The Pre-Advent Judgment
Introduction: Last week, our study of Daniel 7 taught us that Daniel had a grand dream in which the entire sweep of history was brought to his mind. The dream was very much like the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar, which we studied in Daniel 2. Daniel's dream, however, has some curious differences that add detail to the period of time after the fall of Pagan (secular) Rome. These details include the description of a world power portrayed as a "little horn" which holds power over the saints for 1,260 years. This reign is followed by a glimpse into a heavenly court which sits to begin business. Let's dive into our continued look into Daniel's future and ours!
- Rush to Judgment?
- Let's pick up at the end of a story that you know very well. Adam and Eve have sinned by disobeying God and eating fruit from the forbidden tree. Read Genesis 3:8-13. God asks three questions in these verses, what are those questions? ("Where are you?" "Who told you that you were naked?" "What is this you have done?")
- What kind of answers did God get? Were these confessions of sin? (None of these answers are an unqualified confession. They all blame the problem on something or someone else.)
- Did God know the answers to these questions before He asked? (He certainly knew the correct answers.)
- If God knew the correct answers, why did He ask them? (Notice that Adam and Eve wanted to run away from their sin. They did not want to take personal responsibility for their sin. God wanted them to face their sin.)
- The following verses in Genesis 3 detail God's judgment for this sin. If God had not declared His judgment on this sin, how would Adam and Eve have described these events in the future? (They would have told the same evasive story, "What, me?" in the future.)
- Read Matthew 22:1-3, 8-11. Here is another familiar story. What is this story intended to illustrate? (The kingdom of heaven.)
- We have God, portrayed as a king, asking a question of a wedding guest. Do you think God knows the answer to the question posed in Matthew 22:12?
- If so, why does God ask this question?
- Why is the wedding guest speechless? (Apparently, he has no adequate explanation.)
- The following verse in Matthew recites God's judgment on the man who did not wear wedding clothes to the wedding.
- Both of these stories deal with God entering judgment against humans. What do we learn about God's approach to judgment? (God does not rush to judgment. Even though He is God and knows the answers, He still investigates matters and lets us attempt to explain what we have done.)
- For whose benefit is the investigation before the judgment? (In these two stories the culprits knew what they had done (or not done). God also knew. It seems that God's questions and the insufficient answers are for the benefit of the reader. We are "looking over the shoulder" of God to consider how He deals with sin, judgment and the Kingdom of Heaven.)
- What does this tell us about God? (That He is more than "transparent" in His dealings with humans. He wants us to know that His judgments are just.)
- Investigative Judgment
- Read Matthew 19:28. What authority does Jesus promise to His disciples? (The authority to judge His people.)
- In what event will the disciples participate? (It seems the judgment of the "twelve tribes of Israel" in Jesus' coming kingdom.)
- Read Revelation 20:4-6. How many resurrections do we find in these verses? (Two.)
- Of which resurrection do you want to be a part? (The first! This is the resurrection of the righteous.)
- Who do you think are seated on these thrones mentioned in verse 4? (Jesus and His disciples.)
- Read Revelation 20:11-15. We have at least two books mentioned in connection with this judgment: a book of life and the book(s) of death. Which book would record what (v.12) "they had done?" ( Psalms 51:1 & 9 and Revelation 3:5 give us this picture that our sins are written down in a book. In addition, the names of the saved are also written in a book. These are logically the books of life and of death. The suggestion in Psalms 51 and Revelation 20 is that the saved have their sins blotted out of the book of death and the unsaved have their names blotted out of the book of life (or never recorded). Thus, the picture in Revelation 20:12 must be the judgment of the unsaved.)
- If Revelation 20:11-15 recites the judgment of the unsaved, when does the judgment of those whose names are written in the book of life take place?
