In our connections class right now Dan Miller is walking us through how to talk with unbelievers about the gospel. One of the fundamental questions that must be dealt with in such conversations is whether or not man is responsible before God and will be judged by Him. The Good News is really only good if the bad news is first understood. However, I believe oftentimes even Christians need to be reminded how bad the bad news is because a lack of understanding on that point can lead to a lack of urgency in sharing the gospel.
Joel 2:1-11 gives us a frightening picture of God’s judgment. From that passage we learn three important things about what awaits those who fail to repent and turn to Christ.
God’s judgment is sure (2:1)
Blow a trumpet in Zion;
sound an alarm on my holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble,
for the day of the LORD is coming; it is near,
The first thing we notice about God’s judgment is that it is SURE – it IS coming. Acts 17:31 tells us:
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.
The man who was raised from the dead is the man who is going to judge the world and that man is Jesus Christ (John 5:22). This is not a popular image of Christ today. People like the baby Jesus in the manger but the Jesus on a white horse (Revelation 19:11-12) returning to gather His people and judge the world – not so much.
God’s judgment is sure, do we evangelize as if this is true?
God’s judgment is all-encompassing (2:3)
3 Before them fire devours,
behind them a flame blazes.
Before them the land is like the garden of Eden,
behind them, a desert waste—
nothing escapes them.
In the first chapter of Joel, he describes a plague of locusts that had descended upon Israel. He uses the destruction caused by the locusts as an object lesson for what he’s about to address in chapter 2. Just as locusts sweep across a field and leave nothing behind, so it will be on the Day of the Lord.
Nothing and no one is going to fall outside the scope of God’s judgment. This is a picture of complete destruction, the ground swept clean. To get a picture in our heads of the imagery here, think of the tsunamis after the recent earthquake in Japan. If you remember the before and after pictures, one minute there was a town, the next a field of mud as far as the eye could see. As with the flood waters in Noah’s day (Luke 17:27), God’s judgment of mankind on the last day will be all-encompassing.
There is coming a day when all the books will be balanced, all wrongs put right and sin destroyed completely and for evermore. This will be a joyous day for believers but a terrible day for those who’ve rejected Christ – and none of them will escape God’s wrath.
Do we seek to warn others to flee the wrath to come?
God’s judgment is dreadful (2:4-11)
4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the sky trembles,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The LORD thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty are those who obey his command.
The day of the LORD is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?
At one time or another we’ve all seen cartoons or bumper stickers making light of Hell – making it sound like Hell is a place where all the really cool fun people will be. I recently saw a bumper sticker, that said “I can’t go to Hell, the Devil still has that restraining order against me.” The idea being this guy was so bad and so tough that even the Devil was afraid of him.
It’s not going to be like that.
Take a look again at the imagery in this passage. Those who experience God’s judgment will be terrified. They will be in anguish – even the earth will shake in fear. Revelation tells us they will wish the rocks to fall on them and cover them. (Revelation 6:16). It is a terrifying thing to fall into God’s hands without Jesus Christ as our mediator (Hebrews 10:31).
Who can endure God’s judgment? Only those covered by the blood of Christ. May we be diligent in sharing that truth with the world.
Interested in learning more about how to share your faith? Join us in room 204 each Sunday during the Connections hour. We’ll be tackling this topic for the remainder of December.
For additional resources, see The Way of the Master.