Is Cleansing the Same as Judgment?
(Part 11 of the Cleansing of the Sanctuary Series)
“… then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (Dan 8:14)
“… the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan 7:9-10)
In many minds, the heavenly sanctuary is closely associated with the process of judgment and scripture says plainly that the sanctuary is to be cleansed. So cleansing has naturally been equated to judgment.
There are many verses that speak of a cleansed people:
“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:” (Eph 1:4)
“That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Eph 5:27)
“In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” (Col 1:22)
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” (2 Pet 3:14)
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 1:24)
The question is: are those people cleansed as a result of judgment or are they first cleansed and then judged? We have looked at verses in earlier parts of this study that associate cleansing with the sanctuary; especially this verse:
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” (Dan 8:14)
There are also verses that link judgment with the sanctuary such as:
“I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10 A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.” (Dan 7:9-10)
Those who think in terms of a sanctuary picture this as happening in a sanctuary in heaven. We tend to put these passages (Dan 7:9-10 and Dan 8:14) together and conclude that the cleansing of the sanctuary is a work of judgment of people. But is it?
Who Gets Judged?
What does “judgment” mean? The Character of God and the Gospel Glossary gives more information on the meaning of judgment. Watch the first three minutes of the video at the bottom of that page for a picture of what God’s judgment looks like.
The Bible is clear that there will be some kind of a judgment process in regards to the case of every person.
Note: numbers appearing in parenthesis before some verses below will show their position in a table that follows.
(1) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (2 Cor 5:10)
It is quite clear in that verse who is subject to judgment (“every one”) – we all are.
The Bible also makes this very interesting statement:
(2) “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Rom 3:4)
Some versions say “… let God be found true …” implying information is learned by some who did not previously know it. This version makes it sound even more like it is God that is being judged:
“Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” (Rom 3:4, New Living Translation)
Here are verses indicating that God Himself is subject to judgment and verses that show the result of that judgment or evaluation:
(2) “Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Rev 14:7)
Grammatically, that could be speaking either of God actively judging or of Him as the object of judgment.
(2) “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” (Rev 15:3)
(2) “And I heard the angel of the waters say, Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shalt be, because thou hast judged thus.” (Rev 16:5)
(2) “And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.” (Rev 16:7)
There is a sense in which God Himself is to be judged; the Bible clearly says it. He may be judged by heavenly beings in terms of His actions in regard to sin – has He always been fair? etc. In our cases, it has much to do with whether we judge Him to be worthy of our trust or not. The character of God and His trustworthiness is the issue.
It happens sometimes in court cases that the whole case is dismissed because of seemingly minor things such as the judge incorrectly instructing the jury. It seems that even judges are subject to judgment.
It is starting to look like everyone gets judged – even angels at some point:
(3) “Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?” (1 Cor 6:3)
That will happen during the millennium – a study on its own. So if we are to be judged what does that mean? Is it the same as the cleansing? We’ll answer that later? And does God judge us? That seems the most likely. Let’s look at some scripture in hopes of sorting this out. There are verses that speak of God judging us:
(4) “The Lord shall judge (G2919) his people.” (Heb 10:30)
But then consider this verse:
(5) “For the Father judgeth (G2919) no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:” (John 5:22)
So, according to that, who does the Father judge? No one. Who does all the judging? It sounds like the Son does. Yet the Son says:
(6) “Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.” (John 8:15)
How many people does Jesus judge according to that verse? None.
(7) “She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
“Condemn” there is the Greek “katakrino” (G2632) which means “to give judgment against, to judge worthy of punishment.” He was not doing that.
Yet He said in that incident:
(8) “… He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
He didn’t say “she is innocent.” It rather seemed like He was condemning her. Obviously, He was not (v11) but He was pointing out her need to realize she was guilty and in need of accepting mercy.
In the next chapter, He made this statement:
(9)”And Jesus said, For judgment [G2917; related to the word G2632 above] I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39)
Meaning of Judgment
Confused yet? It can help to understand that judgment can mean different things; it does in English. It can be to judge as in:
- to condemn as in to take a negative attitude towards.
- to judicially decide a case by either declaring the defendant innocent or declaring him guilty and deserving of punishment.
- to make an observation, a judgment call (“yes, the ball did go in the net” or “yes, she did it”).
- to make a comparison (this is better than that).
- to govern (as done by the various judges in the book of Judges).
