Day of Judgment
The Prophet Isaiah forecast a time when God would hold a court to judge humankind for sin. God was speaking to the nation of Israel, but Israel was a proxy for all the nations of the world:
Declare and present your case;
let them take counsel together!
Who told this long ago?
Who declared it of old?
Was it not I, the Lord?
There is no other god besides me,
a righteous God and a Saviour;
there is no one besides me. (Isaiah 45:21)
We are asked by God to present our case to him. God is also saying that he is qualified to judge our case because he is creator and has established all life. There is no other god besides him. Furthermore, his very nature and character qualifies him. He will be fair because he is not only a righteous God, but he is also our Savior.
A righteous God must be fair, but he must also be just. He must declare the injustice caused by sin. Sin cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. How is God able to accomplish this most difficult task, that of being both compassionate and just?
Before his verdict of guilty and penalty of death, God provided a path of escape. He did so through his Son Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the cruel crucifixion of Jesus by his own choice and desire:
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)
In today’s Gospel reading we see a link between the judgement of God and a route of escape:
Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. (John 12:31-33)
On the cross the sins of the whole world were judged. Jesus bore our sins for us while hanging from a cross and receiving the Father’s judgement. The righteous One became sin. The judgement of sin was once and for all, for all who believe. The Apostle Paul’ wrote:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Have we allowed God to judge our sins through his Son Jesus? If so, we must acknowledge it. We must turn towards Jesus. We must see him on the cross standing in for us.
God spoke through the Prophet Isaiah:
Turn to me and be saved,
all the ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn,
from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
a word that shall not return:
“To me every knee shall bow,
every tongue shall swear.”
Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,
are righteousness and strength;
all who were incensed against him
shall come to him and be ashamed.
In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
shall triumph and glory. (Isaiah 45:22-25)
Do we want triumph and glory? The only judgement of God that is left is the judgement of fallen angels. That judgement is not meant for us. Do we ignore such a great gift of salvation established on a Holy Cross? If Jesus humbled himself, why can we not humble ourselves? In Hebrews we read:
Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the message declared through angels was valid, and every transgression or disobedience received a just penalty, how can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? It was declared at first through the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God added his testimony by signs and wonders and various miracles, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, distributed according to his will.. (Hebrews 2:1-4)
The cross was very cruel instrument of torture and death. How can it be holy? We say that it is holy only because it can make us holy. We have been washed in the blood of Jesus. Thanks be to God.