This Is a Time of Judgment
How is mankind being judged today? Upon what bases is judgment rendered? What will be the outcome?
YOU may not realize it, but you are on trial for your life. What you do and what you say can bring either a favorable or an unfavorable judgment. Should it prove unfavorable, the execution of it will cost you your life. The responsibility for passing such judgment does not rest on the shoulders of secret police, politically appointed judges or judges elected by popular vote. Jehovah God, your Creator and the supreme Ruler of the universe, is your Judge.
If your conduct toward his laws and purposes has not been proper, you cannot obtain a favorable decision by resorting to bribery, deception or clever argument. He cannot be bribed, and there is no way you can hide anything from him. He knows your innermost thoughts. “There is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting.” “As for Jehovah, he will sit to time indefinite, firmly establishing his throne for judgment itself. And he himself will judge the productive land in righteousness; he will judicially try national groups in uprightness.”—Heb. 4:13; Ps. 9:7, 8.
It is not necessary for you to stand before the great Judge personally as you would before a human judge in order to be under judgment. From his lofty throne in the heavens he can turn his attention toward the earth and judge humans from there. “His own eyes behold, his own beaming eyes examine the sons of men. Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates.”—Ps. 11:4, 5.
There have been certain periods in human history when Jehovah God has turned his attention toward the earth for judgment. The people he put under surveillance were judged by their course of action toward his righteous principles and purposes. The first human pair, for example, were under divine judgment, but their bad conduct brought them a sentence of death.
The people who lived immediately before the flood of Noah’s day passed through a judgment period that ended when the Flood swept most of them out of existence. Because of their wicked disregard for God and his purposes he judged them adversely. “He did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.”—2 Pet. 2:5.
There is nothing in the Bible to suggest that these people were or shall be punished in a fiery hell. From the time of Adam to this very day the punishment for wickedness has not been conscious torment in a fiery hell but rather death—a cutting off from life. “For the wages sin pays is death.” “Jehovah is guarding all those loving him, but all the wicked ones he will annihilate.”—Rom. 6:23; Ps. 145:20.
After mentioning the world destroyed by the Flood and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed by fire, Peter states: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” (2 Pet. 2:9) These two outstanding judgment periods were proofs of this. The wicked people in each period were reserved, or allowed to remain, throughout their judgment periods until the day of their execution. But persons of godly devotion who had received a favorable judgment were preserved.
These judgment periods are examples for us. They are prophetic pictures of the great judgment period in which we now live. Jesus himself pointed this out when he said: “Just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man . . . Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot.”—Luke 17:26, 28.
Throughout the centuries Jehovah God has permitted the wicked to remain and to dominate the earth, and they continue to do so in the present period of judgment. Those who are judged unrighteous will not survive the end of this period, whereas persons of godly devotion shall. “For those being blessed by him will themselves possess the earth, but those upon whom evil is called by him will be cut off.” (Ps. 37:22) They will be cut off from existence.
DIVINE JUDGMENTS ARE FINAL
Since the supreme Judge never makes a mistake, there is no need for him to take under review any judgment that he has passed. His judgments are final. That means the people who perished in the flood of Noah’s day will never be resurrected to stand trial again. The same is true with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as well as Adam and Eve. All had their judgment day before the great Judge of the universe and all were sentenced to destruction. They will never have a conscious existence again. The same will be true of those in the present judgment period whom God will destroy at its conclusion.
Jehovah God’s infallible judgment of the unrighteous in the present judgment period will be just as final as it was for the people he sentenced to death in past judgment periods. They will not stand before him after death for another judgment. The promise at Hebrews 9:27 does not apply to them. It says: “It is reserved for men to die once for all time, but after this a judgment.” The persons referred to here are those who die because of Adam’s sin, not because they have been judged adversely by God after death and then executed by him. Such persons can die only once because of Adam’s sin, but during the 1,000-year reign of Christ they will be resurrected and judged as to their worthiness for continued life on the basis of the course of action they take toward God’s principles and purposes then.—See The Watchtower as of June 15, 1947, pages 180-182.
What you are faced with today is a judgment for survival through the coming war of the great day of God the Almighty when he will carry out his long-standing promise to destroy this wicked world or system of things. You are in a position similar to that of the people who lived in the judgment period before the Flood. Like them you are under divine surveillance, with your conduct toward God’s purposes and his kingdom ministers determining your judgment. Jesus pointed this out in a long-range prophecy recorded in the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew. He there likened the present judging of mankind to a shepherd’s separating sheep from goats.
Because the great Judge, Jehovah God, selected Christ to represent him in this judicial work, Jesus speaks of himself as the one doing the actual judging. In the fifth chapter of John he points out that he had received this authority from the great Judge, saying: “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is.” (John 5:22, 27) This was foretold by the prophet Isaiah: “And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse, and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful. . . . And he will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones.”—Isa. 11:1, 3, 4.
