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How to Expect God’s Judgment
Without Going Crazy?
©Jiří Moskala, Th.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Old Testament Exegesis and Theology
Andrews University
Old Testament Department
In the heart of the Eternal Gospel and at
the core of our sanctuary doctrine (the
1844 message) is the concept of
Judgment!
It is the heartbeat of Adventism!
Revelation 14:6–7
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and
he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to
those who live on the earth—to every nation,
tribe, language and people.
He said in a loud voice,
“Fear God and give him glory, because the
hour of his judgment has come. Worship
him who made the heavens, the earth, the
sea and the springs of water.”
The First Picture of God
in the Bible
God is presented as the Creator!
What is the Second Picture
of God in the Bible?
What is the Second Picture
of God in the Bible?
God is the Judge!
God is our Judge (Gen 3); and within this
designation God is presented as our
Savior (Gen 3:15)!
The Central Theme and Biblically
Pervasive Doctrine
God being our Judge is not a peripheral teaching in the Bible,
but it lies at the center of its message right from the
beginning. It is God’s pattern of relating to humanity.
Consider examples in the book of Genesis:
- Gen 3: the first record of God’s judgment occurred in the
context of the Fall.
- Gen 4: the second account on judgment is in the story of
Cain.
- Gen 6–9: judgment expressed in the midst of the Flood
story.
- Gen 11: judgment on the builders of the Babylonian Tower.
- Gen 18–19: God’s judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah.
Allow me to be more personal:
What are your first thoughts when
you hear the word JUDGMENT?
What is your feeling?
What is your first impression,
first reaction?
BE HONEST and do not speak theologically!
Our Understanding and Impressions
1. Fear
1. Fear
2. Condemnation
1. Fear
2. Condemnation
3. Punishment
1.
2.
3.
4.
Fear
Condemnation
Punishment
Destruction
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Fear
Condemnation
Punishment
Destruction
Death
Common Element:
All is NEGATIVE.
My Imagination/View
• I had a distorted view, because I grew up
in a totalitarian communist regime.
• Judge—a person in black with a very
serious facial expression pointing at
someone with his finger and pronouncing
a death sentence over the accused
person…
Result
We see God as a heavenly Nebuchadnezzar who is
with His magnifying glass looking at us (like a
heavenly policeman) in order to punish us for our
mistakes.
No wonder that we are scared of God’s Judgment.
Thus, we have NO JOY and ASSURANCE OF
SALVATION.
We are full of fear and anxiety!
Why?
• For two main reasons.
Two Main Reasons
• 1. Faulty Definition of Judgment
(one-sided; only negative view).
• 2. The truth about Judgment was
presented/taught in isolation from the
rest of the Gospel (at least the
connection was not apparent).
In other words (stated positively)
• In order not to go crazy while expecting
God’s judgment:
– We need to understand the true nature of
judgment (its definition and meaning),
– And it must be closely connected with the
Gospel as it is in Jesus.
What is the Primary Meaning
of God’s Judgment?
The PRIMARY Meaning of
God’s Judgment
To JUDGE means:
1. To JUSTIFY―concept of justification.
Every time we pray for forgiveness and we are justified
by God’s grace, we go through DIVINE JUDGMENT.
We are forgiven, acquitted, no more guilty,
pronounced just!
God’s eschatological judgment breaks through to our time!
God as our Judge justifies us sinners!
The Primary Meaning of
God’s Judgment
To JUDGE means:
2. To SAVE―concept of salvation.
God saves us from death, and gives eternal
life!
The Primary Meaning of
God’s Judgment
To JUDGE means:
3. To DELIVER―concept of deliverance.
God delivers us from different addictions to
sin! He gives us FREEDOM!
The Primary Meaning of
God’s Judgment
To JUDGE means:
4. To VINDICATE―concept of vindication.
God vindicates us against
accusations of Satan!
God is for us and never against us!
