Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Judging the Judge...More Goldstein on Daniel

The following article (the green type) is from Clifford Goldstein in the August 26 Mid America Outlook titled Judging the Judge

One early morning, driving to the GC building, I caught a BBC news report about Saddam Hussein’s trial in Baghdad. A judge involved in the proceeding remarked that the world would judge them, the judges—the whole trial even—based on the justice and fairness meted out in the courtroom. Instantly I thought of the pre-Advent judgment as depicted in Daniel 7, a judgment that happens in heaven. It occurs before the Second Advent (hence pre-Advent) and is witnessed by a retinue of angels (Daniel 7:9, 10). Actually, God is the one who Himself is being judged, based on how He deals with us. How do we know? Because Psalm 51 tells us so. Read carefully what David says: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest” (Psalm 51:1-4).

It’s easy to miss one of David’s crucial points here. He’s asking God for loving-kindness, for forgiveness. He admits his sins, and he asks God to have mercy on him, to cleanse him, to blot out his transgressions in order that “thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” Is he saying that the Lord should do these things to him so that God should be clear when He, God, judges? Exactly!

It is easy to miss that point because that is not the point the Psalmist is making. Remember the occasion of this verse.

Psalm 51 For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba”
PSALMS 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. (All my Quotes are taken from the NIV translation)
David is not worried about some Judgment of God at some future point in time, he is saying that he David has been justly judged by God. God was 100% right when Nathan brought God’s Judgment to David. It is a confession before the Judge after the Judge condemned him. The story is related in 2 Samuel 12 as Nathan gives David His Judgment:

2 Samuel 12:12-13 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.' "Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.

This all becomes clearer if we understand his words— “For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight”—as parenthetical. They interrupt his main flow of thought, in which he is asking God to pardon and clean him so that He, God, will be “clear when thou judgest.” So, if you pick up the train of thought, it reads like this: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin … that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” God—justified when He speaks, clear when He judges?

That is a unique view, as it moves from David’s present circumstances to something very different, Does David ever really question that God is not Just or vindicated in His actions that someday He must be judged and vindicated? Of course not David is acknowledging God’s Justice and mercy even while confessing his own sins. The Psalms recite a confidence in God, not ever representing the need for God to vindicate His righteous judgments:

Psalms 7:11 God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses his wrath every day.
Psalms 9:8 He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.
Psalms 72:2 He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.

It appears that this confidence in the righteous judgments of God is developed by the way the Psalms were even arranged. The Psalm right before Psalm 51 begins with Praise for God’s judgment:

Psalms 50:4 He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people:

Psalms 50:6 And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge. Selah

Yes! The word translated “justified” in the King James Version can also mean “vindicated,” the idea being that God Himself is being tried based on how He deals with us, fallen sinners. This point is so often lost amid the hubbub regarding the judgment. Though we can’t deny the biblical reality of judgment by works (Romans 2:6; Ecclesiastes 12:14), for believers in Jesus we have a substitute, Christ, who intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25). Thus, in many ways, the judgment isn’t so much about us; it’s about God, and about how He deals with sinners, a crucial motif of the whole great controversy scenario. So God, even after the revelation of His character at the cross, still wants to give even more evidence of His goodness. He does it in the pre-Advent judgment when He Himself is judged.

Clifford Goldstein August 26 Mid America Outlook
http://www.midamericaadventist.org/site/1/docs/AUGweb06.pdf

Now let’s look at the idea that God is Judged in the Pre-Advent Judgment. As we see Clifford Goldstein derives that idea from Daniel 7:9-10

DANIEL 7:9 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.

DANIEL 7:10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.

Does it sound like a defendant coming into a courtroom to be judged? No in fact the word Throne indicates that He is judging. In the Old Testament, throne is used often to indicate the function of whomever is seated upon that throne. Usually a King sometimes a judge, but of course the King was the ultimate ruler and ultimate judge. This is what Daniel speaks about. So who is being Judged in Daniel 7? The Answer is given in Daniel when the Angel interprets the vision:

DANIEL 7:25 He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. DANIEL 7:26 " `But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever.

