OUR HIGH PRIEST    by Edward Heppenstall

(Van wyk version 2013)


The Pre-Advent Judgment — 6

One of the historical doctrines of Seventh-day Adventists is the teaching concerning a judgment prior to the return of Christ. Adventists speak of this as an "investigative judgment"; that is, an opening of the books of record before a celestial court in the heavenly sanctuary. During this time of judgment, beginning in 1844, God reveals for all concerned who the saved throughout all the ages really are. Its purpose is to secure a universal verdict in favor of the saints prior to their resurrection, with a view both to their vindication and the vindication of God.

This doctrine is the contribution of Seventh-day Adventism to Christianity. None of the Great minds of the past were able to see this doctrine in the Old and New Testament in perspective. Progressive understanding or interpretation is when something that was understood before at whatever time, became murky at other times suddenly unfolds in its proper understanding. Jerome, Aquinas, Wycliffe, Luther, Calvin, none of them understood this doctrine or could see it. In fact, the Millerite Movement of 1843 and 1844 did not see it also. It was only when Hiram Edson saw the link between the sanctuary cleansing of Daniel 8:14 and the historic date of 1844 itself, that understanding and logic could properly fall into place. A similar experience happened to Daniel when he could not understand Jeremiah’s words. Certain events happened and those triggered his true understanding of the words.

Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man,—to perform the work of investigative judgment, and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.—The Great Controversy, p. 480.

This doctrine is significant for Seventh-day Adventists. Their position in the development of religious and salvation history is tied both to the time when this investigative judgment began in 1844 and to the nature of the judgment, which is to conclude with the close of probation and be followed by the second coming of Christ.

Adventists originated at the same time this event started in heaven, so this doctrine is of prime importance to them and to Christianity, although they were slow to pick up on this.

In any attempt to form a correct Biblical interpretation of this belief in a pre-Advent judgment, certain considerations must be kept in mind:

First, why is an investigative judgment of the saints necessary? Did not Jesus teach: "'In very truth, anyone who gives heed to what I say and puts his trust in him who sent me has hold of eternal life, and does not come up for judgement, but has already passed from death to life'" (John 5:24, N.E.B.)? If Christ promised immunity from judgment to His followers, how can God hold such a judgment without breaking His promise?

1.    Why was an investigative judgment necessary? Does it not conflict with John 5:24?

Second, we must also take into account that "the Lord knoweth them that are his" (2 Tim. 2:19). "I know my sheep, and am known of mine" (John 10:14). According to this, God does not need to postpone his verdict of acquittal concerning his people until the last-day judgment.  One can hardly affirm that God is not certain who the saved are until a final formal judgment takes place.  For if this were true, how could there be any experience of security for the saints while on earth?  Does not their very security here and now rest on the clear assurance that "there is . . . no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1)?  Are we not commanded here and now to make our calling and election sure (see 2 Peter 1:10)?  If even God does not make the final decision until after 1844, how could Paul confidently affirm: "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. 4:8)? How could Paul have been so sure at that time?

2.    If there is an investigative judgment before the Advent, how does it square up with 2 Tim 2:19 which says the Lord knows them that are his and 1 John 10:14 that He knows His sheep. Does He need an investigative judgment when He already knows who the good are?

Third, the Bible declares that "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:14). There is ample Biblical evidence that teaches the accountability of all men, good and bad, for all the sins done in their lives; that all men will be called to account for them in the judgment (see Matt. 12:36; 25:31, 32; Rom. 2:16; Acts 17:31). What is the position of the saints in the judgment? How are the saints involved in a pre-Advent judgment?

3.    Good and bad works are brought into judgment (Eccl 12:14) and all humans are involved (Matt 12:36; 25:31; Rom 2:16; Acts 17:31). How are the saints dealt with in judgment? It appears like a paradox that all humans appear in judgment and yet he saints not? This needs clarity.

This pre-Advent judgment, its time and nature, we desire to examine. What is meant by the all-important statement: "The hour of his [God's] judgment is come" (Rev. 14:7)—by that decisive court action before the Son of Man appears in the clouds of heaven to reap the harvest of the earth (see verses 14-20)? What does the Bible have to say of this judgment? In the visions of Daniel and Revelation is the key to God's final actions and movements in these last days. We may affirm these prophecies and declare our faith in the plan and purpose of God to be the most intelligible and crucial for all people living today.

The reality of a pre-Advent judgment, its time, its nature needs to be looked at.

The Pre-Advent Judgment of Daniel 7

The vision of Daniel 7 is addressed to the prophet personally and causes him considerable anxiety and distress. The chapter is structured in three parts:

(1) Verses 1-14: The vision is declared and recorded as Daniel saw it.

