Jump for Joy! Judgment Day is Coming!
2nd Sunday of End Times
Jump for Joy! Judgment Day is Coming!
Text: Malachi 4:1-3
What an awesome day yesterday! Another successful kids carnival! It’s hard for me to believe that this was the sixth one we’ve hosted already! We went from one obstacle course and three bounce houses and one face painter with 176 attendees in 2007 to over a dozen jumpers or obstacle courses, seven liver performers, a dance team, live radio broadcast, and much more with over 3,000 people attending this year! All I can say is . . . thank goodness we’re not doing another one until next year!
With all of the crazy fun and excitement yesterday, maybe we should have added one little bit of entertainment. Maybe we could have made the mission of our church a little more clear. Maybe I could have taken one extra little step. So next year, I think what I will do is get a really tall ladder (or maybe I can borrow stilts from the stilt walker) and I will get a megaphone and for four hours straight I can shout at people, “Repent! The end is near! Repent before Jesus judges! Repent or you will be in hell!” What do you think? Good strategy? After all, the topic for today is Judgment Day. Maybe that’s not so good of an idea.
You’ve probably seen some of these End Times heralds before. We see them at major events and in busy places. Usually we walk by and think, “Whoa. That guy is two bricks short of a load. He’s rowing with only one paddle!”
Besides the fact that their approach is a bit much, Judgment Day isn’t exactly a popular topic among people. There are a lot of questions and fears surrounding Judgment Day. Just this last Tuesday the topic came up in religion class with the Middle School students. One student mentioned Judgment Day and another said, “Wait! What’s this Judgment Day? What’s this all about? What about dead people rising? That doesn’t sound very cool!” (Needless to say they are on pins and needles waiting to talk about it in a few weeks.)
Fear and uncertainty may often be our reactions. But today we learn something special from the Lord through the prophet Malachi. Judgment Day is not something to fear. In fact, we can even say: Jump for Joy! Judgment Day is Coming!
In the opening verses of the fist lesson this morning Malachi describes what is going to happen on Judgment Day. This is usually where the fear and trepidation part comes. There aren’t a lot of appealing things being described here: “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire.” Other parts of the Bible say, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.” Or, “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.”
I know fun. Our annual kids carnival is fun. Ice cream and chocolate cake are fun. But those descriptions of Judgment Day do not sound fun. They sound terrifying!
Even more terrifying is who will be experiencing the burning, destructive horrors of Judgment Day. Malachi says, “All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble.” Not some. Not a few. All the arrogant. Every evildoer. Sure it is scary that there will be fire and destruction on Judgment Day. More scary is that I deserve to be in it!
The attitude of arrogance or insolence or presumptuousness toward God is common in my life. I feel like I know better than God does. I know what should happen in life. I know what’s most important in my life. I’m most important in my life. My kids are most important in my life. Saving for the future is most important in my life. God fits in that picture somewhere. God is a part of my life. But God is not the focus of my life. God matters in my life. But God does not matter most in my life. That is spiritual arrogance.
The other word, being an evildoer, is something I don’t even want to talk about. I don’t want to share all the evil I’ve ever said. I don’t want to share all the evil I’ve ever thought. I don’t want to share all the evil I’ve ever done. That evil is nicely tucked away in the shameful recesses of my memory banks.
Like David drilling Goliath in the forehead with a stone, these words of God smash into my heart and crush me. I identify with arrogant haughtiness. I identify with doing evil. That’s because I’m a sinner. So hearing these words of the Lord through Malachi do make me feel like that seventh grade student this last week, “Judgment Day? That doesn’t sound very cool! That sounds scary!”
How scary it is to hear about God destroying the heavens and the earth! How scary it is to hear about all of our actions being revealed! How scary it is to hear about sinners being sent to hell for all eternity where Jesus says there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!
Prepare yourself though. Prepare yourself right now to hear the most wonderful word. It’s a glorious word. It’s a beautiful word. It’s just a three letter word. In Hebrew it’s only one letter, one downward stroke of the pen. Are you ready? Here it is: BUT.
It’s found in verse two of Malachi 4. Judgment Day will be horrible, awful, and terrifying for sinners. Verse 2: “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” Those who revere and trust in and believe the Lord will find themselves in the light of the sun of righteousness.
