What The Bible Says About Judgment

Introduction

The word ‘judgment’ occurs almost 300 times in the Bible; over 100 of these references speak of a specific time or day of judgment for “all those who dwell on the earth” (Luke 21:35 / Isaiah 13:6-13 etc.) in other words, everyone! In the book of Matthew, we are told that for every idle word we speak, we must give account in the day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36).

In various other scriptures we find that for every action and deed we will be accountable to God (Ecclesiastes 11:9 / Hebrews 4:13 etc.), including all the things that are done in secret (Ecclesiastes 12:14 / Psalm 90:8). Although this may make us feel a little uneasy, it should really come as no surprise. After all, if we have been created by an all-powerful God,  (and we can prove beyond any reasonable doubt that we have been), and if God has a purpose for every individual life, it follows that we will one day be accountable for all that we have, or have not done, and whether or not we have fulfilled that purpose.

The Bible gives ample teaching on this subject, and yet it is probably a subject that most people tend to avoid. Even to many Christians the subject is a bit ‘hazy’, and yet in the book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, the writer classes eternal judgment as one of the  ‘elementary principles’ that Christians should have grasped in order to move onto maturity in the Christian faith (see Hebrews 6:1-2).

Entire books have been written on this subject and therefore a brief overview such as this can only really begin to scratch the surface. However our intention in preparing these study notes is that you will be prompted to embark on your own study from the Bible, which is the only book in the world that speaks with authority about where we came from, what we’re doing here, and where we are going when we die.

As always, we would encourage you to be like the Bereans in Acts chapter 17 verse 11, who ‘received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily [to see] whether [these things are] so’.

Various Judgments

One of the reasons that many may be uncertain about judgment and how it will affect us, is that the Bible actually speaks of various judgments, such as ‘the day of the Lord’, ‘the day of Christ’, ‘the Great White Throne judgment’, ‘the judgment of the nations’, as well as specific judgments for individuals, groups, places and nations; such as Israel, Babylon, the Church etc.

We will endeavour to give a brief overview of these, but our main emphasis will be on how these judgments do, or don’t affect us, why the Bible says that we will be judged anyway, and most importantly, the incredible way that God has provided for all those who want to ‘escape the wrath to come’ (Luke 21:36 / 1 Thessalonians 1:10)

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?  Genesis 18:25

One thing that we do know for certain is that God is a just Judge (Psalm 7:11 / Psalm 9:8 / Psalm 98:9 / 2 Timothy 4:6 etc). In Psalm 119 king David said: “You are good, and do good” (Psalm119:68), and: “I know,  O LORD, that Your judgments are right, (Psalm 119:75). God’s very nature is good; He cannot go against His own character and be unjust or unfair. We often hear people say ‘If God was a God of love, then…..  ….(fill in the blank)’. Statements such as this simply show that we have not understood God’s nature, His reasons, or His plan. God doesn’t become unloving or unfair simply because we don’t understand something. So confident was Job of God’s goodness and justice that, even after his world had fallen apart, he declared: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15). God is outside of time, we are not. God can see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), we cannot. In fact, the Apostle Paul underlines the fact that: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12). “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Common misconceptions

It is probably fair to say that the commonly held view of ‘judgment’ is that when we die we will be met at the ‘Pearly Gates’ by St. Peter, if  we’ve been good we will be allowed into heaven, if not……well we’ve  all been good haven’t we? The truth is somewhat different.

Firstly, nowhere in the Bible does it even suggest that the apostle Peter will meet us at the pearly gates and secondly, none of us have been good! Yes, you did read that right. According to the Bible no one is good enough to go to heaven!  In the book of Romans the Apostle Paul, quoting from Psalms, said:  “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands;  there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they  have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good,  no, not one.”  (Romans 3:10-12) A few verses further on Paul drives this home by adding: “for all have  sinned and fall short of the glory of God“ (Romans 3:23) You may be thinking ‘wait a minute’, and quite rightly so, because this  is, at first glance, offensive to us. After all we’re not that bad, are we?