(2) Verses 15-22: Daniel is deeply concerned to know the meaning of certain aspects of the vision that disturbed him. The angel responds and an interpretation follows.

(3) Verses 23-27: Again the angel returns and interprets further those disturbing aspects of the vision: the terrible fourth beast, the all-powerful apostate little horn, the judgment, the ultimate defeat of those opposing forces, and the triumph of the saints.

A preterist like John Collins et al, will not see any value in this chapter. Unless a person is operating with a historicist method of interpretation as Seventh-day Adventist are doing or as Luther and Calvin mostly did, one will not understand Daniel 7. If you hook the Little Horn to Antiochus Epiphanes as preterists did, it will be difficult to sort out who the Son of Man is. The ingredient of proper understanding the chapter has to be the axiom that God had ability to look until our times and beyond our times to Eden restored. That been said, He gave navigational maps to His people of all centuries and the fulfillment of these are described sometimes in a continuous event one after the other. Thus, a historicist interpreter tries to identify each component in the prophetic charts in a continual line of events spread out until eternity. Preterists wants the prophet to speak only to his own time, locked in. What do they do with the prophet’s words “forever”, eternally etc? Is it just overstatements, exaggerations, romanticizing unrealistic wishful thinking? For the historicist, no.

In this vision divine judgment is mentioned three times:

(1) "The judgment was set, and the books were opened" (verse 10).

(2) "Judgement was given in favour of the saints of the most high" (verse 22, N.E.B.).

(3) "The judgment shall sit" (verse 26). These references to the judgment climax the three parts and explanations of the vision.

Three verses for judgment stand out in chapter 7, 10, 22 and 26

Daniel the prophet sees in vision a series of events, one following the other. "As I was continually gazing" is the expression used nine times to show the sequence of the respective scenes appearing before him in continuous and successive action.

Nine times Daniel said “I was continually gazing”. It shows a sequence of the events in continuous succession. The Aramaic hazeh haweyt is a Peal participle active “looking” with a Peal Perfect 1st person singular of the verb “to be”, thus “I was looking” used for habitual and continuous action (see F. Rozenthal, Grammar of Biblical Aramaic [Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1983], 55 at paragraph 177). This chapter is in Aramaic and not in Hebrew. John Owens Analytical Key to the Old Testament Vol. 4 on Daniel (Grand Rapids Michigan: Baker Bookhouse, 1996), 729ff. is not correct with “I” as the translation of haweyt. Pastors need to take heed of this error. It is “I was”. It is not a pronoun but a verb.

The Time

In order to determine the time when this judgment begins, it is important in our study to recognize the historical sequence of the various powers that arise one after the other, and the place of this judgment in this sequence. Just as there was a time for the lion empire of Babylon to appear, the bear kingdom of Medo-Persia to follow, the leopard nation of Greece to arise in turn, and the terrible beast symbolizing Rome to excel all nations before it, the breakup of the Roman Empire into the ten horns, or nations, the succeeding little horn, so there was a time when the judgment of God would begin. If each empire was to follow the one previously mentioned, then the judgment of verses 9, 10, 22, 26, must also follow the period of the apostate horn's supremacy of verses 8, 21, 25. Because these forces represent empires and powers arising in succession, the judgment then must also be part of this historical succession and follow in time the period during which Papal Rome exercised supremacy in the earth.

The sequence of these powers one after the other will brings us to the time of the judgment. Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, Little Horn and then Judgment. Judgment is the climax of history, of these forces one after the other. Babylon, Medo-Persian, Greece, Rome, Little Horn and 1260 years [year-day principle important here for all historicists through the centuries, Izaac Newton et al]. Preterists with their 3 1/2 years and fiddling with Antiochus Epiphanes’ dates, run in a cul de sac.

God does not judge every empire until after the Little Horn

That this judgment is not an action that has been continuously in progress is evident from the fact that judgment follows the period of the little horn only. No judgment is mentioned as terminating the other kingdoms. God is not pictured as executing His wrath upon each successive power in the earth. This judgment is the climax to history, to all these forces that have held sway in the earth, following one another until the judgment is set. Up until this time there has been no divine interruption. Changes in powers and empires there have been. But this divine judgment anticipates the overthrow of all earthly powers. It envisions the rise of a new power, the supernatural kingdom of God. Daniel 7 is a chart of world history, mapped out and prophesied beforehand, which reveals the ultimate outcome of victory for God's people, "the people of the saints of the most High" (verse 27). The kingdoms and powers of the world are symbolized by these wild beasts and horns, exercising dominion on the earth, each in turn, until the divine court holds judgment.