My wife and I will never forget a magnificent road trip we took out West about seven years ago. Not only was it magnificent because we were childless and free to do whatever we wanted, but the experiences and the sights were also terrific.
Along this 17-day journey one of our stops was in Yellowstone National Park. For some reason I thought it was a good idea to reserve a camping spot in Bear Country in Yellowstone National Park. It has its name for a good reason. When you check in with the ranger they tell you that you will get fined if you leave food open and unattended for more than 10 minutes. Don’t wear any special scents. Don’t even sleep with chapstick in your pocket, they say. Otherwise, a bear might come and attack.
Well thanks a lot Mr. Ranger! That sure makes a Midwestern city boy feel safe! All night long, every little rustle of branches or leaves that we heard brought wide-open eyes and racing heart. “What was that? What was that? Did I leave a marshmallow in my pocket? Do I smell too much like s’mores?” Of course then at 2am packs of wolves started howling in the distance. Finally by the first crack of down we were so relieved to see the sunlight, and we packed up our tent and gear and booked it out of there for our next destination.
That’s how it feels to be a sinner living in a sinful world. This is a dark and scary world we live in. We know that Satan is out their lurking, prowling, waiting to attack at any moment. We know that we are lost in sinful darkness. We know that we will never be safe and will only find death in sinful darkness.
But, we trust in the Lord. We trust that he has done what he has promised. We trust that we have deliverance. As we then put our faith and trust in him, suddenly amidst all this darkness the sun begins to rise. It’s the sun of righteousness. This S-U-N of righteousness is none other than the S-O-N of God.
John says in his gospel, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it . . . Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
Jesus is the light of the world that shines brightly. His righteousness shines as the perfection that you and I could not attain. His righteousness shines as the death that paid for all sins. His righteousness shines as the resurrection that guarantees eternal life for all people.
So the Lord says through Malachi, “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” To our embattled, embittered, guilty, sinful lives Jesus brings healing. He brings forgiveness. He brings a new life in him. He brings eternal life in heaven.
This remarkable news brings a remarkable reaction. Here’s the end of verse 2: “And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.” As stated, this city boy doesn’t know too much about wildlife or farms or cows. But I do understand what is being described here. When a little calf is not yet a massive milk-making machine, it has a lot of energy. The last thing it wants is to be pent up in a stall. So when that stall door opens, the calf jumps out and leaps for joy and bounds all around. I liken it to driving anywhere with my kids for more than 45 minutes. As soon as those car doors open—WHOOSH! They are jumping out and running in circles and bouncing up and down like they’ve been chugging two liters of Mountain Dew all day.
When we hear that our sins have been removed, that we’ve been released from the shackles of death and the bondage of hell, it’s like the stall door has been opened. Out we burst with new-found freedom and joy! We leap for joy and bound with happiness. We’re forgiven! We’re going to heaven!
And not only does the S-O-N bring us freedom and forgiveness, he puts us on his winning team. Here’s the last verse: “‘Then (on Judgment Day) you will trample down the wicked; they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day when I do these things,’ says the Lord Almighty.” It’s like that old Queen classic: We Are the Champions!
Now we are persecuted. Now we are made fun of. Now we suffer. Now we live with our heads on a swivel. Now we live in constant prayer. Now we are concerned about what will happen to Christians next. But then on Judgment Day, the clock has run out. The buzzer has sounded. The game is over. And we are on the winning team. It was a landslide victory. It wasn’t even close. It’s been a victory in the bag for almost 2,000 years. Jesus finished it on the cross and proved the victory on Easter morning.
On that last and final day the tables will be turned as we will trample down the wicked. We will be the conquerors. We will be victorious forever with Jesus.
Judgment Day often brings much uncertainty and many scary events. BUT, not for Christians. For us, Judgment Day will be the final and full celebration of victory. For us, Judgment Day will be the ultimate realization of our end goal. For us, Judgment Day is not a scary thing—it’s a joyous and exciting thing. Because we have Jesus our Savior, Judgment Day will be like we are calves released from the stall. So we can say with great excitement every day: Jump for Joy! Judgment Day is Coming!
Posted on November 11, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, End Times, Fear, Joy, Judgment Day, Kids Carnival, Last Day, Last Judgment, Malachi, Malachi 4, New Heavens and Earth, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.