Messiah Lutheran Church :: THERE IS A JUDGMENT THAT AWAITS ALL

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Dear friends in Christ,

            There are a lot of Bible-believing scientists - more than one would think.  But there are a lot of scientists who have no use for the Bible.  In the academic world a scientist who believes there is a God has to be off-kilter.  In fact, a scientist who was a Christian (I almost said a Christian scientist – that would be a huge mistake) once told me the scientific world is pretty snobbish when awarding doctorates to professing Christians.  He said it doesn’t happen.  It shouldn’t surprise us.  Secular science has no room for the supernatural – for miracles.  Yet when people believe that all plants, animals and man all come from a single cell and evolved into the different species has some real wild and crazy ideas.

            Yet there is something that scientists and Bible believing Christians agree upon – the world is coming to an end.  How it ends is a different matter, but both believe it will come to an end. 

            Science says that stars have a life cycle.  As science peers into space they see the different colors through a spectroscope.  Stars that are orange and approaching red are getting close to the end of their life cycle.  They look at the sun and they say the sun is in the yellow-orange stage.  They say that the sun is past its midpoint.  It is on the downhill of its life.  It will run out of steam eventually. 

            We look at it quite differently.  Sure there is an end of all things.  It doesn’t have to do with the life cycle of a star; it has everything to do with the will of our God.  He will declare it to be so when it is time.  Instead of the coldness of the earth as scientists say, Jesus says that when he comes back all will burn up in fervent heat.  And we need to be ready.  Abraham was giving a preview with the destruction of Sodomand Gomorrah.  So we need to know “There is a Way to Escape God’s Judgment.”  This experience from Abraham’s life shows us 1) A preview of the big event; and a help for us in 2) our preparation.    

            Three people had come to Abraham and Sarah.  Two were angels and the third was the LORD himself.  They had come to announce that Abraham and Sarah would be the parents of a bouncing baby boy within a year despite their advanced age.  But they also came to announce the destruction of the cities ofSodomandGomorrahalong with Admah and Zeboiim for the perversion of homosexuality that had gripped and infected those cities.

            Why did the LORD want Abraham to know?  He had allied himself with the kings ofSodomandGomorrahwhen the King of Elam had invaded the land. SodomandGomorrahwere in the land that God had promised the descendants of Abraham would inherit.  Lot, Abraham’s nephew, took up residence inSodom.  That’s why the angels continued on toSodomsoLotcould be warned to flee from that moral pigpen.

After a night when the men ofSodomhad shown their evil and perverted colors (read it for yourself in the first verses of this chapter), Judgment Day forSodomandGomorrahhad come. 

First, Lotwarned his sons–in-law to get out of town.  They apparently thought the old man was losing his mind.  They thought it was a joke and did nothing.  Bu then “With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” God did what he said he would.  The cities were blown to smithereens.  Why?  Because they had turned their backs on him!  Their behavior proved it.  

What should we learn from this?  The Lord means what he says and says what he means.  In verse fourteen of this chapter Lotwent to his two sons-in-law and told them to get ready to go.  They considered it a joke.  Both the Old Testament and New Testament testify many times the judgment of the world is coming.  “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the Lord Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them.”  Jesus spoke on the subject a lot.  Look at Matthew 24 and 25 and Luke 21.  In fact, that’s why the Lord Jesus came – to help us escape the consequences of the final judgment by his perfect life, death and resurrection.

The days in which we live are so parallel with the days of Lot and the cities of Sodomand Gomorrah.  The sin of Sodomand Gomorrahis stuck in our faces all the time.  It is in so many story lines on TV.  People laugh at the prospect of a Judgment Day.  Who? Me worry?  Peter wrote that would be the attitude right before Jesus would come back. “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

As Christian people it is unbelievable that people don’t take the Lord seriously.  He says he will judge the earth one last time and destroy the world as we know it.  God’s past judgments are only proof and a preview.  What do I mean by that?  Peter wrote, For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly.” He judged the evil angels and cast them permanently out of heaven when they sinned; He judged the world in the days of Noah and only eight survived; He judged and condemned the cities ofSodom andGomorrah.  They are previews of God’s final judgment.  Take it seriously.