- Would it have logically taken place before the judgment of the unsaved? (Look again at Revelation 3:4-5. The phrase "acknowledge his name [the saved whose names are in the book of life] before My Father and the angels" sounds like Jesus is interceding for the saved in a judgment. This is reinforced by the picture in Hebrews 8 of Jesus working in heaven (interceding) on behalf of the saved just as the High Priest worked on behalf of Israel on the Day of Atonement. See 1 Timothy 2:5-6.)
- Now, let's get back to Daniel 7 and see if we can put this in place. Review Daniel 7:9-14. We have judgment in heaven, we have Jesus entering the judgment with (v.14) "authority, glory and sovereign power." At the same time(v.12), Babylon, Persia, Greece and Secular Rome - or at least some of them, are "allowed to live" stripped of their authority. Which judgment does this seem to be: the judgment of the saved or the unsaved? (This clearly seems to be the first judgment, the early judgment. Italy, Greece, Iran and Iraq all exist today - but are hardly world powers.)
- Read Daniel 7:21-22. Who is the subject of this first investigation? (The saved! This bolsters our conclusion that there are two judgments, and the saved are the subject of the first judgment. This is the judgment which results in the names of the saved being written in the book of life. This is the judgment in which Jesus mediates on behalf of the saved. This is the judgment referred to in Revelation 20:4.)
- The First Judgment: What Time?
- Read Daniel 7:24-26. Last week we concluded that this "little horn" power was Papal Rome. Leaving aside the "time, times and half a time" of verse 25, what other time markers do you see in these verses? (First, we see that the "little horn" subdues three of the ten kingdoms that arise out of the decline of secular Rome. That seems to be the beginning time marker. The ending time marker seems to be this first judgment which begins the last days of earth. Daniel 7:21-22.)
- Would 3.5 literal years cover this span of time? (No way. History gives us a general fix on the timing for this "little horn." A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments tells us that Justinian's edict acknowledging Pope John II as the head of the Church was set by Elliott at 529 or 533 A.D.. Luther sets the date at 606 A.D., because this was when Phocas confirmed Justinian's grant. This same Commentary sets the date at 752 A.D., because it says this is when "the temporal dominion of the popes began." Our lesson (Thursday) picks another date in this same time frame, 538 A.D. at the proper starting date. There is no doubt in my mind that this general time frame (500-700 A.D.) is correct. Since the world did not end shortly thereafter, it is hard to imagine that the 3.5 years are literal. Instead, using the 1 day = 1 year prophetic principle we discussed last week, gives us 1,260 years. (3.5 years = 42 months = 1,260 days. If a day = a year, this translates to 1,260 years.))
- If you add 1,260 years to any of these dates, what time frame do you have? (This would mean that God's first judgment is going on now!)
- Let's have a little fun now. I'm not a "date setter" for the Second Coming of Jesus - Matthew 24 tells us this is not possible. Assume with me that one of these dates others have recited is the appropriate starting date for the 1,260 years. The earliest date, 529 A.D. brings us up to 1789 A.D.. The latest date, 752 A.D., brings us to 2012 A.D.. I came across a chronology web site (www.abdicate.net) which calculates that 2024 A.D. is the 6,000th year since Creation. (I cannot vouch for the accuracy of that date.) The IVP Bible Background Commentary (on Revelation 20:1-3) tells us that some early Jewish traditions divided history into seven one-thousand year periods. This was based on the application of Psalms 90:4 (a thousand years for us is like one day for God) to the seven days of Creation. Revelation 20:4-6 indicates at least a thousand years pass between the first and second judgments. Thus, early Jewish tradition would suggest our world will end after 6,000 years and Revelation 20 suggests that the saints will spend the last, (the Sabbath millennium), in heaven. A very rough mix of all of this information suggests that we are living in the last part of earth's history! I like that thought!
- Friend, are you ready for Jesus' Judgment? While the dates we have discussed are subject to debate, what seems clear from Daniel's dream is that we are living in the last days of earth's history. If you are not ready to be judged, you need to repent and accept the offer of Jesus' righteous sacrifice on your behalf!
- Next week: The Sanctuary Attacked.