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Tuesday: The Heavenly Judgment — 13 Comments

  1. In Australia, whenever we have a big bushfire or a major flood, both rather too frequently in recent years, we have several courts in inquiry. Depending on the severity and extent, these can be local, state or national. The really big ones are called Royal Commissions. Sometimes they come up with a list of suggested actions and in a worst-case scenario, they may ask that criminal proceedings be commenced against persons or organisations who are deemed to have some blame for their actions.

    The Royal Commission into sin is the biggest inquiry of them all and by the end of it, there won't be any doubt about the character of God, or our relationship to Him.

    The judgment and its execution has been pictured as a frightening painful ordeal. Religious art, depicting the judgment has been used to "decorate" religious buildings for centuries, mainly to frighten people into submission to church control. However, the Bible is full of descriptions of the judgment that show God is not capricious or vindictive. In today's lesson, we have multiple references to Jesus as the "Son of Man", emphasizing his oneness with us. In the Royal Commission into sin, we have a representative who identifies with us. And we have this assurance:

    My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
    And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1,2 KJV

  2. Sin is a term used to describe actions that are seen as immoral, unethical, or go against the will of a divine being or religious law. The expected consequences of sin can range from spiritual and moral degradation to separation from God and eternal punishment.

    When I was a child, my family and I lived in Malawi, where we were part of a missionary community. One family most conscientiously attempted to follow all of Ellen White's teachings. We were invited to their home for Sabbath afternoon Temperance meetings, to sing and listen to stories that encouraged healthy habits. They were careful about their diet and, for example, would not eat cheese, unlike our other neighbours. One day, while visiting a friend, I saw James, from the ‘no cheese’ family, in my friend’s kitchen enjoying sliced cheese as if it was his last chance to eat. James' action would have been viewed poorly by his mother. Some people consider consumption of certain foods as sinful, while others may not view this as a moral issue. Individual concepts of sin vary because of the strong influence of culture on religious beliefs.

    1 Corinthians 10:31 highlights the importance of living a life that brings honour and glory to God in all aspects. ”So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

    This verse is about everything we do, including the most basic everyday actions, such as eating and drinking. Ultimately the verse emphasizes the significance of living a life that reflects God's values and priorities. If I choose not to eat cheese, does this make me morally superior to my friend James, or are we all guilty of spending far too much energy conflating cultural options with moral law?

    • In the 1890s Ellen White visited the Paekākāriki area in New Zealand where she stayed for a couple of days with some of our family connections. During her stay, she walked along the sandy beach with the family. The beach was a good source of pipis (a much-prized clam) so the family gathered some of these and took them home. Mother Brown cooked the pipis into a soup for the evening meal. Ellen White enjoyed the pipi soup and exclaimed after eating it that it was the best clam chowder she had tasted for a long time. I tell this story, given to me by my uncle, Dr Noel Clapham, a grandson of Mrs Brown, as an example of how Ellen White treated people. She was willing to enjoy the food that had been prepared for her. The fact that she accepted the family hospitality may have been instrumental in the fact that many members of that family worked for the church for generations afterward.

      I am not telling this story as an excuse to eat unclean foods. In fact, given a choice of "naughty" foods, pipis would be my very last choice. A green "fishy" soup is not a tempting combination for me. However, the story gives a perspective on healthy living and our relationship to the salvation of others that we need to bear in mind.

      For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:8 KJV

      For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16KJV

      We are not saved by being conservative (or liberal) but by the grace of God. That should give a perspective of how we interact with others.

  3. Imagine you are before a Court (with no humans running It), and where only the plain Truth rules. While facing this Court you priorly know that you are "short", that you have no excuses, and nothing to justify your past mistakes. Thus, before you get to this Court you already know you are guilty (that's the plain Truth!). Although It all seems so serious and dense, this same public Court offers you a Lawyer, a person Who not only defends you, but is the Only One Who is able to pay whatever bond is required. What a relief!

    There is a single condition, which is the answer to a simple question, do you ACCEPT this Lawyer as your defender and redeemer?

  4. The lesson question brings the words of this hymn to mind:

    “ My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus' blood and righteousness
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame
    But wholly lean on Jesus' name

    When He shall come with trumpet sound
    Oh may I then in Him be found
    Dressed in his righteousness alone
    Faultless to stand before the throne

    On Christ the solid rock I stand
    All other ground is sinking sand”

    Because HE is the second Adam, I can not only lean on but lean into Jesus. He understands implicitly what it means to live in a sin-sick world and experience the temptation to sin at every turn. He is the compassionate and empathetic advocate for sinners who offers his blood AND righteousness.

