Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come.—Revelation 14:7
Although the scriptures expressly state God is the judge of all (Heb. 12:23), this is in a general sense, for they also attest: “For the Father does not even judge any one, but has given all judgment to the son” (John 5:22 Diaglott). Even here two exceptions exist as evidenced by additional testimony from Holy Writ. These exceptions are Lucifer and a class Paul calls “the elders” (Heb. 11:2). These claims shall be substantiated subsequently.
Directing our attention again to the Supreme judge, the Father, we note some scriptural designations which he has caused to be written regarding himself. These establish the basis for all his judgments: “For the righteous Lord loves righteousness . . .” (Psa. 11:7); “For the word of the Lord is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loves righteousness and judgment . . .” (Psa. 33:4, 5); “Thy righteousness also, O God, is very high, who hast done great things: O God, who is like unto thee!” (Psa. 71:18); Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” (Psa. 89:14); “The works of his hand are verity [truth] and judgment; all his commandments are sure” (Psa. 111:7).
Having established this basis, we read in Proverbs 2:8, “He keeps the paths of judgment, and preserves the way of his saints.” There is more than one path of judgment. Within the revealed divine arrangement we note seven distinct classes of beings, all intelligent, who are judged eternally by or through divine power. The righteous class of spirit beings who did not sin during Noah’s day could be considered an eighth class or category. However, for purposes of this study, these are not included. The seven classifications (though we only have space to consider three), and the order which we understand their judgments occur, are as follows:
2. The elders of Hebrews 11
3. Our Lord Jesus Christ
4. The elect church
5. The great multitude
6. The fallen spirits
7. The world of mankind.
Each of these seven had a path of judgment separate and distinct from the others, excepting the elect church and the great multitude who walked the same path of judgment until the path of judgment of the elect church is complete. The remainder of the spirit begotten the become the great multitude (Rev. 7) as a class, having missed their opportunity of joint-heirship with Christ (Jer. 8:20; Matt. 25:1-13; Rom. 8:17). These experience “great tribulation” to prove them fit or otherwise for service before the throne (Rev. 7:14, 15; 1 Cor. 3:15).
The Judgment of Lucifer
Lucifer, one of the morning stars (Job 38:7; Rev. 22:16) and one who, with the Logos, was instrumental in creation (Col. 1:16, 17), was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” at the time of his own creation (Ezek. 28:12). God anointed him as the “cherub that covereth,” entrusting to him the care of Eden, “the garden of God” (Ezek 28:14, 13). Perfect in his creation, Lucifer was originally without stain, without spot, without sin, “until iniquity was found in thee” (Ezek. 28:15).
When was iniquity found in Lucifer? We believe it was not at the time he was placed over the garden but after Eve’s creation, yet prior to her temptation. Lucifer’s position as “caretaker” was by God’s appointment (Ezek. 28:14), and all of God’s works are perfect (Deut. 32:4). Additionally, as Paul points out in Heb. 7:7, the “lesser is blessed by the better.” Why would there be a cherub placed over Eden if it was not intended by God to be a blessing to the earthly creation? A fallen spirit, though more powerful than a perfect man, would not be “greater” than a perfect man if he had the loss of divine favor. Lucifer was intended to be an angel of blessing, but he corrupted himself and became, instead, “a serpent by the way, an added in the path, that bites the horses’ heels, so that his rider shall fall backward” (Gen. 49:17).
What induced Lucifer’s fall? Apparently circumstances coupled with ambition. God had stated: “It is not good that the man shall be alone: I will make a help meet [suitable] for him” (Gen. 2:18). It was at this time all the lower creation were brought before Adam. As he observed each, and named it, he realized the unsuitability of each as a mate for himself, thus preparing him for full and immediate of the mate God would soon provide in Eve.
Upon the woman’s creation, Lucifer likely recognized a pair of propagating, intelligent dependents were in his care and if he could be their master instead of God, then he could, among other things, “be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14). The conception of such ideas gave birth to the sin of rebellion. Here the rebellion was developed in the mind of Lucifer. Similarly, our Lord during the forty days in the wilderness, was presented with terms or conditions whereby he could also rebel. Jesus refuted each of the suggestions as inappropriate, incurring no blemish to his perfection by so doing. Once the deeds of rebellion were conceived in Lucifer’s mind, so rapid was their growth and so complete the stain of iniquity, Lucifer was beyond recovery even before he tempted Eve. Thus Lucifer fell: “O son of the morning, how art thou fallen from heaven” (Isa. 14:12).
