“The Lord will come in fire … For by fire the Lord will execute judgment” (Isa. 66.15–16).
Times change. I will never forget the sight of hundreds of people sitting in a rodeo stadium on a Saturday night in the summer listening to a preacher warning of the coming Day of judgment, as described by the prophet. It was with utter realism that he intoned, drawing from several passages, assuring us that on a day just like this one, the “trump will sound,” the Lord will appear, all will be judged. He pressed upon our minds the question, Are you ready? … And dozens responded, night after night. Those messages have shaped my faith to this day. What would happen if someone preached those messages today? It has been a long time since I have heard that kind of preaching, or even of a church advertising a revival meeting like we used to have. I wonder why. What do you think? Maybe people would not come to listen to that kind of preaching today. It might be harder to find a preacher who would preach on the certainty of judgment with confidence and passion today. Yes, times have certainly changed. But the words of the prophet have not changed, and people are just as self-absorbed and willful as they have ever been. The Bible teaches that God created all, and is capable and willing to hold all of His creatures to account for the way they live. God’s transcendence and the reality of judgment are fundamental to everything said in the Bible, and of our sense of right and wrong. Without a healthy conception of this awesome moral God societal values would crumble into mere preferences and suggestions. Relativism reigns, moral chaos threatens …. Yet, the voice of the prophet is not silenced. God is still coming. The faithful will welcome Him. The complacent and self-indulgent will not. Are you listening? Are you ready? Yes, God is gracious. But we dare not ignore Him. He is there for all who call upon Him.