Does Judgment only come when God calls time on the planet, Jesus returns and each one is judged according to what is found in the Record Boks of Heaven? Many think this way but the reality is that although the final Judgment is futuristic, there is continual Judgment throughout the course of history. What would you call it when you have done wrong knowingly and then something bad happens to you? Would you call that a coincidence or would you call it Judgment?
We don’t understand how God works in dispensing Judgment but we do know He grants grace and is patient. At other times as soon as evil is performed, Judgment falls. You might recall we spoke about the wheel that turns … eventually justice happens. There is the husband who treats his wife like dirt when he is drunk only to find himself in a serious accident. There is the wife who has affairs only to find her marriage ruined because she was caught out. There is the child, teen or young adult who progressed lazily through the year only to find him or herself failing the year. If God is Lord and King over all, you need to see Him dispensing Judgment upon those who do wrong, even in our day … and even to us when we are defiant towards Him who is supremely holy. Just by the way … I have the right to speak like this because God’s Judgment fell upon me before I was a believer because of something wicked I did!
1) Daniel in his dream / vision / hearing words from God, is seeing Judgment unfold before his eyes
Da 7:11 “Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking. I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire.”
As he watched he continued to hear the slanderous, proud and arrogant words that took God and His mercy for granted, coming from the small horn … the Roman Empire and the king (or kings) representing the empire. Daniel has no option but to look and watch and hear right until Judgment is executed. This beast is killed and its body is destroyed by being thrown into the fire. The symbolism here is of utter and absolute destruction of the fourth beast. It no longer has power, it is finished … gone! You might say, but other Syrian kings harassed the Jews after this. True … but this one was finished, disappearing completely! Once the small horn was destroyed the fourth beast disappeared.
2) The small horn was thrown into the blazing fire. She represents the fourth beast. The symbolism here is one of total and complete destruction. The picture we have is of the Fires of Destruction that completely triumphs over the fourth beast. I will sight three verses to explain a point and later get back to the concept of the results of this Judgment.
Is 66:24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
Rev 19:20 But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.
Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
(1) The Judgment is final, unchangeable and forever.
(2) The guilty are cast into a fire that is not quenched. This means the fire never burns up or ends. The occupants in the fire never burn up.
(3) The fire is described as a Fiery Lake of burning sulfur. This is a gruesome and horrendous picture.
(4) The occupants within this fire suffer torment day and night for ever and ever. This means the fire and the suffering are eternal!
3) The destruction here does not refer to individuals. It refers to empires (kingdoms). The verses above are to give a picture of what the empires experienced … but this is not the Fires of Hell. Rather, the picture is of the majestic full triumph of Divine Judgment over wicked regimes. Every evil government or reign has been or will be brought down by God in His time. However, all associated with the fourth beast and any similar kingdom will experience eternal punishment as pictured above.
4) Now we return to the first three beasts (kingdoms). Did you notice that there was no mention in the dream / vision / words from God about them disappearing when the next beast came along? There was the lion but nothing is mentioned about what happened to the lion when the bear came along. The same is true of the bear and the leopard. Maybe this is because the impact they made and the way they influenced society and leadership remained. So why was their destruction not mentioned before the fourth beast? Because the focus was on the fourth beast represented by the small horn (the Roman Empire). Her blatant opposition to God is emphasized in her being mentioned first. The first three beasts were almost insignificant as to the way the Roman Empire set itself up against God. So now the first three are mentioned:
Da 7:12 (The other beasts had been stripped of their authority, but were allowed to live for a period of time.)
Their dominion was taken away slowly, one at a time, according to the predetermined will of God. Their punishment was little compared to the fourth beast. Before we complete the vision, let us look at some contemporary applications. What role do we as believers play within the confines of our country where it comes to the government? So often when a government fails we moan and groan and complain … right?
(1) We need to pray!
1Ti 2:1 I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth
When the gospel spreads there is greater peace … and who knows, maybe our leaders will be saved too.
(2) We need to pay taxes.
Ro 13:6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.
Taxes paid helps the authorities to serve the people better.
(3) We need to be obedient. Obeying the government is obeying God.
Ro 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.
Lord, use us to improve the authorities’ functionality as we pray for them. Amen.