Sabbath School Lesson for April 22-28, 2023
Overview of Lesson 5, The Good News of the Judgment
Memory Text: “Saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.’ “ Revelation 14:7 NKJV
Topics this week include:
- Sunday: The Significance of the Judgment Hour–How does the judgment take care of the sin problem?
- Monday: God’s Mercy and Judgment–How is God’s mercy seen in the judgment?
- Tuesday: A Magnificent Scene–Why is the judgment such a magnificent sight for the righteous?
- Wednesday: A Glimpse of Heaven–Why was it important for John to see this glimpse of heaven during the judgment?
- Thursday: Jesus Is Worthy–How does Jesus’ worthiness benefit us (and Him) in the judgment?
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God is a God of mercy when we think about the judgment of the earth. We know we have failed Him multiple times, both as individuals and corporately. And yet, He keeps on forgiving us, when we truly repent and allow Him to help us live better lives.
For sin to have a final end, however, His mercy must include justice. There must come a day of reckoning–with God’s people receiving their reward, and the guilty ones receiving punishment for their rebellion.
The first angel reminds of us of the judgment. In fact, this message tells us that judgment is already taking place in the courts of heaven. As the camp of Israel prepared for the Day of Atonement, we are to prepare our hearts for that glorious day when heaven concludes it’s investigation, and the war in heaven is officially over.
Sunday: The Significance of the Judgment
It’s pretty obvious why the judgment is important for God’s people. It will mean an end to the painful persecutions they’ve endured here on this old earth. Instead, a life of eternal happiness will be their reward.
The judgment will also be significant to the God of the universe. Satan has openly questioned God’s justice, mercy, and wisdom, and these charges must be answered. The judgment will verify that God is all He claims to be.
The only hope for God and His followers is in the judgment which is about to take place. This event is perhaps one of the most crucial points of the “everlasting gospel” we are to preach to the world. The judgment will mean an end to the trials we now experience. Without it, there is no lasting hope for change.
Revelation 14:6, 7
- Why is the judgment good news, or the everlasting gospel, for those who are faithful to God?
- How does our forgiveness reflect on God’s character and what will this mean for God in the final judgment?
Monday: God’s Mercy and Judgment
Jesus’ death on the cross made a definite, undeniable statement that verified God’s mercy. The whole universe, beholding that scene of sacrificial love, can no longer challenge God on whether He loves His created beings. He proved without a shadow of a doubt that He loves us, even those sinners who nailed Him to the cross.
It’s been difficult to see God’s justice so far on earth though. It’s hard to see fairness with so much suffering and hard trials on both sides of the conflict between good and evil. But in the end, even the way God deals with the wicked by totally destroying them, will be seen as the most merciful outcome for His enemies.
It will only be at the final judgment that His justice will be known and His Kingdom fully established. Our place in the conflict will be determined by our humility and surrender to God’s will. Relying on Christ’s righteousness, we can become one of the victorious saints who welcome His judgment without fear or regret.
Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 20:12
- Why is it important for these books to be opened for all to see?
- In what sense are we judged according to our works? What part do works play in our salvation?
Tuesday: A Magnificent Scene
To get a glimpse of that glorious scene in the heavenly throne room, where judgment takes place, we can go to the book of Daniel. He, too, received a vision, similar to John’s in Revelation 4. Daniel 7:9, 10 describes the Ancient of Days, with a garment as white as snow, and untold thousands of angels ministering to Him. Daniel calls it a court, implying judgment going on, with books being opened. Obviously, an investigation is underway in this heavenly courtroom.
This investigative judgment will be explored more next week, but for now we are just thrilled to know that God’s plan of salvation is advancing, and it won’t be long before justice is fully realized.
The first angel’s message proclaims that the battle for the throne of the universe is coming to a close. And the good news is that the saints of God, those who are His faithful, obedient servants, will receive a reward that is totally worth waiting for.
Daniel 7:9, 10, 13, 14, 26, 27
- How would you describe the scene in this vision?
- What was the final result of the judgment going on?
Wednesday: A Glimpse of Heaven
Looking closely at Revelation 4 will reveal a few more details about God’s throne room that we may have missed from its description in Daniel 7. This chapter in Revelation described a bright scene in the throne room, with God in all His glory, surrounded by heavenly beings, similar to what Daniel saw. There is thunder and lightning present in John’s vision, perhaps symbolizing the judgment taking place.
It also mentioned some of these beings as 24 elders, worshiping and praising God. Interestingly, there were 24 divisions of priests mentioned in 1 Chronicles 24, but there are many other opinions about who they could be, or represent. They could also symbolize the twelve disciples and the twelve tribes of Israel. Some even believe they could be those who were resurrected when Jesus died on the cross (Matthew 27:52).
Regardless who the 24 elders actually are, we note that they were clothed in white robes (representing Christ’s righteousness) and had golden crowns on their heads (representing their victory over sin). We can only hope to be one of those praising Him on that glorious day when the plan of salvation is brought to a close. The music from that choir will be truly heavenly.
- What might the rainbow represent, and what other symbols do you see in this passage?
Revelation 4:10, 11 and 5:11, 12
- Who are the choirs singing before God and what is their song of praise about?
Thursday: Jesus is Worthy
This throne room scene where judgment is taking place is provided with even more details in Revelation, chapter 5. The first angel’s message about worshipping God, because His judgment is come, is beautifully depicted in this chapter. We are told about a sealed scroll that no one but the Lamb is worthy to open.
Christ’s victory over Satan’s temptations, His sacrificial death on the cross, His amazing resurrection, and His intense work as our High Priest are what makes the Son of God worthy to pronounce judgment upon those in the universe who have rebelled against God’s rule.
We will then understand more fully how the judgment isn’t just about determining our fate, an eternity of either life or death. The judgment will also reveal the worthiness of God. Everyone will know that He is the victorious King of all kings and One who deserves our total worship and admiration.
- How do we know who the One worthy to open the scrolls is from how He is described here?
- Who are able to sing this new song and what is the result of their praise to God?
Friday: Final Thoughts
All of us want to be on the right side on that great Day of Judgment. The rich young ruler came to Jesus, asking Him what he should DO to inherit eternal life (Luke 18:18). Although Jesus included an answer that correctly pointed out the Commandments as His guide to getting there, He also tenderly reminded him that it was really love he was lacking. The rich young man was not willing to abandon his riches, in order to follow Jesus. He was keeping the Commandments in a legalistic way, without love in his heart for God or for others.
The first angel’s message is another divine invitation to come and follow Him. We are encouraged to take God’s side in the great cosmic conflict. We can only do that by avoiding legalism and loving God with all our heart, mind, and soul. We, too, will feel inspired and empowered to sing a glorious new song of praise to our Redeemer when we get to heaven. The Judgment is nothing to fear when we have surrendered everything to God and followed Him wherever He leads, as He has shown us in the Commandments.
Next Week: The Good News of the Judgment
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