flower on thistle

Who wants to be judged? Very few people desire to be told, “You’re wrong. What you’ve been doing is dreadfully wrong, even though you think it’s right.”

These days, someone saying that might just provoke a string of profanities aimed in his or her direction. At the very least, one might hear, “I don’t care what you think.”

However, there is one who will judge you—will judge all of us—and you will undeniably care what He thinks. You will be speechless, with nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. All your arguments will die in your mouth.

That judgment is coming, and nothing you can do will stop it.

Jesus promised He would return, and that judgment will follow His returning.

He promised He would.

And God always keeps His promises.

The Bible is chock full of declarations about a judgment to come—too numerous to list here. This is just one:

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” (Revelation 20:12). 1

Scripture also makes clear in Scripture that Jesus will return some day:

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16).

These truths are clearly revealed in Scripture, but I’d also like to write about three extra-biblical experiences that my wife and I had in our many years as Christians. Of course, you are free to reject them, call us mentally deficient, on drugs, or crazy.

But they happened.

Thirty years ago or so, my wife, Laurie, had a dream in which she was standing at the kitchen window of our home, washing dishes in the sink. Suddenly, the mountains in the distance split apart, and Jesus appeared between them. The dominant message of this short dream was that when Jesus returns, it’s over. There will be no time to do anything, anything at all. It all ends without warning.

He’s back. Boom. Done.

Laurie had another dream when we lived in Israel. We would often go out to the town square of our city on late afternoons and try to talk to the Filipinos who would wheel out the old people they cared for, so they could enjoy the open air. Some of those old people had tattoos on their arms—numbers. They were Holocaust survivors. In her dream, Laurie was talking to one of these old women, who appeared to be barely functional. Somehow, in the conversation—details are fuzzy—Laurie said that Jesus was going to return some day. The old woman said, “He’s on the way.” The message delivered was, “No, it’s not just that He’s coming. He’s actually on the way.”

The last example is from my life, very early in my Christian walk, when I knew very little about the Lord. This was not a dream but an experience while I was awake. I was sitting in the shotgun side of my friend’s pickup truck, in a driveway, waiting for him to return so we could get back on the road. Suddenly, a wind stirred up in a dried up old bush next to the house, a few feet away from me. The Lord spoke to me in that experience, only one word: trouble. However, accompanying that word was a very real sense of judgment-to-come. Ever since then, when the wind blows—not every time—I have a renewed sense—a spiritual sense—of that soon-coming judgment.

It is sobering. Real.

God’s judgment on you—on everyone—is coming. As the above scripture above from Revelation 20 indicates, books will be opened. One of them is the book of life. In this book, the acts and words of Christians have been written, those accomplishments and words that glorified God and those that did not. From what is written there, Christians will be judged. However, no sinful acts appear in this book. It’s a book of life. That condemning sin and shame were absorbed by Jesus on the cross. For those who do not believe in Jesus, however, every sin they have ever committed will be read out for all to hear, in God’s glorious presence. You will know you are guilty. You can do nothing about it. You cannot demand that God stop reading. You cannot go back and make amends for your actions. That time has passed. Your doom is certain.

Don’t like to be judged? Yeah. I get that. You won’t like it then, either.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.