Vol. 8, No. 4
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Final Judgment is a topic addressed in both testaments of the Bible (Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10). In addition, the Bible records several judgments by God of humanity, especially the people of God. We can learn valuable principles from examining the various judgments God executed upon humanity in the past. With these principles, such as how God reacts to disobedience and how God rewards obedience, we can better prepare ourselves for Final Judgment.
Several judgments by God of humanity extend from shortly after creation through the close of the first century. The first judgment by God of humanity occurred following the sin of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve sinned or disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17; 3:3, 6). Consequently, God assigned labor "pain" (ASV) to woman and subjection to her husband (Genesis 3:15); and God told Adam that the earth would only produce crops thereafter with much "toil" (ASV) (Genesis 3:16). Finally, God expelled Adam and Eve from his presence in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:23-24). Adam and Eve died spiritually and began to die physically also (Romans 5:12; 6:23). Obedience and Eden's bliss are associated with each other, whereas disobedience is associated with death or separation (James 2:26).
God judged the world through the worldwide flood of Noah's day. Almost every person on the earth had become wicked and violent preceding the Great Flood (Genesis 6:5, 11). Only eight souls on the entire earth were spared (2 Peter 3:20). Obedience saved eight souls; disobedience caused the rest of humanity to perish.
The judgment by God of humanity occurred at the Tower of Babel. God had instructed humanity after the flood to populate all the earth, but mankind refused to disperse (Genesis 9:1). Though the descendants of Noah had begun to repopulate the earth, they decided to disregard God's command after all (Genesis 9:19; 11:2-4). God destroyed the Tower of Babel, confused man's language and scattered him around the globe (Genesis 11:7-9). Evidently, mankind did not learn well from the Great Flood that disobedience of God's instructions results in judgment by God.
The Ten Plagues upon Egypt, preceding the Exodus of Israel from slavery there, is an example of God's judgment (Exodus 12:12; Acts 13:17). The title of this article derives from Exodus 12:12: "...I will execute judgment: I am the Lord."
A series of God's judgments against the nation of Israel occurred following Israel's exodus from Egypt over the next 40 years. A disobedient generation died in the 40 years of judgments by God (Numbers 32:13; Joshua 5:6; Hebrews 3:17). Stephen used the 40 years of wilderness wandering, as did the apostle Paul, in teaching contemporaries of the need to obey God (Acts 7:39, 42; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11). God's reaction, respectively, toward obedience and toward disobedience is evident in these judgments.
God continued to exact judgments against Israel throughout the balance of the Old Testament record. A series of judgments by God against Israel appear in Scripture respecting the period of the Judges (for hundreds of years) (Judges 2:14-16; Acts 13:20). God brought judgment against the northern kingdom of Israel in the form of defeat and captivity by the nation of Assyria (721 B.C.) (2 Kings 17:5-18). Later, God brought judgment against the southern kingdom of Judah in the form of defeat and captivity by the nation of Babylon (587 B.C.) (Matthew 1:17; Acts 7:43). God's reaction, respectively, toward obedience and toward disobedience is evident in these judgments.
The New Testament closes with divine predictions about the impending judgment by God against the nation of Israel in the form of complete destruction by the Roman Empire. Jesus Christ himself uttered this prophecy (Matthew 24:3-34). The consequence of disobedience toward God is clearly seen in the A.D. 70 destruction of Jerusalem.
The great Final Judgment by God of humanity awaits mankind's entrance into eternity. Final Judgment is a topic addressed in both testaments of the Bible (Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10). How souls lived their lives will affect where they spend eternity (Romans 2:5-6). Even the secrets of men will be judged (Romans 2:16; 1 Corinthians 4:5).
Final Judgment will encompass all nations or the entire world (Matthew 25:31-32; Acts 17:31). Jesus Christ came to the world to be its Savior, but when he returns it will be as Supreme Judge (John 12:47; Romans 14:9-12). Upon his return, Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42; 2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:27). Final Judgment will determine the eternal disposition of all souls (Matthew 25:46; John 5:28-29). Standing before the Great White Judgment Throne, one's obedience or disobedience in his or her life will make all the difference in eternity (Revelation 20:12-15).
Just as surely as God executed judgment upon the Egyptians, other nations and the people of God throughout history, God will execute Final Judgment upon all humanity. God predictably will punish disobedience, and as predictably, he will reward obedience. It behooves every soul to obey the form of doctrine delivered them (i.e., the Gospel, Romans 6:17; 1:16). Jesus Christ will punish disobedient souls (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). However, Jesus Christ will save obedient souls (Hebrews 5:9; Mark 16:16; Revelation 2:10; 1 John 1:9).