Every empire is not judged in Daniel 7. Only after the Little Horn is judgment. Each power did not receive God’s executive judgment in Daniel 7. They exercised power in succession until the divine court had its judgment.

The Time of the Judgment

First, the time of this judgment is when "the thrones were cast down [placed], and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame" (verse 9). This judgment throne was set at a very special time. The thrones had not always been placed; the court did not always sit. The coming of the Ancient of days, God the Father, His being seated on the throne, reveals the beginning of a great assize when God calls His judgment into session, when He Himself is to preside as Judge. The statement "the Ancient of days did sit means that the Father is now come to judgment. Only God the Father is seen sitting on a throne. the term throne is the Hebrew word korsê. It means a throne of a very special type, reserved for special occasions. In addition to the throne of God, "thrones" in the plural are mentioned. For whom were the remaining thrones intended? Evidently this is a court scene with other beings, a kind of celestial jury, also involved in the work of judgment. Since this court scene takes place in the heavenly sanctuary, we must look for the beginning of a new phase of the sanctuary ministration that involves a work of judgment.

1.    God does not judge continuously. The throne had a starting point when it was set. It was not there before. Thus judgment was only when it was set.

Second, the time is when Christ, the Son of man, "approached the Ancient in Years and was presented to him" (verse 13, N.E.B.). This coming of Christ to the Father cannot apply to Christ's return to the Father at His ascension. No books were opened and no judgment began at that time. The judgment time follows the long period of the persecution of the church, the wearing out of the saints.

Neither can this coming refer to Christ's second coming. The Second Coming is not a coming to the Father but to the earth. In this vision the Father and the Son come to judgment amid a majestic court scene in heaven. The judgment that follows results in a verdict "in favour of the saints" (verse 22, N.E.B.). This judgment establishes the right of the saints to possess the kingdom. After this is done the Word clearly states that "the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom" (verse 22). The saints inherit the kingdom as a result of the judgment. Therefore this judgment is prior to the time when "the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High" (verse 27). This takes place when Christ returns.

2.    The time is when Christ comes to the Father.

a)   Not at the ascension because the 1260 years persecution was not done yet.

b)   Not at the second coming since Christ comes to earth not to His Father.

c)   Judgment is in favor of the saints (7:22)

1.    Right to possess the kingdom.

2.    Following this judgment is the time to posses it (7:23).

3.    Saints inherit the kingdom as a result of the judgment at Second Coming.

Third, both Daniel and John the revelator locate the time of the judgment by the phrase "a time, and times, and half a time" (Rev. 12:14). John uses this phrase interchangeably with "a thousand two hundred and threescore days" and "forty and two months" (verse 6; chap. 13:5).

3, John and Daniel involves the time 1260 years, time = times and half a time = forty and two months just before the judgment (Revelation 12:14, 12:6 and 13:5).

The location of the beginning of this judgment in the historical sequence of Daniel's prophecy is quite conclusive.

He shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time. But the judgment shall sit (Dan. 7:25, 26).

Three times in this chapter judgment follows the activities of that apostate religious power symbolized by the "horn that had eyes." Daniel places the rise of the "little horn" to its 1260 years of dominance after the rise of the "ten horns," which resulted in the breakup of the Roman Empire, shortly after the last of the Roman emperors in the West, A.D. 476. This time is further indicated by the fact that in its rise the apostate horn uprooted three of these ten horns that came into power as a result of Rome's demise in the West.

In Daniel 7 judgment follows three times after the actions of the ten horns and the little horn activity. Three clusters of texts describe in repetition the same order:

Daniel 7:8-14; Daniel 7:20-22 and Daniel 7:24-27

In almost all three we have:

1.    Little horn arises

2.    Three horns downed

3.    Speaks great words

4.    [first one not] persecute the saints

5.    [first one not] [second one not] change law and times

6.    Ancient of Days comes [third one not]

7.    Judgment sat [second one not]

8.    (i) Judgment for the saints

(ii) Beast body burned; Horn destroyed

9.    Son of Man’s kingdom [second and third not]

10.  Kingdom to the saints [first not]

11.  Son of Man’s kingdom [first and second not]

(W. Shea, Selected Studies on Prophetic Interpretation 1982: 118)

This apostate power was to rule for a period of 1260 years. The period of papal supremacy began when the Emperor Justinian, in A.D. 533, decreed the pope to be supreme in temporal and religious authority in the Western world. This became effective in A.D. 538. This period terminated when the pope was taken prisoner in 1798.

Little Horn was to rule for 1260 years. In 538 AD Emperor Justinian changed his position from a soldier to a theologian as one can see on his coins in that year, exchanging the spear for a cross. It ended in 1798.

