Both in the vision and in the angelic interpretation, the judgment follows as God’s response to the horn’s presumption and climaxes with the transfer of the kingdom to God’s saints. The Bible describes the judgment as occurring during the time when the horn power is still in existence (Dan. 7:8-9). The horn’s dominion is taken away only after the court sits in judgment; then, when the judicial procedures are ended, all earthly kingdoms are destroyed (vs. 26).
What this means, clearly, is that the judgment must take place before the Second Coming. It is a pre-Advent judgment that begins sometime after “a time, times, and half a time,” (vs. 25, NASB). How could there be a final reward or punishment if there were not a judgment that preceded it?
Indeed, the saints are rewarded at the time of Christ’s Advent, which presupposes that they have already been judged. Similarly, the wicked, including the demonic powers, will be judged during the millennium before God executes the final judgment. (See Revelation 20.)
Why does God need a judgment? Doesn’t “ ‘the Lord know those who are His’ ”? 2 Tim. 2:19.
Of course our omniscient God is fully aware of who His people are. He does not need a judgment in order to decide who is going to be saved. The pre-Advent judgment, rather, shows the Judge to be just in the saving of His people. Heavenly beings need to be sure that the saints are safe to save. As we seek to understand the meaning of the judgment, we need to remember the reality of The Great Controversy scenario, which is hinted at in these texts, because we see the angelic host witnessing the judgment. Other beings have an interest in the final outcome of the plan of salvation.
“The Lord knows those who are His.” How can you be sure you are one of “His”? What’s the only way to be sure? (Rom. 8:1).