On the wall above an ancient sundial in Cluny, France is engraved this warning: “Of all these hours, fear but one!” The “hour” spoken of is the hour or day of final judgment by God.
The basic facts about the Day of Judgment are clearly given in scripture. Consider just four of them.
First, it is an unalterable certainty. Many wish it wouldn’t come, but it most certainly will; nothing can stop it. It has been promised by God, who does not lie and does not change in his eternal purposes. The author of the book of Hebrews wrote, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Second, it will be a universal judgment, encompassing every responsible man and woman since Eden. “Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).
Those at the judgment will include you and me, our families, friends, neighbors and enemies. No one will be left out or forgotten.
At the same time, it will also be individual and personal. Paul wrote, “...we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor. 5:10).
The same apostle cautioned some in the Roman church, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom. 14:10). There will be no blaming others: not society, environment or hypocrites in the church. Money, beauty, brains, education — nothing will affect God’s righteous judgment.
What will matter is whether we have responded to the grace of God in faith; whether we’ve had our sins washed away; whether we are living faithfully before God.
Third, for those who are unprepared, it will be a day of tremendous terror. John the apostle wrote, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen" (Revelation 1:7).
Fourth, the judgment will be conducted by a perfect standard. Everyone will be judged by the word of Christ, who said, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge: the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (Jn 12:48). The standard will not be human creeds, but by our obedient response to Jesus. “...there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Much more is revealed about final judgment in scripture, but we’ve run out of our allotted space.However, I can’t close without recalling the two verdicts Jesus will pronounce at the judgment: To the unprepared: “I do not know you” (Matt 25:12) and to the faithful: “Well done” (Matt 25:21, 23).
An old, old invitation song asks the inevitable question, “Are you ready for that day to come?”