Summary: There are three judgments you need to know about. Two of the three judgments that we will consider applies to every person who has ever lived. The question is: "Which two?"
THE APPOINTMENT EVERYONE WILL ULTIMATELY KEEP
In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: ’Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ " Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, "Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. 2 Kings 20:1-3 (NKJV)
Our text describes one of the most interesting events recorded in the Bible. The Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to King Hezekiah with a truly upsetting message, “Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.” Hezekiah did what most of us would do having received such tidings, he wept bitterly at the news and fervently prayed to God for his life.
The Lord told Isaiah: "Return and tell Hezekiah the leader of My people, ’Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: ’I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; surely I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add to your days fifteen years”. (2 Kings 20:5-6). The Lord kept His promise (as He always does) but at the end of the fifteen years “Hezekiah rested with his fathers.” (2 Kings 20:21). Hezekiah’s appointment was rescheduled but not canceled.
The writer of Hebrews wrote: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27). Through prayer and supplication the Lord may choose to extend our days, but sooner or later, every one of us will die. All of us have an appointment with death.
Appointments are a way of life for all of us. All of us have made doctor’s appointments, dental appointments, scheduled activity appointments, and the like. Normally we can cancel an appointment or reschedule it for a more convenient time. Though the words “You shall die and not live” might allow for some degree of flexibility if the Lord so wills, but in the final analysis, our appointment with physical death is an appointment that we will keep.
The words “after this the judgment” are most sobering. There are three judgments you need to know about. Two, and only two, of these three judgments will apply to every person who has ever lived. But which two? The answer to that question spells the difference between everlasting joy and everlasting despair! Let’s look at these three judgments that are described in the Bible and see how this truth applies to us.
I. The Judgment to Determine Man’s Eternal Destiny!
This judgment comes immediately upon death and affects every man. (Hebrews 9:27)
Regarding the saved:
"We are confident, I say, and willing to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:8. "And it came about that the poor man [Lazarus] died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom…" Luke 16:22.
Regarding the lost: "…and the rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment…" Luke 16:22b-23a.
II. The Judgment Seat of Christ!
This judgment which will immediately follow the Lord’s coming for the redeemed (referred to as "the Rapture of the Church").
This is not a judgment for sin but of deeds we have done. Our sins were judged on the cross! No double jeopardy with God!
"For we [the redeemed] must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for the deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." [2 Corinthians 5:10].
"Each one’s work will become clear; for the Day [of judgment] will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." [1 Corinthians 3:13-15].
This judgment will determine our eternal reward [or lack thereof] for the deeds we have done. Remember, our salvation is a gift [Ephesians 2:8-9] but our crown(s) will be our reward(s).
The Bible tells us of five crowns that the Christian may receive:
1.The “incorruptible crown” given for self-denial (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
2.“The crown of rejoicing” given to soul winners (1 Thessalonians 2:19).
3.“The crown of righteousness” given to those who love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
4.“The crown of glory” for faithful pastors (1 Peter 5:1-4).
5.“The crown of life” for those who endure trials (James 1:12).