An accurate, detailed record is being kept, and sometime, somewhere, it will have to be faced, says John Ralston.
In 1953, cutting into local programming on television in many parts of England, came the call sign of Texas station KLEE-TV. Then British broadcasting engineers received the startling news that KLEE had been off the air for three years! Where had that picture been for three years? What mysterious receiver had stored that signal to be retransmitted? No-one ever found out.
Is it only obsolete TV station signals that can be stored somewhere to be replayed later? Our very personal “computer,” the brain, stores vast amounts in the form of memory. But there is even more extensive information about us stored in another archive.
The Bible tells us that “books of remembrance” (Malachi 3:16) are being written, recording details of our lives.
Jesus warned that we will have to give an account even for our careless words (see Matthew 12:36, 37) one day. Sometime we may have to face it.
King Solomon warned: “Young man … follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment… . Fear God and keep his commandments… . For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:13, 14).
A judgment is given in a court. There is the judge, the prosecutor and the defence lawyer. There also has to be the law, the basis for the judgment, and an accurate record of the evidence. Only when all these are in place can the judgment of the case begin.
The prophet Daniel had a vision of such a judgment. “As I looked,” he says, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat… . The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:9, 10). The apostle John affirms this, stating, “Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it… . And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened.… The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:11, 12).
Here God himself is the presiding Judge. There are the “books” of record.
Satan, called the “accuser” (Revelation 12:9, 10), is the prosecutor, and Jesus acts as the defence lawyer (see 1 John 2:1).
The basis for God’s judgment is His law. After hearing it announced that “the time has come for judging the dead,” John sees that “God’s temple in heaven was opened” and within His temple he sees the ark of the covenant (Revelation 11:18, 19). In it are the tables of stone given to Moses—God’s law, the Ten Commandments. Contrary to popular opinion, it still exists as the standard of right and wrong (see James 2:11, 12).
The first to face the judgment bar are those who claim to be Christians. The apostle Peter declares that judgment begins with “the family of God” (1 Peter 4:17). To the Christians at Corinth, Paul stated that “all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The records have to be examined to see if the profession has been backed up by deed (James 2:17-20). This examination necessarily must occur before Christ returns, because He comes bringing their reward (see Revelation 22:12).
The prosecutor presents his case. Satan points to entries in the record that show the followers of Christ haven’t always obeyed. The record is accurate and Christ, the defence lawyer, cannot deny it. But He has other evidence—in His hands are the scars of nails. They prove that, nailed to a cross, He has endured the punishment demanded by the law, which is death. He was to be called Jesus because “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Every dark entry in the record is covered with the red of his blood. The verdict pardoned is written over the damning entries. “Blessed and holy,” they can be granted the right to participate in the “first resurrection” (John 5:28, 29; Revelation 20:6).
People still living have sorted themselves into two groups. Some, by heeding God’s final warning, have been “ripened” for His harvest; others, by rejecting it, are ready for the “winepress” of his anger (see Revelation 14:6-20). One group longs to be hidden from “him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). The other looks up and says, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us” (Isaiah 25:9). They are ready to go back with Christ to the place he had promised to prepare for them— heaven (see John 14:1-3). But their first task is a surprising one.
Court judgments are often followed by appeals to a higher jurisdiction. Has the evidence been fairly assessed? Is the judgment fair? From the court of the Most High, such an appeal is impossible and unnecessary. But a just God still establishes a sort of “board of review” in order to show that justice is seen to be done.
The time granted for this is 1000 years (see Revelation 20:4-6).
Those of “the first resurrection” are busy in their mansions, which is very different to condition on Earth. The prophet Jeremiah says: “I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird of the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the Lord” (Jeremiah 4:23-26).
Catastrophic events take place as Christ is returning as a powerful King. Hailstones, huge blocks of ice, each weighing about 200 kg, are smashing everything and reducing skyscrapers to rubble. A huge earthquake is crumbling massive mountain ranges and making islands disappear below water (see Revelation 16:18, 20, 21). People are terrified because our very solar system seems to be disintegrating (see Luke 21:25-27). Christ is coming to deal with those who rejected His mercy (see 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
For a thousand years these rebels will be shut up in the prison of death to await their final fate (see Isaiah 24:21, 22).
Somebody else is to be imprisoned. The earth has been reduced to an “abyss,” an extremely chaotic state. And here, confined by a chain of circumstances, Satan is to spend 1000 years (see Revelation 20:1-3). He had been extremely busy perpetuating his lies (see John 8:44).
Now he is forced to be idle. Everyone on earth is dead. Here the self-styled “prince of this world” (John 14:30) has to spend 10 centuries in the “prison” of inactivity.
A new capital
At the end of the 1000 years the earth is to have a new capital—a metropolis laid out on a square 2200 km on each side. It’s a “golden city” with a glistening crystal wall 65 metres high each with three entrances glowing like lustrous pearls. The 12 foundations of the wall are made of colourful gemstones, so arranged that the city seems to be resting on a rainbow. Here will be the city apartments of God’s people, with Christ in residence (see Revelation 21:10-27).
End of evil
One more task remains. By a “second resurrection” (see John 5:28, 29), the rebels against God’s authority are brought to life to face their judgment and receive their everlasting fate. Causing them to live again releases Satan from his prison. Now there are humans, he can deceive once more. In the guise of an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), the deceiver claims that his power has brought them back to life and that the city is their rightful home. They should go and possess it. The multitude advance and surround it, preparing to batter down its beautiful gates (see Revelation 20:7-9).
Suddenly that plan is forgotten. The mighty, eternal Sovereign, seated on a dazzling white throne, is seen. The books of record are opened, including the book of life. Judgment is pronounced on everyone on the basis of this record, and the absence of their name in the book of life (see Revelation 13:8). They had refused the blood of that Lamb to cleanse them from evil (see 1 John 1:7; Revelation 22:14, 15). Now the blazing glory of God consuming all evil is destroying them with it (see Revelation 20:11-15).
Just as three years after it went of the air, the KLEE-TV call sign reappeared, somehow stored somewhere in space, that comprehensive and permanent record of human activity also exists. And one day, we all will have to face it. But there’s still opportunity to be pardoned, for “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11, 12).