The Last Judgment, Last Judgement or The Day of the Lord (יום הדין, Yom Ha Din, یوم القيامة, Yawm al-Qiyāmah or یوم الدین, Yawm ad-Din) is part of the eschatological world view of the Abrahamic religions and in the Frashokereti of Zoroastrianism.
Some Christian denominations consider the Second Coming of Christ to be the final and eternal judgment by God of the people in every nation resulting in the glorification of some and the punishment of others. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. Christian Futurists believe it will take place after the Resurrection of the Dead and the Second Coming of Christ while Full Preterists believe it has already occurred. The Last Judgment has inspired numerous artistic depictions.
The doctrine and iconographic depiction of the “Last Judgment” are drawn from many passages from the apocalyptic sections of the Bible, but most notably from Jesus’ teaching of the strait gate in the Gospel of Matthew and also found in the Gospel of Luke:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:13–23)
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. (Luke 13:23–28)
It also appears in the Sheep and the Goats section of Matthew where the judgment seems entirely based on help given or refused to “one of the least of these my brethren” who are identified in Matthew 12 as “whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven”.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ (Matthew 25:31–36),
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ (Matthew 25:40–43)
Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:45–46)
The doctrine is further supported by passages in the Books of Daniel, Isaiah and the Revelation:
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Rev 20:11–12)
Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:10–12)
Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen! (Matthew 13:40–43)
I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! (Luke 12:4–5)
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! (Luke 12:49)
Amillennialism is the standard view in Christian denominations such as the Anglican, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian/Reformed Churches. It holds that “the kingdom of God is present in the church age”, and that the millennium mentioned in the Book of Revelation is a “symbol of the saints reigning with Christ forever in victory.”
Anglicanism and Methodism
Article IV – Of the Resurrection of Christ in Anglicanism’s Articles of Religion and Article III – Of the Resurrection of Christ of Methodism’s Articles of Religion state that:
Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of Man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sitteth, until he return to judge all Men at the last day.
As such, Anglican and Methodist theology holds that “there is an intermediate state between death and the resurrection of the dead, in which the soul does not sleep in unconsciousness, but exists in happiness or misery till the resurrection, when it shall be reunited to the body and receive its final reward.” This space, termed Hades, is divided into Paradise (the Bosom of Abraham) and Gehenna “but with an impassable gulf between the two”. Souls remain in Hades until the Last Judgment and “Christians may also improve in holiness after death during the middle state before the final judgment”.
Anglican and Methodist theology holds that at the time of the Last Day, “Jesus will return and that He will ‘judge both the quick and the dead’,” and “all [will] be bodily resurrected and stand before Christ as our Judge. After the Judgment, the Righteous will go to their eternal reward in Heaven and the Accursed will depart to Hell (see Matthew 25).” The “issue of this judgment shall be a permanent separation of the evil and the good, the righteous and the wicked” (see The Sheep and the Goats). Moreover, in “the final judgment every one of our thoughts, words, and deeds will be known and judged” and individuals will be justified on the basis of their faith in Jesus, although “our works will not escape God’s examination.”
Belief in the Last Judgment (often linked with the General judgment) is held firmly in Catholicism. Immediately upon death each soul undergoes the particular judgment, and depending upon the state of the person’s soul, goes to Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell. A soul in Purgatory will always reach Heaven, but those in Hell will be there eternally.
The Last Judgment will occur after the resurrection of the dead and the reuniting of a person’s soul with its own physical body. The Catholic Church teaches that at the time of the Last Judgment Christ will come in His glory, and all the angels with him, and in his presence the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare, and each person who has ever lived will be judged with perfect justice with those believing in Christ (and the unknown number of the righteous ignorant of Christ’s teaching, but who might be mysteriously saved through by Christ’s atonement), going to everlasting bliss, and those who reject Christ going to everlasting condemnation.
A decisive factor in the Last Judgement will be the question, if the corporal works of mercy were practiced or not during lifetime. They rate as important acts of charity. Therefore, and according to the biblical sources (Mt 25:31-46), the conjunction of the Last Judgement and the works of mercy is very frequent in the pictorial tradition of Christian art.