During this time "that horn was waging war with the saints and overcoming them until the ancient in years came. Then judgement was given in favour of the saints of the most high" (verses 21, 22, N.E.B.). "the saints shall be delivered into his power for a time and times and half a time. then the court shall sit" (verses 25, 26, N.E.B.). The time prophecies of the book of Revelation placed the 1260 years in the Christian Era, the time when "the woman [the church] fled into the wilderness . . . a thousand two hundred and threescore days. . . . To the woman were given two wings. . . , that she might fly into the wilderness,.., where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent" (Rev. 12:6-14; see also chap. 13:5-7). in his great prophecy Christ referred to this same period:

As Daniel 7:21-22 shows the judgment came after the persecution of the saints. After the persecution “for a time and times and half a time, then the court shall sit” (Daniel 7:25-26).

The time period has to be placed in Christian times since the woman ran into the wilderness for 1260 years (Revelation 12:6-14).

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 (Matt. 24:21, 22).

This is in Christ’s future so that it cannot refer to the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes in the past.

Therefore the judgment follows the 1260 years of papal supremacy and persecution of the saints. The Scripture speaks directly of this point: The apostate power made war with the saints until the Ancient of days came and the judgment began (Dan. 7:22). This time prophecy locates the beginning of this judgment soon after 1798. It does not say when it will end or how long it will last. The beginning of this judgment is one of the great moments in salvation history. It anticipates the vindication of the saints after the long periods when the judgments of men have so often been against them. It proclaims and looks forward to the final triumph of Christ and His people to be realized when Christ returns to the earth.

The war was until the judgment starts (Daniel 7:22).

The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time, and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects, and be able to give an answer to every one that asketh them a reason of the hope that is in them.—Ibid., pp. 488, 489.

The Nature of the Judgment

The fundamental truth of Daniel' s vision and prophecies is that God is Lord of all. He has a purpose, an end to which all things move. That end the Bible frequently designates by the term judgment or by "the day of the Lord." The vision of Daniel 7 spans the history of the world from the time of Daniel to the final triumph of the people of God and the establishment of God's everlasting kingdom. The central theme of this chapter is the conflict between God and His saints on the one side and the little horn on the other. The conflict waged fiercely until the Ancient of days came, at which time a judgment begins.

Conflict was present until the Ancient of Days came and the judgment began.

In seeking to understand the nature of this judgment, certain significant facts are clearly stated:

First, this heavenly assize is actually called a "judgment" and must be understood as such (verses 10, 22, 26).

1.    Heavenly event is a judgment (7:10; 22; 26).

Second, these three statements all deal with the same judgment. The latter two references to judgment—in verses 22 and 26—are part of the angel's interpretation of judgment referred to in verses 9 and 10.

2.    All three verses deal with judgment.

Third, this judgment involves both sides in the controversy and predicts the triumph of God's people and the overthrow of these hostile powers (verses 22, 26, 27). The nature of this judgment can be understood only in the light of the context of the events prophesied and the parties involved. In all three parts of the chapter the judgment follows the work of the apostate religious power that sets itself up against God and persecutes the people of God to the point of wearing them out (see verses 10, 11, 21, 22, 25-27).

3.    God, His people and hostile forces are involved (7:22; 26; 27).

This judgment sets the time when these evil forces and nations will no longer dominate the saints and the world. Dominion will be taken from them and given to Christ and to His people.

This judgment will remove the dominion of the Little Horn and rescue His people.

To recapitulate: There are clearly two parties and aspects of this judgment—judgment is against the enemies of God and for the saints. Any interpretation of this judgment that follows the 1260 years must therefore include both of these aspects. Because of the long period of the horn's monstrous activities against God and His people, because the saints have been so long the object of man's condemnation and persecution, this judgment of God from His sanctuary will reverse the verdict of history in their favor. That verdict carries with it the promise of vindication, of world dominion, everlasting salvation, and the kingdom of God.

A Heavenly Assize

This vision does not picture God as executing judgment on the earth but a judgment taking place in heaven. The setting of this judgment betokens great solemnity. Jesus, the Son of man, receives high honors both for Himself and for His saints. All this takes place amid the most impressive ceremonies in the presence of all the angels and heavenly intelligences.

The location of the event is in heaven. Jesus receives honors for Himself and for the saints.

Thrones were set in place and one ancient in years took his seat, his robe was white as snow and the hair of his head like cleanest wool. Flames of fire were his throne and its wheels blazing fire; a flowing river of fire streamed out before him. Thousands upon thousands served him and myriads upon myriads attended his presence. The court sat, and the books were opened (Dan. 7:9, N.E.B.).

