The Lamb That Will Roar Like A Lion
Ultimate Justice Assured
A minister and a lawyer were discussing crime and the basis for dispensing justice. The pastor argued for stronger implementation of the law. He called attention to the fact that most courthouses use the symbol of a woman—to represent chastity; she is blindfolded—to indicate that Justice is no respecter of persons; she holds a balance in which evidence is to be carefully weighed; and a sword without a scabbard, ready to strike wherever there is guilt. The lawyer listened intently and then added with a smile, “And is to be found only in statuary.”
In the dispensing of justice, perfection will never be found in any human court. Fallible beings cannot consistently reach infallible conclusions. Must mankind, therefore, resolve itself to an inevitable, “The meek will not inherit the earth”? Does might really make right? Is life, after all, simply a bad joke? Is the expectation of equity and justice a will-o’-the-wisp—a philosophical soap bubble that will one day break?
One Messiah: Two Appearances
The Great White Throne Judgment is perhaps the most somber and sacred scene in all the Word of God. It is the final event of human history, consummating the thousand year reign of Christ and ushering in the eternal state. Dealing, as it does, with the final and eternal destiny of a great segment of humanity, it must be approached in the Spirit of ” … put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground” (Exodus 3:5).
Intrigued, I took my eyes momentarily off the road. Sure enough, the wrapper around the yarn on my wife’s lap had on it a picture of a lamb and a lion. The highway was straight and wide, and the traffic was light—I put the car into “self-drive” and consciously began to interact with the advertisement. “The lamb”, I conjectured, was intended to suggest that the yarn was soft and pleasant to the touch. “The lion”, by contrast, suggested strength and durability. The characteristics, or attributes, of both a lamb and a lion were resident in this one product.
My mind was racing now. The Jewish Talmud suggests that there are to be two Messiahs. One they named Messiah Ben Joseph, the other Messiah Ben David. Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are among the many Old Testament texts that depict a suffering Messiah—One who would be rejected. What better name than Messiah Ben (son of) Joseph, for Joseph had been rejected by his brethren and sold into slavery. But one day that same rejected brother rose to an exalted position and saved them from famine. Psalm 2, Psalm 24, Isaiah 11 and Zechariah 14 all depict a Messiah who will come in great power and glory—this One they called Messiah Ben (son of) David. David was a brilliant king whose leadership and military exploits brought the nation to its greatest hour. Tragically, what the rabbinic scholars failed to see was that Messiah Ben Joseph and Messiah Ben David were not two Messiahs, but one Messiah with a resurrection separating His two appearances. He came the first time as “the Lamb of God” to take away the sins of the world. He’s coming the second time as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”. The yarn on my wife’s lap had the qualities of a lamb and a lion. So too, reveals the Word of God, does the Son of God.
Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me” (John 12:32). The divine commentary adds, “This He said, signifying what death He should die” (John 12:33). All men must one day give an account to Christ.
More than nineteen hundred years ago, wicked men took the Sovereign of the universe, the eternal Son of God; they tried Him unjustly, crucified Him unmercifully, turned their backs, rubbed their hands and said, we are done with Him, But no one is done with the Son of God. Every man must face Him—either at Calvary as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, or at the Great White Throne Judgment as the Lion of the tribe of Judah—but meet Him we will. At Calvary there is life—at the Great White Throne there is death. Calvary men stand in Christ’s righteousness—at the Great White Throne, in their own; at Calvary there is grace—at the Great White Throne, judgment; at Calvary there is pardon—at the Great White Throne, only condemnation.
No one will be judged at both places. If we meet Him as the Lamb, we will not meet Him as the Lion. If we reject the Lamb, we cannot avoid a confrontation with the Lion. What, then, will that confrontation be like?
The beloved Apostle John, in exile on the island of Patmos, wrote, “And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it” (Revelation 20:11). The Judge is the Lord Jesus Christ. What do we know about Him? First, He is omnipotent, a theological term that means “all powerful”. This, then, is the Supreme Court of the universe. There is no higher court to which a man can appeal. Resident within the Judge is the strength to carry out His sentence.
