As in the Day

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5)

This was the assessment of the Lord concerning mankind prior to the world wide flood in the days of Noah. By the grace of God Noah and his family were saved to accomplish God’s plan and purpose. The people of Noah’s day were warned by Noah’s testimony as he built the ark. Those who ignored his testimony went on as before and were drowned in the flood.

Jesus warned that His second coming will be in similar circumstances (Matthew 24:37f; Luke 17:26f). In these days God’s warning of impending judgment and the outpouring of His wrath against sin is through the faithful preaching of the Gospel of Christ as revealed in the Bible. Those who do not heed His words will carry on as before and be unprepared for His judgment. Those who receive it will be saved from wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 5:9; Romans 5:9).

In the days of the Tribulation the Lord’s witnesses will be 144,000 Jews who will preach the Gospel to all nations and ethnic groups in all languages. Those who carry on as before and ignore the warning are destined to endure God’s wrath. Those who receive it will be delivered through it or from it by bodily death.

Jesus also gave the illustration of the city of Sodom (Luke 17:28f). Lot had been less than faithful in warning the people that their wickedness would bring an outpouring of God’s wrath. The judgment of God fell upon those people also.

Denying either of these historical events is to call Jesus a liar and renders one carrying on as before and unprepared for the wrath to come. His words are clear; when every intention of the thoughts of the heart of mankind is evil, then we can expect God to again judge the earth.

God is presently allowing Satan to test the hearts of nations and of individuals to reveal openly whether they are truly His or not. He is giving us an opportunity to see the world as it would be without His righteousness and without Him. Perhaps some will turn to Him and call for mercy.

Of that great city, Nineveh, the Lord said, “Their wickedness has come up before Me” (Jonah 1:2). Jonah was sent to warn them. With reluctance he went saying, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). Unlike in the days of Noah and the days of Lot the Ninevites had a change of heart and pleaded for God’s mercy. They believed the warning and acted upon it through prayer and fasting believing that God might show them mercy. God will always respond to genuine calls for mercy.

It is not difficult to see that our world is at the threshold. Those who know the truth have the privilege and responsibility of warning others. We don’t know whether the world, our nation or our neighbour will respond in the way the people in Noah’s and Lot’s days did or in the way that Nineveh did so let us persevere in sharing the Gospel of grace and see what the Lord does in the hearts of people and nations.

A Day Nearer

“Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” Revelation 5:2

The above question was asked in heaven by a “strong angel.” Opening this scroll by breaking the seals is described in this book beginning in the next chapter. The breaking of the seals is the beginning of God pouring out His wrath on the nations. God has judged people groups before. He wiped out all but eight people at the time of the worldwide flood. He judged the new population later by confusing their language and He judged the sexual immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah by destroying the whole region and only saving Lot and two of his daughters. The Bible records that God has judged nations and people groups on many occasions in the past and that He will do so again.

God’s holiness demands that sin be dealt with. People deny or disregard God’s warnings of future judgment at their peril. John records God’s revelation to him of the future outpouring of wrath in this book. Revelation 6:16-17 and 19:15 particularly reveal this warning.

Who is worthy to judge the nations? Certainly no man is worthy. Many set themselves up as judges but this “strong angel” can find no one worthy to judge the nations. Worthy has to do with character. The scribes and Pharisees believed that they were worthy judges and brought a woman they caught in the act of adultery to Jesus to see if He would agree with their judgment. His response was, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first” (John 8:7). As the Gospel records, they all left without so much as picking up a pebble. None of them was worthy to judge the woman. The “strong angel” seems to be in that kind of situation as well. Who is without sin to judge mankind?

The only one found to be worthy is the one who Himself bore the wrath of God that was due us. John made this clear in his first letter, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2). “Propitiation” is the turning away of wrath by satisfying the debt.

Consequently Paul could write, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9; cf. 1:10 & Romans 5:9).

In Revelation 5:9 we read the words of a new song sung in heaven by the twenty four elders, saying, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood.” This is what makes Jesus Christ worthy to open the seals of God’s judgment. No one else qualifies. Every day brings us a day nearer to when the nations will be judged by Jesus Christ.

Don’t Blame God

“You have stricken them but they have not grieved, You have consumed them but they have refused to receive correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to return” Jeremiah 5:3

This is a description of the hardness of heart that mankind has toward God. Before we attribute these words solely to Judah we should reflect on other times when the Lord afflicted Gentiles.

Before Israel even existed Cain was afflicted and refused correction. In the days of Noah the world refused the Lord’s correction and was destroyed by flood. Sodom and Gomorrah refused the word of the Lord and were buried. Nineveh received God’s warning for a time after reluctant Jonah warned them but they are among the few exceptions. The next generation of Ninevites rejected the warning and were destroyed. There are more occasions in the Bible where Gentiles were afflicted yet refused to receive correction. Most notable is Pharaoh of Egypt when Moses confronted him with the word of the Lord.

People often ask the question why there is so much suffering in the world today and blame God for it. They say that if there is a God of love why doesn’t He stop the evil? The Lord answers, “Have you not brought this on yourself in that you have forsaken the Lord your God? Your own wickedness will correct you and your backslidings will rebuke you” (Jeremiah 2:17, 19). This is God’s way to bring us back into fellowship with Him. The alternative is His righteous judgment. Sadly, many people think they will survive His righteous judgment of God without Jesus Christ.

In Jeremiah 5:19, Jeremiah informs Judah, and everyone else as well, why we are so afflicted. He writes the question that is on our minds, “Why does the Lord our God do all these things to us?” and then answers it from the Lord. “Just as you have forsaken Me and served foreign gods in your land, so you shall serve aliens in a land that is not yours.” Israel’s separation from the Promised Land was because they had refused correction from the Lord that came through His prophets. There had to be a step up in affliction. Ultimately this will be successful and a remnant of Israel will enter Christ’s future earthly kingdom.

The same is true for Gentile nations. The level of affliction will be stepped up to encourage the nations to accept God’s correction. We are observing the same reaction to the word of the Lord and to Jesus Christ that Pharaoh gave to the word of the Lord that came through Moses. The world accepts no responsibility, accuses God, refuses His correction usually by denying His existence and wonders why it is suffering more afflictions. Jeremiah puts it in a nutshell, “Your sins have withheld good from you” (5:25). This is stated more fully in 18:7-10. Any nation that turns from its evil ways and to the Lord will avoid the disaster that He had intended to bring upon it. The nation that He intended to favour, if it turns from the Lord, will not receive that favour but will receive His judgment.

We have a national choice. The Lord has revealed the outcome of the two possibilities. We cannot blame the Lord for our choice.