“For Judgment I AM . . . ”1
And Jesus said, For judgment I AM come into this world . . .
— John 9:39 (emphasis supplied).
The Judgment Legends
The biblical concept of “judgment” has long been interpreted as divine and/or human retributive action(s) to end this fallen world. Some claim that God has been engaged in judgment by poring through heavenly records to identify those who have confessed their sins and to then eternally punish those with unconfessed and unforgiven transgressions. Others contend that there will be a final judgmental battle on earth to exterminate evil and to take true believers to heaven through rapture/translation. Still others fear that this world and the universe are destined for self-extermination.
The Judgment Truths
In the Hebrew text the first words of the Bible state, “At the Beginning, ELoHIM (ELoKIM) created the Heavens and the Earth. . . . ‘ELoKIM’ in Hebrew means ‘JUDGE’ . . . [Thus, t]he world was created by the Judge, ELoKIM, to stand a JUDGEMENT.”2
Ever since, God as the divine “Being” has judgmentally sustained his Creation. “On the statement of Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel, ‘By three things the world is preserved, by truth, by judgment, and by peace’ (Avot 1:18), the Talmud declares that they are in effect one, since ‘if judgment is executed, truth is vindicated, and peace prevails’ (TJ. Ta’an. 4:2, 68a).”3
In his initial judgment God necessarily exercised command, possession, power and promise to initiate, protect and advance Creation. This necessarily imposed the consequence of a vertical, dominating relationship — known as the old covenant — upon all “others.”4
Because God in his inmost Being was, is and always will be loving, compassionate and giving, he chose to accept the old-covenant consequence he had imposed on all “others.” In this context God “Became” incarnate as Jesus Christ. Soon after beginning his ministry, Jesus Christ stated, “For judgment I AM come into this world . . .” (John 9:39, emphasis supplied). Thus, God again defined himself as the “Judgment.” Not surprisingly, for thousands of years in Judaism, the term for God — ELoHIM — has been understood as referring to “judgment.”5
God became incarnate in order to fulfill and terminate the old covenant of command, possession and power, as he declared, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:31, 32). Thus, through his earthly life, ministry, suffering, death and resurrection, God as Jesus Christ terminated the old covenant and inaugurated the new covenant of irrevocable self-giving life and compassionate love.6
Now God, who is “the Judge of all” (Hebrews 12:23), together with the entire Creation, is anticipating his final judgment as the “Effecting” One.7 This judgment will involve the Parousaic (“enthronement”) presence of God (Second Coming), the resurrection of all who have died, and the eternal transformation of all Creation. Thus, God will fully and finally fulfill the new covenant of unending love and compassionate egalitarian relationships.
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump [judgment8]: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. — 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.
- John 9:39. (go back)
- Rabbi Tzvi Aviner, “Noahide Seven Commandments,” at www.noahidesevencommandments.com/detail.asp?iArt=289&iType=32. (go back)
- Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. Louis Isaac Rabinowitz, “Peace: In the Talmud.” The prophet Zechariah is even more explicit: “These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates . . . ” (Zechariah 8:16). (go back)
- See “The Gospel for the Postmodern World III: The ‘Other Side’ of God,” Outlook (January 2008); “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ III: Command,” Outlook (December 2009); “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ IV: Possession,” Outlook (January 2010); “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ VI: Empowerment,” Outlook (March 2010). (go back)
- See note 2. (go back)
- See “The Divine Struggle for ‘I’ and ‘Thou’ VIII: The Incarnate God,” Outlook (May 2010). (go back)
- The alternate name for God — YHWH — often translated as “I AM,” is derived from the Hebrew root word hayah, which has the threefold meaning “to be,” “to become” and “to effect.” See Thorleif Boman, Hebrew Thought Compared with Greek (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1960), pp. 38-49. (go back)
- See Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD-ROM ed. (1997), s.v. Albert L. Lewis, “Reasons for Sounding the Shofar.” (go back)
Last Revised September 2011