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Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

God’s Judgment: Nowhere to Hide

Jul 14, 2015

The themes of the wrath of God and the judgment of God may not be popular nowadays, even in most Christian circles, but they are found everywhere in Holy Scripture. Thus anyone claiming to represent our Lord must dwell on these topics, regardless of whether people want to hear about such things or not.

I have written plenty of pieces on this and will continue to do so. In my daily reading (I am in Isaiah at the moment) I have found much on these biblical truths. Let me just mention some of the references we find to the Day of the Lord and the fearsome judgments which will be meted out.

The book of Isaiah is loaded with such material, and one way of putting it caught my attention early on. I refer to the various times we read about folks seeking to hide in caves or under the rocks in great fear as God pours out his wrath. For example:

caveIsaiah 2:10 Go into the rocks, hide in the ground
from the fearful presence of the LORD
and the splendor of his majesty!

Isaiah 2:19 People will flee to caves in the rocks
and to holes in the ground
from the fearful presence of the LORD
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.

Isaiah 2:21 They will flee to caverns in the rocks
and to the overhanging crags
from the fearful presence of the LORD
and the splendor of his majesty,
when he rises to shake the earth.

Commenting on Is. 2:10, Gary Smith says this:

Isaiah’s imperative exhortation sarcastically encourages his audience to hide on the day that God meets the proud, the arrogant, the lifted up ones, and the high people of Jerusalem. Since there is no possible way for people to actually hide from God, this must be an ironic picture of people foolishly running into graves cut from the rocks or holes dug in the ground – hardly safe places to hide if one is fearful of death. In spite of their resistance to and avoidance of God, the people of Judah will be humbled and God will be exalted (2:11). That will be a day of divine judgment on the proud; that will be the day that God reveals his power and glory as he intervenes in Judah’s history. God makes no apology for that day, nor is there any attempt by the prophet to make God’s actions more humane or “politically correct.” God will totally devastate the proud. They will finally meet the real holy God that they attempted to define out of existence by reconstructing his ways after the desires of their own imagination.

This theme is found elsewhere in the Old Testament. For example, in Jeremiah 4:27-29 we read this:
“This is what the Lord says:
‘The whole land will be ruined,
though I will not destroy it completely.
Therefore the earth will mourn
and the heavens above grow dark,
because I have spoken and will not relent,
I have decided and will not turn back.”
At the sound of horsemen and archers
every town takes to flight.
Some go into the thickets;
some climb up among the rocks.
All the towns are deserted;
no one lives in them’.”

And Hosea 10:8 says this: “The high places of wickedness will be destroyed – it is the sin of Israel. Thorns and thistles will grow up and cover their altars. Then they will say to the mountains, ‘Cover us!’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us!’”

Ah, but I can already hear the usual lame objections: “Yeah, but that is the Old Testament. Things are different with Jesus in the New Testament.” Um, no, not at all. Jesus actually specifically quoted the Hosea passage as he was being taken away to his crucifixion. In Luke 23:28-30 we find this:

Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then
“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’

Jesus spoke more about hell and wrath to come than any other person in the NT, and he is seen as carrying this out himself. Consider the book of Revelation, which is so very Christological in nature. While it is all about Christ, it is also all about the judgment of God. And guess what? The very same language we found in the OT we find here. Consider this passage for example:

Revelation 6:15-17 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”

Grant Osborne comments:

These people are so filled with irrational terror that they plead for an avalanche to bury them rather than face God and the Lamb. There are not many times in history people have begged to be smothered in an avalanche….
Both in Hosea and here the enemies of God wish to perish in order to escape the divine wrath. This plea is also filled with irony, for death will not keep them from the judgment seat of God (Rev. 20:11-14). In short, their terror is so great that they will try anything to escape.

Let me conclude with some important words from A. W. Pink (1886-1952). In his brief but important volume The Attributes of God he has a short chapter on the wrath of God which begins this way: “It is sad to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or at least they wish there were no such thing.”

He reminds us how often this theme is found in Scripture: “A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner: Psalm 7:11.”

No genuine Christian can ever shrink away from or minimise this vital biblical truth. As Pink writes:

Our readiness or our reluctance to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes a sure test of how our hearts really are affected toward Him. If we do not truly rejoice in God, for what He is in Himself, and that because of all the perfections which are eternally resident in Him, then how dwelleth the love of God in us? Each of us needs to be most prayerfully on guard against devising an image of God in our thoughts which is patterned after our own evil inclinations. Of old, the Lord complained, “Thou thoughtest that I was altogether as thyself” (Ps. 50:21), If we rejoice not “at the remembrance of his holiness” (Ps. 97:12), if we rejoice not to know that in a soon coming day God will make a glorious display of His wrath, by taking vengeance on all who now oppose Him, it is proof positive that our hearts are not in subjection to Him; that we are yet in our sins, on the way to the everlasting burnings.

