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Someone Cares Series
Information Brochure No. 18

When Will the
Judgment Begin?


In Lessons 9 and 10 we learned that Jesus is involved in a work of investigative judgment in the heavenly sanctuary that must precede His second coming. In this lesson we will learn when that judgment began.

1. When Jesus comes will the results of the judgment, showing who is saved or lost, be already known or will it remain to be decided?

"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:12).

"For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works" (Matthew 16:27).

When probation ends it will come suddenly, unexpectedly, at a time when we are least expecting it. But we can have a clean record in heaven today and know that God accepts us; and finally, if faithful, we shall be gathered into the kingdom of heaven.

There is not a second probation for anyone. Now is probationary time, before the angel shall fold her golden wings, the angel of mercy, and shall step down from the throne, and mercy is gone forever.

God is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish; but His forbearance has a limit, and when the boundary is past there is no second probation. His wrath will go forth and He will destroy without remedy. No earthly wisdom can secure wrongdoers against the judgments of heaven.

2. Has God foretold a specific day for His second coming?

"So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. ... But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:33, 36).

They that heed the warning shall not be left in darkness that that day should overtake them unawares. But the them that will not watch "the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2-5). Come when it may, the day of God will come unawares to the ungodly. But the day and hour of His coming Christ has not revealed. He stated plainly to His disciples that He Himself could not make known the day or the hour of His second appearing. Had He been at liberty to reveal this, why need He have exhorted them to maintain an attitude of constant watching?

3. Has God appointed a specific day for the judgment to begin?

"Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).

Now, before the coming of the Son of man, the everlasting Gospel is to be preached "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue and people" (Revelation 14:6, 14). God "hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world." Christ tells us when that day (time) shall be ushered in. He does not say that all the world will be converted, but that "this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; then shall the end come." By giving the Gospel to the world it is in our power to hasten our Lord's return.

4. Will God's people know and proclaim this set time?

"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Revelation 14:6, 7).

To prepare a people to stand in the day of God, a great work of reform was to be accomplished. God saw that many of His professed people were not building for eternity and in His mercy He was about to send a message of warning to arouse them from their stupor (indifference) and lead them to make ready for the coming of the Lord. This warning is brought to view in Revelation 14. Here is a threefold message represented as proclaimed by heavenly beings and immediately followed by the coming of the son of man to reap "the harvest of the earth." The first of these warnings announces the approaching judgment. This message is declared to be part of the everlasting Gospel. The work of preaching the Gospel has not been committed to angels, but has been entrusted to men.

5. In Daniel 7:2-8, God revealed the successive rise and fall of earthly powers from ancient Babylon through to the Papal power of the middle ages (the "little horn"), which came to an end in 1798. (See Lessons 7 and 13). What did Daniel see happening in heaven sometime after this?

"I beheld till the thrones were cast down, 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, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened" (Daniel 7:9, 10).

There was presented to the vision of the prophet the great and solemn day when the characters and lives of men should pass in review before the Judge of all the earth, and to every man should be rendered "according to his works." The Ancient of Days is God the Father. The Psalmist tells us, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth, and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God" (Psalms 90:2). It is He, the source of all being and the fountain of all law, that is to preside in the judgment. And holy angels, as ministers and witnesses in number "ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands," attend this great tribunal.

6. As Daniel's prophecies each expand on the one before, the next prophecy gives the exact date for this judgment to begin. We noted in Lesson 10 that God's throne, before which the judgment is held, is in the sanctuary in heaven. Another term for this judgment in the sanctuary is the "cleansing of the sanctuary." This expression is used because the record of sins for those who pass the judgment will be cleansed and blotted out of the books of record (Leviticus 16:16, 30, 34; Hebrews 9:7-12, 23, 24; 10:16, 17; Isaiah 43:25; Acts 3:19 KJV), while the names of those who do not pass the judgment will be blotted out of the book of life (Exodus 32:33; Revelation 3:5; Leviticus 23:28-31). When does the Bible say that this "cleansing of the sanctuary" would begin?

"And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (Daniel 8:14).

In the typical system (the service of the earthly sanctuary) which was a shadow of (pointed to) the true sacrifice and priesthood of Christ, the cleansing of the sanctuary was the last service performed by the high priest in the yearly round of ministration (services). It was the closing work of the atonement— a removal or putting away of sin from Israel. It prefigured or pointed forward to the closing work in the minisration of our High Priest in heaven, in the removal or blotting out of the sins of His people which are registered in the heavenly records. This service involves a work of investigation, a work of judgment; and it immediately precedes the coming of Christ in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; for when He comes, every cas has been decided. Jesus said, "My reward is with Me, to give every man according as His work shall be" (Revelation 22:12).

7. The angel Gabriel explained to Daniel the whole vision of Daniel 8 except the last part, the starting date for the 2300 years (possibly because Daniel fainted). Did Gabriel come back to finish the explanation?

"Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision" (Daniel 9:21-23).

In another vision Daniel was given further light upon the events of the future; and it was at the close of the vision that Daniel heard "one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision?" The answer that was given, "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed," filled him with perplexity. Earnestly he sought for the meaning of the vision. The angel Gabriel gave him a partial interpretation and Daniel fainted.

Daniel was still burdened for the people Israel and while in prayer the Angel Gabriel returned. Heaven was bending low to hear the earnest supplication of the prophet. Even before he had finished his plea for pardon and restoration the mighty angel Gabriel again appeared to him and then outlined before him in detail the period of the seventh weeks.

