Divine Judgments of God
God’s judgments are a crucial part of His revelation. They begin with the episode in the garden of Eden and end with the White Throne Judgment.
That God judges and punishes sin is one of the most easily understood truths. Even unbelievers are impressed by this. But the object of the divine judgments cannot simply be the revelation of God’s wrath against the sinner.
THE JUDGMENT OF ADAM AND EVE
The first judgment of human sin is most important for us to consider. God had not left Adam in doubt about the consequences if he broke His commandment. He told Adam that he would become mortal and finally die (“For in the day you eat from it, to die shall you be dying”— (Concordant Literal Version).
Gen 2:17 (KJV) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Gen. 2:17 (Young Literal Translation) and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it—dying thou dost die.’
Here we have the birth of the dangerous germ of denying God’s judgments. Our first parents foolishly believed Satan, the deceiver
But if there were no sin, there would be no divine judgment.
And that He, when He judges, has only the salvation of His creatures in view.
Soon after the human race had increased and multiplied, we read of another severe judgment. All were swept away by the deluge except Noah and his family.
Gen_6:17 (KJV) And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die.
THE JUDGMENT OF THE DISINTEGRATION OF LANGUAGES
This judgment, like the former ones, also affected the entire human race. God wanted them to spread over the whole earth. But they opposed His will. By a gigantic enterprise, the building of an enormous city with a tower high as the heavens, they wanted to avoid being scattered over the earth.
Gen 11:7- 8 (KJV) Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
THE JUDGMENT OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH
In the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah we have an example of a judgment of a special group of people (Gen. 19:24-28). A life of super-abundance is never good for anyone. It invariably leads to “soft living”, accompanied by wantonness, selfishness and fleshly lusts which draw men down into the swamp of immorality. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah amply demonstrate the depths of depravity to which this can lead.
Gen 19:24-25 (KJV) Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.
While God used water as the destructive element in the flood, He now destroys the sinners of these cities by a rain of fire and sulphur.
What a precious discovery to find that God’s judgments are not an end in themselves! They are but a necessary stopping-place on the road to His goal, from whence He moves on toward the grand and glorious fulfillment of His grand purpose.
The list goes on:
The death of Egypt’s firstborn and the drowning of Egypt’s army in the waters of the Red (Terminal) Sea were brought about by serious sins against Him, the God of Israel, and His people.
THE JUDGEMENT OF ISRAEL
The history of Israel in the promised land is an unbroken chain of failures and judgments. On one occasion we note punishments of individuals or groups of persons, while at other times the entire people as well as other nations are corrected.
Even the judgment of the Babylonian captivity does not end the story. A far worse affliction has smitten Israel since then, the consequences of which are still operative in our days. It is the punishment for the rejection of the Messiah. When we consider carefully all the judgments found in the Hebrew Scriptures we perceive that not all have been exhausted by the Babylonian captivity.
Then the nation of Israel, because of their rejection of the Messiah (Mat. 27:25), would face ongoing terrible persecution and suffering.
Mat 27:25 (KJV) Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children
Israel went through a double judgment. First it was spiritually rejected as the priestly nation. Paul spoke of their casting away even in his day (Rom. 11:15).
Rom 11:15 (KJV) For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
Rom 11:15 (Concordant Literal Version) For if their casting away is the conciliation of the world, what will the taking back be if not life from among the dead?
They would become an apostate nation and callous (Acts 28:26, 27).
Act 28: 26 – 27 (KJV) Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
This second phase involved Israel’s complete political rejection and in 70 AD the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed and the people were dispersed.
We may learn much concerning this divine infliction on the Jews through the writings of historians. According to the record, their sufferings were indescribable. And what calamities have befallen them since their dispersion! How often have they been hunted and chased like animals, suffering persecution after persecution.
THE JUDGMENT ON EARTH BEFORE CHRIST’S RETURN
We now come to the end of the age where many believe we are in the eve of the so-called doomsday, which is supposed to be the final judgment, the one mentioned in Matthew 25.
John the Baptist was the first to announce a judgment which would precede the inauguration of the Millennial kingdom, the 1000 year reign of Jesus Christ on earth. Events leading up to this will constitute the greatest time of trouble ever to befall the earth. This is called the great tribulation. Its execution will take place with such violence that, in the words of the Lord, “no flesh at all would be saved alive,” that is, no one at all would live through it, if these days were not shortened (Matt. 24:21, 22 -KJV).
Mat 24:21-22 (KJV) For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
The reason God makes this judgment so severe is because mankind’s sins have become so extreme. Satan’s influence has blossomed to the point where all the nations worship him (Rev. 13:8).
Rev 13:8 (KJV) And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
That era will begin with wars and other calamities which will gradually lead up to the final climactic catastrophe, when one-quarter of humanity will be wiped out. At that time the horrified inhabitants of the earth will hide themselves in the crags and caves of the mountains and cry, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him Who is sitting on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of His wrath is come, and who is able to stand?” (Rev. 6:16, 17 (KJV).