Primary meaning
All FOUR HAVE A POSITIVE MEANING:
JUSTIFY, SAVE, DELIVER, AND
VINDICATE
Only when we do not accept the positive
dimension of God’s judgment are we under the
negative meaning of His judgment!
(i.e., under a secondary meaning: condemnation,
punishment, destruction.)
Examples of DIVINE POSITIVE
Judgments:
1. The Book of Judges
What is the primary function of Judges?
• To condemn?
• To punish?
• To destroy?
Main Functions of Judges
• To DELIVER God’s people from the
oppression of the enemies. They are the
liberators!
Main Functions of Judges
• To DELIVER God’s people from the
oppression of the enemies. They are the
liberators!
• To CARE for them.
Main Functions of Judges
• To DELIVER God’s people from the
oppression of the enemies. They are the
liberators!
• To CARE for them.
• To PROTECT them.
Main Functions of Judges
• To DELIVER God’s people from the
oppression of the enemies. They are the
liberators!
• To CARE for them.
• To PROTECT them.
• To SAVE them.
The Book of DELIVERERS―they bring
FREEDOM.
2. Dan 7:22
“Until the Ancient of days came, and
judgment was given to the saints of the
most High; and the time came that the
saints possessed the kingdom.” (KJV)
Correct Meaning of the
Preposition “to”
- Judgment was given “to” …
- Can be misleading: the first impression is that
judgment is given to the saints that they will judge
(it is wrong!).
- Daniel 7 describes the pre-Advent Judgment.
- Battle here is for the correct understanding of the
preposition “to”.
- In Aramaic language of Dan 7:22 is a preposition
“lamed,” the so called “lamed of advantage.”
- Judgment was given “for” the saints of the Most
High, it was delivered into their advantage, for
their favor!
- Some new translations caught this meaning very
well.
Dan 7:22
• “Until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced
judgment in favor of the saints of the Most
High, and the time came when they possessed
the kingdom.” (NIV)
• “Until the Ancient of Days came, and a
judgment was made in favor of the saints of
the Most High, and the time came for the saints
to possess the kingdom.” (NKJV)
David’s Prayer
3. Psalm 7:8–9; 26:1; 35:24; 43:1
(three times David, once the sons of Korah)
•
•
“The LORD shall judge the people:
judge me, O LORD, …” (7:8)
Of David. “Vindicate me, O LORD, for I
have led a blameless life; I have trusted
in the LORD without wavering.” (26:1)
Psalm 35:24
“JUDGE ME, O LORD my God,
according to Your righteousness, and
do not let them rejoice over me.”
Psalm 82:6 (Asaph)
“Rise up, O God, judge the earth …”
Your Personal Prayer?
How many of you did ever (dare to) pray:
“Please, Lord, judge me!”?
4. Psalm 37:38–39
“But all sinners will be destroyed; the
future of the wicked will be cut off. The
salvation of the righteous comes from
the LORD; he is their stronghold in time
of trouble.”
5. Psalm 76:8–9
“From heaven you pronounced
judgment, and the land feared and was
quiet―when you, O God, rose up to
judge, to save all the afflicted of the
land.”
The Flood Account
6. Gen 6–9
Chiastic climax of the Flood Account:
Gen 8:1–5: “AND GOD REMEMBERED NOAH.”
Gen 6:8: “But NOAH found/received GRACE.”
Gen 6:3: 120 years of additional grace.
Gen 6:6: “The Lord was grieved [nacham] and His heart was
filled with pain [‘atsab].”
Theological Essence of the Flood Story
Gen 6:11–13
Play on the word shachat:
1. Corrupt
2. Destroy
Gen 6:11-13 (used four times)
“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s
sight and was full of violence. (12) God
saw how corrupt the earth had become,
for all the people on earth had corrupted
their ways. (13) So God said to Noah, ‘I
am going to put an end to all people, for
the earth is filled with violence because of
them. I am surely going to destroy both
them and the earth.’”
Result
God has shachat what was already shachat.
