God’s Judgment Part 2: Fear, Glory, and the IJ
June 12, 2009 Bible Answers That Make Sense, Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

In this week’s Part 2 blog we will complete our discussion by answering Phyllis’ second and third questions below as well as address her confusion regarding the ‘investigative judgment.’

  1. What is meant in Rev. 6:10 “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”–especially the words “judge” and “avenge”
  2. Rev. 14:7 “Fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgment is come” “Fear/respect” and “glory” seem to indicate that this is the time when God will be judging not that we will be judging (deciding for or against) Him? 

I am confused about the investigative judgment and Daniel 7 ad 1844. Can you shed any light on this for me?


Let’s start with Question 3

In order to understand Revelation 14:7 we must first understand the Biblical meaning of several of the words.

Fear in this context is referring to those who will bring God glory, so it is the experience of the saved not the lost. In this case fear is to be understood as awe, admiration, reverence, amazement, wonderment with God’s awesomeness. Fear in this context is not to be understood as terror, dread or anxiety, because the Bible teaches that God is love and perfect love casts out all fear. These people who bring glory to God will know Him and His love and thus not be afraid.

Glory refers to God’s character. In Exodus 33 and 34 God put Moses in the cleft of the rock and had His glory pass before Moses and what was described was not light, fire, or power, but God’s character of love. Therefore, in this context those who bring glory to God are those who reveal God’s character in their lives. Why is this important? What was the war in heaven, initiated by Lucifer, all about?  It is and always has been about Lucifer’s allegation that God could not be trusted. How did Satan spread his rebellion to earth? By deceiving our first parents in regard to God’s trustworthiness.

We are fighting a war over the knowledge of God! Jesus said in John 17:3 that life eternal is “knowing God.” When we know God, are in unity with God, we have life. This is why Satan attacks God’s character because if he can get us to believe lies about God, our connection with God is severed and unless this situation is remedied we will die an eternal death. Paul in Romans chapter one tells us that when we reject the truth about God our minds become darkened, depraved, and foolish. Hebrews tells us that the new covenant experience is when God writes His law on our hearts and minds. When that happens no one will need to say to his brother “know the Lord for all will know me.” (8:10-12). And in Romans 3:4 Paul tells us that God is the One on trial, the One accused, and the One who will be proved innocent:

  • God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged. Romans 3:4 KJV
  • May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, And prevail when You are judged.” NASB
  • Certainly not! God must be true, even though every human being is a liar. As the scripture says, “You must be shown to be right when you speak; you must win your case when you are being tried.” GNT
  • No! God will continue to be true even when every person is false. As the Scriptures say: “So you will be shown to be right when you speak, and you will win your case.” NCV

Satan lied about God and humanity believed those lies severing our connection with God. Christ came to restore that connection and reverse the damage sin caused humanity. At the end of time, God is calling for a people who know Him, who have rejected the lies Satan has told about Him, who have judged God to be trustworthy, and have thus open their hearts to Him and experience His healing power. Such people will be transformed to live lives of love, revealing God’s character in their lives, thus bringing glory to God! As such they are powerful witnesses to the world and universe of God’s character of love, His methods and principles.

The Investigative Judgment

There are several texts that refer to the same event – Daniel 8:14, Daniel 7:9-14,21,22, Malachi 3:1-4, and the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25. Each of these passages gives insight into the investigative judgment. My description here will not be comprehensive as entire books can be written on this subject. I instead will highlight issues pertinent to your question.

Daniel 8:14 is merely predicting the time this event will begin, no other significant details are given in the 8:14 text.

