Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Cause For Fear?

But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who "will render to each one according to his deeds"
Romans 2:5-6 NKJV

Does the idea of “judgment” frighten you? I think most of us feel some sort of trepidation when we think about being held accountable for something and probably wish there was a way to avoid it somehow. It probably began when we were children and learned what we could expect when our parents called us using “that voice”, and continues as adults whenever we see a policeman and quickly look at our speedometer to make sure we aren't speeding. Knowing that we will be held accountable for our actions is one of the best ways I can think of to help us make the right choices about how we choose to live our lives.

Many believers, myself included, are convinced we are on the verge of witnessing the period of time where God will judge this world for their “hardness” of heart. The book of Revelation is nothing if not an extremely revealing account of how God plans to do exactly that. Unfortunately many look at what is to come and ask the question how could a loving God do something as terrible as what we see will occur during the tribulation? However the most important point to make about the judgment of God is that in His loving kindness towards us He has provided a way of escape if we but choose to accept it.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 1:12 NKJV

As believers, the fact that we see the signs that this time of judgment is fast approaching should motivate us even more to share the good news of God's provision with an unbelieving world. Yet sharing that message is not without risk for there will always be those who reject the notion of a loving God judging us for our sin. The thought occurs to me that the Old Testament prophets probably heard "you're judging me" a whole lot as they tried to warn of God's coming judgment. Of course, that did not stop them from doing what they were told by God to do, and neither should we.

Anyone who thinks that choosing to obey God's laws has a “downside” should pay close attention to the following passage from Psalms.

The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, [And] in keeping them [there is] great reward.
Psalms 19:7-11 NKJV

I liked this Psalm so much that not only did I memorize the whole chapter, I try to quote it every day. One of the first things I noticed about this Psalm is how much David is saying he loves God's laws. Now just like anyone else, I would rather people not tell me what to do, so I wanted to discover why David was so desiring of knowing God's laws. What came to mind as I read this Psalm is that David concentrates on the positive results of following God's laws rather than the judgment that comes from disobeying. Not to say we are not warned of what could happen if we don't, but as we would say in this day and age, he concentrates on the "upside".

I look at this as a clue as to how we should approach fulfilling our obligation to speak out about what we see around us today. Accentuate the positive aspects of obeying God's laws, without minimizing the judgment that God says will certainly come. I have said before that when I encounter something unusual or out of the ordinary when studying scripture, it is Gods' way of making a point. Consider the following as an example. There occurs an unusual verse in the book of Zephaniah I want you to read. Why unusual? It is the only time in the entire Bible where every letter of the Hebrew alphabet is contained in just one verse. Guess what the subject of that verse is? That's right; Gods' coming judgment of this world.

"Therefore wait for Me," says the LORD, "Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination [is] to gather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy.
Zephaniah 3:8 NKJV

Do you think it's possible God is trying to make a point here? Is it possible this verse is His way of emphasizing that a decision to reject Him and His laws has only one result? We know that the time where all the nations of the world will be gathered is during the Tribulation. The Bible also makes it abundantly clear what the scope of that coming judgment is.

That day [is] a day of wrath, A day of trouble and distress, A day of devastation and desolation, A day of darkness and gloominess, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and alarm Against the fortified cities And against the high towers "I will bring distress upon men, And they shall walk like blind men, Because they have sinned against the LORD; Their blood shall be poured out like dust, And their flesh like refuse." Neither their silver nor their gold Shall be able to deliver them In the day of the LORD's wrath; But the whole land shall be devoured By the fire of His jealousy, For He will make speedy riddance Of all those who dwell in the land.
Zephaniah 1:14-18 NKJV

We see the signs of that coming time all around us today, and as the Bible tells us, when you see the signs you know He is near. Standing up as believers and speaking out about what we see, and using that as an opportunity to affirm Gods' laws and expectations of His people will most certainly occasion a response accusing us of judging others. But we are not the judges because we only speak out about what we see. The responsibility to judge and pass sentence is Gods' alone and He has promised He will certainly fulfill that duty.

The good news is that God is a forgiving God, and has promised to deliver anyone from that coming judgment by simply accepting His free gift of salvation and striving to follow His laws. May we be bold to share that good news with others in a spirit of love and forgiveness as we see the day approaching.

Keep watching.