Well, God being God pre-empted our reaction and gave to a man called Moses a long list of rules, including the Ten Commandments. This was God’s standard, and if we are able to keep all of the law, we will be good enough for heaven. To start with this sounds OK, but the list contained over 300 ‘rules’. So let’s take a look at each one in turn and see how we’ve done. Maybe not! However, to illustrate the point it might be helpful to look at some of the ‘famous’ Ten Commandments and see how we measure up to these. (Remember, this is God’s standard and Jesus said that we should “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48))

Is God no.1 in your life? More important than your house, car, clothes, CD collection or even than your family? God said “You shall have no other gods before Me” EVER! (Exodus 20:3) Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? i.e. used God’s name in the  place of a swear word? Or what about the times when you have identified yourself with God’s name, like the times when you fill out forms  that ask you what religion you are, and you put ‘Christian’ because you  go to church sometimes? This also is ‘taking His name in vain’.

Have you always honored your father and mother? Have you ever hated someone in your heart? Jesus said that this is the same as murder, because all evil starts with the thoughts of the heart (Matthew 5:21-22).

Have you ever looked lustfully at someone? Again, Jesus said that this is as bad as actually committing adultery (Matthew 5:27-28).

As an aside, you may be thinking to yourself: “Surely eyeing someone up is not as bad as actually committing adultery” or: “There’s no way that getting mad at someone is as bad as murdering them”.  Question: How much of the fruit did Eve have to eat before she was in big trouble? All of it? Just half? Maybe just a couple of bites? Now that you are thinking, you will probably answer that just one bite was enough to break God’s commandment.

Actually, the answer is no bites! The sin was committed the moment she decided in her heart to take the fruit off the tree and eat it.  In Jeremiah 17:9 God says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” The ‘desperately’ in the original Hebrew actually means ‘incurably’ wicked.  Jesus said: “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”  (Matthew 12:34-35) “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man” (Matthew 15:19-20)

Sin starts in the heart, the actions that follow are just the outworking of the rebellion that has taken place.  Our problem lies in the fact that we ‘scale’ sin. In other words, we see some sins as worse than others and therefore deserving of greater punishment. In fact, it would probably be fair to say that we would happily just forget the little sins, as long as no one is harmed. However, as we will see, because God is just, He cannot overlook or ignore sin regardless of its ‘size’. God is righteous. The smallest, most insignificant act of rebellion (sin) is enough to drive a wedge between a holy God and man.

Back to our list..

Have you ever stolen anything? What about something small like a paper clip from work? If you have, do you know that this makes you a thief? The size and value are irrelevant; once the act is committed, there is no going back; you cannot undo it; and just because it may have been 15 years ago doesn’t change the fact that it happened.  Sin does not decay with time and anyway God is eternal – outside of time. “God requires an account of what is past.” (Ecclesiastes 3:15)

Have you ever said something about someone else that was not true?  The Bible calls this ‘bearing false witness’

OK, I think you get the point so we’ll stop there. The truth is, that we have all broken God’s rules – and we know it, our conscience tells us so! Con-science means ‘with knowledge’.   In the book of Galatians, the Apostle Paul says that the whole reason that these laws were given was ‘to confine all under sin’ (Gal 3:22). In other words, the law was given to show us that we could not keep God’s laws or achieve His standard, even if we tried.  The Apostle James backs this up by saying that: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Breaking even the smallest part of the law makes us a law-breaker.

We have already mentioned it, but a word that we often hear is ‘Sin’. Sin is an old English word that was used in archery, which simply meant ‘to miss the mark’. This is what we have all done; we have missed God’s ‘mark’.   Even though God loves us, He cannot just ignore or forget about our sin because this would make Him unjust. Any court of justice demands that a crime be paid for; it cannot just be forgotten or ignored. If God is just, then He cannot ‘turn a blind eye’.

