I spent a wasted morning today at the local courthouse. For the last 18 months I’ve been supporting a man who has been making some really bad choices in life, but who life has also dealt a really poor hand of cards. At some point you just need to sit with someone as the consequences of their actions catches up with them.
But this morning was wasted because he didn’t show. It’s madness really, since a warrant is now issued and the police go out and look for him and forcibly bring him to answer the charges. Ignoring the judge doesn’t make him go away, all it does is further signal our rebellion against his authority. Perhaps the gentleman I’m thinking about has mistaken previous adjournments for a general rule that things can be put off indefinitely? If so, then he’s in for a bit of a shock. He will get his day in court. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that the judge will get his day and our friend will be forced to be there.
The sad fact is that humanity operates on this basis. We ignore the truth of God’s judgment upon us, running from the law as though it will make it all go away. But it won’t. God always catches up with us. The warrant for the arrest is out. There will be a day in court.
How do we know this? Well because it says so clearly in the Bible
Heb. 9:27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment…
Acts 10: 42 [God] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that [Jesus] is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
It’s inescapable. We can keep running but God will catch up. We might think it’s never going to happen but God is not in any hurry. He’ll get there…. (2Peter 3:4 et. seq.). Longfellow captures this wonderfully in his short poem…
Though the mills of God grind slowly;
Yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting,
With exactness grinds He all.
That exactness, the precision of the judge who sees all things, means everything will be dealt with. We just can’t escape. The warrant for the arrest is out and the trial and sentencing is unavoidable.
Except that it’s not. Because while the Scriptures warn us of the judgement of God, they have more to say.
Heb. 9:27-28 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Acts 10: 42 [God] commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that [Jesus] is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
The New Testament shows us these two things together – the impending judgement upon the return of Jesus and also the forgiveness available for those who turn to Him. So we speak of both together. To speak of judgement without the forgiveness available in Jesus is to make God a liar.
But to speak of the forgiveness that Jesus brings without the judgment that He saves us from is, frankly, nonsensical!
There’s no avoiding the day in court for the man I’m helping and, frankly, not much avoiding the sentence that will inevitably be handed down. He can’t avoid it and he can only run for so long.
But it’s different for us. The court date we all face is an even bigger deal. But there is a wonderful gracious escape. Don’t make the mistake of trying to run from it.