The Dais or “Judgment Seat”
of God and His Christ
THE DAIS is the commencement of our real life, rather than the climax of our mortal existence. Even if we are able to anticipate, by the power of God’s spirit, a slight measure of the blessedness of that future day, we cannot achieve very much because of our innate weakness and the hindrances in our environment. Once we set our hearts on that glorious sequel to our career, however, it will help us much to enjoy the present. We should keep it always before our hearts, so that it will influence our steps, and lift us above the sordid scene in which we find ourselves. The dais is not an end in itself. We should look through it to the eonian glory to which it is only a prelude.
Not only will the saints be fully equipped with life abundant for their new career, but, what is far more encouraging, God’s plan for them is almost the reverse of the present. His object now is to humble us, then He will glorify us. Now it is largely a preparation. Then it will be fulfillment. Now we are the victims of the powers of darkness. Then we will rule over them. Now our feet tread the path of suffering. Then our hearts and our hands will be engaged in blessing. Now we are sowing in sorrow. Then we will reap with rejoicing.
It is not merely a matter of the absence of sin. Our Lord, sinless and flawless as He was in His life on earth, trod the path of humiliation and sorrow, quite apart from His sacrificial sufferings. He needed no dais at the crisis of His career, for He did always those things that pleased His Father. Yet He was awarded the glory and bliss that was His due. His body also was changed and glorified for His celestial honors. He is at the head of all rule. Then we will share this with Him. He will bring all God’s creatures back to Him. Then we will be associated with His celestial service.
A plant dies quickly if it is taken out of the soil. A fish does not live long out of the water. We would soon expire if we rose far above the air. None of these can live for any length of time apart from this trinity. Terrestrial bodies demand an earthly environment. Celestial bodies have a life that is not dependent upon anything of earth. They have no blood, so cannot absorb the oxygen from the air, or assimilate water or food for their sustenance. Without blood, they cannot feel, for they are not soulish. Our Lord had such a body in resurrection, so He could go through locked doors without any harm, or ascend into the empyrean without effort. When He comes we will be caught up to meet Him. For this alone, our terrestrial bodies would not do. They must be transformed into celestial ones. Such life precludes sin and suffering. It presages flawlessness and bliss.
Before coming to the climax of our exposition of the dais, it will help us to consider God’s judgments during the course of the eons. It is a most complicated theme, due to changes in God’s administrations which hardly any of the saints recognize in their reasonings about the matter. Moreover, God’s purpose seems universally unknown, and the whole is reduced to the human equation of do right and be rewarded, or do wrong and be punished. Only the divine view, that God gives the experience of evil to mankind to humble it, will help us to a mature understanding of this complex theme, and enable us to look upon the world today with equanimity and satisfaction, for it is carrying out God’s predicted plan.
A short-sighted glance at God’s judgments will lead to perplexity and atheism. We instinctively think that God must set matters right, and we are quite correct in this assumption. But we fail to see that simple restitution, without any gain, is also a failure, for the sufferings entailed in the process are not properly paid for. There is no solution except a future consummation, and that cannot be accepted except by faith. Even a brief survey of God’s judgments, if comprehensive, will serve to satisfy us with God’s plan as a whole, and with His present operations, though they entail some suffering on our own part. These we will gladly endure, in view of the overwhelming compensation in the future.
After God, through the serpent, had brought about the sin and offense of Adam, He judged the first man by making him and the race mortal, so that they would sin without the direct intervention of Satan. Up to the deluge they were left without corrective measures, so that they had to be wiped out with a flood. From that time on, judgment was put into the hands of man, and there has been a weak attempt on his part to see that each one gets his rights. But, as individuals failed when they sought to do that which was right in their own eyes before the deluge, so, now, governments fail in dispensing justice, and will be judged in the coming day of His indignation.
But, in this, man’s day, God has come in, in various ways, in order to vary His great demonstration of human incompetence. First, He gave a revelation to Job and to his associates, and to the rest of humanity through them, of the function of evil. It is not confined to the punishment of sinners, but is essential to the revelation of God’s grace, so is the portion of the saints as well. Moreover, it is not fruitless, but produces a double blessing. This revelation should have enabled all mankind to endure evil with fortitude, but only a few of the saints have understood it up to now. In the future, it will be a magnificent testimony to all mankind of the very lesson which it is intended to teach.
