Week 7, 2018
As we continue our study of Revelation with the coming section that deals with impending judgment and wrath, we must keep in mind that Jesus said the entire law was summed up in just two commandments—loving God first above all things and loving one another. If we truly love God, we will want to please Him and not do the things that displease Him.
The law says that we must not steal, murder, or even envy others, but if we love others we will not want to do these things. Jesus replaced all of the “do nots” of the law with the simple positive of loving God and one another. Thus, our goal is not just to keep from sinning, but to do the things that bless God and His people. The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and this helps us when we are immature. However, there is a higher wisdom that we must grow in as we mature, and that higher wisdom is love.
Recognizing that “God is love” does not negate the judgments of God, or His wrath against evil and those who do evil—these are the things that kill and destroy those He loves. God’s ways are higher than our ways, and just as His jealousy is not like our selfish human jealousy, His love is higher than our love. The wrath and judgments of God are also part of His love—they come as the destruction of those who destroy.
The Day of the Lord
So as we stand for God’s truth, and against those things that destroy the people, we do not do so in our wrath, but rather out of a sincere desire to save. God prefers mercy over judgment. Even though there is a time when mercy will not be received and judgment is inevitable, this is grievous to the Lord and should be to us as well. Abraham, Moses, and many of the prophets of God in Scripture interceded with God not to destroy the people when He was about to do so. This is always in order, but when He is resolute that it must be done, we are called to be in unity with Him in all things. As stated, His wrath against evil and those who do evil are a part of His love. When the grace and mercy that was extended is rejected, we must resolve that we will stand with God, not apologizing for Him or His actions but rather being clear about them. Only then will there be a hope that others might learn that it is a terrible thing to test the Lord and side with evil.
Foryou yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief inthe night.
Even though we too have fallen short and have received grace and mercy, there is a dividing line between those who acknowledge their sin and turn and those who do not. Those who harden themselves against the Lord and His mercy have condemned themselves. There is a point when all will be in this “Valley of Decision,” and all will choose their own fate. It is the great grace and mercy of God that He allows us to “judge ourselves lest we be judged” (see I Corinthians 11:31). As we are told in Psalm 32:6,
In the Scriptures, the exhortation to prepare for the day of the Lord isusually given to God’s people, rather than to unbelievers. Christians must beprepared for Christ’s return, so that they can properly respond to Him. Themost important thing about the day of the Lord is clear: it comes unexpectedly.
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
In Scripture, there are several references to the day of the Lord. Oftenthis refers to Jesus’ first coming or His second coming, but it can also referto any time God comes to His people, either in salvation or judgment_(Isa.13:6; Joel 2:11; Mal. 3:2). Amos had predicted that the day of the Lord wouldbe far different from what the people expected . The people of hisday thought it would come with joy and singing, yet Amos said there would begrieving and judgment of sin. When Jesus came the first time, His coming caughtpeople by surprise. Because they were expecting the Messiah to come in adifferent way, many did not recognize Him.
We cannot wait until the judgments are poured out to repent and align ourselves with God—it will be too late to find Him then. We must be resolute in finding Him now, and repent of anything in our life that would cause His wrath to come. Do this out of love if you can, but out of fear if you must. It is doubtful that anyone ever repented perfectly, but let us do the best that we can and ask for the grace to do better, while continuing to ask for the grace to repent.
The final day of the Lord will be at Christ’s second coming. Meanwhile,there will be times when God will come to you, your family, and friends. Youneed to be watching for the signs of God’s convicting work in your children,your friends, and your coworkers. You must take notice when God begins to do aspecial work in the lives of the people in your church. It may be that you havean unusual sense of God’s presence in a worship service and you begin tointercede for those who are present. Prepare yourself now and pay attention towhat is happening in the lives of those around you. You may discover that theday of the Lord is at hand.