Where it started and where it can all end

If you will pardon the pun, the root of the problem is to do with a tree that was found in the Garden of Eden. God created Adam and Eve ‘perfect’ (i.e. without sin) but with freedom of choice. He clearly told them: “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree  of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that  you eat of it you shall surely die.”  (Genesis 2:16-17) Ezekiel 18:20 says: “The soul who sins shall die”.  This is reiterated in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death”.  God put a clear choice before Adam and Eve, either to obey Him and live in perfect harmony with Him, with no disease, suffering or death; or they could disobey and face the consequences. We all know what happened next. As a result of their disobedience they, and all their offspring, and all creation with them was separated from God.

We see so much suffering and pain in the world, and it all goes to underline that there is something drastically wrong between God and His creation, this is not the way it was supposed to be, but rather evidence that we live in a fallen world that has rejected its Creator.

We read in the book of Romans that ‘the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the Children of God’  (Romans 8:20-21) What does this mean? Basically, that although God passed the death sentence on mankind (and all creation suffered as a consequence of mankind’s sin), passing the death sentence on us was an act of love as  much as an act of judgment.  God was actually preparing a way for us to be ‘saved’ and brought back into a relationship with Him; and as a result all creation will be  restored as well. As God’s plan started to unfold, we find in Gen 3:15 the first mention that God was planning to rescue mankind from their predicament through the ‘Seed of the woman’. God then made clothes for Adam and Eve from animal skins, which at first may not appear particularly significant, but in doing this God was teaching them how they would  eventually be saved. You see, in order to clothe them, an innocent animal had to be killed. God had said that the penalty for sin is death; but because of His mercy, He accepted the death of an animal in their place to ‘atone’ for their sin. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that “without shedding of blood there is no remission (forgiveness)” of sins.

Throughout the Old Testament we see that animals were offered to God as a temporary substitute to atone for man’s sin. However, if someone ‘righteous’ (without sin) could be found, one who would be prepared to die in man’s place as a substitute, this would satisfy the judgment that had been passed once and for all. Anyone from within the human race would be unable to pay because they were already sinners (as the law clearly shows), so because God loved us so much, He sent His only Son to die in our place.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus came, lived a sinless life, endured six illegal trials, was brutally beaten and whipped and then humiliatingly crucified. Whilst He was on the cross He had all the sin of humanity poured upon Himself, and as a result was separated from God in our place, instead of us, so we won’t have to be.

No longer would animals need to be sacrificed as a temporary measure, Jesus died once for all. In Hebrews we read:  “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews9:11-15)

The first covenant (The Law of Moses) showed that we were  ‘transgressors’ (sinners), but Jesus established a new covenant  (agreement with God), so that all who accept that His blood was shed in place of their own, will be washed clean and forgiven.

It was common practice for prisoners at the time of Jesus to have a list of their crimes posted on the door of the prison so that any passer-by could see what the prisoner was in jail for. However when they had served their sentence the list of crimes would be stamped ‘Paid in full’ and the prisoner would now be free to go. If someone then recognised and stopped the prisoner, they could simply show the list with the official stamp across it to prove that they were now free. In much the same way, each of us have a list of crimes (sins) that we have committed. The problem is that the list is so big that we would never be able to serve the sentence, we are as good as dead!  However, the Apostle Paul in writing to the Colossian church said:   “He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”  (Colossians 2:13-14)

As Jesus was dying on the cross He cried out “Tetelastai”, which means ‘paid in full’! Jesus, in effect, took the list of your crimes, crossed out your name and put His own name in it’s place. He then took the death sentence that you deserved. Your list has now been given back to you stamped ‘Paid in full’. You are free to go. In this way, the wrath of God was satisfied; the sins of the whole world have been paid for completely! In 1 John 2:2 we read: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” All of humanity could now go free and once again live in perfect harmony with God.