But a much clearer revelation was given to Israel in the law. Instead of leaving them in the dark in their judgments of one another, He revealed to them statutes and judgments by which they could decide righteously. Moreover, He gave them intermediaries, priests, through whom they could find out His mind in any case. They were well equipped to know what is right, but not to do it. Thus there is a much deeper humiliation in lawlessness than in ignorance. The law was not given to be kept, but to transmute sin into offense and shortcomings into law-breaking. It only intensified the fact that judgment, in the hands of man, is a monumental failure.
The failure of nations to judge righteously will be corrected by fearful outpourings of divine indignation at the time of the end. They are now ripe for judgment, for they are ruining the earth by their injustice and strife. Even as individual judgment had to be delayed before the flood because a corrective was not in keeping with the character of God’s demonstration of human depravity until it had come to the full, so national judgment cannot be executed until the time is ripe for setting up Christ’s kingdom. Then the demonstration will be complete, and corrective discipline is imperative in order to clear the ground for the righteous rule of God’s Messiah.
But individuals will not be judged until later, at the great white throne. During their lifetime both saint and sinner sigh for the correction of injustice and misfortune. Many efforts are made, apart from government, to remedy wrongs and cure inequalities, but the net results are very disappointing when we consider the world as a whole. In the city where this is written there is a “community chest” and an enormous public hospital, besides numerous other agencies designed to deal with poverty and distress, but the poor and the ill only increase, even under the most favorable circumstances. God could end this condition in a short time if it were His intention, but He does not interpose. Crime increases and injustice abounds, but He does not intervene.
THE POSTPONEMENT OF JUDGMENT
The postponement of both national and individual judgment brings with it one of the most perplexing problems for the unbeliever, and the delay in giving their awards to the saints is very trying for their faith. Although it is of the utmost consequence and for the highest benefit for the race, men do not want to be brought low, and do not wish to wait for a future recompense, because they do not realize that this is God’s prepared plan for their own benefit, as well as for the blessing of the universe, and for His own highest bliss. All of mankind must learn to realize what He is to them by an actual experience of what it means to be without Him. Then they will be able to give Him the unforced outflow of their hearts. Then they will appreciate it when His judgments permanently right all wrongs and eliminate all evil, through the suffering Sacrifice He has provided.
Today the saints mix a measure of atheism with the Mosaic law and Paul’s epistles, and seldom realize what a mess it makes. They want judgment now, so as to get their rights according to the law, but they realize also that they need grace for their shortcomings. As they do not get what they want, they lose the sense of God’s presence, if they ever had it, and shut Him out of their lives whenever He does not come up to their expectations. It is only as we see by faith that, at present, the evil in the world is according to the Scriptures, and an essential ingredient in God’s plan, and also the only way to the highest blessing for ourselves and for the race, as well as all creation, that we grasp its necessity as a background for the display of His grandest glories and perpetual praise. And then are we prepared to endure with thankful hearts all the trials and tragedies which He sends to us.
Is God judging now? This is a very practical question for all of us. If He is, how can we be satisfied with what He does? A Bible reader who applies the Psalms to himself must be sorely disappointed at times, for there God promises to protect and bless all who trust in Jehovah. He does not redeem such assurances now. The reason is clear. He was judging indirectly then, through the law given to Israel. None of the Psalms, not merely the so-called “imprecatory” Psalms, are applicable now.
Judgment is further complicated in our minds by nature and nature’s laws. They operate without fail or favor for either saint or sinner. The just and the unjust are often engulfed in the same doom. The saintliest of the saints seems to have no prerogative. They are swept away by the same storm or crushed by the same earthquake. An “act of God” has come to mean the destructive force of nature. It is seldom, if ever, applied to the beneficial blessings which abound in the physical forces that surround us.
A comprehensive knowledge of God’s postponed judgments should help us to endure with patience and longsuffering the “light afflictions,” which seem such a heavy burden to us now. These are essential features of the evil eons. It is not neglect or carelessness on His part, but perfect planning. In the future land of glory that awaits us, God will be all in His saints. Their bliss in resurrection will depend on the continual and unbroken operation of His spirit in them, so that judgment will be unneeded and unknown.
Finally, in considering the dais of Christ, let us not only look upon it as the conclusion and rectification of our earthly course, but as the commencement of another grand and glorious career of dispensing blessing to others by revealing God to them. For this, our present life is only a preparation. This marvelous outlook may help us not only to acquiesce, but to enjoy much that comes to us in this vale of tears that otherwise might embitter our souls. Not only will we be thankful for the good, but rejoice in the evil, in view of the future blessing which will spring from it, to ourselves as well as to others of God’s creatures, and to His praise and glory.
A. E. Knoch
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