Those wishing to read the entire chapter – if you don’t already own the book – can find it here: www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attrib_16.htm

God has given us plenty of warnings about coming judgment. Only those who are utter fools will ignore such warnings, and only Christians in name only will try to downplay or ignore these vitally key biblical truths.

[1333 words]

7 Responses to God’s Judgment: Nowhere to Hide

  • Again, a timely commentary. Over the past week i’ve been disturbed at finding out the true beliefs of a Christian singer/songwriting married duo who my family have listened to for years and years – they believe in no hell, no judgment, we all go to heaven (is this the hyper grace movement?) and as I drilled down further I found even more disturbing beliefs – one being that the bible is not inerrant and that they are proponents of Rob Bell (interesting what you can find when you follow comment after comment). And all of this is based on them wanting to believe that we shouldn’t fear God and His wrath, nor that he would be so unloving as to send us to hell if we don’t believe and repent. YET as you point out the word clearly says that we should reverently fear Him. This post is and the scripture therin is a comfort to me (which might sound strange because it’s about the Almighty’s wrath!) because it is truth. Thanks Bill.

  • I often think that if even devout God fearing Kings such as Josiah and Hezekiah were heavily punished for their transgressions we should fear the Lord and his wrath greatly.

  • Yes! Thank you, sir, for this article.
    Re. your point about God speaks more about his wrath & his holiness than about his mercy & his love, the only attribute of God that’s repeated thrice in succession is “holy, holy, holy,” & that is done twice (in Isaiah & in Revelation). Of course they didn’t have bold font or italics in those days. The way they emphasize a point was by repetition.
    One of my pet peeves about contemporary Christian music, as well as modern worship music, is the lack of songs describing God’s holiness or his wrath. Yes, there are a few songs that mention the word holy, but they never delve into the meaning of the word like the Scriptures do.

  • It is interesting that Ray Comfort is very effective in helping lost sinners to repent SPECIFICALLY because he draws them to the 10 commandments and confronts them that there own behaviour (which of course is unrighteous and unholy) is giving them a one way ticket to damnation. It really works. It is beautiful to see these youngsters, who still have a hope and a softness of heart underneath their sin, recognise their terrible peril and repent. Here are some excellent examples …

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI

  • Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, Minister Bill, very good article, a real wake up for those who need to repent!
    Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Got to say a lot of the time when I get a do it yourself kit, I just look at the finished item and get stuck into constructing it, sometimes to my own peril, just being honest. So instruction is important, Jesus instructs us in Matt7:13-14 vs13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is narrow and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. vs14 For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Jesus own words, not mine. Maybe, just maybe, we all should take to heart what He quotes here. Kind regards Ross Scrivener.

  • Alien sounds have been heard in sky for some years according to Daily Mail report – link www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3084260/What-strange-sound-sky-Noise-heard-globe-nearly-DECADE-explanation.html.

    These have been attributed to possibly being High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programm (HAARP), secret weapons used by US Govmt. in sky for defence and weather modifying. Whatever these noises are, which sound like the universe is creaking, they are noises that make the blood run cold and one can imagine how frightening the wrath of God would be from this alone.

  • Hi Bill, there was an article on one of the online media outlets yesterday, addressing the Royal Commission into domestic violence. The article starts with this little gem:

    “Children suffer terrible trauma and physical and psychological damage if they are exposed to family violence, even when they are in the womb, the Royal Commission into Family Violence has heard.”

    So, if babies in the womb can suffer physical and psychological damage as a result of indirect family violence, how can violence directed specifically at the unborn baby (with the intention of forced and deadly removal), not been seen for what it is?

    To me it highlights how pro-abortionists clearly argue from convenience. It is morbidly fascinating how in one context, the unborn are hyper-sensitive little people who can be victims of violence (even indirectly), yet in another context are nothing more than inanimate cells.

    Ah, the beauty of moral relativism.

    Read more: www.theage.com.au/victoria/royal-commission-hears-children-suffer-terrible-family-violence-trauma-even-in-the-womb-20150714-gibps0.html#ixzz3fv9E1eZQ

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