Then in verse 27 “the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be handed over to the saints”. So it appears from the book of Daniel that the little horn power is judged and destroyed and the judgment then goes in favor of those whom the little horn power abused. The account in Daniel does indicate that this judgment is witnesses by angels. But angels are God’s ministering spirits there is nothing to indicate they have anything but faith in God, they are His servants and messengers often they are called Holy. What good does it do to have a Pre-advent Judgment of God where God is declared just by those who already know and acknowledge the Justice of God? The only people that need such a show would be us here on earth, the people who don’t see everything that God does, the people who don’t know what to believe and are tossed around by conflicting philosophies and religions and historical interpretations.

Goldstein wrote: “Actually, God is the one who Himself is being judged, based on how He deals with us.” I hope I never have to judge God upon how I feel he deals with me. I don’t have enough information to make any such judgment. I can judge whether I will choose to accept God by faith that God is loving and forgiving and accepting as God has demonstrated Himself to be through the incarnation of Jesus Christ. But I am in no position to judge God as to whether he deserves to be God or not. I am only a judge of whether I accept or reject God. If the angels have placed God on trial to judge how he deals with us it is something that the Bible is silent on. But for angels to serve God for millennia and then turn around and become the judge of the Creator of the universe is quite a stretch of credibility. To say that God is giving us evidence of His goodness in the Pre-advent judgment which we can neither see, hear, read of, or experience is not really evidence of anything at all.

Update:

From the Expositor's Bible Commentary on Psalm 51:4:

Between these two prayers of contrition is an affirmation of God's justice (v. 4b). The psalmist does not reject or argue with divine justice (Rom 3:4), because the Lord's verdict is "right" (s-d-q) 5-6 Confronted by God's righteous verdict, the psalmist is more deeply pricked by his own sinfulness.

1 comment:

Septimal Prime (Ryan O'Neil Seaton ) said...

As an Adventist, I'd like to say that my Church understands both concepts, that we are judged by God AND that God is being judged and vindicated by our actions.

In the Sermon On the Mount , Jesus spoke about letting our light shine so that men may glorify our Father which is in Heaven.

Why is it necessary to Glorify God? What Charges were being made to God? (Read the Serpents comments to Eve)Why does God need man to choose him?

The concept that God is being judged makes sense (at least to me and many others to come) when you consider the entire bible and the great controversy revealed in the bible.

Why was God depending on Job to do the right thing? Was God depending on Job?

I don't think man was created as an after thought to vindicate His Character after the war GK,polemos--iePOLEMICS?) in Heaven (Rev 12:7 cf vs 17)

On June 13th 2007, I was invited as one of the guests on a radio talk show here in Jamaica to discuss, "What's your purpose in life"

One answer I gave was that our purpose is to vindicate the Character of God.

In hindsight , I should have mentioned the word "Glorify", because most/more people can identify with that word.

Then we have that scripture by Paul where he asks or states that we are spectacle to the world.

I think Adventist Eschatology is justified.

"the hour of his judgement IS come" (Rev 14:7)

***"In Revelation 14:7, the word judgment translates the Greek 'krisis', the act of judging, not the sentence of judgment ('krima'). It refers to the entire process of judgment, including the arraignment of people before the divine judgment bar, the investigation of life records, the verdict of acquittal or conviction, and the bestowal of eternal life or the sentence of death (see Matt. 16:27; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 22:12). The judgment-hour message also proclaims God's judgment on all apostasy (Dan. 7:9-11, 26; Revelation 17, 18).***

Sorry for any lack of inadvertent incoherence, but this is a rush note:-) I pray that the Holy Spirit will tour us through the Bible to make this point with cogency.

more anon (God willing)