How often when we think about judgement do we think of it as a instant occurrence? Most of the time I would say somewhat forgetting the fact that even judgement in a human court is a process proceeded by arrest, charge, trail, etc.
Scripturally speaking, the judgement of the Lord is more often than not a process though not along the lines outlined above where the process is to determine guilt. God has already determined guilt beforehand but the process, as opposed to summary, nature of Gods judgement is to allow space for repentance.
Exceptions to this exist when the offence is so henious and offensive to God that instant justice is dished out. For example, Acts 4-5 tells us the story of Ananias and Sapphira who were struck down dead instantly for keeping part of the profits they made from selling a field back for themselves from the Church and lying to Peter about this. This instant judgement on the two however served as a warning to others (Acts 5:11). In the Old Testament, much prophetic warning was given to Israel to repent before punishment was meted out, in the story scene above there was still warning given to those who would do wrong in the Church but it was served by action against the two miscreants.
Another pattern worth observing is that God disciplines His children first and foremost:
If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all
After-all, what parent truly goes around disciplining other people’s children?
So, turning to Revelations, we can realistically expect judgement, long-before the seals and the trumpets etc, to fall upon the Church swiftest and harshest alongside the world in general. Indeed, Jesus tells us this is the case:
All the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds
God never judges without warning and His judgement is a process – the thing that the Church must now realise is that this process has already begun – it is not some comfortably (and conveniently) far-off, future event, it is here, it is now.