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One thing that we can tell as we read through the Bible is that there will be a day, a point in time, when God will come to judge the world. Folks way back then knew that a Day of God’s Justice (a payback day), His Judgment Day, was Coming.
Now you might be thinking, “God’s been judging and punishing people from the very beginning.” And that’s right; He has. But this day will be different. It won’t just be a day of temporary, short-lasting discipline or punishment. This day would be the last day… God’s final day of judgment and justice. And for all those who would never stop resisting and fighting God, this day would be the beginning of forever punishment for them.
After this day, there would be no more warnings. After this day, there would be no more chances to make the right choices. All chances would be over.
Isaiah. Amos. Ezekiel. Obadiah. Zephaniah. Joel. All of them saw ahead to this Day of the Lord.
Through Isaiah, God said: “Look! The Day of the Lord is coming — a fierce day of God’s terrible anger — to empty out all the land and bring to an end all who sin. On that day the stars won’t offer any comforting light. The sun itself will turn dark, and so will the moon. I will bring the last punishment onto the world and onto the wicked for their sins. Not one person will be standing in pride against Me; stony-hearted men will drop to their knees. The heavens will rumble, rumble, rumble, and the earth will shake, shake, shake out of place.”
That sounds serious, doesn’t it? And it is serious. But it’s not “bad” or “sad.” Think about it. Who wants all the yuckiness of sin and badness to go on and on and on without an end? God certainly doesn’t! And neither do I! Anyone who loves God wants all of that yucky stuff to be gone, gone, gone at some point. Right? And there has to be an “end” to this yuckiness before there can be a “beginning” of the new heavens and earth — the time of no tears and sadness? So, no worries. It’s all good.
In Zephaniah, God said:
“I will bring to an end everything on the earth. Every evil thing will be gone. Every trace of idols, gone. Every memory of false priests, gone. Everyone who turns their back on God and does not ask Him what He thinks, gone. Everyone who mixes love for other things into their so-called love for God, gone.
“On that day, I will punish those who’ve soaked themselves in world-loving living. On that day, I will punish those who’ve had their false-religion traditions and those who have been violent, tricky liars. On that day, everyone who just lived their own life and went about their business their own way will be crying.
“I, the Lord, will shine My light and search into the darkest corners and I will punish those who said to themselves, ‘Ehhh… God won’t do anything, good or bad.’ Those people won’t ever enjoy the stuff they worked so selfishly to get.
“The Day of the Lord will be a day of God’s anger. A day of worry and trouble. A day of devastation and destruction. A day of darkness and sadness. A day of clouds and dark skies, and a day of trumpet blasts and battle cries. The whole earth will be burnt up. Yup, it’ll all be destroyed.”
So yes, at some point, the whole planet is going to come to a screeching halt, and people will have to give an answer to God for how they lived their life — who they were, what they did, what they thought, and how they treated others.
Obadiah said, “The Day of the Lord is near for all nations. Whatever you did, it will be done to you; your actions towards others will happen to you.”
Here’s something to understand about all this: This isn’t just about payback time or punishment time. It’s about God Finishing His Plan to have a Kingdom. And that Kingdom is awesome and perfect and beautiful. He wants everyone to be a part of His Kingdom.
But a Kingdom always has a King. And His Kingdom is made up of the people who obey the King, Jesus. So those who CHOOSE to live outside of Jesus’ Kingship and authority — those who won’t submit to Jesus as their King and Boss — they can’t be in His Kingdom.
And the day is coming when Jesus’ Kingdom is going to be all that’s left. The old stuff is going to pass away, and the New will replace it and be all there is.
So the people who have chosen not to be a part of that new Kingdom (because they won’t let Jesus be their King) — the only place left for them is this judgment He’s talking about. That’s just the way it is. That’s just what they’ve chosen.
But as little children, His little lambs, you are very safe in God’s hands right now. You are not under His Judgment. He knows you’re little and still learning His ways and coming to know Him. He gives you time to grow and find His narrow path. As you grow older, you’ll feel and know when the time has come when you owe God an answer for how you’re living. But when you’re little, you’re in His hands.
A little later, Zephaniah tells of the Hope in God’s Plan:
“Get together and help each other to make a Change before the final day comes and goes. Seek God, anyone who is humble and will obey Him. Chase after right things. Chase after humility. That’s your chance to be protected on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
Some of you might be thinking, “But what about God’s love and forgiveness?” Remember how we explained in the very first story that God gave people a choice. God doesn’t force people to love and accept Him. And sadly, many don’t and won’t. God says that the path to His Wonderful Life is very narrow and that few will take His narrow path. Many just won’t let go of all their sinful and self-made plans.
Of course, no one can stand before God and say they haven’t sinned. No one! But that’s what this whole big story is about. People had to learn that they couldn’t make it on their own. And when you realize that, it isn’t the end of your story — it’s the beginning!
Because from the very beginning God had that Big Master Plan. And everything we’ve learned till now has been pointing to the Answer! The Shining Rescuer! He comes and makes a way to survive that Day of Justice. Then those Shining Survivors get to go to His Wedding Party!
And in the next story, you’ll hear what Joel has to say about the Day of the Lord. Some pretty special stuff happens for those Shining Survivors!