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Entries in Day of the Lord (7)

Tuesday
May302017

The Promise of the Father II

Joel 2:28-32.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on May 28, 2017.

Today we will look at another Old Testament passage in which God promised that there would come a day when His Holy Spirit would be given to His people wholesale, as they say.  Of course, Peter quotes from this passage in Acts 2:17-21, to demonstrate that the passage was indeed talking about the events of the upper room.

As we look at this passage, I pray that you will be encouraged and prompted to action.  This is not a day for taking it easy, and seeking our own desires and comfort.  This is a day when destinies can be changed, a day that is before “it's too late.”  So let’s look at the promises from God’s Word.

The Promise of Restoration

This chapter opens with a warning to the people of Israel of God’s judgment upon them by an army that would be coming.  In verses 12-17 there is a call to repentance.  They need to turn away from their sin and back towards the ways of the Lord.  Then verses 18-27 speak of a restoration that would happen to them.  In some ways it is presented as conditional upon their repentance.  However, in other ways, it is declared as definite for those who belong to God.  This leaves room for what actually happened in the decades following Jesus and his apostles.  Israel as a whole came under the judgment of God and saw their nation and capital destroyed by Rome.  Yet, in the midst of this, God poured out refreshing restoration upon those who put their faith in Jesus.  So this sets up the part of the chapter that we will be focusing on, vs. 28-32.

As Joel declares the restoration that will be experienced by God’s people, he prophesies that God will pour out His Holy Spirit upon His people.  Thus this pouring out of the Holy Spirit is a part of the restoration.  Sin has separated God’s people from Him.  But the work of Jesus makes way for a daily experience of the Holy Spirit for every believer.  As we said last week, the idea of the Holy Spirit coming upon people is not foreign to the Old Testament.  We find it everywhere.  However, it might be described best in this way.  In the Old Testament God’s Spirit came upon certain people, at certain times, for certain works.  But, in this passage, we are promised a time when God will give His Spirit without such restraints.

Two aspects stick out about this and the first is that there will be no distinctions.  The Holy Spirit will be poured out upon “all flesh.”  Thus we get a series of opposites that are intended to reinforce this point.  The Spirit will be poured out on sons and daughters, old men and young men, and men servants and maid servants (male and female).  Age and gender distinctions will not prohibit people from receiving the Holy Spirit.  Other places in the New Testament also add slave and free, Jew and Greek, and circumcised and uncircumcised.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit would be a common experience of all of God’s people.

The second aspect is what the effect of the Spirit will be.  Essentially Joel says that they will prophesy.  Though the Holy Spirit would be constantly present, this does not mean that they will be constantly prophesying.  Rather, God would speak through anyone at any time as He wills.  It is our job to be so in step with the Holy Spirit that we will recognize true prophecy versus the false.  Not all people will prophesy. There are other gifts of the Holy Spirit that are not mentioned here but are pointed out in the New Testament.  Joel mentions dreams and visions.  However, we should see these as two methods by which God gives His revelation to prophets.  A dream is God speaking to us through a dream while we are asleep.  A vision, on the other hand, is more like a trance.  A person is awake and yet begins to have a “day dream” that is influenced by the Spirit of God.  Other methods are mentioned in the Bible of which having an angelic visitation is seen in both Testaments.  Now it is one thing to have a dream from the Lord and quite another to recognize it and also understand it.  We must be daily communing with God in prayer and in reading His Word.  This puts us in tune with what the Spirit of God is saying and helps us to recognize when He speaks to us.  Even when God moves upon us to give a prophecy, we should not assume that we now have the right to “make this happen” out of sheer will.    It is our job to be open to the Lord.  Some people have been led astray because they feel the pressure to have “a word from the Lord” all the time.  God may not have a new word.  He may simply want us to focus on what He has already said and be faithful.  There is also a prevalent problem for people who have been involved with heavy drug use.  These can so damage our brains that we have a tendency towards weird dreams or dreams that have supernatural elements to them.  Such a person needs to exercise extreme caution and seek godly mentors who can give them unbiased advice.  As a community, God’s people need to be open to these things and not afraid of them.  Yet, we should be open to them in a mature way that recognizes that not all that feels spiritual is really from the Lord.  Those who do not have the gift of prophesy still have the Promised Holy Spirit by which they can recognize for themselves if the Spirit is indeed speaking through a particular person.

