Imagine your loved one had been struck and killed by a drunk driver. And now that driver is standing before the judge. He’s sober now, but he’s haughty and unrepentant, even defiant. How would you feel if the judge said, “It’s OK. You’re free to go. No big deal”? You wouldn’t think he was good. You certainly wouldn’t think he was a righteous judge.
In reality, that driver would be worthy of death. But would a death sentence be the worst that could happen? Is there actually more than one kind of death?
The Second Death & a Righteous Judge
Patient, Merciful & Righteous
Chapter 1.3, 7 sum up this book:
3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked.
7 The LORD is good,
A stronghold in the day of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.
God is patient and merciful (“slow to anger”). His desire is that all would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2.4).
But He can’t be good and be a liar. He can’t be a righteous judge and give evil a pass (“acquit the wicked”). There is a debt to be paid for sin in the court of heaven. For those who put their faith and trust in what Christ did on the cross, it has been paid in full, but for those who reject the truth, the penalty is death.
But physical death is not the end. We will all live forever. The question is … “Where?”
Death is separation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden they were separated from God. They no longer had the spirit to Spirit communion with Him they had enjoyed. They didn’t die physically, at least not immediately, though they would since they were, also, barred from eating from the tree of life.
As their children, we are all born spiritually dead and unless Jesus returns before then, we will die physically.
But there is a second death (Rev. 2.11),separation from God for eternity in a place where Jesus said, the fire is never quenched and the worm does not die (Mk. 9.43-44). This death is neither purgatory nor annihilation since after a thousand years Antichrist and the false prophet, two men controlled by Satan during the Tribulation, are still there (Rev. 20.10).
The Reason Jesus Was Born
God is good, a stronghold to those who trust in Him, but because He is also the Righteous Judge of heaven and earth, He will one day judge sin and evil.
Romans 3.23 and 6.23:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Have you ever stood before God, the Righteous Judge, in prayer? Have you admitted that you owe a debt you can’t possibly pay—that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness and that there is no just verdict other than death. Romans 10.1-4:
1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Have you put your complete faith and trust in what Jesus did on the cross? Have you accepted His payment for your sins? Romans 10.8-13:
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
If not, don’t let another Christmas season pass without understanding, acknowledging, and accepting the very reason He was born in that stable so long ago.
Why not pray now? There is no magic formula. You don’t need to be in a church. There are no special words. Just talk to Him in your own words and acknowledge the things I’ve talked about here.
Today’s Other Readings:
All Who Call upon Him
Verse 18, “The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”
What an amazing thing that the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, is always available to hear the prayers of those who call upon Him from a sincere heart!
Sin is Never Satisfied
“The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water and the fire never says, ‘Enough!’”
This builds on the imagery in verse 15 and compares sinful desires to these four things.
This is a thought often repeated in Scripture. Proverbs 27.20 says:
“Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
The only true satisfaction comes by finding contentment in God and His provision. Like the psalmist in Psalm 90.14 let’s pray:
“O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”
The Woman, Her Children, & the Dragon
The Nation of Israel is pictured as a woman, clothed with the sun. The twelve stars are the twelve tribes of Israel.
Her enemy, Satan, is pictured as a dragon. In his original rebellion against God he took a third of the angels with him, “a third of the stars of heaven” (v. 4) and when he could not stop the virgin birth, he tried to “devour her child as soon as it was born” (v. 4) by destroying all the babies age 2 and under (Matt. 2.16). Her child will eventually rule “with a rod of iron,” (v. 5) absolute power, and at the time of His ascension was “caught up to God and His throne” (v. 5).
The Tribulation will begin with the Antichrist making a treaty with the Nation of Israel, lulling them into a false peace, but at the middle of the Tribulation, he will break the covenant and set himself up to be worshiped. Many Jews will flee into the wilderness where God will protect them during the second 3 ½ years.
“Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (v. 6).
In this chapter where Satan is seen as the great dragon, he is also called “the devil and Satan” (v. 9). The word “devil” comes from a Greek word for “slander” and means “to falsely accuse.” In verse 10 he is called the “accuser of the brethren” who even though he hates God, is willing to come into the presence of God to accuse his people day and night. “Satan” means “adversary” or “enemy.” He tries to deceive people now just as he did Eve in the garden, and he will do the same during the Tribulation.
But then, just as now, he cannot prevail over the people who belong to God, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (v. 11).
Because God will protect Israel, the enraged dragon will bring everything he has against all believers “the rest of her offspring” (v. 17).
But his end is near!
The Good News
The word gospel means “good news.” The good news is that Jesus came to die for those who will put their faith and trust in Him. Some will accept the “good news” even during the Tribulation and be saved from eternal separation from God, but they will suffer greatly for their faith, most will be martyred.
But those who accept His gracious pardon now will not go through that terrible time. 1 Thessalonians 4.16-17:
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
That’s good news!
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.