Jehovah’s Judgment Days
Jehovah has had judgment days in the past, at present we are in a judgment day, and another is coming in the future. On what basis are they held? Whom do they affect, and how?
MOST religions of Christendom teach that God has two judgment days for each person: an individual or “particular judgment” day, said to take place at one’s death, and then the “general judgment day,” which is supposed to take place at the end of the world and at which time, it is said, the soul is to be reunited with the body. Since one’s destiny is supposed to have been fixed at death, it is not at all clear why there need be another judgment day.
As has been noted in these pages time and again, the Scriptures do not teach that man has a soul that at death goes either to heaven or to a limbo, purgatory or place of eternal torment. Rather they teach that at death man remains asleep, unconscious, until the resurrection—provided he is recorded in God’s memory. At that time there will be a day of judgment.
Before considering that judgment day as well as others mentioned in the Bible, let us first note that the great Judge is no other than Jehovah God. Abraham addressed him as Jehovah, “the Judge of all the earth.” Yes, “Jehovah is our judge.” Being the Creator, the Most High, the King of eternity and the great Lawgiver, he rightly holds all creatures accountable to him.—Gen. 18:25, NW; Isa. 33:22, AS.
And it is a great comfort to know that Jehovah is a Judge who is not only righteous but also merciful: “With Jehovah our God there is no unrighteousness or partiality or taking of a bribe.” He is “Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, preserving loving-kindness for thousands, pardoning iniquity and transgression and sin, but by no means will he give exemption from punishment.” At the same time there is the sobering thought that “the eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good.” We do well, therefore, to fear Jehovah.—2 Chron. 19:7; Ex. 34:6, 7, NW; Prov. 15:3, AS.
Jehovah’s judgment days are periods of time in which he takes an accounting. They may be comparatively brief or last a thousand years. Usually there is a period of testing followed by an execution of judgment. Jehovah’s adverse judgments are irrevocable and mean annihilation, for he says, “I, Jehovah, change not.” For lovers of righteousness God’s judgment days are not occasions to be dreaded but occasions for rejoicing: “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice . . . before Jehovah; for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.”—Mal. 3:6; Ps. 96:11, 13, AS.
God’s Word calls attention to a number of judgment days. The first one took place in Eden and the next one in the days of Noah. Among the others are the one that took place in the days of Lot, that which befell the nation of Israel between A.D. 29 and A.D. 70, the present judgment day that will reach its climax at the battle of Armageddon, the one of a thousand years that will immediately follow that and then the final test that will climax that judgment day.
JEHOVAH’S PAST JUDGMENT DAYS
Jehovah’s judgment days are made imperative by reason of his supremacy and justice. His judgment days are always a time of taking an account with his creatures, and the first time he did this was in Eden immediately after the rebellion of the “covering cherub” and Adam and Eve. His authority having been outraged by a willful breaking of his law, Jehovah took drastic action by divorcing the covering cherub from God’s heavenly organization and by casting Adam and Eve out of Eden. The eventual destiny of all three was to be annihilation. However, even here God’s mercy was shown in that God did not at once execute Adam and Eve. This allowed for them to have offspring, and for the obedient ones of these to regain eventually that which Adam had lost for them.
The next judgment period the Scriptures tell about seems to have begun possibly fifty years before the great Deluge and lasted until the waters actually fell; for it was after Noah’s sons had grown to maturity and married that God commanded Noah to build the ark. Wickedness and violence made it necessary that God again take action. That this likewise was a time both of executing justice upon the wicked and showing mercy to the righteous can be seen from Peter’s words that God “did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others.” That the destiny of those antediluvians was everlasting destruction Peter also makes clear.—See 2 Peter, chapter 2, NW.
And since Peter also includes Sodom and Gomorrah in the foregoing reference, we know that those who perished by Jehovah’s fiery judgment in Lot’s day also had their eternal destiny sealed. Here again extreme wickedness and violence made a judgment day by Jehovah necessary and again mercy was shown, to Lot and his family.
With the warning message of John the Baptist a judgment day began for the nation of Israel. He told that the ax was already lying at the root of the tree and that soon one would appear who would baptize that nation with fire, a symbol of destruction. After John came Jesus, who preached a message both of good news and of warning for about three and a half years. Particularly beginning with Pentecost his followers took up the preaching work. Those who accepted the truth and Christ became part of the Christian congregation and escaped Jehovah’s judgment of execution at the hands of the Roman armies A.D. 70.
All those who failed to heed the message of truth were either destroyed at that time or taken captive. That their perishing at that time meant eternal destruction is apparent from Jesus’ words to the religious leaders of the time: “Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?” And that this destruction also included their flock Jesus also indicated: “If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” Preferring their hypocritical, ear-tickling religious guides to Christ, the unrepentant people deserved the same destiny as their false guides.—Matt. 23:33; 15:14, NW.