In Daniel 7 we are given more insight, but what is being described? Because of a preconceived idea that sin and its solution is a legal problem, some commentators have suggested this text is describing a judicial proceeding in heaven in which God is the great Judge who sits down to pronounce judgment upon all mankind, but this passage of Scripture does not actually say that, instead we have to read into the Scripture to come to that conclusion. If we take a more straightforward approach and ask what is being described in the context of the passage another idea emerges

“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened….“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Daniel 7:9,10,13,14

Traditionally, because of the assumption that we are in legal trouble with God, most commentators read a legal meaning into the above passage.  They see the word “court” as a place of judicial rulings, a courtroom. But what is being described is not a judicial proceeding. Instead what is described is a Royal Court!  It is the Royal Court of the universe which is holding the Coronation of Christ! Some are uncomfortable with this conclusion and rest their entire position on the Hebrew word “diyn,” which is translated “court,” claiming this Hebrew word refers to a judicial proceeding. I refer them to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament published in 1980 by Moody Press, which says:

This word, with its derived noun diyn is nearly identical in meaning with šhaphat  {shaw-fat} (q.v.) and its derived noun mišhpat {mish-pawt} (q.v.). It appears only twenty-three times, a fraction of the times šhaphat and mišhpat appear. Of the twenty-three appearances, five are in parallel with šhaphat (Jer 5:28; 22:16; Prov 31:8; Ps 7:8 [H 9]); 9:8 [H 9]) and twice more it is associated in the text with mišhpat (Ps 72:2; Jer 21:12). Thus nearly a third of its occurrences show how closely the idea of diyn was identified or associated with the root šhaphat. The verb also occurs in Ugaritic and in parallel with tp (the cognate of šhaphat) (Fisher, RSP, vol. I, p. 166). Likewise a similar—nearly identical as far as it goes—list of terms is associated with diyn, demonstrating the near identity of meaning: with mêyšhar {may-shawr} “uprightness,” “equity” (Ps 96:10; cf. Ps 75:2); and with gaša (Ps 54:1 [H 3]; cf. Ps 72:4). As with šhaphat it represents God’s government as both among his people (Israel) and among all peoples (Ps 135:14 “people”; Ps 7:8 [H 9] “peoples” cf Ps 72:2; Ps 9:8 [H 9]). As far as the small number of occurrences allows a test, the range of meanings is exactly the same: to govern, in the whole range of activities of government: legislative, executive, judicial, or otherwise. See the discussion of šhaphat and mišhpat. The difference between the terms is simply that diyn is poetic, probably also an archaic and more elegant term. Of the twenty-three occurrences, only one is outside the Protestant grouping of poetical and poetical-prophetic literature. The exception is the single passive form—a Niphal participle (II Sam 19:9 [H 10]). The chief theological significance of this word is that apparently like šhaphat it embodies the idea of government, in whatever realm, in all its aspects.[1]

Therefore, I believe that the above credible authority on Hebrew supports “diyn” as I have rendered it above. Once we recognize that the court seated is the Royal Court of the universe convening for the governmental action of coronating Christ, we can more clearly understand what occurs during the investigative judgment.

Daniel 7:21,22 gives insight:

As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.

The above rendering is from the NIV which many, who assume the legal model, prefer. But does the meaning of the passage change when we read from the King James Version?

Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. Daniel 7:22

Which translation is more accurate? The Hebrew word translated “pronounced” actually means “to give” or “to impart” and thus the KJV would be more accurate in this context. Why do the saints of God need judgment (another word for discernment) imparted to them? The Daniel text tells us the horn warred against the saints and was defeating them. What kind of warfare was going on?

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:3-5

What kind of war? Where is it being fought? This is a war between truth and lies, centering on God’s character, and being fought in our minds! Amazingly, Paul makes the connection to the cleansing of the Temple even closer and shows how the Temple is connected to this war going on in our minds:

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2Thes 2:1-4

Paul is describing the exact same events as Daniel 7 in which evil powers war against the saints and oppose God. In the aftermath of Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, did this man of lawlessness ride into heaven overthrow God, set himself up in God’s temple in heaven, and proclaim himself to be God? No, where did this happen? In the Spirit Temple! In our minds! Therefore, the cleansing of the temple, as described in the Bible, is the cleansing of our minds from the lies about God, which wins us back to trust and results in our cleansing from sin.

