What do you think about God's judgements? Observe the judgement which came upon king Nebuchadnezzar:
Daniel 4:28-29 (NIV 31-32)
"Even as the words were on his lips, a voice came from heaven,"
"This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes”
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If you compared the rendering of the New International Version with the Aramaic from the original text, then you've seen that NIV is a very good translation to English, of these verses. And you can note that there is no allegorical language now; the "tree" is the king himself, and it is prophesied to him that the punishment has come upon him. If you continue reading you'll see that the king was mad for seven years, believing he was an animal and living like a such one.
Is a judgement like this an example of something that could happen to us? Or, is it only Nebuchadnezzar who's been disciplined by God in human history?
Observe we are conecting the idea of "judgement" with that of "discipline", because here was no eternal sentence upon the king, but a temporary punishment until he should acknowledge God's dominion over mankind, and that his position was given by the Almighty. There are of course another kind of judgements which reason isn't discipline but just punishment. If you've been sent to prison for a shorter period, you can attend some kind of rehabilitating program with the purpose of make you a normal citizen again, when you leave the prison. But if you are condemned to death or life imprisonment, you haven't get such a privilege; you'll be executed, or you'll be a convict until you die.
Are God's judgements disciplinary ones, or to condemnation?
Observe these verses:
"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land"
2 Chronicles 7:13-14
Drought, a locust plague or a pandemic are not casual. These verses show us that God allows a punishment to come over some persons because of their sins. And we can see also that the purpose of such calamities is that the sinners repent. It is usual in times of such disasters that false prophets come and announce "the end of the world", but is important to know that many of those calamities are temporary ones, and that God will keep us and give us victory over them when we pray and turn from our wicked ways.
Then, could we say that God's judgements are disciplinary ones?
Observe these verses:
"Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah - from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities - and also the vegetation in the land"
That judgement which came upon Sodom and Gomorrah was not to repentance. Neither was the flood, and neither will be the doom upon the "beast" and the false prophet in the book of Revelation. If you've been indoctrinated to believe that God, who is good, will not ever punish mankind, let me tell you that you are totally mistaken. Some judgements are supposed to lead sinners to repentance, but there are certainly other ones which only reason is the execution of the sentence that the Divine justice pronounces upon sinners.
But... this condemnatory judgements, without a chance for repentance or "rehabilitation"... who are the ones that will be judged? Maybe only those "sin too much"? The non-converts? the blasphemous ones? All of us?
How should apply to us nowadays the knowledge of those condemnatory judgements which came upon the earth in Noah's times, or upon Sodom and Gomorrah?
In the holy Gospel of Luke we read:
"For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation"
"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all"
"It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all"
"It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed"
These are the words of Jesus Christ Our Lord, the incarnated Son of God, who said that "on the day the Son of Man is revealed" - it is in His Second Coming - it will happen with mankind as it happened with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, or with most of people in the times of the flood. On those ocasions, God kept the righteous ones and poured out death upon the other ones, those who rejected all warnings about judgement. Don't think even for one second that because God is a Good Father then He isn't that Just Judge (have you wondered how could a father be "good" if he doesn't judges right?)
Then... is it necessary to be very good, in order to avoid to be among those sinners which will be condemned to death?
There's nothing wrong with "being good". Good deeds grant us a reward - according to the Word of God - in eternity. Observe the words of the Lord:
“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward”
But do not let anyone deceive you about these rewards. There is not a single good work in the whole Bible which opens the gates of heaven for you and grants you salvation. In spite of all our good deeds, our sins are heavier, and certainly capable to cast us to hell. Romans 3:23 states, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". "All" means "all". The murderer condemned to death and the preacher, the king and the indigent, the terminally ill patient and the one who are as fit as a fiddle... ALL of us have sinned, and ALL of us have fallen short of the glory of God. A single sin is enough to send us to hell. But this terrible judgement of eternal death and eternal torment was laid on the shoulders of one man. Isaiah 53:5 states:
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
That "punishment that brought us peace" is the atonement, the propitiation for our sins. On the cross, Christ Jesus bore all those sins which hide God's image on us, and which show the work of the evil one in our lives. On the cross, Christ Jesus took upon Him the death penalty which we deserved because of our sins, and He gave us the opportunity to be declared "righteous" before God. The judgement of the cross is that one which He, the Son of God who never sinned, suffered upon himself so that our sins should be forgiven and erased.
There is another judgement in the Bible, where some people will get a reward because of their good works. Read 2nd Corinthians 5:10 :
"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"
This judgement has been called "bema" judgement, because of the Greek word for "judgement seat", and is an "only for believers" trial. It doesn't matter how many good deeds have you accomplished; without Christ, you don't have the entrance ticket to go in there, and then receive your reward. The just results of your goodness is given to you in a place where you come when you "have been declared not guilty" in the judgement of the cross.
And those who haven't received Jesus Christ, what about them?
Observe Acts 17:29-31:
"Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone - an image made by human design and skill"
"In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead"
The apostle Paul was adressing the Athenians, in those times of the Ancient Greece, where most of the people were pagans and idolaters, and he taught them that God is not an idol - one of the many images they used to adore. Maybe he would need another words in our times, to confront atheists and religious people, universalists and legalists, and all kinds of blind people who are leading other blind ones. But pay attention to the verse where he says that the judgement of the cross is sufficient for salvation, by saying that God "has set a day when he will judge the world with justice", a judgement which is done through Jesus Christ, the "man he has appointed" and "has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead"
What "day" is he talking about?
In Revelation 20:11-15 we read:
"Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them"
"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. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done"
"Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire"
This judgement, usually known as "the final judgement" or "last judgement", is the one where the sinners are sent to hell. There's no one who gets salvation there. Those whose names are "written in the book of life" have been resurrected before and have got eternal life with God and Christ; the dead who are resurrecting there are the ones who "have done what is evil" and "will rise to be condemned" in the words of Our Lord Jesus, or that will rise "to shame and everlasting contempt" in the words of Daniel the prophet. In that day, God "will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed". He "has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead"
If somebody tells you about those tsunamis which devastated parts of Japan on 2011, or parts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand in 2004, that the news about those events is a lie, you should know that that person is lying. The news show us all the time events like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, pandemics and wars throughout the whole world; nobody should classify those things as "lies" or "myths".
Nevertheless, that "tsunami" which drowned every one but Noah and family, or that "volcanic eruption" that killed every one but Lot and family, are called "myths" by many blind leading the blind. Jesus Christ spoke about those terrible judgements of God, and He prophesied that similar ones will take place before His coming.
Don't be deceived about the judgements which will certainly come upon this sinly world. God has been very specific about this, and we don't have to give ear to those who tergiversate the Word in order to make us believe that sin has no consequences. The results of sin are terrible indeed, not only because of the bad effects that it causes between human beings here and now, but also because it will send us to an eternal hell.
But... There are good news for all of us! That judgement which should put us in the seat of the condemned has being taken by Jesus Christ! We don't have to stand before that great white throne in order to be sent to hell. Through the blood that was poured on Calvary's cross we can be declared just, and be saved from death.
If you have not yet received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, let me tell you that there's time yet! The judgement day will come, and the great tribulation too - a crisis which has never come upon the earth since it has been populated. The sinners will go to an eternal punishment, not a seven years long one as the king of Babylonia. There is a way to be victorious in those times of trial which are coming, and it is through Jesus Christ.
Receive Jesus today, and you'll be save eternally!
May the Lord bless you. In the love of Christ, your brother
PS. Jesus is coming soon!