The Choice

However, in all of this, God has not taken away our free choice. He will not force anyone to accept the offer, each individual must chose to accept, or reject Jesus’ sacrifice in his or her place. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God,  to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12-13) “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness  of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.”  (Romans 3:21-22)

For those who choose to reject God’s offer of ‘salvation’, there will be no other option than to stand before God with a debt (list) of sin that they will never be able to pay. They will have no choice but to accept His verdict as their ‘sentence is passed’ – “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation” (Hebrews 2:3), “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:31) Jesus said:  “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)

There are not many paths to God, as some would have us believe; there is just one way, through one Man – Jesus Christ.  Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius or any other religious, philosophical, or political leader cannot save you, for they were not able (nor willing) to die in your place and pay for your sin.

So what does this mean?

Anyone who chooses to put his or her trust in Jesus needs no longer to fearfully await God’s judgment because Jesus has paid for all of their sin on their behalf. However, anyone, who chooses not to accept God’s offer, will have to face God and be judged in regard to everything they have ever said, done and thought.

Two distinct groups

With the ‘history’ and reason for judgment covered, let us now look to the future and see what the Bible says lies in store for those who have accepted Jesus, and what lies in store for those who haven’t (and won’t).

By now it should be fairly clear to see, that God has no need to judge those accepting Jesus in the same way as He will those who don’t. This is why the Bible speaks of two distinct and separate judgments of individuals.  The Bible reveals that there are in effect two ‘waiting rooms’ for people when they die. One called ‘Paradise’ for all who die as Christians; and one called ‘Hell’ for all who don’t.

For Christians, Paradise, as the name suggests will be wonderful. Christians will be with Jesus immediately when they die, and all the worries and hassles of this life will be over – for ever!  On the other hand, for all those who go to ‘Hell’, they will experience an extremely unpleasant time as they fearfully await God’s final judgment and sentence. What makes this even worse is that there will be no possibility of parole, no way of escape, and no hope, as the realisation dawns that the time to accept God’s offer of salvation through Jesus, has gone forever.

A brief look at ‘Hell’

In the Bible the name ‘Hell’ is used to describe two distinctly different places. The first place is the ‘waiting room’ as described above; the second is also referred to as the ‘lake of fire’ and it is this place with which the name is usually associated. The ‘waiting room’ Hell (which is the one that we are dealing with here) is also called by three other names in the Bible these are: ‘Hades’ (Greek), ‘Sheol’ (Hebrew) and ‘The Pit’.

In the book of Luke, Jesus gives an account of what this place is like. “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.  So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.  Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and  send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool  my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us. ‘Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ “(Luke 16:19-31)

Paradise

The ‘temporary’ home of Christians and Old Testament believers until the judgment is called ‘Paradise’ and is located in heaven. Although very little is told of it, we know that it is a place of comfort and peace in God’s presence.  One thing for certain is that paradise it is a much better place to ‘wait’ in than Hell!

Summary so far….

God made man, (i.e. Mr & Mrs Man), man sinned, God ‘sentenced’ them to death. Jesus came and died as a substitute for all who accept Him. Those who do will go to Paradise when they die. Those who don’t will go to Hell. Both groups will wait in their respective places until their respective judgments.

The Judgment Seat of Christ

“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God’ (1 Pet 4:17)

The Bible reveals that the first group to be judged is “the house of God”.  This will include all those in Paradise (including the Old Testament believers) and Christians alive on earth at that time.  1 Thessalonians 4 explains that at some point in the future, Jesus will return, bringing with Him those in Paradise. They will then be given new bodies fit for Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). At the same time all the Christians alive on the earth at that time will also be given new heavenly bodies, and will rise to meet Jesus in the clouds. Both groups will then return to Heaven with Jesus.

This event is commonly known as the ‘Rapture’, and according to the Bible, could take place any day now. Upon arriving in Heaven, the ‘saints’ (the Biblical name for these people) will all stand before the ‘judgment seat of Christ’.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad”.  (2 Corinthians 5:10)

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)

As is clear from this scripture from John’s gospel, the judgment that Christians will receive is not in regard to sin, because that was dealt with on our behalf at the cross, nor is salvation the issue, the Bible says that salvation is guaranteed the moment you accept Jesus. This judgment is best explained as an ‘award ceremony’ for those who have done well as Christians.

