“As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of Days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. 10 A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.” (Daniel 7:9-10)
It is the end of the world. That is not just on the end of the year. It is also not about the all too quickly coming finals week. It really is the end of the world and that really does mean the judgement of the All Holy God is imminent. And this is not the peaceful God that so many Christians envision. This is among the most intimidating images of God that is presented in the whole of Scripture.
Imagine if one of your professors came into class and instead of a shirt and tie, they were dressed in a shining and brilliant white robe. Instead of a normal classroom chair he sat down upon a throne that was on fire and that shot fire out from before it. If this was your professor you would probably be quite terrified to turn in anything sub-par to him. Yet this example is similar to the image of God that we are presented with in Daniel 7.
On the Last Day God is the righteous Judge. This righteous Judge holds sway not over just one part of the world, but the entire Earth. He is the God of absolute authority and justice. He expects nothing less than perfection and infallible obedience to the laws which are presented in Holy Scripture. There is no leniency for first time offenders, there is no showing up late or cramming the night before and hoping it all works out. You will be called before this Righteous Judge. You will be judged according to your whole life. You will be placed on trial before the throne of God.
How’s that working out? Can you honestly say that you are blameless? How about following the Law of God? Is that going well for you? In truth even if you were to shrink the Law of God to just the First Commandment, (“You hall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3), you would still fall short. Because other things do get in the way of God. Classwork takes precedent over devotional life. Relationships with fellows and girlfriends become more important at times than a right relationship with the one true God. Even sleep becomes more important than giving glory to God for the wonderful gifts he has given.
When you are called to stand before the righteous throne of judgement, when you must stand before the burning face of Almighty God, there is only one possible verdict. Innocent. Yes, innocent. Certainly this is not in accord with your own actions. Your actions merit the sentence of guilty. But you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus is the propitiation for your sins (1 John 2:1-2). Left by yourself you would be condemned. You would be left in a guilty verdict that results only in the sentence of eternal damnation. Yet, knowing this the righteous Judge of the World made plans that justice would be served and yet you would not suffer the consequences.
He sent His only Son. His Son would live the life that you could not. His Son would perfectly follow the commands of the Ancient of Days. His Son would be perfect. Yet it is His Son who would bear the cost of judgement. It is Jesus Christ who suffered and died so that you might have life and have life abundantly (John 10:10). He gives this life to you through your baptism. He gives this life to you through the Lord’s Supper. He gives this life to you through His Holy Word. He gives this life in these places because this is where He gives you His Holy Spirit.
So yes, it is the end of the world. Judgement is coming and it is coming soon. But to those who have faith in Jesus Christ, it is not a terrible day of judgement at all. It is a blessed day on which the fruit of our faith will come into perfection. May we always pray, “O Jesus Christ do not delay, but hasten our salvation; we often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation. O hear and grant our fervent plea: come, mighty judge, and set us free from death and every evil.” (Lutheran Service Book 508:7)