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Lesson 9: The Pre-Advent Judgment *

Introduction: Judgment! Who wants judgment? My general observation in life is that everyone wants other people to be judged, but they do not want it for themselves. Yes, the police should stop and give tickets to other people who speed. No, the police should not stop me and give me a ticket for speeding! The "problem" with God's judgment is that it is for everyone. If we finally come to terms with a personal judgment, what difference should that make in our life? When I'm arguing a case in court, I need to know what legal standard applies, I want to know about the judge, and I want to know about the process. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about God's judgment!

  1. Judgment

    1. Read Daniel 7:1. Daniel has a dream. What gives us some confidence that Daniel's report about his dream is accurate? (First, Daniel tells us when this happened. He tells us the circumstances and he wrote it down afterwards. All of this is an indication of a reliable report.)

    2. Scan Daniel 7:2-7 and read Daniel 7:15-18. What do these beasts represent? (Daniel gives us the key to the interpretation of his dream. I consulted several older commentaries and they all agree that Daniel's dream is about a series of powerful nations that followed each other in history. Thus, the animals that arise represent the empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.)

      1. Why would God reveal something like this to Daniel (and to us)? (To give us confidence in the future. To let us know that our God is in charge and He knows the future.)

      2. Why would that message be especially important to Daniel? (Recall that Babylon destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, and took Daniel and many others captive. God's people, God's nation, were in deep trouble. They might conclude that God was not in charge of world events.)

    3. Read Daniel 7:23-24. What does this tell us about the Roman Empire and the ten horns? (That ten kingdoms will come after Rome.)

    4. Read Daniel 7:8-9. What time frame is indicated here? (The discussion of the horns shows that we are looking at the nations that came out of the Roman Empire. We know from history that the union of territories that rose to power after Rome was known as the "Holy Roman Empire." Historians would place the dates of the Holy Roman Empire from 926-1806 A.D. Thus, the reference to the "Ancient of Days" taking His seat seems to follow 1806 A.D.)

    5. Let's consider this in more detail. Read Daniel 7:9-10. What is happening here? (This is a courtroom setting. The reference to "books" being opened indicates that the court is in session and some sort of judgment is being made.)

    6. Read Revelation 20:11-15. What is being described here? (This seems very much like what is being described in Daniel 7.)

      1. What is the standard for the judgment of these people? ("What they had done.")

      2. We have another time marker here. When do you think this judgment takes place? (It must be the end of the world. "Death" is thrown into the fire. 1 Corinthians 15:26 tells us that the "last enemy to be destroyed is death." This is at the end of time.)

    7. Read Daniel 7:8 and Daniel 7:20-22 and Daniel 7:24-27. What is the relationship between God's people and the last horn? (There is war between the horn and the saints. The horn wins for a while, but God pronounces judgment in favor of the saints and they win.)

      1. What is the reasonable conclusion to be drawn from all of these texts talking about God's court and judgment? (That some sort of judgment is taking place in heaven. It began sometime after 1806 and continues until the end of the world at which time the saints prevail.)

    8. What do you think God wants us to learn from this dream? (Just as revealing the future gave confidence to Daniel, so Christians are told that we have an ongoing war on earth that will be ended when God finishes His final judgment. By God's power we will win!)

      1. What about the general timing of this? What is important about that? (To some it might seem that God is doing nothing. We are two thousand years after the resurrection. Where is God? Why has He not returned yet? These texts show us that God has a plan, that the final judgment began around 1806 (other texts could refine that date) and will continue until the end of time - when the saints possess the kingdom. We are living in the last days.)

  2. Intercessor

    1. Read Daniel 7:13-14. What figure enters this scene? (This is Jesus!)

    2. Read Hebrews 8:1-2. What have we learned in the prior lessons about what Jesus is doing in heaven? (He is our High Priest, ministering on our behalf.)

      1. What relationship do you see between Jesus' ministry in heaven and the judgment prophesied by Daniel? (The purpose of the sanctuary system was to transfer sin to the animal sacrifice so that the believer would not die. The final judgment is about who lives and who dies. What Jesus is doing in Hebrews is part of this final judgment of Daniel 7.)

    3. Read Hebrews 9:11-15. What is the basis for the judgment of the saints? (Jesus died to free us from our sins! He ransomed us from sin.)

    4. Read Hebrews 9:24-28. What is Jesus doing in heaven during this time of judgment? (He is taking away our sins and bringing salvation to the righteous.)

      1. Re-read Revelation 20:12-14. We looked at this before. What is the basis for the judgment here? (According to what they had done.)

      2. Read Hebrews 10:12-14. What is the standard for the judgment of "those who are being made holy?" (Jesus' sacrifice makes us perfect.)

      3. How do you explain these two standards? (Those who are lost are judged by their works. Those who claim Jesus' sacrifice on their behalf are judged to be perfect forever!)

    5. I recently read "the anticipation of the judgment encourages [people] to live a life of loyalty and accountability." Do you agree?

      1. In light of what we have studied, do the righteous need to fear the judgment? Will the fear of judgment encourage them to live a proper life?

      2. Or, will the sacrifice Jesus made on their behalf because He loves them encourage them to live a proper life?

      3. Will the fact that Jesus died to preserve the rule of law, rather than just changing the law, encourage the righteous to live a proper life? (I disagree with the quote. Christians should not be motivated to right behavior by a fear of judgment. They should be motivated to right behavior because they love God. They should be motivated to right behavior because they understand the war between good and evil, and they want to stand on the side of good and God's law!)

  3. God's Law and the Judgment

    1. In the last few lessons I've been talking about the "Rule of Law." On the surface, emphasizing God's concern about the rule of law when we are discussing judgment seems contrary to the idea of righteousness by faith. Let's see if the two can be reconciled. Read Galatians 2:15-21. What is the standard for the judgment for those who accept Jesus? (When Jesus died we "died to the law." "The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God." The standard is not the law, but rather whether we place our faith in Jesus.)

    2. Read Galatians 3:10. If the law is so bad that we are cursed if we rely on it, how can the rule of law be a good thing? (The problem is not with the law, it is with us.)

    3. Read Galatians 3:11-14, Galatians 3:21-22 and Galatians 3:26-28. The law is good and we are bad. If we rely on keeping the law we are in big trouble, for we are under the curse that comes to law breakers. As you consider your name coming up in the final judgment, how do you think you will do? (If you have clothed yourself with Christ, if you have confessed your sins and asked Jesus to cover your sins with His blood, then in the final judgment God looks at what Jesus has done instead of what you have done. On the other hand, if you have not accepted Jesus, then you are judged based on what you have done.)

    4. Friend, do you want to stand alone in the final judgment, responsible for your sins? Or, do you want Jesus to take your place? The judgment is going on right now. Jesus is standing there in the heavenly court ready to act on your behalf. You need to decide today!

    * Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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