Rev 6:16-17 (KJV) And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
After the seven bowls of God’s wrath have been poured out we are told that “in them is filled up the wrath of God.” (Rev. 15:1 KJV).
Rev 15:1 (KJV) And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
Here is a word of encouragement for those who are concerned about future judgments. God has not only planned His whole judgment program beforehand, and predicted it in many places in His Word; He has also foreseen and foretold its end. Here is clear confirmation of that great truth, that God appoints only certain times and seasons for His corrective chastening of mankind. This does not mean that this point marks the positive conclusion of all of God’s judgments. There is one more.
All of God’s early judgments—the expulsion from the garden, the flood, and the confounding of languages— were designed to bear beneficial results at a much later date. Even when God began chastening His chosen nation Israel, it was for their own good, ultimately.
THE FINAL JUDGMENT. IT IS THE GREAT WHITE THRONE JUDGMENT
This judgment of the Great White Throne is distinctly separate from other judgments in God’s Plan through the ages. The Word clearly tells us that this judgment is totally different. But human traditions have united them, maligning the character of the God of love by making Him a fiend, without mercy or justice. Many who read about this judgment think of it as a black throne rather than the Great White Throne, where justice, mercy, and love will prevail.
The Scriptures are clear and explicit in revealing the time of this judgment in relation to other events in God’s previous administrations. Immediately after the close of the thousand years’ reign and the destruction of the rebellious nations under Satan, the Great White Throne and He Who is sitting upon it appears, from Whose face earth and heaven flee, and no place is found for them (Rev.20:7-11).
Rev 20:7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
Rev 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
It is important to make a distinction regarding resurrections. It should be understood that there can be, and have been, “resurrections” from the dead, apart from “quickening” (made immortal) beyond the power of death. Take, for examples, Lazarus, and others, during our Lord’s and the apostles’ ministry, who were resurrected to life, but only to physical life, and, of course, died again.
Now in contrast with this, Christ is the Firstborn to never ending life,” “Who alone has immortality” (1 Tim.6:16) at this time. There are three “resurrections to none ending life” never to die again.
1Ti 6:16 (KJV) Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
Of the “resurrections to immortality,” Christ is “the Firstfruit” (1 Cor.15:23)
1Co 15:23 (KJV) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power, thereupon, “they who are Christ’s at His presence” (1 Cor.15:23, 24).
Thereafter, “then cometh the end (consummation – Greek word “Telos”). More about this word “telos” and its full meaning is at the web site https://biblehub.com/str/greek/5056.htm. So I use the English word “consummation” instead of “end”. Consummation gives a more encompassing meaning:
“the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose” or
“the last in any succession or series” or
” that by which a thing is finished, its close”.
1Cor. 15:24 (KJV) Then cometh the end ….
1 Cor. 15:24 (CLV) thereafter the consummation
The White Throne judgment is the most colossal of all God’s judgment sessions. It will occur after the Millennium. The vast majority of mankind will appear at that imposing assembly. The only exception are the saints who have been resurrected (resurrection to life) much earlier at Christ’s return. Jesus Christ described the two resurrections (not His own), (John 5:29) one being the resurrection of life into immortality, the other the resurrection of judgment (the White Throne judgment).
Joh 5:29 (KJV) And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of
damnation (judgement – CLV .
There is one important point which distinguishes the Great White Throne judgment from all which precedes it.
Every other judgment fell on mortals during their normal lifetimes. Their suffering, due to these judgments, resulted from the fact that they participated in sinful activity which displeased God. They were alive during the period and at the place where the judgment occurred. The final judgment will not be so discriminatory. It will not occur during their natural lives. Everyone who stands before the Great White Throne will have concluded his normal life by dying, and will have passed through the state of death and into a resurrection of judgment. For more information on this aspect of death, review the articles on “Hell” and “What is Death“.
That some would be raised to life and some to judgment was revealed to Daniel.
Dan 12:2 (KJV) And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Dan 12:2 (Concordant Literal Version) From those sleeping in the soil of the ground many shall awake, these to eonian life and these to reproach for eonian repulsion.”
Note that the word everlasting is not in the original inspired text. The correct rendering is “eonian”. This is explained in the article “Gods Plan in Progress“.
Daniel does not specifically mention the judgment, but rather the verdicts or results. He speaks as if both classes of the dead will be resurrected and rewarded or condemned at the same time, but in reality the times are far apart. Those resurrected at Christ’s return are immortalized (granted never ending life), whereas those raised to consciousness at the White Throne are judged for what they did in their past life time.
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about this judgment. We can glean some particularly interesting facts about this judgment from the following quotation:
Mat 12:41 (KJV) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Mat 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.
Also see Mat. 10:15 and Mat 11:21-24.
Mat 10:15 (KJV) Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city.
Mat 11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Mat 11:22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
Mat 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Mat 11:24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.
