The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: J

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Judgment seat at Jerusalem

Isa 25:7,8: the glorification of the saints will take place at Jerusalem/Zion. ("This mountain" can only be Zion: see Isa 24:23.) If the righteous will be given eternal life there, what is more reasonable than to conclude that the site of their judgment will be there also?

Also, Christ speaks repeatedly of Gehenna as the scene of punishment for the responsible wicked (many refs). Christadelphians have always been quick to show believers in "hell-torments" that Gehenna is a known locality, adjacent to Jerusalem, where the bodies of criminals, animal carcasses, and other garbage were burned. Is it fair to take Gehenna as literal when convenient, and figurative at other times, only to suit our preconceived notions? If Gehenna is indeed the literal place where the responsible wicked will be destroyed after the judgment by Christ, what does this tell us about the location of that judgment? Are we really prepared to argue that Gehenna is in the Sinai desert?

Note also that twice in Christ's earthly ministry, the temple area was the scene of his cleansing judgment against hypocritical professors of the Truth. And the fig tree which he cursed was also adjacent to Jerusalem!

Other passages favor Zion as the location of judgment, because it will be the scene of the saints' reward: Psa 133:3 for one: "There (Mount Zion) the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore."

Psa 87:5: The Lord's people are counted as having been born in Zion, because all their hopes and aspirations are centered upon that place. By a similar figure, their "mother" is Jerusalem (see Gal 4:26; Isa 54:1,11-13; cp Rev 21:2). What more beautiful than the completion of the process of "rebirth" in Zion? If the saints are "born" at baptism to be prospective children of Zion, then why not truly "born" after judgment in the glory of immortal bodies, again at Zion? Common sense would suggest that "children" should not be "born" hundreds of miles away from their "mother"!

Mat 25:31-34: A careful reading indicates that the separation of the "sheep" and the "goats" takes place at the same place where Christ's "throne of glory" is located. Again, Christadelphians argue eloquently against those of other persuasions that the throne of Christ and David can only be in Jerusalem, and not in heaven (or Rome or Salt Lake City). If that is so for purposes of first principle arguments about the nature of the coming kingdom, then let us not shrink from the implication of such a passage as this in regard to the location of judgment. Are we really prepared to argue that Christ's "throne of glory", where he will sit as a King (Mat 25:34), will be set up for a time on Mount Sinai?

"His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives" (Zec 14:4) -- the same place where his feet last stood before his ascension into heaven (Act 1:9-12). Does it stand to reason that Christ will return first to the immediate locale of Jerusalem, and then immediately hustle off a couple of hundred miles to the southwest, for a special judgment at Sinai?

Other NT passages seem to call for the same interpretation: among them (a) Heb 12:18-24 (the context is certainly judgment: "Much more shall not we escape" -- Heb 12:25); (b) Gal 4:24-28 (two covenants; Moses' covenant at Sinai had to do with length of mortal days in the land, but Christ's covenant at Jerusalem has to do with eternal life); and (c) Rev 5:6-10; 7:9-14; 14:1-5; and 19:1-9 (the scene of the saints' reward is invariably the royal throne of Christ and Mt Zion).


The location of the Judgment is called "an uncertain detail" by RR in Xd 35:185: "Where will Christ set up the judgment seat? Will it be in Palestine, or in Egypt, or in the Arabian peninsula, in the solitudes of Sinai? We cannot be sure... An uncertain detail must not be made a basis of fellowship. We must not insist upon a man believing the judgment seat will be set up at Sinai or any particular place so long as he believes that 'Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom'."
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