During the Last Judgment, all will be resurrected. Those who were in purgatory will have already been purged, meaning they would have already been released into Heaven, and so like those in Heaven and Hell will resurrect with their bodies. Following the Last Judgment, the bliss of Heaven & Earth, as well as the pains of Hell will be perfected in that those present will also be capable of physical bliss/pain.
After the Last Judgment the Universe itself will be renewed with a new Heaven and a new earth in the World to Come. The Eastern Orthodox and Catholic teachings of the Last Judgment differ only on the exact nature of the in-between state of purgatory/Abraham’s Bosom. These differences may only be apparent and not actual due to differing theological terminology and tradition.
The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that there are two judgments: the first, or “Particular” Judgment, is that experienced by each individual at the time of his or her death, at which time God will decide where the soul is to spend the time until the Second Coming of Christ (see Hades in Christianity). This judgment is generally believed to occur on the fortieth day after death. The second, “General” or “Final” Judgment will occur after the Second Coming.
Although in modern times some have attempted to introduce the concept of soul sleep into Orthodox thought about life after death, it has never been a part of traditional Orthodox teaching, and it even contradicts the Orthodox understanding of the intercession of the Saints.
Eastern Orthodoxy teaches that salvation is bestowed by God as a free gift of Divine grace, which cannot be earned, and by which forgiveness of sins is available to all. However, the deeds done by each person are believed to affect how he will be judged, following the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. How forgiveness is to be balanced against behavior is not well-defined in scripture, judgment in the matter being solely Christ’s.
Similarly, although Orthodoxy teaches that salvation is obtained only through Christ and his Church, the fate of those outside the Church at the Last Judgment is left to the mercy of God and is not declared.
The theme of the Last Judgment is extremely important in Orthodoxy. Traditionally, an Orthodox church will have a fresco or mosaic of the Last Judgment on the back (western) wall (see the 12th-century mosaic pictured at the top of this page) so that the faithful, as they leave the services, are reminded that they will be judged by what they do during this earthly life.
The icon of the Last Judgment traditionally depicts Christ Pantokrator, enthroned in glory on a white throne, surrounded by the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), John the Baptist, Apostles, saints and angels. Beneath the throne the scene is divided in half with the “mansions of the righteous” (John 14:2), i.e., those who have been saved to Jesus’ right (the viewer’s left); and the torments of those who have been damned to his left. Separating the two is the River of fire which proceeds from Jesus’ left foot. For more detail, see below.
The theme of the Last Judgment is found in the funeral and memorial hymnody of the Church, and is a major theme in the services during Great Lent. The second Sunday before the beginning of Great Lent is dedicated to the Last Judgment. It is also found in the hymns of the Octoechos used on Saturdays throughout the year.
Lutherans do not believe in any sort of earthly millennial kingdom of Christ either before or after his second coming on the last day. On the last day, all the dead will be resurrected. Their souls will then be reunited with the same bodies they had before dying. The bodies will then be changed, those of the wicked to a state of everlasting shame and torment, those of the righteous to an everlasting state of celestial glory. After the resurrection of all the dead, and the change of those still living, all nations shall be gathered before Christ, and he will separate the righteous from the wicked. Christ will publicly judge all people by the testimony of their faith— the good works of the righteous in evidence of their faith, and the evil works of the wicked in evidence of their unbelief. He will judge in righteousness in the presence of all and men and angels, and his final judgement will be just damnation to everlasting punishment for the wicked and a gracious gift of life everlasting to the righteous.
Particularly among those Protestant groups who adhere to a millennialist eschatology, the Last Judgment is said to be carried out before the Great White Throne by Jesus Christ to either eternal life or eternal consciousness in the lake of fire at the end of time. Salvation is granted by grace based on the individual’s surrender and commitment to Jesus Christ. A second particular judgment they refer to as the Bema Seat judgement occurs after (or as) salvation is discerned when awards are granted based on works toward heavenly treasures. What happens after death and before the final judgment is hotly contested; some believe all people sleep in Sheol until the resurrection, others believe Christians dwell in Heaven and pagans wander the earth, and others consider the time to pass instantaneously. Nevertheless, the body is not fully redeemed until after Death is destroyed after the Great Tribulation.
Protestant Millennialism falls into roughly two categories: Premillennialist (Christ’s second coming precedes the millennium) and Postmillennialist (which sees Christ’s second coming as occurring after the millennium).
