Monday, June 18, 2012
Today’s Topic: A Gruesome Reminder
Today’s Text: Isaiah 66:22-24 (NIV) 22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the LORD. 24 “And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”
Most of us would rather forget the painful experiences of our lives. We would rather not remember the things or the people that hurt us. We prefer to be comfortable, and never go back to the darkness of death.
But as Isaiah closes out his book of prophecy, he declares the word of the LORD about the political and physical status of the earth during the millennial reign of Christ. All the enemies of Jesus have been conquered and put to death. The King of eternity has descended to the earth and taken His rightful place on the throne of Israel. All the people of the earth, from every tribe and nation, will come and bow down before Him. And as a part of their worship, they will go out and look upon death as a reminder to be faithful and obedient to God.
This is hard for us to accept. Why would Jesus allow the view of Hell to be open to all the people of His temporal Kingdom on earth? I do not presume in the slightest way to know the full answer to that question, but I do know this – the view of consequences is a great motivator and deterrent.
During the Millennial reign of Christ, the earth will be filled with finite human beings. You and I will be in our eternal bodies, not subject to the physical laws and limitations of creation. We will have already seen Christ in His eternal glory and so we will be like Him. 1 John 3:2 says, Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. We who are in Christ in this present age will be raptured prior to the beginning of the next age – the great and glorious reign of Jesus Christ on the earth. Satan will be bound in the bottomless pit for a thousand years, and the earth will be at peace.
However, those people who are alive in the flesh during this time will still be subject to their free will, and will have the right to choose to obey the King or reject Him. The consequences of disobedience must be understood, and God requires everyone to see them. The gruesome reminder of rebellion against God will be constantly visible to all the people of the world.
We live in a time where consequences of rebellion against God are minimized rather than memorized. We intentionally choose to consider them inconsequential. We maximize the pleasure of the present while minimizing the probabilities of penalties. We succumb to the same temptation as Eve in the Garden of Eden – we choose to reject God’s truth that He alone is sufficient to satisfy every need of our lives and we choose to believe that such rejection will not result in death.
We have become very adept at eliminating the view of consequences of our sin. We are enamored with the pleasures and have erased the pain that has most certainly resulted from previous choices.
But God would have us constantly look at the consequences of sin. Yes, it is true that our love for God is what compels us to love and serve Him, but true love for God requires a complete view of who He is, and He has shown us that there is justice and condemnation for all who disobey Him. This is the constant fear that is healthy for all His followers. Such fear elevates grace to the highest place of praise, for without God’s love for us we too would be subject to condemnation and death. It is by keeping the consequences of sin ever before us that we appreciate the grace of God more and more.
My friends, do not forget the reality of Hell. Do not refuse to believe in the finality and eternity of punishment for sin. Do not think that because you are saved by His blood that you are not subject to His loving hand of discipline (Hebrews 12:4-13 see footnote). The visible consequences of sin are a gift of God’s grace. Embrace the view of them, for in them is found the love of God.
Hebrews 12:4-13 (NIV)
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?
8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!
10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.