Sanctuary lesson 24 - The Final Judgment
In today's turbulent times, there is much wickedness, violence, and injustice in the world. You would only need to watch the local news or peruse the headlines on news websites to see that this is true. Why do good people suffer? Why do bad people get away with murder? These very questions were asked by God's people in the Bible.
Let's turn to Psalms 77:1-17.
- According to these verses, who was the psalmist envious of?
- Answer (highlight to read): The boastful and the wicked
- According to these verses, what was he envious of them?
- Answer: Their prosperity
- According to these verses, how did the psalmist feel about the situation of the wicked?
- Answer: It was too painful for him to understand.
- According to these verses, when did the psalmist understand the end of the wicked?
- Answer: When he went into the sanctuary of God
The psalmist Asaph experienced the same righteous indignation and asked the same questions we ask today when confronted with the wickedness, violence, and injustice in the world.
Let's turn to Romans 6:23.
- According to this verse, what is the result of sin?
- Answer: Death
In the sanctuary service, the death of every sacrificial animal was telling all that death was the result of sin. It was only when Asaph studied the sanctuary did he understand the end of the wicked. The sanctuary showed him the end judgment of sin and the wicked.
On the Day of Atonement, all sins are confessed until the High Priest comes out of the Most Holy Place. This was symbolic of the second coming of Christ.
Let's turn to Matthew 13:36-43.
- According to these verses, when does the harvest happen?
- Answer: At the end of the age
- According to these verses, what happens to the wicked?
- Answer: They will be cast in fire and destroyed.
The sins of those who committed their sins to the Lord's goat were blotted out on the Day of Atonement. On the other hand, those who held on to their sins were cut off from the camp, and like the scapegoat, were driven into the wilderness. All sin was removed from the camp on that day. This was symbolic of the judgment. At the end of end of time there will be two judgments: one for the righteous and one for the wicked.
Let's turn to Matthew 16:27.
- According to this verse, what happens when Jesus returns in the glory of His Father with His angels?
- Answer: He will reward each according to his works.
Judgment must occur prior to Jesus Christ's second coming, in order to know who deserves what reward. The sins of the saints, God's people, have been blotted out in the Most Holy Place. God's people have given their sins over to Christ and let Him pay for them with His life.
Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 6:2-3.
- According to these verses, who will judge the world?
- Answer: The saints
Let's turn to Revelation 20:1-15.
- According to these verses, who are resurrected in the first resurrection?
- Answer: The blessed and holy (God's people)
- According verse 4, what was committed to the saints?
- Answer: Judgment
- According to verses 4-6, what are the saints doing with Jesus?
- Answer: They live and reign with Him for 1,000 years.
The just will judge the unjust. God is going to open judgment to the saints. During the 1,000 years, God will answer all questions about the judgment. We will understand why certain loved ones are not in heaven with us. During this time, we will come to agree that God's judgment is ultimately just and fair. Those who have kept their sins would not be happy in heaven in the presence of God.
Let's turn to Leviticus 4:19.
- According to this verse, what happens to the fat?
- Answer: It is burned at the altar.
The ashes of the burnt offering are the antitype (a symbol or foreshadowing) of the lake of fire, which is the second death. According to Revelation 20:1-15. There will be a resurrection of the wicked after 1,000 years. Why resurrect the wicked? They also need to see the full results of judgment. In the end, even the wicked will bow before God and acknowledge the fairness and righteousness of His judgment. (Isaiah 45:23-26).
Let's turn to Psalms 37:20.
- According to this verse, what will happen to the wicked and enemies of the Lord?
- Answer: They shall perish and vanish away.
Hell is not eternal burning or ceaseless torment as many people popularly believe (Nahum 1:9; Revelation 20:14). If the penalty of sin was eternal torment, Jesus would have to be currently suffering eternal torment. However, Jesus suffered death. If the penalty of sin was eternal torment, then Jesus did not pay the wages of sin and we are lost.
We have learned from John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 that death and life are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. If the penalty of sin was eternal torment, then the wicked would have to be given eternal life to burn forever.
However, the Bible clearly states that only God has immortality (1 Timothy 6:16). The Bible also clearly states that the righteous will be granted eternal life (John 3:16; Revelation 22:14), but the wicked will not inherit eternal life (1 John 3:15; 5:12). It is not the wicked who will burn for all eternity, but it will be the righteous in the presence of God (Hebrews 12:29; Isaiah 33:14-15; and Matthew 3:11).
God is going to purify the universe from the sin permanently. With a heavy heart, God will carry out the judgment of the wicked (Isaiah 28:11). The wicked will die the second death (Revelation 20:14-15) and be as ashes (Psalms 37:10; Malachi 4:1-3; Isaiah 47:14). The wicked will cease to exist.
After the judgment of the wicked, God will make a new earth out of the ashes of the old world (Revelation 21:1, 4; Malachi 4:1-3). The Great Controversy will finally be at an end and God's character will be vindicated. The whole universe will finally know that God is love (1 John 4:18).
Friend, God is fully aware of all the wickedness and injustice in the world today. Yet, the harsh reality is that we are all wicked sinners deserving of death. If God wiped the world clean of wickedness and sin, you and I would be destroyed too.
However, God loves us all too much to choose that option. He has given us the message of the sanctuary to show us His plan of destroying sin forever, but at the same time to separate sin from us sinners. Jesus Christ came to earth and died for our sins. Jesus wants you and me to be in heaven with Him for all eternity. However, Jesus will not force you to be with Him. He loves you so much that He gives you the choice to choose life and give your sins over to Him, or to choose death and retain your sins (Proverbs 8:36). Jesus is asking you to choose Him, to choose life (Ezekiel 33:11).
Friend, in the final analysis, no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, this is a choice you will have to make for yourself. It is a choice everyone must make for themselves. What will you decide? Will you choose Jesus? The choice is ultimately yours.