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God, the Judge of all creation, has the power and wisdom to impose righteous and merciful judgments. As Christians we should strive to understand how, when and why God makes His decisions.
God has always existed as judge over His creation. But we need to understand how He judges, when He judges and why He judges. Knowing how, when and why He judges helps us understand the kinds of judgment described in the Bible.
When God determined to punish Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins, Abraham recognized that God is the judge of men's actions (Genesis 18:20-25). In this case God passed judgment, issued a verdict and carried out the sentence.
God is deeply interested in us and how we are progressing toward fulfilling His purpose. Psalms 75:7 declares, "But God is the Judge; He puts down one, and exalts another." Nebuchadnezzar came to understand this (Daniel 4:37), and Daniel passed on this truth to the blasphemous Belshazzar (Daniel 5:21-22).
In these cases God is not judging people to determine their suitability to receive salvation, nor is God making right every injustice. These instances show that God will intervene, however, to deal with injustices or sin for the benefit of mankind and to further His purposes. Judgment is not passed on the majority of people now in this age for the purpose of eternal salvation. This kind of judgment will occur later. Jude tells us that "the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment on all" (Jude 1:14-15).
God's ultimate purpose for man is that he will enjoy eternal life in the family of God. Since God is not calling everyone now (John 6:65), He is not judging every person now to grant or deny him eternal life (John 12:47-48). God reserves this kind of judgment for humans until later, when they will fully grasp God's truth as it is presented to them. Only then can they be fairly judged on the basis of that truth. God will not hold people accountable for what they don't know.
Sin, however, is always judged to be worthy of death (Romans 6:23), and therefore the whole world is guilty before God (Romans 3:19), and death is upon all because of their sin (Romans 5:12). Hebrews 8:8-12 speaks of a time yet future during which people who are unaware of God's truth will be brought into a new covenant with God, and then they will all know God, and their sins will be forgiven.
The judgment of God is also described in the Bible as a process, not strictly the rendering of a verdict or passing of a sentence. For example, Peter tells us that "the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God" (1 Peter 4:17). From this we can see that judgment is an evaluation process that has already begun for those who are a part of God's Church-"the house of God." This evaluation ultimately leads to a rendering of a decision or verdict.
Some of Jesus' parables illustrate that judgment is a process that eventually leads to a decision and a reward or lack thereof. The parables of the pounds (Luke 19:12-27), talents (Matthew 25:14-30), laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16) and 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) all help to clarify that judgment is a process after which comes a reckoning.
During the Millennium, God will judge people on how they live during that time; the 1,000 years will be a period during which God holds all people accountable (Revelation 20:4).
After this evaluation process, we will be judged according to our works (Revelation 22:12). There will be a reckoning only after a fair and ample process is complete (Matthew 25:31-34; Matthew 25:46).
When you really turn to God, you can confidently ask Him to step into your life in a powerful way. How God deals with you to fulfill His purpose in you is described in the Bible as a form of His "judgments." When God is intimately involved in your life, He makes decisions about you daily. His decisions about us have to do with answers to our prayers, bestowing His blessings on us, protecting us and even allowing us to endure trials. God is deeply interested in us and how we are progressing toward fulfilling His purpose.
David saw God's judgments in all His works and recognized that they were apparent throughout the creation (Psalms 105:5, 7). David knew all God's decisions regarding him were right and in his best interest. Therefore David praised God continually for His faithful judgments in his life (Psalms 119:20; Psalms 119:62; Psalms 119:75).
God, the Judge over all creation, makes decisions. It is in His power to decide-and carry out-righteous and merciful judgments. We can be confident that God is a righteous judge (Psalms 7:11; 2 Timothy 4:8).
The Good News magazine (Sep-Oct 1996)