The Promised Day of the Lord

In verses 30-32 the promise of restoration and pouring out of the Spirit is counterbalanced with the promise of judgment.  Only this time the phrase “Day of the Lord” is used.  The Day of the Lord is used in the prophetic books as a technical term that points to a day when God will judge all the nations of the earth and institute His millennial kingdom.  Thus we are moving beyond a judgment upon Israel only. Joel sees a day when God will judge all nations, but before that, He will pour out His Spirit.  The Day of the Lord is always a joyful time for those who are God’s faithful servants.  But, it is a fearful day full of woe for those who are not His faithful servants.

So we two things that are coincident and previous to the Day of the Lord: the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and Signs and Wonders both in heaven and on earth.  The amazing or jaw dropping events would make it clear that God is keeping His promises.  Now the signs in the heavens, or celestial signs, are not a reference to astrology.  There is no sense that the sun, moon, or stars can affect mankind’s destiny or God’s actions.  Rather, God uses them to clue humans into the fact that He is doing what He said He would.  Thus they are attention getters that point us to God.  In this passage it mentions the sun being turned into darkness and the moon into blood.  Some have pointed out that this is more than likely speaking of a solar eclipse (dark sun) and a lunar eclipse (some can be blood red).  Now the historical testimony from the disciples of Jesus, and secular, non-Christian sources such as Josephus, tell us about weird things happening in the sky and on the earth.    Several things worth noting are the strange star that the Magi of the East recognized as pointing to the Messianic King of Israel being born.  Also, when Jesus was on the cross there was a darkness that lasted far longer than the longest solar eclipse (around 8 minutes).  We are also told of an earthly wonder of the earthquake during the death of Jesus.  This earthquake struck Jerusalem and tore the 4” thick curtain that was in the temple from top to bottom.  All these things are intended to get the attention of people who are thinking that things are “business as usual.”  They cause you to stop and think twice about what God is actually doing.  To those who would not listen to Jesus and his disciples, some might be persuaded by such signs.  The writings of John in The Revelation seem to point to more signs in the heaven and on earth that will occur before and during the Second Coming of Jesus.

Now in one sense the Day of the Lord cannot be avoided.  It will come upon the earth and all the nations at a particular time that God has set, but not revealed to us.  However, we can avoid the Day of the Lord as individuals if we put our faith in Jesus and follow Him.  Though it is a “Great and Terrifying” day to those who are under God’s judgment, those who have cried out to God will be saved from it (vs. 32).  For about 2,000 years God has been saving those who hear the bad news of judgment and the good news of Jesus, and then cry out to Him.  The fate of the repentant will be deliverance.  Thus the passage ends with a promise of deliverance for God’s people who are described as, “those who call on the name of the Lord,” and “the remnant whom the Lord calls.”

It is instructive to look at what Israel went through in the first century AD.  God had been faithful to send His Word to them over a long period of time.  This culminated with an outpouring of amazing grace in the person of Jesus and His apostles.  This powerful witness was then followed by judgment in which the wicked and their governments were removed.  But the saints were left unscathed by God’s judgment.  So we will see this same process globally.  When Israel was judged by God, He then sent His people to all the nations of the earth to proclaim the truth.  This mighty witness by God’s people will one day come to an end as God pours out His judgment on the whole earth, not just Israel.  If you are a believer, you are a part of this powerful witness that God is giving to the nations.  The long period of grace is in order for people to have time to respond and large groups of the world to respond.  But, the Day of the Lord is rapidly approaching.  Each day we are one step closer.  So Christian, we must be about our Father’s business rather than feeding our flesh with all that it desires, if we are to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  To those who are not Christians, recognize that God desires to give you the good promise of His Holy Spirit daily in your life.  Don’t reject God’s offer of His love and presence in your life.  Instead, put your faith in Jesus and come follow Him!