God has destroyed what has been already destroyed by
humans!
God is presented as the Surgeon to cut the cancer of sin
out!
The world before flood became one big concentration
camp―with violence, exploitation, abuse, torture,
suffering, etc.
If God would not intervene, His promise of the Coming of
the SEED to conquer Satan/evil would be never fulfilled.
Only 8 people were willing to cooperate with God! God
waited to the last minute!
To Judge = To SAVE
7. Isa 35:4–5
“Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong,
do not fear; your God will come, he will come
with vengeance; with divine retribution he
will come to save you.’ Then will the eyes of
the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf
unstopped.”
See also Deut 32:36 and Ps 94:1–3.
Judgment and Joy
Psalm 96:11–13
“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the
sea resound, and all that is in it; 12 let the fields be
jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of
the forest will sing for joy; 13 they will sing before the
LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness and the
peoples in his truth.”
See also 1 Chron 16:31–36 (joy, salvation, and
judgment are put together).
New Testament:
1 John 2:28
“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that
when he appears we may be confident and
unashamed before him at his coming.”
1 John 4:17
“In this way, love is made complete among us so
that we will have confidence on the day of
judgment, because in this world we are like him.”
parresia = boldness, assurance, confidence
Positive Event
• God’s Judgment = God’s SMILE for
His people
Rom 8:31
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Result: JOY and ASSURENCE of salvation!
Judgment as our only HOPE
• Only people who are condemned to death
(being under the death penalty) can rejoice
over the news that there will be a new trial
(judgment) for their case!!!
• When you know that you are condemned to
eternal death because of your sins, you
rejoice over God’s new judgment on your
behalf! A new trial is your only hope!
Chance for sinners to be saved! All depends on
our relationship to our Lord and Savior!
Today’s Court System
• Judge (against you; judging you)
• Attorney (for you; defending you)
• Two different persons with each doing
a different function!
• Plus: Prosecutor (expresses accusations
against you; accusing you)
Court System in Ancient Israel
-
There were no attorneys.
A judge was at the same time an attorney.
Only ONE PERSON for both functions.
The judge was perceived as the savior.
You had to go to the judge to be delivered
from injustice and vindicated.
- The Day of Judgment is the Day of Salvation.
• We need to train our minds to think
positively about God’s judgment.
• Only when the positive meaning does not
make sense will then the negative aspect
of God’s judgment takes place.
Rev 14:7
POSITIVE JUDGMENT
Rev 14:8
NEGATIVE JUDGMENT
AM I RIGHT?
Our God does not need to organize a
judgment in heaven in order to condemn
us.
Right or Wrong???
Right!
Our God does not need to organize judgment in
heaven in order to condemn us.
WHY NOT ?
We are all sinners!
Because we are already condemned to death
(we are all sinners)!
He does not need to do it for a second time.
Main Reason
God calls for a judgment in heaven in
order to LEGALLY secure our place in
heaven for all eternity in front of the
whole universe!
(Plus He plainly unmasks the powers of
iniquity before the entire cosmos!)
God is For us!
• God is never against us!
• Right thinking leads to right actions!
• Cultivate a correct thinking paradigm!
• Cultivate an awe attitude toward Him, a true
REVERENCE toward Him! This leads to an
awe experience with Him!
• God is judging us in order to justify, save,
deliver, and vindicate us!
We are saved by the grace of God
through faith in Jesus Christ!
• This is the foundation of the eternal
Gospel.
• This is the basic of biblical theology of
Judgment.
The Only Solution
• If someone is condemned at the judgment, it
is not because he or she is a sinner (we all
have sinned!), but because that person did
not accept the solution to his or her
situation of sin, namely, Jesus Christ as the
personal Savior!
• We are saved by grace through faith in
Jesus, but judged by our attitude to Christ!
Saved by Grace
• We are saved not because we feel good,
or are good, or feel great about ourselves,
but because God said so!