This is the final phase of Christ's priestly work in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of His people. The coming of the Godhead to judgment at this time points to the beginning of a new phase of divine activity in the throne room of God, a work of judgment. This will doubtless continue until this priestly ministry is completed at the close of probation.

The newness that Millerites discovered after their disappointment in 1844, is that the Trinity came to a new phase in their divine activity in the Throne Room.

Speaking of this event in Daniel, Ellen White writes:

Attended by heavenly angels, our great High Priest enters the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man,—to perform the work of investigative judgment, and to make an atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits.—Ibid., p. 480.

There is a specific reason why this judgment takes place in the "most holy place" of the heavenly sanctuary. Judgment belongs to God. Judgment in and from God's sanctuary will be above and beyond the decisions and powers of men. It will make sure of a righteous judgment. The verdicts of men on earth have so often been wrong. Man has no way of knowing who are the saved or who are the lost. God alone has access to human hearts and the motivations of men. Even the church's judgment on earth through the centuries has, for the most part, given a wrong verdict. "he [God] hath prepared his throne for judgment" (Ps. 9:7-9). No man can do that.

Judgment from the throne room can be seen in Psalm 9:7-9.

The Opening of the Books

The judgment was set, and the books were opened (Dan. 7:10). Why are the books opened at this time? A divine change in the order of things is indicated that will affect the trend of history and the destiny of men. Succeeding earthly powers have held sway in the earth. Man's life is hemmed in by the predominance of a sinful order. How little men know of the nature and outcome of the conflict between Christ and Satan unless God reveals it. Although the future of earthly powers is hidden from the eyes of men, it is not hidden from God. The opening of the books in the judgment will bring nothing new to Christ. Only by God's final work of judgment will the downward march of men be reversed. It is a long way from the Garden of Eden to the earth made new, from Genesis to Revelation. God's way in His Son is by redemption and judgment. With the opening of the books of heaven, God affirms a righteous judgment, a verdict in favor of His people, the overthrow of their enemies, and the coming of a new world order.

Some form of record is replayed or reviewed.

The place of the books in the judgment is not merely incidental. They constitute God's records (see Isa. 65:6; Jer. 17:1; Mal. 3:16; Luke 10:20; Rev. 20:12). They reveal the truth about man and his work—the account of every man's life. The records in the books actually constitute the major part of the evidence before the court. According to the Bible only twice are the books of judgment opened—first following shortly after the 1260 years and again at the end of the millennium (Rev. 20: 11-13). In Daniel 7 the records are opened prior to the coming of Christ in order to render a final verdict that will vindicate the saints. In Revelation 20 the books are opened in connection with the judgment before the great white throne and prior to the final destruction of the wicked. Both judgments require an opening of the same books. The first opening involves the destiny and reward of the righteous; the second involves the destiny and punishment of the wicked. In both cases God condescends to let the facts be known. The judgments will vindicate God's decisions and His character.

A number of biblical texts speaks of the records: see Isa. 65:6; Jer. 17:1; Mal. 3:16; Luke 10:20; Rev. 20:12.

The opening of the books at the time of judgment declares that God is particular. Nothing is glossed over. God did not pass by sin at the cross, but judged it fully in the death of His Son. So will it be in the judgment, for if God overlooks sin, or chooses to ignore any of the facts, then no righteous judgment is possible. God could be charged with unrighteousness or playing favorites.

Opening books is not for God but for angels. God is particular. He does not ignore or overlook sin.

God has an exact record of every unjust account and every unfair dealing. He is not deceived by appearances of piety. He makes no mistakes in His estimation of character. Men may be deceived by those who are corrupt in heart, but God pierces all disguises, and reads the inner life.—Ibid., p. 486.

God can only hate and judge sin for what it is. In His holiness He can only call the sinner to account. Here before God, man is exposed to the innermost recesses of his own heart. The hateful, hostile spirit, the lustful look, the angry thought, the secret desires, cannot be hidden from God. With absolute honesty God will reveal the sin that lurks in its most subtle and disguised form. Even a man's words are included (Matt. 12:36). God does not deal in generalities.

God reads the heart and thoughts as well as words and deeds.

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Eccl. 12:13, 14).

God will look at good as well as bad deeds.

This text affirms that not only the wicked with his evil deeds but also the righteous with his good deeds will be brought to judgment.

No Condemnation to Those in Christ

"In very truth, anyone who gives heed to what I say and puts his trust in him who sent me has hold of eternal life, and does not come up for judgement, but has already passed from death to life" (John 5:24, N.E.B.).

Since Christ promised the believer freedom from judgment, what did He mean? In the judgment no claims of man to righteousness by works can possibly stand. For here is revealed the radical evil of the human heart. "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). Before God there is no way that man can compensate for his sins or his sinfulness. If God in the judgment imputes to every man the sinful record of his life, no man could stand before Him. Even man's own "righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6).

