The coronation of Christ is for the execution of the judgment. Daniel 7:9–14; Psalm 110; 45:1–7; 2:6–9. Our Lord makes His people sharers with Him in the judgment work. That they may be such, He exalts them to participate with Him in His kingly dignity. Revelation 3:21; 2:26, 27. This exaltation is given them in the morning of the great day. Compare Psalm 49:14, 15; 110:3; 30:5; Isaiah 21:11, 12; Romans 13:11, 12.
They are to sit with Christ in the judgment, but not to determine who shall be saved or who lost. God the Father has already pronounced the decision of who shall have immortality, and the Son has executed that decision by immortalizing His saints. And thus all others are counted unworthy of eternal life, and must receive the second death as their portion. But there are degrees of punishment. Some shall receive greater damnation than others. Luke 20:47; Romans 2:6, 8, 9; Luke 12:47, 48.
Bear in mind, therefore, that the saints have not in their hands the determination of the salvation or damnation of anyone. The Father has decided this when He made them immortal and left all the others as unworthy. Also bear in mind that God keeps books of record (Isaiah 65:6, 7; Jeremiah 2:22; Daniel 7:9, 10; Revelation 20:12), and that He weighs men’s actions, so that they are set down for their true worth. (1 Samuel 2:3.) If the reader will do this, it will not seem strange to him to learn that the immortal saints, with Christ at their head, should be commissioned by the Father to determine the measure of punishment which each wicked man shall receive.
As we have already shown that the final perdition of the wicked is determined by the Father before He makes His saints immortal, if we now clearly prove that the glorified saints are to sit with Christ and determine the measure of guilt of each sinful man, it will be a most convincing proof that there is to be a resurrection of the unjust, that God may inflict the just penalty upon every soul of man that doeth evil. Romans 2:5–9.
When our Lord says to those at His right hand, “Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” He takes His saints into the presence of His Father (compare John 13:36; 14:1–3; 1 Thessalonians 4:14–17; Revelation 19:1–9), to the Paradise of God, once here upon earth (Genesis 2:8, 9; 3:22–24), now in the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2–4), within the heavenly Jerusalem itself (compare Revelation 2:7; 22:2, 14). Here they sit down with Him at His table and eat the marriage supper. Revelation 19:1–9. These things being accomplished, the work of judgment is committed to the saints, a work so vast that we may well conceive the long period which lies between the two resurrections to be requisite for its accomplishment. Revelation 20:4–6. The sitting of the saints in judgment upon the wicked must begin after they have heard the words of Christ approving them in His Father’s name, and before the sentence, “Depart ye cursed,” is pronounced by the Saviour upon those who shall be thus judged. This judgment by the saints is thus presented in the Scriptures: “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.” Daniel 7:21, 22.
“Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise of God.” 1 Corinthians 4:5.
“Dare any of you having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?” 1 Corinthians 6:1–3.
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again unto the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.”Revelation 20:4–6.
According to the first of these texts, the saints of the Most High are to have the judgment work committed to them. But before this is placed in their hands, they are themselves to be judged by God the Father. And this very act of determining who are worthy to be saved, really determines that all the others are unworthy of eternal life. The judgment work of the saints cannot, therefore, relate to the salvation or damnation of those who are judged by them, but solely to the determination of the measure of their guilt. The second of these texts, in forbidding the work of judgment “before the time,” plainly implies that when that time does come, then this work is to be done by those who are at present forbidden to do it. And the time is fixed when this prohibition expires, for it is thus limited, “Until the Lord come.” That they will not err in the judgment which they will then perform is guaranteed in the further statement that the Lord shall bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart. And this will no doubt be accomplished by placing in their hands the books of record, which contain an accurate statement of the deeds of those to be judged by them. Barnes, in his notes on this text, makes this remark: ” ‘And then shall every man have praise of God.’ The word here rendered praise, epainos, denotes in this place reward, or that which is due to him; the just sentence which ought to be pronounced on his character. It does not mean, as our translation would imply, that every man will then receive the divine approbation—which will not be true; but that every man shall receive what is due to his character, whether good or evil.” So Bloomfield and Bretschneider explain it.
