WHAT ABOUT THE JUDGMENT?
Jesus let himself be judged by wicked men who spit on him, mocked him, and placed a crown of thorns on his brow. Jesus let himself be judged by the sins of wicked men like us. He was judged unfairly and with hatred.
But the Bible tells us that someday the tables will be turned. The righteous Lord Jesus will judge all men, and he will judge them with love and mercy. The questions are very personal: What will be your judgement? Will it be eternal life or eternal death? You can decide the answer to that question today. What you do with Jesus the Savior today will determine what your judgement will be during the day of judgement, for the Bible says, "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2)
Today as you explore what the Bible says about the day of judgement, you will discover a prophecy that will strengthen your faith in God and his Word as never before. You will encounter The Bible's Greatest Prophecy.
Jesus walked according to God's timetable. He came on time. He began his ministry on time. He said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15) Just as surely as Jesus came on schedule the first time, he will do so the second time.
The first time he came to be our Savior. The second time he will come to be our Judge and Deliverer. Jesus said, "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." (John 5:22) The apostle Paul stated this also. He said, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10)
Jesus will be our Judge, but for the believing Christian there is no fear in that fact. Jesus will be a judge who has great sympathy for us and unequaled understanding about us. After all, he is the One who created us, who died for us, and who is preparing a place for us in heaven. Never will he judge in anger. If he sees that one of his created beings cannot be given eternal life, his heart breaks. He cries, "How shall I give them up? (Hosea 11:8)
He has done everything he could to save everyone. But some will not allow themselves to be saved. It breaks the heart of Jesus. He says, "I led them with the cords of compassion, with the bands of love. . .and I bent down to them and fed them." (Hosea 11:4, RSV) Yet, the righteous
Savior and Judge must let the rebellious, unrepentant ones go their own way, for he will not force any man's freedom of choice. But the cry of the Savior is still one of heartfelt anguish: "I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them." (Hosea 11:3, RSV)
When Jesus comes again, our destiny will have been already decided, for Jesus has his rewards with him. He says, "Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." (Revelation 22:12) But when will the destiny of every human being be decided? When will the cry of the unchangeable decision resound throughout the universe? "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still." (Revelation 22:11)
When will this cry be uttered? The book of Daniel gives us an amazing prophecy that gives us the exact time when the final time of judgement begins. Not only that, this prophecy tells us the very year Christ began his ministry, and the very year the gospel would go to the world.
Jesus himself recognized Daniel as a prophet. He urged his hearers to pay attention to Daniel's prophecies. He said, "So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)." (Matthew 24:15, RSV)
The prophecy Jesus referred to is a spectacular vision given to Daniel, involving terrible beasts, representing nations and apostate religions. It's a prophecy of age long confrontation with truth. But above all, it will reveal the love and trustworthiness of Jesus to you in a marvelous way.
After Daniel saw the awful confrontation between truth and its enemy, he became so ill he fainted. The scene was overwhelming. Later, when he regained his strength, he prayed for more understanding. "How long would the terrible time of persecution continue?" he wondered. What was the meaning of the time span he saw, which said, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." (Daniel 8:14)
The same angel who appeared to him before came to Daniel again. The angel said, "O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. Therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision." (Daniel 9:22,23) Then followed an explanation of thevision. It involved mathematical accuracy that none could argue against.
Before we examine this prophecy, we must understand that in prophecy a day stands for a year, and a week stands for seven years. For instance, God instructed Ezekiel, "I have appointed thee each day for a year." (Ezekiel 4:6) He told Moses, "After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year." (Numbers 14:34)
When Bible students accept this day-for-a-year principle, prophecy opens up with dramatic accuracy. So, in Daniel's prophecy, we are dealing with a time span of 2300 years. But that's not the only time span the angel mentions to Daniel. The angel also gives Daniel shorter time spans within the 2300-year period. He says, "Seventy weeks are determined upon (or cut off for) thy people, and upon thy holy city." (Daniel 9:24) How much time is this? Let's figure it out. 70 weeks times seven days equals 490 days, or 490 years.
Now, the prophecy said that this 490-year period was to be "cut of from" (literal translation of the original Aramaic) the 2300-year time period. We can diagram it like this: The entire time line of the prophecy stretches out for 2300 years. But the first 490 years of this time line are cut off for the Jewish people and for the holy city, Jerusalem. During this time span the Jewish nation would have a chance to show whether they ought to remain God's chosen people or not. They would have a chance to live up to their special privileges.
Now comes the crucial question: When does this tremendous time begin? We know that the 2300 years and the 490 years have the same starting point. But where is the starting point? The angel tells Daniel the exact time. There is no guessing or arguing about the starting point. "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem. . ." (Daniel 9:25) All the time periods connected with the 2300-year prophecy are to begin with the date of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem.
Jerusalem had been destroyed many years earlier by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. But there came a time when another king, Artaxerxes the First of Persia, issued a decree that Jerusalem was to be rebuilt. Fortunately, the date is well established. There is no ancient historical date that is better confirmed than this one. The decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued in 457 B.C.
So, 457 B.C. is also the starting point for the 2300-year time span and the 490-year time span. Now we can make a chart to show us the dates. Let's begin with the 490-year period. Beginning at theyear 457 B.C. and adding 490 years, we arrive at the date, A.D. 34.
What happened in A.D. 34? The prophecy said that at the end of the 490 years, which happened in A.D. 34, the Jewish nation would be judged whether or not it would remain God's chosen nation. The New Testament tells us that by and large the nation rejected Jesus Christ. They also rejected the apostles and others who preached the gospel of Christ.
In A.D. 34, Stephen became the first Christian martyr. The persecution intensified so strongly against the Christians that they "were scattered abroad. . .everywhere preaching the word." The gospel went to the Gentiles. No longer were the Jews a favored people. So far Daniel's prophecy is amazingly accurate. But there is more!
The angel said to Daniel, "Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks." (Daniel 9:25)
We have another time period that begins in 457 B.C. It is made up of seven weeks, which is 49 days, and threescore and two weeks, which is a total of 62 weeks. 62 weeks times seven gives us 434 days. 434 days plus 49 days gives us 483 days or years.
We can now diagram this time period this way: Beginning in 457 B.C. and counting 483 years, brings us to A.D. 27. Daniel's prophecy told us that at this time Messiah the Prince would appear. Messiah means, "Anointed One."
What happened in A.D. 27? That was the very year Jesus came to John the Baptist at the Jordan River. "And Jesus, when he was baptized went up straightway out of the water. . ." (Matthew 3:16) Jesus was anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit during the baptism. Another Bible verse confirms this: "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power." (Acts 10:38) This happened in the exact year when Daniel's prophecy said it would happen.
Just think! The time when Jesus would appear to begin his work was foretold almost 500 years earlier. What a firm foundation we have for our faith in Jesus! Jesus himself, when he began his public ministry, announced, "The time is fulfilled." (Mark 1:15) Jesus obeyed the time schedule his Father had set for him. But this time schedule not only told us the date of his baptism, but also the date of his crucifixion.
Daniel's prophecy tells us that after the A.D. 27 date, "shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself." (Daniel 9:26) Jesus would diefor others, for you and me. Is there a specific time mentioned for this? Yes, very definitely. The prophecy says, "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease." (Daniel 9:27) For one week after his baptism Jesus would "confirm the covenant" that is, work for the Jewish nation. Jesus himself said, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
So, for three and a half years, Jesus preached the Good News among the Israelites, and then he was crucified. After his resurrection, he continued to Israel through his apostles. The ministry of Jesus and his apostles to the house of Israel continued for a total of seven years, and then they were rejected. This happened in A.D. 34, as we mentioned earlier, at the stoning of Stephen.
Since the days of Adam, the sacrifice of a lamb pointed forward to Christ on the cross. But when Jesus died on the cross, the sacrificial system had no more value. What it had pointed forward to had arrived. This, too, was part of Daniel's prophecy: "In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." (Daniel 9:27) Exactly three and a half years after his baptism, Jesus faced the cross. This was definitely "in the midst of the week" mentioned in Daniel.