8. In explaining "the vision" of the 2300 years Gabriel said that 490 years of it (70 weeks) were "determined" for certain purposes. (The word "determined" is from the Hebrew "chathak," which means to "cut off.") For whom were these first 490 years cut off?

"Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy" (Daniel 9:24).

The angel Gabriel continued to explain that the first 490 years of the 2,300 year prophecy were "cut off" or set apart for Daniel's own people to put away sin and be restored to their allegiance to God. They, the Jewish people, rejected their Saviour.

9. In Lesson 17 we learned that this 490-year period lasted from 457 B.C. to 34 A.D. Four hundred and ninety years cut off from 2300 leaves 1810 years from 34 A.D. until the cleansing of the sanctuary or the beginning of the judgment. What year would that be?

34 A.D. plus 1810 years comes out to 1844 A.D. At the expiration of this great prophetic period, upon the testimony of the angel of God, "the sanctuary shall be cleansed." Thus the time of the cleansing of the sanctuary was definitely pointed out.

10. As the Passover in the spring (Jewish first month) symbolically pointed forward to Jesus' crucifixion, what ceremony in the autumn (Jewish seventh month) symbolically pointed forward to the cleansing of the sanctuary?

"And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses" (Leviticus 16:29-34).

Under the Mosaic system the cleansing of the sanctuary, or the great Day of Atonement, occurred on the tenth day of the seventh Jewish month when the High priest, having made an atonement for all Israel and thus removed their sins from the sanctuary, came forth and blessed the people.

Every man was to afflict his soul while the work of atonement was going forward. All business was laid aside, and the whole congregation of Israel spent the day in solemn humiliation before God with prayer, fasting and deep searching of heart. In the sin offerings presented during the year a substitute had been accepted in the sinner's stead; but the blood of the victim had not made full atonement for the sin. It had only provided a means by which the sin was transferred to the sanctuary. By the offering of blood the sinner acknowledged the authority of the law, confessed the guilt of his transgression, and expressed his faith in Him who was to take away the sin of the world; but he was not entirely released from the condemnation of the law.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest, having taken an offering for the congregation, went into the most Holy Place with the blood and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat, above the tables of the law. Thus the claims of the law, which demanded the life of the sinner, were satisfied. Then in his character of mediator, the priest took the sins upon himself, and, leaving the sanctuary, he bore with him the burden of Israel's guilt.

At the door of the tabernacle he laid his hands upon the head of the scapegoat and confessed over him "all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat." And as the goat bearing these sins was sent away, they were, with him, regarded as forever separated from the people. Such was the service performed "unto the example and shadow of heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5). Christ, our great High Priest, is "a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle with the Lord pitched and not man" (Hebrews 9:9, 23; 8:2).

11. In light of the fact that the judgment has already begun, how should we live?

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: 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" (Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14).

The love of God will never lead to the belittling of sin. It will never cover or excuse an unconfessed wrong. Achan learned too late that God's law, like its Author, is unchanging. It has to do with all our acts and thoughts and feelings. It follows us and reaches every secret spring of action.

His law is the great standard of right, and with it every act of life must be compared in that day when God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil. Purity of heart will lead to purity of life. All excuses for sin are vain. Who can plead for the sinner when God testifies against him?

Every man's work (actions) passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil with its far-reaching results, are all chronicled by the recording angel.

12. Who has promised to be our advocate in this judgment?

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:1, 2).

Our great High Priest completed the sacrificial offering of Himself when He suffered outside the gate. Then a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the people. Jesus is our Advocate, our High Priest, our Intercessor. In His intercession as our Advocate, Christ needs no man's virtue (goodness), no man's intercession. Christ is the only sin bearer, the only sin-offering. Prayer and confession are to be offered only to Him. He will save to the uttermost all who come to Him in faith. He ever liveth to make intercession for us.

The disciples knew that Jesus was presenting before God the merit of His blood, showing His wounded hands and feet as a remembrance of the price He had paid for His redeemed ones. 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.

13. If we have accepted Jesus as our Saviour by allowing Him to forgive our past sins and to write His law in our hearts, what attitude can we have toward the judgment?

"And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming" (1 John 2:28).

This is the great day of atonement and our Advocate is standing before the Gather, pleading as our Intercessor. In place of wrapping about us the garments of self-righteousness we should be found daily humbling ourselves before God, confessing our own individual sins, seeking the pardon of our transgressions, and co-operating with Christ in the work of preparing our souls to reflect the divine image. If we do this we can have a feeling of confidence, knowing that our Friend and Advocate will never fail us.

14. After the judgment is finished, what decree will God issue?

"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. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:11, 12).

All who have proved themselves loyal to the divine precepts have received the seal of the living God. Then Jesus ceases His intercession in the sanctuary above. Every case has been decided for life or death. Christ has made the atonement for His people and blotted out their sins. When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Then Christ declares, "He that is unjust let him be unjust still: and he that 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."


God could have finished this judgment, which He began on October 22, 1844, long ere this, but He delays, for He is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish" (2 Peter 3:9). Yet He will not wait forever. God has already given us longer to repent than He gave the people of Noah's day. Will you choose today, while probation lingers, to let Jesus be your advocate in the judgment by making Him the Lord or your life?

Page created: 7/26/98 Updated: 11/24/2006
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