Thursday, November 18, 2004

Dressed For The Judgment

We live in a society that judges individuals according to their attire, ascribing
values based on socio-economical status to people. We then proceed to treat
the person according to our evaluation of them, based in part, on their attire.
The better the dress for the occasion or event, the better treatment they receive. The worse the dress for the occasion, well, you get the picture. The point is that how we dress matters. Yes, we live in a very casual society, and we've all heard the come as you are mantra. But you would be as unlikely to attend a wedding in shorts, as you would be to picnic, wearing -- a tuxedo. True? Yes, dress matters, not only to human beings, but even to God.

How we dress spiritually, will determine whether we will be part of the group who will be vindicated and shall possess the eternal kingdom. According to Daniel 7: 22, 26-27:

Dan 7:22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
Dan 7:26-27 But the judgment shall sit, … And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the
people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting
kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

The investigative judgment will determine whether we are properly dressed or not.

Consider the Parable of the wedding banquet in Matthews 22:1-14. A king
calls for his guests to come to his son’s wedding. Most of the guests, who
had already been invited, decline to attend, although preparations had been
made for their attendance. Many declined for personal reasons. Others, became irritated and eventually angry at those reminding them of the upcoming wedding. Annoyed, they verbally abuse, and push the King's messengers away. Snatching the invitation, they tear it into shreds, and with contempt, throw it to the ground, and step on it. This they feel will finally settle the matter of their attendance. But no, other messengers are sent, requesting the presence of these subjects to the King's son's wedding. Angry beyond measure, the invitees quarrel with the messengers. As their contempt and rage climb, the crowd grows, till with mob mentality, the invitees kill the King's messengers, and burn the invitations. The King himself, is insulted and outraged at the behavior of his subjects and friends. Justice requires that he quell the insurrection, so he sends his army to avenge the death of his servants. But everything is still ready. The wedding cake is dressed
and stands in the middle of the ballroom floor, the flowers adorn each table. The orchestra awaits the command to strike the first cord. The singers await the first note. The five course meal is reheating, and even the bride and groom to be await the guests. Frustrated, the Prince asks his Father the King, "How long Father, how much longer shall we wait?" "Doesn't anyone want to attend this joyous occasion?" "Didn't they say they were coming?" "What has happened?" "Don't they know you could command their attendance, yet you have invited them, and they-- have refused." "What more could we do?"

Saddened that his friends have rejected the royal invitation, but determined to celebrate his son's wedding with others, the King sends additional servants. Quickly, into the outer regions of the kingdom they go, bidding people to the wedding. Anxious that the wedding banquet be filled, they tell the potential guests, "all is now ready, make haste and come." Responding with amazement, the people, flattered that the King has invited them, come, and at last, the wedding is furnished with guests. Pleased, the King -- as host,
greets his guests. One by one they are presented to him, and oh how beautifully they are attired. Thoughtfully, the King has spared no expense to clothe each, that none might feel ashamed. As one of guests approaches the king, a murmur is heard from the servants and the other guests-- "what is he wearing?" "Did he not receive the invitation and the royal wedding attire?" Noting that the guest is inappropriately attired, the king kindly asks, "why didn't you wear the attire I sent for you?" Ashamed, and embarrassed, the man could give no reason for his ‘oversight.’ Angered, the King ordered his servants to tie the man and throw him into the darkness.

Sister White says that the inspection of the guests symbolizes the investigative segment of the judgment. Furthermore, she states that the people invited to the banquet represent those professing Christ. But, only those who are worthy are allowed to stay at the banquet. The man who was not dressed for the occasion suffers the same consequence as the first group of unworthy guests-- subjects, who outright rejected the King's invitation. These represent the
wicked. Those who remain in the banquet are the righteous. What is the difference between them? Who are the wicked and who are the righteous?

The wicked are those who reject the character of Christ, symbolized as the robe of Righteousness given to us by Christ. Many of these individuals are pillars in their community. They are “nice” people, well mannered and cultured. We may even “like” them. They are people who are well respected in our churches, neighborhoods, businesses, and government. In contrast, the worthy do not only profess to abide in Christ, they actually do. They have accepted the robe of righteousness given by Christ. The worthies love God supremely and their neighbors as He has loved them. Although loving and kind, they are not necessarily deemed as nice. While they may not be easily liked, they are
capable, through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, of loving you while at the same time hating what you do.

The investigative judgment is happening now-- Christ is evaluating our wedding attire. Concerning this, Sister White says,

It is while men are still dwelling upon the earth that the work of the investigative judgment takes place in the courts of heaven. The lives of all His professed followers pass in review before God. All are examined according to the record of the books of heaven, and according to his deeds the destiny of each is forever fixed. (E.G. White Notes page 55)

Those who accept and wear the robe of Christ's Righteousness have nothing to fear. The investigative judgment vindicates them against the accusations of Satan before the watching universe. By their name in the Lamb's Book of Life is written, forgiven and their sins are blotted out that they may receive the
refreshing rain of the Spirit. When your name is presented to the King, will you be found dressed?
Raul Diaz & Maria Greaves-Barnes

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