Promise of the Father II audio

Tuesday
Jul262016

They That Wait upon the Lord

Isaiah 25:1-12.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on July 24, 2016.

It is hard to fathom the joy we will experience at the Second Coming of Jesus.  Yes, it is true that he will bring judgment upon the nations of the world.  However, at the same time He is restoring things to rightness.  He will be removing oppression and tyranny and replacing it with healing and deliverance.   This is an important point because the United States of America has become a prime example of how even good government can be corrupted over time.  Thus the decree of God is that no national leadership will be found to be righteous in that day.  Even in the name of liberty, our true, God-given liberties are taken away.  The average person then finds themselves living in an oppressive and tyrannical environment, whether it be the hard form found in nations like North Korea, or the soft form found here in my own country. 

Thus Isaiah describes a people who have waited for God’s deliverance from wicked leaders and powerful men.  They have endured long trials and weariness to the point of giving up.  However, when Jesus comes their joy will be immense.  Waiting for the Lord to act is a theme throughout Isaiah.  The well known passage in Isaiah 40 says, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”  Regardless of what your situation requires, be it flying, running or walking, the Lord will give strength to those who trust in Him.  Those who trust in Him will not be put to shame in the end.  They will have the final joy because God is for them.  Thus the coming judgment of God begs the question for each of us.  Will that day be a day of rejoicing because I trusted in Jesus, or will that day be a day of grief because I put my trust in my own pride and the pride of mankind?

Joy Will Fill The People

Isaiah depicts a joyous time of jubilation similar to some of the statements made in the book of Revelation.  Though God’s judgment is a sobering thing, it will be for the joy of mankind.  In verse 1 we notice several things about the exclamations that Isaiah makes.  First, is the rejoicing in the fact that God is “my God.”  It will be a day when joy will not just be a general thing, but a very particular and personal thing.  Those who have trusted in God will marvel in the realization that God was not just the God of Adam, Noah, and Abraham et. al.  They will have personally witnessed the amazing fulfillment of God’s Word to His people.  God will have proven Himself in our time and not just  in the ancient past.

It will also be a wonder-filled joy.  The “wonderful things” of verse 1 are a reference to the miraculous, supernatural work of God.  The omnipotence of God has a way of removing the most impossible problems and delivering from the most powerful enemy in only a moment.  Thus the powerful acts of God demonstrated in Egypt before Pharaoh (who by the way was considered the son of the Gods) are a picture of how His great work in the face of Antichrist and the “gods” that back Him up (i.e. Satan and his fallen cohorts).  They will be impotent as God delivers His people from under their oppression.

The last part of verse 1 mentions God’s “counsels of old.”  These are the directives that God has given to His people in the past.  Of course Isaiah would be looking back to Scriptures and mainly the first 5 books of the Bible (Torah).  Yet, we can add to that today the counsels that were given through Jesus and His apostles 2,000 years ago.  It is easy to grow weary of counsels that stretch over thousands of years.  Our humanity wants to have deliverance now.  Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life” (NKJV).  God’s way doesn’t always make an immediate change, especially if we are waiting for Him to deal with the wicked of the earth.  Yet, these counsels will prove out to be faithful and true.  Those who continue to trust the ancient counsel of God will find themselves in exactly the right place.  But those who have cast off the ancient counsel of God will find themselves in the wrong place, and caught up in the judgment of God.  Thus the warning of Psalm 1 is very appropriate.  We must remain in the way of the Lord while we wait for Him.  Yet, the ungodly, the sinners, and the scornful tempt us to join their way, to walk upon their paths, and to sit with them in a seat of judgment against God and His people.  Thus the object of the trust and faith of the sinner will prove to be a delusion and impotent.  But, those who wait upon the Lord will find that it is true and will prove faithful in the end.

