November 7, 2010: Judgment Day: The Long and Short of it

Let us pray: Dear Savior, in this very unfair world, we long for fairness. We long for justice and for truth to prevail. Too often we see otherwise, and discouragement comes upon us. Today take all that away! Remind us that only those who actually finish this race through life will see perfect judgment played out before their eyes and that judgment will prove the validity of the Christian faith. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM THE ONE JUDGE WE NEVER HAVE TO FEAR: JESUS CHRIST!

TEXT: 2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10

Fellow Redeemed Sinners:

Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Remember how the tortoise plodded along and took all kinds of guff from the rabbit, but in the end, when the rabbit was snoozing it crossed the finish line in first place? It’s a study in patience, isn’t it? It also reminds us to never become discouraged or give up but to steadily run the race toward heaven.

Some people view today, which is Last Judgment Sunday, as a downer. I guess if you are a non-Christian attending a church today for the first time, it might appear that way. But for the long-time believer that is a reminder of the validity of our faith. It reminds us that this life isn’t the be-all and end-all of our existence. It reminds us that truth and justice do, indeed, win out in the end. It reminds us that a sobering event will occur in the future which will be quite awful for the unbeliever, but quite glorious for those who cling to Christ. So without further ado, let’s look at:

JUDGMENT DAY: THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

I

Judgment Day will be unbelievably awesome. Christ will someday return visibly to this earth, turn matter and time on its head, transport all people into a new, eternal reality, consign evil people who reject His forgiving love to eternal hell, and then take all believers who trust in His goodness and love into never-ending glory. And all that will occur literally in the blink of an eye.—For remember that in eternality the constraints of time do not apply.

Have you ever wondered why God tells us about the coming judgment? Some people think of God as an angry Dictator Who forewarns us in order to literally “scare the hell” out of us. Think of that teen program called: “Scared Straight” in which cocky teenagers are taken to a prison for a day and the inmates verbally beat them up in order to get their attention and hopefully keep them from ever coming back. However, since no one has ever seen hell and come back to tell about it, and most people view such talk as far-off and unrelated to their lives, this really wasn’t the chief reason God describes judgment day.

No, God discusses judgment day with us in order to prepare us for what is to come while also giving us patience to endure this life. Think about the news lately. There is that horrible murder trial in New Hampshire where the sleeping woman was hacked to death with a machete and one of the young men involved boasted about it in jai!—Where’s shame? Where’s justice? Isn’t prison too good for such evil people? We like to say that: “What goes around comes around.” But, in your own life experience, has that always been the case? Don’t evil people often seem to skate on charges or plea bargain them away? We may think that the old “eye for an eye” adage should apply in many instances, but in today’s world it seldom does.

II

The church in Thessalonkia suffered persecution at the hands of the Roman rulers. It hadn’t yet devolved into facing lions and gladiators in the arena, but instead took on less blatant forms—being forced from their homes, beatings, verbal abuse, extra taxation, and perhaps even slavery. Due to all this, they really thought that judgment day would happen literally tomorrow. And so the temptation was to sit back, do nothing, and wait. It was to give up on the business of living and sharing their faith. You hear of similar situations today where a group of believers thinks they’ve pin-pointed J-Day, so they sell everything and go off somewhere to contemplate their navels until that time.

Well, God never wants His people to quit on life. Every moment of life is an opportunity to let our light shine, to bring forth fruits of our faith, and to honor our Living Lord. We dare never adopt the position of the hare, who falls asleep because the finish line seems so far off that he always has time to sprint it out; but instead should be like the tortoise and keep plugging along trusting God to get us through. That’s why Paul writes and says: “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”

III

Here are a few truths to learn from the future reality of judgment day. 1. How we handle evil inflicted upon us—as long-suffering believers who aren’t afraid to ultimately let Christ handle it because we know we’re forgiven, saved, and heaven-bound—all this shows that God didn’t invest Christ’s forgiveness upon us in vain. 2. Christians know that God sees all and will never allow any sin to go unpunished. So, let God do His job. 3. He will always provide streams of soul-quenching love to His people. 4. A special date has been fixed when Christ and His angels will square the equation with all sinners.—Those who refuse to follow Christ and His ways will be destroyed in hell-fire while those who cling to His blood and righteousness alone will be taken into eternal glory.

So, dear frustrated Christian, should you regard judgment day with foreboding, gloom, doom, and sadness? No! For us J-Day means vindication! It means evil will finally be wiped from creation never to trouble us again. It means our beloved Brother Who died in our place and put His holiness upon us through faith will be our Judge. It means that when He looks at us, it will be with loving eyes and welcoming arms.

Meanwhile, we’re still earthbound and waiting. Continue that waiting with patience, trust, hope, and firmness of faith. You’ve run this far, so don’t be a hare and fall asleep on the job. Don’t get distracted by anything or anyone so as to pull you away from your Savior. We should act like a tortoise and keep plodding. Adopt a long view of your future. And then, whether J-Day occurs tomorrow or 1000 years from now—you’ll be ready. Folks, that the long and short of Judgment Day. Amen