The Fall of Lucifer
How could Lucifer have fallen in sin before he tempted Eve? Is not sin complete only when the conceived notion comes into being and the act is performed? “No!” The deed or act is only the outward manifestation of the notion inside. Two scriptural references manifest the divine mind on this matter. Matthew 5:27, 28 clearly establishes the sin of adultery as occurring in the mind even though the woman was never physically touched. Isaiah 14:12-15 points our Lucifer’s heart aspirations: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . .” It is here, without any reference, mention, or inference to the fruit tree episode, that God declares of Satan, “Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell [sheol, destruction], to the sides of the pit.” Why? Because he sinned, and sin brings death (Ezek. 28:16; Rom. 6:23; James 1:15). Thus Lucifer had sinned in his heart prior to tempting Eve, an act which only outwardly manifested his sin.
Our Lord Jesus, as the Logos, witnessed Lucifer’s fall, and so states in Luke 10:18, “I beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven.” And fall he did! The scriptures seem to indicate Satan’s “casting out” (he had already fallen from divine grace) was simultaneous with the sentencing of Adam and Eve. We read in Genesis 3:14, “Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.” Satan, no longer identified as Lucifer, a “son of the morning,” is also identified as a serpent. The curse spoken to this earthly serpent had far greater significance, for it symbolized Satan, the adversary of God.
From the scriptures we see Lucifer was judged directly by God many centuries before our Lord Jesus was given “all power in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18). We also see that the path of judgment for Lucifer was not only short in duration, but occurred while he was “the anointed cherub that covereth” over Eden.
Judgment of The Elders
The elders of which Paul wrote in Hebrews 11:2 span a period from shortly after Abel’s birth to the death of John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11, 13; 23:35; Heb. 11:4). These elders, men and women, believed God and thus pleased him, for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6). These lived in faith and died in the same, “not having received the promises” of God “but having seen them afar off embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they, continues Paul, “that say such things plainly declare they seek a country” different from their native land of from that which became their current host. “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country,” that is, one given them by appointment from heaven: “wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:13-16).
Imagine a city being prepared for them! And why not? For they “through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again [1 Kings 17:20-22; 2 Kings 4:32-37]: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance.” Thus they did endure by faith “that they might obtain a better resurrection,” inheriting the city prepared for them.
What kind of city is prepared for these people of such faith? A “holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven” wherein they shall be “judges as at the first and counselors as at the beginning” (Rev. 21:2; Isa. 1:26). These elders will not own the city, for the city is a government represented by the glorified Bride of the Lamb, the Church of the Firstborn (Heb. 12:213; Rev. 2:2, 9, 10). “The Law shall go forth out of Zion,” representing our Lord Jesus with his associated Bride as the Lawgiver (Isa. 9:6, 7; Jer. 23:5, 6; 33:15, 16), “and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” the earthly city or government (Mic. 4:2). Herein shall many come “from the east and the west” and “from the north and the south,” “and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom” to be taught and to learn how to love the Lord their God with all their being, and how to love their fellow men as they love themselves (Matt. 8:11; Luke 13:29; Matt. 22:36-40).
The judgment of these elders consisted of (1) recognition of and faith in the only true God; (2) living their life in obedience to God and his righteous principles; and (3) enduring the opposition and persecution which are sure to come from living their faith. Their trial was during their lifetime as they walked through “the valley of the shadow of death” until death seemingly swallowed them up in victory. But thanks be to God, he had found a ransom! (Job 33:24). Therefore, the bonds of death were not to hold them forever; only until the days of their appointed time in death were up and their change should come (Job 14:14). God will call each from the grave through the voice of his Son and they shall answer him (Job 14:15). Because all these, having obtained a good report through faith, having had so complete and thorough a testing as to assure God of their everlasting obedience to righteousness, yet not having received the promise, nor a full reward for their faith and righteousness, God shall grant them a better resurrection than the remainder of mankind. They shall come forth perfect and at that time receive the fruition of their hopes (Heb. 11:39, 40, 6, 35, 8-10).
Thus the path of judgment for the elders during their lifetime was a trial of faith based on works under severe conditions and by it they received a more noble reward than their fellow man, being judged directly by God.