The key to pass the judgment test is an ongoing relationship with Christ. It is that simple. It is to never give up.

There is no more perilous position than that the sins that stain the pages of the books of heaven can be erased by some church action or a decision by a priest who claims to have the power to forgive sins. The claim of any religious body or church to forgive sin and decide cases for eternal life must collapse before the Judge of all the earth, who with one glance at the record exposes the utter falsity of man's judgments.

It is not a pastor, priest, church board, or anyone’s decision that can help pass this judgment test.

What Christ promises here is not freedom from judgment but freedom from condemnation. How then shall sinful man be vindicated before God? How can the verdict "not guilty" be given to any man? "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," said Paul (Rom. 8:1). In the parable of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, it is the King Himself who comes in to examine the guests. He alone passes judgment and banishes the man without a wedding garment. The King alone provides the garment that represented the righteousness of Christ. No garment of man's own weaving can occasion a judgment in his favor. For in the judgment it is not possible for any man, church, or religious authority on earth to replace the sin-stained pages in the record books with the spotless white sheets that proclaim a man not guilty. If God accuses man according to his own record, no one can gainsay it. Before Him all human judgment is of no consequence.

Christs says in John 5 that it is not freedom from investigative judgment but freedom from executive judgment.

Therefore Christ promised the believer freedom from condemnation because the record will reveal him in a saving relationship to Jesus Christ. The certainty of a verdict in the believer's favor arises from the fact that Jesus Christ comes to the Father on the repentant sinner's behalf. He alone mediates to us our ultimate vindication. Only as the Christian's life is hid with Christ in God is he able to stand.

An ongoing relationship with Christ is a saving relationship and Christ is Advocate either in an ongoing manner or when the point of decision has to be made. Our lives have to be hidden in Christ. Hide yourself in Christ.

God desires us to belong to Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Jesus Christ wants us to depend on Him alone. Outside of Christ man's sins must remain eternally unpaid for.

Christ asks absolute surrender not 90% or 50% or 10%. All.

In the opening words of the book of Revelation, Christ said, "Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death" (Rev. 1:17, 18). Jesus Christ has kept those keys. He has kept His beloved sheep. He has watched their very dust. Now the keys have a purpose in this judgment. Christ alone can open the books. He alone can reveal who truly belong to Him, who have accepted the rule of Christ. Before myriads of angelic beings and universal witnesses, this judgment will proclaim a verdict in favor of the trophies of His grace.

Vindication of the Saints

The eternal security of the saints is not based on the processes taking place in human history but upon the judgment and direction from the sanctuary of God.

Security is not on earth but in heaven and what takes place there.

Nowhere in Daniel 7 do the saints appear to stand in jeopardy before the bar of God. As a result of this judgment all that God promised them in Christ comes to them. It will be a judgment in their favor. The saints are judged worthy of the kingdom. The Son of man stands before the Father in defense of the saints and white robes are assigned to them.

I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; 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 (Dan. 7:21, 22).,

What is meant by the statement "judgment was given to the saints of the most High"? the Hebrew reads "given for the saints." the revised standard version translation correctly interprets the Hebrew: "Judgment was given for the saints." The New English Bible reads, "then judgement was given in favour of the saints." Various Hebrew lexicons favor the latter. "Judgment was given in favour of" (Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, p. 1088). "Judgment is pronounced in favour of" (Koehler and Baumgartner, p. 1065). "Decision was rendered for" (Montgomery in the International Critical Commentary).

All but the King James translation agree that the sense is that of a judgment given in favor of the saints (rather than a process of judging in which they are called to engage) and that as a result of this verdict, the saints receive the kingdom.

On earth the saints have appeared to be in jeopardy, but not so before the throne of God. God has never been in doubt about them. With Him there has never been any question about their future. The verdict of men on earth, however, has been against them. Up until the time of this judgment, religious and secular powers have weighed themselves against their fellow men on the scales of their own judgment. They have measured faith and religion by their own perverted concepts of God and truth. Their decisions have not only been unjust for the most part but in open and violent opposition to God and His revealed will.

Although saints may have appeared to be in jeopardy on earth but not so in heaven.

This vision of the judgment and the opening of the books of record is the answer of God to the warped record of history. The consequence of this judgment from God contradicts the decisions of men. The viewpoints, decisions, and claims of apostate religious powers are rejected.

One reason for this judgment is the activity of the apostate power of the little horn against the saints who have suffered opposition and persecution for 1260 years. Righteousness has been suppressed. Error has been triumphant. Millions of Christians have been unjustly condemned and slain. Unless God intervenes, the saints stand in jeopardy. God's answer to their plea is a judgment that will reverse the verdict of men.