In verses 2-5 we see the “terrible nations” and the “terrible ones.”  These are those who are following the path of their own wisdom and of Satan.  They use their power to dominate others and to rule over them.  Such cities have always existed and in fact, the history of the world can be seen as a history of the nations which clamor to be “king of the mountain.”  These empires had become proud and arrogant oppressors of the peoples of the earth.  The days before Christ’s coming will be no less.  In fact the greatest empire and thus the greatest tyranny this world has ever seen is still in the future.  We are cruising at an ever increasing speed towards this reality.  Freedom is being stamped out upon the earth and absolute tyranny is taking its place.  This is the judgment of the “City of Confusion” in Isaiah 24 and the Kings of the earth and their armies.  Whatever survivors that may be left from the nations will no longer walk in pride, but they will have a reverent fear and awe of the Lord and His powerful reality.  They will recognize that the ways of God that they had rejected for so long were the true paths.

Another reason why there will be so much joy is because God will have defended the helpless.  Isaiah uses two words, the poor and the needy.  God will be their refuge.  Now, not all the poor and the needy will turn to God for refuge.  In fact, though the poor and needy are often crushed under this world system, for the sake of survival and “getting mine,” many fight for the scraps beneath the table.  They basically trust the way of this world and trust in their own ability to make it.  Like the Olympic trials they fight and clamor to see if they can climb up into that ultra society of “winners.”  Of course most do not make it, however, there are levels of honor and perks all the way up.  This “dog-eat-dog” mentality that uses others as rungs on the ladder of progress belongs to sinful man and fallen angels.  There is coming a day when God will rise up in defense of all those that have been and are being taken advantage of.

Thus Isaiah gives two images.  The first is a storm that blasts and howls against a wall.  The poor and the needy are often torn apart and destroyed by the powerful blasts.  They are unable to survive it.  The second image is that of an oppressive heat wave.  In fact this week the Middle East had several places recording a temperature of 129 degrees F.  The oppressive heat makes even the shade of no relief.  This oppression sucks the life out of people and leaves them with little ability or desire to do anything, but die.  Yet, no matter how loud the terrible ones howl (the storm), nor how powerful their oppression (the heat), when God intervenes there will be immediate relief.  Like a cloud that comes between the sun and the ground, the change will take place that quickly.  It is easy when you live in the land of comforts and ease to hear this and scoff.  However, even in America there are people who hear what I am saying and recognize that it is exactly how they feel.  Friend, don’t let the oppression of this world’s system suck the life out of you.  Turn to Jesus today and put your faith in Him.  That is the only thing that will ever prove faithful and true to you in the end.

The Lord Will Make A Feast

Starting in verse 6 we see that this will be a time of celebration.  The old tyrants have been thrown down.  Peace and freedom lies ahead.  Thus the Lord prepares a feast for the peoples of the earth that have survived without taking the mark, and His people who have returned with Him.  This feast will take place upon Mt. Zion, which is in Jerusalem, because this is the mountain referenced at the end of the last chapter.  All the “mountains” of the earth, that is the kingdoms, will be flattened.  But the “mountain” of the Lord will be raised up.  This pictures a gathering of people in the land of Israel.  Of course this deliverance is not just for Israel, but for all the peoples of the earth.  And, all will join in the celebration.

God supplies for each one choice food and drink.  Under this world system the elite at the top are the ones who get the choice food.  But here God brings forth the best food and drink for all those who had endured oppression to enjoy.  Instead of being the means of provision for the oppressors, God will provide for the “common person” uncommon food.

Verse 7 speaks of a covering that will be destroyed.  I believe that it is connected to the statement in verse 8 that death will be swallowed up forever.  Thus the veil here is most likely a reference to The Curse of Genesis 3.    The Curse has hung over mankind like a veil or shroud for most of its existence.  Yet, God will remove and destroy it.  Another aspect of this covering is that Satan has used the fear of death as a means to manipulate mankind.  He has used the threat of the shroud to create a veil over the minds and hearts of mankind.  This veil of ignorance and manipulation by spiritual powers will have also been destroyed by God.