The third text states, in the most explicit manner, “that the saints shall judge the world.” As it occurs in the same epistle which forbids this judgment “before the time until the Lord come,” it is manifest that this is a work which the saints enter upon immediately after they have been exalted to reign with Christ. The nature of the judgment which the saints are to decide is clearly determined by two facts: 1. It is rendered by the saints after the Lord has brought to light the hidden works of darkness, and made manifest the counsels of the hearts. 2. It is said in this same passage, and in the same manner, that the saints “shall judge angels,” meaning, of course, those angels that have sinned whose cases are thus stated: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.” 2 Peter 2:4.
“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 6.
These two facts are decisive as to the nature of the judgment which the saints are to engage in when exalted at Christ’s right hand. They are not to be judges over men in a state of probation, something as the ancient judges of Israel were raised up to rule over God’s ancient people, but their judgment is to be rendered in the case of wicked men, when the Lord brings “to light the hidden things of darkness,” and it is to be exercised alike in the case of sinful men and fallen angels. It is not a judgment to determine the guilt or innocence of the parties to be judged; for the guilt of the angels was virtually pronounced to be unpardonable when they were cast out of heaven, and delivered to chains of darkness, i.e. to utter despair, and to the hopeless bondage of their own sins. And the last condition of wicked men has, before their judgment by the saints, already been determined by the resurrection and translation of the just, leaving all others as unworthy of eternal life. This judgment of the saints is, therefore, simply designed to determine the measure of the guilt of wicked men and fallen angels. As their rejection from the kingdom of God is determined by God the Father before they are thus judged by the saints, this judgment by them for the determination of the measure of each man’s guilt, is a most convincing proof that God designs, in rendering to every man according to his deeds, to inflict tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil. (Romans 2:5–9.)
Doctor Bloomfield says of 1 Corinthians 6:2: “Upon the whole, there is, after all, no interpretation that involves less difficulty than the common one, supported by some Latin Fathers, and, of modern divines, by Luther, Calvin, Erasmus, Beza, Cassaubon, Crellius, Wolf, Jeremy Taylor, Doddridge, Pearce, Newcome, Scott, and others, by which it is supposed that the faithful servants of God, after being accepted in Christ, shall be in a certain sense, assessores judicii, by concurrence, with Christ, and being partakers of the judgment to be held by Him over wicked men and apostate angels, who are, as we learn from 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6, reserved unto the judgement of the last day.”
And Doctor Barnes speaks thus: “Grotius supposes that it means that they shall be first judged by Christ, and then act as assessors to Him in the judgment, or join with Him in condemning the wicked.”
But the fourth text relative to this judgment by the saints is very remarkable. It shows that the resurrection by the just precedes the work of judgment by them. It elevates them to thrones of judgment, where they live and reign with Christ, during the period between their own resurrection and that of “the rest of the dead.” It assigns the space of time occupied in this vast work, viz., a thousand years, a period none too long for this examination of the books containing the deeds of all wicked men and fallen angels, even though all the saints engage in it, as we have learned that they do.
There is this statement respecting the thrones, an evident allusion to Daniel 7:9, which speaks of thrones being “cast down,” or, more correctly rendered, “were placed,” as many able critics inform us. These thrones were placed for the judgment work, when entered upon, as we have seen, in the second apartment of the heavenly temple of God the Father. And when the judgment is given to the immortal saints, and they are able to enter the temple after the outpouring of the plagues (Revelation 15:8), it appears that they sit upon the thrones thus placed for them, and with the Saviour at their head finish the work of the judgment as indicated in the text examined. They are, in this exalted state, priests to God and Christ, not as mediators with Them in behalf of wicked men, but as worshipers of God and the Lamb, even as Christians in their mortal state are a royal priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God, by Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2:5, 9.