It is the divinely commissioned Judge, Jesus Christ, therefore, who does the actual judging of mankind during this final judgment period for the old world. In his prophecy in which he likens himself to a shepherd, he says: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”—Matt. 25:31-33.
BEGINNING OF LAST DAYS
The time for this judging of the nations, as you will note, was set for the last days when Christ would be enthroned in Kingdom glory. It could not take place after the worldly system of things has been destroyed by heavenly forces, as Christ could not then separate the people as sheep are separated from goats. His enthronement in Kingdom power at his second presence would have to be at a time when the wicked still exist, a time before their destruction. This was foretold at Psalm 110, verses one and two, where Christ, David’s Lord, is commanded: “Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.”
World events since A.D. 1914 form the great sign of Christ’s second presence that he gave in the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew. This date is also confirmed by the fact that the Gentile times, or times of the nations, that began in 607 B.C. ended then. It was three and a half years later that he began the work of judgment, first of the “house of God” and then of the nations of this world. This corresponds with the three and a half years that passed from the time Jesus was anointed as King until he entered the temple in Jerusalem and cleansed it. When the evidence is carefully examined it proves conclusively that we are in the last days of this world—the long-foretold judgment period.
How people respond to the earth-wide preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom and how they treat Jehovah’s servants who do this preaching determines whether they are classed as sheep or goats. To the sheep class Jesus says: “Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” And to the goat class he says: “‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.’ And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matt. 25:40, 45, 46.
If you are one who follows the policy of doing what you think is right and never harming other people but yet you ignore the good news of God’s kingdom and the things he requires, you cannot expect a favorable judgment. It is not what you think is right that counts, but what God thinks is right.
The establishment of God’s kingdom under Christ is the best news that has ever been proclaimed, because it means Jehovah God’s name will soon be vindicated of the reproach this world has heaped upon it. It means the approaching end of a world that has exceeded in wickedness the world that was destroyed in the Flood. It means the meek of the earth, the persons of godly devotion who rejoice in the good news of the Kingdom, will inherit the earth and enjoy peace and eternal life under the righteous rule of that heavenly government. No person with any love for righteousness, any love for God and any love for Christ will ignore that good news. They will, instead, gladly receive it and join in the proclaiming of it.
A SERIOUS TIME
As the judgment period that ended with the Flood brought a permanent end to those people, so will the ending of the present judgment period permanently terminate the conscious existence of those who are judged adversely. This is, therefore, a very serious time.
Parents who reject the good news of the Kingdom and who ignore the good principles and wonderful purposes of Jehovah God cannot expect their minor children to survive the execution of divine judgment. Until a child reaches the age where it can be held responsible for its actions, it is under family responsibility. Divine punishment or blessing that comes to its parents automatically falls upon it. This principle is seen at Ezekiel 9:6, where God’s command was to “slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark.”—AS.
The unresponsible children of the people who perished in the flood were not preserved with Noah in the ark, but were destroyed with their wicked parents. The same was true with regard to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. If those cities had contained ten righteous persons they would have been spared. Certainly there were more than ten unresponsible children in them; nevertheless, God destroyed the two cities.
Because their course of action directly affects their minor children, parents have a grave responsibility. They cannot afford to look upon God’s declared purposes in a passive manner. That is not the way to receive a favorable judgment for themselves and their minor children. Parents that manifest love for God and his kingdom in an active way are classed with the sheep and will be blessed by him with the privilege of being preserved along with their children.
This time of judgment is a very serious time for people in all walks of life. The course of action each person takes with regard to Jehovah God’s kingdom and purposes can mean either eternal death or preservation into a righteous new world.
During the more than forty years since 1918, when divine judgment began with those who professed to be God’s house, a great crowd of people have responded to the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom. They form a New World society that has beaten “swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.” (Isa. 2:1-4) They enjoy peace while living in a war-torn world. Like the six persons who were preserved through the flood with Noah and his wife, they will be preserved through the coming battle of Armageddon when God’s heavenly forces will bring this judgment period to a cataclysmic end.—2 Thess. 1:6-9; Zeph. 3:8.
In times past God overlooked ignorance of his commands and purposes, but he does not do so during the present judgment period. The world-wide preaching of the good news of his established kingdom eliminates any excuse for ignorance. If you value your life, you will not dismiss what you have just read as of no importance, but you will make every effort to learn about Jehovah’s purposes and what he requires of you for preservation into a righteous world under the rule of his kingdom. By acting in harmony with his will your trial for life will not end in an adverse judgment of death but in a favorable judgment of life.