Those Who Wait For The Lord Will Be Vindicated

In verse 9 Isaiah brings us back to the celebration.  Vindication is that moment in which faith is proven true.  Yet, all people are putting their faith in something.  Thus those who put their trust in something other than the Lord will not find vindication, but rather humiliation.  What they put their trust in will ultimately fail.  But the righteous will recognize that their wait for the Lord was not in vain.  Thus the declaration “He will save us.”  The verb here is a form that means God has done it but isn’t done doing it.  Thus it means that in light of what He has done, we know He will complete our salvation.  God is our savior in every way.  He cannot and will not fail.  He is able to deliver and defend you from every enemy.  It may not be in the way at the time that you desire.  But if you will wait on Him instead of going the way of your own heart and mind, you will find that He will be true to you in the end.

Isaiah ends the chapter with a reminder that just as the humble will be raised up, so the pride of the wicked will be pulled down.  No matter how great and powerful the position and place of the world may be, it will not stand before God’s judgment.  Though the world be as powerful as a mighty ocean, God is the swimmer who will pull the waves down beneath Himself and us.  He will bear us out from the crushing depths and rescue us out of the waters.  No matter how strong the walls of their city God will pull down all their defenses.  The powerful of this world, whether in business or in government, are not leading us down the right path.  Reject the way of the proud and walk in the way of humility that Jesus has shown us.  His counsels will be proven true and faithful.

Wait upon the Lord audio

Tuesday
Jul192016

The Coming Day of the Lord 4

Isaiah 24:21-23.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty on July 17, 2016.

As we finish this look at the Day that God has appointed in which all the nations of the world will be judged, we will see that this leads to a time of blessing for those who are left.  It is typical for unbelievers to scorn the Bible’s warning of judgment.  Yet, at the same time they will complain that if there really was an all-powerful and good God why hasn’t He dealt with all the bad stuff in the world.  When you put these two complaints together you recognize that there is no way God can “win” with such a person.  On one hand we want Him to deal with sin and evil (i.e. bring justice) and yet on the other hand we don’t want Him to judge.  God must deal with evil because He is the creator and He is good.  However, the answer that God gives in the Bible is this.  If He brought judgment to all that was evil we would all be guilty.  He does not want us to receive judgment.  So He has provided a way for us to have grace.  Jesus took God’s judgment of our sin upon Himself so that we could be pardoned.  God has given two millennia of goodness and mercy, pleading with the nations to turn from judgment and into the grace of Jesus.  Thus His judgment is not a barbaric thing, but rather, something that has been a long time coming.

In the death of Jesus we see the love and character of God.  In the resurrection of Jesus we see the reality and power of God.  In the Church we see the faithfulness of God to send ambassadors of this Truth throughout every generation.  God will not be found wanting in any kind of trial that men may wish to convene.  Lay down your complaints and find the truth of God’s love for you in His Word.

The Lord Will Reign On Mt. Zion

Starting in verse 21 we see the completion of God’s judgment upon the rebels and the subsequent rule that He will have upon Mt. Zion.  Now Mt. Zion is a reference to a physical place on earth in the city of Jerusalem.  It is the old city of David that also contains the area of the temple.  Mt. Zion was the physical place of God’s rule over Israel.  However, in the prophets we find that Mt. Zion often comes to represent the spiritual throne of God in the heavens.  Thus the earthly object is a symbol that points to a greater heavenly reality.  Thus believers in Hebrews 12:22 are told, “But you have come to Mt. Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”  We also see this in the book of Revelation.  There it is revealed that there will be a day when these heavenly realities (the throne of God, New Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, etc.) will come down to earth and no longer be merely a spiritual concept.

Before this happens though, the Lord’s wrath will punish the rebels.  They have refused His attempts to draw them into grace and now the day of punishment is here.  If He does not judge, He appears to approve of the damage they have done among themselves and to the faithful believers.  Thus verse 21 points out two classes of those being punished.  The first is the “Host of Exalted Ones.”  This phrase is a reference to the spiritual beings (typically called fallen angels) that had been in charge of the nations after the Tower of Babel, and yet had rebelled.  They led the nations into worshipping them as gods and throwing off the Truth of God.  The judgment of these spiritual beings is further revealed in the book of Revelation.  They will be forced out of the heavens and onto the earth where they will be punished by either being put in the Lake of Fire or into the Bottomless Pit.  The second class that is mentioned is the kings of the earth.  The leaders of mankind have been following the lead of these wicked, spiritual beings.  They will be judged as well, along with their armies as we see in Revelation 19. 