THE PRESENT JUDGMENT DAY
Coming down to our day for another of Jehovah’s judgment days we find that it has several aspects. First of all, it is a day of judgment for the Christian congregation of God, the bride of Christ. From the prophecy at Malachi 3:1-3 it is seen that when Jehovah comes to judge these he has associated with him his Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus once stated: “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son.”—John 5:22, NW.
From the fulfillment of such prophecies as that found at Matthew 24 we know that since 1914 we have been living in the day of Jesus’ second but invisible presence. And even as Jesus came to God’s literal temple three and a half years after his appearing as the Messiah, so the physical facts show that the year 1918 marked “the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God.” By the house of God is meant the congregation of God, the body of Christ, who have been “born again” by means of God’s spirit.—1 Pet. 4:17, NW.
Those who had fallen asleep in death and who had been faithful until death were resurrected and given their heavenly reward. Those Christians then on earth professing to be of the body of Christ were judged and separated. The unfaithful were cast off into the outer darkness, whereas the faithful were purified so that they were from then on able to offer God fitting service by keeping clean from the old world and preaching the good news to the meek and warning of God’s day of vengeance.
Because of the establishing of God’s kingdom in the heavens, which fact the Scriptures associate with Christ’s return, the present is also a time of judgment of men and nations. Christ has been enthroned as King and therefore the rulers of earth are commanded to give their allegiance to him, even as noted in Psalm 2. However, not only have these refused to do so, as seen by their ignoring the Kingdom announcement, but they have set up their own substitute, the United Nations, and have showed their opposition even to the point of persecuting the Kingdom announcers. Because of all this they will perish at the rapidly approaching battle of Armageddon.
While the rulers and the nations as such have sealed their destiny by rejecting God’s kingdom, at the present time there is still opportunity for all men of good will to take their stand for Jehovah and his kingdom. That is one of the chief purposes for publishing this magazine and similar literature. This is a merciful provision of Jehovah and why he has delayed the climax of the present judgment day. If you are wise you will take advantage of this period of mercy by heeding Jehovah’s command: “Seek ye Jehovah, all ye meek of the earth, that have kept his ordinances; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye will be hid in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3, AS.
We seek Jehovah by studying his Word, for therein he reveals himself to us; and that is also the way to seek righteousness, for it makes clear to us what God’s righteous requirements for us are. Of course, you will need help, even as did the early disciples of Jesus, and standing ready to help you are the ministers of the New World society, Jehovah’s witnesses. They will be only too glad to come into your home and study the Bible with you.
Additionally, it will be necessary for you to associate with others who are likewise endeavoring to carry out God’s righteous requirements, for we are counseled not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. As you grow in knowledge and understanding you will see your privilege of following in Jesus’ footsteps by dedicating yourself to do God’s will and being baptized even as he was. By leading a clean Christian life, by keeping separate from this old world’s commercial and political schemes, and by sharing in preaching the good news about God’s kingdom you can hope to have God’s approval and be among those who will survive the climax of this judgment period, the battle of Armageddon. You will show yourself to be one of the sheep that are spared to enter God’s new world, during whose judgment day of a thousand years Satan and his demons will be bound.
THE FUTURE JUDGMENT DAY
Christ Jesus will be the Judge in this thousand-year judgment day and he will have associated with him his footstep followers, even as Paul’s words indicate: “Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world?” According to Revelation chapters 7 and 14 those associate judges will number 144,000.—1 Cor. 6:2, NW.
During the first part of that thousand-year judgment day you, if an Armageddon survivor, will have the great privilege of sharing in a token fulfillment of the procreation mandate first given to Adam and Eve and restated to Noah and his sons. That means you will be able to bring forth children in righteousness, exercise loving dominion of the lower animals and help restore the earth to a paradisaic state. Then all those still in the memorial tombs will hear the voice of the everlasting Father, Jesus Christ, and come forth to a resurrection of judgment. It will doubtless be your privilege to help welcome these back from the grave and then instruct them in the ways of righteousness.
Then, when all these have been awakened from the dead and gradually reach mental, moral and physical perfection, for which purpose the thousand years have been set apart, Christ and his associates will step aside and Jehovah himself will administer the final test, even as Paul shows at 1 Corinthians 15:20-28. This final test will be brought about by a releasing of Satan and his demons from their state of deathlike inactivity. All who are selfish at heart will be misled by him and manifest it by open rebellion against God’s arrangement upon earth. Having revealed what was in their heart, they will then be executed by Jehovah, along with the Devil and his demons. This is spoken of as the lake of fire, which really means the second death.—Rev. 20:7-10, 14, NW.
Thus we see that Jehovah’s judgment days are both righteous and merciful and are cause for rejoicing by all lovers of righteousness. By these judgment days God will vindicate himself as the rightful Sovereign; he will demonstrate his ability to enforce his righteous judgments and yet realize his wise and loving purposes regarding his creatures. And even as his first judgment day meant the loss of paradise, so his final judgment day will mean the full restoration of it.
When I say unto the wicked, O wicked men, thou shalt surely die, and thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way; that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it, and he turn not from his way; he shall die in his iniquity, but thou hast delivered thy soul.—Ezek. 33:8, 9, AS.