Judgment Day is Coming!
9th Sunday after Pentecost
Judgment Day is Coming!
1. Take the message to heart
2. Take heart in the message
3. Take the message to the hearts of others
Text: Joel 3:12-16
August 10th already! Where did this summer go? Didn’t we just have our awesome close to the school year on Ascension Day with graduation, confirmation, our new member welcome, and teacher farewell? Now next week is the school opening service already! Unbelievable!
You know what that means. It’s that time of year when every student says, “Oh man! Back to school already? Nooo!” It’s also that time of year when every parent says, “Oh man! Back to school already? Yesss!”
Of course students don’t always like school. At first younger students don’t like school because they don’t want to be in a classroom. They just want to play all day. But as they get older, they suddenly start to realize how much school they have to go to in their lives—especially if they want to have a good job or career. There’s a certain point where students wonder, “Will this ever end? Is there any end in sight? When will all this pain be over?”
Fifteen to 20 years of education might seem like a lot and like torture when you are going through it, but eventually it will be over. Eventually the end will come. Eventually it will all be worth it. So in the mean time, students need to buck up, take heart, endure, and push on toward the end one day at a time.
And so do you, by the way. “When will this ever end?” you wonder. When will the pains stop? When will all my troubles go away? When will the many who hate me and my faith finally be defeated? Is there any end in sight?
Oh, yes, there most certainly is. It’s called Judgment Day. So in the mean time, buck up, take heart, endure, and push on toward the end because Judgment Day is Coming!
The book of the prophet Joel is only three chapters long, but God doesn’t waste any time or words packing a punch in those three chapters. The whole book is about the great day of the Lord, or Judgment Day. Today we hear a partial description of what will happen on that day. Here’s what God says: “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!”
The Lord is using picture language to describe what will take place on Judgment Day. He paints a picture of all peoples being gathered in the Valley of Jehoshaphat near Jerusalem. That’s not actually where Judgment Day will take place (so don’t think the wars and fighting there today have any affect on that). This is picture language.
The Lord pictures himself there like a harvester, ready to swing his giant sickle of judgment. As he cuts the wheat (believers) for the harvest of heaven, he will gather the weeds (unbelievers) to be thrown into the fires of hell, just like Jesus described in the gospel today. God also pictures himself in a giant winepress, trampling on and crushing all the grapes who are filled with wickedness.
Oftentimes God is slightly misrepresented in our world today. He is only talked about as being a loving and compassionate God. He’s made out to be our divine best friend or buddy. God’s always there for us and has our back because, “God hates the sin and loves the sinner,” they say.
All of those things could be viewed as correct. But that’s only half the story. God is also holy and righteous and just. And as a just Judge on the Last Day, God will punish those who disobey and disown him with a wrath unlike we could ever imagine. Actually, God’s wrath will be so unimaginable that he has to use human pictures of a harvest or a winepress for us to even begin to understand how awful it will be.
This is is a message that we need to take to heart. This is a message that should strike fear in our hearts and make us quiver and quake. The reality of the Bible is that God hates sin and God will punish sinners. The reality of Judgment Day is that if we think we will just comfortably scoot through life and that God is no big deal and that other things are way more important in life than God, then we will have another thing coming. In fact, if that is our attitude we have fear and terror and punishment coming.
Look at the picture God paints of that day in the next paragraph: “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble.”
Even the heavens and the earth will tremble as the Lord returns with a thunderous roar. The sun and moon and stars will go dark, signaling the end of things as we know them. And God will judge the living and the dead. This is when Jesus will do what he described in the gospel today in verse 41: “The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Jesus says this will happen to, “all who do evil.” If that doesn’t terrify you, then I don’t know what will. Because personally, I know I do evil. I know I’ve disobeyed God. I know that on most days God takes a backseat to the rest of my life.
This is a message to take to heart. What can possibly be more important than spending every day strengthening your relationship with the Lord and preparing for this coming Last Day? What can possibly be more important than making sure you aren’t one of the multitudes of grapes that Jesus squishes or one of the weeds that Jesus cuts down and throws into the fire for all eternity? Judgment Day is Coming! Take this message to heart.
Could you imagine if I said the magic word right now? What if I said that one word everyone waits for in a sermon—A-M-E-N? Maybe you would be happy at first that I preached my shortest sermon ever, but then suddenly you would have a very empty feeling. The fear of Judgment Day would strike your heart and you would walk out of here weak in the knees and perhaps terrified of God and of Judgment Day.
Thankfully, my message does not end here, and neither does God’s. Back to the prophet Joel. After a terrifying picture of God’s fiery wrath on Judgment Day, Joel gives this encouragement and comfort in the last sentence of verse 16: “But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
When a tornado comes in the Midwest, you hide in the safety of your cellar basement. When a hurricane comes in the South, you hide in the safety of a bathroom or a closet. But when Judgment Day comes, the Lord’s people hide in their God. He is a refuge and a fortress, a stronghold of protection from his wrath and anger against sin.
This is also what Jesus says in Matthew today in the last verse. After the wicked unbeliever weeds are thrown into the fiery furnace, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” Take heart in this message: Judgment Day doesn’t have to be scary or terrifying at all. For the righteous, Judgment Day is a time to shine like the sun.
The question is, how do we get to be righteous since we know that we are sinners who should be facing the scary side of Judgment Day? That’s where Jesus comes in. That’s why every minute of his life is so important—because every minute of his life he was living with a righteousness and perfection that is foreign to us. That’s why every minute of Jesus’ suffering and death is so important—because every minute of his suffering was paying for the wrongs that we have done.
And this is why Jesus is such a big deal for us. This is why we read about him and study about him. This is why we stand in church in honor of his words in the gospel. This is why we pray to him. This is why we come to worship him. Jesus lived the life we should and died the death we deserve, and then gave his victory to us so that we could be considered righteous like he is.
Take heart in this message. You have a Savior in Jesus who washes away your sin. You have a Savior in Jesus who prepares you for Judgment Day, who makes you ready to stand before him as Judge dressed in his righteousness. You have a Savior in Jesus who is your refuge and stronghold that will keep you safe from the fires of hell and take you to your home in heaven. Judgment Day isn’t scary for us. Judgment Day is exciting for God’s people, a day to look forward to. Listen to God’s message through Joel today. Judgment Day is Coming! Take heart in this message of comfort from our God.
There’s one more thing to consider though when it comes to Judgment Day. You can take the message of Judgment Day seriously and take your God seriously. You can rejoice in your Savior’s forgiveness. You can prepare yourself every day to be ready for the Lord’s return. But there’s one more thing to consider: You aren’t the only person in this world.
I’ve said it before, there are some seven billion people in this world. God tells us through Joel today that all the multitudes and nations, all the people that have ever lived, will stand before God in the valley of decision on Judgment Day. Every person in this world will experience the same thing we will.
But the problem is, not every person in this world is prepared for that. Not every person in this world takes this message to heart. Not every person listens nor does every person in this world know that Jesus could be a refuge and stronghold for them on the Last Day.
That’s why what we do is so important. Jesus is so important because he is the Savior that makes people ready for Judgment Day and saves them from hell. But what we do is so important because we are the ones who tell others about him. The Bible says that faith comes from hearing the message, but it also asks how can people hear the message unless someone tells them. Again, that makes what we do so important.
So we have all kinds of strategies at our church. We have a Kids Carnival where we pray for several thousand to attend. We have Vacation Bible School. We send out thousands of postcards—about three quarters of a million in seven years. We spend lots of money on a huge school with lots of students. Then we talk about things like being smiley and friendly in church to welcome new visitors. We try to follow up with those who visit and invite them back. We have strategies for getting people involved with church and joining our church and keeping them in church.
We don’t do these things because we are trying to set records for the fastest growing church and school ever, or the biggest private school in Florida. We don’t do these things trying to build our own little Christ the King empire. Every last activity and action of this church and school has the first and foremost goal of telling people about Jesus and preparing them for Judgment Day.
A quality education is important. A clean campus is important. A friendly church family is important. Paying our bills is important. But nothing is more important than us growing closer to Jesus and then us going with Jesus to other people. By the way, have you ever noticed that this has been Christ the King’s motto since it began seven years ago? What does it say on the front of your service folder? The purpose of the Christ the King is Teaching and Reaching People for the Kingdom.
Once we prepare our own hearts for Judgment Day, then we help others prepare so they are ready. Judgment Day is Coming! Take the message to the hearts of others.
As I mentioned, school starts in just 10 days. As fast as the new school year has approached though, I bet it will be over before we know it, too. Time continues to fly by day after day, year after year. So for all those students (and teachers) who look for the end, it will come fast.
The same is true with Judgment Day. There is an end in sight. There is an end to all our pains and problems and sorrows and sadness. That end will be here sooner than we think. So listen to the Lord’s message through the prophet Joel today. Judgment Day is Coming! Take that message to heart, and then take it to the hearts of others. God be with and bless us as we do so.
Posted on August 11, 2014, in Church, Sermons and tagged Church, Day of the Lord, Joel, Joel 3, Judgment, Judgment Day, Last Day, Sermons, The Last Day, Valley of Jehoshaphat. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.