Secondly, the Judge is omnipresent. Simply defined, the Judge is all over all of the time.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there, if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee (Psalm 139:7-12).
Because this is so, there will be no circumstantial evidence. Every deed which man has done will be known by the One dispensing justice that day.
Thirdly, the Judge is omniscient. That is, He knows all things, both actual and possible. Not only can He evaluate the deeds which we have done, but the thoughts which have entered our minds. Jesus said if you thought it In your mind, you did it. How penetrating, this judgment.
Finally, of the many more things that can be said of the Judge, we emphasize His righteousness. Much is being said these days about the love of God. And while we have no intent to diminish the doctrine of the love of God, it should never be forgotten that He is also a God of absolute righteousness—and what His righteousness condemns, His love cannot embrace. It is not left to man to pick and choose—to appropriate the attributes of God which appeal to him and reject those which he doesn’t like. The Judge before whom men will stand at the Great White Throne is all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing, and infinitely righteous. He will not—He cannot lower His standards for any man.
The Basis of the Judgment
The norm by which men will be judged at the Great White Throne can be summed up in four words, “. . . according to their works” (Revelation 20:12,13). The contrast is marked. For those meeting the Lamb at Calvary, the hymn writer wrote, “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling.” Before the Lion at the final judgment, the basis of Judgment will be “works”.
With a sanctified imagination, that scene can be visualized. A man, haughty and proud—seemingly self-sufficient, with head erect and shoulders drawn back, is ushered before the throne—he has his day in court. Carefully he enumerates his earthly achievements, confident that his case is ironclad, only to find that before a holy God, who is a consuming fire, his righteousness is as “filthy rags”. He hears the final, irreversible decree, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).
A second man pleads that he lived as good as his hypocritical Christian neighbor, only to be told that his neighbor was not accepted on the basis of how he lived, but by the righteousness he appropriated through Christ. The defense arguments will vary, but all will be doomed to failure. Without appropriation of the righteousness provided by the Lamb, none will withstand the fierceness of the Lion.
The Judgment Itself
In this technologically advanced and highly enlightened twentieth century, to entertain the belief in a literal hell is, in the view of many, to be narrow minded and medieval. Be that as it may, when Jesus was upon the earth, He referred to hell far more than to heaven. A literal hell, into which men who reject God’s provision will be eternally cast, offends some people’s sensitivities, but that in no way negates its reality. John wrote, and the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:13-15).
Settle Out Of Court
A wagon train started a dangerous journey westward. Day after day, the men, women and children faced the ardors of the long journey. One day, after several months on the trail, the wagon train of climbed a steep hill. When the train reached the top, they were greeted with a horrifying sight. Before them, as far as the eye could see, was a great wall of fire being driven by the wind in their direction. Everyone was about to panic. Suddenly the wagon master rode quickly to the rear and, before the startled onlookers, started a fire behind the wagon train.
Soon, the wind that was blowing the fire toward them was blowing the newly started fire at their rear farther behind them. In a matter of moments, the entire train was able to back up to the burnt out area. As they watched the flames licking their way toward them, a little girl cried out, “Are you sure, are you sure we’re safe?” The wagon master responded, “Yes, we’re safe, because we’re standing where the flames have already been.”
At Calvary, the fire and wrath of God fell on His Son—there, the just died for the injust—the holiness of God was completely and eternally satisfied. If men back off to Calvary, they need not stand at the Great White Throne Judgment where the fire and wrath of God are still to fall.
Have you, dear reader, been to Calvary to meet the Lamb, or are you going to take your chances at the Great White Throne, where you will meet the Lion? Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”
“Be not deceived; God Is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Human justice is found only in “statuary”, divine justice is a reality. Wisdom and humility dictate that you settle your case out of court. The tender and loving Lamb Invites us to come to Him.