According to the Bible, we will be given rewards depending on how we have lived as Christians.  1 Corinthians 3 explains that what we have done in our lives as Christians will be tested to see where we have put our ‘treasure’, i.e  what has been important to us. Our work will be ‘put through a fire to  test it’. Other passages help explain further that gold, silver, precious  stones, wood, hay and straw are symbolic of the type of things that we  do with our lives.  If we ‘sow to the Spirit’ (Galatians 6:8)  – i.e. live lives set apart for God, putting Him first, we will build up treasure in heaven (See Matthew 6:20). This is building with gold, silver and precious stones; when these pass through a fire they are purified; if this is our type of treasure we will receive a reward.

If on the other hand we have ‘sown to the flesh’ i.e. lived for our own pleasure and satisfaction, putting the things of God second, our treasure will be as wood, hay or straw which, when put  through a fire, are completely burned up leaving nothing. This passage says that Christians who have lived in this way will still be saved – because salvation is not based upon their ‘work’, but upon Jesus’ sacrifice – but they will “be saved, yet so as through fire”. In other words they will get into heaven but by the skin of their teeth!

The Bible says that when we become Christians we belong to God 1 Corinthians 6:19-20), therefore God expects to see some return from His investment. Among the ‘rewards’ that will be given to those who have built with gold, silver and precious stones will be crowns. Throughout the New Testament there are various crowns promised to those who faithfully serve God in specific areas. The book of Revelation (Chapter 4) explains that the crowns that we ‘earn’ will be presented back to Jesus.  Those who have worked hardest for the kingdom will receive more crowns and will therefore have more to give. These crowns are then worn by Jesus at His Second Coming (Revelation 19). Those who have built with ‘wood, hay and straw’ will see their work ‘burned up’ and therefore will have no reward and nothing to give. The passage says that they will suffer loss although it does not explain what this loss will be.

The Apostle Paul spoke of the ‘terror of the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 5:11). He dreaded the possibility of standing before God with a wasted life that did not reflect gratitude for all that Jesus has done.  Another Apostle, John, also realised the danger of standing before Jesus with nothing and said: “Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2 John 8). The Apostle Peter said that we should be diligent so that we would have an ‘abundant entrance’ into God’s kingdom (2 Peter 1:11).  In I Corinthians 3:8, Paul said “each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour”. You cannot rely on someone else’s work.  It is not enough to attend a ‘lively’ evangelistic church or show support for others efforts. Each individual will be accountable.  “work out your  own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). This is the only opportunity recorded in the Bible for the ‘saints’ to give something to Jesus, something that is not His already. Our sense of gratitude for all He has done for us should make us want to give our utmost for Him, including every moment of every day whilst we are still on this earth.

“He shall call to the heavens from above, And to the earth, that He may judge His people: “Gather My saints together to Me, Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” (Psalm 50:4-5)

After this time of ‘judgment’ the saints will then celebrate ‘the marriage supper of the Lamb’ as foretold in Rev 19. This will be a time of great rejoicing and celebration. From this point on, the saints will be with Jesus for eternity.

Meanwhile, back on earth………..

Many people have wondered why God doesn’t intervene and stop all the injustice, wars, and crime that destroy so many lives. The Apostle Peter explains: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

However, after God has removed the Christians from the world (at the time of the Rapture) the ‘day of the Lord’ will begin in earnest.

“Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. Therefore all hands will be limp, every man’s heart will melt, and they will be afraid. Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them; they will be in pain as a woman in childbirth; they will be amazed at one another; their faces will be like flames. Behold, the day of the LORD comes, cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate; and He will destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not give their light; the sun will be darkened in its going forth, and the moon will not cause its light to shine.” (Isaiah 13:6-10)

“The earth quakes before them, the heavens tremble; the sun and moon grow dark, and the stars diminish their brightness. The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” (Joel 2:10-11)

This time of judgment will last for 7 years according to the books of Daniel and Revelation. It will be a time when God will pour out His wrath upon this Christ rejecting world. Jesus, in the Gospels and the book of Revelation talk of famines, diseases, earthquakes and wars that will take place during the first 3½ years, and this is just ‘the beginning of sorrows’. “….then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been  since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.  And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved’(Matthew 24:21-22).

Revelation chapters 6-19 detail this ‘Great Tribulation’ that God brings upon the earth, including His judgment of the ‘one world church’ (Babylon the Great) which, according to a prophecy in Zechariah 5:1-11, will, before this time, relocate back to its original base in the land of Shinar (i.e. the now-being-rebuilt city of Babylon in modern day Iraq).

Babylon was the fountainhead of all false religion and idolatry starting with the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), which, from various historical records, we understand was built under the influence of Cush, Noah’s Grandson. This attempt to unite the world spiritually and economically was thwarted by God and the Tower destroyed.

However, Cush had a son called Nimrod who we read about in Genesis 10:8-11 “[Nimrod] was a mighty hunter [in defiance of] the Lord”. According to tradition, Shem (another of Noah’s sons) was so enraged by Nimrod’s rebellion against God that he had him killed. This put Nimrod’s pregnant wife in a difficult position; should she now give up the throne and the position she so enjoyed? The answer is a resounding NO! Instead she propagated a story that her deceased husband was to be reincarnated as her baby, and so began the worship of the ‘Mother and Child’ – thousands of years before it was embraced by the Roman Catholic Church. Legends of this, secret priesthoods, the initiated few, purgatory, the mass and many other things all had their origin in Babylon and have permeated almost all cultures to one extent or another and can be traced back to Babylon. Semiramis gave herself the title ‘Queen of Heaven’, a title that is today misapplied to Mary.

Countless visions and apparitions have been appearing around the world in recent years where this ‘Queen of Heaven’ has declared that she will usher in world peace if all religions will unite under her name. The Roman Catholic Church is leading the charge to draw all faiths under their/her umbrella and complete what was started in Babylon 4500 years ago. This false religious system that has deceived multitudes God will judge. (See Isaiah 13 & 14 / Jeremiah 50 & 51 / Revelation 17 & 18).

At the end of this seven year tribulation, even after the horrific judgments of the Tribulation, the united armies of the world, under the control of the coming world leader (commonly referred to as Antichrist), will still be ‘hell-bent’ on rejecting Christ’s right to rule and they will march against Israel, intent both on its destruction and more importantly, trying to stop Jesus Christ setting up His kingdom on earth.  (See Rev 19:19)

However as Israel cry out to God (Hosea 5:15), Jesus will return (this will be the Second Coming) and the infamous battle of Armageddon will commence. Jesus will destroy his enemies and reclaim the ‘title’ to planet earth that was lost by Adam to Satan back in the Garden of Eden. Jesus will then begin a 1000 year reign on earth, in Jerusalem on ‘David’s  throne’. This is prophesied in many places in the Bible, not least in Luke chapter 1:32 (spoken by the Angel Gabriel to Mary). All the nations of the world will then be gathered before Him and we read that He will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats. These nations will be judged depending on how they have treated His brethren – Israel (see Matthew 25:31-46).  Those nations who have supported and defended Israel throughout the centuries will enter into the Millennium (the period of 1000 years).  The nations who have persecuted Israel will be thrown into Hell (the waiting room that we have already looked at), and there they will wait until the Great White Throne Judgment that will not occur until after the 1000 years.

Another important event to take place at Jesus’ Second Coming (i.e. before the 1000 years), is that the ‘Beast’ (Antichrist), and the ‘False Prophet’, will be cast into the Lake of Fire. This is, if you like, the real Hell that will be eternal. It is the place that we are told was made only for the devil and his angels. God does not want any human to go there which is why He has gone to such lengths, sending His own Son to die in our place. But again, God has given us all free choice; it’s up to us.

