For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the Lord of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.Malachi 4:1
You may have seen the classic film “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” with Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Terminator (Arnold) is sent back in time to protect a young boy who will grow up to lead the resistance and protect the world against Judgment Day – a complete nuclear holocaust.
The Terminator was sent to prevent Judgment Day.
The Bible also speaks about a Judgment Day.
Not a nuclear holocaust, but a day when every single human being that has ever lived will stand before God to give an account of themselves.
However, the real Judgment Day, unlike the movie, is unpreventable.
The doctrine of the judgment of God or the notion of a Judgment Day sounds like complete lunacy to the post-modern, post-Christian world of our day. Our world despises any kind of authority or accountability that might limit my self-expression or self-government.
We can’t even handle someone telling us that we parked badly, let alone the truth of a Judgment Day.
But, just because we don’t like something, doesn’t make it untrue.
Jesus spoke about judgment
On numerous occasions, Jesus spoke about a final judgment where there will be a separation between the “sheep” and the “goats” – a separation of the “wheat” and the “weeds”.
Jesus taught many times about a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of outer darkness, a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die.
When using the latter phrase about fire and worms, Jesus was comparing hell with the putrid rubbish dump outside Jerusalem where there were continuous fires and millions of maggots. Jesus implied that hell is the cosmic rubbish dump for all those who reject God’s king, Jesus.
Jesus said that if you reject him in this life, God will give you what you want and reject you in the life to come.
Why would this be?
The Just God demands judgment
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.John 3:36
God must punish sin; otherwise, he would not be just or good.
Take Charles Taylor as an example.
The former president of Liberia was sentenced to 50 years in prison. The 64-year-old warlord-turned-president was the first former head-of-state convicted by an international war crimes tribunal.
The judge said that the lives of many innocent civilians were lost or destroyed as a direct result of his actions and that Taylor was responsible for “some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history”.
Imagine if the judge had said, “Charles, I can see you are really sorry. I forgive you. You are free to go.”
That would be unjust.
Similarly, as the judge must punish Taylor’s crimes, so God must punish your and my sin, in order to remain just. Sin must be dealt with.
The wonder of the gospel is that Jesus entered our world to die for our sin.
Jesus died to accept the judgment that should be ours, so that we don’t have to bear it.
God does judge our sin, in Jesus.
Because of his great love, God himself gave himself to save us from himself.
Through faith in Jesus, our sin can be forgiven by the Just God.
Jesus said he would come again and on that Day there will be the last assessment, the final judgment. Whoever does not have faith in Jesus must themselves bear the judgment of God, for God’s wrath remains on them (John 3:36).
But for those who submit to God’s king by putting their faith in him, there will be life in all its fullness, forever.
Sometimes the truth hurts
People don’t like to hear about judgment. It’s politically incorrect.
People want to hear about the love, grace, compassion and patience of God, but not the justice and holiness of God.
We don’t want to hear that there are absolutes, that certain things are right and other things are wrong. We don’t want to hear that there are long-term, eternal consequences for being wrong.
Even as Christians, we might intellectually acknowledge the biblical truth of God’s judgment, but we are prone to forget it’s reality.
We are prone to forget how terrible God’s judgment will be. Instead of being concerned and sorrowful over the eternal, Christ-less, God-forsaken future of unbelievers, we tend to envy and imitate their lifestyles.
May God remind us often of the doctrine of the Judgment of God.