October 18, 2017

The Day of the Lord

Judgment is coming upon the world. It may be in our lifetime, it may not. But it will come. God will destroy every nation on earth, every living thing; for He is righteous and the whole world abides in sin. He is holy and every creature on earth is utterly wicked. He is just, and we in our sinfulness have violated His law. And so we must pay the price; we must serve out our sentence. We must die, for we have rejected our Creator. We must be cast out of His presence, for we have rebelled against His demands. Take a few minutes to consider God’s depiction of coming judgment, as prophesied by Zephaniah around 630 BC:

“I will utterly sweep away everything
    from the face of the earth, declares the LORD.
I will sweep away man and beast;
    I will sweep away the birds of the heavens
    and the fish of the sea,
and the rubble [idols] with the wicked.
    I will cut off mankind
    from the face of the earth, declares the LORD.

 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
    and I will punish the men
who are complacent,
    those who say in their hearts,
‘The LORD will not do good,
    nor will he do ill.’
Their goods shall be plundered,
    and their houses laid waste.
Though they build houses,
    they shall not inhabit them;
though they plant vineyards,
    they shall not drink wine from them.

The great day of the LORD is near,
    near and hastening fast;
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter;
    the mighty man cries aloud there.
A day of wrath is that day,
    a day of distress and anguish,
a day of ruin and devastation,
    a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and thick darkness,
    a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
against the fortified cities
    and against the lofty battlements.

I will bring distress on mankind,
    so that they shall walk like the blind,
    because they have sinned against the LORD;
their blood shall be poured out like dust,
    and their flesh like dung.
Neither their silver nor their gold
    shall be able to deliver them
    on the day of the wrath of the LORD.
In the fire of his jealousy,
    all the earth shall be consumed;
for a full and sudden end
    he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.”
(Zephaniah 1:2-3, 12-18)

Judgment is sure upon those who reject God, who refuse to believe His Word. Destruction is sure. That day of reckoning is described as a great day of wrath, of distress and anguish, of ruin and devastation, of darkness and gloom. It will be a day of alarm for all those who have remained indifferent toward Him and His words. It will be a day of terror, as their very bodies are destroyed while they are yet living; a day of utter loss, as no amount of wealth or status can save them.

“The LORD will be awesome against them;
    for he will famish all the gods of the earth,
and to him shall bow down,
    each in its place,
    all the lands of the nations.

I have cut off nations;
    their battlements are in ruins;
I have laid waste their streets
    so that no one walks in them;
their cities have been made desolate,
    without a man, without an inhabitant.
I said, ‘Surely you will fear me;
    you will accept correction.
Then your dwelling would not be cut off
    according to all that I have appointed against you.’
But all the more they were eager
    to make all their deeds corrupt.

Therefore wait for me, declares the LORD,
    for the day when I rise up to seize the prey.
For my decision is to gather nations,
    to assemble kingdoms,
to pour out upon them my indignation,
    all my burning anger;
for in the fire of my jealousy
    all the earth shall be consumed.
(Zephaniah 2:11; 3:6-8)

Yet those who are robed in Christ’s righteousness will be saved! All those who acknowledge their utter unworthiness, depravity, wickedness – all those who accept and believe that God’s perfect Son offered Himself in their place, took the punishment for their sin – all those will be saved. In fact, all those who do so before God begins pouring His wrath out upon the world (before the Rapture and beginning of the Tribulation), will not face any of that time here on earth. We will be delivered, taken up into the presence of our holy God, brought face to face with His glory.

So how do we respond to these prophecies of utter destruction to those who deny God? How should we respond to these promises of death for those who refuse to worship their Creator, who bow before idols and believe in false ‘rubble’?

“Come, behold the works of the LORD,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
(Psalm 46:8-10)

Even in that day, the angels of heaven will rejoice and praise their Maker for His judgment on the wicked. Even they will worship Him, though they have not lived among this world of sin, they have not lived in bodies depraved by sinful nature. How much more should we, who will be rescued from all this, offer praise and awe-filled worship to our God!

“And I heard the angel in charge of the waters say,
    ‘Just are you, O Holy One, who is and who was,
        for you brought these judgments.
    For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,
        and you have given them blood to drink.
    It is what they deserve!’
And I heard the altar saying,
    ‘Yes, Lord God the Almighty,
        true and just are your judgments!’
(Revelation 16:5-7)