During the Millennium the devil will be bound, cast into the bottomless pit and not allowed to interfere with the events on earth. Some scholars think that this bottomless pit is ‘Tarterus’ (mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4) which is a place the Greeks believed was below the-waiting-room-Hell in the centre of the earth  (hence has no bottom because any direction from there would be up).  This is a point worth mentioning, because many people seem to think that the Devil rules Hell as God rules Heaven. This is not the case. The Devil is a created being who has rebelled against God and will be judged for his sin. The Devil does not want to go to Hell any more than you or I.

After the 1000 years, the Devil will be released from his chains and will once again deceive the nations of the earth and turn them against Jesus. Once again the Devil will lead an army against Jerusalem but the Bible makes it clear that he will not be victorious. He will then also be thrown into the Lake of Fire (where the Antichrist and the False Prophet already are – Rev 20:10).

NB: This verse from the Bible reveals a terrifying reality. Even after 1000 years of being in the Lake of Fire, Antichrist and the False Prophet are still there in torment, i.e. they do not die but suffer eternally.

The Great White Throne Judgment

“Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.”   (1 Corinthians 15:24-26)

In 2 Peter we read that “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10)

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”  (Revelation 20:11-15)

This passage from the book of Revelation records the vision that was seen by the apostle John regarding the final Judgment; this, if any, is the real ‘Judgment Day’. Every single person* that has been born since the beginning of time will be judged ‘according to their works’.

* The only exception will be the ‘saints’ (Christians and Old Testament believers) who have already had their ‘judgment’ as previously explained.

However , for everyone else, every word, thought and action will be assessed and compared to  God’s ‘righteous’ standard. As we have already seen from various passages in the Bible, “There is none righteous, no, not one”  (Romans 3:10), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”  (Romans 3:23). Anyone whose name is not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. People have tried to say that this is not the action of a loving God but as has been explained, God is also a just God and cannot ‘overlook’ sin. Again, God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9); and we know that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). God is fair and He is just. He has done everything possible to stop people from going to Hell for eternity, the cost was Jesus’ death on the cross, a price far higher than we have any capacity to imagine. The choice is now up to each individual.

There is not one single human soul who has yet experienced the pain Jesus did on the cross. Even those who have died without accepting  Christ have not yet been totally separated from God; for even in Hades  (the ‘waiting room’) the presence of God can be felt (see Psalm 139:78). However Jesus was totally cut off from God on account of our sin, that is why He cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”  (Matthew 27:46)

We cannot even begin to comprehend what eternity without God will be like; even those who go through their lives without giving God a thought, experience so many of His blessings each day. The pain and suffering, sickness and disease that we experience during this lifetime are evidence of a fallen world, that something isn’t right. But this is what Jesus came to fix.   There was no sickness or death before man rebelled against God.  There will be no sickness, crying or sorrow in the new heaven and earth that God is going to create.

The only way to be sure that you will be there is for your name to be written in God’s ‘Book of Life’. The only way to be certain that it is, is to accept Jesus as your ‘substitute’, give your life wholeheartedly to Him, choosing to live for Him each moment of each day, and then rest in the absolute assurance that He has paid the price for your sin. If you haven’t already done it, get on your knees now. Repent and ask Jesus to be your Saviour and Lord. The moment you die it’s too late, and you might die tonight.

Now that you have read this, you will not be able to plead ignorance!   – not that that would help anyway – see Romans 1!  God has offered everyone a way of escaping eternity in Hell.  The choice, as they say, is yours.

“Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell in it; Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the hills be joyful together before the LORD, For He is coming to judge the earth. With righteousness He shall judge the world,  And the peoples with equity.”  Psalm 98:7-9

 

All scripture quotations from The New King James Version. 1996, c1982 . Thomas Nelson: Nashville  (unless otherwise stated)
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