• We can feel miserable, and yet we can
have full assurance of forgiveness and
salvation!
• It does not depend on our performance,
achievements, works, or obedience, but
on God’s word!
1 John 3:20
“For if our heart condemns us, God is
greater than our heart, and knows all
things.” (NKJV)
1 John 1:7, 9
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the
light,…the blood of Jesus, his Son,
purifies us from all sin.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and
just and will forgive us our sins and purify
us from all unrighteousness.”
Isaiah 1:18
“‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says
the LORD. ‘Though your sins are like
scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson, they shall
be like wool.’”
Isaiah 38:17
“Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered
such anguish. In your love you kept me
from the pit of destruction; you have put
all my sins behind your back.”
Micah 7:19
“You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot and
hurl all our iniquities into the depths of
the sea.
Divine Judgment and the Gospel
The Second Vital Issue
How to expect God’s Judgment without going
crazy?
Only by relating the Gospel and Judgment!!!
(By putting salvation and judgment together.)
How to put together God’s
Judgment and the Gospel?
God’s Universal Judgment
How is divine eschatological judgment
usually presented/explained?
God’s Universal Judgment:
Traditional View
It is explained as eschatological
judgment in three phases:
Which ones?
1. Pre-advent Judgment (from 1844)
1. Pre-advent Judgment
2. Judgment during Millennium
1. Pre-advent Judgment
2. Judgment during Millennium
3. The Final Judgment
Am I Right?
Vital Question
Is this view correct?
Is this understanding in harmony with
ALL biblical data?
YES or NO???
Yes and No!
It is right as for the events and dates!
BUT WRONG for the starting point!
It is right as for the events (the three
judgments mentioned above) and the
dates like 1844. BUT WRONG for the
starting point, because in the year 1844
God’s eschatological judgment did not
begin (but only the Pre-advent
Judgment)!
Let me explain.
Crucial Difference
There is a difference between the
eschatological (end-time) judgment
and the pre-advent judgment!
- The starting point for the pre-advent
judgment is 1844.
- BUT: When does start the
eschatological (end-time) judgment?
When Do the Last Days Begin?
- The last days?
- The end of the ages?
When does the end of the ages begin?
Traditional answer:
In AD 1798 (1755) or 1844.
Right or Wrong?
WRONG!!!
• Let me prove it from the Bible!
• Our faith must be always built on
“It is written!”
Question:
What is written?
The Beginning of the
Eschatological Time
1. Heb 1:1–2
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers
through the prophets at many times and in
various ways, but in these last days he has
spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed
heir of all things, and through whom he made
the universe.”
2. Acts 2:17; Heb 9:26; 1 Cor 10:11; 1 Pet 1:20;
4:7; 2 Pet 3:3; 1 Tim 4:1; 1 Thess 4:16–17.
Acts 2:17
“In the last days, God says, I will pour out
my Spirit on all people. Your sons and
daughters will prophesy, your young men
will see visions, your old men will dream
dreams.”
Heb 9:26
“Then Christ would have had to suffer
many times since the creation of the world.
But now he has appeared once for all at
the end of the ages to do away with sin
by the sacrifice of himself.”
Is There a Difference Between
the Last Days and the Time
of the End?
The phrase “the time of the end” #qe t[e is a
specific exegetical idiomatic expression used
only in the book of Daniel referring to 1798 or
1844 (Dan 8:17; 11:35, 40; 12:4, 9).
It’s the time of cutting, the time of decision, the
prophetic apocalyptic time of the end.
Crucial Difference but
Complementary
General eschatological time was
inaugurated from the first coming of Christ
(the last days, the end of the ages began,
the end time).
Specific prophetic/apocalyptic
eschatological time of the end:
from 1798 and/or 1844 (Dan 7–9, 12).
