Hebrews: Judgement’s Coming

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Its earliest origins were in the 1720s in a small Dutch Reformed Church in New Jersey, but the First Great Awakening caught fire in 1741 when Jonathan Edwards preached the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Edwards’ message revisited the biblical truth of God’s wrath on unbelievers. He reminded his listeners that all men are sinful creatures and under the condemnation of God. ButGod is withholding His righteous wrath so that all may have an opportunity to repent and turn in faith to Christ. Faced with the fearsome wrath of God, people fell trembling and wailing, “What must I do to be saved?” I wonder why people are not asking that question anymore.

The final subject in Hebrew’s “elementary teachings” is “eternal judgment” and I daresay that is even rarer today than it was in Edward’s day. We talked about God’s wrath when we dug into Hebrews 2:2-3 so I won’t belabor the point (I will post a link to that devotional in the comments) because there’s something else I want you to see. 

The writer had previously listed “the resurrection of the dead” as another foundational truth of the faith. The two are intrinsically linked. The church has claimed “resurrection from the dead” as something saved people have to look forward to, and rightly so. But Jesus didn’t teach resurrection as a “saved-only” deal. “A time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned” (John 5:28-29). The wicked will be raised also, but for the purpose of judgment and eternal punishment. Paul said, Those who do not know God (through Jesus) “will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord . . . on the day He comes to be glorified” (2 Thess. 1:9-10). Yes, God is infinite love, grace, and mercy, but He is also infinite holiness that cannot tolerate wickedness. The world needs to hear the whole gospel.

I ask the same question I’ve asked again and again throughout this section. What does the church know of this today? Very little. I say that because if we did every lost person in the church (yes, there are many) would be trembling and wailing, “What must I do to be saved?” And every saved person would be begging sinners to come to Christ. No one will be left in the grave – everyone has an eternal destiny. Beloved, your family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers need to know.  Will you tell them?

Wake Up Church!

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“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).

The book of Jonah is so much more than a good fishing story. The wickedness of Nineveh had gotten on God’s last nerve – and that takes some doing. The Lord ordered His prophet, Jonah, to go there and “preach against them.” God could have just gone into Nineveh and starting blasting, but He wanted to give them a fair warning – and an opportunity to turn themselves around. Lesson 1: God never sends a warning without an invitation to repentance.

Jonah wants no part of this (we’ll see why later) and jumps on a ship, trying to run away from God. That’s never smart and it’s also futile. Lesson 2: You cannot run away from God. A storm breaks out at sea, so severe that the ship and all on board were in danger. The sailors were frantically trying to save their lives, throwing cargo overboard to lighten their load. Meanwhile, Jonah was fast asleep. No really. The ship is going down and Jonah is asleep, comfortably oblivious to the storm and the danger every soul was in. Lesson 3: You can become so comfortable in your sin that you are ignorant of the danger you are in. And the danger of every soul around you.

I see so many parallels to the United States in this.

The wickedness in this place has become a roar in the heavens.

God desires for this nation to repent before His judgment falls.

The messengers who were called to confront the wickedness are running away.

The church has become so comfortable that we are sleeping through the storm.

Souls are in grave danger all around us.

Oh church, wake up before it’s too late.