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Yes, that is a very good question. So right off the bat when you hear the word “investigative judgment” it sounds kind of weird. It’s not something that is talked a lot about. In fact, the judgment in particular is not a very big topic. You hear many sermons on love and grace, but you never really hear a lot of sermons on the judgment. And that’s because generally it’s a very scary topic when you hear the word. But when you rightly understand it, it actually shows a different aspect of the character of God and the love of God.
To answer this question, the place where I think we should begin is actually in the book of Revelation chapter 14. In Revelation chapter 14, it actually gives you kind of a scene or picture of the judgment.
It mentions the judgment in Revelation 14 verse 7 and is the first of three angels’ messages that God gives to the world. In verse 7 it says, “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come…” The verse continues on mentioning about us needing to worship God. But specifically, it says that the hour of His judgment is come. So, that is to say that this is something that has already come or has already happened.
When is this judgement?
The question then should be, “When is this taking place? When when is verse 7 happening?” When you jump down to verse 14 of Revelation 14, you find a different scene that John writes about. He says, “And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”
So, in verse 14 you find a scene where the Son of man is coming on the cloud with a crown on His head and a sickle in His hand. This right here in verse 14 is a description of the second coming of Jesus Christ. So, if in verse 14 you have the second coming of Jesus Christ then verse 7 must happen before the second coming. In verse 7 when it mentions the hour of God’s judgment that must take place before the second coming of Christ.
Order of the judgement
Now, you may be wondering, “well how does that make sense? I always thought the Judgment Day happened when Christ comes the second time and the wicked are destroyed by the brightness of His coming. How does the judgment happen before all of that takes place?” The answer really is that there are actually two parts to the judgment. There’s a part of the judgment that happens at the second coming and there’s also a part of the judgment that happens before that.
Consider this scenario
The way that we can understand this in the simplest way is to really think about a court case. Today, I want you to imagine with me that you got some kind of a notification that you were being accused of some crime. All you got was a date for the day that you were to show up to court. You’re thinking, “What in the world is this? I’ve never done anything like this? I don’t know what’s going on!”
So, you get everything prepared and you show up to the court on that day. You walk through the court doors and you go up to the stand. Before you can even get a word out as to why you’re being accused of this, the judge takes one look at you and says, “you’re guilty.” He pulls out the gavel, hits it and says, “case closed.”
Now, if that happened to you, what would be your initial reaction? If you’re anything like me, you’d be like, “what in the world is going on?” You would be very surprised and you would say, “Hey! Isn’t there gonna be some kind of a investigation? Isn’t there gonna be kind of some kind of a build up to a final verdict and a decision?”
You see, whenever there is a decision that’s made or a judgement that’s pronounced there’s always an investigation that happens beforehand. There’s always something that builds up and puts pieces of evidence together that finally concludes with a judgement call.
So, when it comes to the judgment of God, there is a judgement that many of us are maybe more familiar with which is the judgment that happens at the end of time called the executive judgment. This is where God finally makes that final decision. Those who are lost are destroyed and those who aren’t are forever saved. There’s gonna be that one executive judgment at the end of time, but before that there also must be the investigative part of that judgment. So that being said, I believe that in Revelation 14:7, the judgment that it’s talking about is the investigative judgment because it happens before the second coming of Christ in verse 14.
How the investigation works
Now on top of that, we find another Bible passage that talks about this investigative judgment that gives us a little bit more detail as to what it really kind of looks like and what’s taking place and what’s happening. If you take a look at Daniel chapter 7 and begin there in verse 9 you find Daniel once again having a vision. In this vision, he beholds a vision of God and specifically of God on His throne in His throne room. It says in Daniel 7:9 that, “I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit…” Now, before I continue on, the Bible gives a description of this Ancient of Days.
This Ancient of Days is none other than God the Father. As you continue reading the verse it says the Ancient of Days sat whose garment was white as snow the hair of his head was like a pure wool and his throne was like the fiery flame and his wheels as burning fire. Then it says in verse 10, ” A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” So here you find a scene of God the Father sitting on his throne. The Bible says in verse 10 that thousand times ten thousands of thousands of thousands of angels came and ministered before Him on His throne.
