Sunday, April 30, 2006

Beyond - Part 2 - Judgment: Day of Reckoning

Great job, Pastor Steve! I'm not sure how he makes some of the toughest concepts so clear...even when he says, "I don't know." I appreciate his honesty and willingness to take on these topics.

Here's Steve's study guide for this week:

Monday: Zephaniah 1:1-18. The prophets often talk about “the day of the LORD [Yahweh] (vs. 7, 14), predicting great destruction. Though Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of the last godly ruler of Judah, King Josiah (v. 1), all is not well. There is idolatry and wickedness (v. 3), e.g., priests worshiping Baal gods (v. 4) and people bowing to the stars and other gods, while attempting to also worship the LORD (v. 5). They are devoted to superstitions, such as leaping over the threshold (v. 9; see 1 Samuel 5:1-5). “The day of the LORD” came in 587 BC when Babylon conquered Jerusalem and took its people into exile. Language like this was later used to talk about the final judgment (v. 17-18).

Tuesday: Malachi 4:1-6. In the last chapter of the Hebrew scriptures, we again read about the “great and dreadful day of the LORD” (v. 5). Note the contrast between the fate of the evil and those who revere the LORD’s name. The final two verses speak of Elijah’s return “before” that day comes (not necessarily immediately before) turning the hearts of children and parents to each other. See Luke 1:17, Zechariah’s prophecy concerning his yet unborn son, John the Baptizer.

Wednesday: Matthew 10:14-15; 11:20-24; 12:36-37. Four times Jesus mentions “the day of judgment.” In Matthew 10, he sends the Twelve to proclaim the Kingdom, as they heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with leprosy and drive out demons. But if they go to a town and find no hospitality for their message and miracles, those who reject them can expect an unbearable outcome on the day of judgment. Jesus makes a similar pronouncement in chapter 11, implying that we are accountable for the opportunities we’ve been given to know Jesus and see God’s grace at work. Chapter 12 reminds us that God knows every word we say; nothing is “off the record,” which is a frightening prospect. That fear is meant to draw us to God’s grace.

Thursday: Matthew 25:31-46. The stage is set with the Son of Man coming at the close of history “in his glory, and all the angels with him” (v. 1, see Daniel 7:13-14). The nations will be gathered, judged and divided. The righteous will receive the kingdom prepared since creation. Others will be cursed and sent into the “eternal fire” prepared for “the devil and his angels” (v. 41). Even if this is not literal fire, it is still “eternal punishment” (v. 46). The difference in the two groups is in how they treated the King even when they didn’t recognize him. This implies, I believe, that some will be saved even if they did not know the name of Jesus. They responded to him in “the least of these” (v. 40). This is not salvation by works; they exhibited faith and grace with what limited knowledge they had and thereby are also receivers of grace.

Friday: John 5:24-29. Jesus says that by hearing his word and believing in him, we will not “come under judgment” (v. 24). Jesus will be the Judge of all the earth (v. 27). “Doing good” (v. 29) is tied to believing (v. 24), resulting in eternal, resurrected life. “Doing evil” (v. 29) correlates with not paying attention to Jesus’ word and not believing (v. 24).

Memory verse for the week: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that everyone may receive what is due them for the things done in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10, TNIV).


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