In an earlier post, I noted that Revelation 4 describes not only a heavenly temple but a heavenly court. But the judgment isn’t passed until chapter 20, when the saints have taken thrones to share in the proceedings.
The beasts have already been throne into the lake of fire and the harlot city is smoldering ruins, but the Lord doesn’t pass final judgment on the dragon until the saints are enthroned to judge alongside Him. “You shall judge angels,” Paul says to the Corinthians, but it takes time and tribulations before the saints are equipped to judge angels.
What’s true of final judgment is, perhaps, also true of historical judgments. “How long, O Lord?” the Psalmist cries. “Rise up, Judge of the Earth,” but He doesn’t. He seems to let the wicked flourish for decades, even centuries. What’s he waiting for?
He’s waiting for qualified jurors and judges, and the only qualified ones are those who have kept the testimony of Jesus, who have not loved life even to death, who have been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus. Those who overcome by the blood of the Lamb and their testimony are elevated to the status of judge.
So long as He doesn’t judge, it means that no one has overcome and passed the bar. But we can also conclude that God will be at work to send the kinds of tribulations needed to train members of the court.