“May you be sealed!”
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"May you be sealed"Some Adventists feel apologetic about the “investigative judgment,” and others have come to deny it altogether. But an investigation of professed believers is clearly taught in the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-3). A study of the Hebrew sanctuary services tells us that the Day of Atonement was a time of judgment in which those professing to be Israelites were affirmed as members of the covenant community or excluded because of rebellion. And from these, as well as Revelation 4-6, Daniel 7-9, we get our understanding of the investigative judgment. 1

Even our understanding of our place in history is based on the prophecies in Daniel 7-9.  The “seal” of that prophecy, to quote the angel expositor to Daniel, was the ministry of Jesus Christ as the “Anointed One” (Daniel 9:25-26).  He is a historical figure that we can date to a close margin of error.  That’s why we know that the date of October 1844 is accurate.  So far removed from the Biblical context, we didn’t understand it prior to 1844 and many still do not understand it.

Why are we the only ones teaching the historicist method of prophetic interpretation?  We really aren’t the only ones. but we do appear to be in the minority.  It is a testament to the astounding success of the Counter-reformation that the other two non-biblical (contrary to the angel’s exegesis) interpretations dominate non-Adventist Christian thought.

Part of the difficulty we face in understanding the concept of an investigative judgment is that we are so far removed from the Biblical context. We are surprisingly ignorant of the significance of the New Moon Festivals that culminated in the Day of Atonement. We have a “modern” idea of judgment that is unrelated to Biblical understanding of judgment.

If God were a benevolent tyrant (an oxymoron), He would only need an instant in time to decide everyone’s fate — past, present and future. (This is, in part, the kind of personage Satan has made God out to be.) The truth is far more interesting. When we read the first chapter of Job and realize that Adam is called a son of God (being that Adam had no biological father) we can begin to understand that we are not alone in the universe — contrary to popular Christian beliefs.

When Satan presented himself as the representative of this earth (in Adam’s place), he was doing so among all the other representatives of other ‘solar systems’ who were participating in God’s chosen form of government. These ‘sons of God’ were also present at the creation of the earth. (See Job 38:6,7) Understanding this gives much more significance to God’s challenge to Satan regarding Job’s righteousness.

Consider that God is answering Satan’s charges against Him in how He deals with us. Consider also that there are beings who will someday call us neighbors who are concerned about who we really are. Daniel talks about judgment thrones (plural) and Revelation talks about twenty-four elders. Consider all the lives of the past millennia and God’s individual interventions on behalf of His people to review for the benefit of the “jury,” and you begin to understand the time-frame.

When Jesus comes, He says He will have His reward for His faithful servants with Him. Revelation teaches a millennium of judgment. It also speaks of a resurrection of the condemned. We might think of this as the sentencing phase of the judgment, when the wicked will be confronted with their record, accept the verdict and then face the consequences of their choices.

But on a personal level, let us embrace judgment in the biblical sense.Greeting "May you be sealed!" The Israelite New Moon festivals were about family, then clan, then tribe, then national reconciliation — ultimately leading to reconciliation with God on the Day of Atonement. We are currently in a period of time where we are invited to reconcile with our brothers and sisters and with Christ and find joy in the love of Christ that flows out through all who are In-Him. The Day of Atonement greeting among Israelites was roughly translated, “May you be sealed!” Now that should be heavy with meaning for us today! 2

When we consider Satan’s fate, we need to consider that he turned in rebellion from God from within His presence. There was nothing more God could do to reveal His character to Him so that He might draw Him into His love. For the mighty angel who rebelled there is no turning back. Ellen White speaks to this specifically and the Bible hints at it.

Satan will see his rebellion through to the burning end with a determination fallen humans cannot fathom. This is not about being denied opportunities, it is about spurning God’s love until there is nothing left within you to respond. Among humans this is referred to as the unpardonable sin.

May you be sealed!

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“May you be sealed!” — 13 Comments

  1. Praise God.
    This was the time, Israel would be in "deep heart searching". Brethren it is time that we should be searching out our hearts for any sin that we may still cherish. We should cry and mourn for the sins amongst God's people. BE SEALED. God Bless

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  2. It is appointed unto man once to die and then the judgement. There is an invitation offered to all. Christ says, behold I stand at the door and knock. Jn3:16 Whosoever believe will not perish. Its clear to me that we will all be judged at the end and Christ will pronounce, he that is righteous let him be and the contrary is also true. Let us focus on being ready for Christ return and not on a judgement. Time spent on preparing to meet our Lord is preparing for a favorable judgement.

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    • I believe that we should be more concerned about the character we have with respect to the characters of those that will be in Heaven rather than worrying about the judgment.

      Christians tend to be very fearful of the judgment probably because of our culture and the ways that our systems of justice are set up. To us, more often than not, the judgment means that we are assumed to be guilty and must defend ourselves before an angry God who delights in punishing His creatures. That view of God's justice is unfortunate!

      Ancient Israel's judicial system was God ordained and simple. When someone was charged with an infraction whether it be a criminal act or a debt he was brought before a judge whose job it was to determine if the charge was fair. The prosecution had to prove that the charge was indeed accurate. The accused, in that system, was always considered innocent until he was judged guilty; furthermore, the judge always came on the side of the defense and acted as his lawyer.

      That is the reason why David was able to say, “Judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, And according to my integrity within me” (Psa 7:8 NKJ) and why Daniel wrote, “a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High” (Dan 7:22 NKJ). Even Paul exclaimed, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31 NKJ)
      We then should have a positive outlook when it comes to the judgment in the same way Israel looked forward to the Day of Atonement because that day was when Israel was to be justified and cleared of all sin. Remember, “the Father Himself loves you” (John 16:27 NKJ) and “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God” (1 John 3:1 NKJ). Besides, “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1 NKJ) so, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16 NKJ). And remember the mercy seat covers the law.

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  3. In the parable of the wedding garment there is an examination of the guests, in a sense, to see who has on the wedding garment. It is not a far stretch, as some who have come to reject the investigative judgment, to see that this parable does demonstrate that there is a pre-advent judgment. I believe the historical term "investigative judgment" is one of the worst terms that could have ever been chosen. I have been told, although I have no supporting evidence, that James White pled with the brethren not to describe this work of Christ with such a term.

    Let's face it, it has all the fear elements of an IRS audit. And the way EGW describes it in a chapter in Great Controversy doesn't help. Her words have been spun by many over the years to badger people around with fear and guilt. I grew up thinking God was this super cop in heaven, eager to hand out tickets. I lived in fear that my name could come up at any time, and if I was having a bad day, well, it was curtains. Off to hell I would eventually go, with not so much as a case of ice water.

    Is it no wonder that so many SDA's have rejected the IJ. I might be overdoing it a bit with what I just described, but this how many SDA's generally saw the IJ. It was not good news in the least.

    The good news is that rather than my youthful misunderstood belief that God was making a list and checking it twice as an excuse to keep me out of heaven, in the judgment He is doing everything to get me in. Just read Zechariah 3.

    One final note, I think the cry aloud and spare not method, or crying and sighing for all the sin in the camp is a wrong focus. Jesus said, "I, if I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto me." That has a far more winsome appeal than someone who looks like they were baptized in lemon juice and held under too long, beating the drums about heresy and apostasy they see in the church.

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    • Just a quick note re the term "investigative judgment": In places where we have a legal system with an investigative hearing and a trial with a jury, this is an excellent term. An investigative hearing (like the investigative judgment) determines whether there is a case against the accused or not. Satan accuses us all and says God has no right to take us to heaven. The investigative judgment determines whether Satan has a case against us. For those who have accepted Christ as their Advocate, there is no case!

      Case dismissed!

      I think that's really great news and a very sensible teaching.

      Any Bible doctrine can be spun to be negative, and many have done exactly that -- especially opponents of Christianity. It's a diabolical triumph when Christians spin Bible doctrines to say negative things about God.
      You are so right about God's part in the judgment. The Hebrew legal system had a much better model than ours. In that system it was the judge's job to find the accused innocent, if at all possible. And that's what God wants to do in the investigative judgment. He has made all provisions possible to assure that we may be found "righteous"!

      Wonderful news, indeed!

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  4. I am so encouraged to learn that the investigative judgement is not about me. It is about God. He is the one who has been accused of being harsh, vengeful, unforgiving, and severe. The more I learn about how he treats his enemies the more I fall in love with Him. The investigative judgement is investigating who God is and we are living in that time.

    Good News

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  5. Inge
    I see your point about the word "investigative." It's just that this doctrine has been used by so many in such a counter-productive way for generations.
    The mere mention of the term sends shivers of fear down the spine of many long term Adventists, and waves a red flag in front of the bulls who have rejected the entire belief in an IJ. Sometimes old terminologies need to b e discarded and more user friendly ones adopted, to change wrong concepts of old, about a particular belief.

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    • Ah Tom, would you like a "candy message" or one to take with a grain of salt? Do you remember someone who was offered vinegar? Yes, yes some over did it.

      How I do understand you... . The 21st century is marked by changes and the religious world is not exempted but the IJ remains dogmatic theology. However, today, is anyone preaching lost or saved, devil hot hell burning forever furnace pit scary sermons or am I deaf?

      Hey, sometimes I do wonder if we shouldn't! Take a look at our world! Take a look at life. Does the tableau worth a frame. Where could it be hung? See the IJ message is not so bad after all. Do we not forget it going on sometimes? Who doesn't?