  5. Rom.8:1 – “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” This is how we remain in Christ Jesus.

    How did Jesus Christ remain in and with His heavenly Father? Was it not through the willingness of following the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know and do the Will of God the Father? If the Son of Man was living His life by faith, led by and following the Holy Spirit, then this is what we would do also.

    As I understand this statement by the Holy Spirit, it is 'as we walk by faith, loving our heavenly Father with our whole being, expressing this love toward our fellow man in the many circumstances we find ourselves in during our lifetime, that we will be found in Christ Jesus and considered free of condemnation' – Matt.22:36-40; Deut.6:5; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27.

  6. We do fall short of the will of the father in our human judgement. However, we are not the example; Christ is, and because of His example we are asked to do all to His glory.

    By his power we are enabled to be obedient to his commands and biddings. Saved by grace, empowered by his words, born again to a new life where the flesh dies daily, we have victory over sin!

  7. The lesson’s author appears to have misunderstood who is being judged in Daniel 7. Daniel 7:9-11 states that the books are opened, and the beast and its horn are slain, destroyed and given to the burning fire. That is the judgment.

    Then the Son of Man is presented before the Ancient of Days, and the Son is given dominion and the kingdom which will not pass away nor be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14.) This is the result of that judgment.

    The being Daniel approaches explains that “the court will sit for judgment, and his [the little horn’s] dominion will be taken away, annihilated and destroyed forever.” (Daniel 7:26 NASB1995.) After that judgment, “the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” (Daniel 7:27 NASB1995.)

    This is not a judgment of the saints, but is instead a judgment of the fourth beast and its little horn.

    It is also interesting to note that the dominion of the first three beasts is taken away, “but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time.” (Daniel 7:12 NASB1995.) The word translated as “time” in this verse, is the very same word translated as “time, times and half a time” in Daniel 7:25, which I have heard many equate to 1260 days or three and half years. So these beasts live on after the fourth beast is destroyed for a period of more than 360 years (if the day-year theory applies). I have not been able to find this period in history and would be interested in a plausible and credible explanation. No one I have asked has been able to provide one for this part of Daniel’s prophecy.

    • Hi, Richard. I agree that we must look at the actual text of Daniel 7 in order to understand the pre-advent judgment correctly. What I fear you may have missed is the deeper meaning of the "little horn" that is condemned in this judgment, while the "saints of the Highest One" are exonerated and delivered.

      My understanding is that the "little horn" is a professedly Christian entity, meaning that those who identify with it and persecute the true believers ("the saints") are making a competing claim to being Christians, and therefore entitled to God's approval. I note, as an historical fact, that they have indeed sought to justify their acts (for example, the torture and execution of Jan Hus) as righteous judgments being made on God's behalf. That is, they needed to make an example of heretics in order to save other souls from perdition.

      Thus, in effect, this judgment is an examination of the cases of all professing Christians, in order to determine objectively, from the recorded facts, who is actually a believer. Therefore, as I see it, there's no "free pass" for anyone. If the facts don't bear out our claim of truly believing in Jesus, then we lose our case. We are not "saints of the Highest One," however well we may have fooled ourselves or others.

      As for the "appointed period of time" in Daniel 7:12, you seem to have answered your own question by choosing to quote the NASB1995, although I do find it consistent with the KJV, etc. From the wording itself, this period of time seems to be undefined.

      I hope this helps.

      • Just one loose end for which I would appreciate a comment from someone. Where are those other three beasts of Daniel 7:12—the ones that preceded the last terrible beast and then live on for a “season and a time” (more than 360 years) after the fourth and last beast is judged and destroyed? Where do these three remnant beasts appear as living on in prophetic history for a “season and a time” (KJV)?

        The reason I ask this is that the classic Adventist interpretation of this prophecy gives the impression that the identities and roles of all these beasts are very defined in actual history. Whereas, the reality of history does not appear to fit this interpretation very well. Is the Adventist interpretation missing something here that may have present significance?

        Just asking.

    • Hello RG,

      Thanks for your carefully reasoned response. The lesson’s author states:

      The judgment is set, and the books — the celestial records of our lives — are opened before the universe. [emphasis mine]

      The obvious interpretation of this statement is that the saints (not just “professed” Christians) of the Most High are being judged to see if they are good enough for the coming kingdom.

      But the context of Daniel 7 sets the judgment and the opening of the books at the judgment of the little horn and its beast, not at some judgment of the saints of the Most High. That is very clear from the context. I agree with you that context gives this horn power evolving religious and political aspects—the horns and beasts are symbolic representations of real live people groups. But that context leads to a deeper truer understanding of the passage.

      The question is, what information is in these books that are opened? When Daniel desires to know more about the situation of the other horn that came up in the terrible fourth beast, he is told about its great boasts, its war and physical assaults against the saints, its onslaughts against the character, times and laws of the Most High. Would it not be reasonable in this context to think that God’s open books expose all of these evils, rather than the “sins” of saints? God is not the accuser of the brethren, but flipping God’s judgment onto the saints (as the lesson’s author does), makes him appear to be so. (And who would benefit from this misrepresentation of God’s character? Certainly, not God nor his Son Jesus.)

