We live in world where there is a lack of transparency. Whether it be in government, families, marriages, or business relationships, there seems to be trend in which people are hiding pertinent information. Everyone, it seems, is hiding something. The fact is that information is power, and the one who manipulates information can be put in a position to abuse power.
God is the most powerful Being in the universe, not only in terms of physical might but also because He has all the information. Yet God chooses the path of transparency and openness in how He decides our eternal salvation.
Last week, we looked at the little horn power that ruled from 538 AD to 1798, the period of “time, times, and half a time.” Daniel 7 indicates that sometime after the rise of the little horn power, but before the second coming, a judgment will take place in heaven.
Notice that Daniel 7 is in chronological succession, each of the kingdoms presented in the order that they appear in history. This is an important observation when it comes to the judgment scene in heaven (vv. 9, 10).
Little Horn (538–1798)
Judgment in Heaven
The judgment comes chronologically after the little horn power and yet before the second coming of Jesus. After reading through Daniel 7, one comes to the conclusion that there is a pre-Advent judgment, meaning a judgment before the coming of Christ. Daniel 7 pinpoints the time of judgment as taking place after 1798 but before the second coming.
The judgment scene in heaven is public before the universe; “ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10). In other words, this is a moment of transparency for God before the inhabitants of the universe. God has an open judgment of every name written in the books. This is not because God needs to know. Rather, this happens so the universe will know the decisions that God is making. The beneficiaries of the open judgment in heaven are the inhabitants of the universe who have not fallen into sin.
The open judgment reveals that the issues at stake in the great controversy are issues regarding the character of God. God wants to ensure that every question the inhabitants of the universe have in regard to God’s salvific decisions is answered. God knows what decisions need to be made, but He wants the intelligences of the universe to know. Before God brings anyone who has been infected by sin into the heavenly gates, He goes through an open, transparent process of judgment before the entire universe. Then the whole universe can say, “True and righteous are His judgments” (Rev. 19:2).
Is there biblical support for a judgment after the cross?
Evangelicals have claimed there is no pre-Advent judgment because all judgment ended at the cross. However, an examination of Scripture indicates that the apostles after the cross were proclaiming a judgment that was to come in the future.
Acts 24:25 states, “Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come.” Acts 17:31 says, “Because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.” Romans 2:16 alludes to a future judgment: “In the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
Notice that each of these references take place after the cross. Paul is preaching about a resurrected Christ. He talks about a judgment in the future tense, not as an event that has taken place but as an event that will take place.
What if I fear the judgment?
Daniel 7:22 indicates that the judgement will be “in favor of the saints.” In other words, this is not God trying to keep you out of heaven. This is Jesus advocating to get you into heaven. Jesus is your judge and your defense attorney. We have nothing to fear as long as by faith we have accepted Him as our Savior.
This is a judgment that respects your power of choice. Ultimately the judgment will be an investigation to see whether you have by choice accepted the righteousness of Christ. It is to see whether you have the robe of Jesus on, as was illustrated in the parable of the wedding feast (Matthew 22:1–14). In other words, we do not enter the judgment on the basis of our own track record or merits; we enter the judgment with the record of Jesus Christ covering us.
Will we have the opportunity to review God’s decisions?
The Bible reveals that we will have the opportunity to review the decisions of God during the thousand years (Rev. 20:4–6; 1 Cor. 6:3) after the second coming of Christ, while we are in heaven. The fire of God that destroys the wicked does not happen until after the thousand years. In other words, God waits on His executive judgment until everyone, including us, has the opportunity to see the righteous judgment of God.
We will have many questions when we get to heaven, especially if we find that our loved ones are missing. God, instead of concealing His reasoning, will be open and transparent. He will give us all the information that factored into His decision, and He gives us a thousand years to examine it. The beneficiaries of the investigative judgment are the unfallen inhabitants of the universe; and we are the beneficiaries of the millennial judgment.
God is a transparent God. He is not holding a secret judgment in heaven to determine who has been lost and who has been saved. He is holding an open judgment, so that all the universe can see the decisions of who will be in heaven. This openness reveals that the issue in the great controversy is the war for hearts and minds. Satan’s accusations against God before the universe about God’s justice and fairness will be completely put to rest by the transparency of God in the final phase of the plan of salvation in the judgment.
Jesus is our advocate in heaven. Satan is our accuser. When we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, Jesus stands as our representative in heaven. The record of all our sins is blotted out by the blood of Jesus; His life stands for our life. God does not see our sins, but rather He sees the righteousness of Jesus Christ. It’s not about what God thinks of us; it is what God thinks of Jesus in the judgment.
Righteousness by faith is the message of the judgment; for it is only through the righteousness of Christ that we can stand in the judgement that is taking place in heaven. It is by claiming the righteousness of Christ by faith that we can have peace and assurance through this judgment period.
“As the books of record are opened in the judgment, the lives of all who have believed on Jesus come in review before God. Beginning with those who first lived upon the earth, our Advocate presents the cases of each successive generation, and closes with the living. Every name is mentioned, every case closely investigated. Names are accepted, names rejected. When any have sins remaining upon the books of record, unrepented of and unforgiven, their names will be blotted out of the book of life, and the record of their good deeds will be erased from the book of God’s remembrance. The Lord declared to Moses: ‘Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My book.’ Exodus 32:33. And says the prophet Ezekiel: ‘When the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, . . . all his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned.’ Ezekiel 18:24.
“All who have truly repented of sin, and by faith claimed the blood of Christ as their atoning sacrifice, have had pardon entered against their names in the books of heaven; as they have become partakers of the righteousness of Christ, and their characters are found to be in harmony with the law of God, their sins will be blotted out, and they themselves will be accounted worthy of eternal life. The Lord declares, by the prophet Isaiah: ‘I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.’ Isaiah 43:25. Said Jesus: ‘He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.’ ‘Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven.’ Revelation 3:5; Matthew 10:32, 33.
“The deepest interest manifested among men in the decisions of earthly tribunals but faintly represents the interest evinced in the heavenly courts when the names entered in the book of life come up in review before the Judge of all the earth. The divine Intercessor presents the plea that all who have overcome through faith in His blood be forgiven their transgressions, that they be restored to their Eden home, and crowned as joint heirs with Himself to ‘the first dominion.’ Micah 4:8. Satan in his efforts to deceive and tempt our race had thought to frustrate the divine plan in man’s creation; but Christ now asks that this plan be carried into effect as if man had never fallen. He asks for His people not only pardon and justification, full and complete, but a share in His glory and a seat upon His throne.”