For thousands of years men have preached of a coming judgment. Few have realized how important to God is the vindication and the triumph of His saints. In this judgment God will reveal who are the saved and who are the vanquished. There will be many surprises. Names that only God knows will be found in those books. At last the record will be set straight.

The Right to Rule

One of the key words in Daniel 7 is dominion. The Hebrew word is shóltan. It means "the right to rule," "sovereignty." This judgment determines who has the right to rule, the right to exercise sovereignty over all nations, tongues, and peoples. Christ comes to the Father to receive this dominion. As a result of this judgment, dominion is taken away from those earthly powers who have held sway in the earth, and given to Christ (verses 12-14).

There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (verse 14).

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him (verse 27).

This chapter contrasts the rule of the various world powers with the sovereign rule of God. The nations and powers have wrested one another's kingdoms by sheer force of arms. Symbolized by wild beasts, these empires have come to power by virtue of their superior might. This power complex is finally changed, not by a further show of force and physical might but by a divine judgment.

What is at stake is the character of God and of His people. What ultimately assures dominion to Christ is the universal acknowledgment of God's character of righteousness and love. Were the issue one of force, the controversy would have been settled when sin arose, for God is omnipotent. Satan and his representatives lose because their characters and lives are utterly at variance with God. Both the righteous character of God displayed throughout the struggle between Christ and Satan and the character revealed in His people make possible a verdict that dominion, the right to rule in the earth, belongs to them.

Throughout the controversy Satan has called in question God's very character. How does God surmount and banish the doubts that have existed through the long reign of sin? How does God actually destroy Satan's right to rule in the hearts of those who have not clearly understood the issues? The grounding of the judgment in God's character guarantees the vindication of God and of His saints. It is for this reason that the pre-Advent judgment is an exclusive act of God. In the same way that forgiveness and redemption are exclusively God's work, so judgment is the vindication of God's character and of His right to rule. As a consequence, all of God's creatures throughout the universe will give honor, glory, and praise to God alone. Satan and his followers are dispossessed in order that the righteous love of God may prevail.

The Judgment can only be an act by God.

The judgment is the means by which the God of the universe breaks in upon the world of might and force. God's rule is established upon a new basis entirely. This judgment is a process now in action. The period of the pre-Advent judgment, which began in 1844, provides the probationary time when men choose either the rule of Christ or the rule of antichrist. It will declare unmistakably who has chosen the rule of Christ in his heart and life. It anticipates the coming universal rule of Christ.

This time of the end preceding our Lord's return tries all, proves all, vindicates or condemns all. Judgment from the heavenly sanctuary will reveal who have stood loyal to God and to His truth in the midst of the demonic and apostate powers that have sought to destroy the earth.

We hold, therefore, that for the saints this pre-Advent judgment will result in a true and blessed verdict for eternal life; a verdict that gives Christ the right to lead His people into their inheritance when He returns to share with them the dominion and the kingdom. Because no condemnation is involved, the opening of the books can only contribute to their joy and future security.

The pre-Investigative Judgment is not only about saints but about Christ as human and His right to represent them and their right to be connected to Him and God’s divine character in dealing with sin overall and whether in the Rebellion in Heaven sinful changed believers have a right to come in as opposed to Satan who lost at the cross.

The prophecy calls men to focus their attention on Christ's work in the heavenly sanctuary. The course of the world is now being determined and directed from God's sanctuary to its victorious climax. The people of God must therefore possess their souls in patience and in faith. Christ now sits in judgment with the Father. He opens the books of destiny. He stands before the Father to vindicate His followers. The significance of this prophecy lies in its application to the age in which we live.

The Judgment Message

While the work of judgment is in progress in the heavenly sanctuary, and before the appearing of the Son of man in the clouds of heaven at His second advent, the earth will be lightened and the world warned by God's final message and movement to prepare the world for His return. Through His people God is performing a work upon the earth by the preaching of this judgment message. For it is His purpose to have upon the earth when He comes a church completely loyal to Him. God's people will not be stained by Babylon, nor will they submit to the apostate powers by receiving the mark of the beast's authority. They receive the seal of God, the mark of God's ownership in their lives. The judgment message is the call of God to all men to righteousness of life, to personal responsibility and preparation for the return of Christ.

Revelation 14 is a call to announce this doctrine and event discovered and understood in 1844 as an ongoing reality right now.