The reason why so vast a period as one thousand years intervenes between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked, is now made very apparent. The work committed to the saints demands no less a period than that assigned it by the Holy Scriptures. It is that they examine the books of God’s records to determine the measure of guilt of each wicked man, and of every fallen angel. To this great exaltation the psalmist refers in these words: “For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people; He will beautify the meek with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; to execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; to execute upon them the judgment written; this honor have all His saints. Praise ye the Lord.” Psalm 149:4–9.
The saints have no participation in the work of the judgment until the coming of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 4:5. The decision of every case is made by God the Father before He sends His Son to execute the judgment. Daniel 7:9–14, compared with Jude 14, 15. It is the execution of the judgment, therefore, that pertains to the Son. John 5:22, 27. And that work which is given to the Son, He shares with His saints. For when He sits in His throne, all His saints shall sit down with Him in it, as He once thus sat down with the Father. And that power which the Father gives Him over the nations when He receives His own throne, He shares with His saints when He exalts them to His right hand to unite with Him in the execution of the judgment. Compare Psalm 2:6–9; Revelation 2:26, 27. The most important part of this work is the determination of that measure of guilt which pertains to each individual of the lost. God the Father having pronounced them unworthy of eternal life, it is then the business of the saints to determine the measure of punishment which their respective lives of sin demand. This Psalm is worthy of careful study.
- When the meek are beautified with salvation, it will be by the change to immortality. They will bear the image of the second Adam, as in this life they bear that of the first. 1 Corinthians 15:47–49. Compare also Isaiah 33:17 with 1 John 3:2.
- This beautifying of the saints, and exalting them to glory, precede their participation in the judgment, mentioned in verses 7–9 of Psalm 149.
- The two-edged sword in their hand is doubtless the same as that which proceeded out of the mouth of Him whose name is called the Word of God. Revelation 19:11–15.
- And if we consider this Psalm from verse 6 to verse 9, we shall see that the work of the immortal saints in the judgment of the wicked is effected by the examination of the book of God, the sharp sword which they hold in their hands (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12), and the written record of their evil deeds; so that the record of their lives will be compared with the rule given them to govern their conduct, and the measure of their guilt thus determined.
A brief survey of Revelation 20 may now be in place. We understand the events of this chapter, as stated in verses 1–11, are given very nearly in strict chronological order, and that verses 12–15 cover some of the same ground, namely, that of the final judgment.
It has already been shown that God the Father sits in judgment before the advent of Christ, and that at this tribunal our Lord acts as advocate for His people, and closes His priesthood with securing their acquittal and the blotting out of their sins. He determines every case, deciding who shall have eternal life, and thus counting all others unworthy of it. Then He commits the execution of the judgment to the Son, who, in fulfillment of this work, makes His saints immortal, and associates them with Himself in the judgment of the wicked. When God thus commits the judgment to His Son, and the Son ceases forever His work of intercession, the words of Psalm 76:7–9 will be found true: “Thou, even Thou, art to be feared; and who may stand in Thy sight when once Thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still, when God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.”
When the Son of God shall thus save all the meek of the earth, He will raise them up from the dust to inherit the throne of His own glory. 1 Samuel 2:8; Matthew 25:31–33; Revelation 3:21. But the adversaries of the Lord will be broken to pieces; out of heaven will He thunder upon them (Revelation 16:18); He will render decision in strict justice in the case of all men, and then clothe His anointed king with strength to execute that decision (1 Samuel 2:10). Indeed, it is because the Son loves righteousness, and hates iniquity, that He is anointed to do this work. Psalm 45:7; 2:6–9. His arrows will be sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies (Psalm 45:4,5), and none will escape His just infliction of wrath (Romans 2:6–9).
