Cor.5:21>; and in this we see that God’s wrath against sin was revealed at Calvary as Christ suffered for us in the darkness of the daytime <see Matt.27:45-46>, and paid the price for sin that was ours to pay <Rom.6:23>.
The question that we each have to answer is: What have I done in response to God’s gift of salvation? Have I accepted God’s gift or have I rejected His offer? Our response to this will determine where we stand in the judgments to come <see Jn.1:12-13>.
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
This judgment is where all the believers in Christ will be judged and rewarded for their actions after their conversion (belief). It will take place at the second coming of Christ after the first resurrection <see Lk.14:14; Matt.16:27>; and it should be noted that this will not be a question of our salvation, it will be an accountability to Christ: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” <2 Cor 5:10 (NIV)>; good or bad suggests profitable or not. Our sins before conversion will not be judged, for Christ has already cancelled that debt that we owed to God <see Heb.10:14-17>, neither will the sins committed and confessed after our conversion <1 Jn.1:9>. Our deeds and motives will be judged: “…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” <1 Cor 3:13-15 (NIV)>. Christ will judge our words <Matt.12:36-37>, thoughts <Matt.15:19-19>, and our secrets <Rom.2:16>. Here there will be no favouritism for God knows our heart <Gal.6:7-8>. If the believer’s actions and motives pass the test of Christ’s judgment (fire), the believer will be rewarded.
We prepare for this judgment by constant communion with Christ through His Word and self-examination (judgment), and the daily leading of The Holy Spirit. When this is our lifestyle there should be no cause for concern to the believer; “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” <1 Cor 4:5 (NIV)>
THE JUDGMENT OF THE UNGODLY DEAD
This is God’s final judgment upon all those who throughout their lifetime have totally rejected Him and His offer of salvation, and as is described by the effects and the results of all the judgments during the tribulation period <Rev.16:9> when God is dealing with His people, the Jews, and the nations of the world, there will be a millennial period (a thousand years) after which there will be a resurrection of all the ungodly dead. The Scriptures record the vision of John: “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.” < Rev.20:11-13 (NIV)>; and in this judgment we must understand that the guilty verdict has already been declared and that there is no appeal or withdrawal of this verdict. All who stand before God’s throne at this judgment have already condemned themselves by their actions and motives in the rejection of Jesus Christ and the salvation that he has secured; their names have never been entered in the Book of Life, and the sentence is condemnation to the Lake of fire <Rev.20:15>.
Therefore, we see in this that God will punish all those that reject Him, and there will be no exceptions <Heb.9:27>, for He has declared that nothing impure, sinful or ungodly will enter His heaven <see Rev.21:8, 27>; and He has given us assurance of this, for He has given all judgment to His Son, Jesus Christ <see Jn.5:22, 27-29>.
Again, we are all faced with a great decision; to which resurrection will I answer Christ’s call, the first <1 Thess.4:16-17>, or the second resurrection where we will face God’s final judgment. Let us hear God’s Word; “…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.” <Rev.20:4-6 (NIV)>; the second death is final separation from God for all eternity!