      And what would be the outcome of misrepresenting God as a saint-judging accuser? Terrible anxiety and insecurity about God’s acceptance and a focus on self and whether self is “good enough” for that accusing judgemental God, that is, works-oriented perfectionism (for those who think they are strong) and utter hopeless despair (for the weak). I have seen the shipwrecks of this theology in our church for decades.

      Given that we are living in the time of the end, I think it is well past time to read Daniel 7 in its context: good news for the saints. The lying horn and its beast will be annihilated by God’s judgment, dominion and the kingdom will be given to the Son of Man (our Lord Jesus), who will then pass his kingdom back to his saints. Hallelujah for the Hope and Love that we have in our Saviour and Lord Jesus!

      • Amen, Richard! Thank you for your heartfelt response. Once I had read far enough down to see that your main point is that the investigative judgment is "good news for the saints," I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing.

        As to the details, I can only think that the more the books reveal, the better news it is for the saints. That's because the fake "saints" (i.e hypocrites) will have nowhere to hide, and no way to continue their opposition to, and oppression of, those who really do love and trust Jesus. Since, as you say, God is not a "saint-judging accuser," I'm sure it will pain Him indescribably to condemn even His bitter enemies (and the enemies of everything good) who had been pretending to be His friends in order to gain influence. But He will do it, and we'll all be the better off for it.

        My confidence is not in some supposed limitation on how much detail the books may contain, but in what our loving Heavenly Father desires and intends to do with that information. I am sure that we can trust Him with everything, including our sins. We know that He is doing everything possible to get people into His kingdom, not to keep us out. And if there is sufficient evidence that we've put our trust in the blood and merits of Jesus (it has nothing to do with being good enough), then our sins will be blotted out (in our absence) and never, ever brought up or remembered again at all, much less in our presence.

        As a nice bonus, if we can call it that, our characters will be found to be in harmony with the law of God. That's God's promise to us, that those who are His are "predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son." Romans 8:29

        Again, I am in total agreement with the main point you are making.

        God is love!

  8. Read Daniel 7:9-10, , Daniel 7:13-14. Why did Daniel call Jesus the “Son of Man” in something as serious as the judgment?

    At the end of the 2300 years (Dan. 8:14), to cleanse the sanctuary, Christ didn’t come to earth, as the people expected. In the above Scripture texts, the prophet Daniel tells us Christ, the Son of Man, comes to the Ancient of Days in the court of heaven, to receive dominion and glory and a kingdom, having, by His life on earth, and His death, earned the full rights of the dominion of this earth.

    Jesus took upon Himself humanity, to stand at the head of the human race and reclaim the lost inheritance for mankind. He is the second Adam. The first Adam lost the dominion, and brought death to all; the second Adam brings life and reclaims the lost dominion for mankind.

    The First Adam
    *Adam was given the dominion of the newly created Earth (Genesis 1:28)
    *Adam sold out the dominion to the serpent (Satan) (Genesis 3}
    *Satan declares himself as the prince of this world, and even entered heavenly councils as the representative of this world (Job 1:6-7)
    *Satan suggested he could give Christ that dominion if He would only bow and worship him (Matt. 3:8-10)
    *Mankind has been trying to get the dominion back by force, and making an awful mess of it. Many have claimed that dominion, but can't hold it.

    One man, Adam, by yielding to temptation, put himself and his descendants under the power of Satan.

    The second Adam
    Jesus became the Son of Man, taking upon Himself humanity, and as a human resisted the tempter's attempts to seduce Him, so He, in His unfallen humanity, could stand at the head of the human race, before God, and reclaim the lost inheritance for mankind. He is the second Adam. The first Adam lost the dominion by yielding to Satan; the second Adam, with His sinless humanity, has won back the dominion for mankind.

    The verdict of the court? Christ receives the dominion! He has won it back for the human race!

    This judgment scene is also a victory for the human race, through Jesus. In Revelation, we see that in the heavenly court, Christ, Who is the "Lamb of God" as well as the "Son of Man", has a book -- it's called the "Lamb's book of life". In it are the names of all who overcome in Christ, who are joined with Him, and covered by the blood of His atoning sacrifice, and obey Him. These names Christ presents before the Father and the angels in this heavenly court, as fellow heirs with Him.
    (Rev. 3:5 Matt. 10:32)

    All whose names are confessed before the Father and retained in the book of life, will share in the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdom, and will joyfully serve Him in obedience forever. (Dan. 7:26-27)
    Evil will be banished.


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