The Bible tells us that God, “has set a day in which He purposes to judge the inhabited earth” (Acts 17:31). For Christians, Judgment Day is the final and eternal judgment by God of the people in every nation resulting in the punishment of some and the glorification of others.
When God placed humans on the earth, He intended for them to live forever on earth. The Bible tells us, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care it. And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it, you will certainly die’” (Genesis 2:15-17). Although physically and mentally perfect, the first human couple rebelled against God. As a result, they lost the prospect of eternal life or themselves and brought sin and death to all their descendants.
Judgment Day will be a period of a thousand years during which humans will have the opportunity to regain what Adam and Eve lost. Notice that Acts 17:31 says that Judgment Day will affect those living on the “inhabited earth.” Those receiving favorable judgment will live on earth and will enjoy everlasting life in perfect conditions (Revelation 21: 3-4). Thus, Judgment Day helps accomplish God’s original purpose for humans and the earth.
God’s appointed judge is Jesus Christ. The Bible says that Jesus will “judge the living and the dead” (2 Timothy 4:1). Who are the living that will be judged and how will the dead come to life again on the inhabited earth? We are now nearing the foretold end of the present system of things, when God will destroy all elements of corrupt human society and remove the wicked. Survivors of the system’s end are “the living” who will be judged. During the period of judgment, which will last 1,000 years, Jesus along with 144,000 men and women resurrected to life in heaven will rule over the earth. They will serve as kings and priests, administering the benefits of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and progressively elevating faithful humans to physical and mental perfection.
Will the judgment of resurrected ones be based on what they did before their death? No. Many people imagine that on Judgment Day, billions of souls will be brought before God’s throne to be judged according to their former deeds – some to be rewarded with life in heaven, others to be tormented in hell. The Bible shows however, that the purpose of Judgment Day is to rescue people from injustice. The Bible says, “Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for He comes, He judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness” (Psalm 96: 13). God has appointed Jesus to be the Judge who will restore justice to mankind.
The Bible also teaches that “he who has died has been acquitted from his sin” (Romans 6:7). So, like those who survive the end of the system, those resurrected to life on earth will be judged “according to their deeds” during Judgment Day (Revelation 2:12-13). Depending on the final outcome of their actions, this will turn out to be either a resurrection that results in everlasting life or a resurrection that results in destruction. Many of those restored to life for the first time will come to know about God and his requirements for life. They will have the opportunity to live in harmony with God’s Will and receive everlasting life on earth.
Those who died without ever knowing God and serving Him will have the opportunity to change and do good. If they do so, their resurrection will turn out to be “a resurrection of life.” Some of the resurrected ones, however, will not learn God’s ways. Theirs will turn out to be a resurrection of judgment.
Besides wondering if we will be ready for Judgment Day, the second most important question we should ask is “When will Judgment Day come?” Many wonder if there will be a sign. People have speculated and even affirmed specific days as the last days. However, the failure of these prophecies alone teach us at the very least to be wary of such predictions. The truth is, we will not know the day or the hour for the Bible tells us so. Scripture tells us, “But about the day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). It becomes difficult, even impossible to believe that someone can predict the occurrence of Judgment Day. We do not know when it will occur, so we must be ready all the time. We must live like it is tomorrow.
We have no reason to fear Judgment Day. It will not only be a day of instruction from God, but also a time for those alive to apply what they learn and enjoy the blessings that results. Just imagine your joy at being reunited with resurrected loved ones and growing to human perfection along with them.