JUDGMENT IN THE BOOK OF DANIEL
It is significant that the judgment, and particularly the investigative phase, is the central focus of the visions in the Book of Daniel, the book of the Bible that is most like the Book of Revelation. The visions of Daniel show the history of God's people from the time of Daniel until they are delivered at the Second Coming of Christ, with each vision adding more detail. In the first vision of the multi-metal image in chapter 2, there is a review of the world empires that oppressed God’s people, from Babylon through Persia, Greece, Rome and Papal Rome. But the climax of the vision is the final judgment, represented by a stone from heaven that destroys the oppressive kingdoms and sets up God’s eternal kingdom.
More detail is added to this skeleton outline in chapter 7, where the world empires are represented by four wild animals and a “little horn,” which blasphemes God and persecutes the saints. Again the real focus is the final judgment when “the court was seated and the books were opened” (Daniel 7:10). This judgment takes place in heaven with an examination of books of record (vs. 9,10), in other words it is an investigative judgment. The main purpose is not to establish the guilt of those who reject God, but to save the saints and establish them in His kingdom—“a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (v. 22, see also vs. 26,27).
In the next vision found in chapter 8 the persecuting kingdoms are represented by a ram, a goat and a “little horn which grew exceedingly.” This vision shows that the anti-God system represented by the horn does not just affect God’s people on earth but has an effect on the whole universe—“it grew up to the host of heaven, and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the hosts; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down” (Daniel 8:10,11). Once again the climax of the vision is God’s solution to the problem—“For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed” (v. 14). This important verse is explained in detail in 14:7 The Hour of His Judgment, showing that the cleansing of the sanctuary is the investigative judgment, as symbolized by the Day of Atonement.
Daniel “was astonished by the vision but no one understood it” and was “sick for days” (v.27) because of his misunderstanding of the 2300 days and the cleansing of the sanctuary. In Daniel 9 the angel returned to clear up Daniel’s misconception and to reveal the time when the Investigative Judgment would begin (see 14: When in History? and Appendix 5 for more details).
In the eleventh and twelfth chapters of Daniel God gave Daniel a detailed outline of the great war that has been raging on for centuries between the King of the North and the King of the South (see 9: Kings of the North and South). As in the previous visions, that which is of primary importance is not the revelation of world history, but the judgment at the end of time when “Michael shall stand up….there shall be a time of trouble such as never was….and at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1).
This overview shows that the investigative judgment, which involves investigation of “the books” and the deliverance of God’s children from their oppressors, is the central theme of Daniel. Therefore we would expect that the investigative judgment would also be a central theme in the book of Revelation. In fact, many of the same elements are present, particularly the opening of the books of heaven before the throne of God with the participation of the myriads of angels.
It may seem to some readers that there has been an inordinate emphasis on the investigative judgment. But as we will see later in this chapter, this is a judgment that is taking place right now. The next great event is the beginning of the executive judgment, which will culminate in the Second Coming of Christ. We are no longer looking at vague and indefinite periods of time that will continue until we finally come to the last days. We are right in the midst of the last days, and most of the world is totally unaware that human history as we have known it is about to come to an end.
 Daniel 7 is not showing the executive judgment which takes place at the Second Coming of Christ when Jesus comes “on the clouds of heaven” to this earth (Matthew 26:64), but rather Jesus is seen “coming with the clouds of heaven to the Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:13). The progression of events is that the horn is making war against the saints, then a judgment is made in favor of the saints and the “Son of Man” is given a kingdom, and finally the time comes for the saints to possess the kingdom (Daniel 7:21,22,13,14).