Daniel is told in vision that an evil power would arise that would lie, distort, misrepresent God, and defile the Spirit Temple by getting humans to accept, worship, and teach a false picture of God. According to our understanding of interpreting prophetic time, it would take 2,300 years before enough truth would be recovered for Christ to empower His people on earth with judgment (discernment) to break free from the lies and be cleansed in their minds and characters.

All of this is confirmed for us by the other text describing the same event as Daniel 8:14, Malachi 3:1-3:

Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.  But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.

What is getting cleansed during the investigative judgment? The Levites.  And who are the Levites? The Priesthood of believers (1Pet 2:5,9).

God is cleansing His people from what? 1) the lies about Him which keep us from trusting Him and 2) when we are won back to trust, He cleanses us from sin. God writes His law of love into our hearts. He restores His character of righteousness in us. This is what is happening during the investigative judgment.

How does this happen? By our investigating the truth about God as revealed in Christ, rejecting the lies, and clinging to the truth and trusting God!

Many have a very difficult time with this truth, because certain Bible passages are misunderstood, such as:

  • As I judged your fathers in the desert of the land of Egypt, so I will judge you, declares the Sovereign Lord. Ezekiel 20:36
  • You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. Romans 14:10
  • For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Cor 5:10
  • Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 1Peter 1:17
  • And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. Revelation 20:12

Traditionally, these texts are interpreted to mean that God’s judgment determines our destiny, either saved or lost, in the form of an arbitrary decision on His part. But this is not the case. God’s judgment is merely the accurate diagnosis of our condition, either healed and restored to Christlikeness or incurable. An example of God’s judgment is found in Hosea 4:17:

Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!

What is God’s judgment in this case? Ephraim cannot be separated from his idols, so leave him the way he is. What determines our eternal destiny is not God’s judgment upon us, but our judgment of God, which in turn makes us either fit or unfit for living in God’s system of other-centered love. If we judge God trustworthy, then we open our heart and His Spirit heals us from sin. If, instead, we accept Satan’s lies and judge God as untrustworthy, then we keep our heart closed and eventually move ourselves beyond His healing reach. One day all will stand in God’s presence and their true condition will be revealed – this is God’s judgment. Jesus describes this reality:

“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

It is our very condition that determines our eternal destiny. We cannot make ourselves good. We can only be made good by the power of God working in us. And what determines whether God’s power is experienced within our hearts and minds? Whether we trust God and open our heart to Him or not.

This reality is stated beautifully in the book The Great Controversy:

Like the waters of the Flood the fires of the great day declares the verdict that the wicked are incurable. They have no disposition to submit to divine authority. Their will has been exercised in revolt; and when life is ended, it is too late to turn the current of their thoughts in the opposite direction, too late to turn from transgression to obedience, from hatred to love.  GC 543.1

Does God’s verdict make the wicked incurable or does God’s verdict merely pronounce the reality that already exists in the hearts and minds of the lost – that they are incurable?

We do not need to fear God who is trying to save and heal us; we need to fear sin, which if unremedied, destroys us!

And finally Question 2

Regarding Revelation 6:10 our own Bible Commentary does a very nice job of interpreting the meaning. After pointing out that what John was seeing was a symbolic message, not heaven as it really exists, the commentary states,

“The martyrs do not seek vengeance for themselves; they seek, instead, the vindication of God’s name” Volume 7, p. 778.

The martyrs are crying out for God to reveal the truth about Himself which will stop all the lies, distortions, and misrepresentations that keep mankind severed from God. This is in harmony with Revelation 14 and Daniel 7. God gives discernment or judgment to the saints so they may rightly differentiate between God’s true character and Satan’s false image of God. In this choice the saints, in trust, open their hearts to God, are infused with His Spirit, experience regeneration of character, and glorify God by loving others more than themselves!

What an incredible privilege is ours to be beacons of God’s character in a world dark with lies about Him!

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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.