Let us pray: Dear Savior, what a comfort it is for us to be able to approach judgment day not with fear and trepidation, but with a sense of relief! For we know that You have taken away God’s righteous judgment of us by having Him place it upon Your shoulders on the cross. Thank You for acquitting us of our sins. Thank You for giving us Your holiness through faith. Thank You for taking away our fears and replacing them with confidence. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LIVING JUDGE!
TEXT: Hebrews 9: 24-28
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I was riding down route 3A the other morning and spied a police cruiser with its lights on which had pulled a woman over for a ticket. I felt sorry for that woman. No one likes to be judged guilty by another. No one likes traffic tickets. No one likes having to answer for them to a judge or their insurance company. I’m sure her day was ruined. At the same time, I also felt a sense of relief that it wasn’t me! I guess salvation comes in many forms, doesn’t it?
If you examine your own life, every one of you is guilty of various infractions. It may be speeding, or making an illegal U-turn. It may be changing lanes without signaling first. And although we may escape judgment from those things in the form of a ticket, there are a whole host of other infractions we’ve done in life from which there is no escape. I’m talking about God’s perfect Law and His all-seeing Eye. He knows all those foul words you’ve ever spoken. He knows all the nasty things you’ve ever thought about others. He knows your laziness towards helping your neighbor in every need. He knows each time you’ve ever taken Him for granted and failed to turn away from sin, away from abusing His love for you.
Judgment day approaches. It is unseen to us, but God knows exactly when it will occur. He has set a time for it. It is inescapable. And what will be His verdict upon you? Well, that depends upon what rules your life. It depends upon where you’re looking when you drive along this long highway of life. So, I urge you to look to and heed:
THE MESSAGE OF THE CROSS: JUDGMENT AND SALVATION
Most of the time any talk of judgment day meets with a huge “ho-hum” in America. Although people have a nagging fear about being called to account by God Almighty for all they have done, or left undone, nonetheless most don’t really believe it will ever happen. It’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” things. And yet, periodically God sends and/or allows mini-judgment days to occur to prick our consciences. 9-11 was one such wake-up call. Another occurred just this week when many prideful politicians met their own version of judgment day with the elections. Personally, I’ve been rather surprised that America hasn’t yet faced another terrible terrorist attack with nuclear weapons—as many governmental leaders have predicted. And if and when it occurs, I wonder how people will react to such a mini-judgment day? Will they look to the cross for deliverance, or get angry with God and look away?
I’ve always said that Christians are the most well-adjusted people on this planet. And that’s because we know exactly where we’re going. We know that God is in charge of everything and the worst that can happen to us is we get to go to heaven. But before that occurs, judgment day will come. Everyone will be called to give an account of their lives and to either plead the mercy of Christ, or the strength of their own pride and spiritual stupidity. However, as our text points out, for us the message of the cross is that our judgment day actually took place on the cross and salvation was the result.
The writer to the Hebrews wanted to instill this comforting truth on the Jewish believers he was writing to. So, he used Old Testament imagery that they were familiar with to reveal this blessed truth. He takes them back to the temple and the “Holy of Holies,” God’s visible dwelling place among His people on earth that the High Priest entered once a year to offer an atoning sacrifice for their sins. “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
The key words there are “for us.” Christ died, rose, and ascended into heaven for us! He’s the Pathfinder Who has already marked out our pathway to glory and now spirits us along it through faith in His holiness. And just as His Father cannot say: “No, you cannot come in here” to Christ, so He cannot and will not say: “No” to us who embrace Him and His narrow pathway of repentance and faith.
“Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
On Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, the high priest would sacrifice a lamb and drain its blood before the people. Then he would wipe off his guilty hands on the scapegoat and it was released to the wild—thereby taking away our guilt over killing the Lamb of God. After that he would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood of the lamb as an offering to God, thereby foreshadowing the blood that Christ the Lamb of God shed on the cross for all our sins. Here the writer reminds his readers of those events and says: “Christ is the Lamb, He is the Scapegoat, and by His sacrifice we are saved from judgment and heaven is opened to us!” Yes, this is but a reminder of that passage: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!”
“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”
In other words, the Message of the Cross is both judgment and salvation. God’s perfect judgment against our sins laid on Christ and salvation through His loving self-sacrifice.
You and I are locked at present in the here and now. Judgment day for us awaits. And we can do two things with that knowledge. We can either abuse Christ’s gift of salvation by failing to walk the path of repentance, or we can embrace His gift by walking in loving thankfulness. So, what will it be for you?—Fear, apathy, and neglect, or a living hope that enables you to rise above this valley of tears? Amen