Judgment of the Fallen Spirits
The fallen spirits are just as their appellation states, spirits who had fallen. Genesis 6:1, 2 provides us a rather succinct account of their fall: “And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair: and they took them wives of all which they chose.” These actions look rather innocent. What would be wrong with God’s sons taking to themselves wives? It is when we note the united testimony of the scriptures that we discern the truth of what really transpired here. The “sons of God” were not human sons, for Adam had lost his sonship because of disobedience (Luke 3:38). Consequently none of Adam’s progeny had sonship with God either (Psa. 51:5). Therefore “sons of God” refer to the heavenly host (Job 1:6; 2:1)
Both Jude and Peter have written upon this subject. Jude 6 reads: “And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness until the judgment of the great day.” 2 Peter 2:4, 9 read: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus, Diaglott] and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; . . . for the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust until the day of judgment to be punished.” In short, the heavenly host had no authorization to materialize as men, take women as wives and propagate. Those that did sinned; they were disobedient just as Adam was.
Disobedience is sin irrespective of who does it. However the path of judgment of the angels is manifestly different than for man, as represented in Adam. Adam was condemned to death, extinction, for his disobedience, whereas the angels did not receive as death sentence at that time. They were held in “chains of darkness,” in reservation for the day of judgment, the thousand years, which began with our Lord’s return in A.D. 1874. It was then that the final stage of their trial began.
The Diaglott interlinear rendition of the Greek for 2 Peter 2:4, 9 and Jude 6 show the restraint was intended to keep the fallen spirits for the day of judgment. That thousand year day is here. Are they judged wholesale while restrained, or are they given liberty as part of their judgment, to see if any have repented? Through the ages the wicked spirits have exercised an influence of evil over the nations (Deut. 18:10-12; 1 Sam. 38:7; Dan. 10:2, 12, 13); even opposing God’s spirit-begotten children of the Gospel age (Eph. 6:11, 12). Even though they were restrained they still had a measure of activity, often in hours of darkness (1 Sam. 28:8).
The Four Winds
The harvest of the Gospel age concludes the selection of the spirit-begotten ones as permanent members of the church, the Lamb’s bride. In Revelation 7:1-4 we learn of the four angels holding back the four winds of the earth until the completion of the sealing of God’s servants in their foreheads. The restraint of these winds prevents the whirlwind of anarchy until the church is complete. These four winds—financial, social, political, and religious—are all under Satan’s control, much as is a marionette in the hands of a puppeteer. He is the god of this world and prince of the power of the air (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; See also Matt. 12:24; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Thus the wicked spirits are also under Satan’s direction (Matt. 25:41). Once the four winds are no longer restrained, the whirlwind, resulting from the activities of the still-fallen spirits, as well as the pouring out of the last of the plagues (Rev. 16), will completely destroy this present social order.
Are they judged wholesale while restrained or are they granted liberty? We have seen from Revelation 7 that the spiritual powers are held in check until the church is complete, in selection, and then they will be loosed. Thus there appears to be no final decision regarding their judgment while restrained. So, when are they judged? Paul says the church shall judge angels (1 Cor. 6:3); not the righteous ones who never sinned, but the unrighteous ones. It appears the full church in glory shall have the power of judgment with her head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The destruction of these wicked spirits, we believe, is to be immediate upon the finality of their sentencing, for no mention is made of preserving this evil host until the end of the kingdom, as Satan will be temporarily preserved for the purpose of a final test upon man. These wicked spirits are referred to in Revelation 11:18 with the phrase, “and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth” (See Rev. 7:1-3; 20:2, 3). Supportive of this view of the wicked spirits being destroyed early in the judgment day are the responses given to our Lord Jesus when he cast out devils at his first advent. “Art thou come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24). “I adjure thee by God, that torment [torture] me not” (Mark 5:7). What a blasphemous accusation being made of our Lord being such as they to torture, instead of annihilating at the right time! “Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?” (Matt. 8:29). They anticipated judgment, but not at that time.
Therefore, from the scriptures, we perceive yet another of God’s diverse methods of righteous judgment: different from how he dealt with Lucifer, the elders of old, and even how he now deals with those he has begotten with his spirit; and lastly, the world of mankind.
This last path of judgment, in contrast to the former two, will be by our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise God he is able to judge righteously (Acts 17:31).