We are then told that they will be imprisoned.  Since we are dealing with  natural and supernatural beings the imprisonment brings up several questions that are answered by Revelation 19/20.  In the Old Testament the pit is often a reference to the grave, or the place where the spirits of men go to await judgment.  It is the place of the dead.  Thus the kings of the earth and their armies are going to die and go into the grave.  Yet, we see Satan, the ultimate fallen angel, imprisoned in the Bottomless Pit.  Since angels cannot physically die and thus go into the grave, God has designed a place called the Bottomless Pit where they can be restrained from interacting with the material world.  Read Revelation 19:17-20:3 for more information.

Isaiah then says after many days they will be punished.  Of course Revelation reveals that there will be a 1,000 years of peace on earth under the reign of Christ and His saints.  At the end of this however, Satan will be released from the pit and cause another great rebellion.  When this rebellion is destroyed by God, the heavens and the earth are melted down and all spirits are brought before the Great, White Throne.  There all receive their judgment.  The wicked are put in the Lake of Fire, which is referred to as the second death.  Think of it this way.  At the first death our spirits are separated from our bodies and thus can no longer interact with the physical world.  We can still interact with the spiritual world, however.  At the second death the spirit is separated from all of creation physical and spiritual.  There will be no coming back.  God creates a new heavens and a new earth that they will never be able to see or influence again.

In verse 23, Isaiah switches from the devastation and punishment to look at the result.  The Lord will dwell with His people.  The sun and the moon will be ashamed in His presence.  This is a personification that is intended to show how gloriously Jesus will be at His second coming.  It can also include a slam against those fallen angels (false gods) who had been associated with the sun and the moon (Apollo, Helios, etc.).  No matter how great they tried to magnify themselves, they will be ashamed when the true God of the earth arrives.  The key here is that the long awaited Anointed King that God was to send would arrive and in fact would actually be the Lord Himself.  This same theme is mentioned in Revelation: God will dwell with His people.

Notice the descriptions.  First He will reign.  He is not just a king, but the King of kings.  Yes, currently Jesus reigns over believers of the earth spiritually.  But in the millennium his reign will become a physical reality over the whole earth.  This kingship will lead us into the new heavens and the new earth, or Creation 2.0, if you will.

Then He will reign upon Mt. Zion within Jerusalem.  The millennium involves a spiritual reality taking its place upon the physical earth.  Thus Jesus will reign from Jerusalem over the earth.  However, in the new heavens and new earth, we see a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven that will cause the earthly “old” Jerusalem pale in comparison.  Thus the physical places in the middle east today are only a shadow of the greater physical and spiritual realities that will be in the New Creation.

He will be before His elders.  The people of Israel would have seen this as the rulers of national Israel.  However, in Revelation we see that it is something more than this.  There are 24 elders that surround the throne of God.  Most scholars point out that the word “elders” is only used of humans.  Since their origin is not explained we are left with conjecture.  The number (2X12) has led most to believe that they are representatives of National Israel and the Church (12 from each).  In fact Jesus promised His disciples that they would sit on thrones with Him.  Thus the elders represent the righteous of all the nations who have finally been united into one body before the Lord.

Lastly, we are told that he will reign in glory.  This has two facets to it.  Jesus will no longer be cloaked in mere human flesh.  Rather, as the disciples saw on the Mt. of Transfiguration, and as John saw at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus will shine in a brilliance that is majestic and glorious.  Thus He reigns in a glory that emanates from Him.  Yet, we will also glorify Him.  Our natural response will be to bring honor and glory to Him in all that we do, which will no longer be tainted by our sin nature.  Yes we will worship Him in song and praise.  But we will also worship Him in the projects that we perform and do.

