Looking Ahead 

Joel 3:1
“For behold, in those days and at that time…”

Joel leads us to the climax of this book. Chapter one spoke of a locust army attacking Israel as a form of judgment for sin, chapter two spoke of the Babylonian army and captivity of the nation. Now chapter three speaks of the ultimate judgment upon the nations who rebel against God and come against His people. All that follows, points ahead to the time when God will restore all things. Paul wrote,

Ephesians 1:10 “. . . that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”

Martin Lloyd Jones referred to this event as “God’s Ultimate Purpose”,and Paul called it “the dispensation of the fullness of the times”, while  Joel had used the term, “Day of the Lord”. This is the event that all things are headed toward. This is the end of the road of life. All things are heading toward the time when God will restore all things, and set His kingdom upon the earth.

Joel had previously predicted the coming of the Holy Spirit. After the gift of the Spirit was given at Pentecost, the early Christians correctly viewed themselves as having entered the last days. David Guzik refers to the last days this way,

“Many have the wrong idea of the “last days”, thinking only in terms of the final years or months immediately before the return of Jesus in glory to this earth, or the rapture of the Church. Scripturally, we can think of the last days as an era, one that began with the birth of the Church on the Day of Pentecost. Since that time, the Church has not been rushing towards a distant edge that represents the consummation of all things. Instead, at the Day of Pentecost the Church came to the edge – and has run parallel to the brink for some 2,000 years.”

That is why the NT writers lived with an expectation of Christ’s soon return.

Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”

Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.”

And that is why we should be living with the same expectation. Joel went on to describe the final event in these last days. A time when all nations will gather at the valley of Jehoshaphat in one final rebellion against God only to be completely destroyed. This event is commonly referred to as the battle of Armageddon. As horrible as this event is, it is not the desire of God. He describes a glorious banquet in heaven awaiting those who receive Christ. God desires all men to be saved (2Peter 3:9). In the parable of the wedding feast He sought to persuade those who refused the invitation (Matthew 22:8-9). The desire of God is for man to beat their swords into plows, not the other way around. There will be a time when it is too late to turn to God, but today is not that day. The right response to realizing what is coming, is to refuse to remain one more day counted among those who are in rebellion against God. I am reminded of the poem by James Weldon Johnson who speaks of the folly of resisting God,

“Young man, Young man, Your arm’s too short to box with God.”

There is only one way to win in a battle against the Lord, SURRENDER!

Pastor Jim

 

Times Up! 

Ezekiel 7:2
“And you, son of man, thus says the Lord God to the land of Israel:
‘An end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.”

Ezekiel is declaring to Judah a message that everyone will one day hear. That message proclaimed the end of the road had been reached, and they must now give an account to the Lord for the lives they lived. For them, this day was a sorrowful one. All of the investments they had made were earthly and unable to provide deliverance from divine judgment. Like Belshazzar, they had been weighed in the balances and found wanting (Daniel 5:27).

The Bible declares there will be a day of reckoning for every man. We will all stand before God to receive the wages for the life we lived on earth. If we have made no investments into eternity, that will be a frightening and horrible day. If we have taken the time to prepare in advance, that day will be one of great celebration and reward. The question we must answer is, “How do we prepare for eternity?”

First off, we must deal with sin. Sin means we have violated the law of God, and is a crime committed by all. The Bible declares the penalty for violating the law of God is judgment, but God has provided a way of escape through the cross of Christ. It will not be your wealth, charm, or benevolence that delivers you in the day of wrath; rather, if you have received Christ, your sins are forgiven and eternal life is granted.

Once a person has received Christ, he can begin to store up treasures in heaven. These treasures are given for faithfully following and serving Christ. When we put the things of God above our own desires, we are rewarded. When we take the time to invest in the spiritual well being of others, we are rewarded for that, too. Essentially, spiritual rewards are granted to those who live for Christ.

It is easy to become consumed with the details of life. We can spend almost all of our time tredding water just to keep our head up, and make it to the end of the day. It is important that we look at life through the eyes of eternity. This will enable us to store up eternal rewards, even in the mundane details of life. A young man, faithfully accomplishing his science project, as a witness to his parents of the reality of his relationship with Christ, becomes a means of spiritual reward. The same is true of a young mother caring for her infant son, or an employee seeking to do his job the best it can be done, to impact his co-workers for Christ.

It is time we look at life through the lens of eternity.

Pastor Jim