This final message is also found in the book of Revelation, chapter 14:

Then I saw an angel flying in mid-heaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those on earth, to every nation and tribe, language and people. He cried in a loud voice, "Fear God and pay him homage; for the hour of his judgment has come! Worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the water-springs!". . . "Whoever worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on his forehead or hand, he shall drink the wine of God's wrath, poured undiluted into the cup of his vengeance." . . . This is where the fortitude of God's people has its place—in keeping God's commands and remaining loyal to Jesus. . . . Then as I looked there appeared a white cloud, and on the cloud sat one like a Son of man. He had on his head a crown of gold and in his hand a sharp sickle. Another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud: "Stretch out your sickle and reap; for harvest-time has come, and earth's crop is over-ripe." So he who sat on the cloud put his sickle to the earth and its harvest was reaped (Rev. 14:6-16, N.E.B.).

Notice one thing in Revelation 14: the message of Judgment is before the harvest. The harvest is at the end of the world (Matthew 13:39).

The harvest is the end of the world (Matt. 13:39). As the text clearly indicates, this judgment is pre-Advent. This final message proclaims two things—the everlasting gospel and the hour of God's judgment. Men will choose between loyalty to the beast and his image and mark, and the keeping of God's commandments and remaining royal to Jesus. The issue will be decisive and final. The last message is for all the world. All men will have one last opportunity. This judgment message confronts the world with the last warning prior to Christ's return. The heavenly assize now pending will decide all men's destinies. Thus there is involved a crisis for all men. Only those who stand the full light of God's investigation will emerge victorious and effectual. Arraignment at the bar of God confronts man with inescapable responsibility. Men living in these last days must learn to think more seriously of their responsibility to God and to His commandments, to weigh carefully in this time of prevailing sin and disobedience the possibility of being lost as well as being saved.

Ours is a day of rebellion against the law of God more than at any time since the days before the Flood. The devil has come down with great wrath, seeking whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8; Rev. 12:12). The satanic forces of worldliness, immorality, violence, hatred, and disobedience press in upon the mind. The pleasures of sense, excessive attention to the trivial and the superficial, increasing indifference to the claims of God, are all weapons of the devil to lead men away from God. Neglect to prepare can only lead to man's ultimate loss of eternal life.

Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man (Luke 21:34-36).

Today there is a great cry for freedom from authority. Even many professing Christians seek freedom by an almost mocking indifference to the law of God and to the clear truth of God in Scripture. Unbridled license is the prevailing mood. The peril of lowered moral living is a much greater problem than legalistic religion. From time to time one listens to indictments classifying as legalism the church's call to strict obedience to the moral code of the Decalogue. Such statements push into the background the real moral issues of our time. The number of those who are led astray by religious legalism these days is small compared with the multitudes who are now becoming enslaved by the defilements of the flesh.

Secularism and post-modernism makes inroads.

In the midst of this departure from God and from His truth, those who wish to meet their Lord with joy when He comes must cleave to the truth and be faithful to their Lord. The terrible power of moral and spiritual laxity in our time has brought the world to the verge of total disaster. Awareness of this divine judgment in the heavenly sanctuary, the realization that at this very moment Christ stands before the Father on man's behalf, should bring men to a new commitment to prepare for the day of the Lord, in order that God's truth and grace may not have been given to us in vain.

This judgment proclaims that it matters much to God what the outcome in our world will be. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can have no pleasure in the continuation of sin and evil that destroy the earth and them that dwell therein.

The world's greatest need for this time is not a new political or international peace program but a clear understanding of God's final movements from the heavenly sanctuary. Men can know security only in Christ. The judgment offers great hope and inspiration for the people of God. It proclaims that no ordinary development will usher in the kingdom of God. The people of God do not expect a religious or political improvement to save the world. This world is doomed. This judgment is the final phase of salvation history that climaxes with Christ's return. On it rests the hope of God's church. The consequence of this judgment establishes God's sovereign reign and the triumph of God's people who will see the verdict of history reversed, the falsity of satanic and apostate powers exposed and overthrown. Even now the kingdom of God is becoming visible in those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. Satanic powers battle against the people of God who refuse to worship the beast and. his image or receive his mark.

Christ is the only Peace and security and that is in heaven not on earth.

The great purpose of this judgment message is to direct the people of God to pierce with the eye of faith through the mist and darkness of our time to the throne of God in the sanctuary, to maintain their loyalty to Him in the hour of temptation that shall come upon all the world.

Hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight (1 John 3: 19-22).

To grasp the pre-Advent judgment with all its significance means the willingness to commit oneself to Christ and His way in preparation for the day when one's name will be presented at the heavenly court for admission to the earth made new.

How to prepare? Commit oneself totally to Christ.

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:10, 11).

Notice how the ministry [in heaven] leads into the everlasting kingdom.