2/15/2016

Wrath and Judgment (Isaiah 34)


Serious passages about divine wrath and judgment, such as Isaiah 34, are hard to read and take in. Isaiah does not try to spare our feelings. If anything, for the most part, we do not feel as he did (Isa 21:4), with a heart broken for the lost when they feel the blow of the divine hand after a lifetime of hostility toward God. Like it or not, Scripture--from Genesis to Revelation--declare that there will be such a day coming.

The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23a), and death it will be. It will be the outpouring of divine exasperation when once divine patience had prevailed throughout one's life.

Isaiah's picture of mountains soaked with the blood of the slain (Isa 34:3) is gory and gruesome, just to read. What would the eventual reality be like? Alec Motyer's translation reads:

"For Yahweh has lost patience with all the nations;
his rage is hot against all their host.
He has appointed them to utter destruction,
consigned them to slaughter,
and, as for their slain, they will be thrown out,
and as for their corpses, their stench will rise up,
and mountains will be dissolved by their blood,
and all the host of heaven will rot..." (Isa 34:2-4).

Yes, and praise God that the company of the saved will be innumerable. But what about the multitudes who will stand unready, unfit, hopeless, in the valley of that eternal decision?

Jesus did not hide his face, or ours, from it (Mt 25:46), nor did John make any attempt to camouflage the grim procession to the lake of fire (Rev 20:12-15). Will these be people we know, people we love? Are they people for whom we have a responsibility in the gospel?

Today is the day to ponder these things. In light of God's word, it is also the day to look to ourselves and to determine to flee from sin. Even though our eternity is as secure as if we were already before the Throne, which, in reality, we are (Eph 2:4-6), yet, as long as God leaves us tarrying on earth, sin still brings death.

Like our ancestors we face daily the choice of life or death (Dt 30:15-16) -- to choose the good and not the evil, to refuse disobedience and cultivate obedience. For it is the Lord's Word, his commands, which bring life (that you may live) and progress (and multiply), blessings and inheritance (possess). Peter taught that God gives his Holy Spirit to those who obey him (Ac 5:32).