Let me close by recognizing that heavy things lie ahead for this world.  When and exactly how it will all play out, you cannot completely know.  However, you can know that you are ready for it.  Put your trust in Jesus today.  Cling to His words to you in the Bible with all your heart, and shine the light of the Gospel of Jesus to everyone that you meet.  Maranatha!

Day of Lord 4 Audio

Tuesday
Jul122016

The Coming Day of the Lord 3

Isaiah 24:17-21.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on July 10, 2016.

Today we continue in Isaiah 24 looking at the revelation that there will be a day of judgment for all the nations of the earth.  The chapters that follow will be a series of praises and songs to God for His promise of judgment.

As we look at the judgments of God that are described in this chapter, it is important to recognize that God is sovereign over the affairs of mankind and we are headed to a point in time in which we will be held accountable to Him.  No matter how much modern, secular society kicks against this reality, these things are going to come to pass.  The real question is this, “Are you prepared for them?”  Whether we live to see these things or not, believers will live their life in a way that is connected to the reality of the coming Judgment, rather than living in a way that is connected to delusion and fantasy.  Let’s look at our verses today.

The Day of Judgment is Unavoidable

Starting in verse 17 the prophet drives home the point that these things cannot be escaped.  Those who try to escape will caught up in it, one way or another.  There is an idea that has become more and more popular, whether in secular movies or in Christian teaching.  The idea is that if Christians do a good enough job the apocalypse, day of judgment, can be avoided.  They see these passages more as a warning of something that we can avoid if we listen.  The problem is that an honest reading of the Scriptures makes it impossible to hold such a view.  Yes, believers must strive to do a good job by the power of the Holy Spirit.  But judgment day will come because Scripture reveals that most of mankind will refuse to repent, even in the face of judgment.

Isaiah addresses the “inhabitants of the earth.”  We dealt with this in part one of this series.  This phrase is addressing those whose sole frame of reference is the earth.  They live without fear or concern towards God and heavenly matters.  They even persecute the people of God and unwittingly cooperate with the spiritual powers of wickedness.  They are in contrast to those whose minds are fixed on the things of God.  Though they technically inhabit the earth, they are heavenly minded and stand to inherit the New Heavens and the New Earth.  Isaiah points out 3 things that these “earth dwellers” are facing: Fear, The Pit, and The Snare.

The fear refers to some calamity that will give them cause for fright.  It is the thing that causes them to want to run.  Thus as the judgments of God begin to come upon mankind fear will take hold of their hearts.  However, when they run from their fear, they will do so only to fall into a pit.  Likewise, those who are able to climb out of the pit will only find themselves caught in a snare.  In the last days there will be no escape.  It is interesting that even our life today resembles a series of traps and snares that God uses to try and pin down our flesh.  The believer is someone who has been trapped by their own sins and yet has turned to God for grace.  The earth dweller will not turn to God.  Instead they devise their own answers.  This world is running scared away from the idea that it might be held accountable to a Creator.  Yet, this fear is only going to cause us to fall into worse things until eventually the judgments of God are finalized.  Thus Jesus referred to the end times as a snare in Luke 21:35f.  Only those who fear God enough to repent and serve Him will avoid this snare.  This imagery can also be helped by remembering Adam and Eve.  Their sin put them in a condition of fearing the judgment of God.  Thus they ran from God and tried to cover themselves with fig leaves.   This is a picture of mankind.  We run from the reality of God into a self-delusion that we can cover our sins by the things of this world.  Yet, God has stated that the things of this world are destined to wither and cannot cover mankind.  Only repentance and turning towards the very thing we fear can save us.  Run towards God and there you will find grace.

At the end of verse 18 we see that the judgments of God will come from above and below.  The phrase, “windows from on high” is an allusion back to the story of the flood in Genesis 7:11.  There the “windows of heaven” were opened and the rains of judgment fell upon the earth.  At the same time the “springs of the great deep burst open,” while water from beneath rose up in judgment.  Isaiah points back to this template of God’s judgment from above and beneath.  The judgment of the nations that is still ahead of us will not involve rain and floods.  In the book of Revelation we are given further understanding.  On the natural plane we see objects from space striking the earth and causing global catastrophe.  We also see the earth itself splitting and reeling from a global earthquake that is unthinkable.  This represents the judgment of God from above and from below.  Yet, Revelation also reveals a spiritual plane of God’s judgment.  We see Satan and his angels being forced out of the heavens onto the earth.  This is good news for the heavens, but bad news for the earth.  Satan will be angry and we should not deceive ourselves with thoughts that he has any good feelings for mankind.  Similarly we are also told of the bottomless pit that will be opened up.  This pit is a prison house for angels that broke God’s commands in the past.  It is pictured as beneath the earth.  When it is opened spiritual forces are released upon the earth and bring great torment upon the people.  Again we have spiritual judgments from above and from beneath.  The judgment of rebellious mankind is unavoidable.  God is hemming him in on every side and there will be no escape.

This fate of the earth dwellers is paralleled with the fate of the earth.  It too has 3 things that are facing it:  to be broken, split, and shaken.  The brokenness of the earth is a reference to the devastation and ruin that will come upon the structures of man and even the topology of the earth itself.  Everything will lie broken.  The earth will also be split by the greatest earthquake the earth has ever seen.  Revelation tells us that the mountains will be flattened and the islands will “flee away.”  Clearly all of these words are tied together.  The third word is “shaken.”  The world will undergo a powerful shaking in the natural.  Yet, there is a spiritual side to this as well.  In Hebrews 12:26 the writer reminds us of a prophecy in Haggai.  “‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire.”  The fate of the earth is to be broken, split and shaken.  But God gives to those who will turn from their rebellion towards Him, that which is unshakeable and unbreakable.  We are those who will not be destroyed by judgment, but shall come through to the other side.  Let us not smugly rejoice in our good fortunes, but rather plead with a world that keeps running from God.  Turn from your way and turn back to God.  This is the only way that the unavoidable judgment can be avoided- Jesus.

Isaiah then gives two metaphors to discourage putting your hope in anything of this earth.  The first is the picture of a drunk who stumbles to and fro.  He can’t even walk much less protect someone.  It is also possible that the wobbling of the earth from the natural disasters that are happening will resemble a drunk man from a heavenly perspective.  You won’t be able to build a bunker deep enough or get on a mountain high enough.  The earth will not be able to protect anyone from the wrath of God.  The second image is that of a hut in the middle of a strong storm.  Jesus once told a story about building upon the rock rather than the sand.  In that story the emphasis was foundation.  But the image of Isaiah points to the building materials themselves.  Thus the story of the 3 pigs is more appropriate.  When the hurricane-force winds of the judgment of God come upon the nations, the earth will be like a hut made out of sticks and straw.  It will be blown down and destroyed.  It will offer no protection.  No technology will be able to save man from the things God has decreed.

All of this time we have been talking about what God will do.  However the phrase “its transgression will be heavy upon it,” points to the sins of mankind.  We should recognize that whenever God judges us part of the judgment is directly caused by Him, but part is indirectly.  What I mean is that our sins actually have consequences that can affect the earth.  Of course God is the one who made creation the way it is.  Thus He has “hard-wired” the effects of sin into it.  This is why I used the word “indirectly.”  He has warned us.  But we keep running down the paths of sins bringing the ultimate judgment down upon our own heads.

We will stop there for today.  If you are not a believer in Jesus, I would challenge you to listen to these words.  The Creator has appointed a day in which all of mankind that has rejected His words and commands will be brought into judgment.  You will not survive that day.  Yet, when he died on the cross, Jesus was paying the price for your sins.  If you put your trust in Him, God can set you free from judgment and protect you from it.  All of this is possible because of Jesus.  Don’t run from God.  Rather, flee into the arms of the only One who can protect you from what is coming upon the earth and those who inhabit it.

Coming Lord 3 audio