      When a soul comes to the knowledge of Christ's love and has experimented His forgiveness, the nearness to this source of love produces security. This assurance protects from fear. There might be questions but the soul recognizes a Redeemer in the Judge of the IJ. And in love there is no fear. No fear of IJ, in spite of how terrible some might proclaim it. People need to know that God loves them. I tried to explain Daniel chapter 2 to a non converted, expanding and underling the historical scenarios. He believed what I said but didn't care to know about the future even if the past and present were true. Then I realized that I didn't say anything if I were not speaking about the love of Christ, my discourse was empty.

      The essential is that Jesus loves us, wants to save us and that we find shelter in His love. Surrender and "occupy" till He comes or is there more to it?

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  6. The Investigator doubles as the Judge in this inquiry. He gave His life that we might judged fit for heaven.

    The deck is stacked in our favor. All we need to do is cooperate and He will finish what He has begun IN OUR FAVOR!

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    • You're so right, Karl. :) Our concept of the Investigative Judgment tends to be distorted by our adversarial legal system. But in the Hebrew legal system, it was the judge's job to find the defendant innocent.

      And in this case, the Judge paid our penalty (to use one atonement metaphor) so that we might go free ... that "whosoever believes on Him should have eternal life."

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  7. I don't believe it really matters where our current stance is. I have lived through all of these movements, and even been affected by them, and for many years wasn't sure which way was the right way, yet I stayed true to one belief, and it was/is centered in Jesus Christ. I grew up through all the Bible bashing, and E. G. White says, times. Then I witnessed the years without Ellen White being even mentioned from the pulpit. And now... I find myself realizing that it wont mean a thing when I offer any of it, feelings of religious abuse or whatever, as an excuse at the end of it all, because of one thing - the existence of His word. Just as He gave it. No changes made to make it more palatable, or understandable. We have it very close to the original, and that word will be held as evidence. You see, to understand it we have to ask Him for understanding. Only He can give us this understanding. It cannot come from man who is inherently sinful, who interprets all from his sinful state of being in the terms used by his society. Unless we ask for His understanding, and are willing to search for it as for the greatest fortune, willingly relinquishing all we have in the search, so that He consumes our lives with His love, then we will find it.

    It is perfectly natural for humanity to shy away from, or shun, and/or rebel against absolutes. We fear absolutes with every nerve. They make us feel clostraphobic. That is human. We are always looking for loopholes. We are all consummate hackers, always looking for a way to break the code, and then recode to our liking. The truth is, God's code cannot be broken. He knows the human heart... He knew it before ever it was created, in that if it circummed (don't know if I got that spelling right!) to evil there would be a way provided. Our problem, however, is that we want to journey on that narrow highway to heaven in our own individual way. My will, oh Lord, my will. Jesus himself struggled sweating drops of blood as He plead with His Father, " If it be possible, let this cup pass from me." Until the will of His Father superceded His humanity, and He was able to say, "Not my will, but Thy will be done." Fear pressed in on Him, too. He experienced more fear than we can ever imagine, and He did not conquer it! It was conquered by His Father's love, and His love was made perfect in His Father. Everything He did on earth was as He was directed and given to do and say by the Father, your Father and mine. But how much time did he spend with His Father? How much did He give to spend all that time with His Father? Are we willing to do the same in Him, Jesus Christ. He bids us to abide in Him, as He abides in the Father, and the Father in Him.

    There are no other words to say what He already said, in Daniel's time, in Jesus' time, or in John's time, or in Ellen White's time, or our time. The only reason we hold back, or say that the Investigative Judgement is harsh, upsetting, or fear mongering, is because we are kicking against the fence. We want more time, more latitude, etc., instead of succumbing to His love, and resting in it, experiencing His peace. That would be the peace that passes understanding. The same that Luther and all the martyrs experienced as they submitted to the flames. Explicit trust... foreign to the human heart!
    Search His word. Do as Proverbs tells us, seek, search, cry out for, desire understanding from the source, and as you grow you will know the One in whom you believe, and all He speaks of He speaks that we might know Him and be warned. Nobody can give it to you, but Him, - no Pastor, Teacher, Professor, or friend. We each have to seek it for ourselves, and love more than we do ourselves. Let us keep our eyes glued on the Master. With practice, as always it gets easier, yet beware lest we are hacked! Ease has it's inherent dangers, and we can never ever know too much about Him, or think we know all there is to know in His word.

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  8. It is interesting to note that in the Bible God's times of judgment were always in favour of God's people.

    I am happy that our understanding of the final judgment has changed over the years. I am reminded of an elderly believer, in her last illness, was worried about dying because she wasn't sure if she had confessed every sin. The sad thing was that this dear saint was one of the most dear and godly ones I knew. I thought that out of most people she should have more assurance than that.

    I think we need to focus more on our Saviour than on sin.

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