In what sense did Jesus judge or not judge the woman caught in adultery in John chapter 8? We have to decide the meaning of a particular word such as “judgment” by the immediate context or, if that doesn’t make it clear, by the whole Bible and its principles. Watch a short video illustrating Jesus’ treatment of this woman here.
He did not have a negative attitude; it was one of only mercy and compassion. Did He declare the woman worthy of punishment? Only in the sense of making her realize she was guilty and thus to open to her the opportunity of accepting mercy. He never intended that she should be stoned as evidenced by His following words. Indeed, she had already suffered much for her indiscretion. His object was to heal and restore her.
A few verses after saying to her “Neither do I condemn thee,” (v11) He said “I judge no man” (v15). That was the sense in which He did not judge her and He had just given a demonstration of it.
God’s Judgment Not Arbitrary
But obviously, some judgement (in the sense of a decision) has to be made before the Second Coming as to who is going to be raised in the first resurrection. But that is not like:
- I judge you condemned
- I have decided to save you
- I judge you condemned because I don’t like you
God is not making arbitrary decisions when He separates the sheep from the goats. He is not saying “you’re a goat; you’re a sheep.” That is only a metaphorical description of each person’s condition which they have determined. He can “see” (by knowing their hearts) who is “a goat” and who is “a sheep.”
People condemn or judge themselves:
(10) “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17)
(11) “He that believeth on him is not condemned [by Him]: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:18)
How can a person be not condemned and condemned already? Because, while they are not condemned by Him, they are self-condemned.
Light Allows Judgment
We need light (knowledge of truth) in order to judge correctly. Let’s look again at John 9 and we can see this more clearly:
“And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind.” (John 9:39)
“Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind [did not know], ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.” (John 9:41)
While not saying this difference was a 100% separation between the common people and the Pharisees as below, this would have been the general tendency.
Jesus came to help people make up their minds; to make decisions.
“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.” (Matt 10:34-35)
This seems like a strange statement from the “Prince of Peace.” (Isa 9:6) However, the setting of people against family members was not the object of His coming but the almost-inevitable result. Any divisions were the result of people making up their minds – some for and some against truth.
Paul and Barnabas replied to those opposing their preaching:
(12) “… It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you [to give you the light to make your decision]: but seeing ye put it [the word of God] from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life …” (Acts 13:46)
So we judge ourselves. Jesus said again that He did not judge any man:
(13) “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47)
To summarize the numbered verses above:
So, going back to 2 Cor 5:10: “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ,” any judgment of us by Him amounts to a diagnosis of our condition as reflected in this version which has very much of a healing model of the gospel viewpoint:
“for we will all appear in Christ’s examining room so that each one may be accurately diagnosed and receive what their condition warrants, whether from compliance or non-compliance with God’s treatment plan.” (2 Cor 5:10, The Remedy NT)
Is Judgment Bi-directional?
I would like to introduce another question; another way of looking at this. Could the judgment process be bi-directional? There is much scripture that also refers to God’s people as His bride.
“… that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead …” (Rom 7:4)
This is not to be a forced or arranged marriage. The bride must also be willing. The bride needs to know what she is getting into and accept all that is involved. She must make a judgement call based on her understanding of the character of her prospective husband.
“And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.” (Hosea 2:16-20)
The word “Ishi” means “husband” and the word “Baali” means “master.” It is really pointing to a change in relationship. A change even more significant than what Jesus spoke of to His disciples:
“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” (John 15:15)
God wants a very close relationship with us. We area waiting for Jesus to return from His Father’s house to the earth to pick up His bride – the bride is already married (or, at least espoused) to Him by the time of the Second Coming (as in Jewish marriage customs):
“For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isa 54:5)
“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.” (Hos 2:19)
“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” (2 Cor 11:2)
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Eph 5:31-32)
So the judgment – our judgment of Him – needs to be completed before the Second Coming.
We have seen that there is actually little evidence for God arbitrarily judging His people. He is merely confirming the decisions of those who have chosen to be connected to Him. And those decisions are based on their judgment of Him. God could not be rightly judged by His people (His prospective bride) without them having the right information about Him, the right picture of what He is like. The Groom (Jesus), being at a distance, had to send some information on ahead of His arrival that the bride might understand what she was going to be getting into and consent to it – again, it is not forced marriage.
The point is that if God does not judge us then the cleansing of the sanctuary is not about judgment – maybe it is about cleansing.
This is Part 11 of the Cleansing of the Sanctuary Series
Return to Daniel 8:14 (the master page of the series) to continue