by Roland W. Keith
In his brief letter Jude likened those who reject the authority of God or substitute their dreams or wishes for the truth with the generation of Israelites who died in the desert for their unbelief, as well as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, whom the Lord destroyed due to their immorality (Jude 1:5-6, 8). Along with these he added the example of the heavenly beings who rebelled against God, writing, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6). Reading such words there is often a sense of foreboding attached to the study of the day of judgment, however, we should not lose sight of the fact that it is also “the Day of the Lord.” Jesus came to earth to do the will of His Father— to give His own life as a ransom for the souls of mankind and to establish an eternal kingdom for those who would believe in Him and turn to Him for salvation. For all such men and women Jesus promised, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40; see 6:38-54). It is on the day of judgment that every believer, justified by the blood of Christ, will rise to meet the Lord in the clouds.
The day of judgment is a day of both eternal death and eternal life, when we are judged according to our deeds and whether or not we have accepted and acted in accordance to God’s word (John 12:47-50; II Corinthians 11:15; Jude 1:15; I Peter 1:”17; Romans 2:6; James 2:24; Mark 16:15-16). Each of us will die, and each will face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27-28); as Paul also wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (II Corinthians 5:10). The day the Lord returns is, therefore, a day of sorrow and rejoicing. Many will be sentenced to an eternity separated from God in the fires of hell, and many will be joyfully united with God in heaven. If you are an obedient follower of Jesus Christ there is no fear of the judgment in your heart, but rather the confidence of one who abides in the love of God (I John 4:15-18). It is the day when all of Christ’s work on behalf of man will be brought to completion— when He will be glorified in His saints (Philippians 1:6-10; II Thessalonians 1:5-10), and those who have rejected Him will feel the wrath of God’s righteous judgment (Romans 2:5).
To some the Lord’s return has been a long time coming (II Peter 3:4-9). However, it is God’s will to give humanity every chance to repent. Nonetheless, there is a day that God has fixed upon to send His Son back to earth to gather the final harvest (Acts 17:30-31; Hebrews 9:27-28). The judgment day is a certainty. What has not been determined is our eternal fate. There is still time for any of us to reverse our fortunes and turn to the Lord, avoiding the fate of the ungodly (I Peter 4:17-18). In Revelation we read, “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (20:12-15).
The book of life. God’s journal of all those who have died to sin and been made righteous by the blood of His Son (I Peter 2:22-24). The record of all those who honored the Son of God and the eternal Father in their lifetimes by being obedient to the divine call (John 5:21-24). God will judge the living and the dead (II Timothy 4:1), according to the word and His truth and justice (John 12:48; Revelation 16:7); as Paul told the Romans, “But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek” (2:5-10).
We will all give an account of our lives when the world comes to an end. As Paul told the Roman Christians, “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:10-12). God is a loving and merciful God, however, He is also a holy God, Whose nature demands justice. All who reject the truth and act contrary to God’s word will be punished. Being self-condemned by their own actions (II Thessalonians 2:9-12), they will “suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (II Thessalonians 1:7-9). Those who obey God, on the other hand, will be considered worthy of His kingdom, glorifying the Lord on that day (II Thessalonians 1:5, 10).
We do not know all that will occur on that day, nor can we envision its glory and spectacle. However, Jesus did tell us one thing about it: “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Then He will say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matthew 25:31-34, 41).
All of history’s great and small, the famous and the unknown, from all times will be judged and divided by the Lord. In fact, in His own lifetime, and ever since Jesus has divided man by His actions and His words. As He said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36). He has always divided the truth from error and the righteous from the unrighteous. But on the day of judgment that separation will absolute and eternal. There will be no more abiding with man who strives against Him. The battle of good and evil will come to an end. The evil introduced into the world by Satan will be put away in the lake of fire. And, on that day the righteous in Christ will be ushered into heaven where the glory and holiness of the Lord God will illuminate their way for eternity. Near the end of his life Paul wrote his son in the faith, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (II Timothy 4:6-8).
How many of us have loved His appearing? How many of us are convinced that we are the product of a creator? And, how many of us look forward to that day? The last day of man’s sojourn on earth and the first day in our eternal abode. It will be a day like no other. A unique moment in time. As the culmination of God’s plan for His creation it could not be otherwise. All of our history upon this earth points to that day. A day of total destruction and eternal birth. I do not know what God accomplished before the creation of the universe, nor do I know what awaits us in eternity. But I know I want to be there, in heaven, with Him. As Paul once said, “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded” (II Timothy 1:12). And because I am persuaded I am confident that the day is approaching when I will meet my Maker, moreover, I look forward to it.
Hi! I'm Roland. I began writing after retiring from the Navy in 2015. I believe that we each should strive to learn from one another, by sharing our thoughts and ideas. As a writer my goal is to help other seekers of truth to find and grow in Christ.