Sabbath School Lesson for December 17-23, 2022
Overview for Lesson 13
The process of divine judgment includes…
- The need for a final reckoning to end sin in the universe (Sunday)
- The investigative phase, which takes place in the heavenly sanctuary before Jesus comes and determines who is innocent and guilty (Monday)
- The examination phase during the millennium, when the saints taken to heaven at the Second Coming will have an opportunity to review the records of the lost and saved (Tuesday)
- The execution of God’s justice—when the second resurrection at the end of the millennium brings to life those who have chosen not to follow God (Wednesday)
- The lake of fire which then consumes the wicked (called the second death) and enables God to re-create our earth, making it the home of the redeemed for eternity (Thursday)
Knowing the nature of man (that his body, mind, and spirit cannot be separated) and understanding the judgment process that has already begun, will help us in determining what happens when we die.
Memory Text: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV
The Bible is crystal clear on the issue of judgment. We know most definitely that there will be one and that God, who has “perfect knowledge” (Job 37:16 NIV), will conduct this judgment openly, in the most transparent way possible.
It may be troubling to know that our actions, the things we do, are taken into account in the final judgment. But we must remember that they are viewed by Someone who weighs them with the evidence hidden in our innermost being, our heart and soul.
Just as we’ve learned that the body and soul can’t be separated, God will consider and weigh every aspect of our lives, both physical and spiritual, as our fates are decided.
Sunday: The Final Judgment
Most people think of judgment in terms of condemnation. No one wants to appear before a judge. It usually results in a penalty of some kind. We forget that earthly judges also declare the innocence of individuals, even rewarding those who have been wrongfully treated.
God, too, will provide not only judgment, but justice for all “the saints of the Most High” (Daniel 7:22). The righteous will first be justified and resurrected at His Coming, and later the unrighteous will be resurrected to receive their punishment, called the second death (Revelation 20:14).
There will be a fair and open reckoning in God’s final judgment, which will ensure that sin will not again plague the universe. No longer will God’s character be questioned. All who know Him and have suffered untold atrocities and pain at the hand of God’s enemies will be vindicated.
- What are some reasons to rejoice in the judgment of God?
John 5:24 and 3:18
- How do these verses suggest that the righteous are not judged, or are they simply not condemned in the judgment?
Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14 and James 2:11, 12
- By what law are we judged, and why is that important?
- Why is it called the law of liberty?
2 Corinthians 5:10 and James 2:14-17
- Why are our actions important in the judgment?
- How does God use both thoughts and actions in determining our destiny?
Monday: The Pre-Advent Judgment
In 1844, Adventists across the globe expected the Lord to come. They had interpreted the cleansing of the sanctuary in Daniel 8:14, the end of 2,300 prophetic days (or years), to be in the fall of that year.
With further study of the sanctuary, however, including the book of Hebrews which speaks of a heavenly sanctuary, some Adventists began to believe that a pre-Advent judgment began at that time in the heavenly courts above (Hebrews 9:24).
It makes perfect sense that the investigative work must begin there if our rewards are with Christ when He comes (John 5:28, 29 and Revelation 22:12).
This solemn work of sealing first the righteous dead, followed by the righteous living, gives the heavenly angels an opportunity to witness the judgment process, seeing for themselves that their Holy Commander is fair and balanced in the judgment process.
John 5:28, 29 and Revelation 22:12
- Why is it reasonable to expect a judgment process going on in heaven during the last days?
Tuesday: The Millennial Judgment
The last few chapters of Revelation describe a thousand-year period when the saints who have been taken to heaven at His Coming, will have a part to play in the judgment (Revelation 20:4 and 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3).
Revelation 20:12 and Daniel 7:10 suggest that this is a time when the heavenly books, the records used to judge the universe, will be open for all to examine. It will further establish that God’s judgment is fair and merciful in its determination of who is saved and who is lost.
The saints of God, taken to heavenly homes that have been prepared for them (John 14:2, 3), will have their opportunity, as did the angels prior to the Second Coming, to know that God’s character is unquestionably holy and good.
Revelation 20:4 and 1 Corinthians 6:2, 3
- What part will the saints play in the judgment during the millennium?
- Who are the angels they will judge?
Revelation 20:12 and Daniel 7:10
- Why is it necessary for the books to be opened for all to see?
Wednesday: The Executive Judgment
We have been given glimpses of what God’s executive judgment looks like throughout Bible history. His punitive actions have included:
- Casting Lucifer and the angels who followed him out of heaven (Revelation 12:9)
- Driving Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden after they sinned (Genesis 3:24)
- The Flood of Noah’s time (Genesis 6:13)
- The fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:28, 29)
- The sudden deaths of Ananius and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11)
These examples of punishment happened for justifiable reasons. God intervenes only when necessary for the survival of His creatures who remain loyal to Him.
His unconditional love demands justice, as well as mercy, and His character demonstrates a perfect blend of these attributes.
We are promised a final end to the power of sin over our lives, as shown by the controlled interventions God has already made for our salvation. We’ve seen these examples of justice, along with the undeniable example of mercy when His Son died for us at Calvary.
2 Peter 2:4-6 and 3:10-13
- How do these verses link past examples with what will happen in our future?
Thursday: The Second Death
The final judgment takes place after the millennium, when the unrighteous will be raised to life. The earth is desolate and void of everyone but Satan during those thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3). But Revelation describes how the Holy City descends with Christ on His throne, causing the wicked at first to rise up and try to take the city (Revelation 20:7-9).
It is at this time, when they see up close what heaven is like, that all creatures in the universe, even those who have not chosen to follow Him, will be convinced that He is a just and merciful God. See Philippians 2:10, 11 and Revelation 5:13.
As they near the city, fire rains down from heaven, consuming all the unsaved, including the devil, forever ridding the universe of their harmful presence (Revelation 20:10). This is what is called man’s second death (Revelation 20:14 and 21:8).
Revelation 20:7-10, Hebrews 12:29, and Exodus 24:17
- What is meant by a “consuming” fire?
- Is this a fair way to punish the wicked? Explain your answer.
Friday: Final Thoughts
God is our Judge, as Isaiah 33:22 proclaims. He has ordained His Son to be “Judge of the living and the dead” (Acts 10:42). The Messiah has proven His love by dying for us at Calvary. There will soon come a time when He will prove His justice, when He returns in the clouds of glory.
This “proving” of God in a sense means that God is being judged, along with His creatures. Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!”
It’s hard to deny the deity of Christ when “at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10, 11).
“When the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed, both the loyal and the rebellious will unite in declaring, ‘Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name?… for Thy judgments are made manifest.’ Rev. 15:4.” ~Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 58
Next Week: All Things New
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