Court Scene in the Daniel 7 ProphecySee the Daniel 7 Study Guide.
The prophecy in Daniel 7 places a great emphasis on a court scene. This court is focused on judgment. Notice that the "judgment was set" (v. 10), the "books are opened" (v. 10), "judgment was given" (v. 7:22), and the "judgment shall sit" (v. 26). There is a time of presenting evidence as the books are opened, deliberation and announcing a verdict. Other Bible versions describe a court in verse 26, such as the "the court will sit for judgment" (NASB). The language points us to a time when an investigation of evidence and a verdict occur in a heavenly court.
The descriptions related to the judgment (Daniel 7:9-14, 22-27) show not only the condemnation of the beast, but the justification of the saints. Unlike modern concepts of judgment, in Biblical times judgment always involved both parties, resulting in vindication of one and punishment of the other. This concept is expanded in Daniel's next vision of the sanctuary being cleansed, which is from the Hebrew word "tsadaq," meaning "to be right, clear self and justify." Those in the right will be proven right and announced to be right. The verdict is achieved by examining the books (v. 10), which are opened before thousands and thousands of heavenly beings (Dan. 7:10); the most impressive court room in history.
The court scene reveals that there is a time of judgment that occurs before Jesus receives the kingdom and returns to earth (Dan. 7:13-14). This is also referenced throughout the Bible.
"For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
"But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Heb. 9:27).
"Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world" (Acts 17:31). The apostles spoke of a time of judgment future to their day.
"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:11-14). This parable shows that there is an inspection of the guests prior to the wedding. This is referring to the judgment of God's people prior to Him receiving the kingdom and returning to earth.
"Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters" (Revelation 14:7). In Revelation 14, a time of judgment is proclaimed, which occurs before the gospel is finished being preached to the entire world. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14). This judgment occurs while probation continues, prior to the second coming of Christ.
We know from the above verses that this time of judgment was future to the time of the apostles and prior to the second coming. Daniel 7 shows that the court scene takes place after the saints had been in the Little horn's hands for 1260 years, which places it sometime after 1798. Other prophecies and Bible passages refer to this same event (see Pre-Advent Judgment Parallels), and the exact start date of 1844 is revealed in the next prophecy in Daniel 8 and 9.