When Jesus gave up his life on the cross, the curtain in the temple tore in two, not from the bottom as a human hand would do, but from the top. Matthew described it this way: "And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." (Matthew 27:51) This curtain separated the most holy place from the rest of the temple. When the curtain was torn, the most holy place was bare to all eyes. No longer was it sacred. No longer was the sacrificial system in effect.
For a moment, let's review all the events so far. The 490-year prophecy began in 457 B.C. and ended in A.D. 34, when the apostles went to the Gentiles. The 483-year prophecy also began in 457 B.C., but ended a week of years earlier, in A.D. 27. It pinpointed the time of the anointing of God's Messiah.
Now, Daniel's prophecy spoke in great detail about the seven years between A.D. 27 and A.D. 34. It said that in the midst of those seven years, the Messiah would die for others, and he did. In fact, every part of the prophecy was fulfilled on schedule. That is the way God's Word is; what it says will happen will happen. We can trust it.
Now, let's come back to the 2300-year time span. We can figure out the end date of this prophecy in two ways. Using one method, 1810 years are left after we take away 490 years. Add 1810 to A.D. 34, and we come to the year A.D. 1844. Or we can take away 457years from 2300 years, and we arrive at A.D. 1843. But we must add one year because there was no zero year between 1 B.C. and A.D. 1. So once again we come to the year A.D. 1844.
Now, let's just review what the prophecy stated. "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." (Daniel 8:14) So, a certain sanctuary was cleansed in A.D. 1844. But what kind of sanctuary? How was it cleansed?
Before 1844, Bible students thought this sanctuary was the earth. But when the earth was not destroyed by that time, they restudied the descriptions of the sanctuary. They saw that Jesus is the High Priest who ministers in the sanctuary in heaven. "We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle." (Hebrews 8:1,2)
As we study the book of Hebrews further, we see that the sanctuary Moses was instructed to build on earth was designed after the one in heaven. "Moses was admonished of God. . .make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount." (Hebrews 8:5)
John, writer of the Bible's last book, saw this temple in vision. He wrote, "The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in the temple the ark of his testament." (Revelation 11:19) This verse, as well as others, tells us that John saw things in the heavenly temple that Moses was instructed to duplicate as closely as possible for the earthly temple. This leads us to the conclusion that when Daniel spoke of the cleansing of the sanctuary, he was referring to the sanctuary in heaven.
Friend, we live in a solemn hour. When the cleansing of the sanctuary occurred once a year in the earthly temple, this was viewed by the Jews as a day of judgement. Those who refused to confess and seek divine pardon for their sins were considered to be in rebellion against God. Now, the Bible tells us that Jesus as our High Priest has entered the most holy part of the heavenly sanctuary. The work of judgement has begun. How long it will continue before it is finished, we cannot say. But when it is finished, our Savior willlay aside his priestly work of intercession and come to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.
What shall we do? Let us come to Jesus now and ask for his forgiveness and cleansing. If we allow him to cleanse us from all sin, then we can look forward to eternal life. The Bible assures us that, "he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:25)
Put your case in the hands of Jesus, the righteous Judge, the High Priest, who will forgive your sins and blot them out. He bore your penalty on the cross, and now he can pardon your sins as he serves for you as your priest in the heavenly sanctuary.
Won't you come to him now? The Bible offers us convincing proof that he is the Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God. God's Word tells us he loves us without reservation. But he will not force you to love him. He will only keep loving you, longing for you to love him in return. Won't you do that now? Let us pray.
Dear Father, thank you for your wonderful prophecies and for your wonderful revelations of your love for me. Thank you for making Jesus not only my Judge but also my Priest. I want to accept his love and his will for my life. Please help me. Amen.
The judgment has set, the books have been opened;
How shall we stand in that great day
When every thought, and word, and action,
God, the righteous Judge, shall weigh?
How shall we stand in that great day?
How shall we stand in that great day?
Shall we be found before Him wanting?
Or with our sins all washed away?
-F. E. Belden-