The session of the judgment by God the Father is to determine who shall have part in the resurrection of the just. The session of the Father’s judgment being an event that precedes the advent of His Son, the dead have their cases brought into the judgment in the books which are brought forth, and in particular the righteous dead appear in the person of their Advocate. They do not personally stand as dead men at the Father’s judgment seat, for that is in the heavenly temple; but they are judged by the Father while dead, as if they were personally present at His bar; and all who have secured the services of the only Advocate in the court of heaven, by obeying the gospel while they lived, will have decision rendered, that the Spirit of God shall quicken them to immortality. 1 Peter 4:6. This judgment work begins with the saints who render account through their High Priest; and if they are scarcely accounted worthy of eternal life when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, what will be the end of those who have no Advocate in the judgment, but who come up to it with all their sins standing against them in the book of God? 1 Peter 4:17, 18. Verily the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment. Psalm 1:5.
When the Ancient of Days was shown to Daniel in vision, sitting in judgment, preparatory to the advent of His Son to execute that judgment, the words of the little horn, spoken at that very time, attracted the prophet’s attention: “I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake.” Daniel 7:11. The Hebrew word rendered “then” is very emphatic in the signification of “at that time.” Gesenius renders it, “at that time, thereupon, then.” And it is specially worthy of notice that at this very time the head of the Romish apostasy had assembled at Rome the entire body of popish bishops, almost equal in number to Belshazzar’s lords (Daniel 5), and expected and required of them to pronounce him infallible! It is evident, indeed, that for this very purpose he assembled them, and they obeyed his behest. We have, therefore, heard the great words of the little horn, which even arrested the attention of the prophet while in vision he beheld the tribunal of the Father.
The binding of Satan precedes the resurrection of the just. This seems plain enough from Revelation 20, but it is very plainly taught in our Lord’s parable of binding the strong man and spoiling his house. Matthew 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21, 22. He is evidently bound before the complete slaughter of the wicked in the battle of the great day.
Every mention of the bottomless pit, or deep, or abyss, both in the Old Testament and in the New, seems plainly to refer to our earth, or some part of it, in some form, or at some time. And in the most emphatic sense, after our earth has been turned upside down by the awful convulsions of the great day, and made utterly desolate, we understand it to be fully fitted to constitute the place of Satan’s confinement, termed in this prophecy the bottomless pit. A strong confirmation of this view is found in the fact that this expression is used in the Septuagint in Genesis 1:2, where the earth, while yet without form and voice, is spoken of as the deep; Greek, the bottomless pit. And the Hebrew original signifies the same. And it is predicted that our earth shall be reduced to this condition again. Jeremiah 4:23.
This binding of the devil is to be at the very time when, as the scapegoat, he receives the sins of the righteous. Leviticus 16. And our earth in its utter desolation is the land not inhabited, where he shall remain with this terrible load of guilt upon him, while the saints sit in judgment upon the fallen angels, and upon all the members of the human family who would go on still in their sins.
The judgment of wicked men, and of evil angels, by the saints, during the thousand years, will solve to their minds, by means of the examination of the books of God’s remembrance, the providence of God, which has seemed dark and mysterious; for God will then lay open the hidden springs of human conduct, and bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart. 1 Corinthians 4:5.
The course of those who have diligently used the comparatively small measure of light which has been granted them, will come up to condemn those who have been favored with great light and have neglected it. Matthew 12:41, 42; Luke 11:31, 32.
And in like manner those who have been cut off in their sins, as a warning to others, and who would have repented had as great light been granted them as those who have lived at a later time have enjoyed, will come up in this examination to condemn most fearfully those who have had the example of their fate, and had seen greater light then they, and yet have not repented. Matthew 11:21–23; Luke 10:13.
But even those wicked men who have been thus cut off by God’s judgments as an example to those that after should live ungodly, shall come up in the judgment for the complete punishment of their sins. But their case shall be more tolerable in the judgment than that of those who have had the example of their punishment, and have had far greater light than they were favored with, and yet have refused to repent. Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; Luke 10:12, 14. Thus, even the mitigating circumstances are taken into the account in the judgment of the wicked as certainly as are those of an aggravating character. Surely God is, in the highest sense, just and righteous.