From this we can see that the resurrection of judgment is much more than a matter of condemnation. This judging certainly must be the one at the Great White Throne, for those mentioned have all died without becoming believers, and must be “resurrected” in order to take part in the assessment and judgment process by Christ. As we have seen earlier, all other judgments up until this one are judgments of living persons, prior to death. This passage also makes it clear that judgment cannot occur while those to be judged are still in the death state (unconscious), but requires a special resurrection for this purpose. Once again, Scripture reaffirms that the dead are dead, and not alive enduring conscious torment. See the articles on “What is Death” and “Hell“).
Note that Christ says that the judgments will be more tolerable for some than those received by others. This shows that the judgments meted out will be variable, so as to suit the acts of those who receive them. He promises the hypocritical scribes a heavy penalty: “These will be getting more excessive judgment” (Mark 12 :40 – Concordant Literal Version).
Mar 12:40 (KJV) Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater
damnation (Correct translation is judgment not damnation).
Mar 12:40 (Youngs Literal Version) who are devouring the widows’ houses, and for a pretence are making long prayers; these shall receive more abundant judgment.’
The Lord makes it very clear that the final judgment will render the most impartial justice. The verdicts will be in exact accord with the seriousness of the deeds of the sinner. His declarations also bear out the fact that the results of these judgments occur before the Great White Throne.
These judgment lead to the second death which is described in the article: “Lake of Fire” article.
Just think for a moment of the innumerable multitudes throughout the centuries, past, and future, who died, returned in death to the soil of the ground and in the sea, awaiting the voice of the One Who sits upon the Great White Throne! Its greatness must truly be prodigious to embrace within its jurisdiction the immense host of dead, who will stand before it for adjudication. With the earth and heaven gone, the universal greatness of the throne will so unquestionably manifest God’s power and glory to all who stand there, that every iota of doubt and unbelief will be completely banished forever.
Scriptures reveal that judgment will take place before the throne in the presence of Him Who will never be unjust or vindictive, or punish simply to gloat over the agonies and miseries of His creatures. The Scriptures do not mention a place for one general resurrection and judgment. On the contrary, many judgments are recorded as we have seen in this article, of which the Great White Throne is the last. Hence it is of the utmost importance to discriminate between those various judgments.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE JUDGMENT
This judgment takes place at the end of the thousand years. This is the time when the dead are raised, those who are not of the earlier resurrection (Rev.20:5,6).
Rev 20:5-6 (KJV) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
Let us note that “individual acts” form the basis of this judgment; grace has no part in it. It is a judgment on merits, and the immediate results are not pleasant to those being judged. They are extremely anguished mentally at their failure. Hence they go into the second death, which is neither endless annihilation nor eternal torture, but they are in a death state (unconscious) until the consummation. The lake of fire is obviously a symbolic expression, for death and the unseen are both cast into it.
The second death can be nothing more than a repetition of the first, and as the first death was simply a complete dissolution and return to the state of unconsciousness, so will be the second death. It is never said to be punishment for mankind in the Scriptures. Such teaching has grown out of a misguided zeal of teachers in behalf of the unscriptural, heathenish idea of the “immortality of the soul,” connected with a perverted doctrine of eternal punishment in a hell of which the word of God says nothing. God says it is the second death. This should be final for all truth lovers.
Rev 20:11 (KJV) And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
Rev 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Rev.20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
The main point which a person needs to recognize is God’s declaration that, for those who are judged before the great white throne, the lake of fire is the second death. If we take God at His word, exactly and accurately, and add nothing to it and take nothing from it (which is a very difficult feat for us mortals) then all our objections will vanish. The second death is death with no consciousness. Also the word cast, which seems so cruel at first, is really filled with mercy. It suggests a sudden and settled end. A second is all that is needed.
Those who will be made alive for evermore (immortalized) at the consummation, were previously raised to physical life to stand before the great white throne. It is evident that they must die again before the consummation, in order that they, too, may be included among those whom Christ makes alive.
Those who are written in the book of life are those who have already been resurrected to immortality at His return long ago. Those who are not in the book of life, they must be cast into the lake of fire which is the second death, but this second death is not their judgment or their punishment. It is simply that they are excluded from a life immortal at that time, because their names were not in the book of life. Judgment is just, yet variable, because it depends on acts. The second death is uniform and without prejudice. Those who experience the second death are not doomed. They will be granted immortality at the consummation. God can and will save everyone who ever lived. Read more about the article “Lake of Fire“.
1Cor. 15:26 (KJV) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Rev. 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The opposite of life is death. If death, the last enemy, is destroyed then only life remains. Thus the second death is gone and those who were cast into the Lake of Fire, which is the second death, are made alive as spirit beings at the consummation.
This article of the judging of humanity, mainly concentrated upon what this judging contributes to God’s plan to reveal Himself. This is the aspect in which the subject must be viewed. Necessarily it takes account of human conduct, both that between human and human, as well as what conduct has been toward God. Judging must be a factor toward discipline in righteousness and subjection to God. With these thoughts in the mind of the multitudes, then must ensue the readiness to receive the conciliation, at the conclusion of the eons. Then will they forthwith acclaim God because of His righteousness and His love. They will see and appreciate all that has come to them from God through the blood of the cross of His Son. That is when God will be ALL in ALL.
1Co 15:28 (KJV) And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
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