This is a scene of heaven. It is a scene of the Father sitting on His throne with all these thousands of angels ministering before Him. In this scene you find that the Bible says in verse 10 that the judgment was set and that the books were opened. That happens at the second coming when Christ comes the second time to the earth.
So, when there’s a judgement taking place in heaven it leads us to conclude that this must be a connection to the investigative judgment that happens before the second coming of Christ.
The Bible says that this is going to be taking place in heaven and then it says that when this judgment was set that the books would be opened. Now what books are being opened here? It’s very interesting because when you look in the book of Revelation you find that the Bible refers to the book of life and it also refers to the book of records. Essentially, what the Bible says is that there is a book full of records of every person’s life where their actions and deeds is recorded. It’s like essentially like a recording book of of everything that happens over the course of their life. It is there that the Bible says that the judgment takes place where those books are now opened and those records are being reviewed.
What we see by this is that God is taking time to review the records of all of the people on this earth. In reviewing every action ,every decision, every thing that they have done weighing those things. You see, God is a just God who makes a decision not just because He feels like it. Or He just says, “Hey this is the right decision” and just pronounces someone guilty. But He’s very honest about it and He’s a just Judge. As he reviews the records He makes a good decision.
When you think about that at first you may think, “Whoa man! That sounds a little bit discouraging. God’s gonna be looking at my record and making a decision based on the choices that I’ve made.” Or anything like that. The truth is that the Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. So if God were to just look at that book and He were to make a decision based on what’s there all of us would be lost.
The good news
But the good news is that God sent His Son Jesus to this earth. The Bible says that when we come to Him and we confess our sins to Him that He’s faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us of unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). That is to say that when we come to God and we invite Him into our life and we bring our sin to Him and we confess our sin to Him. It is almost as if in that book of records that the sin that was recorded is now covered and blotted out by the blood of Jesus Christ. If that’s not good news you know I don’t really know what is!
That’s amazing that we can do that in the midst of this investigative judgment that is going on, God is a just Judge. Yes, He’s taking time to review our records. But He takes into account when invite Jesus into our life when we confess our sins to Him and it is good news that God does that.
Advocate with the Father
Something that I want to leave you with as you think a little bit more about this investigative judgment, because God doesn’t want us to be afraid of this subject of the judgment. I think when you look at look at this specific Bible verse it gives you a lot of hope. The Bible verse that I’m talking about is in 1 John 2:1 where John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:”
So John writing says I want to write to you Church and I want to encourage you not to sin make good decisions. Don’t continue in your life of sin, but he then gives some hope there. He says but if you slip and fall, if you mess up, if you do sin don’t forget that you have an Advocate with the Father and his name is Jesus Christ. Now that word out of the Greek can be translated as “attorney” or “lawyer.” An advocate is someone who advocates on your behalf who speaks on your behalf.
So when the devil comes and accuses us before the Father. He accuses us of our sin, it is in that moment that Jesus as our Advocate is able to speak on our behalf. What I love about it is that Jesus here is a Lawyer in this whole case. What I love is that as a lawyer in this world, lawyers can be very expensive and not a lot of people can afford a good lawyer. But Jesus is an amazing Lawyer Whose fees are very cheap. In fact, the Bible says that His grace is free. And not only is His grace is free but He is a lawyer that has never lost a case.
So here you have in the midst of this investigative judgment you can be comforted that if you do feel your need of a Savior that you can go to God. You can accept Jesus into your life and He can be that lawyer on your behalf. As long as you surrender your case to Him, He will never lose that case.
Hope in the judgement
What I love about it is that with God as our Judge and with Jesus as our lawyer, how can we be lost? How could we lose in this whole race of salvation? So I just want to encourage the person who is asking this question about the investigative judgment. While it is in the Bible and it does mention it, we can have hope in Christ. May we all take that time to search our hearts and really ask the Lord, “Is there something in my life that I need you to handle? Is there something in my life that I need to give to You.” I need to ask myself that question every day. Am I allowing Jesus to handle my case? If you if you ask Him that and you sincerely go to Him, He will take care and He will see you all the way through to the end.
We are looking forward to more questions coming up in the near future and by God’s grace we’ll have more speakers and new topics to discuss. If you have a Bible question that you want answered on our show, be sure to go to our website bibleask.org/ask. In that page go ahead and ask your question and be sure to click “Yes” you do want your question answered on our show. God bless!
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