Difference but not Contradictory
• The Last days, the End of the Ages,
[the End of Time or the End Time]
– from the Cross
• The Time of the End
– from 1798/1844
Crucial Difference but
Complementary
General eschatological time
(the last days; the end of time)
Specific
prophetic/apocalyptic
eschatological time
(the time of the end)
from 1798/1844 on
The Centrality of the Cross
Eschatological Time (biblical
teaching)—the end time, the last days
arrived with the CROSS (the first
coming of Christ)!
Where does the problem lie?
Correct biblical teaching about preadvent judgment and the date of 1844,
but the event is isolated from the most
crucial point―the CROSS of Jesus or
Christ as a Person! HE must be at the
CENTER!
The Central Place of the Cross
• The Cross of Christ, Jesus Himself,
must be the starting point of all our
discourses on the divine Judgment!
• The year AD 31 and not 1844 has to be
the foundational and beginning
reference point of God’s eschatological
judgment!
No Dichotomy
• There is no dichotomy between AD 31 and
1844. You do not need to choose between
them.
• They need to be put together in the proper
relationship and perspective!
• The starting point of God’s eschatological
judgment is AD 31!
It is a better way to preach about
God’s judgment:
• It is crucial to connect divine judgment
with the Cross of Jesus!
• The cross is and must be the CENTRAL
event for all our doctrines!!!
Please, never, never, never present
judgment without the Cross!
Serious Matter
To preach or teach about God’s judgment and
start with 1844 is a grievous sin! Neglect to
put Christ at the center results in a religious
crime, because people then live in a spiritual
schizophrenia.
When you read, for example, Dale Ratzlaff’s book
on The Cultic Doctrine of Adventism, you
understand that he knew only a distorted
Sanctuary doctrine which robbed him of
assurance of salvation…
• As Dr. Davidson mentioned last night that in his
early years of pastoral ministry, he thought that if
he knew how to prove mathematically 1844 and is
able to explain the symbolism of the furniture in
the Tabernacle, then he knew the doctrine of the
sanctuary…
But today it’s different, he helped us to see
Jesus at the center of this biblical teaching…
• The date of 1844 and the sanctuary furniture are
only a framework, a picture frame, but the
picture is still missing.
• The picture frame is essential and significant,
because it provides specific background and gives
flavor to the picture, but the most important is
the picture itself!
Several years ago I preached in Sydney
about the pre-Advent judgment from the
perspective of the Cross. I put Jesus at the
center. When I finished, two pastors said
to me…
“If the message you presented tonight was
preached in Australia 30 years ago, there
would be no Desmond Ford Crisis!”
From and To the Cross
• “The Lamb that was slain from the creation of
the world.” (Rev 13:8)
The Centrality of the Cross in
All our Doctrines
“The Sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the
great truth around which all other truths cluster. In
order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every
truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to
Revelation, must be studied in the light that
streams from the Cross of Calvary. I present before
you the great, grand monument of mercy and
regeneration, Salvation and redemption—the Son of
God uplifted on the cross. This is to be the foundation of
every discourse given by our ministers.”
315
Gospel Workers, p.
The Centrality of the Cross
“Of all professing Christians,
Seventh-day Adventists
should be foremost in
uplifting Christ before the
world.”
GospelWorkers, p. 156
Divine Universal Judgment in Seven Phases:
Celebration of the Cross of Jesus
Eschatological/Post Cross Judgments
2
Pre-Cross
Judgments
1
7
3
4
5
6
God’s Executive
Judgment
Remember!
God - as your Judge - is for you and never against
you! He smiles on you!
He is always ready and able to
justify,
save,
deliver,
and vindicate!
He needs to be always at the center of our
discourses on judgment!
Let’s praise Him for His goodness, and faithfulness!
Hosanna, glory, and halleluiah to our loving,
gracious, and holy Judge! Amen.
Toward a Biblical Theology of God’s
Judgment: A Celebration of the Cross in
Seven Phases of Divine Universal Judgment
(An Overview Of a TheocentricChristocentric Approach)
(For more details, see my article in Journal of Adventist
Theological Society, Spring 2004).
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