A fiery stream issued - This is not spoken of the final judgment; but of that which he was to execute upon this fourth beast, the Roman empire; and the little boasting horn which is a part of the fourth beast, and must fall when the other falls.
A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him - Streams of fire seemed to burst forth from his throne. Representations of this kind abound in the Scriptures to illustrate the majesty and glory of God. Compare Revelation 4:5, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings, and thunderings, and voices.” Exodus 19:16; Habakkuk 3:4; Psalm 18:8.
Thousand thousands ministered unto him - “A thousand of thousands;” that is, thousands multiplied a thousand times. The mind is struck with the fact that there are thousands present - and then the number seems as great as if those thousands were multiplied a thousand times. The idea is that there was an immense - a countless host. The reference here is to the angels, and God is often represented as attended with great numbers of these celestial beings when he comes down to our world. Deuteronomy 33:2, “he came with ten thousands of saints;” that is, of holy ones. Psalm 68:17, “the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels.” Compare Jude 1:14. The word “ministered” means that they attended on him.
And ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him - An innumerable host. These were not to be judged, but were attendants on him as he pronounced sentence. The judgment here referred to was not on the world at large, but on the beast, preparatory to giving the kingdom to the one who was like the Son of man Daniel 7:13-14.
The judgment was set - That is, all the arrangements for a solemn act of judgment were made, and the process of the judgment commenced.
And the books were opened - As containing the record of the deeds of those who were to be judged. Compare Revelation 20:12. The great Judge is represented as having before him the record of all the deeds on which judgment was to be pronounced, and to be about to pronounce sentence according to those deeds. The judgment here referred to seems to have been some solemn act on the part of God transferring the power over the world, from what had long swayed it, to the saints. As already remarked, the necessary interpretation of the passage does not require us to understand this of a literal and visible judgment - of a personal appearing of the “Ancient of days” - of a formal application to him by “one like the Son of man” Daniel 7:13 - or of a public and visible making over to him of a kingdom upon the earth. It is to be remembered that all this passed in vision before the mind of the prophet; that it is a symbolic representation; and that we are to find the fulfillment of this in some event changing the course of empire - putting a period to the power represented by the “beast” and the “horn,” and causing that power to pass into other hands - producing a change as great on the earth as if such a solemn act of judgment were passed. The nature of the representation requires that we should look for the fulfillment of this in some great and momentous change in human affairs - some events that would take away the power of the “beast,” and that would cause the dominion to pass into other hands. On the fulfillment, see the notes at Daniel 7:26.
In the typical service only those who had come before God with confession and repentance, and whose sins, through the blood of the sin offering, were transferred to the sanctuary, had a part in the service of the Day of Atonement. So in the great day of final atonement and investigative judgment the only cases considered are those of the professed people of God. The judgment of the wicked is a distinct and separate work, and takes place at a later period. “Judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel?” 1 Peter 4:17. GC 480.1
The books of record in heaven, in which the names and the deeds of men are registered, are to determine the decisions of the judgment. Says the prophet Daniel: “The judgment was set, and the books were opened.” The revelator, describing the same scene, adds: “Another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” Revelation 20:12. GC 480.2
The book of life contains the names of all who have ever entered the service of God. Jesus bade His disciples: “Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20. Paul speaks of his faithful fellow workers, “whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4:3. Daniel, looking down to “a time of trouble, such as never was,” declares that God's people shall be delivered, “everyone that shall be found written in the book.” And the revelator says that those only shall enter the city of God whose names “are written in the Lamb's book of life.” Daniel 12:1; Revelation 21:27. GC 480.3Read in context »
At the general conference of believers in the present truth, held at Sutton, Vermont, September, 1850, I was shown that the seven last plagues will be poured out after Jesus leaves the sanctuary. Said the angel, “It is the wrath of God and the Lamb that causes the destruction or death of the wicked. At the voice of God the saints will be mighty and terrible as an army with banners, but they will not then execute the judgment written. The execution of the judgment will be at the close of the one thousand years.” EW 52.1Read in context »
We need to understand clearly the divine requirements that God makes of His people. The law, which is the transcript of His character, no one need fail to understand. The words written by the finger of God on tables of stone so perfectly reveal His will concerning His people that none need make any mistake. The laws of His kingdom were definitely made known, to be afterward revealed to the people of all nations and tongues as the principles of His government. We would do well to study those laws recorded in Exodus 20 and in the thirty-first chapter, verses 12-18. 1SM 225.1
When the judgment shall sit, and the books shall be opened, and every man shall be judged according to the things written in the books, then the tables of stone, hidden by God until that day, will be presented before the world as the standard of righteousness. Then men and women will see that the prerequisite of their salvation is obedience to the perfect law of God. None will find excuse for sin. By the righteous principles of that law, men will receive their sentence of life or of death. 1SM 225.2Read in context »