The record of the righteous, as we have seen, is passed upon by the Father when He counts them worthy to have part in the resurrection to immortality, and by the Son when they stand before Him to receive according to their labors and sacrifices in the cause of God. And that record will show, in the case of everyone who is able to stand in the judgment, so perfect a work of repentance, and confession, and reparation of wrongs done toward others, that not one sinful man can rise up in the judgment against them. Isaiah 54:17.
The judgment, by the saints of Satan and his angels and of wicked men being accomplished, it appears that, just before the thousand years expire, the holy city, with its immortal inhabitants, descends upon our earth, upon a place prepared for it. See Zechariah 14:4, 5.
At the termination of the one thousand years all the wicked dead hear the voice of the Son of God and come forth (John 5:28, 29); the unjust have their resurrection (Acts 24:15); “The rest of the dead” live again (Revelation 20:5). They come forth from the depths of the ocean and from the caverns of earth; for the sea gives up the dead, and Hades gives them up also. And they come forth alive, for death itself gives them up. Revelation 20:13.
And now Satan is loosed for his final work. He begins it just where he left off. He had gathered the nations to the great battle, when he was bound and they were cut off. Revelation 19. Now, after they have been “many days” in the “prison,” the time comes for Satan to visit them as they are loosed from it for their execution. Isaiah 24:21, 22; Ezekiel 38:8, 9.
He resumes his work by inciting them to capture the city of God. Revelation 20:7–10. And thus, by the direct action of Satan, all the wicked, with himself and his angels at their head, stand in the presence of Christ, for the execution of the judgment.
As the righteous stand in Christ’s presence immediately after they are made immortal, that they may each receive according to their labor (2 Corinthians 5:10; Matthew 16:27), so do the wicked thus stand in His presence after the second resurrection. As the righteous cannot receive punishment for their sins after they have been blotted out, it follows that those who stand before him to receive for their evil deeds are the wicked, who stand thus in His presence, after the examination of their cases by His saints, during the one thousand years.
We may safely conclude that many who go down to their graves self-deceived, will come up in the second resurrection really expecting to be saved, and quite unaware that it is the resurrection of the unjust. We think this is the very time when our Lord’s words shall have their fulfillment: “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22, 23.
And now, for the first time, all the members of the human family are congregated in one vast assembly. The wicked see the righteous in the kingdom of God, and realize that they themselves are thrust out. And when the wicked realize the mercy which they have slighted, and the infinite sacrifice made for their salvation in the death of God’s only Son, and remember their persistent continuance in sin till God could bear no longer, every knee will bow in deepest abasement, acknowledging that God is just, and that their ruin was caused by themselves alone, while the throne of God is forever clear.
And as both classes behold the final result of faithful obedience, and of persistent sins, they will, with one mind and voice, declare, “Verily there is a reward for the righteous; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth.” Psalm 58:11. And now the Son of God pronounces the awful sentence, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41.
And now, after the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, fire comes down from God out of heaven and devours them. Revelation 20:9; 2 Peter 2:6; Genesis 19:24–28. It is the burning earth that constitutes the great lake of fire in which the wicked shall experience the second death. 2 Peter 3:7–12; Malachi 4:1–3; Proverbs 11:31. Satan and his angels shall share this furnace of fire with wicked men; for, indeed, it was originally prepared for them. Matthew 25:41; Isaiah 30:33.
Finally, the earth shall be not only melted, but also dissolved. 2 Peter 3:10, 11. Such shall be the intense action of the devouring fire, that the earth itself shall be reduced to a molten mass and changed by the power of Him that sitteth upon the great white throne. Hebrews 1:12. Then He that sitteth upon the throne shall say, “Behold, I make all things new.” Revelation 21:5. And all the elements that were dissolved in the devouring fire shall unite again to form the earth. The New Jerusalem shall have place upon the new earth, and the glory of God shall fill the earth as the waters fill the sea. The saints shall bear the image of the second Adam, as now they bear that of the first, and shall live for endless ages. Sin, being thus struck out of existence, in the utter destruction of all evildoers, shall never rise up again to mar the handiwork of God. The universe shall be as clean as it was before the rebellion of Satan, and God shall be all in all.