Dispensational premillennialism generally holds that Israel and the Church are separate. It also widely holds to the pretribulational return of Christ, which believes that Jesus will return before a seven-year Tribulation followed by an additional return of Christ with his saints.
Esoteric Christian tradition
See also: Second Coming
Although the Last Judgment is preached by a great part of Christian mainstream churches; the Esoteric Christian traditions like the Essenes and Rosicrucians, the Spiritualist movement, Christian Science, and some liberal theologies reject the traditional conception of the Last Judgment, as inconsistent with an all-just and loving God, in favor of some form of universal salvation.
Max Heindel taught that when the Day of Christ comes, marking the end of the current fifth or Aryan epoch, the human race will have to pass a final examination or last judgment, where, as in the Days of Noah, the chosen ones or pioneers, the sheep, will be separated from the goats or stragglers, by being carried forward into the next evolutionary period, inheriting the ethereal conditions of the New Galilee in the making. Nevertheless, it is emphasized that all beings of the human evolution will ultimately be saved in a distant future as they acquire a superior grade of consciousness and altruism. At the present period, the process of human evolution is conducted by means of successive rebirths in the physical world and the salvation is seen as being mentioned in Revelation 3:12 (KJV), which states “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out“. However, this western esoteric tradition states—like those who have had a near-death experience—that after the death of the physical body, at the end of each physical lifetime and after the life review period (which occurs before the silver cord is broken), it occurs a judgment, more akin to a Final Review or End Report over one’s life, where the life of the subject is fully evaluated and scrutinized. This judgment is seen as being mentioned in Hebrews 9:27, which states that “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment“.
According to Islamic tradition, Yawm al-Qiyāmah (يوم القيامة “the Day of Resurrection”) or Yawm ad-Din (يوم الدين “the Day of Judgment”) is believed to be God’s (Allāh) final assessment of humanity. The sequence of events (according to the most commonly held belief) is the annihilation of all creatures, resurrection of the body, and the judgment of all sentient creatures. It is a time where everyone would be shown his or her deeds and actions with justice.
The exact time when these events will occur is unknown, however there are said to be major and minor signs which are to occur near the time of Qiyammah (End time). It is believed that prior to the time of Qiyammah, two dangerous, evil tribes called Yajooj and Majooj are released from a dam-resembling wall that Allah makes stronger everyday. Other signs being the coming of Isa bin Maryam (Jesus), appearance of Antichrist (Al-Masih ad-Dajjal), the sun rising from the west, and the Beast of the Earth. Also other signs like the blowing of the first trumpet by an archangel Israfil, the coming of rain of mercy that will cause human to grow from the last remain of a back bone. Many verses of the Quran, especially the earlier ones, are dominated by the idea of the nearing of the day of resurrection.
Belief in Judgment Day is considered a fundamental tenet of faith by all Muslims. It is one of the six articles of faith. The trials and tribulations associated with it are detailed in both the Quran and the hadith, sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Hence they were added in the commentaries of the Islamic expositors and scholarly authorities such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Majah, Muhammad al-Bukhari, and Ibn Khuzaimah who explain them in detail. Every human, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is believed to be held accountable for their deeds and are believed to be judged by God accordingly.
Main article: Jewish eschatology
In Judaism, beliefs vary about a last day of judgment for all mankind. Some rabbis hold that there will be such a day following the resurrection of the dead. Others hold that this accounting and judgment happens when one dies. Still others hold that the last judgment only applies to the gentiles (goyim) and not the Jewish people.
Crack of doom
In English, crack of doom is an old term used for the Day of Judgement, referring in particular to the blast of trumpets signalling the end of the world in Chapter 8 of the Book of Revelation. A “crack” had the sense of any loud noise, preserved in the phrase “crack of thunder”, and Doom was a term for the Last Judgement, as Doomsday still is.
The phrase is famously used by William Shakespeare in Macbeth, where on the heath the Three Witches show Macbeth the line of kings that will issue from Banquo:
- ‘Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
- What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
- Another yet! A seventh! I’ll see no more:’
(Act 4, scene 1, 112–117)- meaning that Banquo’s line will endure until the Judgement Day, flattery for King James I, who claimed descent from Banquo.
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia