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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