This year in my devotions, I’ve been working my way through the book of Isaiah, one chapter per week. This week brought me to Isaiah 34, a chilling chapter in which God announces the coming Day of Judgment upon the nations of the earth. The chapter begins with a terrifying announcement from the Lord Himself:
Draw near, O nations, to hear, and give attention, O people. Let the earth hear, and all that fills it, the world, and all that comes from it. For the Lord is enraged against all the nations, and furious against all their hosts, he has devoted them to destruction, has given them over for slaughter (34:1-2)
While the Lord is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8), there is an end to His patience. Our guilty world is headed for a grisly collision with God’s righteous judgment.
Though some want to downplay—or even deny—this unsettling truth, the Lord does not shy away from announcing He is “enraged against all the nations” (34:2). All nations are in trouble, for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). God loves the world (John 3:16), but as the righteous Ruler, He will not allow sin to go unpunished.
At the same time I was studying Isaiah 34, Linda and I were following the news reports about Hurricane Laura. On Wednesday night, we watched as meteorologists, reporting from the Gulf Coast, spoke of the coming devastation (“unsurvivable storm surge”) soon to hit Louisiana. Satellite images showed the massive size of Laura, a Category 4 hurricane that would pummel the shoreline with winds in excess of a hundred miles per hour.
But on Wednesday night, as we listened to the ominous reports, the weather on the Gulf Coast shoreline was mostly placid and calm. If the residents of Lake Charles weren’t listening to the news, they could have been unaware of the approaching danger.
In many ways, the people living around us are unaware of the approaching storm of God’s judgment. Certainly, the pandemic has shaken us all up, but most people assume this storm will eventually pass and we will get back to normal. They don’t realize a much bigger storm will one day engulf our world. The Day of the Lord will come just as God has promised.
In the book of Ezekiel, we are told the Lord appointed Ezekiel to serve as a “watchman” (Ezekiel 33:1-7). He was responsible to sound the alarm and warn the nation of impending danger. If he failed to do his job, people would perish and their blood would be on his hands (Ezek. 33:6). If he did his job, those who listened to his warning would find safety.
Here’s the lesson I’m taking from all of this. I’ve read the spiritual weather forecast given by God in His Word. I know a massive storm of judgment is brewing. I don’t know when it will make landfall, but I am sure it’s coming. Like the TV meteorologists and the Old Testament watchmen, I carry a responsibility to sound the alarm and warn people to get ready for what’s coming.
If you are Christian, you carry that same responsibility. You have a message of hope that people need to hear.
Sounding the alarm doesn’t mean we become alarmists. In fact, our main message is not about the coming storm but about the Saviour who came to rescue us. We point people to Jesus, the One “delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10). Jesus endured the full fury of God’s righteous wrath in our place when He sacrificed Himself on the cross. Now, all who turn from their sins and trust in His grace will be eternally sheltered from the storm of God’s judgment. (If you are not sure you are ready for Judgment Day, here’s a link that will help you).
If you would be interested in further encouragement and equipping for your role as a witness, consider joining the online course Linda and I will be teaching this October 16-17 and Nov 13-14. The course is called: Reaching the World: Local, National and Global Evangelism. You can find more information about the class here.