Judgment is a funny thing; it can tear one down & raise another up! More often than not, judgment has been given a bad connotation; famous phrases like that uttered by the famous Scottish actor Sean Connery in 'First Knight', 'God will judge you!', and the ever-popular 'judge not, that you be not judged'. Judgment, though, as Scripture tells us, is a two-edged sword, it cuts both way; some it condemns & imprisons, while others it justifies & sets free!
There is a good judgement & a bad one, a just & unjust judgement! When our Heavenly Father came to judge His people all, He separated between the sheep & the goats, those who were truly His People & those who were not, who rejected His Covenant, and killed His Messenger! with the one fine sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, Israel's Messiah, judgment was passed, for good to those who accepted Him for who He was, and for condemnation ( damnation ) to those who refused to believe that God would become flesh and dwell among us!
Not only was judgement passed at that time ( first century ), but The Judgement is Past; the People of God were judged & judged righteously, every man receiving a reward according to his works! This is not to say that there is no more judgement for the People of God, or for those who do not enjoy the Blessedness of His Presence; judgments are handed down every day! The Law of Natural Consequences is in force, as ever it was; as soon as one does right or wrong, good or bad, a verdict is announced and sooner or later ( 'be sure your sin will find you out' ),blessing or cursing will descend like a ton of bricks, for good or evil, depending on what inspired the judgement, and who made it!
The Law of God, which is basically our Heavenly Father's 'House Rules' has often been given a bad connotation as well! More often than not, Law is set in opposition to Grace, and whereas the Law held sway under that first [ covenant/contract], so now under the New Covenant, Grace has been revealed through the Son of God. The apostle Paul wrote that 'the law was our tutor to [ bring us to ] Christ'; though a case could be made here that he was referring more to the law given through Moses, rather than simply to the Law of God, the fact remains clear that the Law/law was meant to lead His people to lasting & blessed relationship with Himself, through the ministrations of Jesus the Christ!
As the End, or Goal of all that the Law had judged, both the Law & Judgement were met together in One Person, that being the Very Son of God, God Himself! Jesus fulfilled the Law when He passed Judgement on His Covenant People! Today, the People of God pass judgement in another way; we do not make judgment ourselves, but we do extend that Judgement that was handed down those many long years ago. Though, in a sense, we do judge for ourselves ( individually ), as we are called to do, the Judgement ( corporately ) has been made, and all we can do is agree or disagree with it, which brings us to Covenant!
Covenant, though somewhat contractual in nature ( you do this & I'll do that ), differs from a contract in that it does not end when it's obligations are fulfilled! When the obligations of a contract have been fulfilled, the contract is necessarily brought to and end; the deal was made, and now that both parties have held up their end to mutual satisfaction, the parties may go their own separate ways to make contracts with other parties. A covenant, on the other hand, is usually made for life! A marriage covenant, for instance, is made 'till death do us part' ( unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way, but that's the idea ). The history of David & Jonathan would be another good example; the covenant that they made together was for good & bad: they both purposed that whatever came, they would both do as the had agreed to do, no matter the consequences!
A covenant is relational, not simply an agreement made between two or more parties for mutual benefit, ( as a contract is ), but rather a promise, for good or evil, between two parties for the purpose of cementing a relationship, involving mutual love & affection! Though, as we have seen previously, a contract may develop into a covenant, whereas the contractees may decide to continue the relationship after the contract has ended, a covenant is never meant to end, or cease, but is biding upon the lives of both parties.
The Covenant that our Heavenly Father made with His People culminated in the Marriage of Heaven & Earth! Though its beginning was somewhat contractual in nature, the End thereof was that promised throughout the Scriptures, that God would dwell with His People once more, there would be no more crying for past sins, no more more pain of separation, for the old order of things had passed away, all things had become new!
'The End is near', to the Jew in the first century, meant not that history, or time itself, was drawing to a close; the fact that the End was at hand meant that the Eschaton had drawn nigh, that Israel's Messiah had appeared and was about to render the Judgement of God! This hopeful phrase meant, to those who awaited His Coming, that the End of the Law, that to which it had pointed, was about to be revealed! The Revelation of Jesus the Christ was both the End of the Law & the End of Judgement!
Charles Haddon Shank