Take it so seriously that you prepare. Lotbecomes the example, no so much because he did it right, but because he did it wrong.  We need to do the opposite.  

Lothad a sense of urgency by immediately telling his sons–in-law at first.  Unfortunately that urgency petered out perhaps because they didn’t take him seriously.  So when the fireworks were about to begin, Lot hesitated.  The Scripture says, “When he hesitated, the men (the angels) grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”  The angels literally grabbed his arm and pulled him along to get them out of town.

There is a Way to Escape God’s Judgment.  Take the need to prepare seriously.  I once attended a seminar on time management.  The leader said that all of us need to develop a sense of what is a priority in life versus those things that tend to take up our time.    

I use a day timer.  I have for many years.  Technology-gifted people like yourselves have appointment pages on your I-phones or whatever technological device you use.  At the beginning of the day I try to list all the things that need to get done.  Then I mark them either A, B or C.  The “must’s” are A’s; “the would like to’s” are B’s; “the get things on a list” are C’s. Then I try to figure out the order in which I want to do the A’s, B’s and C’s.  You know what?  The ‘A’ things don’t always get done.  But you know something else?  The sun comes up the next morning.  The A-1 on the list needs to be Devotion and prayer.  That prepares us if the sun doesn’t come up in the morning. 

Flee daily into the arms of our God.  Being around grandkids makes that so vivid.  Our grandkids have been taught well that they need to hold someone’s hand when they cross a road.  But if you think about it, they aren’t safe because they are holding on to the adult but because the adult is holding on to them. So it is with Judgment Day.  We are safe because he is holding onto us.

The one obstacle that would make it impossible to escape God’s judgment is unforgiven sin.  As the Bible says, “sin separates us from God.”  We would be in trouble if we had to stand before a holy and righteous God with the record of our lives, full of pock marks and all the stains of unholy living. But not anymore!  Jesus took care of that.  Living the righteous and holy life and giving us the credit through faith; dying the death that sin earned but paying for it, we aren’t separated from him.  We are reconciled. When the angels said toLot, “Flee to the mountains,” how correct!  We flee toCalvary’s mountain!

Don’t look back.  Look ahead.  The Lord told Lotand his family not to look back.  Lot’s wife did.  She turned into a pillar of salt.  While she was on the road out of the city, her heart remained in the city.  The apostle Paul said keep your eyes on the finish line.  “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  The world is full of people who are making a good living but living poor lives because they are looking down instead of up.

Don’t be satisfied with weakness of faith.  Lotwas whiney.  For some reason he complained when the angels told him to flee to the mountains.  But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”  MaybeLot was pretty old.  Uncle Abraham was 99 years old, so he was getting up there too.  Don’t object!  Just do what the Lord says to prepare for the final coming.  

It doesn’t help when the company Lotkept did nothing to encourage him in his walk with the Lord.  Remember the Lord didn’t find ten believers in Sodomand Gomorrahwhen Lot’s family was escorted out.  Seek the company of those who are of the same godly mindset. Remember what the Lord tells us, “Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing but let us encourage one another, all the more as you see the day approaching.”  When you separate a coal from the rest of the fire the coal will soon go out.  Christians are important to other Christians.  We need each other.  We need the relationship with each other.  We need to keep others encouraged.  There are so many out there that will throw cold water on your faith. You don’t want that. You don’t need that.  

Yet God in his love allowed Lotto go to a city called Zoar.  It means small.  There he and his daughters were safe when “the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land.”  Two son’s-in-laws died and a lot of acquaintances when the Lord rained down violent destruction on the two cities.  This was not a joke.  God doesn’t joke about his willingness to destroy and he doesn’t joke when he wants to save.

Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt.  Why?  She looked back.  She couldn’t tear her heart away from what she had left behind. She refused to look forward. Jesus once said, “Remember Lot’s wife.” There is a way to escape God’s wrath.  Don’t look back. Look toward the finish line. Don’t look back.  Look to Jesus. Don’t look back.  Look to his cross and his empty grave.

 

Amen

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